Fresh Ideas–Squeezin’ for a Reason!

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We are not sure you know this about us, but we are obsessive about some things. Mostly really good things, like helping our customers surpass their goals, a stable blood supply, attention to detail, pizza, cute dogs…the list goes on. The thing that really makes our whole team excited is new ideas. We live for them and we live for sharing them with you!

Having been around the block a couple of times, we often hear requests for similar phrasing and concepts from centers across the nation. Sometimes, though, a fresh phrase pops up. For example, we recently worked on a concept with the cool people over at the Community Blood Bank of NWPA and WNY and asked if we could pass on the fun to you, blog followers, to illustrate the path from idea to complete campaign.

NWPA Platelet Donor Squeeze1It is a pretty common goal to increase and optimize platelet donations while keeping this unique group of donors engaged in giving often. Community Blood Bank staff were brainstorming and thought of developing a Squeezie Club with custom stress relievers and t-shirts for each high-achieving donor.  What started as a request for “design of a hand squeezing something related to donating….and the words “squeezing for a reason” included with the design somehow” along with a little back and forth about Jimmy Buffet grew into one of our favorite shirt designs of the year so far. Our (incredible) artist worked to keep it colorful, yet affordable and adaptable for future year spin-offs.

The message we want you to hear is, you don’t always have to know what you want in order for us to help you! When you work with us, we can share best practices from customers all over and from our own team backgrounds working in blood centers. You can tell us exactly what you want…or you can tell us what you want to achieve and ask for new ideas. We know not everyone has a giant marketing staff or a creative agency on retainer…and that is exactly why we offer tons of value-added services with orders to everyone without tacking on fees and charges.

Check in to how we can be incredibly enthusiastic about your goals, and we may even tell you about our dogs in the process.

Tervis Tumbler Partnership Announcement

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FCI-TervisThe FCI Promos team is thrilled to share the news that we have recently been awarded Premier Status as an Official Authorized Tervis Distributor, based on our long-term partnership with this outstanding company who is leading the way in quality drinkware production.

“We value our long term partnership and are committed to providing you and your customers with white glove service through our dedicated premium account specialists team. Congratulations!”   Tervis America

Tervis Tumblers offer a perceived value unlike any other donor product. With fully customizable wraps and patches, the design possibilities and customization options are endless. Consider thanking your valued platelet donors with an authentic Tervis Tumbler with messaging catered just to them with  a bright gold lid…or gifting your O negative donors with a type specific tumbler. This items is simply perfect for all seasons from summer to fall football or the holidays.

We could not be more excited by this new and evolving partnership and look forward to bringing you the very best products available on the market today to entice your blood and platelet donors to give during your most challenging times. Being awarded this status by such an established and respected company is an honor and a privilege for our entire team. It demonstrates our shared commitment to customer service and our commitment to ensuring that our blood centers have access to the best quality products that act as both innovative and creative donor incentives that produce results. We cannot wait to work hand in hand with you to create your custom designed Tervis Tumbler that is sure to make an impact on your collections this year!

 

Vendor vs. Partner (does it really matter?)

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Customer partnerships is a topic our team finds ourselves discussing often. With some blood centers facing the reality of less staff, less money, and increased focus on collecting the right types at the right time, it’s important to regularly evaluate all areas that impact business. It’s very likely that a big chunk of your budget dollars are dedicated to recruitment, marketing, and driving donor behavior. How can you know you are working with the right promotional products vendor?

The opposite of a partner is a vendor, and here is how we differentiate the two. A partner is a relationship that is valued. A vendor is someone waiting to take your order. A partner evaluates your project and determines where they can provide added value and expertise. A vendor does what you ask, nothing more, and sends an invoice. Vendors fear conflict and won’t push boundaries. Partners engage you and challenge you to think differently about projects.

While working in my blood center, I often thought about how many “yes people” there were in the business, people who feared change in an industry that was constantly changing. I felt the same about our vendors. Where were the new concepts? Where was the innovation? Where were your programs that could contribute to us being better? Certainly not the job of a vendor…but definitely the job of a true partner.

So how can you determine where you stand with your vendors…and if a more layered relationship is something that could benefit your center? Here are 3 tips to help you learn if your supplier is as invested in your goals as you are.

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Above and Beyond, Dedicated Customer Service Assigned to Each Client

You shouldn’t have to work with a hundred different people for one project. Understanding the importance of a lead person as the primary point of contact is paramount for a supplier. And this person should be available and have in-depth knowledge of your industry. And timely response? Extremely critical in today’s world. And if something happens that wasn’t planned? We will do whatever it takes to make it right.

