Picking a Winner
For our October issue, one of the articles I had to write was themed around awards and recognition products. One of my sources for the story was Audra Lehnert, marketing coordinator for Crystal D. She gave me a ton of material in response to my questions, all of which was fantastic and likely of great value to anyone new to selling awards. Unfortunately space constraints prevented most of her advice from being printed. To amend this injustice and rescue her material from an unceremonious and obscure death in my inbox, I'm reprinting her e-mail response in full below.
Promo Marketing: With so many design options available, do you have any advice for distributors to help them pick a design that's right for their client's program?
Audra Lehnert: "I advise distributors to consider four important pieces of information prior to choosing an award design. First, consider the preferences of the recipient. Try to find out distinctive characteristics about the recipient, then tailor your award choices around that information. For example, pick a star award for the person who likes stars, choose a traditional design for an individual who has traditional taste, or choose an award with bright colors and a sleek design for someone more contemporary.
Every award is a symbol of achievement to the recipient. My second piece of advice is to choose an award that symbolizes the achievement accurately. If the recognition occasion is for a person who has accomplished a huge feat, then give that person an award that is grand. Choose an award with a rugged appearance to reward the completion of a project that has had many peaks and valleys. Awards with artistic flair are a good fit for individuals who have a playful, unique personality.
Third, distributors should always try to choose an award that aligns with the client's corporate brand. Many distributors work with individuals in the purchasing department. These people can guide the distributor to ensure that the corporate brand is upheld.
Lastly, consider the theme of the event when selecting an award. If the event is a black-tie occasion choose an award that is equally elegant and majestic. On the other hand, if the event is an outdoor picnic choose an award that is lighthearted and playful in nature.
PM: Do you have any tips or pointers on using an award's shape to communicate a particular message or sentiment? (Do taller awards feel more powerful, curved ones more soothing, etc.?) What about with color?
AL: Tall and heavy awards make a powerful impression on the recipient. Awards with straight lines and sharp angles have a contemporary feel. Awards with delicate cuts or intricate details are traditional in nature. Color adds vitality, excitement, and energy to an award. Add color when the recipient exudes those same characteristics. Using a color process like colorfill or Illumachrome enables an award to take on the personality of the recipient or symbolize the qualities of the presenting organization.
PM: Do you have any advice on engraving/imprinting on awards? Any limitations distributors should know about? Any general information?
AL: Distributors should know that most of the artwork that we receive requires some modification to make it production-ready. Etched awards require a minimum line thickness to maintain image quality requirements. If the artwork provided contains intricate details it may need to be modified before it is considered etchable. If this is the case, the art department can recommend a layout option that ensures etchability without compromising the visual design of the artwork.
PM: Should a given program present an opportunity for repeat business, like a salesperson of the year award program for example, would you have any advice on how a distributor might lock that up? (designing an iconic award, any sales/customer service strategies you've seen distributors use, etc.)
AL: One of the major advantages of selling recognition awards is the fact that many recognition occasions repeat on a regular basis. Some organizations operate recognition programs that reward employees annually. Others recognize their employees more frequently.
It is very common for distributors to lock up repeat business using recognition programs. Generally, recognition programs repeat for 3-5 years. Seventy-three percent of existing programs at Crystal D repeat annually.
The most important tactic that a distributor can use to ensure repeat business is to understand the purpose of the recognition program. By understanding and internalizing the clients' business objective the distributor can provide meaningful advice and timely product recommendations.
Experience has shown us that the distributors that secure the most repeat business from a recognition program understand the purpose of the program and then ask for the business.
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