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Sell This Product – Pill Boxes

Filed under: Sell This Product

Here’s a prescription for branding success: Have your client’s message on display seven days a week.

Apothecary Products Inc.’s (asi/ 36545) new seven-day push-button pill box opens easily for the elderly or people with stiff or sore hands or fingers and has even received an ease-of-use commendation from the National Arthritis foundation.

It’s important to note that over 46 million adult Americans are affected by arthritis. And it doesn’t only affect seniors. Approximately 294,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by juvenile arthritis and it’s one of the most common childhood diseases in the U.S. There are countless walks and events to raise awareness about the debilitating condition and this product would make a perfect giveaway. Here are some facts you can have on hand when addressing relevant clients:

  • There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
  • There is no known cure for the disease.
  • Arthritis strikes women more often than men.

Cindy Bleisner, ad specialty manager for Apothecary, says the company’s pill box is the only one in the industry designed specifically for people with arthritis or other hand/finger disorders. “Our 80158 Pill Box is sold at a slightly higher price point than a standard pill box. However, the benefits of being able to easily open it far outweigh the cost difference,” she says. “Not only are the tops easy to push open, the product also has Braille and non-skid rubber on the bottom to hold the product in place on a table or counter.”

All products are made with food-grade plastic as well, to ensure safety.


  • Health Fairs
  • Senior Centers
  • Pharmacies
  • Doctors’ Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Elder-Care Services
  • Juvenile Arthritis Foundations
  • Arthritis Awareness Groups and Events

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Food Gifts

Filed under: Sell This Product

Sweet Nut Tree makes the case for why food is a good value as well as a tasteful gift.

While most gifts offer enjoyment only to an individual, your clients can often please a whole department, office or family with a food gift, getting the most bang for the buck. “When you prorate the cost of a food gift by the number of people who will enjoy it, the savings can be very substantial,” says Larry Robbins, vice president of Sweet Nut Tree (asi/90392).

Robbins says that food gifts are especially popular with companies in construction, real estate, trucking and financial industries – but the potential for markets is unlimited. “It’s not like a golf item, where some participate and some don’t,” he says. “It is universally enjoyed. You may have too many calculators or calendars, but food gifts will always be well received. Because food gifts often go to a whole office or department, nobody is forgotten or left out.”

Besides nuts, other products offered include popcorn, pretzels, chocolate and candy. Robbins says distributors can provide clients with fresher or better-quality food gifts than most retailers or mail-order establishments. He encourages distributors to incorporate them into their daily presentations, provide taste samples and use them in self-promotion.


Personalizing or branding the container,  which can be reused and serve multiple functions, provides a reminder of the gift to recipients long after the goodies are gone. Sweet Nut Tree offers a variety of packaging options:

  • Designer tins
  • Gourmet boxes
  • Wooden keepsake boxes
  • Collectible wooden trucks

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Plastic Badges

Filed under: Sell This Product

Name badges have come a long way from the blue-outlined “Hello, My Name is” stickers.

Pardon the pun, but name badges need no introduction,” says Greg Johnson, president of
Imagery Group Inc. (asi/62240). His company has made a business of providing high-quality badges to serve the wide range of organizations that use them.

The market for name badges stems from the basic human desire to work and interact with people we know, Johnson says. “As people, we are just more comfortable speaking with friends, and badges act as an informal introduction that starts the relationship-building process.”

Badges are helpful anywhere people who are not on a first-name basis convene. Markets like universities, retail sales, service companies, clubs and service organizations, health-care-providers, and food service and hospitality industries are all large consumers. Johnson says every distributor has clients that are currently using or need badges. The key, he says, is looking for the opportunities and asking for the business.

Badges are a unique promotional product for several reasons. Although their high reorder value makes them a great sale, Johnson says selling to a program rather than a single sale, will ensure long-term profit. “Don’t create a problem for yourself down the road when the customer needs a few more badges,” he says. “It works far better to take care of this now and set up a release program.”

The logistics of getting a specific badge to a specific person at his or her location also make this promotional item different from most. The key to avoiding hiccups in the process is to work with a professional and experienced supplier.

Imagery Group has developed Badgewarehouse.com, a stand-alone online release program, to enable end-users to administer their own programs if they choose. The program allows end-users to enjoy 24/7 availability and access to their orders. It’s one of many ways Imagery Group has streamlined their business to create a faster and better experience for the end-user. “This is what drives reorders, which is what we all want,” Johnson says.