Added Value and Supporting Services

Does your supplier offer more than just the product they are trying to sell? Is there a bigger picture view of your donor programs and goals? What products could have the biggest impact on your target audience? With decades of experience, our team works with you to develop strategies and campaigns to help you get the biggest returns on marketing ROI.

No Hidden Fees

Is your quote from your current supplier always different from the invoice? A solid partner will be upfront and honest. There won’t be additional fees tacked on…like art charges, setup, or screen charges.

 

Our team reminds each other every day of the value of our clients. Without you, we are zero. And in some ways, we hope we’ve started a revolution in the way “vendors” should treat their customers. Take control of your current vendor relationship….drive the agenda. It takes a while, but eventually, you will reach the stage where you will be very happy with the result.

 

Boot-ya…Quench your donor’s thirst with amazing drinkware!

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When I was about 7 years old, our family would go to a certain restaurant on very special occasions. At this restaurant, kids could have their beverage served in a glass boot. A GLASS BOOT! How exciting was that? Very. It was very exciting. I am sure we visited other restaurants when I was a kid, yet, I have a very strong memory of the glass boot at K-Bob’s Steakhouse.This has to be where my (slight) obsession with drinkware began. I wish we could road-trip across America together and randomly survey people about the cups and mugs in their cabinets, in their car cup holders and on their desks. I am convinced that everyone has some favorites that they use often and even carry everywhere.

Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. About 83 percent of adults drink some kind of coffee in the U.S. Look around any time of the day and someone is drinking coffee, tea, water, soda….something! So, of course, we are always on the lookout for new ideas in drinkware. We know that one sure way to get your logo in the hands (literally) of scores of supporters of your mission is to brand these cups while giving them a cool and eco-friendly way to drink up. We understand that some people even get emotionally attached to what they use to hold their beverage of choice, as noted in this article from Telegraph.

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Currently there is a lot of buzz around stainless steel cups with a lining that keeps ice cold for hours and hours…even days. These also keep drinks piping hot for a very long time…way longer than a commute, football game or campfire. The excellent news is that though there is a name brand of this type of cup that can be more pricey, now there are very affordable and really nice looking alternatives with the same longevity. And if this is not exactly what you are looking for, a simple search on our Promo Store site brings up over 1000 options (including a few glass boots, just saying). Drinkware can be adapted to work with any campaign or project and it is universally useful. Why not give your supporters, employees or volunteers their next favorite cup or mug?

 

Promotional Recall & Exposure…Latest Statistics!

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The Promotional Products Association, the guiding organization that drives the industry, recently released interesting results that many of us with blood center and non profit backgrounds already realize. Donor incentives not only work, but they can be used to drive key metrics…at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising channels.

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With a higher advertising recall than television, print, and online ads…promotional products can and do keep your brand top of mind with your valuable blood donors. And as we work with many centers to focus efforts on increasing donor frequency (the right type at the right time), we are seeing a re-emerging trend of collectible series initiatives gaining popularity.

Contact our team at any time or continue to watch our blog as we feature the most successful Best Practices around the country!

Let’s Get Together More Often…Increasing Your Donor Frequency

Frequency Matters Grunge

Around here, we get really, really excited about fresh ideas and new products. While you focus on the crucial work of recruiting, marketing, collecting, processing and distributing blood, we are relentlessly brainstorming ways to help you meet your goals.
So, we wanted to take a minute to chat about a couple of campaigns that have proven very successful to increase frequency for several blood centers.

Have you ever collected anything? There is a reason that retail stores and other companies have collectible items in a series…because people feel compelled to come back or do whatever is required to have the whole set or win the prize at the end.  From Beanie Babies and baseball cards to Pokémon, the next big thing is just around the corner. Get ahead of the Black Friday ads by making the next big thing saving lives!

Donors tend to gravitate towards campaigns that tie into current events, and we love this very current project:  The Platelet Olympics.

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This center set a specific timeframe for the promotion (that just happens to be in the summer when collections can be a struggle) and asked their platelet donors to set a goal of 6 donations in that time period.  They used very cost-effective car cling stickers for the bronze, silver, and gold awards combined with various gift cards depending on whether the donor achieved 4, 5 or 6 donations in the promotion time period. This is already boosting collections for the summer as this center encourages donors to Go for the Gold!

Chances are you are already thinking about the next tough collection period right this very second. It is no secret that holidays and summer can be a challenge. We worked with another center to focus a series of incentives from Memorial Day to Labor Day and they had a banner year.  The incentives, including a shirt, beach towel and a folding chair, were promoted as Limited Edition (who doesn’t want the limited edition, right?) in the Donor-rita-Ville tropical themed campaign. At the end, the donors who responded were entered to win a cruise. This project increased overall donations, as frequency rates skyrocketed by more than 20% over the previous summer!

