72-hour marathon DAY 1

At 9:20 on my watch today I received a rather frantic email from the marketing representative of an old client – an insurance company – who said that they needed 200 pieces of fleece wear embroidered with their logo right away, in three days. They are sponsoring a local mini-Winter Olympics event and would like to give their customers something tasteful and functional – something that they could actually use, not shove into the back of the closet.

She asked for my suggestion and I recommended this unisex pullover…

 Chestnut Hill Unisex Polartec Quarter-Zip Pullover

…which comes in all sizes, and looks great on anyone. Fleece sweats are more flattering, lighter, and warmer than cotton sweats. That probably explains three things: (a) why many people now run around in them, (b) why you’ll find them in all colors in every GAP store, and (c) why they’re the hottest thing in the promo item industry.

To get the ball rolling, I headed off to our design department to decide on how the logo should be embroidered. We all agreed on a design that will embroider well – this way we keep the fleece elegant, stylish, and very wearable.

So many things have to get done. I have to coordinate with the design team and check back with the client and verify with production – basically pull all strings to make sure the order gets shipped by Wednesday morning, at the latest. It looks like I’m having another working lunch.


High-tech promo products (part 3)

More great news: some 73 percent of recipients of promotional products use the product at least once a week, and a whopping 45 percent use it at least once a day. This is especially true for technology promo items that take over almost every office desk in America (and some coffee shop tables, too).

Some 90 million people in the United States own and use computers, and a good 45 million of them rely on computers for work. Of this, more than 28 million people telecommute one to three days a week – that’s 42 percent higher than the 19.6 million figure only five years ago. So it’s without a doubt wise to invest in ultra-portable techie gift sets like this:

High Sierra Tahoe Computer Travel Set

Your recipients can literally bring all their computer accessories in one very small soft case. The set includes a wireless mouse, USB light, a 4-foot retractable phone cord and 2-foot retractable USB cable.

I also personally like this multitasking High Sierra USB Tahoe Pen:

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It’s real pen that writes, but it also has a USB flash drive in the crown. Talk about hardworking. Just like all our other memory stick promo items, this is the ideal giveaway to urban professionals and students.


High-tech promo products (part 2)

Over 22 million people own iPods or MP3 player in the United States alone. So it certainly makes sense to give iPod-related promo items like these:

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The Sound Pod Travel Speaker (left) is perfect for travelers who use either MP3 or CD players. Who knew that high-quality speakers could come in a size smaller than a hair dryer? Put your logo on the back left or right speaker and music lovers everywhere will surely remember you.

The Smart Pod Media Case (right) is another go-getter’s dream come true. People always on the move can keep their MP3 players secure and easy-to-access. It’s tailor-fit for every lifestyle – corporate people can use the belt attachment or swiveling clip, while more rugged individuals can use the arm band.


High-tech promo products (part 1)

It may as well be Christmas here at Rushimprint, because tons of new shipments are coming in. Just yesterday I saw Nine West Bags, and this morning I saw iCubes that feature universal docks for iPods.

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I’m not very tech-savvy myself (I can’t even use a fax machine), but this iCube is so simple to use that I now find it indispensable. I just pop in my iPod and instantly hear my songs in a stereo speaker with frequency range of 20Hz-20KHz.

I read that high-technology promo items like this are in the top rungs of the ‘predicted popular promo products for 2006.’ That certainly seems to be accurate, because why else did the Consumer Electronics Show last January have 2,500 exhibitors eager to show their new products, and need 28 football fields to accommodate onlookers?

The electronics industry is now becoming a major player in the promo world, coming up with cheap but very useful products for giveaways. It’s confident that it can boost its market share to $122 billion this year. For us the promotional products industry, that means ‘change’ – we need to focus more on high-tech items to cater to the tech-savvy clientele. We’re quick to spot the trend here in Rushimprint, so we are stocking up on everything high-tech. I’ll show them to you in the coming days.


Free Nine West bags!!!

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.

So when we received the new shipment for these beautiful Nine West duffels, totes and computer cases, I nearly fainted. Have I died and gone to heaven? I want them all!

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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.

- Jen

Promo items in the Torino Olympics

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.

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(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.


This thing about brands

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…

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…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.

- Jen

Unexplored turf

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.

- Jen

Lanyards to promote movies

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.

 Globe Stress Reliever Badge Holder
The ‘Globe Stress Reliever Badge Holder’

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.


Promo items for a dry cleaning business?

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.

 Lint Removal Brush

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.