Thursday, October 30, 2014

It’s Flu Season – What you need to know before you buy hand sanitizers…

Flu season is upon us. Although it is hard to predict when the flu will be most active, the CDC says that it can start as early as October and last as late as May. The usual peak season for the flu is December through February.

The single most effective way to protect yourself from the flu is to get a flu shot. They’re pretty easy to come by. Outlets such as Walmart, CVS and Walgreen all provide the shots. Certainly you can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office.

The CDC recommends that we all get our shots but especially recommends them for folks at higher risk:
·         Children under 2
·         Adults 65 and older
·         Pregnant women
·         Certain medical conditions,
…Heart Disease

There are some common sense steps you can take on an everyday basis to protect yourself.

The easiest step is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If you don’t have access to soap and water use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizers are an effective and appreciated promotional product. They work well as a trade show giveaway, at job fairs, at recruitment sessions. They’re small and lightweight so you could use them in a mail campaign.

The most important thing to look for is an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Look for an alcohol content of at least 60% The CDC recommends sanitizers with an alcohol content of between 60% to 95%.

After that you’ll have all sorts of choices on size, colors, etc. Just make sure you get an alcohol based sanitizer with a content of between 60% to 95%

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

7 things you need to know about buying food gifts

Seven things you need to know about buying food gifts.

The upcoming holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah are traditional opportunities for saying “Thank You” to your customers and your staff.

Food gifts are a popular way to say “Thanks” because they are fun, you don’t have to worry about sizes and they’re perfect for shared consumption.

But, before you buy food gifts here are 7 things you should know:

1)      Convenience. Instead of sending a staff person off to the local Costco, Sam’s Club or other retail outlet,or having them slog through endless websites, you can purchase food gifts from the same company that provides your promotional products and other business gifts. Plus, you’ll benefit from your ongoing relationship with that vendor.

2)      Promote your brand. Many gifts purchased from on-line sources arrive with their promotional literature and catalogs. They’re promoting their business and not yours. Food gifts purchased through your promo products person will have your logo on them. Who do you want to promote?

3)      Value Pricing. Food gifts from your logoed products vendor don’t go through all the middle men that are involved in distributing “big box” gifts. This can get you better quality for the same or less money.

4)      Fresher. If you’ve been to a Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club recently you’ve probably noticed that the food gifts have been on the shelves since late September. How fresh can that stuff be? When was it made in order to be on the shelves in September? Food gifts sourced through your vendor will be packed-to-order and not made months in advance.

5)      Contents. Food gifts from your supplier are crammed full of, well, food. You won’t find a lot of fluff and inexpensive food items.

6)      Shipping direct to your customer. The big box stores won’t ship your gifts. Many of the on-line retailers don’t have that ability either. All of our vendors can ship your order directly to your customer.

7)      Customization. If you’ve been to the big box stores and seen their food gifts it’s a pretty good chance that your customer’s have seen them too. What you see is what you’ll get. Our vendors have the capability to customize your gift.

So, now you know that you can go to your promotional products vendor for holiday food gifts. They are well positioned to help you put together the right gift to say “Thank You” to your customers, future customers and staff.

Bon App├ętit! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What you should know about promo products (before you buy)

Promotional products, (also called swag, giveaways, tchotchkes, bling, premiums,) can be a very effective and cost efficient way to advertise and promote your business.

Here’s what makes them so effective:

1.       80% of consumers own between 1 and 10 promotional products.
2.       60% keep them for up to 2 years.
3.       53% use a promotional product at least once a week or more often
4.       88% of people who have received a promo item recalled the advertiser for up to 12 months after        receiving the item
5.        62% of these people recalled the advertiser’s message
  Only 71% of people can recall an ad they saw in a newspaper or magazine from the week before!

OK, enough with the statistics. Here’s the point I want you to take away: this stuff works, people hang onto it, and they use it.

