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24 Ways to Say “Hello”

E-mails and business cards are ho-hum ways to introduce yourself to a new prospect. If you want to stick out in a business contact’s mind, there are far more creative ways to do it. Here are some products that can help.

Quick quiz: How many business cards do you estimate that you hand out to clients and prospective business contacts annually? One hundred? One thousand? Five thousand? Now, out of that number, how many do you think people actually keep? The number is likely smaller than you might think. “Most business cards end up in a desk drawer, and that’s the first step to oblivion,” says Jeff Lederer, vice president of sales and product development for a manufacturer of promotional products based in Bridgeport, CT.

It’s a well-known fact that promotional products can help smooth introductions and leave lasting impressions – but what to give to whom? Below, we examine three different introduction strategies, along with an abundance of products – 24 in all – that can help you say “hello.” Rest assured, your introduction will never be forgotten.

Approach #1 -
Let A Product Be Your Business Card.
Lederer says he often gets requests from promotional products distributors whose clients want alternatives to business cards. For example, his company stocks a variety of pens that can be engraved with the information typically found on a card. “Pens work great as icebreakers, and people always thank you when you present them with one,” Lederer says. “When was the last time someone thanked you for presenting your business card?”

When it comes to deciding which pen is best, Lederer advises looking for something that won’t wear out too soon and a design that represents the image you want your business card alternative to project.

If you still feel the need to submit the customary business card, Lederer suggests sticking one under a logoed pen’s clip and presenting it that way. “The card may still get lost but the pen will stay around,” he says.

There are many products that are capable of being imprinted with all of the information you might traditionally print on a business card. Here are eight great examples:

* Who says letter openers have to be dull? Surprise your business contact with a razor-sharp version that’s shaped to fit your company’s image and presents your contact information in vibrant, imprinted color.
* You’ll pull clients in when you use a staple remover as your business card. Your best bet is a stylish design with room enough to imprint your company’s logo, branding message and contact information.
* Few customers will ignore a heavy-duty tape dispenser and has your contact information imprinted on the side.
* Pen and pencil holders don’t just hold pens and pencils. They tell how to reach you every time your client reaches for something to write with.
* Multipurpose means multi-exposure, and that’s what a beautiful multipurpose tray will do for you when prospects reach into it for their keys and see your name and number on the bottom.
* Paper clips are indispensable, and they work well as business cards when you make them dispensable. Do it by offering a stylish Clip Dispenser with your ID emblazoned on the side.
* Paperweights are likely to sit on a business contact’s desk forever. We like it in lead crystal within plenty of room for imprinting.

Approach #2 -
Present Yourself – Along With Something Useful
This may not be rocket science, but new prospects warm up when you give them useful products because they’re, well, so darn useful. Enni Chen, general manager of a promotional products manufacturer based in South El Monte, CA, says that she often gets calls from people looking for helpful products. Blame it on the increasingly fast pace of business, Chen says. “These days everyone has laptop computers, paperwork and files that need organizing,” so products like laptop cases with extra room for files are proving to be popular.

Chen advises that logoing and imprinting are all-important when presenting a helpful product to a client. “It’s a good idea to make your company logo and information stylish but unobtrusive, so the client won’t be embarrassed to use the product.”

Here are eight useful products that will ensure a warm reception from that hard-to-meet-with prospect:

* A laser level set is just the thing for home improvement aficionados. These little gadgets can come with a tripod and multifunction tape that will have hobbyists salivating.
* There are few things more useful than a personal security alarm, but add a stopwatch, flashlight, compass and belt clip, and you’ve reached useful nirvana.
* Green thumbs won’t be able to resist a garden tool set that includes everything they need for a day in the garden.
* Prospects wary of keeping their valuables on their towel at the beach will appreciate a useful mini beach safe – and remember you whenever they hit the shore.
* Nature lovers will go crazy for a pair of power digital camera binoculars with built in memory and various image capacities.
* Reward treasured customers with a mini jewel box with removable interior pouch, ring holder and snap pockets making it perfect for travel.
* Those prospects who enjoy spectator sports will appreciate a heavy-duty, fleece-lined blanket that will keep them warm at outdoor events.

Approach #3 -
Make The Intro­duction Fun
Why in the world would you want to use a yo-yo to introduce yourself? “Because no one else is doing it,” says Josh Arkin, marketing director for a promotional products manufacturer in Lynbrook, NY. “You don’t see yo-yos every day, so when you use one it sets you apart from the competition,” he says.

If you’ve got the right kind of customer (read: one with a whimsical sense of humor), Arkin says you can make your entrance doing tricks with an imprinted yo-yo, providing, of course, that you know what you’re doing. Arkin notes that this might not be the right approach for introducing yourself to a high-level banking client. “In that case you may want to use the yo-yo as a leave-behind or send it as a follow-up mailer.”

What’s the likely reaction to a yo-yo introduction? “Surprise and shock come to mind, but if you do it right, you and your yo-yo will establish a branding icon that will be remembered.”

There are pitfalls to avoid when using amusing products to introduce yourself. “Just because it’s fun, you can’t come across as foolish or nonprofessional,” Arkin warns. Your accompanying introduction must be polished and show you’re interested in helping to meet your clients business goals, he says. “Still, if you do things right, fun products make excellent marketing tools and provide a high return on investment,” Arkin says.

Here are eight products ranging from yo-yos to doodle boards that will add fun to your introductions:

* Nothing could be more fun than introducing yourself with a yo-yo and a set of amazing yo-yo tricks. Study up on your technique and then present a Deluxe Executive yo-yo to your client.
* Ordinary putty can be boring, so notch up the fun in your introduction by selecting Bouncing Putty, a bouncy concoction that comes packaged in a nifty clear plastic container.
* Talking digital jump ropes make for great introductory surprises – especially if they announce the number of jumps, workout time and calorie consumption.
* Most executives fantasize about joining the circus at some time in their life, but you can provide an enjoyable alternative with a Juggling Ball Set complete with three squeezable juggling balls and instructions.
* Virtually all businesspeople doodle in meetings. You can further the cause, and add fun to your introduction, via a Magnetic Doodle Board that wipes clean with a pull of the slide.

Reprinted with permission of Successful Promotions, copyright 2006

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