Convergence Corner: How One Distributor Turned a Branded Kit Into a Delicious Outdoor Experience
Some things are just meant for each other. For instance, you’d be hard pressed to find a better ensemble of ingredients than a s’more. Jeff Cowens, owner of Amplify, Memphis, Tennessee, not only used the power of the s’more with a branded Solo Stove as an appreciation gift, he combined the promo side with the print side by putting the whole kit in a custom-printed box. This allowed him to tell the whole brand story without having to fit any additional print inside. It’s just the latest in a string of campaigns that blend promo and print — something he says all distributors should look into.
Print+Promo Marketing: When and how did you first start selling print and promotional products together, and why was this the right move for your business?
Jeff Cowens: I always had the idea that they just go together, and tried it at a previous company I worked for, but was met with differing opinions. When I started Amplify in 2021, it just made sense to get my Sage/PPAI membership and sell promo with print from day one! It’s been great because I love being a one-stop shop, and one-and-a-half years later I still don’t get tired of hearing, “Oh, you can do that too?”
PPM: Can you tell me about a promotional campaign you’ve worked on that blended print and promotional products?
JC: I did a campaign for a healthcare client of mine, and they wanted something unique to give their doctors for national doctor day. I had just gone to PPAI and saw the mini Solo Stoves, and was excited that I was going to be able to use them. We made thank you boxes that included the following: custom-printed box, marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey bar, and a branded Solo Stove.
PPM: How did you choose the particular collection of products for this application?
JC: Once I knew I wanted to do something around s’mores, the Solo Stove just fit perfectly. The custom-printed box from BoxUp was the best way to get our messaging across without adding additional print inside.
PPM: How did the combination of print and promotional products specifically solve the customer’s needs?
JC: They were going to need a way to package their gift, so to be able to utilize a custom-printed box with all of our messaging it served a dual purpose. It also gave it a very creative look to be different than any other gift they have received in the past.
PPM: Did you run into any roadblocks working on this campaign? If so, how did you overcome them?
JC: This was actually a smooth process. The only issue we had was what to do with the marshmallows. The graham crackers were just a sleeve from a box. The candy bar was a wrapped candy bar. The marshmallows only come in a large bag, so we had to individually bag five marshmallows for each box. Cellophane wrapper with a decorative ribbon did the trick.
PPM: What advice would you give distributors looking to work on a similar project?
JC: Ask questions. Ask your customer if they’ve seen anything that interests them. Use online forums with other distributors. At times you get met with someone who wants to be rude or accuse you of not being good at your job, but 95% of the distributors in those groups are super nice and always willing to help. By rule, we’re all competitors of each other — but if I can help someone land a new customer or make their lives easier by recycling an idea, I’m all about it!
PPM: Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked about?
JC: For anyone scared of selling print since you’ve always been a promo business or anyone afraid of selling promo because you’ve never done it: There is so much support out there. Do it! Make yourself that much more valuable to your customers. I was and still am a print-first shop, and I’m always happy to offer any sort of print support to anyone. I’ll print for you or find someone to introduce you to if needed.
Brendan Menapace is the senior digital editor for Promo Marketing. While writing and editing stories come naturally to him, writing his own bio does not.