A promotional item does not have to be expensive to be effective. It does need to be useful.
Useful items are retained, and that’s what you want as an advertiser.

But, what’s useful? Well that depends on where you want to be remembered.

Do you want to be remembered in the office? Then think about items like notebooks, sticky pads, pens, desk accessories, wall calendars.

Do you want to be remembered in the home? Then you would consider things like kitchen utensils, magnetic memo boards for the fridge, tote bags, coasters, BBQ tools.

Here are some items that work anywhere: cell phone chargers, USB drives, water bottles, umbrellas, caps and T-shirts. Notebooks and sticky notes work everywhere.

So, think about who you are going to give this stuff to and what they would find useful.

Alright, you’ve thought about all of the above. You’ve decided you can use promotional products to advertise your business. Here’s what you need to know about buying these items.

  •          All items will have a minimum purchase quantity. On less expensive items that minimum might be 100 to 250 pieces. Sometimes you can buy less than the minimum but you’ll be surcharged.

  •          All items will have a maximum imprint area. That’s the largest available area for imprinting your logo. The point is don’t try to print everything about your company on the side of a pen. It won’t work.

  •       Artwork, (that’s what the industry calls your logo or whatever design you’re going to put on your promo item), needs to be in the proper format. The universal format for promo items is what’s called “vector art.” It’s too complicated to go into it here but vector art is a high resolution file that won’t distort and will print clearly. Jpeg, tiff and giff files won’t work. If your logo isn’t in “vector art,” spend the money to get it created in this format.

  • Colors. There are “spot” colors (think of one or two distinct colors on a T-shirt design), and there is “full color process” (think of a refrigerator magnet that looks like a full color photo.) When you see the catalog price for an item it includes the first color. Every color you add is going to cost extra

  • Set up is the charge to prepare your artwork for whatever process is being used to imprint your item.

  • Time. One of the problems with technology is that we’ve all become accustomed to instant everything.
The problem is that this is a manufacturing process and it takes time. Most products will take somewhere between 7 to 10 business days to produce. Add to that the shipping time. Many of the industry suppliers are located in California and that’s 5 days by ground to the East coast. Allow yourself a good 2 to 3 weeks to have your order produced and shipped.

  • Proof. A proof is a virtual representation of what your design is going to look like on your product. Always insist on a proof and always go over it with a fine toothed comb. The last thing you want is for your 1,000 pens to arrive with a typo!

The two areas where a project can go wrong are artwork and time. Have your logo (in several versions) in the proper format before you start your order. Give yourself enough time to deal with any glitches that might come up..

A quick word or two about pricing. You can get pretty much any promotional product through an on-line distributor. Their prices are often lower than what a local distributor might be able to show you. They work on huge volumes and small margins. If you know exactly what you want and don’t need any help, this might be the way to go. If you need advice and guidance you should go with a local distributor. As someone famous once said, “you get what you pay for.”

You now know:
  •          Promotional products work as a way to advertise and brand your company.
  •          Pick something that’ s useful to your target audience
  •         Have your logo (in several versions) prepared in the proper format well before you begin the      ordering process.      
  •         Give yourself enough time

If you stick to these guidelines you will have a successful promotional product campaign.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

mAh…what is it, and why you should care...what you need to know about buying logo'd power banks


This blog is about power, why it’s important, how to get it and how to keep it.

It’s not about political power or the personal power to influence and control people.

It’s even more important!

It’s about portable power for recharging all those devices we have and depend upon in our daily lives…smart phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, tablets, etc. Those devices that seem to run out of power at the absolute worst time.

Portable power banks, (also called external battery packs, external back-up battery, external battery charger or power bank charger), are a very popular and well received promotional product. It’s easy to see why.
They’re very useful and practical…that means they’ll be retained. They offer a fairly good sized imprint area, so your logo can stand out and get noticed. And, pretty much everyone can use one. This is an item that every company should have in their promo product cupboard.

