Case Studies

Short bursts of promotional brilliance to ignite your creativity.

Market: Financial
Program: Referral Generation

To help power sales growth, a Boston-area financial firm relies on a steady stream of referrals from lawyers and accountants. It’s no surprise then that key players at the investment company were keen to stay top of mind with these white-collar professionals. For help with that, they turned to Nina Shatz. The sales director at Red Ball Promotions (asi/346567) didn’t disappoint.


After a consultation and brainstorming, Shatz pitched a program in which important referral contacts would receive a promotional gift every other month. The client liked the idea, and the roll-out revved into gear in April with a promotion themed around the start of baseball season. It centered on sending about 300 referral feeders a Baseball Tube (BBKT-SM) from Mid-Nite Snax (asi/71685). The logoed tube bore the financial firm’s branding and contained game-day delectables enjoyed by baseball fans: Cracker Jacks, Big League Chew and ballpark peanuts. Each item was logoed, and the gift came with the tagline, Looking forward to a great 2014 season with you. “The client is super excited,” says Shatz.

That excitement is poised to translate into recurring sales. Shatz is already planning the next round of potential gifts. One option is a desk egg tucked in a nest of gold paper clips with the slogan, “Let us help you grow your nest egg.” As ROI on the program becomes measurable, she suspects other planners at the financial firm will seek her out for similar promotions. “Sometimes,” she says, “the simplest ideas help you get the largest sales.”

Biz Tip

Promotional programs that reward referral networks can help clients increase referrals – and thus sales. To get things started, suggest that clients try a single such promotion and then measure the ROI, says Shatz. If you tailor the initiative to appeal to the client’s network, chances are customers will get the response they’re looking for and invest in subsequent campaigns.

Market: Technology
Program: Retail Backpacks

Having a ready-to-order client that knows the exact high-end product he wants seems like a dream come true. But sometimes, this scenario presents unexpected challenges, as Lisa Gruzas discovered on a recent job for a department within Google. Still, the key accounts manager at San Francisco-based Creative Marketing Concepts (asi/170631) leapt the hurdle with aplomb, a performance that served as a springboard for lucrative reorders and new business from other buyers.


Things began when a Google representative contacted Gruzas with interest in purchasing about 50 of a certain backpack from Incase, a hip retail brand that makes bags, sleeves, cases and other products that protect laptops, mobile devices and more. At the time, the backpack the buyer desired was not available in the advertising specialty industry. Rather than simply propose an alternative, Gruzas determined to get her client exactly what he wanted.

She started by contacting Incase, initiating a process that involved quickly building a relationship with the company so it would feel comfortable selling its backpack to CMC for resale. Once Incase determined CMC was a viable partner, Gruzas obtained a sample and, to help the client visualize branding options, had it decorated with the Google department’s logo in multiple locations. Impressed, the client selected a branding location and the approximately $3,000 order was swiftly put to bed.

With the Incase connection established, Gruzas was able to fulfill reorders from the buyer and others who wanted the same backpack after seeing it on the Google department’s end-users or being told about it by Gruzas. “In the long run,” she says, “it has become very profitable.”

Biz Tip

When clients request something outside the box, don’t be afraid to go for it. “If you’re creative, most likely you can make it work,” Gruzas says. And when you serve up something spot-on, client loyalty strengthens, leading to future sales.

Market: Technology
Program: Rewards Program

The Icebox (asi/229395) is known for creativity and for paying acute attention to the details of every customer’s order. The Atlanta-based distributorship proved this reputation is well-deserved recently when a client asked for help developing a promotional program with a six-figure budget.


The customer, a website search company with a national reach, wanted to brand and distribute useful “activation” gifts to provide to attendees at outdoor events. “It was to be a reward and a thank-you present for those who took the time to download and use their mobile application,” says Jennifer Maceyak, senior account manager at The Icebox.

With this application firmly in mind, The Icebox team began brainstorming ideas. The process included considering the client’s target demographic, the setting of the giveaway and the reason for the thank-you. Once the merits of each idea were evaluated, the client chose a black car charger (2600), black reusable nonwoven grocery tote (3333) and black drawstring cinch backpack (3074), all from Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125). “Ultimately,” says Maceyak, “they selected the items that they felt were on-brand and would be used regularly by end-users.”

And, they selected a lot of them. The Icebox provided 25,000 car chargers, 45,000 reusable nonwoven grocery totes and 20,000 drawstring bags for a total sales volume of approximately $200,000. Not only did The Icebox’s consultative, results-focused approach earn a hefty sum for the Atlanta firm, it helped further solidify the relationship with the client, laying the groundwork for future orders.

Biz Tip

To maximize return on a promotional campaign, Maceyak suggests you familiarize yourself with the client and their objectives. “It’s so important to really take the time to understand your customer, their audience and their needs,” she says. “You have to know what they’re trying to accomplish with the promotion to suggest the best options.”

Market: Promotional Apparel
Program: Fashion Show

This was big. Anvil Knitwear (asi/36350), long known for its fashion basics apparel, was readying to host an exclusive fashion show to re-launch its brand in January. Anvil needed something special to stoke the interest of the select industry representatives invited to the event – something that would help tell the brand story and capture attention.


After careful consideration, the apparel provider found what it was looking for in the Fisher-Price View-Master. Everyone on the guest list – about 100 people – received the View-Master, which arrived in a striking black box with an invitation message on the lid. The item itself housed a reel of 3-D color photographs displaying information about Anvil and the event. “We looked for something retro and fun that would represent the overall spirit of the brand,” says Cecilia Valetta, manager of marketing and projects.

The View-Master package helped set the stage for an event that delivered serious “wow” factor while initiating invitees to the brand through cocktail-hour discussions, an elegant dinner and a Q&A session with Mike Hoffman, president of Gildan Activewear (asi/56842), Anvil’s parent company.

“The initiative was to reintroduce Anvil to industry insiders through a unique experience,” says Valetta. “Our goal was to create content that continued to tell the story even after the event was over. We wanted to give a total brand experience from start to finish. Our initial idea was a fashion show, and we kept with that overall theme, making it fit our brand directives.”

Biz Tip

When brainstorming ideas to promote an event, Valetta says it’s important “to maintain both the spirit of your customer and your brand’s voice. Once you keep the overall spirit of your brand in mind when you are in the concept development stage, the unique and innovative concepts will come naturally.”