Just One Look, That's All it Took
When anyone walks into a room, the first thing people notice is his or her appearance. If he or she is sporting a polished look when entering the room, the opinion of the masses will be that the guy or gal who just walked in is on top of his or her game. Whether you are outfitting a high profile sales team or a group of company CEOs, there are a few items that land on the list of what is needed when building a perfectly polished persona.
1. The right suit. Check.
2. A neat and stylish haircut. Check.
3. The latest style in shoes. Leather of course. Check.
4. The coordinating belt, also leather. Check.
5. A professional dress watch. Check.
6. And lastly, the perfect professional bag or briefcase. Uh oh.
While many of these items are not at the disposal of the promotional products distributor (if you can swing a promotional haircut, you are definitely a cut above the rest), the perfect briefcase or professional bag is an integral piece that sits squarely and profitably in your hands.
"[From] Fortune 500 [to] Fortune 100 companies, beverage companies to airlines, we have orders daily from every walk of life," noted Jamie Cimino, president of Canyon Outback Leather Goods, New Ulm, Minn. "We are also seeing an uptick in college orders, as the recession has not hit them as hard," he continued.
Because ensuring a sales team looks their best while on the road and meeting with potential clients is of the utmost importance, Antonia Pappas, product development manager for The Magnet Group, Washington, Mo., explained further. "This particular category sees activity from many [markets]," she said. "Companies that are outfitting an active group within their organization are willing to look at a higher-end bag that uses better quality hardware and materials and will last longer."
What to Wear ... For Now
There is a shift today from what we've seen in recent years. For the last decade, the large screen laptop was a staple and the bigger the screen, the bigger the briefcase. That is no longer the case. "The small brief is back," Cimino said. "The 17" laptop screen is fading [from popularity] and small tablets and iPad sizes are hot now." This trend shift is always welcome on the promotional side, particularly because high-end bag styles don't make major shifts often. "Trends in our industry, especially in bags, do not change every year," he said. So when a new trend comes along it is good to get in front of clients while the trend is hot.
And when it comes to color, Pappas and Cimino both agreed that the timeless elegance of black still tops the lion's share of sales in the professional bag category. "Color in higher-end bags is typically an accent, if at all," said Pappas. "These bags are typically black and utilize mixed materials to give an extra depth of detail. Alternate colors hover around a more classic, and very rich brown tone."
Going in for the Sell
When pitching a bag to a potential client it is important to know where to look for quality. From the grade of leather to the materials used to make the hardware, knowing what makes a great bag great is paramount. "Learning the differences in the materials and features between low-end and high-end bags will allow you to speak knowledgeably and with confidence should a customer question the differing price points," said Pappas.
If a potential client is concerned about the pricing of a briefcase or professional bag it is fair to note, "Like a luxury car, these are quality bags utilizing superior materials to achieve a certain look and level of performance and longevity," said Pappas. "A customer interested in this type of bag should naturally understand the difference in price/quality between these and standard promotional products."
"A good canvas or leather bag [is] going to be around a lot longer than a cheap nylon bag," said Cimino. "If I'm giving one of my long term clients [a bag] I don't want it to be something that he will throw away in two weeks; I want him seeing my name for a long time."
Longevity of brand exposure is one of the top benefits of a briefcase or professional bag, Pappas concluded, "Low-end bags, while they can be used over and over, are still typically easy to discard. A well made business/briefcase is created to convey the status of the logo it bears and be the bag you look forward to carrying for years."