Public Sector Promotions


Everywhere you look, there’s a government agency at work. Whether it’s municipal, state or federal, chances are an office that works on behalf of the public with public funding will still need some promotional assistance to get the job done. Here’s where you come in but be advised, public-sector clients are a horse of a different color. To get the most out of a government client, there are some unique factors to consider.

One of the most significant differences between earning business from private sector and government clients is the procurement process. “Don’t make the mistake of approaching this market as you would traditional corporate business—this won’t work,” says Tom Goos, president of Kirkland, Washington distributor Image Source (UPIC: IMAGESCE).

“While each government agency has its own unique processes, many of them are similar in that they have cyclical buying cycles where they do all or most of their buying once or twice a year. You must be in regular communication with your agency contacts so you not only understand their purchasing plans but also ensure that you are included in the bidding process.”

Goos says the bidding process for government agencies is more formal compared to most for-profit companies. Many agencies use blind bidding and require at least three bids, but sometimes as many as 50 companies will compete for one project. “Of course relationships are still important with the government agencies, but they are not as significant as with corporations when making the final decision,” says Goos.

Image Source’s government clients most often seek guidance with awareness campaigns that focus on a particular service or product. “We have executed campaigns around ballot initiatives, reading programs and lottery promotions,” Goos says. “In the end, the goal they are trying to achieve is very similar to a corporation: They have a go-to-market strategy, and promotional products are generally a key element to achieving the desired results.”

Other unique requirements by government agencies seeking to procure promotional marketing include having to spend a certain percentage with companies that are certified as minority business enterprises (MBE) or woman business enterprises (WBE).

Goos explains that while it is possible to provide the best price and most unique idea, a bidder could still lose the project if they do not meet either critera. “If you are neither MBE nor WBE, one strategy would be to select promotional products suppliers that are minority- or woman-owned and include them in the Tier Two reporting in the bid.”

>>Tips For Working With Government Clients

×          When working with any not-for-profit, and especially governmental agencies or departments, the value of the promotional merchandise must be justified since it is paid for by tax dollars. Therefore, it is imperative to create value by offering ideas that drive ROI, attendance or reach the clearly identified goal of the program.

×          Don’t assume all items need to have a low price point. In fact, offering products that meet and exceed the needs and expectations of the client and overall program is the key to repeat business.

Understand the guidelines and systems for the procurement process, as it is often complicated. By understanding the process, you can get ahead of the competition and win opportunities. For example, many state and government agencies have an online bidding system for their buying process, which is often set as an e-reverse auction or competitive blind-bid model. However, other agencies appreciate relationships and the value of vendors that understand their clients, employees, partners and community—and they are willing to award this extra effort with business that is not done in a competitive bid system. The key is knowing where you fit in based on your core competencies. —Source: Image Source


>>Get In On The Bidding Process The U.S. Government Services Administration (GSA) is the agency that coordinates purchasing for federal government offices. The GSA and its Federal Acquisition Service office (FAS) connect government offices with approved vendors to fill purchasing needs. To become an approved vendor and participate in a federal government bidding process, the Small Business Administration recommends following these steps:

1. Determine the size of your business.

2. Obtain a DUNS (Dun & Bradstreet) number, a unique nine-digit number assigned to contractors.

3. Register with the System of Award Management (formerly Central Contractor Registration).

4. Obtain an NAICS number for your company.

5. Compile past performance evaluations.

It’s also recommended that you know and can provide your Federal Tax Identification Number, Standard Industrial Classification Codes, Product Service codes and Federal Supply Classification codes. —Sources:, Government Services Administration


>>Are You A Small Business, MBE or a WBE? Check out these resources for more information on the federal bidding process.

The Office of Small Business Utilization

The Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers

The Minority Business Development Agency

Women’s Business Development Center


>>Case Study
Reviving Recycling In Logan County
Residents of Logan County, Ohio, needed to get more involved in recycling opportunities and litter control. The county sponsored an environmental poster/essay contest among schoolchildren, and the winning entries, along with photos of the winners, were published in an environmental awareness calendar.

The calendars were distributed by representatives of the Logan County Litter and Recycling Office to every student in the county school system. Additional calendars were sent to national, state and local government officials and dignitaries.

