DJ Furgason of CEShoppes Powered by Proforma on Thinking Outside the Box
At one point, we all have made the mistake of leaving a candy bar in the sun. It’s truly devastating. (OK, maybe we’re being dramatic, but it really is annoying.) DJ Furgason, owner of CEShoppes Powered by Proforma, Lithia, Fla., wanted to make sure that the recipients of a box of chocolate experienced nothing but joy.
Promo Marketing: Could you tell us about a promotion that you think was one of your best?
DJ Furgason: We do a lot of corporate food. We do a lot of these things for marketing companies that work for large pharmaceutical companies, and we do the behind-the-scenes work a lot of the time. One of the marketing agencies came out and said, “We have this customer who’s looking for custom chocolate.” That’s a pretty standard item, but they were a little different because they wanted to have a wooden box instead of the custom package, like we normally do. So the problem with that is now you have to bring in multiple factory lines. So, we had one company to do the wooden box, another company [that did] custom chocolate. And then, you have to have an insert, which makes the chocolate fit properly in a wooden box.
PM: What did you like about this promotion in particular?
DF: We like to do interesting things. Obviously, we’re all in this to make money and have sales, but we, over a number of years since the late ‘90s, have been doing these things. And we seem to get involved in projects that are more challenging. And the reason I think [we do that] is that we’re on the web. Marketing companies and marketing departments within companies don’t normally think their regular distributors can do something. Whether they can or they can’t, they don’t see them as those people. They go to the web looking for those things, and they find some of our projects, and they call us. And that’s usually how it starts.
PM: Did you run into any challenges with this promotion? If so, how did you overcome them?
DF: Well, the obstacle was that chocolate melts. And, normally, if you ship from the factory to multiple locations, or directly to a customer’s event, it’s not really a problem. But this was one destination. Ice only lasts three days tops, usually two. But, because we had other components, we had to custom make an insert that would fit in the box so the chocolate could fit in the wooden box without bouncing around. The challenge was finding a company that had the right piece and could decorate them in time … and then of course putting it all together and getting it to the facility, because there just isn’t enough time to send it to two or three places and then send it to the destination.
PM: Do you have any advice for distributors looking to do something similar?
DF: I would say, obviously, they have to do a little bit of research. But I would say that, as they’re looking for suppliers, they should ask those suppliers what else they’ve done that is similar, because a lot of people say they can do stuff [that] sometimes they’re not good at. I don’t want to say going outside of the box because that’s a pun here, but sometimes they’re not good at going outside of their normal expertise. So I would find what else [the supplier has] done that’s similar, so they can either send it to [you] or take a picture. And then, once they identify those pieces, at that point they can deliver or quote to the recipient and provide a total package. … Because that’s what they want. They want to be comfortable that it’s all going to be taken care of. They don’t care how you do it, they just want to make sure it’s done.