Token of Gratitude
Gift giving is an art. Make a lasting impression, and show the recipient you’re thinking of them. Give the Tune Squad T-shirt to your best friend, who recognizes the Seal version of “Fly Like an Eagle” in two notes and constantly asks if you’ll watch Space Jam with him, so he can embrace his inner Michael Jordan.
The right gift is a powerful thing. Yes, it may encourage a few alley-oop and baseline dunk attempts, but it also becomes associated with the giver.
For incentive programs, complete with gifts and luxury brand items, the distributor and end-buyer can use well-placed imprints, effective packaging and well-selected products to strengthen this association. Keep these seven concepts in mind when you’re matching your client with a product for a slam-dunk incentive program.
1. Creative thinking
Oftentimes, end-buyers stick with traditional items for gift orders because they don’t know the full spectrum of their options. “They may not think of a new type of product as being a viable gift until you show them the potential,” said Eileen Lucky, promotional sales supervisor of Moorpark, California-based Picnic Time. She recommended suggesting a couple of items the client wouldn’t expect but are applicable to their end goals to show them you understand their mission.
“Consider what type of item you would select if given those reward dollars,” Lucky said. “Would you pick the laminated plaque, or would you rather have a tool set for the new house you’ve just moved into?”
2. Budget flexibility
When we think about luxury goods, words like lavish, decadent and extravagant swirl in our heads. Yes, expensive also comes to mind, but incentive promotions don’t need to break the bank to be effective. “Consumer confidence and the business environment play a very real role in determining the kinds of products and the order quantities clients will agree to,” said Brian Padian, senior vice president of sales at Logomark, Tustin, Calif.
Many suppliers, including Logomark, offer incentives at a wide range of price points, combining budgets and goals in order to “find the perfect product mix,” explained Padian.
3. Useful products
The purpose of a gift program is to reward—for hard work, sales, achievement, etc.—so make sure you offer products that the rewarded will not just enjoy, but put to use. “The trend towards ‘home and hearth’ continues, as participants want items that can be used by the entire family,” said Dean Resnekov, director of indigo, Mount Prospect, Ill., who cites housewares, home electronics and luggage as popular selections.
“As the economy continues its sluggish recovery, participants see incentive programs as a way to get items for the home without spending disposable income, saving that for other things like eating out and going to movies/concerts,” Resnekov said.
4. Purposeful promotion
In order to provide the best product to reach the end-buyer’s goals and the message of an incentive program, information is crucial—what the items will be used for, how they’ll be distributed, who’ll be receiving them.
“This information allows you to get more creative in your product offering, and target the best items to ensure a successful program,” explained Bryan Irby, sales manager of American National Supply/iMark, Arlington, Texas. “You simply have to continue to discuss and ask questions until you feel comfortable that you know what the goal is.”
5. End-buyer understanding
With so many products to choose from, the direction of the promotion often comes down to whether the end-buyer is more modern or traditional. “There is […] a distinction depending on the end-user and what industry they work in,” said Claudio Vazquez, president of Clava American, Englewood, N.J.
Banks and insurance companies tend to stay conservative, while studios and software companies prefer newer products, according to Vazquez. Pitch products that appeal to your end-buyer’s sensibilities to find the right match.
6. Friends in high places
Don’t shy away from retail brands—and don’t let end-buyers assume they’re out of their price ranges. Rymax Marketing Services, according to Allyson Krichman, the company’s senior director of product sales group, makes retail products reasonable by combining its brand portfolio—think Skullcandy, Michael Kors and ION—with direct relationships with retail partners.
“Aligning your company with brands that have high perceived reputation and reflect the values of your business communicates your company’s message more accurately to your audience,” Krichman said. “When you become a reliable source, you start turning loyal customers into brand advocates.”
7. Long-term mindset
Sure, some end-buyers run one-time-only gift programs, but even these instances provide the opportunity to open communication channels for ongoing, annual and recurring incentives. “A distributor just needs to let their clients know they have the capability to implement these programs,” explained Mary Anne Comotto, president of Cleveland-based Partners for Incentives.
Commoto pointed to examples of value-adds as a decrease in end-buyers’ internal work loads, an increase in sales or a more engaged workforce. “Programs keep renewing each year as long as the client is receiving a value add.”