If you have to travel somewhere for a work conference, Florida is not a bad place. No siree.
Earlier this week, Seth, Julianne, Mallory and I had the pleasure of traveling to Orlando to meet with vendors and distributor partners and to attend the ASI trade show. We saw thousands of great items new for 2012, and over the course of the next few days, I will recap some of our favorites on the blog.
If you want to hear about the real highlights, like Seth and Julianne's harrowing tale of survival on the Amtrak train or our recap of Harry Potter World, give us a call!
There is so much to share, and I'll do my best to keep it somewhat organized. Today, I'll focus on our favorite finds in apparel.
Eco-friendly apparel has been around for years, but we spotted one line that has really taken it to a new level. This East Coast vendor combines recycled cotton with various recycled materials to create fashionable and wearable clothing with minimal environmental impact. Ever wonder what happens to all those X-rays that hospitals and dentist offices print? They get trashed... OR they get woven into your new favorite tee.
Americans throw away an astounding 2 million plastic bottles every 10 minutes. Every one of these recycled tees uses recycled polyester from approximately 8.5 PET bottles. They're available in three colors: beer bottle brown, soda bottle green and water cooler blue. An added bonus? These tees dry in HALF the time of a normal T-shirt.
We were also very impressed with their line of hoodies, composed of recycled cotton and textile scraps from factory floors. They're incredibly soft to boot.
Another apparel trend that caught our eye (for obvious reasons), was American Apparel's line of neon tanks, tees and raglans. I expect to see several neon-clad kickball teams on the Mall this spring. They would also be great for school spirit wear and retro graphic design.
Custom boxer shorts and pajama bottoms are traditionally big sellers for schools, universities and youth organizations. I love how this vendor has used flannel material to line sweatshirt hoods and for reverse or laser cut appliqué on the front chest. You can do this with several kinds of material; there were samples on display using seersucker and polka dot cotton as well.
I thought this example of screen printing with puff ink was worth sharing. To achieve this effect, the printer mixes an additive into the ink that puffs up when cured in a belt oven. The end result is a print that feels raised against your fingers.
And finally, if you're looking for great tech polo, this piece uses a unique blend of yarns that provides a cooling sensation by pulling heat away from the skin. This particular manufacturer also carries a line of garments for cold weather. Each piece is rated on a temperature scale, much like you would see when shopping for a sleeping bag for camping. The rating system even distinguishes between light to moderate activity levels, so you know which garments are needed for running in -10 degree weather versus walking in 40 degree weather.
That sums up our highlights in apparel! Be sure to check back for more of our favorites in the coming days.
This One Time... at Brand Camp
If you have to travel somewhere for a work conference, Florida is not a bad place. No siree.
A few weeks ago, I met with a client to discuss upcoming projects and the company's event schedule for 2012. Not surprisingly, our conversation quickly sidetracked to more personal topics: Kindles, time at the beach, holiday plans and family.
Honestly, I love it when this happens in a meeting. I always learn something useful.
My client has a young child with autistic tendencies, and at one point we found ourselves discussing teaching techniques used in school to help children focus. Apparently, fidget toys and stress balls that get hands and fingers moving provide a calming influence to children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Toys are especially helpful in the classroom, as they help kids focus and absorb the lesson, without distracting other students.
My client's son has had great success with this method. During our meeting, she politely asked that I keep her in mind should my desk become overcrowded with promotional toys and gadgets.
Of course my mind went to Sonic's trove of George Washington head stress balls. Although we had managed to find creative ways to "use" them, I felt their purpose would be better served in the little hands of history class students. A quick phone call and shipment later, and the squeeze toys had found a new home with a local special needs school.
Don't worry, we only sent the undecorated toys. Something tells me Pinhead Washington would do more harm than good.
This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...
