Give a Nod to Great Work With Gifts and Incentives
From “a break” and “a second chance” to “the green light” and “the shirt off my back,” we’ll never be short on affirmative expressions concerning giving. There are a few negative ones, too, but let’s accentuate the positive, right? Whether sung or unsung, heroes abound in every walk of life, and one does not need a degree in behavioral psychology to understand that people appreciate receiving kudos for their accomplishments.
Regarding their esteem for excellent efforts, thankful parties can commend acquaintances, colleagues, employees, community members and more through numerous means, all of which, especially through personalization, will show the value of their work. As many congratulatory possibilities exist within the promotional products industry, Promo Marketing sought insights on gifts and incentives from David Miller, president of Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant, Hicksville, N.Y.; Giovanni Villalona, marketing and information director for AAA Innovations, Norwood, N.J.; and Naomi Berkowitz, business development executive with Picnic Plus, West Chester, Pa., all of whom are enamored with having their industry peers give credit where it is due.
From an originality perspective, the number of ways to acknowledge breakthrough moments could be as boundless as one’s imagination allows it to be. So many entities are looking to commend do-gooders, especially businesses, who last year increased their hires’ non-cash accolades by 17 percent (to the overall tune of $90 billion), according to the Incentive Federation’s Incentive Marketplace Estimate Research Study.
Whether dollars or amenities like award points, gift cards, incentive travel options or merchandise offerings engender smiles and encourage recipients’ next accomplishment, suppliers and distributors need a cohesive approach when marketing their grasp on greatness. That, as Berkowitz sees it, depends on diligently studying patterns and applying acquired wisdom in every interaction.
“What we have noticed over the years is that distributors and their clients would rather spend a bit more money to have a memorable, useful product—one that is used for many years and that isn’t relying on ‘the blink-of-an-eye-changing tech world’ or a ‘dust-collecting-on-a-shelf-or-hang-on-a-wall trophy,’” she said of her employer’s enthusiasm for crafting “every season, every reason” goods. “When designing new products, we manufacture them so there can be multiple decorating options from which the client can choose. We also follow the retail trends and developing businesses—craft beer, for example—and design our new products to meet the needs of those industries.”
Respect for those various requirements has helped Picnic Plus realize that even though companies might be cutting back on general employment, they are still lauding mid- and upper-tier staffers. Berkowitz stated that end-users have used that consistency to suggest particular products, discovered through trips to commercial websites, to distributors.
The latter individuals should, therefore, not rely only on customers’ points to craft ideas, as being proactive and anticipating value-intense needs should be top of mind, she added.
Villalona validated that mindset, noting, “The big trend we see is that clients want the same type of items they see in the stores—products that are immediately recognizable for their style and quality but at affordable prices.”
Picnic Plus and AAA Innovations have long looked to offer their lines as apt gifts and incentives options, with the former touting “memorable and useful products that are always in style and in demand” and AAA Innovations blowing past the competition mainly through its umbrella selection. Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant has proven similarly tenacious as a supplier, priding itself, as Miller stated, on keeping “a close eye on safety and quality” thanks to its being a manufacturer and “not just a decorator.”
“We have always promoted our product line for gifts and incentive offerings, as there are many pluses toward utilizing food as such,” Miller said, singling out the ease with which people can share food and adding that its 2011 acquisition of Taylor & Grant helps it include mint tins and wrapped candies among its admired commodities.
Seeing those possibilities led Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant to take huge steps any supplier can replicate, in that it aims each day to enhance its reputation. Its growth, Miller said, comes from “doing what you say you are going to do and addressing any hiccups in a timely fashion and with a fair conclusion.”
How do industry figures go about those actions with respect to gifts and incentives? For AAA Innovations employees, who strive, Villalona said, to strengthen their workplace’s clout “every minute of every day,” their courses call for them to think of the immediate joy people will feel when reaping the rewards for their labors and the benefactors’ repeated benefits.
“Companies are very careful with budgets for gifting,” he said. “Gifts must enhance brand imagery and provide strong return on investment. Incentives are seen the same way. They must have high perceived value, while costs per item are extremely important.”
With everyone seemingly doing more with less (and for less) these days, Villalona acknowledged nobody should overlook the power of incentives, offering mention of a case study through which AAA Innovations used 2,500 golf umbrellas to help the brains behind the RainAlertz application hail their employees.
“Choose a great incentive,” he said. “[Make it] one with real retail value and some sizzle!”
Owing to the nature of his company’s wares, Miller would definitely not want for them to sizzle literally, but he knows that those who want to heat up sales should seriously consider the perks of providing food-centric goodies. Considering the gifts and incentives niche at its strongest point, he believes those individuals should nourish the power of nourishment.
“Most end-user clients will not ask for edibles for their promotion or venue,” he lamented. “The distributor needs to offer [them] as a suggestion. If they are not selling much in the way of edibles, it is because they are not offering [them] as a suggested product for the different opportunities [available to their businesses].”
Food goes fast, but can definitely stick with the fortunate beneficiaries, and can go a long way toward convincing their givers to duplicate the generosity again and again. Berkowitz likewise has longevity on her mind when pondering the best means to say “thanks for a job well done.”
“Think about all those landfills,” she cautioned. “Do you really want for your clients to continuously throw out ‘stuff?’ Does the ‘toy of the moment’ really help represent your client? I would recommend that distributors talk to their customers and offer them useable, innovative items that bring value to their company.”