I'd be rich if I had a dollar for every time I was convinced I had single-handedly broken the Internet, only to have the office I.T. guy come to my desk and bring it all back online with one keystroke. It's happened more times than I should be willing to admit in a national publication.
But every so often, the hardware really does go haywire. A scary red box of death gravely informs you of an error. You open your 2,000-word article and find little squares and assorted wingdings where there were once English words. It's the sheer, unadulterated panic typically reserved for Bruckheimer-esque catastrophes.
But the pros come in and, more often than not, they blow up the asteroid before it hits Earth. Sorry, wrong narrative. The pros come in and they find your files/debug your system/fix the Internet you broke. And suddenly, the I.T. guy becomes a rock star. He's your new best friend. He's a master. If human resources permitted it, you'd hug him. But just as quickly, he's off. There's always another computer to save.
Someone give this guy a slow-motion walk already.
Protect and Serve
The editors at Promo Marketing might not speak "computer," per se, but we do know promotional products. So in order to steal a bit of the I.T. department's collective adoration, we've compiled six tips for your next computer accessories promotion. The next time you find yourself in a cold sweat, wondering how you're ever going to help your end-buyer, rest assured we've got you covered.
1. Leverage popular items …
There's no getting around it, "The USB flash drive remains the workhorse of computer accessories," said Paul Hirsch, vice president of Houston-based Hirsch Gift. There's a lot to be said for ubiquity. Writing instruments, for example, have long been the bread and butter of the promotional products industry, and still find success even in a sea of like items.
Similarly, said Hirsch, "Digital photo frames and MP3 players are also very popular." The reasoning? People like them. People use them. And though they might cost a bit more, end-buyers can rest assured that these products' usage will stretch far, far into the future, taking company marketing messages with them.
2. … but in a new way.
There are ways to make even the most-wanted items a little more coveted. According to Hirsch, customization is key to success. "Custom-shaped drives are extremely popular at the moment," he explained. Hirsch Gift, for example, offers USB drives in such shapes as lightbulbs, guitars and even flip-flops. The company's art team can create a flash drive based on a distributor's specifications for singular impact. Amping up a standard with an enhanced design, "can be a great invitation to launch a new product or service," noted Hirsch.
3. Stay on top of new innovations …
One only had to pay even a little bit of attention to the news and the blogosphere to be aware of the advent of the product that will save us all—the iPad. As such, suppliers are gearing up for iPad-centric promotions. "We try to keep up with the latest technology trends," said David Frank, national manager of promotional sales and marketing for New York-based Built. As such, the company is now offering neoprene sleeves and envelopes in a variety of colors, created specifically for the iPad.
And Built's not the only company enhancing its product line to accommodate the latest and greatest from Apple. Hirsch predicted iPad skins will be a strong seller this year at Hirsch Gift. "Having the ability to personalize these is a huge plus," he added.
4. … but keep usability top of mind.
Though the tech heads might have been first in line to pick up the newest gadget, bear in mind that the rest of the population is often slower to turn over. Being able to accommodate those in many different stages of acquiring the newest laptop model or highest-tech accessory will give promotions increased impact. "Our products are good for Mac and PC," said Frank. What's more, he added, the "universal" laptop size keeps shifting: "It was 15", then 15.4", now it's 16"." When it comes to laptop cases or skins as promotions, Frank suggested distributors mix up sizes within a single order to fit the many different-sized laptops in an end-user audience.
5. Maximize a prime location …
Just think about how much time you spend at a computer or on a computer-like device. However shocking and life crisis-inducing the total hours might be, that's how much face time computer accessories get with end-users. Not to mention, it's prime real estate. "A mousepad with a hub is always going to command prime location and the logo or message printed on the mousepad is going to be viewed all day," Hirsch said. Also up for promotional grabs? Try keyboards, laptop stands and wrist rests—all stay close to the end-user, all maximize marketing reach.
6. … but don't discount the power of a mobile message.
Now, think about how many places you and your computer have been outside the office, and by extension, how many people have seen you two crazy kids together. Simply put, "Think of the front of a laptop being a billboard … what better way of promoting a logo?" Hirsch asked. Laptop skins, designed to adhere to the front of a computer to increase durability, are useful and far-reaching items that can promote a company's message anywhere from a coffee shop to an airport.
Similarly, when an end-user needs to travel, laptop bags, neoprene cases and sleeves also are strong promotions. Plus, they give end-users the opportunity to marry style with substance. "We have two really cool messenger-style laptop bags coming for July, as well as a stylish ladies' laptop bag," said Frank.