How to Tell Your Clients' Brand Stories Better by Using Print and Promo Together
Advertising isn’t just about getting a brand in front of an audience. It’s about conveying everything that your client has to offer and creating an impression that tells that complete story. Promotional products alone can go a long way with lasting brand awareness, but Paul Keely, owner of King Print & Promo, Newark, Del., remembers two instances where adding print to a promotional campaign helped his clients deliver a deeper, more thoughtful message.
Through continued conversations with his clients, Keely got to the bottom of their needs and landed on a solution that told the story they wanted to tell. Here, he tells us about a pair of successful promotions, and explains how print and promo can work together to tell a client's story better than either can on its own.
Promo Marketing: When did you first start selling print and promotional products together, and why was this the right move for your business?
Paul Keely: [We] started combining print and promo about 15 years ago. It was a natural [move] because A) our name says “Print & Promo,” and B) we’re a turn-key solutions provider for tangible communication tools, which gives us a competitive advantage against people who are pushing product.
PM: Can you tell us about a campaign you’ve worked on that blended both print and promotional products?
PK: A specialty surgical practice wanted to thank their business partners and referral sources near the holidays. For years, they had given unbranded items. We suggested that their gifts highlight the “teamwork” nature of their collaborations with the recipients, and that branded gifts help reinforce being part of the team. The customer selected two promotional gifts—a branded power bank and a Bluetooth speaker. We created a custom-printed gift box and an inserted print piece that told the “team” story and thanked them for their support.
[Another was] a local university wanted to welcome incoming freshmen into a special program in the summer of 2020 when all learning in the fall would be done virtually. They wanted to send the students a specific book (which we sourced from The Book Company), and we suggested several branded items to help offset the disappointment of not being on campus. We created a custom-printed shipping box and included the book, plus several university-branded promos, along with a printed piece welcoming them to the program and outlining how the unexpectedly virtual curriculum would be handled.
PM: How did you choose the particular collection of products for this application?
PK: In both cases, we interviewed the customer and asked lots of questions. We came up with several suggestions, and worked together with the customers to pick something that resonated with their message and fit their budget.
PM: How did the combination of print and promo specifically solve the customers’ needs?
PK: It can be hard to tell a nuanced and moving story in the typically small imprint area of a promotional product. And a printed piece is a great vehicle for the story, but doesn’t have the emotional impact or staying power of a promotional gift. Together, our customers’ stor[ies] came to life in a uniquely compelling way.
PM: Did you run into any roadblocks working on this campaign? If so, how did you overcome them?
PK: When combining several components in a project, it typically adds to the time needed to go from concept to design to fulfillment to on-time delivery. So getting started early is really important. And, as we all learned during the pandemic, fulfillment and drop-shipping to hundreds of locations became a solution we had to master quickly.
PM: What advice would you give distributors looking to work on a similar project?
PK: Don’t be afraid to ask customers if they are open to a solution that tells their story in a much more compelling way.