CO-BRANDING

GEMPIRE does it on both sides!

Most of our products afford the opportunity to decorate the back or second side. Everyone should take advantage of the benefits.

Allow your company to share the marketing with one of their vendor partners. There are countless ways to utilize our products with the back side; the greatest of which is co-branding.

For example, take our custom metal key tag or zipper pull bottle opener. One side can have the local restaurant, and the other side can have a local micro-brewery.

Or how about our wildly popular custom divot tool with ball marker? The ball marker can be two sided; one for the sponsor and one for the charity. We can also put the sponsor logo on the handle of the divot tool.

Ditto for our custom ornaments, metal collar stays, coins, lapel pins, and so on.

And for the limited times maybe a second side will not be feasible, how about a custom message or romance card?

With Floral Promotions, the paper is always two sided. Use them both!

Helping us overcome the disconnect

Quite often, due to our industry model, the ultimate purchaser of our product is working with one of our authorized distributors.  As a result, there may be some critical information that is overlooked in the process.  It may seem inconsequential, however it may make the difference between a happy customer and a rejected product.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of expectations.  What does the purchaser really want?  Maybe they have purchased something similar in the past.  Maybe they have a gift given to them by others.  Maybe one of their family members received an item and they expect the same.  Maybe they receive a catalog mailing and like one of those items.  Let’s really drill down to make sure all of the parties are on the same page.

In working with the layout of the client art, we are too far removed from the initial discussions. Please make sure that all instructions are shared with us.  We cannot guess at colors, position, layout, sizing, etc.  If there are brand guidelines, please share them upfront.

How will the product be used?  How will it be distributed?  Who is the intended audience?  What is the real in hand date?  And let’s not overlook the budget!  Each of these questions should be answered at the beginning.  We might be able to recommend alternatives or better ways or even some adjustment to the final product.

Let’s partner together and fix the disconnect on day one before it is too late.

KNOW YOUR SUPPLIER AND THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Regardless of your position in the S/D/E model, please make sure that you know your supplier. In this column I will share tips for you with direct importing.

You see our website and recognize us primarily as an importer of emblematic jewelry. Would it surprise you to know that in the last ninety days we have worked successfully on large quantities of wine corkscrews, detachable plastic pill boxes, and wooden bird feeders? With our forty year relationship with many overseas companies and trading partners, we can provide “More than just lapel pins.”

There are many risks associated with unknown vendors. Just because you find them online, that does not mean they are reputable or reliable. And as you are required to prepay, good luck in resolving non shipment of goods, product quality, product safety, etc. Trust someone you know.

Our knowledge and expertise can assist in a variety of ways –

1) Communications – English is not the primary language overseas, nor are our idioms or business practices customary.
2) Customs/duties and product clearance – There are many bumps along the road.
3) Scheduling production time and balancing holidays.
4) Product safety.
5) Financial leverage.
6) Those three dreaded letters in our language – MOQ!
7) Can’t means won’t overseas.
8) And sometimes, China is not the best or only source of product.

When you work with a company such as ours, you get us on your side. We are flexible enough to advise and be creative throughout the process. Let us know how we may be of assistance.

Pin Points – BEWARE BAIT AND SWITCH or IMITATIONS

We have noticed a recent trend, and it is very disturbing to those of us who believe in full disclosure. And ultimately, our client may be negatively impacted.

The topic is quoting a less expensive manufacturing process in order to confuse the buyer. Here are a few different concrete examples.

Die struck enamel (underlying metal brass alloy) and die struck enamel (underlying metal iron). Both can be plated and color filled similarly. However, iron is softer and more porous. As a result, the raised metal that is plated can have multiple imperfections, although barely noticeable to the naked eye. The price difference can be more than $0.50 per pin.  Iron enamel offers benefits, and it can be used properly.  Understand it when you quote it.

Laser fired cloisonne and a printed pin. Both may look very similar. If the printed pin is made with thicker metal and has a border on the front, it can feel the same as well. The price difference can be more than $1.00 per pin.

Gold plated vs. brass plated pins. You may ask for gold plating, which carries a price surcharge, however you may be receiving brass plated, which does not require a surcharge.