Besides identifying people and programs, badges provide value in positioning, branding, advertising and employee recognition. These small adornments carry company logos and sales slogans and create a tone that’s fun and friendly or corporate and professional. With the addition of drops, extenders and ribbons, badges can take on a more traditional advertising role, presenting products, services and special offers to customers at the point of purchase. Add-ons can also be used to show special skills, services or achievements of the wearer.


  • Multi-event program. An insurance company that holds multiple events for agents wanted to spark interaction with badges that not only shared the wearer’s name, but location, title, designation, and years of service. They also wanted a distinct badge for each event so it could serve as a keepsake. Using digitally printed badges, The Imagery Group had no problem organizing and including all of the info and creating badges with a different, eye-catching background for each event. The insurance agency loved them, and the in-house personalization process made the distributor’s life easier.
  • Incremental orders. A banking client with hundreds of branches needed name badges on an incremental basis. Each branch also had its own operating budget and required corresponding invoices – a management nightmare for the distributor. Imagery Group’s online, 24/7 Badgewarehouse Pro Premier release program solved the problem, providing badges from readily available inventory, in any quantity, and to multiple locations. Online release history allows monitoring the expenditures of each branch. One or two badges can be ordered at a time and be billed without the high costs usually associated with small orders.

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Flip-Flops

Filed under: Sell This Product

Footprints USA thought outside the (shoe) box to develop a marketing idea and a new line of footwear targeted to fundraising groups at high schools.

School spirit never goes out of style. So when state and local officials began slashing school budgets, fundraising became a larger priority than ever. At the same time, many traditional fundraisers using food items like cookie dough have been nixed in recent years due to health concerns. As a result, many high schools have added in-house “Spirit Stores” where branded promotional merchandise is sold to support school activities, clubs or sports.

Footprints USA (asi/55030) met the need by designing its new line of “Laguna Surf” flip-flops, with all-fabric straps and most “spirit” colors, just for this market. Bob Stevens, president of the company, says team fundraising efforts are an even bigger opportunity for distributors, because there are multiple opportunities within every school.

This year, school fundraising accounted for 50% of Footprints USA’s business, up from 30% in 2007. As funding for schools continues to diminish, the opportunity for promotional products distributors will only increase. Additionally, high schools are the perfect breeding ground for viral marketing. Stevens says after creating a product for a school, kids tell their friends, parents see it, talk to the PTA, and call up his company.
“These schools need money and have nowhere else to get it,” he says. “Most distributors know it’s a market, but they don’t know what a huge opportunity it is until they’re really involved and start getting to know people.”

He suggests distributors establish a relationship with a point of contact, such as a coach, and present samples of other school jobs, as well as a virtual sample of the proposed design. The coach or administrator who oversees fundraising can help generate ideas for art, and Footprints USA has plenty of examples to help.

“The key in this market is color,” Stevens says. “Each school has their own color scheme and it’s important to offer these spirit colors.”

The supplier offers five sole colors and 12 fabric strap colors that can be mixed and matched to create a unique sandal featuring any school’s mascot and colors. Typically, the school will use a mascot or logo printed on the heel of the flip flop and the name of the school on the strap. “It’s a proven look that has good perceived value and creates maximum sales,” Stevens says.


  • Travel Incentives
  • Tourism Boards
  • School Stores
  • Team Fundraisers
  • Resorts & Spas
  • Nail Salons
  • Special Events
  • Weddings

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Frames

Filed under: Sell This Product

Photo frames and holders add a personal touch and leave a great lasting impression.

The old adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photos are priceless possessions, and those that conjure up warm memories are often displayed. If your clients have provided the frames holding the photos, there will be positive feelings associated with them too.

“Whether you deal with sales programs, customer acquisition and retention or internal employee relationships, there aren’t many things that can rival a photograph of the recipient for hitting a very personal note,” says Phil Martin, sales manager at Warwick Publishing Co. (asi/95280) “The photo holder allows your customers to ‘frame’ their message and bring themselves into the picture. Other event commemoratives might fall very short of reminding recipients of their personal participation in events, aspirations, accomplishments or at venues.”

Warwick, which makes popular desk calendars and has experimented with other paperboard items over the years, noticed distributor clients’ marketing efforts were becoming more event-driven, says Martin. This observation led to the development of a simple, white frame to hold Polaroid 600 film — “perfect for those spur-of-the-moment shots and easy to mail and distribute,” he says. “It was a definite hit; distributors picked up on it and marketed our frames to celebrate special and everyday events with very personalized advertising mementos.”

Over the past 20 years, Warwick has added to its photo commemoratives, including Polaroid mounts, picture frames and photo presentations. The company offers a variety of imprint options, such as foil stamping, color-me outlines, full-color printing, custom shapes, custom folds and stock imagery and inserts, to give the display a unique touch.

