Trust is becoming the most important element of a business’ ‘long term success’. Well I don’t need to discuss it too much as it’s a debate that is generating a vast amount of column inches in the media at the moment. Rather, what I want to explore is how this current way of thinking impacts on the promotional gift sector.
The criteria for trust is widening. No longer is it just about the environmental credentials of materials used and the conditions staff are working in. These days the perceived trust in a company can stem from its staffs’ attitude to customer feedback. A good attitude appears to leave customers feeling the company is well run and therefore should be trusted. Indeed, trust can be created as a result of good service levels, even at arm’s length. Amazon is just one example of a company which still ranks relatively highly when scored on trust because its service is so efficient despite the tax avoidance scandal of recent months.
A well oiled machine must be doing something right and therefore should be trusted. Companies that provide useful and efficient services are flourishing. Trust is essential if a company is going to continue to grow. Yet, on the flip side a company that’s not trusted is going to struggle to break through. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, I believe that the Promotional Products Industry, not just individual companies, but the entire industry, falls into the second category. Promotional products are still seen as the poor relative to glamorous marketing campaigns and TV advertising. Distributors and suppliers alike can be seen as promoting a wasteful industry that offers no real benefit or purpose and this needs reversing before all trust is lost.
I am delighted that the BPMA has launched Promotional Products Week but I am equally very nervous. If the industry wants to lift itself out of the bilges of the marketing mix then we must, as a collective group, put our best foot forward and creatively demonstrate what we can offer.
If we take the same approach to Promotional Products Week as many marketers often take with their budget spend – that is to see how many pieces they can get for a certain amount – then we will not only be promoting just the cheapest and tackiest items but also reinforcing this message. Indeed, a blanket approach of giving away cheap tat will be hugely detrimental rather than beneficial in this very important Week.
We have a highly supportive trade association and they are reacting to what many of us have been wanting for years. The BPMA are taking the benefits of promotional products directly to end users and it’s now our responsibility to show what we can achieve.
It’s imperative that we regain the trust of marketers and advertisers and get them back on board if we are to survive as an industry.