Meet Alyce: The Business Gifting Company That Does the Personalization for You
Personalization, and researching your clients and end-users to provide a product that will be used on a regular basis and, therefore, provides long-lasting brand awareness, is key for promotional products distributors. The more an end-user enjoys the item they receive, the more they think about your clients and do so positively.
In this age of e-commerce, gift giving has changed dramatically. In terms of choosing gifts for business partners, prospects and clients, as well as shopping on a personal level, we no longer necessarily have to get it right the first time. Think about items like wedding registries, Amazon wish lists or gift cards. There are plenty of ways to shop for someone and giving them exactly what they want without having to zero in on the exact item they may or may not want.
This practice has crossed the line into the promotional gift giving space thanks to Alyce, a company that specializes in business gift giving influenced by the modern practices of shopping and personalization.
Greg Segall, CEO of Alyce, says that through his company, which publicly launched last year, companies can give gifts more thoughtfully without necessarily putting in the countless hours to get every single personal detail of every single prospect or partner.
"We do basically one-to-one personalized gifting for sales, marketing, personal success and HR as well," Segall says. "This catalytic moment happened back in 2015 when I was thinking about my next company to start, and I was thinking about this moment—at my first company, we had all these different partners, and the partners would get gifts every year. I'm a health nut, I wear a size small, personally. And this one partner sent me this very, very expensive jacket in an XL, and filled the entire jacket with chocolates."
Not only does Segall remember the ill-fitting jacket, he remembers how the chocolates inside were melted by the time they got to him. It was a nice jacket and a thoughtful gift, but it was poorly executed.
"This is someone that I'd see five to seven times a year," he says. "He was one of my best partners. And it just hit me that there's this insane amount of waste that's happening every year for companies. I took that one step further, and said, 'When you think of the industry, every single company sends gifts, sends swag, sends incentives, rewards, all this type of stuff, and all of them are doing it because they're trying to grow their business.'"
From there, the idea for Alyce was born. Here's how it works: You, as a salesperson, could send a prospect a branded gift box. Inside the box, there's a branded card with a code. The prospect takes that code and goes online, where they can either accept a gift you've personally suggested for them from the list of products available, or they can exchange it for a different item of equal value. If they don't want anything at all, they can donate it.
"The more personal you can be with somebody, the better you can build your relationship," Segall says. "When you're investing into sending somebody something, it should be personal, if not the most personal thing that you do."
Through Alyce's system, salespeople can monitor the success of the gift by tracking the time it takes for additional calls and sales from the time the gift was given. Segall believes that by allowing salespeople to save time they would spend handpicking an item (which is still possible, however), they can achieve their sales goals faster.
"Think about it: If every single channel of communication for every single aspect of a business is going to a more personal direction—and I've followed the promotional industry forever, and I've been in e-commerce for close to 15 years and have watched how this entire industry has evolved, and how e-commerce and digital communication has evolved—and everything is becoming one-to-one," he says. "Promotional products, and you're very close to it, they talk about variable data printing, and try to figure out how you personalize promotional products for specific individuals."
What Segall believes he and Alyce are doing is taking personalization one step further by eliminating possible waste or failed campaigns. That is to say, if you get the gift right the first time, your client will get the brand awareness that you promised them, rather than running the risk of the end-user tossing whatever item they received into the trash.
"The more you're able to be targeted with a touch point with an individual that you're trying to get to take action, the more you're able to coerce that action by using that personalization to establish a type of relationship with them," Segall says. "That's just a fact. If you get a swag kit from somebody and the sizes are wrong and the person doesn't like them, whatever it is, and you take that same money and you apply that to something for their dog because you find out they love their dog, that speaks volumes. That person is going to react differently to that. To us, it is, the more we can personalize it, the better it is. And that's what we're using technology and using this approach to go after this entire market."
The obvious thought is that this seems to run counter to the traditional suppler-distributor-client model that many promotional products professionals operate under. The distributors use their knowledge of their clients and research to figure out exactly what their customer wants and how that will fulfill their needs. They go to the supplier and get the product, and fulfill the order after personalizing the products however the client wants them to be personalized.
Segall believes that both models can exist in today's economy, unlike how some might fear the intrusion of straight-to-consumer companies like Vistaprint could impact the print industry. He specifically cited trade shows as opportunities for advertising that his style of business still can't have the upper hand. It's simply a numbers game.
"Think about trade shows," he says. "You just can't touch all the people at once. That makes sense. The other side of it, too, is the more brand affinity someone has for [a company], the more they want logoed products."
So, while client research is still one of the pillars of a successful promotional products distributor, technology and services like Alyce are providing ways to focus attention on other things. Think of it almost like how a calculator can save you time you'd otherwise be writing out long division on paper. Do you think practices like this could become more commonplace in the industry, or will the human element always reign supreme?