“The frame can become the messenger of just about any theme or campaign,” says Martin. “While traditionally, we think about selling photo frames for award banquets, parties/galas, tournaments, sports matches and the like, consider the everyday events—car test drives, open houses, customer visits, workplace imagery and all of the times people are together building relationships.”

Martin has been surprised by some of the fun, creative ways that distributors have sold photo frames and folders and even proposes a challenge: “The best ‘memorable moment campaigns’ submitted by Advantages readers with Warwick frames and photo folders will be used in our future ads, and orders mentioning ‘Advantages – Sell Warwick Photo Frames’ article on their purchase orders will receive 10% off!”


  • Veterinary clinics mail pet owners framed pictures of their pets as reminders of annual check-ups.
  • The Air Force Academy used frames as an invitation with a dinner menu to the cadet ball with a promise of a framed photo for attendees to take home. 
  • Realtors photograph special houses and send framed photos to their “short-list” prospects imprinted with, “Imagine yourself in this luxury mansion!”

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Caps

Filed under: Sell This Product

LED lights under the brim put this cap at the head of its class.

On a stormy night at sea, a man juggled the difficulties of working the wheel and rigging of his boat with trying to aim a flashlight where he needed lighting. That experience would have a lasting impact on him, leading to a new invention. “This challenging situation gave birth to an exceptionally elegant and simple solution: The Panther Vision (asi/75825) LED Cap Light concept was born,” says Chuck Freeman, director of Panther Vision. “This is the ultimate combination of style, comfort and functionality in hands-free lighting.”

At first glance during the daytime, this headgear may look like a typical ball cap that keeps sunlight out of the wearer’s eyes – and Freeman says it can be decorated as such with a logo. But in the dark, what really makes it stand out from the crowd are the LED lights concealed under the brim. (Replaceable batteries are hidden in the sweatband. On a normal run on a set of  batteries, the LED cap provides 50 hours of intermittent use, while the bulbs are rated for 100,000 hours.)

Most first reactions to the product, Freeman says, are that it is “cute” or “funny,” but he points out that it is a tool and offers a tip for how to sell the product: “You need to get a sample in their hands, as there is really no way to tell people how useful this product is. They have to experience it.”

Markets that have taken advantage of the LED cap include hunting, fishing, camping and RV outfitters, as well as service workers such as plumbers, attic insulators and electricians. When selling the product, mention the wide variety of applications, such as home improvement, lawn and gardening use, outdoor recreation and games, severe-weather power outages and child safety.

Panther Vision has produced caps for charity events, such as The Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament in Florida, The Ride for the Pass bike marathon in the Rockies and a National Multiple Sclerosis Society children’s camp event in Minneapolis. Bayer Crop Sciences uses the LED cap to promote one of its herbicide products, while NAPA auto parts includes them in clutch or brake replacement kits for the mechanics. “One of the high-profile projects that we are currently engaged in is providing uniform caps for the Chicago Police Department,” Freeman adds.

Panther Vision also has a new design called the POWER Cap. It features two LEDs concealed under the brim for close-task lighting and a powerful single LED in the center of the brim for long distances. “The single LED has the strength of two regular LEDs with a longer run time,” Freeman says. “The caps are being marketed by a local uniform company.” He adds that the new style is already available for custom orders of 1,008 pieces or more but will be formally introduced January 2010.


  • Campgrounds can present the LED cap as a gift to campers who rent a site for a season.
  • Police departments might distribute the caps to participants in a neighborhood-watch program.
  • Construction companies could distribute them to employees or contractors.
  • Marinas and yacht clubs might use the cap as a gift to boaters.
  • Shops in fishing and hunting destinations can resell the product imprinted with the town or store name.
  • RV dealers can present the cap to customers who buy a new vehicle.

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Eco-Friendly

Filed under: Sell This Product

When it comes to an abundance of recycled products, understanding the product, material and cost needs of clients helps “up” your selling game.

Last January, Crown Products (asi/47700) launched its Ecologic product line in response to many inquiries for more environmentally friendly products. The line includes customizable, reusable and recyclable products made from recycled materials. It’s part of the company’s commitment to bring sustainable products to the marketplace, and to protect natural resources for future generations.

John Ratcliff, vice president of national accounts at Crown Products, says the company anticipated eco-friendly products entering the promotional products industry when the trend became popular in retail several years ago.

“Those earth-conscious customers have been loyal and not concerned about the slightly higher price they pay,” Ratcliff says. “Their eco-mindedness outweighs the price.”