I can raise other examples, but these remind all of us to work with full disclosure, offer options, and protect the client’s brand.

And do not overlook product safety.  It is critical in today’s environment.

Ask us for random samples to show the client.  Let them decide as educated buyers.

CASE HISTORIES

GEMPIRE

MANUFACTURING
RIP CHIP – Client produces large cables, and they are wrapped in spools. Then the cable is shrink wrapped. Installers would use a box cutter to open the shrink wrap, and too often they would cut some of the cable. Distributor asked us how we could assist. We suggested our PVC product with a hole near the top. We tested our product by lifting a bucket with twenty pounds weight to make sure it would not tear. Our tests were successful. The end of the cable could have some exposed wire, and the wire would tie through the hole in our PVC disc. When the spool was shrink wrapped, our disc was partially exposed. The installer pulls on the disc, and the cable tears the shrink wrap.

FUND RAISING
DIRECT MAIL WITH INSERT – The Ronald McDonald House wanted something to send to their data base of names. Sort of a thank you and a request for more funds. They held a contest for the children who were there at the time to draw their vision of the House. Once it was provided to us, we created a printed card along with a holiday ornament. The cover of the card was the drawing. On the inside cover panel, we imprinted information about the House. On the inside back cover, we glued the ornament. And on the back cover we imprinted information about the young lady who drew the picture. They mailed it along with a donation response card and envelope. They surpassed their goals. The project can be done with lapel pins instead of an ornament. And as an option we can die cut the card to have the pin show through the cover.

GOLF EVENTS
CUSTOM DIVOT TOOL WITH COPY CHANGES FOR BALL MARKERS – A bank wanted a hand out for various golf events it sponsored as well as gifts for corporate customers and prospects. We designed our stock divot tool with the bank name and logo permanently engraved in the handle of the tool. Then we produced two sided ball markers. One side has the bank logo. The other side was a copy change for each charity event they sponsored. The golfer at the event recognizes that the bank is a good corporate citizen, partnering with their favorite charities. And as you (distributor) own the artwork, we will not sell this piece to another distributor with that bank logo on the handle, unless the bank requires us to do so. And if that happens, we protect you as our premium rep.

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION – A large grocery store chain uses the key pin series to reward their employees for extra service given to their customers. A customer may have commented to the manager about the good service of a particular employee or they may have filled out a customer comment card. Also the store manager may have noticed the extra service to a customer himself. The first lapel pin with a blue key is presented to the employee with a printed card. The employee then proudly wears the lapel pin which often promotes conversation between customers and the employee and further encourages the employee to continue to provide an extra level of service. After the employee has received all five keys on the silver level, then he or she will receive the gold level lapel pin with one key and so on. As long as that employee continues to provide an extra measure of service he or she can proceed through the various levels.

SALES INCENTIVE TRIPS – Ideal for companies that plan trips for awards. In one case we produced throw beads with PVC medallions. They are safer to throw, as they cannot hurt someone when it hits them. We can also embed a metal bottle opener inside the medallion. Then instead of a charm loop, we can use a zipper pull finding. The person who gets the throw bead can remove the PVC medallion and use it as a zipper pull. Or we can design a custom PVC luggage tag for the same event. On the business card insert we can include a message card.

RETAIL
EARRING AND NAVEL DANGLER SETS – A large high end Italian producer of hair products wanted to promote their new hair color. They ordered 7000 sets of earrings and navel danglers to spotlight their new color called Color Lover. They sent the sets of earrings and navel danglers to 600 top notch salons and asked the employees at those salons to wear these items while they were working. They were asked to take pictures of themselves wearing the product. They could take pictures of themselves each day if they wanted to. The two individuals who sent in the most pictures of themselves were awarded a trip to Italy for a week.

FLORAL PROMOTIONS

EDUCATIONAL
CUSTOM CHILD DESIGNED CARDS – A water company was interested in a unique product that they could use with an informational packet that not only stressed the importance of water conservation, but also kept the recipient’s attention longer than it took to read it. The idea of a seeded postcard that could be planted and grown was an ideal solution. (It can also be a holiday card.) The artwork for the postcard became a statewide contest among middle school students and the grand prize winner’s art would be the showcased on the front of the postcard. The contest added another element to the campaign by reaching out to children throughout the state, the future stewards of our rivers, streams, lakes, and watersheds. The postcard was a standard size and shape, but we have the ability to provide custom shaped products that further enhance a company’s campaign.

