Drinkware tips from Huffermen
Our April issue has been out for a little while now, which among other things, contains my amazing, fantastic and generally mind-blowingly great drinkware story. It contains advice and tips from drinkware experts at Huffermen, 99CentPromos.com, Visstun and Moderne Glass on how to sell different kinds of drinkware, like sports bottles, glassware and travel mugs
The interview from Huffermen ran a little long, so I wasn't able to use most of it in the story. It's all really good material though, so I thought I would print the full interview here. Below are the excellent responses sent to me by Melissa Hoffman, sales manager at Huffermen, to my questions on how to sell drinkware for sports or athletic promotions. Her answers are mostly unedited, save for a few tweaks for things like grammar, style and formating.
Promo Marketing: Overall what would make an item excel in sporting and/or athletic promotions? Why?
Melissa Hoffman: Knowing your "end-buyer and end-user" is the most important aspect when determining how to promote a specific product. Not every product would be perfect for every event, end-user or requirement. There are a wide variety of end-buyers for water bottles such as youth sports programs, professional sports organizations, sports retail outlets, camps, etc. Each one is unique.
You need to know the end-buyer's budget, targeted age group, targeted gender and type of event/outlet (e.g., Is the bottle for a fundraiser, a giveaway item, a functional product or simply a promotional product?). Once you have made this determination then you can choose the best possible marketing option.
Youth sports organizations: If the end-buyer is a youth sports organization, you will most likely want to pick a bottle based on size first (smaller bottles for smaller hands). You will need a durable bottle that can withstand the everyday use of children. Most youth sports organizations work on a very small budget so you will also need to consider a less expensive product for this type of setting.
Fundrasiers: If the bottle is going to be used for a fundraiser, you need to consider the event type (e.g., Is it a walk-a-thon or a golf outing?). If the bottle is going to be used for a walk-a-thon, you may want to choose a bottle that is both functional and inexpensive. A less expensive product will allow the event to sell at a higher cost to help maximize profits to benefit the designated cause. For a golf outing, you would probably want to consider a higher-end, more attractive product, such as stainless steel, aluminum or polycarbonate alternative.
Sports recreation/workout facility: If you are marketing to a workout facility or sports recreation center, you should probably be prepared to offer several products that would appeal to different genders and age groups. Women often prefer a more slender, colorful bottle while men prefer a heftier, metal or polycarbonate-type bottle.
PM: Do you have any sales tips or advice you could give distributors who are trying to break into/be successful in sports/athletic markets? Are there certain types of end-buyers that are an easy sell for whatever reason like local recreational teams or gyms? Any interesting tips or strategies you've picked up from your clients?
MH: The best advice I can give is to really stress relationships with your clients. There is a lot of repeat business out there and if they are treated well, given great customer service and get what they are expecting out of a product, they will come back when they have a need again and will refer you to others. That is how you grow your business. No sell is "easy;" every client needs to be treated the same and every clients poses different challenges. Take them for granted and you'll lose their business. The best tip I can give is to understand that every client is different and the response and tendencies one may have given or shown may be a complete 180 from what a similar company's response or tendency may have been.
Professional Sports Teams: Professional sports teams often have youth camps/youth training programs. If you have a local professional sports team, contact the community relations department to get more information about what opportunities might exist. Also, every team participates in a yearly league conference. Exhibiting at the conference can be an easy way to reach all of the teams in the league under one roof.
Local Recreational Centers: Get to know the program directors at local recreational centers. Find out what type of sports programs they offer and prepare marketing material for every aspect.
PTA/PTO: Research the PTA organizations in your area. Get to know who the activity directors are for each school. PTA conventions are held in many states and/or cities. Ask if there is an opportunity to exhibit at the convention.
When targeting any of the above venues ask for the opportunity to put your name on their product (distributor self promo). With the youth sports programs, most coaches are parents who coach after work. They may see the product and decide to print a product for their company.
PM: Do you have any logistical advice to give distributors who are undertaking a promotion involving sports/athletic markets? Any tips to make sure it goes smoothly? Advice to make sure the end-buyer is as happy as possible?
MH: Be prepared to market your business, not just take a "one-time order." Invest in self-promo items. Design a self-promo product with your business and the end-buyer market in mind. Ask them for their logo and print a spec sample for them, which includes your information as well. This is an investment in your company. At the very least, a virtual proof or even an e-proof is an opportunity to help the end-buyer see the potential a product may have. ...
If you are marketing to schools, design a distributor self-promo product that reflects every marketing opportunity in a school. You can list academic excellence, marching band, pep band, choir, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, cheer, dance team, chess club ... everyone needs water! Deliver your self-promo product along with a catalog and promo flyers to the PTA leaders at every school in your area (or attend state PTA conventions and exhibit).
When dealing with the end-buyer, communication is extremely important. Give them a checklist, if necessary, to let them know exactly what you need from them (purchase order, vector artwork, PMS color requirements, event date, etc.). In return, give them an e-proof so they will know exactly what to expect when the product is complete.
When the sale is complete, distributors should make sure they follow up with the end-buyer. The end-buyer needs to feel that the order is appreciated and that [his/her] business matters.