Recycling, waste management, technology and Fortune 500 companies particularly have been asking for more eco-friendly products to demonstrate their corporate commitment to the environment. The biggest pitfall for distributors when telling their clients about eco-friendly product offerings is lack of knowledge of the market.

“Understand the product,” Ratcliff says. “This is a must. Jump on the bandwagon and know the eco lingo. Understand the content and know what the components are.”

Knowing what your client is looking for in terms of product, material and price point, as well as having nationwide trends and statistics to support your statements, makes you a more compelling salesman or saleswoman. Choosing to use recycled promotional products helps close the loop by creating demand for the material being collected by recycling programs.


  • The U.S. EPA estimates that 75% of our waste is recyclable.
  • Americans recycle four billion pounds of plastics a year. 
  • In 2007, 56% of the paper used in the U.S. was recovered for recycling, which means every person in the country recycled an average of 360 pounds each year.


  • A green cleaning company’s customers went online to receive a discount coupon. Along with mailing the customer a coupon, they received the Ecopen as a free gift.
  • A university purchased the Recycled Drawstring back sak for their 2009 Green Initiative. Along with their logo they printed, “I used to be a soda bottle” on the bag. The university is taking on a huge green initiative and the bag will be stuffed with school recruiting information to be handed out at school fairs and shows. 
  • A property-management company purchased the Non-Woven Reusable Grocery tote as a new-tenant gift. They gave each tenant four totes to replace normal plastic grocery bags. This promotion provided a thoughtful gift for a new tenant to help promote eco-awareness and helped reduce waste at the property dumpsters, saving the management company money on trash collection.

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Chocolate Candy

Filed under: Sell This Product

Premium chocolates with eye-catching logos are a sweet treat for any market.

If there’s any truth to the old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” Chocolate Inn (asi/44900) is on the right track for romancing clients. The candy company manufactures premium Swiss chocolate and takes a tasty approach to ad specialties with more than 50 different products. Its themed mini chocolates can be printed with a personalized image or logo and come in a variety of boxes and sets, says David Miller, president.

Chocolate Inn recently added the TR16, which is a box with multiple pieces like chocolates and nuts, to its line of melt-in-your-mouth offerings. Miller says clients wanted a multiple-piece box because they are easier to share in an office setting. “These styles highlight an industry, such as a dollar sign for the financial industry, to make more of an impact when the recipient receives this as a gift,” Miller says.

The packaging of the TR16 is targeted to appeal specifically to retail customers. The clear die-cut window on the lid of the box allows the logoed centerpiece to be seen through the lid, eliminating the need to imprint the gift box, and a neat ribbon and complimentary card tops off the package with a personal touch.

“The most important aspect of the TR16 is that distributors can be extremely competitive with this item from a cost standpoint against retail and mail-order catalog food items,” he says. “It is a gift that has impact and is remembered.”

Although Chocolate Inn has been offering similar versions of this product for the last 10 years, this newest product and packaging has been updated to meet clients’ needs. When it comes to selling, distributor salespeople can let the customer taste the chocolate and see the quality and attractiveness of the presentation. The company adheres to a five-day production schedule and provides samples free of charge.

“The chocolate taste plus the customization make this a very memorable gift,” Miller says. “This product can be shared, it is something the recipient does not already have, and is appreciated by everyone who receives it.”

Chocolate Inn offers a variety of different sizes of the same product that accommodate its logoed chocolates and gives clients options, a key concept that Miller says allows clients to purchase different gifts, yet pay only one chocolate mold charge.


“A Mortgage Company felt that its gifts were not making the impact they wanted for the holidays and that the gift was not getting to everyone they intended,” says Miller. “That is when they decided to switch to our TR16 and use chocolate houses and dollar signs as the chocolates surrounding their logo. This gift not only made an impact because the pieces in it pertained to their industry, but also because there were enough pieces in the box for the entire office to share. Also, the gift was not something someone already had received. Everybody enjoyed it, from the president of the company to the secretary.”

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Mousepads

Filed under: Sell This Product

The multifunctional MousePaper Calendar gets prime real estate – the desktop.

Desktop promotional pieces offer great practical and promotional value to the end-user because of their long-term visibility and reuse. The MousePaper calendar combines the benefits of a calendar, note paper, and a mousepad in one promotional piece. Pam Myers, director of marketing at Digispec (asi/49716), says the MousePaper Calendar was uniquely designed with multifunction and innovation in mind.

 “The value of a promotional product is its ability to impart the intended message of the advertiser,” Myers says. “Factors include initial impact, longevity of the piece and retention of the message by the recipient – the greater the impact and longevity of the message, the greater the value of the promotion.”

