Choosing the right promotional product can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. Spend even a few minutes Googling your options and you'll notice that there are thousands of choices you need to make. It's not uncommon for one of our suppliers to have five or six thousand products in their complete line.
That's why I have been able to build a career out of helping people choose the right promotional products. My job is to work with my colleagues and Cyan's clients to figure out what the best options for them are and then going out and getting the best prices. The "secret" to doing my job well is combining my experience with turning ideas into physical products by leveraging relationships that I have built up over two decades in the industry.
While every client and situation is unique, there is fairly common process to go through to pick the right promotional products. Here's the process we use to help you choose the right promotional products:
1) Determine the Context
The first step is to determine how the promotional products are going to be used. When, where and how people will interact with them is an essential element in determining what options are available to you. In general, there are four different ways that people use promotional products:
Trade shows, conferences and events have really made a comeback in the last 10 years. More and more, companies and brands are realizing that connecting with prospects in real life is a great way to build the top of your marketing funnel. It only makes sense too, given that people have been gravitating more towards experiences while digital marketing tactics have only grown in their ability to support these experiences. In case you missed it, we've written about this on our blog in the past.
Promotional products are great at providing support to your event marketing strategy. We have moved so far beyond just giving something away at your booth. You can use promotional products to give your event team a unique and attention-getting presence on the show floor. Shirts, hats and lanyards are the traditional ways of doing this but I've helped clients source all kinds of unique products like jumpsuits. Promotional product suppliers add hundreds of new products to their catalogues and release them every year in January, so it's a great time to connect and find out your options.
Human Resource teams have started to realize that promotional products are a great way to incentivize and reward employees. The industry has always had your traditional incentives like jackets, stationary and gadgets but the biggest development that I have seen is the emergence of brand-name options for speakers, headphones and clothing.
Instead of incentivizing employees with no-name items, imagine offering brands like Nike, BOSE, Under Armour, Champion, Lacoste, Marley or Skull Candy?
It's now possible to reward people with products they will actually use, from brands they already love. If you ask me, this is the key to good employee incentives. Sure, gold watches will probably always be fashionable but how often will they get worn?
Never underestimate the power of saying "thank you" to your customer or suppliers. Good relationships go a long way to building loyalty and trust. Choosing the right promotional product for a corporate giveaway is key to delivering something that is heartfelt and thoughtful.
Things like t-shirts or golf shirts have long been the staple but there is a growing trend towards "greener" products like reusable straws and stainless steel water bottles. You'd be really surprised to see how much the industry has changed and we've also blogged about some emerging trends in the past.
Finding useful products that don't end up in the trash is the order of the day. Recently, we sourced some cordless desk vacuums for a client and they work really well.
Corporate Online Stores
The rise of online shopping for consumers has led to the rise in corporate online stores. I'm talking about situations where you might create an online store for employees or even customers to purchase promotional products. When you create a brand that people (including employees) are passionate about, it's only natural for them to want to wear your brand as a means of sharing their love.
Hats, hoodies and t-shirts are the obvious choices but you can also offer electronics and phone accessories. Best of all, you don't even need to carry inventory anymore as print-on-demand and drop-shipping has made it much cheaper for you than ever before.
2) Develop Requirements
Once we have a clear picture of the context around the usage of the promotional products, we will develop a series of requirements. Here's an example of some of the requirements:
- Do you want something trendy or something traditional?
- What's your budget on a per unit basis?
- Do you have any logistical restrictions?
- What's your timeline like? Is this is a rush? Is your event next week?
These requirements are essential because they form the basis of our search for the right solutions.
3) Finding Products and Suppliers
The advantage of working with somebody like me, who has experience and relationships, is that I can save you a bunch of time and money. You don't want to have to spend the time talking to a bunch of suppliers to try and get quotes, only to find out that the product won't be ready in time. So, based on the requirements we develop together, we'll go out and source options for different products from a preferred list of suppliers that we work closely with.
The advantage of having a list of preferred suppliers is that we can help you get better pricing. That means that we can often get you the same product or a better one that you'd find through other channels. We can also tap into exclusive incentives like faster delivery times, lower minimums and other types of programs.
4) Get Samples
Once we've narrowed down your choices, we'll get you some samples. It takes some time to get physical samples so we can now do virtual samples to show what your logo would like on the product. Here's an example:
Virtual samples are great because they give you something that you can bring with you to your next meeting and they are much cheaper than having to pay for physical samples and waiting for them to arrive. As we do virtual samples, we also check inventory so that we're careful to avoid issues when something you want isn't in stock.
The amount of innovation in the promotional products industry is recent years has been staggering. It can be difficult to keep up and that's why we're here to help. If you need promotional products for next campaign, event or staff party, don't hesitate to reach out to us today.