Promotional products shouldn’t be unoriginal, cookie cutter objects collecting dust on office top shelves. They’re a financial investment, and as such, should serve you. Here are a few ways you can be intentional about choosing a promotional product that will help you reach your goals, from branding to sustainability.
Define the Stakes
First, consider the role of the object in relation to the needs or objectives it is intended to meet. Your promotional product must reflect your company’s – and your audience’s – values. If your brand claims sustainable values but distributes a plethora of plastic key chains at conferences, there is a stark inconsistency your stakeholders will notice. The product you choose will be intimately linked to your company, so don’t hesitate to make it interactive, useful and an honest reflection of your values. Even corporate gifts need the same consideration. Your audience is used to receiving gifts they make no use of, that they don’t find original. Be ambitious in your selection. Make your promotional product a source of inspiration for those that receive it.
Recommendation #1: Determine in advance what goal your product should reach when offered to your audience.
Evaluate the Supplier
It’s not always easy to locate yourself among the plethora of suppliers and know who to trust. However, one thing is true across the board: a supplier committed to sustainability and other positive social business practices will not shy away from highlighting it. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to pick up on the nature, values and agenda of your suppliers and determine which ones will be most effective in helping you reach the goal you’ve set.
Recommendation #2: Ask your supplier the right questions concerning their operations and products.
- Have they obtained any certifications (such as a B Corp certification)?
- Where is their production site located? Is it localized?
- What are their values and key elements of production? Do they have strict protocols and norms? How are they committed to sustainable development?
- How durable are their products? Are they useful, thoughtfully designed and long-lasting?
- Are the resources they use certified by a third party in any way?
- What are the specifics surrounding environmental and social impacts? Will the product be individually packaged? Will it need batteries? How far will it travel during production? Did its production support an inclusive and diverse economy?
Evaluate the Product
Your supplier isn’t the only thing to be questioned in your quest. Asking the right questions about the product itself will help you determined how effective it will be in helping you meet your goals. The idea isn’t to have an answer to all these questions, but rather to clarify your objectives and eventually compare various products to discover which is the most suitable.
Recommendation #3: Ask the right questions about the product to determine how suited it is to help you reach your goal.
If, for instance, your hope was to purchase an object that helped you meet sustainability goals and position your brand as environmentally-conscious, as yourself these questions:
- Where was it produced? Where do the primary resources come from?
- Is it useful? Durable? Aesthetically pleasing and creatively designed?
- Is it recycled/recyclable? What percentage of materials are recycled? Is it biodegradable?
- Does it contains chemical products that are threatening to the environment or one’s health?
- Does it need electricity to work?
- Will it be shipped with individual packaging? Or recycled packaging? Will it travel far before reaching the client?
- Do the subcontractors of my suppliers have an elevated carbon footprint? Do they prioritize hiring the underprivileged or handicapped?
A Word on the Environment
Your promotional product is an opportunity to spread an awareness of sustainability to your stakeholders. Be proud of your investment and your efforts. Proper design can lead to deep-rooted reflections on environmental, ecological and social endeavors. A company that fulfills his role as an innovative leader and example highlights the importance of the role every company – and individual – can play in the transformation of their environment and society. You may not be perfect, but you’re tackling innovative and essential approaches to business. You’re only just beginning? Not a problem, you have to start somewhere. Your goodwill will be seen in your sustainable actions and will be appreciated by your clients, employees, the media…. by all.