Sip Into Summer

yeti ramblerSummer is finally here, and your customers are headed outside.  Youth baseball games; pool and beach family outings; vacation road trips; and just hanging out on  the patio.  Nearly ever summer activity takes us out of the house and on the road.

While moving from one summer activity to the next, drinkware of all types helps us to stay hydrated.  This constant need for beverages to be close at hand makes sport bottles, travel mugs and coffee tumblers among the most popular corporate promotional giveaways.

Water bottles come in all shapes and sizes, including those that offer a separate compartment for fruit to create a refreshing fruit-infused drink.   Your favorite wake-me-up coffee in the morning can stay hot in travel mugs that fit any car holder, or in classic handle mugs that sit as well on an office desk as they do on the ground by the campfire.

In addition to being convenient, branded beverage containers promote a healthier planet by reducing the need for disposable cups and bottles.  Companies that want to reach the passionately eco-conscious Millenials and Gen-Xers are well-served by distributing drinkware that makes sense for their audience.

Summer is here.  Help your customers enjoy it a little more with a branded sports bottle or travel mug.  They won’t leave home without it!

Fanny Packs Are Back

fanny pakAfter the fanny pack fad of the ’80’s faded, those functional bags of yesteryear were deemed uncool and were only seen on clueless tourists in bright tropical shirts.  But a lot has changed in the last few years, and the fanny pack is back in fashion and hotter than ever.

Rebranded as a “belt bag”, “hip bag” or “waist bag”, the modern fanny packs come in various shapes and sizes. The styles range from practical nylon or polyester, to high-end leather.  They can be simple with a single zipper, or decorated with studs and creative stitching.  Nike and Adidas offer options aimed at athletes and the casual day-tripper, while numerous high-end designers like Gucci and Calvin Klein bring runway-worthy styles to the fashion-conscious crowd.

The resurgence in demand for practical, versatile items fuels the growth in this category for women and men alike.  The fanny pack is responsible for 25% of the growth in the accessories market, and is the fastest growing segment in the men’s market.  Worn around the hips or across the chest, these bags are turning up everywhere.

The good news for corporate marketers is that the promotional suppliers have responded to this popular trend, and offer lots of fanny pack options that would be perfect for concerts, festivals, sporting events and trade shows.   Considering the current excitement around the contemporary fanny pack, it should be on the top of your list for upcoming event giveaways.

Designed To Stand Out

BackStrap-Black-PhoneEvery brand should have a twist in order to be heard over all the other brand noise in the marketplace.  Whether it’s with a catchy advertising jingle that you can’t get out of your head; a fun-loving quirky spokesperson, like Progressive’s hugely popular “Flo”; or high-design merchandise like the Apple products, companies looking to appeal to their audience on an emotional level should always be looking for that edge.

Fortunately, when it comes to distributing branded giveaways, stand-out designs don’t always mean expensive price tags.  Furthermore, product designs that get noticed for one company aren’t necessarily the same types of products that a different audience would appreciate.  As always, when choosing a great item for your next promotional gift, consider the audience and the brand message you want to convey, with a design that is fresh and a cost that makes sense for your budget.

I’ve provided a few examples of practical products that also offer creative design elements.   And, of course, all items have room for a logo imprint.

  • Phone or tablet backstrap:  Provides protection from surface scratches while giving you a place to hold cards or documents.
  • Silicone speaker amplifier:  Boosts sound on a smart phone up to 200% without external power source while holding the phone for easy media viewing.
  • Wireless activity tracker:  Count steps, calories, nutrition and sleep with a wrist device or less-expensive clip-on unit.
  • Custom notebooks:  Build a notebook with a custom cutout shape, insert pages, clip-in bookmark, usb pocket or dozens of other custom options.
  • Performance fabric t-shirt:  Moisture wicking, anti-odor technology changes the game for the next tee giveaway.

Great product design comes in all shapes, colors and sizes.  Those products stand out because the designs are fresh while their intended use still makes sense for the recipient.  It takes a little more time to be creative, but it’s worth the effort when your customers takes notice!


