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Do You Make These 8 Costly Mistakes When Buying Promotional Products?

8 mistakes when using advertising specialtiesImprinted advertising specialties are ideal low cost promotional gifts for prospects, employees and clients. When used properly, promotional products can keep your name in front of your prospects when they will be planning to use your services or products. Imprinted ad specialty gifts can also help earn you referrals and promote your brand and message. In fact, specialty advertising can be among your lowest cost per impression method of advertising and yield substantial returns on investment for your advertising dollar.

However, in over 24 years in the promotional products industry, I have seen the same mistakes being made time after time that end up costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Here are the top 8 mistakes to avoid when ordering promotional products for a trade show, direct mail campaign, or for any other event. How many of these mistakes have you made?

1) Avoid Unnecessary Set ups Charges: When setting up any imprinted order, from catalog printing and business cards to advertising specialties, there is considerable time needed upfront to set up the presses.

With advertising specialties, many times there are jigs that need to be prepared which hold the item in place, ink colors that need to be tested, trial runs to make sure the colors and inks are correct, etc. These steps can take as much as 30-45 minutes or longer on many jobs, so most advertising specialty orders have a setup charge fee to help defray these costs. For the customer who continuously places a minimum reorder for the same product, they can often be hit with setup charges several times a year, as some jobs require a setup charge on each order, whether it is a reorder or not. Be prudent and anticipate supply so that you only have to pay for setup costs one time, easily saving you hundreds of dollars per year.

2) Order Sufficient Quantities to Reach the Next Price Level: Most promotional products have quantity price breaks; the more one orders, the lower the price per piece. By ordering a quantity that takes pricing to the next level, a company can save 10-15% on an order—often paying for itself in the long run.

3) Use As Few Colors As Possible on Imprint: In order to silk screen or pad print a promotional item, each color is placed onto the material with an impression, using either a screen or a cliché. One color is run through the screen onto the item, then, when the ink is dry, the next color is run through a separate screen. Each passing of the ink is a separate step or operation, which takes time and adds to the cost of the item.

Many companies of all sizes have two logos available for advertising: one is often a one-color logo for yellow page ads and black and white forms; the other is a multi-color logo for printed material. Depending on the usage of the item, the cost per piece, as well as the recipient, many companies can save extra run charges by using their one color version of their logo (or having one designed for your company).

Below are the two versions of EcoMarketingSolutions.com’s logo – each which will be used on the appropriate promotional products and other printed materials.

EcoMarketingSolutions.com logo-2 versions

I have seen instances where a client has insisted on using a five color imprint on a $2.00 plastic promotional item, such as an imprinted water bottle or tote bag—thereby adding as much as $3.00 in costs. In these times of increased scrutiny over expenses, a simpler one-color logo can save your company money without diminishing returns.

4) Plan in Advance to Avoid Rush Charges: A typical production facility schedules it print runs weeks in advance. Some try to imprint all water bottles on one day, all key tags the next day, etc – in order to optimize production. Other factories schedule around imprint colors—so they try to run all jobs that require Royal Blue ink on one day, black ink imprints another day, etc – to avoid ink clean up time and to reduce down time.

When a rush order comes in, in order to move one job ahead of others, production changes must be made at the factory or plant. Although rush orders for imprinted products are becoming commonplace, they tend to require additional service and time, thus requiring a rush charge of 10-25% or more. If you can plan accordingly, this is one of the easiest ways to dramatically reduce costs of promotional products.

5) Check Proofs Carefully to Avoid Errors: As the saying goes, haste makes waste. When a company receives a proof, be sure to completely look over the details—which usually spell out the ink colors, location of the imprint, ship to address, in-hands date, as well as the actual imprint and imprint position. Do not assume everything is correct with a cursory glance (or you might be cursing under your breath after receiving an order printed incorrectly). This is the final opportunity to correct any errors before production begins. Once a proof has been signed and the print job is run, changes will mean having to re-print the job, which will incur additional costs.

6) Ship by Ground to Avoid High Freight Charges: Rush orders and rush shipments are getting to be an everyday occurrence in the advertising specialty business, as many clients have last minute events or simply forget to order promotional products for events. However, with the constant rise in shipping rates, shipping by air can add significant costs to any order.

7: Avoid Dimensional Weights When Possible: On rush orders that must ship by air, try to avoid ordering promotional gifts that are bulky, such as water bottles, as they tend to go by dimensional weight, rather than actual weights. Most freight companies charge dimensional rates for large boxes that have little weight, as they fill up their trucks or planes more quickly than smaller boxes. Imprinted tote bags and flat items which stack better without wasted “air space” tend to be more cost effective – especially when shipping by air.

8: Avoid Irregularly Shaped Items for Direct Mail: When planning your promotional marketing campaign, it is wise to determine how the products will be distributed and plan accordingly. I have been involved with too many campaigns where the client was originally planning on handing out the promotional items at a trade show, but decided to send them out by mail afterwards. Direct mail gifts are a great way of reaching your potential customers when planned in advance, as you can find promotional items that are lighter in weight, ship flat, come in a protective gift box and that don’t require special handling or packaging. However, when thrown together at the last minute, many companies find they are spending as much for a shipping box or package than they spend for the actual item itself.

With a little advanced planning, any company can easily save 10%-25% on their promotional products. Sometimes an item that is slightly more expensive than another, but ships flat and is lighter may actually save you money in the long run. Perhaps finding a factory that is closer to the convention center or fulfillment center can also save you on freight costs. Talk to your promotional products solutions provider about these, and other, ideas to save you money. The best solutions providers will be looking for ways to maximize your promotional products budget y asking questions to determine the best options for your event or promotional campaign.

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Robert Piller is President of EcoMarketing Solutions LLC, a company that helps businesses promote themselves to their customers and prospects at trade shows using environmentally-friendly promotional products that won’t end up in a landfill. Mr. Piller brings over 24 years of experience in bringing fresh ideas to the promotional products equation. He is a frequent speaker and writer on issues of green marketing. He can be reached at robert@ecomarketingsolutions.com. You can also visit his blog at www.greenspotblog.com.

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