Here’s what you need to know before you buy:

These are portable, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They come in a range of capacities (with capacity being how much power they generate). The power capacity is measured in mAh, milli amps per hour.
Power banks range in capacities from around 1800 mAh on the low end up to 14000 mAh on the upper end.

Here is a 14000 mAh charger. It has 2 recharging ports and will power up pretty much any device. This one comes with multiple adapters to fit most every device. It will make your coffee in the morning. Expect to pay about $68 for a device like this.

Think of the charger as your gas tank. The higher the number the bigger your gas tank. And, like gas tanks, these batteries can be refilled, i.e. recharged. The typical power bank can be recharged about 500 times before it starts to lose its efficiency. (They come with a USB cable so you can recharge it from your computer.)

Think of your device as the gas pedal, the more you stomp on the pedal the faster your tank gets emptied. A smart phone will use less gas than a tablet.

So, how much charging will you get from a power bank? It depends upon the mAh capacity of the power bank and the size of the battery in the device. For instance, if your smart phone battery is 1500 mAh (which is pretty typical) a 2200 mAh power bank will charge it 1 time, (assuming your phone battery is at 0%). If your device has a 3000 mAh battery then the 2200 mAh charger won’t charge it completely.

Look at the output rating for the power bank you’re considering.  1A -1.5A is adequate for a smart phone while 1.5A -2A is recommended for a tablet. Although a tablet can be charged with a 1A charger, it will take longer and probably won’t charge the tablet completely.

This is a 4000 mAh dual port charger. This one offers 2 power output levels, 1A and 2A. It also features a charge indicator light.
Expect to pay about $25 for something like this.

Look for a charger with multiple ports (2 USB ports along with a micro is a nice feature.)

Look for a power bank that has fresh batteries…if the price is super cheap in comparison to other chargers of the same capacity it might mean that the battery has been used before and been refurbished.  It happens.

An indicator light is a useful feature and a “use” indicator is an even nicer feature.

After that you can add features such as an LED flashlight, probably less than useful.

And lastly, do you want a plastic housing or an aluminum case?

This is a 2200 mAh charger with a metal casing. This has a single port and an indicator light. This is about $13.

The cylinder shape is quite popular. This is also a 2200 mAh charger. This one has a plastic casing. These are about $10.

Look at the links; they have a lot of the technical stuff. But, even if you don’t, you are now a much smarter buyer of power banks.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Logo'd USB Drives - 6 Things To Know Before You Buy

USB drives, (also known as "thumb drives," "memory sticks," and "flash drives") are a staple promotional item that every company should have in the cupboard. It's easy to see why: they're useful and that means they'll be retained, they're inexpensive, and they offer multiple opportunities for branding.

You can use them to reply to RFPs, as a way to present information about an event (schedules, venues, etc.), speaker bios, insurance policy benefits, the list goes on and you get the idea.

BUT...they are not all created equal and it's easy to get taken if you just go for the lowest price.

Here's what you need to know before you buy.

The most important aspect of the drive is what is know as its memory classification (not the memory capacity, I'll get to that later).

Memory classification is designated by "Tiers" with Tier 1 Memory being the best and Tier 3 being the least reliable. The little chips at the heart of your USB drive were cut from a master silicon wafer.
Master silicon wafer
The chips cut from the middle are stronger, have the longest lifespan (about 10 years), have zero to extremely low error rates and are faster. These are Tier 1 chips. They often have a serial number or name etched on each chip.They have a lifetime warranty.They are unused and go straight to the USB drive maker. (More on that later)

Here's what the guts of your USB drive looks like.....

Tier 2 chips are cut a bit further away from the center. They are reliable, although not as reliable as Tier 1.
They will not have a manufacturer's name or a serial number. They're a bit slower and won't last quite as long. They will not have a lifetime warranty.

Tier 3 chips are cut from the edge of the master wafer. They can have failure rates up to about 40%. They do not have any warranty.

