I am a total ‘bag hag.’ A sizeable portion of my annual earnings goes into paying off purses. In fact, I am so obsessed with bags that I build my outfits around it. I even have a formula that beats the Euclidian code:
blue bag = blue shoes = blue cardigan
Can you blame me? Ask any woman you know – she will probably say that yes, a bag makes an outfit. You can wear a ratty old sweater but carry a beautiful handbag and get champagne when you drop by any store in Rodeo Drive.
But more than a fashion statement, a bag is really a woman’s ‘sanctuary’ – a private space where men fear to go. It carries all our essentials – wallet, keys, checkbook, maybe a laptop, a good book, sunglasses, a half-eaten sandwich, 30 pounds of pennies, and even a flashlight for ‘emergencies’ that never really come.
They come in basic colors and styles for every working woman. All of them feature very helpful pockets that organize pens and keys, a KitKat bar, even a bottle of water, so that you never have to rummage through all your stuff just to get what you need. And best of all, it’s from Nine West – the Mecca of bags
Put your company logo on it and you’ll probably increase your female client base by more than half. Trust me. I know.
The Olympic Stores in Torino are carrying great promo items for athletes and spectators alike, ranging from indoor items such as mouse pads and balls, to outdoor wear such as backpacks, caps, shirts, and of course, the all-time favorite drinkware.
(Photo from The Online Olympic Store)
Many companies are jumping in on the Olympic promo item bandwagon, such as Budweiser, now taking over sales outlets with its Olympic logo-ed promotional items. It’s not surprising why. The promotional products industry is finally taking the marketing center stage. US marketers alone are spending almost three times as much in promotional products – about $17 billion a year, in fact. Why? Because it works.
A recent survey shows that some 76 percent of consumers remember the brand name of a company that gave them a promotional item in the past year – that’s 23 percent higher than consumers remember a TV or print ad from the past month, and a whopping 49 percent higher than the percentage of consumers who recall online ads.
A thermos really goes a longer way than a TV ad. When someone who goes to an office uses it to carry his coffee everyday, for example, the logo is repeatedly seen by all of his co-workers, clients, and even by people on the streets he walks in and the passengers in the train or the bus he rides. Now that is constant exposure for as low as $9.
Aspiring for a new identity is much easier than actually creating one. That is especially true for smaller businesses, I think. But when an unknown business name is seen alongside a well-established logo, the tides change. That is the miracle of branding.
This is we carry (and expand our line of) ‘branded’ promotional products, especially in apparel. Most of our clients know the advantages of simply being associated with a famous brand. They know the difference between putting your logo on this…
…and on just an ordinary shirt.
Aside from the ‘prestige’ of the brand, our clients also pay for the quality. After all, a shirt made of 60% cotton with hemmed bottoms and cuffs is more likely to last longer than the average shirt. Recipients are also likely to hold on to them longer. And in promo items, ‘shelf life’ is the key – the longer the item is used, the more the client’s name is advertised, and the higher the return of their investment.
Interesting tidbit: Only a little bit more than six percent of the promotional products produced in the United States are aimed at attracting new customers, according to the Promotional Products Association. What are the rest used for? Business gifts, employee relations, branding, public relations, and dealer and distributor programs – all to retain existing customers and employees.
When you’ve been working with promotional products for as long as I have, you instantly know this is both sad and exciting. It’s sad because so many businesses are missing out on the sales advantage inherent to promo products (and that can’t be good news), but it’s also exciting because this means that we can grow even more as an industry.
This means that we can – and should – refocus some of our energy to educating our clients about how promo items can widen their customer base instead of just retain it; how promo items can attract potential employees instead of just increase the morale of those already there.
So that goes down on my to-do list (which, lately, has been filled with contact numbers of all the clients needing rush promo items). Looks like I would be busy in the next couple of weeks. I have to admit – this business still surprises me.
Yesterday before going home from work, I decided to stop by Starbucks for some alone time with a cappuccino. So I sit there, open my laptop, log on to the Internet using their WiFi, and I see interesting news: Starbucks is ‘wearing’ promotional items for the movie ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ by Lions Gate Films.
How does it work? Starbucks baristas will get a sneak peek of the film before its release. Then they will wear conspicuous lanyards imprinted with “Akeelah” buzzwords in hopes of getting Starbucks patrons to talk about the movie, and, with any luck, watch it.
This is a low-key marketing strategy – and I think it just might work. Promotional lanyards have been used by many businesses to promote either new products or establish brand names. So many things can be printed on it – a logo, a tagline, a website address, a hotline number, etc. In Rushimprint, lanyards are triple-purpose. They promote the company or product, hold IDs and keys and USBs, and even help reduce stress.
I hear that some avid Starbucks customers who are after the ‘calm’ atmosphere are getting ticked at the coffee shop’s ‘commercial’ endeavors. Starbucks, after all, already distributes ancillary products such as CDs and DVDs. Ironically, some 30 million customers still flock to Starbucks outlets weekly, and the numbers are rising.
