Posts Tagged ‘promotional products companies’

Top 5 Pitfalls of Promotional Product Development

June 2nd, 2011

We’ve been talking a lot about how to achieve success in the advertising specialties industry using top-notch, attention-grabbing promotional products.

But for every way to get it right, there are certainly a handful of ways to get it wrong. Let’s take a look at five of the most common mistakes:

1) Getting late to market with a trend
In the advertising specialties world, showing up late is almost as bad as never showing up at all – and in some cases, it can be worse. Trends are fickle, and while some have incredible staying power (Mardi Gras beads, anyone?), others pass the peak and are quickly regulated to the dreaded ‘out of style’ status. Only two outcomes can come from arriving to market post-peak: 1) the market is over-saturated and your product isn’t new or exciting, and 2) You risk being overtly un-cool if the trend has passed. 

2) Refusing to innovate/refresh your approach
So how do you avoid getting late to market with a trend?  You pay attention. You remain always willing to mix it up and get on board with the hot new thing as it’s heating up. Doing the same old thing will yield the same old results, so watch for those trends – or partner with people who will watch on your behalf.

3) Failing to differentiate your brand identity
I have no fewer than fifteen branded pens in my drawer. Why should I grab yours to carry around use in public, exposing both myself and others to your brand? What makes yours special? Figure it out, or risk being an also-ran.

4) Sacrificing quality
We’ve talked about quality before, but the importance it simply can’t be overstated. You’re putting your logo – your brand identity – on a promotional product and allowing that product to speak to your consumers. What do you want the message to be?

5) Not targeting your key audience
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s shocking how frequently companies miss the mark. Who gets excited about your brand? Who gets excited about the promotional product under consideration? Make sure those two consumer segments match up. Nobody wants to be company handing out branded beer glasses to pre-teens or offering Silly Bandz to retirees.

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.

The Art of Competition: Are we hard-wired for engagement?

March 30th, 2011

There’s a plate of cookies on your kitchen table. Your son and daughter notice the cookies, and they both ask for one.

Your response . . . only one of them can have a cookie, and there will be a contest to determine who gets it.

Wait — you would never do that, right? Because you know what will happen. By turning the cookie into a potentially unattainable prize instead of a simple giveaway, you’ve created a dramatically increased demand for the cookie. Suddenly, that cookie is the hottest thing since molded silicone bandz.

In the world of sibling rivalry, this scenario is a nightmare. In the world of branding, advertising specialties, or promotional products, it’s a gold mine.

The desire to win and be rewarded with a prize: it’s part of human nature. We’re hard-wired for competition.

Contests don’t just create buzz; they facilitate engagement. Branded promotional products can make your logo and your brand part of that engagement.

According to a 2010 study by the Advertising Specialties Institute
- People in the U.S. own nearly 10 promotional products on average
- Promotional products are kept for an average of 5.6 months.
- 41% of those who have received a promotional product indicate their opinion of the advertiser was more favorable after receiving a promotional product.

Just think what happens to that favorable impression when there’s all the lasting buzz of a contest involved. The fun and spirit of competition combined with focused, engaged attention on your brand: now that’s even sweeter than a plate of cookies.

Reusable Bag Alternatives: A Growing Promotional Opportunity

March 23rd, 2011

So goes California, so usually goes the nation.

California has been a leading force in pushing forward environment-based legislation. The most recent  is a ban on plastic shopping bags that will be impacting supermarkets, convenience and liquor stores, and pharmacies by the city of Santa Monica beginning September 1, 2011. Fines for ignoring the new ban – $75 per violation, with criminal prosecution possible for repeat offenders. Ouch!

Why should marketers care? Three communities in California and one in Texas have passed plastic bag bans this year. Nationwide, 19 plastic bag bans have been enacted or approved overall, beginning with San Francisco in 2007.

What about paper? In some places they are still offered for free, with a discount going to those who reuse them. Some stores are now charging for them. As grocery prices soar, one can only think that saavy stores may even consider discontinuing them as well another way of preserving margin and keeping product cost low.

Some statistical tidbits from the 2010 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, conducted by the Advertising Specialties Institute are as follows:

-  Impression rate leader: Average of 1078 impressions per month
-  Kept for an average of 6.7 months
-  One of the lowest per impression costs at .001 cents per impression

Never has the reusable tote had such opportunity to gain in popularity. With a large live area for messaging, high impression rates, ability to spur favorable attitudes toward advertisers, the bag is a promotional item poised for growth.

The Not So Blank Page: Creativity and the Promotional Product

March 8th, 2011

You want all eyes on your brand.

You want dazzle consumers with a top-quality, on-trend promotional product.

Now if only you could figure out what that product should be…

It’s the curse of the blinking cursor: you have all the drive and none of the ideas, and you’re left with a blank page staring back at you.