Here's a little secret about low cost USB drives; they are most likely either Tier 3 or they've been scrubbed and are being reused. It happens. That's why you're likely to see a 1GB drive from one source for $12 each and the same capacity from another source for $6 each. Rest assured, the first drive is Tier 1 and the other is probably Tier 3.  Your promo products vendor can tell you if you are getting a Tier 1 drive and you should insist on documentation that you're getting Tier 1 and a lifetime warranty.

As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

Here's the next thing you need to know; chips are sold as commodities. The price will fluctuate from week to week. Most suppliers post their prices on Monday's and hold those prices throughout the week. They re post the following Monday. Right now (September 2014) chip prices are at all time lows.
When Apple was manufacturing the iPhone5 prices jumped because Apple was buying all the supply they could.

Next, memory capacity has expanded significantly over the past few years. Most suppliers offer drives with 64 GB of capacity. The most popular capacities are 1GB and 2 GB. See if you can find a 32 mg or 64 mg drive...even 128mg are getting scarce.

The most popular (and practical) style is the "Swing" (also called a swivel ) drive, so named because of the arm that swings away to give access to the drive. (It's practical because there is no cap to lose).

You see they come in a ton of colors so getting something to match your corporate colors should be pretty easy.

Here are the typical imprint areas (and imprint sizes) for a swivel drive:

Drives come in all sorts of shapes and materials so you should have no trouble finding a drive that suits your style and budget. Many of the suppliers who cater to the promotional products industry are capable of making your custom design. You'll pay a bit more for a custom design but having something that is unique to your company might be worth the expense. Here's an example

Here's the take away: all chips are not created equal. Insist on Tier 1 memeory with a lifetime warranty.

Hope this was helpful and drop me a comment if you have any questions.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Havin' Some Fun with Colors!

In my last blog I said that the two areas where a promo project could go wrong were artwork and time.

I lied.

You can add color to the list. Putting your logo on something, in color, can be a frustrating process. The client (you), the distributor (me) and the supplier (the people who put your logo on your stuff) may all be speaking a different language when it comes to color.

So in this blog I'm going to cover the 2 major color systems. I'll show you how they differ and how to understand them when you're talking about decorating your promo item.

You might remember being taught in grade school art class that black and white are not colors. Black is the presence of all colors, white is the absence of all color. Occasionally this will come up in decorating a promotional product when someone will think that black or white doesn't count in determining the number of colors being used to print their logo. They do because they are inks that have to be mixed.

And that's just the beginning of fun with colors!

What comes next could easily be described as TMI  (too much information). But if you're involved with promotional products this stuff is going to come up sooner or later so you might as well have some information on your side.

There are 2 color systems: RGB and CMYK.

RGB, (red,green,blue), is the color system you see on your monitor, TV or digital camera. It's called an additive process because you can make all possible colors by adding different parts of red, green and blue.

This little illustration shows how RGB works.
See how you can add, (remember this is called an additive process) more or less of the primary colors to make pretty
much any color you want.

Here's another look at the RGB color scheme

The other color scheme is called CMYK, (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). The CMYK process is the one used in printing..for putting an image on a piece of paper.

CMYK, (also known as process color or four color printing), is a subtractive process. It works by partially or entirely masking colors on a lighter (usually white) background. The inks reduce the light that otherwise would be reflected back into your eyes. It subtracts from the white. It's the combination of the ink colors that determines what wave length (and consequently what color) is reflected back to you.

Because CMYK is subtractive and is being reflected off of a surface, CMYK colors are often a bit duller looking than RGB colors. 

Here's an illustration that gives you an idea of how this works in printing.

Here's a quick YouTube video that explains the two color models.

Whew! That was alot!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

artwork...where promo products projects go bad!

There are 2 places where promotional products projects go bad fast...artwork and time.