Hey, maybe discreet promotional tactics are not so bad. A lanyard never hurt anyone.
A study shows that new customers of dry cleaning shops who received promotional products spent 27 percent more than customers who just received coupons, and a whopping 139 percent more than those who just received plain vanilla ‘welcome letters.’
I guess the tides are changing even for the ‘repression-proof’ dry cleaning industry. It has become very competitive, and even though most of these business already have a captive customer base (because dry cleaning is a staple), this base is becoming pickier and less loyal.
So I wasn’t surprised when a new client – a dry cleaning business operator – called us yesterday to ask for help on what promo items to use. I recommended this lint removal brush. It’s a clever little contraption that dry cleaning customers can keep in their coat pockets and use to remove linty from suits, jackets and virtually any clothing material.
I don’t know about you, but I can very easily switch from one dry cleaner to the next (especially if the next one gives me free stuff). Somehow, free deliveries and a friendly staff just isn’t enough anymore – I would like to receive useful free items too, if only to feel like a valued client.
When a company gave out cowbells as promo products for a cycling event in Europe last year, some people laughed and found the idea ridiculous. But weeks later when the same company increased its client base exponentially, nobody found it funny. It turns out that the company’s decision to give away cowbells was well-researched –cowbells are popular as ‘noisemakers’ along bike and ski routes in Europe.
This just proves that crazy ideas still work, especially in the promotional products industry. That’s why we advise our clients to dare go where no one has gone before. Why stick to an ordinary mouse pad when you can give away something quirkier, for example? It doesn’t even have to be expensive – just out of the ordinary. Like this cute little fella:
For just a little more than a dollar, a company’s corporate logo can ‘sit’ atop its clients’ computer monitors. This functional computer cleaner brush is not only charming – it’s very functional as well.
We also innovate our own fresh line regularly to give our clients some ideas. Our rule is simple: we don’t let our clients’ promo items get lost in a sea of common giveaways. We know that while most successful promos are usually built on time-tested formulas, the best of the best usually run on sheer creativity.
February was declared the ‘National Heart Month’ not just because Valentine’s Day falls within the month, but more importantly, to remind us about the importance of a healthy heart. You see, heart disease is the number one cause of death among both men and women in the United States. More than 2,000 Americans die of heart disease everyday. That’s about two people every minute.
Heart attacks are caused by high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, and many other factors. But experts also point to mental stress as a big contributor to ‘unmasking’ an otherwise latent heart disease. Negative emotions like frustration, anger, and even intense boredom can actually trigger heart attacks in someone who is at risk.
Luckily, there are many things we can do to significantly lower our risk of getting heart disease. We can swear off smoking, start eating right, and actually find time to exercise, but I prefer to start with the simplest technique – using an anti-stress ball. I have several of them in all shapes and colors lined up on my desk, all perky and just instantly comforting. I slip one in my pocket so that I could easily squeeze it every time I feel stress kicking in.
Anti-stress balls are designed to soften your hand wrist muscles, increase blood circulation and therefore help the heart. But aside from that they’re just cute, like this one from our ‘stress relievers’ section:
Sometimes, the simplest solutions really work best.
Well, it looks like the promotional apparel business is ready to glamour up – and I’m not surprised why. Promotional apparel sales accounts for a huge part almost every promotional product manufacturer’s yearly revenues, so it’s only right that this industry be perked up.
Gone are the days when promotional shirts were made of low-count cotton and itchy fabrics. Clients have become much choosier, preferring brands such as the Perry Ellis, Devon and Jones, and Van Heusen, among others.
So big has the promotional apparel business become, in fact, that a fashion show featuring promotional apparel will be held on February 26 to 28.
The fashion show is part of a nationwide promotional products congress that aims to discuss, among many other things, the different fabric, style, and color trends by promotional clothing suppliers for the year ahead.
Who knew that oxfords could be so fashionable?
February 14 is fast approaching and we expect more orders for Valentine’s Day-related items, such as our best-seller, the Valentine Heart Stress Reliever.
It’s a nifty little gift item that I personally like because it looks great and is very functional. You squeeze it to relieve stress and therefore promote your heart’s health. And if that’s not cute enough, there is also this:
These adorable teddy bears wear shirts customizable with your message or logo. Customers of every age will surely love them.
But why limit your giveaways to just the usual Valentine’s day items? There are a lot of other ‘less common’ choices out there, if you know where to look. I recommend candy bags, chocolate pouches, mints, and even fancy cheese.
And if you really want something quirkier (but just as Valentine-y), try our ‘Chocolate Computer Floppy Disk’ that comes in an attractive gift box – perfect for the sweet tooth techie. Your company’s message can be imprinted on the floppy disk-shaped chocolate itself!