... T-shirts for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation to be worn during the Martin Luther King Day of Service in Washington DC. Congress designated the MLK Day of Service in 1994, transforming the national holiday into a day of community service. On this day, Serve DC and the Office of the Secretary organize and match volunteers to more than 1,300 service projects spread throughout DC's eight wards.
... New York Times Best Seller stickers for KaBOOM! to be placed on CEO's copies of KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play.
... and assorted apparel as part of Christ Fellowship's rebranding launch. Balloons, tumblers, wristbands, padfolios and pens were also created to celebrate the launch.
"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every Tuesday to see some of the work that's going on in our office.
On Wednesday evening, Sonic received its first Gold Pyramid Award at the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. Debbie Bostin and Seth Weiner's direct mail campaign with Columbia Books won top place in the category of Political and Legislative Program.
Read on to learn more about the project.
In 2008, Columbia Books acquired the US Congress Handbook (first published in 1974). The handbook is known as the go-to-guide for information on members of Congress, and it is often used as a tool for legislative advocates and a gift for political donors. The book can also be customized with a branded cover and custom page inserts.
In October, Columbia Books contacted Sonic for assistance with a direct mail campaign to grow sales of their custom handbooks. Facing competition from a nearly identical product, Columbia Books needed a creative solution that would highlight their handbook's superior features and get it directly into the hands of key decision makers.
The selection of items for this mail campaign was actually inspired by a past Sonic promotion. Two years ago, Sonic sent out reusable coffee mugs, water cups and personalized notes to top clients, Columbia Books included. Columbia Books was so thrilled with the gift that they chose to use the exact same items for the US Congress Handbook promotion.
75 boxes were sent out, each containing a set of drinkware, a sample handbook, a tailored letter signed by the sales rep, and red, white and blue paper filler. One week after the mailing, Columbia Books' sales reps conducted follow-up calls to secure meetings, close potential clients and renew existing clients.
So, was the promotion a success?
You bet! Columbia Books closed 28 new clients and achieved a renewal rate of 80% from existing clients. Of new clients, eight specifically attributed the gift as the most important factor to their order. Columbia Books was so pleased with the program that they entered the project for an industry award and won.
Wanted to let you know the mug and cup marketing campaign we did just won the SIPA (Specialized Information Publishers Association) award for Best Print Effort. When the award was presented, the presenter said that they decided not to award any "honorable mentions" for this category, because the winning entry was so definitively the best in its category (and yes, there were many other entries). So, thanks for all your help and feel free to tell your other customers the stuff you guys create is award winning!
Thank you, Columbia Books for the opportunity, and thank you, PPAI for the recognition!
In a perfect world, every project would be completed exactly as planned, on time and on budget. Alas, we don't live in a perfect world, and mistakes occasionally happen.
Although we are extremely careful about proofing and tracking orders, a typo might sneak past several sets of eyes, a screen print might feather on the press, or a nasty snowstorm might strike a UPS hub. When these situations arise, we do everything in our power to act quickly and provide an appropriate solution.
Shipping errors are definitely the hardest to fix. Once a shipment is in UPS' hands, it is extremely difficult (read- impossible) to intercept and redirect the package. Now, please don't misunderstand me, UPS does a wonderful job. UPS sorts and delivers tens of millions of packages every day, and the fact that only a handful of mistakes skate by is truly a credit to their service. Be it so, it's smart practice to err on the side of caution and allow a few extra days for shipping or even upgrade to expedited service.
Printing errors are a bit easier to remedy. If you have enough time before the items are needed, you can always reprint the order. If the event is, oh, TOMORROW, you have to get a little creative.
One solution that is both quick and inexpensive is a sticker. Similar to the gold star you craftily used to conceal the fat 'F' on a school report brought home to Mom, a custom printed sticker will hide anything you don't want seen. If you go about it correctly, the sticker might even look intentionally placed. In the example above, the collector's edition decal works double duty. It conceals the typo below and increases the perceived value of the piece.
We hate to admit that mistakes occur, but if and when they do, rest assured that we will correct them.
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