Here's a piece of artwork
Renoir's "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)"

This is not what we mean when we talk about "artwork" for your promotional product or corporate apparel.

"Artwork" is the term used throughout the promotional products industry and refers to your design or logo.
It refers to any image or text that you want to see imprinted on your promotional item.

When your company's logo was created by a graphic artist they most likely created a few versions of the same image. One type is a "bitmap" or "pixel art" version. You'll recognize the file extensions like "jpg," tiff," or "gif." These are low resolution files most commonly used to send images back and forth by e-mail.

The other version is called "vector art." This is a high resolution file used for accurate reproduction of the design. It is scale able, meaning it can be enlarged without becoming distorted.

Pixel art is made up of individual squares of color. Vector art is derived from mathematical formulas that define the edges of the design. I don't begin to understand the math involved. But what you need to know is that when you enlarge "pixel art" the edges become ragged. When you enlarge vector art the edges remain smooth.

The best way to understand this is to show you some illustrations. You'll get what I'm talking about right away.

It's real easy to see from this image how the edges remain smooth with the vector art and become ragged in the bitmap.

Here's another.

This shows you pretty clearly what happens when you enlarge the two styles.

Here's one more just to emphasize the differences.

This shows you very clearly how the edges become ragged with pixel art and remain smooth with vector art.

What does this mean for your promo product or corporate apparel project?

The first thing to know is that the industry standard is vector art. Anytime you want to put your logo on something the supplier is going to want vector art. (You can't take a piece of pixel art and save it as an 'eps' file. It remains pixel art. Your design needs to be created as vector art in a program such as Illustrator.)

So, if you are planning a promotional product project make sure you have your logo in the proper format. Make sure you find that out before you start. The worst thing is to working under a tight deadline and finding out that the supplier can't work with your artwork because it's low resolution pixel art. Everything is going to stop dead in its tracks until you can supply the right kind of art.

Check your artwork now, make sure you've got the right format and be prepared with different versions depending on the size of the item.

Good luck and I hope this was helpful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

a few more things about logos

Putting a logo on something gets more complicated, and more expensive, when there are multiple colors.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here is the logo for Colonial Spirits. Colonial Spirits is a very nice wine, spirits and beer store in Acton Mass.

This is a 3 color logo. The text is maroon and is outlined in a dark blue. The Minute Man is dark blue and a gray blue.

Here's the first thing to notice; the maroon text outlined in dark blue.
It would be virtually impossible to screen print this. Why? You would first put down the maroon ink for the text. Then you would put down the dark blue outline. But look, there is no space between the two colors. They are right next to each other.
This is called "registration." You could not get the screen for the blue outline to consistently align with the text. Even the most accurate screen printing can't get closer than 1/32" registration with most needing 1/16"
If you did that to this logo you would lose the effect of outlining the text.

You would have the same problem trying to print the Minute Man. The colors are again too close.

So how do you capture this logo on a promotional item?

Colonial Spirits ordered wine glasses to have for their tastings. The glasses  weren't meant to be gifts, just used in-store for the tastings. So for that use they decided that it was not critical to reproduce the entire logo. Here's their solution:

They screen printed just their name, in their maroon color and left out the blue outline.

The other glass they ordered was a whiskey glass. This also was for in store tastings. In this case the glasses were going to be given to their customers. This glass needed to have the full color logo.

                                                                             Here's how it looked:

The whiskey glass has the full color logo. How was it done?
We used a decal. This way the logo can be printed directly on the decal material and then applied to the glass. There's no need to worry about registration since the decal is a digital print - much the same as printing on paper.

It's a bit more expensive but it allows all the details of the logo to be captured.

Takeaway: Anticipate how you may be using your logo on promotional products. Have several different versions of your logo. Decide, in advance, how you want your logo to appear if you can only use 1 color.
Decide, in advance, how you want your logo to appear if it is long and horizontal. If you have a tag line,
or a service or trade mark these will often be too small to be legible - can you use your logo without them?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

About logos and promotional products...

