You’ve created a fantastic campaign, the briefs and the budget are signed off, plans are underway and now the last thing left on your list is to find the prefect promotional products or corporate clothing that will delight your audience and support your goals.
But if you are new to ordering branded merchandise, what are the things you should be considering?
We asked some of our clients for their own tips and hints and have compiled their salient points to make our top ten list of things to think about.
1. Do your homework
If this is your first foray into promotional products, then doing your homework is key. Ask for recommendations and have a good look around at who offers what and how. Is eco an important factor? Are you looking for small quantities (or very large ones)? What are the standard lead times and do they meet your own deadlines? Where will your goods be coming from and how will they be delivered? Whilst some products may seem cheap at first glance, will they turn out to be so in the long run? Instead consider quality, service and support, and factor in your own time to determine best value.
A word of caution about lead times too – these are generally quoted based on the time from approved artwork to despatch. Ask the question and make sure you add in extra time for any amends or changes and delivery.
2. Service and support
If you have plenty of time on your hands and are happy to do your research, then this may not be your primary consideration. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case for a busy marketeer, so look for a partner who has bags of experience and who can pick up the research, samples and pricing – and even chase you to make sure you that you have supplied all you need to in plenty of time to reach your deadline. And by sharing your future plans in advance, they can be proactive in suggesting unique, quality and relevant merch that fits your next campaign brief perfectly.
3. Minimum order quantities (MOQs)
MOQs can vary greatly between suppliers, and products too, so be sure to check, especially if you are looking for small quantities. Sometimes it may even work out at a similar or cheaper price per unit to order more rather than less, if the quantity you are looking for sits between two price break bands.
This one might sound obvious, but don’t forget to include any charges for artwork, set up or carriage, as well as any special finishes or colours you want.
Think about how you plan to distribute your finished merchandise. If you are looking for delivery in bulk, ready to hand out your goodies in the office or at an event, then delivery should be fairly straightforward. Alternatively, you may be planning to send out to multiple or individual addresses, so think about logistics such as packaging and postage costs – and consider using a fulfilment service, which can save you valuable time and resource, by taking care of the storage, wrapping, packing and shipping of your promotional products.
6. Proofread, proofread, proofread
There’s an old saying, measure twice, cut once, which is highly apt when it comes to checking your product proofs, as once you sign them off, then production of your promotional product starts. Take special care over copy and contact details. It’s all too easy to read what we want to read, so ask a colleague with a pair of fresh eyes to double check everything is error free – and that you haven’t missed anything off either.
With one chance to make a first impression, the last thing you want is to discover that your carefully considered promotional product looks cheap when it arrives or breaks at first use. Hardly the best way to ensure positive brand engagement. Ask your supplier to provide you with samples so you can see the product, check the quality and ensure your chosen gift conveys the right message. (Samples are also a great way to check colours and in the case of uniform, sizing too.)
8. Relevance and audience
You’ve looked around and found a unique promotional product that you absolutely love, but stop for a moment and think, is it really relevant?
Go back a few steps and think about what are you trying to achieve from your campaign and what message you are trying to convey. What emotion do you want the recipient to experience? What does it say about your brand and does it support your values? And what about your target audience? Are you giving them something that may they already own; is it something they will use? If you have multiple target market segments, you may want to order different gifts for each, or even give people a choice. What about employee engagement campaigns? Your internal teams may well appreciate something different to your customers.
Eco products can mean different things to different people, from items that are recyclable and/or made from recycled materials, to gifts that are produced ethically, locally, or even have a unique story in terms of their makers and how they support their community. Decide what is important for your own CSR or corporate policies (and your target market’s too).
And don’t forget usefulness and relevance, as if you get this right, you’ve got a gift that someone will keep a firm hold of and re-use over and over again.
10. Brand compliance
To ensure consistency across all your promotional products, make sure you provide your merchandise partner with all relevant fonts, colour refs and hi-resolution artwork – and check your proofs accordingly. Colours of products will vary online, so always ask for a sample. Your brand runs much deeper than a logo though, so think about your brand values and carefully consider the items you choose and the reactions or emotions they will elicit in your intended recipient.
Finally, don’t worry if you don’t know your engraving from your origination, or your foil blocking from your embossing. By choosing a partner who is part of the BPMA (just like M&M), they will be able to advise, guide and support you throughout the process.