Debbie Bartlett of AIA/Black Bear Promotions on Appreciation Gifts
Everyone likes to be shown a little appreciation. Debbie Bartlett, owner of AIA/Black Bear Promotions, Saco, Maine, told a story about how her company helped Southern Maine Health Care express its gratitude toward hardworking hospital employees.
Promo Marketing: Could you describe a promotion you thought was one of your best?
Debbie Bartlett: We work with Southern Maine Health Care on an ongoing basis to create memorable and effective promotions for their needs within the community, and for staff and patients alike.
This particular request was a gift needed for their annual donor appeal. The budget can be tight for many nonprofits, so I’m always on the lookout for closeouts and special deals that we can take advantage of to save them money and maximize their budgets. This one really hit the mark. They want the quality, obviously, like everyone does, and don’t always have the budget. So, we came up with the [Contender Team Tote] from Gemline that happened to be on closeout. The hospital ended up acquiring some new donors, and they also used the totes for their internal recognition program gifts that helped recognize staff excellence. It was a double application, and it worked well for both of their needs.
PM: What did you like about this promotion in particular?
DB: No. 1, the client was thrilled! This is an ongoing request we get, and I also like the fact that we gave them an option that really fit their requirements. They really wanted to show people their appreciation, so a high perceived value was needed. This one really had the look and feel they wanted and, luckily, the color was within their new color palette. It had that retail look and feel, and it fit their budget. Just seeing the pictures, you can see that the recipients just love them. I also like that they took the initiative to get creative with the packaging by tying a rope ribbon around each bag, which helped to increase the value and perception of the gift as well.
PM: Do you have any advice for distributors who want to create a similar promotion?
DB: I think it’s probably important to set up “good idea” files for your clients, especially if you know you’re doing something annually for them. Keep them in mind throughout the year, and set up some way to keep track of new products, closeouts, sales and trends that you’re seeing, so you don’t have to scramble the minute that they ask for ideas. It’s helpful to keep a file on good clients with products and concepts that are good matches for their requests, their colors, their ongoing themes, etc. This will help you hit the ground running with the perfect promotions for your best clients.