Much has been written about logos. Their design.The use and significance of color. How they represent a company's identity. The role of the logo in branding a company. There are as many definitions of what a logo is as there are people writing about logos.

For this blog though I'm going to use a pretty simple definition: A logo is a graphic symbol that represents your brand.

Paul Wyatt at Creative Blog posted on June 14 a great piece titled "Logo design: 60 pro tips."
Although it's written for the graphic design folks it is worth your while if you are at all involved in branding your company or designing your company's logo.

For this post I'm going to talk about your logo and putting it on promotional products. I'm going to show you possible problems and how to anticipate them.

When a graphic design firm creates a logo they also create a "style book." The style book dictates everything about presenting the logo.  How it can be rendered, the colors, what background colors, etc.
Most often the style book deals with how the logo can be presented in print and on-line. Often it does not deal with how the logo can be used on a promotional item. If you are involved with the design of your logo you should have your graphics team address this.

What can go wrong?

Each promotional product will have a "maximum imprint area." This is the space on the item where your logo goes. (Many products will have more than one imprint area, they may not be the same size.)
Keep in mind that this is the maximum area for your logo.
Let's take a pen.
The imprint area might be on the barrel and it may be something like 1.5" L x .5" H. Your logo has to fit within that area..and keep its proportions. So the actual print of your logo may be smaller than that 1.5" x .5" area in order to keep the proportions and fit within the imprint area.

An overly long horizontal logo will have a problem.

Here's the primary logo of our client Cambridge Savings Bank

You can see where this might be a problem for an imprint area that's not geared for a long horizontal logo.

Anticipating this they created a "stacked" version of their logo.

With this version they can use a smaller or non horizontal space.

When you work with your design team you want them consider how your logo can be rendered on promotional items with various imprint areas.

Your promotional products vendor can easily get this information for you on any product.

Another potential problem comes up with logos that have tag lines and phone and web addresses. On smaller items, like a pen, when you attempt to squeeze all that information into a small space you end up with text that is too small to read. The open spaces in letters will fill in. Anticipate this and have a version that does not have all that information.

Interesting aside: A recent study on promotional products found that most recipients do not use the promotional item as a source for your contact information. If they want to contact you they'll google your name and find you that way. Putting your phone and web address on an item is not critical.

To sum up: Design your logo, or have it designed, with the kinds of promotional products you'll use in mind.
Any design can be reproduced accurately in print or on-line. Not so with promotional products.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Terms you should know...

If you are in any way involved in buying promo items for your company, here are some common terms. . Knowing what they mean or how they're used will make you more knowledgeable.

Decoration: Anytime you put your logo on an item, that's called decoration. Doesn't matter the method of imprinting, (silk screen, laser engraved, pad printing, etc.) they're all called decoration.

Column pricing. Here's a typical catalog page showing pricing. This is for a USB flash drive.

The top line shows quantities with 50 being the "first column." In this case 50 USB drives is this supplier's minimum quantity for an order. (This is also called the "catalog minimum."). You'll see that the price goes down as the  quantity goes up. This is called "quantity price breaks." So, between 50 and 99 pieces the price per USB drive is $6.81, between 100 and 249 pieces the price is $6.53...and so on.
2500 pieces is the "end column" price.

About "catalog minimum." Often, but not always, a supplier will take an order for less than the "catalog minimum." In most cases they will take an order for 1/2 of that minimum. This is called a "less-than-minimum" order or LTM. There will be a surcharge added to the order to produce LTM. It can range from $25 up to as much as $80 depending on the supplier.

About the "Price" row. The price is per item. The price includes the item and a 1 color, 1 location decoration.

Set-up. Set-up is what the supplier does to convert your logo (from a digital file) into the proper format for them to decorate your product. This could be silk screening, embroidery, laser engraving, etc. The supplier has to "set-up" their machines to decorate your item. The set-up is a separate charge.

