Can You Save the World with Promotional Products?

We are in an industry where many buyers refer to us as “trinkets and trash salespeople.” That awful moniker makes you beg the question, where is the good in what we do every day? Sure, nifty giveaways will help drive prospects to tradeshow booths and branded holiday gifts make clients feel like you give a damn about them. These things certainly can add value, build on client relationships and hopefully drive more business. And if you have found a way to track and show a return for your clients, well, you are The marketing Buddha on the mountain top.

So, back to the question, where is the good in what we do? And what is the definition of a good brand? There is certainly a difference in good brand strategy/a snappy logo and doing “good” with your brand. At Brand Fuel, we call the approach to doing good with your brand, “BrandGood.”

To us, doing good with your brand is directly related to a basic tenet in life – helping others. A 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer found that only 56% of people trust businesses to do what is right. It’s time to change that low score. And if we are honest, people care more about causes than corporate brands. So, why not merge brands with causes?

“Brand” and “Good” are essentially two simple words that when happily married, can accomplish a large amount of social responsibility. But how does this translate in a business setting and how does is it relate to the promotional products industry? Here is how it translates in a business setting:

  1. Inspire employees to get out in the community and volunteer with existing nonprofits that are connected to a company’s mission. For example, have a homebuilder’s staff work with Habitat for Humanity to build a home.
  2. Ensure the company gives Paid Time Off to employees for volunteer work.
  3. Extend your reach and outcome. Send formal invitations to family members, vendors or better yet, clients, as well as staff to take part in this giving back, team-building experience.
  4. Ultimately, build upon a stronger culture with a matrix of shared values and perhaps attract better talent. Build camaraderie. You might even help reduce healthcare costs by decreasing stress in the work place.
  5. The fact that a company/brand led a volunteer charge is powerful. And it’s different and necessary and morale- boosting and important. To the community. To you, t. To the guy who makes funny noises all day long in the cubical next door. To all of us.

Now, how do you monetize the concept of “brandgood” with promotional products? You’re creative and not a “trinkets and trash” salesperson so these teaser suggestions will make sense to help you elicit new business and help others.

  1. Target your client’s Human Resources department to introduce a volunteer activity.
  2. Beforehand, be sure to send an invitation out that includes a product tie-in.
  3. During the activity, provide everyone involved with exclusively designed logoed team t-shirts and/or hats.
  4. Hire a photographer to capture volunteer activities. Later, provide volunteers with branded photo frames to house those pictures. Imagine your client putting a picture frame with your logo and the charity’s logo on their desk or wall. Talk about building brand loyalists. Your competitors will wish they had thought of that.
  5. After the activity, create a giving program where employees who get deeply involved, get recognition through awards.
  6. Rinse and repeat once a month.
  7. Help clients get a step closer to becoming a B Corp if they want to go deep.

As well, consider tapping into anti-smoking and childhood obesity campaigns, leveraging tax advantages from legislation to create wellness programs, creating a blood drive for branded rewards program, recognizing individuals/companies for reducing carbon footprints, discounting goods for non-profits that make your heart tingle…the list goes on and on.

All of this doing good in the workplace will likely change the concern about the guy in accounting who was just laid off to something positive, perhaps employee appreciation and a conversation about a fun, feel great co-worker experience.

And, I know what you are thinking. At a time when gross profits are being challenged, can companies really afford to invest time in the business of benevolence? My answer is that they can’t afford not to. Company supported cause-related employee activity is directly connected to improved morale, increased productivity and relationship/team building.

And this is not all about volunteerism. For example, and you may need to bust out the industrial Kleenex for this video, Johnson & Johnson does the right thing (and seemingly does so without trying to sell you):

We are all stake holders in the future.  Let’s do something about it. Now go change that “trinkets and trash” perception and help your clients inject some good into their brands and the communities that need us.

And remember, according to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

Written by Danny Rosin.