Written By: Desmond Lomas, CMP
I am lucky to work in an industry I love, and which is filled with people who aim to please. We at The Howes Group are both suppliers and buyers in the industry so please understand that we share two perspectives on how challenging it is for suppliers to differentiate themselves from the vast competition out there. One item in the tool kit for getting noticed by a potential client is through swag. If done well it can be extremely effective. If done with lack of thought or creativity, the promo item you hand out is very likely to get left behind in the hotel room, go to a thrift store or worse, make its way to the land-fill.
Here are top 5 things when gifting. You might not be able to hit all of these points, but it is a guide for your thinking:
- Original: Your promo item dealer might be pitching something that seems original to you at the time, but you should ask them how many of your competitors have been sold the same thing. Personally, I can never get enough pens because I keep on misplacing them, so unoriginal does not necessarily mean bad. On the other hand, I have no more space for additional water bottles!
- Customizable: A client with three kids in soccer who repeatedly forget their water bottles on the soccer field might love a water bottle as a gift. A simple $5 Starbucks coffee card might have more of an impact for another planner.
- Useful: This attribute is subjective and ties into customization and knowing your client. A water bottle is useful, but not if I already have ten of them! Wine is useful to me, but not for the person who doesn’t drink.
- Memorable: Some of the most memorable gifts relate to the fact that I keep using them over and over again which reminds me of the supplier. Memorable might mean expensive, but it doesn’t have to. It can also relate to the circumstances in which it was given. Recently emptying my pockets at airport security, I noticed I had a rather heavy business card in my pocket. The sales representative who gave it to me glued a Starbucks gift card to the back. She never told me she gave me the Starbucks card. This cost her $5 and it reached me on an emotional level. I’ll probably always remember this and where it came from.
- Sustainable: Many planners think about waste at their meetings. If the gift you give has lots of packaging or the gift itself, from the client’s perspective, seems like an unsustainable item you will have missed the mark on your gift idea.