Archive for April, 2011

IMC’s Shane Erickson on the art of translating popular trends into promotional products

April 19th, 2011

What can we say – we love pop culture.

In this exclusive interview, IMC CEO, Shane Erickson shares his thoughts on the role of trends in promotional product development and how it all got started.  ___________________________________________________________________________________

What would you say is the number one factor that has kept IMC ahead of the game when it comes to promotional products and advertising specialties?
For us, it’s been our ability to continually come up with fresh ideas. We never get complacent and we’re always looking for the next product and the next trend. We are always on the lookout for things we think are cool. We spend a lot of time just brainstorming around the office about how we could translate things into a usable promotional product.

 How have pop culture trends affected your business?
We’ve been involved with trends since the start. When we started it was baseball cards or Beanie Babies or Pokémon, and tomorrow it’ll be something else. We’ve become good at identifying unique trends and turning them into effective tools for the promotional products industry. For example: Someone on the team came in wearing a molded silicone band that their kid was crazy about.  I looked at it and thought to myself “Hey, this could be big if we take it promotional.” My whole team got involved. We wanted to do something more – make a product that our client could really own.  It evolved into the fully custom solution we offer today.

What has been the biggest surprise for IMC over the last 20 years?
I’d say the sports-shaped and customized Mardi Gras beads. We’ve really become known for them. When they first came out we thought the trend would last perhaps one or two years, but they have lasted over 12 years. Today, we’re still known as “The Bead Guys.” We are proud of that. It goes to show how important translating a trend can be in the advertising specialties industry. When you put the time and energy into truly capturing the spirit of a trend, you can end up with a product that stands up to the test of time. I think that is what differentiates IMC from its competitors.

 What’s the hot trend right now?
The newest item is the ionic necklace. The ionic trend has been around for a while, but the necklace is a fresh new twist. You see quite a few people wearing them these days, including professional athletes and college players. Staying true to our mission, we wanted to do more than bring team color to promotional. We offer a completely customized product – from the imprinted decorative knobs to the logo imprinted directly on the strand. It is not enough for us to hop on a trend in a superficial way. We want to create a promotional product that is true to the trend. It brings an authenticity to the process that clients and end users appreciate.

IMC’s Shane Erickson reflects on 20 years of developing great promotional products

April 14th, 2011

We have been unearthing cool stuff since 1991 and now we’ve hit 20 years – two decades in the business! Time flies, and we’re having fun. We’re celebrating this anniversary by spilling all our secrets to success. In this exclusive interview, IMC CEO Shane Erickson shares how we’ve come this far and what lies ahead. 

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How has IMC established a place in the market?
We don’t try to be everything to everybody. We focus our energy and attention on the areas we know best (sports, beverage, and casino promotions,) and that concerted effort allows us to be exceptional in those areas.

What has been the biggest change in the industry?
Definitely importing. A lot of people in the promotional products and advertising specialties field are now going direct overseas. Some execute better than others. There is a definite learning curve. Experience counts when developing promotional products abroad. There are a lot of nuances in the process. Our sourcing team is well seasoned and has great relationships. We started importing ten years ago and have learned a lot in a decade. We will continue to help our clients by bringing them the best possible value.

What’s the key to staying relevant and competitive in the future?
For us it’s staying true to our markets and understanding our clients better and better. Our clients are who we talk to every day – the people in the sports, beverage, and casino industries. We talk to them about how and why they use the products.  It gives us better insight to develop the right promotional product for them. We want to see positive results for our clients. We are highly interested how the products worked (or didn’t work) so we can source more strategically. We strive to bring them something that they want with a twist that will deliver more. This can mean a lot of customized development – a strong point for us. It’s really about an exchange of ideas and constantly moving forward. We’re always asking our customers, “What’s new for you guys?” or bringing them new ideas we come across to the table.

 When it comes down to it, we stay true to our passion – unearthing cool stuff to create a better promotional product for our clients.

Where did you get that? Promotional Products for Unique Contest Delivery

April 6th, 2011

Where did you get that?” Those five words are music to the ears of anyone involved with promotional products or advertising specialties. Especially when the response leads interested consumers to YOUR booth or display so they can check out the eye catching promotional item for themselves.

What’s the only thing better than being able to reach consumers? Getting them to come to you. And stick around. And get excited about your brand.

We’ve learned that contests are a great way to attract, delight and engage consumers, but you should never underestimate the power of the delivery mechanism. How you deliver the contest should be as engaging as the contest itself. Why not create buzz and draw them in with a snazzy, attention grabbing promotional product?

The possibilities are endless. Customize a device that’s just right for your contest and your brand. Consider the following options:

Instant Win Contests
Peel & Win, Scratch & Win, or Peel-to-Reveal type contests can be part of direct mail campaigns to drive traffic to a particular location, or used on-site to facilitate prize allocation. The excitement surrounding instant gratification and the ability to create buzz when administered on site, are tried and true, evergreen promotions. 

 

New Technology Contest Delivery
QR Codes are the newest delivery method out there and are changing the way we explore our world. Drive customers to customized contest landing pages via smart phone technology. Customers must have the reader app downloaded on their phone. Codes can be delivered in printed format on paper items, apparel, mugs – virtually on any kind of promotional product.

Contest Delivery via Unique Products
Blinking pins are a great way to draw attention and create excitement around contests. When they blink you either win, or with multi-timer units you go the next stage of the contest. Used to keep people on premise (like in a casino or bar.)

Magic 8 Balls are another unique way of using a retro-toy to deliver your contest results. They also provide the end user with a fun momento of your event.

Edible Contest Items
YUM! Delivery methods like food afford a great way to administer your contest AND provide a sweet treat. Fortune cookies, chocolate bars, or prize inside carmel coated popcorn are fun AND tasty ways to engage your audience!

Excited consumers are valuable assets. When promotional products generate excitement, your consumers just amplify the buzz. They might do this by crowding around to see the results of the contest, or simply by carrying the promotional product around the event.

After all, it’s that kind of visibility that generates that magic question: “Where did you get that?”

Advertising Specialities might be greener than you think

April 1st, 2011

The Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) and annual tradeshow Brew Expo, held in San Francisco this March, saw a significant increase in attendees over last year. A whopping 3900 folks came out to demonstrate their passion for beer and the craft of brewing. Attendance however, was not the only thing we noticed had grown in this segment. 

We noticed a real focus on sustainability across the board. Not surprisingly, brewers with a passion for handcrafting beverages have a high interest in recycled products and sustainable prodution for their promotional needs.

The ability to reuse existing materials or produce in a facility that generates its own solar power is quite a positive. Then I started thinking about products in our industry in general. There is a whole lot of reuse going on out there. Here is a short list of promotional products that you wouldn’t normally think of as “green”.

Mardi Gras Beads
Can be made from reground plastic or corn plastic.

Bags and Totes
Made from recycled bottles (PET), bamboo or post-consumer waste.

Coasters
Can be made from a variety of reclaimed materials including recycled circut boards, vinyl LP’s, street signs, and blue jeans.

Mugs
Made from recycled blue jeans, yellow pages, or old money.

Lapel Pins
Made from post consumer recycled iron.

Combine this with water or solar powered technology and fast-growing renewable resources like bamboo,  and the advertising specialties industry is a bit greener at heart than you might have imagined.