Well hasn’t the environment changed in the last few months! Who would have known a virus out of China would lead to Australia running out of toilet paper! If branded hand sanitisers isn’t the product the month, it could be branded toilet paper!
We have seen major events cancelled and moved to a virtual platform for some. All the merchandise we had provided based on the stand brief in January and its messaging means the products we had selected are pretty much redundant, to a point...
In the last few weeks the products l am selecting for customers is changing significantly however the purpose for them is not. When anyone buys branded merchandise, for a trade show or for an event the purpose has already been to act as a supporting tool for the sales person to connect with potential clients. Merchandise shouldn’t really be given out for no reason unless the message is to purely get your brand out there to a mass market as quickly as possible. However, at any event or trade show the purpose is really to get a lead, meet a new client, just sweeten the potential client up by giving them something that’s represents your brand and message, it helps start that conversation.
So this is where it has changed drastically where we would typically for example have a chocolate wheel, a number of prizes – most of them less value and a few higher value, everyone loves a game of chance! We would get a crowd of people waiting and the sales team have the job of chatting to everyone so they can quickly work who they can qualify as a genuine lead, however it is much different today. I still believe there is opportunity as you still need leads right? So we have a few options, events going virtual, internal events created or no events at all.
If you event is going Virtual why not look at using merchandise as a pre or post sales incentive. You will need to connect with client but you cannot get physically in front of them right now, so why not let the merchandise do that for you. This can be done a few ways so again l know some will have lists of the people who were registered for the event and some will not. Thus, for the ones that do create a campaign around what you were going to offer and for anyone that registers send them out a merchandise pack. This will be very different to what you either had ordered or was going to order, this l understand but for anyone that registers let that be your physical touch point along with a message from the sales manager or sales team. It could be anything from a boxed notebook and pen so they are ready to go when the virtual event begins. You need to have a bit of fun with it, l don’t know if it’s just me, but if there was ever a time to have fun with merchandise it is now!.
Everyone is really unsettled in this environment and the product or products will need to align with either your brand or the message you want to promote at your virtual event. If your company is about security have some fun with virtual emergency packs like a custom box branded and things like branded hand sanitiser, chocolate bar, roll of toilet paper, bottle of water.
If your event is going internal when people turn up give them a much more customised gifts something that shows you really appreciate them turning up and just show them how important they are for you. I suggest you look at monogrammed notebooks with their initials on it. If they have registered, you will have their details and if they don’t turn up you can mailed it out to them with a personalised message that you missed them and lets have a chat. Doing a smaller event really allows you to only talk to your target audience and if you don’t have a list get the sales teams to together a list of people they would like to work with. The one thing l can see now is people are not going to the event so have that time right now but create a space that is productive and positive. I think right now is a great opportunity, as everyone is thinking differently today.
If your event has been cancelled and you have no events planned you still need to get leads, get sales going, so collaborate between sales and marketing and generate a list of people who you would of liked to have seen and create a campaign around this. As well as, when they register for a meeting or zoom meeting you could mail them out a custom pack, as they couldn’t come to your cancelled event. So why not bring the event to them in a sense and still use the merchandise to help generate that lead. Again this can be your touch point to help or start that relationship, and once again the products will be very different to what you normally get .
For all of the above you can use merchandise as a post sales incentive, get them to fill out a survey form for example at the end and once that is fill out a merchandise pack is sent out to them. Like Microsoft Ignite who did the beautiful t-shirts (I didn’t do them) when they completed a survey form they got a t-shirts. The same thing when they finish the virtual meeting / virtual event / small internal event , if its online just create a landing page they can fill out with their size and send to marketing and its sent out, same thing just executed a little different and you still have their details to follow up.
My one bit of advice is presentation is huge if you are mailing it out to your customer, the products need to be put in a custom box or some sort of custom packaging, this doesn’t mean expensive either. But depending on your message for the event that was planned, the products you choose must be aligned and promoted in the offering you send out and your marketing agency will be able to help with that.
We are talking to all our clients and turning everything on its head right now. Looking at different products and ways we can use merchandise as that bridge or an introduction to generate a lead, you cannot send a drink bottle out to someone without the purpose of that bottle been relevant to the clients brand or message. I could come up with a range of merchandise for an event for a client in minutes based on a client’s brand and message. However, now it’s taking a lot longer as it needs to be more relevant but the numbers we are sending out are much smaller and more targeted. l really do see it is an opportunity for my clients right now to create a bit more noise and cut through.
I know this environment is so different to what we have previously experienced but business still needs to go on. I am also a huge believer that in very disaster lies opportunity. For myself and my clients we are working out why we can still connect with clients without physically seeing them and allow the branded merchandise to that physical first contact point. This means we absolutely need to think outside the box but the purpose of the merchandise is still the same, it is still just a tool that is used to help generate leads and build the brand messages.
If anyone has any other question or if anyone would like any other tips, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org