When it comes to the holiday season, you can pull back in the donors who responded to a summer campaign like these above with a final piece or you can run a new stand-alone promotion that continues to build their loyalty.  We know that each center or region is different in their specific needs, goals, resources and donor base so, we can adapt to fit very targeted campaigns.

These are just a sampling of the buildable projects we have developed with blood centers – let us know how we can help construct your next goal-busting plan. It is part of our passion to make your life and work easier so you can concentrate on the big picture!

The T-shirt. Your Ultimate Brand Ambassador.

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The popularity of the blood donor t-shirt can be mystifying to those of us who have been in the industry a few years. I used to find that it was blood center staff who grew tired of the monthly t-shirt…and not donors. Because the reality is that blood donors love those t-shirt gifts because they are a means to not only express their pride in being a lifesaving donor, but also to ignite conversation and, ultimately, recruit more people to give blood. They are WALKING BILLBOARDS…and recently, I got a glimpse into just how well they do their job!

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I walked into gymnastics practice to pick up my son a few weeks ago here in Chesapeake, Virginia, and I noticed a fellow parent wearing a 9/11 blood donor t-shirt with the Coastal Bend Blood Center logo on it! I know the amazing team in Coastal Bend, so this, of course, peaked my interest. I asked him if he was from Corpus Christie…and we shared our stories. I talked to him about working in a blood center on that fateful day. And he talked to me about his military service, donating after the tragedy and still being a committed blood donor to this day. It got me thinking about how just seeing this shirt sparked a conversation about saving lives and about the longevity of the branding power of the t-shirt.

When you think about it, no other advertising medium has the ability to promote your brand and mission the way a t-shirt does. Nearly 15 years after this man received this gift, he was STILL wearing it and talking about it. That t-shirt is still doing its job of promoting the ongoing need for blood. What was probably less than a $2 investment at the time, has likely been seen by thousands of people who then thought about donating blood themselves.

We have all seen these tees…either while walking on the treadmill at the gym, perusing the aisles of our local supermarket, psyching ourselves up to get on that roller coaster, or tuning into our favorite news broadcast, when we have spotted it. That shirt…that one we remember ordering …designing…giving out to donors…or wearing ourselves. Just seeing it on someone reminds us instantly that we need to go give blood! Your donors are your brand ambassadors.

The take away here? When you invest in t-shirts, you are investing in your brand, in your blood center and in your mission to save lives not just for that campaign or blood drive….but for years to come. In an age when it’s easy to become numb to online banners, pop up ads, and text messages….what other advertising medium gives you that much bang for your buck?

We are a full service promotional products vendor, offering a million different imprinted products. But in the blood industry, the best way to get your message walking around town…continues to be….that brand new, crisp donor t-shirt.

3 Easy Solutions for Leftover Promo Items

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It’s happened to all of us…you place an order for promotional products to support an upcoming campaign and at the end, you find yourself saddled with boxes of leftovers.  Because it’s nearly impossible to predict exact quantities in the blood industry, being saddled with a warehouse full of products that were meant to recognize and retain donors is a consistent and ongoing challenge for centers around the country.

What’s a blood bank marketer to do?  Here are 3 creative ways to meet the challenge…and make your warehouse employees love you.

Repurposing

What better way to deal with excess inventory than to find another way to use them to reach donors?  We’ve partnered with several blood centers around the country to target lapsed donors, first time donors, and type specific donors…all by developing a customized direct mail kit (featuring a leftover promo item).

In Florida, we are seeing double digit returns on a kit targeted at first time O donors.  Each donor receives a recycled grocery tote and a heartfelt letter from a recipient…mailed in a branded package.  This strategic program has not only increased Type O inventory, but also put a big dent in increasing donor frequency across the state.

Customer Service Tool

If a donor has a bad experience, sometimes extra promotional products are the perfect customer service antidote.  Giving a customer a promo item can help calm them down as they perceive they have received something of value for their trouble.  A quick handwritten apology note, mailed out with a leftover t-shirt or mug after a long wait at a blood drive can make a giant difference in how donors perceive your brand.

Increasing Social Media Interaction

Leftover items are a perfect way to increase social media interaction…which hopefully leads to more donations throughout the year.  Consider sending out leftover pens or other small items to any new follower, or to donors who leave comments/feedback, or for tags.  You can organize social media contests with larger grand prizes, but thank all who participate with leftover branded items.

With a little creativity, your old promotional products can help accomplish lots of different goals.  Reach out to us today for ideas or to see samples of programs that are working to do just that.