Pin Points – Collaborative Effort

Quite often we are asked to design a lapel pin, coin, or other item. It has to be a collaborative effort. It requires input from both the distributor and end buyer.

The most important input deals with the buyer’s expectations. We can look at their logo and their art. We can advise on a number of concepts only after receiving input.

What are their expectations? Have they purchased this product in the past? Are there very specific brand style guidelines that must be followed? Can they be modified in any way? (Remember, our product size is smaller than many other items.) Does their art fit into a pin size they want or would wear? Do they have an example of an item that they like? What is their budget? How about their event date? Have they considered how they will distribute the item?

Without this critical information, all of us run the risk of spinning wheels, wasting valuable time, and eventually losing opportunities, orders, and ultimately revenue. All too often we are told “It is the wrong size” or “We wanted a different type of pin” or “The colors are not our colors”.

Why is there never enough time to do it right but always enough time to do it twice?

PIN POINTS – Understanding the Metric system

PIN POINTS – Understanding the Metric system

It is critical that we all understand the Metric system. It is the universal system for measuring length, weight, and volume. Our only concern for our product is the dimension (or length).

We have grown accustomed to using inches (remember, these are lapel pins, coins, ornaments, etc.). Anything that is imported is generally referenced in millimeters (mm) and centimeters (cm). Oh, if only I had a dollar for each time a customer has asked me to convert mm to inches.

Our domestic educational system may have failed at bringing us into the world’s standards, but that does not mean you cannot navigate through the process.

Here are two very simple ways to do the conversion. Pay close attention to the second way!

1) Each inch has 25.4mm or 2.54cm. If you divide the mm by 25.4 or the cm by 2.54, you will get the fractional measure in inches. Conversely, you can multiply the fractional inches by 25.4 to get millimeters or by 2.54 to get centimeters.
2) Here is a simple webpage that can do many on line calculations for you – http://www.worldwidemetric.com/measurements.html The third chart covers length. You can find others, but this works well.

Good luck.

Pin Points – The finer points of ordering coins and medallions

You have a number of options to consider when ordering coins and medallions (basically just larger lapel pins without the nail and clutch!) And the same issues regarding lapel pins also need to be considered with coins and medallions.

Size definitely drives the price. And when considering size, think in terms of surface area, not the diameter. A 1 ½” coin is approx. 1 3/4 square inches. A 3” coin is approx. 7 square inches. So although you may think it is twice the size, it is almost four times the size. That significantly impacts pricing, not to mention freight charges.

Please make sure to discuss the use of the item. If it is a challenge coin, most are from 1 ½” to 2”. A coin that is close to 3” is generally used as a desk paperweight. A medallion with a neck ribbon can be as small as 1 ½” or as large as 3”.

Thickness is another variable. It impacts the overall weight and feel of the product, and it definitely impacts pricing. Certain processes below have a minimum or maximum threshold. Let us explain the opportunities.

There are many ways to produce a coin. I will discuss the four most common here.

1) Die struck brass. The most expensive. Heavier than the other options below. And to a coin aficionado, the only way to proceed.
2) Die struck iron. Much less expensive. The metal is lighter, and it is also more porous. Not recommended for coins or medallions if there is very little color coverage, as the porous metal does not plate well.
3) Injection cast zinc aluminum. In much larger quantities, it can be even less expensive than iron. To the naked eye, there is no difference between this and the die struck coins. It is about 30% lighter in weight.
4) Spin cast. Least expensive. Unlike the other three above, they are not hand polished. Although the lowest price, clearly not a suitable item for awards, recognition, etc. Strictly a price point, compromising quality for the savings.

It is important that we understand the expectations of the buyer. Have they done it in the past? Do they have someone else’s coin?

Do “apples to apples” come to mind?

Packaging, packaging, packaging

For all of your promotional product purchases, you should consider customized packaging. It can significantly enhance the value of the product. And it does not necessarily have to be expensive.

It is the sizzle to our steak.