Run Charge.Remember that I said that the price includes a 1 color decoration. What happens if your logo has more than 1 color? Printing a 2nd color (or more) is where you encounter the "run charge." It is the supplier's charge to put that 2nd color on your item. It is quoted as a per piece price. The run charge also applies to printing in a 2nd  location. Let's say that you have a 1 color logo going on the USB drive. That first imprint is included in the price. Now let's say you want your web address on the other side of the USB drive. Printing in that 2nd location will involve a run charge.

PMS color match.Most corporate logos have very specific colors. These colors are designated by their PMS numerical code. PMS 032 for instance is what you might call a "fire engine" or "crayon red."
PMS stands for Pantone Matching System and is the universal code for creating colors.
When you specify your PMS color the supplier will add a charge to mix up a batch of ink in your specific color.
Most suppliers have a selection of their "standard colors" for which there is no additional charge. You should have your distributor check those colors...a standard color might be close enough to your PMS color that it's an acceptable can save yourself the PMS color match charge.

Proof. A proof is the supplier's depiction of what your logo will look like on the product you're buying. Most proofs are PDFs and show the item in your color with your logo in your colors. That's the industry standard.. If you receive a proof that is B&W or just shows your logo without the product, I recommend that you insist on a color proof.

That covers the charges you will have for a typical promotional product order. Knowing these terms will make you a better buyer and will avoid surprises in your final invoice.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The origins myth...

The origins myth in the promotional products industry has it that the very first promo item was a seed bag printed with the name of the seed supplier.
Not to be outdone, another local seed supplier made his bags into book covers for the local school.

Who knows?

Now the vast majority of promotional items are made in Asia with most originating in China.

Here's how the industry is set up.

Factories in Asia produce items under contract from suppliers here in the US. Most of these factories are contracted but a few of the largest suppliers have their own factories.

The suppliers here in the US import the goods blank...with no logos.
The suppliers warehouse the blank items.
Distributors place their order with the supplier, providing the end-user's logo.

The suppliers put the end-user's logo on the items and ship the completed order to the end-user.

Distributors are the intermediaries between the end-user and the suppliers. They're the promotional products vendors that the end-user works with. Distributors coordinate the order flow, handle all the back and forth and ultimately make sure that the end-user gets the product they want on time.

So, what did we learn?

Factories in Asia (mostly China) manufacture blank promotional items.
They ship them in bulk to suppliers here in the US
The suppliers warehouse the blank items. They then imprint them when orders come in.
Distributors coordinate the order flow between the end-user and the supplier.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Let's get started...

This is the inaugural post for "about promotional products & marketing."

This blog is for those of you who buy and use promotional products for your company. 

I'll be writing about promotional products, marketing and advertising. I'll talk about where the three intersect.
I'll cover how you can use promotional products to support and promote your brand.

As we go along I'll give you useful information and industry terms you can use to make yourself a better buyer. This information will be of value to both new and seasoned buyers.

Sometimes I'll use specific products to illustrate a point. But, the blog is not going to be about the products.

First...the 30,000 foot view:

Marketing is your overall strategic approach. It involves how you define and position your products/services. Marketing is everything dealing with how your products/services show up in the world. Marketing is strategy.

Advertising is tactical. Advertising is your message and the channels you use to get your message out. Advertising is TV, radio, print, outdoors, direct mail, social, etc. Advertising is tactics.

Promotional products are a form of advertising. They are not marketing. They are not sales. They can support your other forms of advertising. They should not be your only form of advertising.

Here's their benefits as a type of advertising:
Tangible, they are items you can see, touch, smell and taste.
Useful, if chosen properly they'll be something that people will hang onto.
Retained, see useful
Remembered, if it's useful to the recipient they'll be seeing your message many times.

So, what did we learn?
Marketing is your strategy, advertising is your tactics, promotional products are only one form of advertising.