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Enhancing Kidswear Sales!

Promotional-products expert Don Sanders joins us this month and going forward with insightful commentary designed to help apparel decorators bridge the gap between merely embellishing garments and selling promotional apparel.

Q: The local zoo purchases a large quantity of shirts from my company every year as a reward item at an event for children who attend with their parents. This particular event is held to increase attendance and familiarize younger visitors with the zoo’s attractions. I believe if I presented the marketing department with some ideas aimed at making the event more successful, I would be able to increase my business with them. Do you have any ideas for me?

A: All zoos are looking for more visitors, so your thinking is on the right track. Make an appointment with the marketing director and show him the interactive ideas you have formulated. Any program you show should be one that gets youthful visitors more involved in the zoo’s activities. Suggest the zoo purchase from you a series of six different items that can be given to children after they visit different exhibits around the facility. For example, after they visit the cheetah exhibit, they receive an imprinted backpack tag. After visiting the elephants, they are given a child-sized water bottle imprinted with the zoo’s logo, the name of the exhibit and, of course, a smiling pachyderm. To tie up the program, point out that, after a child collects all six items, they show them at the gift shop where they get a larger award, such as an imprinted gym bag, stuffed animal wearing an imprinted T-shirt, or child-size logo’d garment. Having the larger award picked up there causes the parents to visit the gift shop where they will be exposed to additional items to purchase. The series of rewards will make the youthful visitors look forward to the event and yield the zoo great marketing exposure at a later date since most of the imprinted items will end up being taken to school.

Q:  I’ve been supplying orthodontists with T-shirts for years and they seem to be candidates for other promotional items. Can you lend some insight into how to approach them?

A: All professionals in the dental industry must have repeat customers in order to keep their doors open. Without loyal patients, they would fail because the process of looking for new patients is tough and expensive. When visiting these clients, let them know about a plan that will increase their business, particularly with the “tween” and teenage market. Show them how an incentive-gift program will create loyalty among patients, making them want to return to have their dental work completed, by offering a series of rewards after each visit. Since you already supply these clients with T-shirts, show them other items that are popular with teenagers such as imprinted water bottles that can be presented on a second visit. On the third visit, they can award patients with an athletic bag and so forth. To start this off, suggest your clients prominently display the items in their offices. As with the zoo promotion, when students take imprinted items to school they create much needed exposure for the businesses who gave them the items.

Q: In spite of the current recession, people still need to use day-care centers, my leading outlet for kidswear sales. Besides wearables, what items can I show these centers that can help them with their marketing efforts?

A: The most effective way to build any business is by word-of-mouth advertising, and day-care centers are no exception. Their prospective customers are parents who are looking for quality care. They frequently seek opinions from their friends and peers. Current customers are more likely to refer a business or service to someone when they are thanked along the way. Make it a point to visit day-care centers in your area and leave samples of items that parents use such as plastic to-go mugs, cell-phone holders and tote bags. There’s no better way to make a sale than by showing actual samples. Ask suppliers with whom you have a good working relationship to provide you with spec samples that include your prospect’s logo. There is not a more powerful closing tool.

Q: I want to sell promotional items to my embroidery customers who come from a variety of private schools. Can you suggest one single item that all of them could buy from me?

A: Here’s one I’ll bet you haven’t thought of. One thing every school needs is floor mats for its entrances. Private schools may have more flexibility than public ones when it comes to ordering such items for their facilities. Show them large, colorful rubber-backed mats that will reduce slip-and-fall accidents while improving the aesthetics of the environment by promoting the school’s logo, mascot, name and so on. Today’s mats are impervious to sunlight and their high-traction surface effectively removes and traps tough dirt, grime and water from shoes. All school-maintenance personnel have to do is hose them off periodically. By suggesting such a practical and needed custom item for each school, you’re sure to make some sales with this product.

Q: Our company provides a wearables-fulfillment service to a large local resort hotel. My contact at the hotel has asked me to provide them with some ideas on how to make their children’s activities program more popular. Any suggestions?

A: Since happy kids make for happier parental guests, resorts are always looking for ways to make travel friendlier for families. The trick to putting on successful kids’ programs is to provide fun activities. For younger guests, suggest an imprinted coloring book and crayons. Add an imprinted plastic sand pail that can be used to hold the book and crayons when they are not being used. The pail will give the resort a good advertising vehicle and is an item that younger children will want to take home with them. This helps continue to spread your client’s advertising message far beyond the resort. Put on your thinking cap and come up with some other items that would be suitable for older children . . . such as imprinted Frisbees. Make sure the items you suggest are useful and something that will appeal to both girls and boys.