Finding Your Creative Side
Branching out into a new product category like promotional items may be intimidating, but it’s far from impossible, and a little education can go a long way. Since you’re already excelling at print, up your game by offering combinations of print and promo in your next sales pitch. We spoke to Stephanie Friedman, vice president of marketing for City Paper Company, Birmingham, Ala., who shared some tips on how to make your endeavor into promo a successful one.
Print+Promo (P+P): What advice do you have for print distributors who want to start selling promo items as well?
Stephanie Friedman (SF): Print distributors must first and foremost educate themselves on the promo industry. While there are many crossover products and similarities, there are many differences in the way products are priced and printed. It’s imperative to understand the buyers of promotional products and how they buy, as the process is often different. Promotional marketing buyers are typically buying off of a marketing calendar specific to events and initiatives. Print can often be tied into these purchases as well, creating a perfect opportunity to capture more spend.
P+P: Are there certain industries where the combo works better or are there go-to promo items that pair well with print?
SF: Print and promo can pair well in virtually any industry as they do often go hand-in-hand, for example, a direct mail piece with a magnet included or a trade show giveaway bag with collateral kitted inside. You often see wide-format graphic signage at charity runs as participants run underneath wearing the sponsorship T-shirts. The possibilities are truly endless and not presenting these options together is truly leaving dollars on the table.
P+P: How can distributors ensure they are presenting a creative campaign when pairing both print and promo?
SF: Start by asking the appropriate discovery questions. Understand the budget and requests of the project. What needs need to be met? What are the goals of the campaign? What is the desired outcome?
The most successful promotional reps will then share this information with our preferred suppliers who then assist us in developing creative campaigns based on their knowledge and experience in working with similar companies and vertical markets. Creativity is so important, but it means little if it does not help achieve the desired return on investment and outcome.
P+P: Should the approach differ when trying to sell the combo campaign to a long-term, print-only client?
SF: It depends on the client. Does the client buy only print? If they do, you need to engage their assistance in networking with the actual promo buyer and get them together in the same room. If the client buys both print and promo or is now open to buying promotional products, the process is really about asking questions, uncovering needs and providing creative solutions with print and promo products that pair well together. For example, a human resources department that prints and distributes employee handbooks to new employees may not even realize the benefit of handing those books out in a branded padfolio, which could provide a welcoming feeling to a newcomer. The process remains the same as it would when you ask questions about printing the employee handbook—the main difference here is that you are showing them new and innovative ways to package, distribute or present the printed items.
P+P: Can you discuss a successful campaign featuring print and promo?
SF: Recently, one of our sales reps, Dave Crucefix, produced a project for a customer’s platinum-level clients. The project included a custom converted envelope with a personalized letter, brochure, contact card, a custom Post-it notepad, custom window clings and a branded pen all inside of the envelope. Dave worked with the buyer to ensure that every component matched perfectly and all coordinated together. All products came from different vendors, but all looked as though it ran through one facility. The client wanted to notify their platinum-level clients of the new program changes and needed to ensure that they captured their attention.
Amanda L. Cole is the editor-in-chief of NonProfit PRO. She was formerly editor-in-chief of special projects for NonProfit PRO's sister publication, Promo Marketing. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.