Marketing To Millennials? Get Practical


chairIt happens to everyone and the millennials are no exception – they are getting older.  But what’s more important to marketers, these older millennials have become a strong economic force with 95% employment and an average income of nearly $50,000.  They are the most up-to-date generation with the tech gadgets, but when buying cars, they choose used and practical over new and flashy.  They elect to buy a home rather than rent (over half of US home buyers are under the age of 40), and they are committed to practicality and convenience.

So, when purchasing or receiving promotional merchandise, this pragmatic generation is looking for more practical items that work well with their lifestyles.  The branded light-up bouncing balls and refrigerator magnet photo frames of yesteryear have been displaced by glassware, kitchen cutlery and CO2 alarms.  Flashlights have always been popular, but now they are part of a safety kit or given in tandem with a auxiliary light that comes on when the power fails.  Folding camp chairs that can double as sideline soccer game chairs are popular, as is anything that relates to the millennials’ passion for their pets.  Folding bowls that attach to water bottles for a portable hydration station and containers that include plastic bags for clean-up are practical gifts that will be used and appreciated.

Now that millennials outnumber baby boomers, it makes economic sense to track their distinctive likes and dislikes.  And when marketing to this demographic, if you remember to ditch the bobblehead for a more useful gift like a BBQ set or tech organizer case, you’ll make a brand impression that will translate to more loyal customers.



Make A Blanket Statement

kanata fall winter 2015blanket statement is a generalization – something that covers everything, like a metaphorical blanket. There is an implication when using this term that it is an over-generalization.  Some might say it ignores diversity. However, a blanket statement is clearly not the same as a blanket that makes a statement!

A BLANKET HOLDS SIGNIFICANT MEANING:  By definition, a blanket is much more than a fabric you sleep under.  It is a symbol of warmth and friendship, and a form of craftsmanship, artistry, history and generosity.  To give a blanket is to demonstrate great respect, honor and admiration for an individual.  In Native American traditions a blanket is used to create and seal relationships. This action is transferred from generation to generation. Throughout history, the way blankets are draped on the body has indicated certain emotions.

BRANDS CAN MAKE A STATEMENT:  Going into the cold-weather season, giving a branded blanket (subtle logo decorations are a must!) provides companies with the perfect way to make a statement of appreciation for customers or employees.  A well-considered blanket style in a quality fabric is a symbol of the value you place on that relationship.  Whether it’s a soft throw for a cold night in front of a favorite TV show, or a water resistant roll-up blanket for outdoor activities, the recipient will remember the giver and the brand awareness will increase every time it’s used.

A high quality blanket has meaning, and companies that give them will be remembered warmly … and that, is a blanket statement that makes sense!

It’s Not Techy, And That Is The Point

moleskine-evernote-planner_243x284We use our smart phones for everything.  Talking, shopping, making dinner reservations, following navigation directions, getting stock updates – the list is endless. However, bouncing between apps, and trying to stay on top of everything through multiple functions can be time-consuming and unproductive.  The phone alerts that need to be silenced during meetings; the constant search for the perfect list-making app; and the need for many of us to still use sticky notes for the things that we absolutely, positively cannot forget has brought us full circle to the time-tested journal as the perfect tool for getting organized.

The journal works on the premise that nothing is forgotten if it’s written down.  An idea for the next blog, an appointment, sales goals, client information – it can all be recorded with a personally designed organizing system, or with the help of popular new systems like those employed by the designer of the Bullet Journal.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, another popular journal brand, Moleskine, revived the popularity of journals in 1997 with a traditional leather-bound notebook and has seen revenues double over the last 5 years.  And many of those users are millennials who embrace the digital lifestyle. Why?  According to Moleskine co-founder Maria Sebregondi, “… even the most plugged in people find it comforting to create their own designs”.

Companies who recognize this trend take advantage of the branding opportunities and  apply their logo to journals in every style and price point.  The choices range from simple styles that offer chip board covers, 70 sheets of paper and wire binding – to the more sophisticated versions with features like die-cut covers, custom tip-in pages with graphics and event details,  business card pockets, and pen ports.  These journals are used every day at home and in the office by the scores of customers who welcome an opportunity to write it down instead of logging it in – what better way to keep your brand front-of-mind?

Consider the classic journal for your next promotional gift – it’s not techy, and for many of us, that’s the point.



What Customers Want

speedOur customers want the same things we want – quality products, attentive customer service and a collaborative partnership.  We all think that’s what we’re delivering … but is it?  With the ever-faster pace of business, and the increasing demands on our time and resources, it’s not good enough to be as good as we were yesterday … we need to be better!

Customer Service:  When managing a team of customer service representatives, one of the constant points of discussion in nearly every meeting was how long it should take to respond to a customer request.  10 years ago, my answer was to respond within 24 hours of the original email or phone request.  5 years ago, I directed the team to get in touch with the customer before the end of the same day the request was made.  Today, we need to respond within the hour!  If we don’t have the complete answer, at least our customer will know we are working for them, and they can check that request off their list.

Quality Products:  A diverse assortment of well-made products and value-added services at a fair price (please note:  I said “fair” price, not the “cheapest” price), should be the least our customers have a right to expect.  In the promotional products industry, there are lots of inexpensive, well-made items that can be valuable tools for increasing brand awareness.  On the other hand, there are also many non-compliant, low quality products available that shouldn’t be part of any corporate branding strategy.  Our customers should be able to trust that we can advise them accordingly.  When I think now about the rust-prone, poorly constructed Chevy Vega my father bought for the “kid car” back in the 70’s, I think of everything bad that eventually happened to GM.   That’s not the kind of brand awareness any company is striving for.

Collaborative Partnership:  Understanding your customer is the first step in maintaining a relationship that builds into a partnership.  Get to know their audience; recognize their pain points; and proactively offer creative suggestions for their next project – whether it be a digital brand wrap on a Fender guitar to announce a new store opening, or a bank service that offers check deposits via your smartphone.  Our customers expect, and deserve, a more holistic approach to the partnership. Treat the partnership as a complete system, rather than just a sum of the individual parts … or more simply put, look beyond just what you sell, and understand how you can add value to the company as a whole.

Our customers want exactly what we expect from our vendor partners.  It only makes sense to give it to them!


Power Branding With Calendars

calendarSurprisingly or not, branded calendars are not obsolete!  Wall calendars with corporate product images that highlight each month; desk calendars with pre-printed corporate event dates;  or pocket calendars that a sales team can use for recording expenses are all part of the stable of popular calendar items that continue to sell out every year.

Of course, everyone still relies on their smartphones for keeping customer appointments and internal meetings front of mind.  Who doesn’t love those screen reminders and dinging notices when it’s time to go?  But for many people, there’s still nothing like a beautifully printed physical calendar that keeps the entire week and/or month front of mind.

And there is power in that front-of-mind branding opportunity.  Consider some of the benefits a branded calendar brings to your marketing efforts.

  • Visibility.  Your company brand is on display every day.  When your customer displays that calendar, that person, along with everyone else who sees it, thinks of your company.  Every day … all year.
  • Personality.  The images that are printed on that calendar reflect what your company represents.  Whether it’s cars for an auto dealership or creative building structures for an architectural firm, a calendar will become your year-long calling card.
  • Value.  Calendars offer a low cost way to reach and impress your customers.  With a product that is kept all year, your advertising dollars are maximized well beyond other items that may be discarded after a few weeks, or even a few days.  Cookie towers given to health-conscious recipients come to mind.

NOW is the time to think about branded calendars.  Let the first, and best, calendar your customers receive for 2017 be the one with your logo on it!