We’ve been turning blinking cursors into celebrated promotional products for twenty years. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to stimulate creativity and help you start brainstorming ideas:

Dump out your bag
Chances are, you carry advertising specialty products around with you every day. What products were memorable or functional enough to make you incorporate them into your daily life? Why?

Get inspired
Think of a time when you’ve witnessed active demand for a promotional product. T-shirts tossed into the crowd at a baseball game? Branded glasses on a special night at the bar? What created that demand?

Be trend-savvy
Watch the people around you. What’s the must-have item this year? In our trend post we discussed how to capitalize on a hot pop culture trend. Which hot trend could connect with your brand?

Be your own market research subject
What grabs your attention when you’re out and about? Are you swayed by an on-pack promotion? Distracted by dealer loaders? Do you catch yourself reading the branded signs in bars or the display enhancers at stores? Imagine your logo on one of those items. What fits? What doesn’t? What would cause you to stop in your tracks?

Six Reasons Promotional Products Build Brand Awareness

March 3rd, 2011

Looking for a cost effective way to get your brand or business out there? 

Here are some fun findings from the Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study (released in 2010 by the Advertising Specialties Institute) that underscore the return on investment in promotional products.

 

#1  Affordable
At $0.005 in the United States and $0.004 in Canada, the cost per impression of promotional products was significantly less expensive than TV, National Magazines, and Spot Radio.

#2  Mindshare
83% of those surveyed indicated they could identify the advertiser on a promotional product they owned.

#3  Engagement
41% of respondents in the United States indicated that their opinion of the advertiser was more favorable after receiving a promotional product. 47% of Canadians thought more highly of the advertiser.

#4  Staying Power
The average length of time a respondent from the United States reported keeping an item was 5.4 months. Canadian respondents kept theirs slightly longer at 5.7 months.

#5  Usefulness
Respondents from the United States and Canada reported using their promotional products 18.2 times a month.

#6  Perceived Value
62%
of respondent in the United States indicated that they will pass along a promotional item they do not intend to keep for themselves to others.

Still don’t buy it? Test the theory. Check your bag, cupboard, desk, or closet. Bet you discover that you have more promotional products than you knew!

The High Cost of Low Price Promotional Products

February 8th, 2011

If there’s a more ubiquitous buzzword than branding, we don’t know it. There’s a good reason for this: Customers know you through your promotional products.

Visibility is a key component of a brand. But what about when a brand is being represented on the glasses at a bar in Austin, or the backpacks at a baseball game in Boston? Brand integrity hinges not just on exposure, but also on quality and consistency.

You can’t be everywhere your brand is, nor should you be. What can you do? You can take steps to ensure that your company’s brand integrity is both protected and enhanced by each impression from Boston to Austin — and everywhere in between.

Simply put, best price does not always equate to best choice. Here are some drawbacks of cut-rate deals when it comes to promotional products:

Quality Issues

Poor design. Cheap construction. Ineffective placement. Promotional products with any of those drawbacks have less staying power and therefore are less visible. Instead of a positive impression, you may create a negative impression, and those have notorious staying power.

On the production side, cut-rate equates to materials substitution, assembly shortcuts, and production delays. Profitability is a concern for everyone – including the factories. Increases in materials and labor continue to drive up cost and negatively impact margin. Something has to give in the equation. Quality at some level is sacrificed.

Production Issues

The reality is that manufacturing is based on a repeatable process. Substitution or short-cuts outside of the normal process can create a variety of issues. These include things like skipping quality control steps, use of untried and proven materials or delays and errors in retraining the line.

The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. This old adage proves itself true when it comes to cutting price to the bone. Attempting to get a “deal” can lead to the worst of outcomes when price is king. Watch your assets. Protect yourself and your brand’s bottom-line. In the end, if your brand is represented on an inferior product, it doesn’t matter if you scored a cheap deal. You will end up holding the bill for damages which is far greater than what you may have saved up front.

More Industry Statistics on Promotional Products

March 3rd, 2010

Another stats video from PPAI. Crazy busy this week. Will try to post more original content next time. There are some good statistics in this piece regarding retention rates for advertising specialties.

They really do tend to cut through clutter. I was at a Science Fair (yes, I am geeky) this weekend and was pleasantly surprised at the number of promotional products at the event. People were beside themselves to sign up for a variety of give-away items. The assortment went from jersey’s and plush, on down to small items like pens and magnets.

Too bad I forgot my flip video camera. It would have made a great “real life” interview opportunity. Instead you will have to make due with my second hand account of happy people glorying in thier good fortune of obtaining another promotional product.

I have to say, I was quite disappointed that I left empty handed and I am in this business. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Study results from PPAI on Promo Products

February 24th, 2010

Thought that this was an entertaining way to present dry statistical material. Great job by PPAI!

Retention rates for promotional products are very high and people do use them in everyday life. See my previous blog post for some real life “open your purse” moments underscoring the power of promotional products.