Clearly for recognition products this is imperative. But it also is wonderful for any other product distribution.

For example, an imprinted message card can hit home. Although a one color print delivers the message, try to consider process color and full bleed. Let your vendor show you how to attach the product to the card. We have done it successfully with lapel pins, wine glass charms, bracelets, and coins, just to name a few items.

 

Step up to a folded card. You can get all four panels imprinted. Great for a lot of copy. You can really provide meaningful information to the recipient of the product. Tie the message into the promotion.

Then consider various boxes to hold the message and the product. There are many stock boxes that are not very expensive. Of course, you can upgrade to completely custom boxes for the right occasion.

 

Always think about the packaging option. Your client will be pleased with the results, and you will make more money.

Don’t RUSH me – the risks associated with rush orders

You want it (expletive deleted) when?

Rush orders are here to stay. In a perfect world, they would not exist, but alas, this world is not so perfect. And the next one isn’t looking much better.

For most instances, the client is driving the date. Distributor, you need to manage these expectations. Supplier, you need to educate the Distributor and communicate accurately, timely, and thoroughly. Sometimes a fast No is better than an extended Maybe.

Let’s examine rush orders “behind the scenes.”

There are a finite number of production hours which limit capacity, not to mention inventory and component levels.

In order to keep machines running and production employees busy, suppliers attempt to schedule all jobs as orderly as possible. They might be running the same item (different decorations) at the same time for efficiencies. They might be scheduling certain jobs for certain staff or machines. And they are constantly matching the schedule to in hand requirements.

Oops, let’s back up. A job may not be run without paper proof approval, and the supplier is waiting for that approval. The slot to run the job may be lost to another job with an approval. Of if the proof approval is waived out of necessity, then the expectation of imprint issues is at risk. Why is there never enough time to do it right but always enough time to do it twice?

If the supplier is efficient (or at least busy), they may have no available time for a new rush order without bumping a scheduled job. Or they have to schedule overtime hours to accomplish it.

Now let’s can look at the rush from the beginning.

(Some suppliers have even developed a reputation for 24 hour service. Wait until the client asks if it can be done sooner!)

Can you produce 1,000 widgets with a two color decoration in five days? The supplier has to check inventory and schedules. Once the supplier says yes, then you go back to your client. At this point, there still is no commitment from you. Someone else might place a confirmed order for all of the widget inventory. The supplier has to choose between the two. So inventory can be an issue.

Some products require special components which are not ordinarily in stock. They might not be purchased until the formal purchase order is submitted.

When you placed the original request, the supplier tentatively slotted the production on the fourth day. They were able to rearrange schedules. This rush order requires a certain number of our machines and then additional hours of assembly labor. But a firm commitment is needed to revise schedules and procure all needed supplies.

You come back and place the order, with a paper proof requirement. The completed proof is sent within 24 hours, maybe even the same day. Now the supplier waits for an approval. From your perspective, the supplier is still in the five day time frame. But as each precious hour and day pass without an approval, the supplier has to make decisions on the production schedule.

The art is approved. The supplier commits to the schedule, with no margin for error. And things happen. The production equipment can break down temporarily, staff may be short, or any other unexpected situations arise.

For those who think Murphy’s Law applies to rush orders, there is another law of production known as O’Reilly’s Law – Murphy was an optimist.

Hopefully the supplier gets it done. And then the freight carrier does not lose it, deliver it late, or otherwise mess it up. Typically the freight requirement may be overnight service. All parties need to recognize these associated costs.

Throughout this process, constant communication is an absolute necessity. And responses cannot be delayed, as each delay imperils the eventual delivery.

Then the supplier asks for the basic bread and butter business from you. The response is sorry, but you are five cents too high for that business. You only need this supplier for the rush service. (Thank you, Larry Stadtmiller, MAS, for driving home this point to the author years ago.)

All of the above factors are what drive surcharges for a rush order besides expedited freight. So please don’t be surprised with higher prices.

DISTRIBUTOR TO DO

Be honest with the actual need date.
Respond promptly to all supplier requests.
Understand the production challenges and communicate them to the client.
Manage the client expectations.

SUPPLIER TO DO

Communicate, communicate, communicate (timely and honestly).
Try not to schedule at the last minute.