Trade Show Checklist

trade-show-crowdd1January signals the start of the 2013 trade show season.  The time when every company takes stock of the success of the shows from the previous year, and moves forward with a fresh perspective and  renewed energy for marketing their business. Some companies have a dedicated trade show associate who is famililar with the routine and has the execution of details down to a fine science.  For the rest of the corporate world, a trade show checklist can be a helpful tool when the task falls to one or two willing individuals who stayed in the room just long enough to be “volunteered” for this sometimes daunting assignment.

  1. Fill out and submit application. This provides the opportunity to submit payment and secure booth space.  Tip:  best booth space is at a high traffic location that limits congestion (no exits, entrances or restrooms)
  2. Confirm exhibitor services & accessories.  Carpet, table, chairs, curtains, electrical, wi-fi, audio-visual, telephone, housekeeping, lighting and security.  Tip:  most trade show organizers will include this information in the exhibitor packet, but it is always prudent to check everything against your own internal list.
  3. Prepare booth.  The construction, layout and graphics of the booth should allow easy display of all product, with creative methods of highlighting new merchandise or services.  Tip:  the money saved on a smaller booth space or fewer shows could be well spent on better display graphics to maximize the experience for the customer
  4. Order promotional materials.  Advertising, print material, product give-aways, pre-show mailings, and customer hospitality items.  Tip:  allow for a minimum of three to four weeks lead time for delivery of custom branded products
  5. Make reservations for booth staff.  Airlines, hotels, ground transportation and dinner reservations should be made as far in advance as possible.  Tip:  respect for the comfort of the staff will pay high dividends with a positive attitude at the show
  6. Establish shipping logistics.  Arrival, labeling, storage, and return of all shipped items should be determined and confirmed with carrier and trade show manager.  Tip:  poorly labeled packages have a way of getting lost
  7. Follow up on all leads!  Do this in the first week after the show.  Confirming the possibility of a sale, or even casual interest for future consideration, will provide valuable feedback for the next trade show.  Tip:  potential customers want to hear from you, but it’s unlikely they will make the time to place the first call

Trade shows are an effective way to reach new audiences, but only if they are well executed without any embarrassing glitches.  Make a list and check it every day until the show is over and you’re back at your desk – you will be glad you did!

(Image via photopin)

Clients Want Solutions

So-lu-tion:  a means of solving a problem or a difficult situation.

When a promotional products provider is working with her or his corporate partner to solve a problem, products, or tangible goods, should not be the only focus of the discussion.  Creative ideas, responsive service and flawless execution are even more valuable than the one-time purchase of a branded piece of merchandise.

The customer is not expected to be the expert in the sourcing, production and delivery of promotional items (which is the only reason this partnership makes sense), so it is the responsibility of the vendor to get a full understanding of the issue at hand, and offer well-considered, insightful advice for the most effective solution.  A few of the obvious questions that should be asked and answered up front:

  1. What is the problem? (last-minute request?  special event?  new marketing idea?)
  2. When is the event?  (this week?  next month?  next year?)
  3. Who is the audience? (trade show participants?  preferred customers? board of directors?)
  4. What is the marketing strategy behind this request?  (one and done?  setting stage for future initiatives?  employee or customer appreciation?)
  5. What is the overall budget?  (not just for promotional product, but for freight, packaging, storage, etc)
  6. What quantity is needed?  (large quantities can be sourced at lower costs with longer lead times)
  7. Are there special packaging needs?  (gift wrap?  eco friendly? custom inserts?)
  8. Are there special fulfillment needs?  (ship all at once?  kit with other items?  store and ship as needed?)

These questions should set the stage for a productive discussion between customer and provider.  Sometimes the product is secondary to the presentation and delivery, and other times the product IS the presentation, but in every case the tangible item that carries the corporate logo is only a small piece of the overall solution.  When meeting with a customer on a special project, catalogs and samples are great for brainstorming product ideas, but nothing beats creative problem-solving for getting the whole job done!

(Image via Comm’n Sense)