The MousePaper Calendar also met the need in the industry for a calendar that was not limited to 12-months beginning with January. Myers says end-users don’t have to rule out a monthly promotion just because they don’t get their order in at the end of the year. Some of the most popular industries for the calendar are financial, real estate, medical and education, but Myers says the markets are virtually endless. “Any company with a logo that wants a product with daily exposure located on prime desktop space is a good fit,” she says.

The calendar mousepad’s high-quality graphic capability, daily usage and flexibility to begin on any month provide ample selling points for distributor salespeople. Each page can be uniquely customized and can even feature coupons, fliers or other advertising collated between months. Clients have two styles to choose from, white or image background. Digispec also offers more than 25 stock themes with a large imprint area printed on each page in black or four-color process. It can also hang on the wall with its fold-up hang tab at the top.

“Imprinting a high-quality product like this one creates a one-of-a-kind promotion that will deliver a strong brand message,” Myers says.

For companies in search of an eco-friendly product that will get sales moving, the calendar’s pages are composed of 30% post-consumer recycled paper and the backing is made from 100% recycled paperboard. It’s just one more reason the MousePaper Calendar is a promotion that gets companies more bang for their buck.


A distributor and their client, a shoe company, joined forces to create a MousePaper Calendar that showcased both companies and their respective products. The shoe company advertised on the calendar pages and the distributor promoted their products in between the months. The distributor created a coupon that stated if the customers mentioned the shoe company, they would receive an additional discount on promotional products. This was a way to determine their return on investment and the effectiveness of the calendar. The calendars were distributed to the shoe company’s new customers.

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

Sell This Product – Compressed T-Shirts

Filed under: Sell This Product

Compressed T-shirts can make a strong impression by presenting a popular item in an unusual way.

Originating in Taiwan, Magic Towels are towels compressed into shapes that grow into their full size when placed in water. They provided inspiration for compressed T-shirts, which perform a similar action in the washing machine and make a fun promotional product.

Tim Fruehe, president of Simply Smashing Inc. (asi/87425), says his company’s first compressed T-shirt was smashed into the shape of a postcard that was sold to tourists visiting Yosemite National Park. The T-shirts included a postcard insert and mailing label, so tourists could write a greeting on the label and mail it back home.

“A local resort liked the postcard T-shirt idea so much that they ordered them for their marketing department and used them for a direct-mail program,” says Fruehe. “It did not take long to realize that they were a great promotional product.”

Since that first postcard shape in 1996, the supplier has produced compressed T-shirts in over 300 shapes, including automobiles, geometric items, food, toothbrushes, cigars and cows. It can customize shapes to fit different industries and clients’ needs.

“In past years, automotive and bank-related shapes were big sellers. Now we see lots of consumer goods companies and entertainment-related shapes,” says Fruehe. “Any company wanting to do imprinted T-shirts is a good candidate for a compressed T-shirt promotion.”

Compressed T-shirts make a strong first impression as a promotional item by presenting something as popular as T-shirts in a more fun, creative way that can replicate a company’s product or logo.

“Offering a compressed T-shirt option when getting a request for imprinted T-shirts is a great way to increase profits on a normally low-margin item while adding value and impact to your client’s promotion,” he says.

When selling a compressed T-shirt, Fruehe suggests showing an actual sample with a client’s art or logo on it. Showing catalog images and virtual specs works well if clients are already familiar with the items. Distributors should also have some knowledge of screen printing, T-shirt brands and digital art.

Simply Smashing also offers a large collection of stock custom-printed paper wrappers, die-cut boxes and other containers that resemble actual product packaging to accompany the shirts.

“Our Meat Tray Series has been very popular, along with our miniature pizza box,” says Fruehe. “There really are almost no limits to how a compressed T-shirt can be decorated, and with digital printing technologies, the minimum is only 72 units.”


  • “When Sprint and Nextel merged, they utilized a custom cell phone-shaped, compressed T-shirt as a postcard and mailed 275,000 of them to their customers, announcing the merger,” says Fruehe. “We created a custom mailing label that included a bulk-rate permit and delivered the finished product to a pre-sort center for addressing and mailing. As a Sprint customer, I actually received one in the mail a week later. Now that’s a promotion that went full circle!””
  • Recently, we completed a 70,000-unit order for Chili’s bar in a custom Chili-Pepper shape. The insert card was printed on two sides, with one side featuring a coupon for free food at Chili’s,” says Fruehe. “The Chili Pepper compressed T-shirts were sold as a fundraiser at 1,300 Chili’s locations nationwide, raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.”

From the 2009 Advantages September Supplement.

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