The Future Is Now: Harnessing the Power of Tech for Your Promos
Tech is constantly evolving. It doesn’t take some sort of business genius or market forecaster to look into a crystal ball and tell you there will be new gadgets that people want. It is the way of the world. As long as those gadgets don’t turn us into batteries like in “The Matrix,” I’d say it’s a good thing for the promotional products industry because it means there will always be new opportunities for business, as end-users want the next best thing. Or, maybe it’s a new development in smartphone tech that people can’t wait to get their hands on.
Or, maybe it’s a way for tech to find its way alongside other branded products or even apparel. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that reaching people at home through kits was a viable branding method. And even though many of us are back in the office, we still find value in a kit.
It’s admittedly a hard sector to break into, though, because of all that variety. Knowing where to start or whether you’re choosing the right products can feel overwhelming.
So, we spoke with Mariah Wakeling, vice president/creative director for iClick, Seattle; and Trina Bicknell, chief revenue officer at HPG, Braintree, Massachusetts; about what products their companies have recently added, what they see as the biggest trends, what different customer groups are buying, and more.
Find Your Purpose
Good promotional products solve a need. The best promotional products solve four needs. Bicknell says one of the biggest products at HPG is what’s called the “Chargecuterie” and the 3fold charger.
“Our 3fold charger is a compact, wireless, foldable charger that charges your phone, your watch, and your AirPods,” she says. “It makes a great bedside charger when home or at a hotel, and folds easily to be packed for your next trip. Our Origaudio Chargecuterie is also a wireless charging station, but made out of sleek, sustainable bamboo. It also easily comes apart into two pieces for easy packing, and looks stylish in any home.”
Basically, your products should be able to accomplish multiple tasks while fitting into your pocket and your home decor scheme.
In terms of making your life easier at work, though, Wakeling reveals a new product coming to iClick, which is essentially a business card with a QR code and chip inside to easily transfer data — something that could revolutionize business networking.
“What you do is you tap it onto the phone of the person that you’re exchanging contact information with, and they don’t need an app on their end,” she says. “It opens automatically, and they have the option to save your information to their contacts right from that scan of the chip. It’s super easy, super quick, there’s never any reprints because you can go into your account at any time to change your contact in formation. It’s very cool.”
That really is the bottom line of a good tech promo: It’s very cool.
Welp, that’s it then. I guess we can pack up this feature, right? Just kidding. Now we want to get into who is looking to buy these products, and how you can sell them.
Know Your Audience
Whether they realize it or not, everyone is in the A/V club these days. We all walk around with thousands of dollars worth of recording and camera equipment, not to mention all of the accessories. Tech isn’t just for a small subset of people anymore.
So, this means that your client options are virtually unlimited. Bicknell says corporate and financial customers are a good starting point. They often use products like chargers and speakers as gifts for clients or employees. “They make fantastic gifts, and are a great high-end brand experience,” she says.
Other places to consider, she says, are educational institutions that want to hand out gifts for students and staff, or real estate firms that give housewarming gifts. “Honestly, speakers and wireless charging stations are great for almost every vertical market!” Bicknell says.
The beauty of something like a charging bank or cable is that it’s increasingly necessary for people. As our smartphones become more powerful, the batteries need to be charged increasingly more often with usage.
“Everybody needs power on the go, whether that’s charging at their desks where they just set their phone down and it’s wirelessly charging throughout the day, or they’re on the go and they take their power bank,” Wakeling says.
Meeting Current Standards
While tech almost has universal appeal, distributors still need to pay attention to their customers’ buying habits. Environmentalism is at the center of a lot of purchasing decisions, and as concern grows over tech waste, end-users want products that work well without contributing to pollution or environmental disaster. Thankfully, plenty of suppliers have taken steps to manufacture their products in green ways.
“The materials of power banks and chargers are becoming more recyclable, whether it’s the outside housing, the plastics that are being used, or whether it’s even an internal component, we’re finding more and more places to recycle those components and reuse those materials,” Wakeling says.
PopSockets, of which iClick is the official supplier in the promotional products industry, has been using plant-based materials for its PopGrip product, as well as working with TerraCycle to aid in recycling programs.
iClick’s own eco-friendly line includes products made from wheat straw materials, which is a byproduct that traditionally could be considered waste, but can be reincorporated into plastic materials to help it break down faster.
At HPG, bamboo has been a popular material for environmentally conscious tech, with products like the Bamblock speaker/charger combo. The company paired items like these with real environmental action, including planting a tree every time certain items are purchased.
“The environmentalism factor is growing more important in all products,” Bicknell says.
Bundling products and tree-planting are good, but what about when your client wants an all-encompassing promotional experience that fits in a box? Although technology can be a showstopper, you can bundle different items to create a well-rounded and thoughtful branded kit.
One HPG kit includes a phone stand and ring light for high-quality Zoom calls. Another includes adding different travel items like earbuds and chargers into a good backpack. Most of all, remember that a promotion involving tech doesn’t have to break the bank.
“Tech doesn’t have to be expensive,” Bicknell says. “It makes an awesome promo item in all economies.”
That’s part of the appeal of a wholesale product over a name-brand tech item.
“When you look at our Handstands no-noise headphone and you compare the price to retail noise-canceling headphones, the distributor can offer the same quality of product in great retail packaging that ensures the end-user knows they just received a high-end product, but for half the price,” Bicknell adds. “I think every company is more budget-conscious right now, so price matters.”