Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ask The Experts – Party Favors

Promotional specialists solve your toughest problems.
By Matthew George

There’s nothing bad about these goodie bags. this month, our experts provide answers to four readers who all are looking for the perfect parting gifts.

Q. We’re a Fortune 500 firm that’s having a huge holiday soiree for our best clients in December. It will be held in a nightclub and have a disco theme. What kind of parting gifts can we give to clients that will help them remember us in 2009?

A. A parting gift is a perfect way to ring in the New Year. But one that helps a client remember a certain company must have some sort of significance. The most important factor is the message you’re trying to express. “You want to leave your client with a gift that has meaning behind it,” says Diana Martin, founder and president of Prezents Inc., a promotional products distributor. “A gift that can be used over and over again, such as a vase or a salt and pepper shaker, is ideal. Use a message such as, ‘Shakin’ things up in 2009,’ to help generate that lasting impression.”

Or, try a gift that is colorful to grab the client’s attention year-round. “Gifts that illuminate are very hot these days,” she says. “Something like a candle, which is small but meaningful, is enough to keep a client’s interest in your company at an all-time high.”

Kathy Gregorio, a promotional products distributor for Imperial Marketing Inc., says your gifts should have some sort of value to the client, so it’s not put in a box and forgotten about.

“You want something that can be used daily or even used when a similar event comes along,” Gregorio says. “A disco ball keychain and a lava lamp that plugs into a USB port are two gifts that are not only nice enough to keep around, but they are also constant reminders every time the client views them.”

Another idea: Give the clients a CD with disco music on it. “It’s a great way to address the theme of the party as well as give the clients a resource to be revisited,” she says.

As an additional bonus: You could even go as far as decorating the gift bag. Michelle Altobelli, CEO of Altobelli Advantage and a promotional products consultant, says although the necessities inside the bag should be of importance, the gift bag itself can be used to show your company put a lot of time in planning this event.

“The gift bag should also be of high quality, not just the gifts inside,” Altobelli says. “The gift bag could have your logo on the outside with an array of tissue colors coming out of the top.” Of course, you’ll want the goodies inside to have your logo on them too, so your client knows exactly where they got them from.

Q. I work for a charitable organization and am planning our annual holiday tea for our volunteers. Most of the 100 attendees are executive women. I’m looking for an upscale gift for each. My budget is $25 per person. What can I give them?

A. A volunteer is someone that works for a community primarily because they chose to do so. These good-hearted individuals should be appreciated. And it’s good you are going out of the way to do just that. The most important component is to thank each one for the amount of service they put in.

“In this situation a thank-you gift makes the most sense,” Gregorio says. “I would highly recommend a tea traveler mug filled with teas carrying a thank-you message on the outer package.”

Gregorio also recommends giving the volunteers something to satisfy their appetites during the event.

“The attendees could have an edible treat, such as tea cakes, which would serve as a gift and also symbolic to the tea event itself,” she says.

Other food products might include rich chocolate truffles, chocolate wafer cookies or even petit fruit candies as delectable treats.

Karen Sherrill, director of marketing for a promotional products supplier, believes each person has a budget flexible enough to work with multiple gifts. “The budget allows you to make a huge impact on the volunteers,” Sherrill says. “From imprinted gifts such as mugs or pens to something more elegant like a wine carrier gift set, the budget leaves enough room for you to please each person.”

Sherrill also suggests gifts that can be used for the volunteer’s family members to let them know the organization runs solely on the kindness put in by someone from their home.

“Gifts like an FM radio, a highly functional clock, or retractable ear buds are ones that can be brought home, so even the ones who weren’t there know the volunteers are appreciated,” Sherrill adds.

Q. I’m planning a festive beer bash at a local bar for a group of 20-something customers. Can you suggest some fun, or even interactive, giveaways that will help get the party started?

A. To some, the hardest thing to do is get comfortable in a room full of strangers. It’s difficult at times to begin introducing yourself without having a cup of liquid confidence first. But a simple game can help break the ice. “The easiest way is to start with social interaction,” Martin suggests. “The host could create groups of five customers who have to generate answers to some beer questions with the winners getting prizes.”

Martin suggests prizes such as a high-tech bottle opener, a grooming set or even a Swiss Army knife.
Altobelli also agrees a game is the best way to start this particular event. “Assign certain people a lighted blinking button and make a match-making game out of it by finding the person with your color,” she says. “The winner could get some lighted shot glasses, a hat that lights up or even some shirts that light up with your company’s logo on it.”

Adding to the game idea: Get the customers involved with every college dorm room’s rapidly growing game, “Beer Pong” (must be 21 or older to play).

“It’s a game that is extraordinarily popular right now,” Gregorio says. “The balls could also have the company logo on it as a way to advertise your company.”

Beer nuts, towels and light up ice cubes are also some great prizes Gregorio believes will contribute to the theme.

Q. I’m planning a black-tie, end-of-year awards event for our best employees. What type of item can we put in a gift bag to let the employees know how much we value them?

A. Finding a gift to let your best employees know they’re appreciated is easier said than done. After all, a gift sometimes leads to employees knowing exactly how valued they are. Since these are your best employees, you want to make them feel extremely important. “In this particular situation, less is more,” Martin says. “Employees tend to measure what their employer thinks of them, so something luxurious should factor in.”

Martin suggests something that lets the employee know they’re exceptional such as a leather briefcase, a set of napkin rings for four or even a coupon for Omaha Steaks. It doesn’t have to cost much. But it should leave the employee with the feeling of acceptance.

Altobelli explains that the gifts should show a tremendous amount of quality and should be elegant enough to show the importance of your employee to your company.

“Something such as the annual Swarovski ornament, a set of crystal glasses alone or packaged with a bottle of wine, or a set of champagne flutes with a bottle of champagne are classy gifts,” she says.

She also suggests offering candy as fillers that could be placed in the glasses or its own separate candy dish. “A crystal candy dish filled with expensive truffles is always a gift that shows significance and value,” she says.

Fillers could also include fancy jumbo cashews, jumbo California pistachios, crunchy English butter toffee, pecan turtles and even chocolate covered raisins to add to the implication of elegance.

You may even want to personalize the gift. By personalizing a gift you are showing how worthy your employee is to the company. “An etched bottle of wine with the corporate logo on it and personalized with each employee’s name is showing you care,” Gregorio says. “Packaged in a single wine carrier with a cork screw or a bottle opener and your employee will know why they chose a career with you rather than any other company.”

Matthew George is an editorial intern for Successful Promotions.

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