Ah, spring. It's the most wonderful time of the year (sorry Christmas). Long days, chirpy birds, not shoveling snow—spring is like Mother Nature's apology for that whole "winter" thing.
It's also the time for outdoor activities, which makes it an important season for the promotional products industry. With all the folks clamoring to get out of the house, breathe some fresh air and awaken from the chocolate- and whiskey-themed holiday stupor that saw them through the winter months, outdoor products will soon be in high demand.
We know what you're thinking: "Chocolate- and whiskey-themed holidays are the best!" That's true. But we know you're also thinking about how there are thousands of outdoor activities and millions of related outdoor products. That can be intimidating, but relax. Let our guide to the great outdoors get you started with some great products and promotion ideas for some popular outdoor activities.
THE BACKYARD BBQ
The product: BBQ Tools
Why they're so great: "Clients appreciate gifts that are not disposable, can be used over and over, and offer a high intrinsic value," explained Daniel Berkowitz, president of Picnic Plus, West Chester, Pa. "Due to the current economic situation, more people are staying home or traveling local, but still want an adventure away from the daily chores of being home," he added. "Recreational products can offer an inexpensive getaway."
Where to sell: "Since the product is compact and useful, it can be offered for a variety of customer programs [including] company BBQs, camping incentives, dealer programs, tailgate parties, and meat and poultry producer giveaways," said Berkowitz.
Put into practice: He related an anecdote where the Ember BBQ tool was offered on an all-terrain vehicle company's website as part of a dealer incentive program. "[It] generated three reorders over the summer period," he noted.
THE CAMPING TRIP
The product: Camping Lanterns
Why they're so great: "A great advantage of outdoor promotional products is that not only do they carry a company logo or message, they are functional items that the end-user can use in everyday activity," said Kevin Xiao, vice president of Atteff International, Ontario, Calif.
What to look for: Xiao explained that lanterns and other camping products often feature attention-grabbing designs and colors, as well as multiple large imprint areas. He noted that lanterns also have a high perceived value on top of their promotional effectiveness, thanks to their functionality and reliability.
Put into practice: "A distributor once came to us for a flashlight sample," said Xiao. "They wanted something functional with perceived value that their employees could use on a trip and could keep as a gift from the company. Instead of just sending out the flashlight sample, we recommended a package deal with outdoor-themed products," he explained. "Our client told us afterwards that the end-buyer was extremely happy about the program, all of their employees loved the package they got, and the company trip was a big success."
The product: Portable BBQ Grills
Why they're so great: Scott McCormack, director of sales and marketing for Picnic Time Inc., Moorpark, Calif., explained that grills and other outdoor products are generally associated with relaxation, and that that association can resonate with clients and end-users. "This connection is repeated and reinforced with each use of the product," he said. "In addition, outdoor products are almost always used in group settings, exposing the client's name and logo to a large number of people."
Where to sell: McCormack noted that portable BBQ grills are easy to transport and quick to setup, making them great for tailgating, beach events, camping trips, family BBQs or picnics.
Put into practice: He offered the following anecdote: "A construction company specializing in residential additions located in a college town gave the X-Grill as part of a 'Show Your Spirit' campaign. They advertised in the college alumni magazine and on the school website and offered the grill with a qualifying quote on a room addition. They were also able to take advantage of Picnic Time's collegiate licensing and offer the grill with the school's logo.
THE BEACH TRIP
The product: Beach Umbrellas
Why they're so great: Visibility and practicality. "[They have a] great imprint area," said Richard Meth, vice president of sales for Rainkist Umbrella Co., Edison, N.J. "Also, they're great safety products since they help protect you from the sun."
Where to sell: Beach umbrellas can be used in a variety of settings ranging from the beach to sporting events to restaurant, but Meth stressed the importance of timely product delivery. "Many companies battle for exposure; make sure you're the first to get the product to distributors or bars/restaurants/beaches," he said.
Put into practice: Meth explained that beach umbrellas can be used to great effect as centerpieces in dealer loader incentives—programs that encourage retailers to develop point of purchase displays or special product offerings. "One program put [a number of] beverages around the umbrella and at the end of the promotion gave the umbrella away in a raffle," Meth noted.
The product: Picnic Baskets
Why they're so great: "Tying your brand to a healthy family activity like a picnic is very valuable," said Grethe Adams, president of Southern Plus, Hartwell, Ga. "Other advantages are that baskets are unisex—even the guys will carry one, particularly if it's loaded with food—and one-size-fits-all."
What to look for: Adams suggested using products with large imprint areas to get the most out of the exposure offered by the outdoor setting. "These kinds of products are like mini outdoor billboards. [They allow you] to reach multiple demographics, not just the group that actually received the gift," she added.
Put into practice: "The Picnic Basket was given away to employees at a company picnic," Adams explained. "The basket was stuffed with other items including a picnic blanket and a packed lunch. The gift was a big hit."