I know this is a popular topic in our world today and you likely get tired of hearing about it, but it is important. I’m a member of a very wasteful industry that pushes custom promotional products on people that don’t necessarily need them. It is unfortunate that some people have made this industry look cheap and we are often referred to as “tchotchke” dealers or even worse, purveyors of “trinkets and trash”.
I can tell you there are some in our industry that do this but there are others that are steadfast in the other lane. I have pledged to be a part of the solution. I’ve never been one that just looks for the sale, I’m looking for a relationship and a sustainable purpose to keep going. For me, it’s very important that we sell quality products.
I know in my heart that I can make a difference. The more customers that I can acquire, the less trash that will be headed to a landfill. It may be a slow change but that doesn’t matter to me, it’s the right change and it’s important. I am committed to only selling products that I know will have a shelf life.
This does not just apply to the trinkets, this applies to t-shirts as well. When you walk into a gift shop or a merch stand for your favorite band, are you interested in purchasing a shirt that feels like sandpaper? Maybe you just really liked the design that night because you were 10 beers deep but will you ever want to wear it again? Likely not. No one wants to wear an uncomfortable shirt but people STILL want to buy them to give away or sell.
There is a commitment to be made on the other end of the spectrum, from the person buying the custom swag. I can work as hard as I want and explain all of the important pieces of this puzzle but some people/businesses/events are just plain old cheap. I hear it all the time; “There is no budget for this.” “No one will pay this much.” “We can’t afford it.” In my opinion, you can’t afford not to buy better stuff. If you think it’s too expensive, charge more! If you charge more, you usually will have to sell less, it’s a great exchange.
I’ll throw a scenario out there. Your company buys 500 coffee mugs (with your company logo) to give away to your favorite customers as a gift. Since you are on a budget, you went with the cheapest 11oz mug you could find online. You receive them and you are excited to give them out. You start handing them out and realize that the imprint rubs off pretty easily in the dishwasher and the colors of your logo did not match all that well. Now the customer receives it and they perceive this as a pretty cheap move since EVERY mug in their cupboard is better than this one. Why would they use it?
Now spend the same amount of money and buy 100 quality mugs instead. Give these to your top 100 customers instead of your top 500. It’s more important to purchase one good product over 5 crappy products. Instead of this mug getting shoved in the back of the cupboard or worse, thrown in the garbage, it is now the “go to” mug for them.
Does this apply to t-shirts, of course it does! There are studies that show less than 10% of clothing that is donated is actually sold at the Thrift Store (Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, etc.). Most of the other 90% is sold, recycled and turned into rags. That’s great that the garments are recycled but that is not great for your logo and brand. That is why we choose to sell better shirts like Allmade. The shirts are made with recycled plastic under great working conditions in Haiti and they are soft, so you actually WANT to wear them.
I could literally write or talk about this for hours. It is such an important subject that many people choose to ignore. I can assure you, you will hear about this again from me.
Thanks for reading this rant today, I do appreciate it!
I encourage everyone to get into reading, it can be life changing. Here is a small reading list to get you started: https://www.promotionsguy.com/ryan-s-favorite-reads
I’m writing tips each week for people aspiring to improve. These are not industry related but they generally have something to do with growing as a person or growing a business. My intention is to help others grow while growing myself. My book recommendation this week is “Doing Good Better” by William MacAskill.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss something, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Trust me, I’d love to talk more on this topic!