Dinosaurs are extinct because they just didn’t make the natural selection all-star team. The behemoths might have been chosen for sheer muscle power, but honestly, they weren’t moving fast enough, and no amount of spring training can knock the evolutionary destiny out of a potential competitor.
Yet, thanks to their sheer staying power, their crocodile cousins slid effortlessly onto the lineup. To be fair, they’ve been on earth for about 200 million years, and they’re probably the planet’s most consistent evolutionary players. It’s a little hard to imagine something so flawlessly designed from the get-go that it’s survived when, say, a T-Rex didn’t, but there it is. An even more terrifying, but unrelated, thought? Certain croc relatives walked upright.
Because of their epic loss in the genetic lottery, the term “dinosaur” is used to describe something that’s past its prime. However, it might be high time to introduce another term, one that references things that are so perfect, they don’t need to be tweaked or modified in any way. Like, perhaps, notebooks and totes? Yes. Notebooks and totes will hereby be known as “crocodiles.” Spread it around.
The Strongest Links
Our entire industry is based on the fact that promotional products make a lasting impact on patrons. “The giveaway is the most important aspect,” confirmed Blaine Wiltey, vice president of sales for Woodstock, Illinois-based American Ad Bag. The best of the best often are the ones that can achieve instant relevance with users, which is why bags and notebooks have become such valuable standards.
For one thing, it’s easy to see their usefulness right away. According to Tim O’Boyle, vice president of sales at Journalbooks/Timeplanner Calendars in Charlotte, N.C., “Journals are great for trade shows because most people can start using them immediately.” Wiltey agreed: “Most show-goers, of course, seek a bag to put their goods in,” he added.
And while they might not have screaming bells and whistles, bags and notebooks can often accommodate other promotional products, a quality which contributes to their effectiveness. Many items in Journalbooks/Timeplanner Calendars’ selection have pen loops to serve as a holding ground for yet another mainstay: the writing instrument. Also, O’Boyle noted, the company can customize journals with pockets to capture handouts and even USB drives. Other examples Wiltey mentioned were “side pockets to carry pens, business cards or even a bottle of water, and [totes] are strong enough to carry all the catalogs you can pick up during a show.” For show-goers, since everything is pretty much on their person at all times, all day long, these extras are crucial.
Make the Grade
But just because they have space for more, it doesn’t mean prospects will actually bring it all home. Thanks to new airline luggage restrictions and the liquid-free world guarded by airport security, a product has roughly 48 hours to make the grade. Either the promotion earns a spot on the return flight or it does not. Here are a few ways notebooks and totes can go the extra mile:
1. Choose hue you are. Two schools of thought exist here. You can achieve visibility on a grand scale, which is Wiltey’s plan: “We normally hand out a bright green bag that can be seen throughout the show.” Or, you can stick with a neutral color that has longevity. The jury’s still out, but deciding whether your marketing goal is instant recognition or a war of attrition is a good place to start.
2. End the sizing struggle. Wiltey has discovered the numbers you need to know for tote-bag giveaways. He calls 20x6x16", “the perfect trade-show-sized bag.” Also, a longer shoulder strap (28" or more) can help ease the nagging feeling that a show-goer’s circulation might be compromised.
3. Order room service. “Notebooks and journals make great in-room gifts,” O’Boyle emphasized. The welcome-wagon addition for salespeople and clients is not only a nice thing to do, but it also helps these items stand out. Simply, there’s less competition off the show floor.
4. Offer options. Even though bags and notebooks are proven survivors, it doesn’t mean that any old incarnation will do. American Ad Bag, for example, has added more colors as well as lower minimums for this year in order to support its customer base. Likewise, Journalbooks/Timeplanner Calendar’s variety of imprinting options include screen printing, multi-color foil stamping and die cutting. “We … try to make recommendations that fit both budget and advertising objectives,” O’Boyle concluded.