21 Piping-hot, Fresh-from-the-oven Sales Tips for Edible Promotions
Get ready for the two sweetest words in the world:
Sometimes it's the treasure you uncover on your millionth trip to the break room to grab water/escape your cubicle for three minutes. Other times, it's delivered straight to your house like a beautiful gift from the gods. Perhaps it's on that trade-show table you keep creeping by just so you can sample the goods? Doesn't matter! The thing that unites all humans is this: wherever free food is, that's where we wanna be.
And while "free" doesn't necessarily mean "good" (as anyone who's ever had a trick-or-treat bag filled with weird, unnamed hard candies can attest)—no other promotional item can get people this excited just by existing.
But according to our panel of experts, Sheila Schectman, CEO of Shrewsbury, Mass.-based Gifted Expressions; Debbie Tubbs, director of operations at Fresh Beginnings in Valdosta Ga.; and Tom Riordan, president of Mosinee, Wis.-based Maple Ridge Farms—that's just the beginning. You can make the concept of free food go even further! Imagine the possibilities!
We've compiled their advice into one amazing list of bite-sized selling tips. Read up, digest, then go out there and make your edible promotions better (tasting), faster (to produce) and stronger (marketing efforts for your clients). Free has never been so profitable!
1. "Utilitarian is so key a word," noted Shechtman. If your packaging isn't imprinted, but truly useful (ice buckets, reusable tins, etc.), your name will be remembered every time it's brought out.
2. When discussing a potential promotion with a supplier, provide as many details as you can from the start:
What's the budget? Where's it shipping? What's the time of year? How many people are meant to enjoy it? As Tubbs pointed out, "Share as much information as possible and put us to work for you!"
3. Be realistic about budget constraints. A $50 gift won't feed 50 people.
4. Riordan suggested that sometimes the gold standard of gifting is something that has a little something for everyone: sweet and savory.
5. Logos aren't everything-many times you can incorporate branding using colors alone. (Sometimes even with delicious colored icing, which as we all know, is the best way to brand anything.)
6. Consider timing: People are in a different mind-set in January (diets and Zumba!) than they are around Thanksgiving (turkey and stuffing!).
7. When lacking logos, bundle. Adding a lone decorated item to a basket of non-imprinted foodstuffs can add tremendous longevity to a promotion. If you're doing a basket for a car dealership for example, add in a single decorated travel mug-it'll last long after the goodies are gone.
8. Individual bags are another a great way to spread the logo love (and an added bonus: in sharing situations, they help keep everyone in the office from getting their paws all over every single cookie!)
9. Ask your supplier about customization. Tubbs discussed a past project where a new Star Wars cookbook was being presented at a trade show and Fresh Beginnings was tasked with mass-producing the book's recipe for a Wookiee Cookie. The cookies were packaged individually, labeled and handed out for a successful tie-in people loved.
10. Savory snacks such as pretzels or nuts are good for golf events because they won't melt while out on the course. Conversely, to beat the heat, consider branded beverages or coolers.
11. Get your name out there. According to Riordan, "Approximately 90 percent of business food gifts are not purchased from distributors." Make sure your clients know you deal with food gifts in addition to your regular lineup of products.
12. It might seem simple, but something as easy as an imprinted ribbon can set a promotional gift apart from the typical gourmet food items an end-buyer can get at a Harry & David.
13. Sending treats directly to a recipient's home is always a pleasant and welcome surprise. If the shipping duties seem complicated or are something you just don't have time for, ask your supplier if they offer drop-shipping. They may be able to handle the logistics for you.
14. Can the package fit in a suitcase? If your client plants to give out some goodies at a trade show or conference, make sure it does (double bonus: make it carryon size for the travel pros!)
15. Consider a theme for your promotion that matches the venue. Schectman once worked with a distributor to gift cocoa and marshmallows for a ski event. She also mentioned creating hospitality packages with the types of snacks an end-user could find in their minibar (and thus, removing the need to dish out $10 for minibar almonds). It was an unexpected and popular surprise for end-users.
16. Try blind debossing as a more subtle way of including a brand in gift packaging. "Quieter" decorations like this often increased perceived value, especially on large edible gifts bundles often given as thank-yous or holiday presents.
17. Bolster sales by suggesting repeat gift programs. Tubbs mentioned a client who would send a package a month to each of its 350 retail locations to help spread awareness of an ongoing summer promotion. Each month they'd send a different flavor cookie with a targeted message, she explained. It's a great tactic for birthdays or anniversaries as well.
18. Know your audience. Some markets are more likely to keep branded items in their offices or homes compared to others. (Think young college students hungry for any material possessions versus Fortune 500 CEOs who may own more personally than the total value of your entire company.) For those markets less into logos, consider non-branded keepsake packaging.
19. Getting fancy is awesome, but don't be afraid to stick to the classics. "Our fresh-baked Gourmet Chocolate Chip Cookies are definitely our number-one seller, and have been for over 30 years," Tubbs said.
20. Make sure that gift looks like a gift. Packaging and presentation are "the sizzle that sells the steak," noted Riordan.
21. Finally, here's the one we all know but need to be reminded of from time to time: Nothing matters more than taste. Nothing. They might forget everything else, said Schectman, but they'll remember the best chocolate truffle they've ever eaten. And more importantly? They'll remember who gave it to them.