As a result of the program, the recycling program director reported a 15-percent increase in recycling totals and a 75-percent decrease in littering and illegal dumping. Letters of congratulation and commendation were also sent to the county office by then-vice president Al Gore, Ohio Sen. John Glenn and House Rep. David Hobson.—Source: Boundless Network


>>Case Study Photo: image source notebook and pen

Making A Note Of Summer Reading For several years, distributor Image Source (UPIC: IMAGESCE) has produced a summer reading program in conjunction with the local library system that includes a unique promotional product incentive for kids who read for 20 hours or more during the summer.

The library system provides the yearly theme and the Image Source team brainstorms on merchandise ideas that fit the young demographic. To determine the winning product, the library conducts several small focus groups with children and finalizes the choice based on their overall response.

Based on the audience, the products generally selected are children’s items such as notebooks, bookmarks and art kits. The latest incentive was a custom-molded float motion pen and notebook combination. —Source: Image Source



Score a winning bid with one of these promotional options


Add some sustainable options to your office-supply offerings with Sugar Cane Stik-Withit® notepads. One of the newest materials in the tree-free paper movement, sugar cane’s short growth cycle means it can be harvested two to three times a year. The waste byproduct of production, bagasse, is used to make the wood-pulp substitute that becomes paper.  Notes Inc. UPIC: NOTESINC
Travel safely with your tablet in a SlipSuit tablet case, which combines mobile convenience and protection. The padded neoprene zippered case can be carried alone or in a larger bag, briefcase or suitcase. A front pocket holds a pen or stylus. For more stylish options, choose a Sumo sleeve, patterned in hip, urban designs. The neoprene sleeve is water-resistant and is roomy enough for an iPad, Kindle DX or Netbook. It also allows you to move through airport security without having to remove your device from the sleeve. Mobile Edge UPIC: Mobile


Clients can keep important updates and notices top-of-mind for their customers and staff with a Frame-It® MagLift™, a countertop mat that uses a magnetic lift-top to make updating inserted collateral easy. CounterPoint UPIC: DOYOUPOP




The new, whiter surface material on SoftTouch® mouse pads is a multitasking wonder. It’s antimicrobial and great for cleaning and protecting laptops and tablets, and it can be stored on the keyboard for extra screen protection. The U.S.-made pads come in standard and tablet sizes.  DIGISPEC UPIC: DIGISPEC


Honor long-time civil servants with a deluxe watch roll, made from top-grain napa leather and a suede interior. It features a soft removable cushion to showcase watches and a snap closure for portability.  Royce  Leather/Emporium Leather Co. Inc. UPIC: royce





>>Case Study
Shining A Light On Hurricane Awareness
A major goal of the City of Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security is to prepare the region’s residents to respond to and recover from the effect of disasters and emergencies. Toward this goal, the department created a short video and several public service announcements that encourage area residents to: Make a Plan. Build a Kit. Stay Informed.

Loss of power is a common challenge during major storms and other disasters. City of Industry, California, supplier Sweda Company, LLC (UPIC: SWEDA) provided a hurricane flashlight to serve as a critical element of any disaster preparedness kit. The Ready Houston flashlights are given to residents at community events to raise awareness of preparedness and assist families when the time comes.

The initial order for 5,000 was distributed, and the response was so successful that a purchase order followed for an additional 25,000 flashlights. —Source: Sweda Company LLC

>>Case Study
Creating Camping And Wildlife Awareness
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wanted to purchase imprinted backpacks to create educational and safety training kits for children about topics relating to camping and wildlife. They requested a backpack that was available in three different colors—red, blue and green—to color code the different types of kits. They also needed the backpacks to be durable enough to hold the items they were placing inside and to withstand use by children.

Norcross, Georgia-based distributor Pinnacle Promotions Inc. (UPIC: Pinn021) provided the client several options for backpacks, including drawstring cinch packs made of high-density denier for durability. They chose a drawstring sports bag because it was available in all three colors, was made with 600-denier polyester with reinforced eyelets and came in at a low price point. Because the cinch packs were so cost-effective, the DNR ordered 100 of each color—double the original intended amount. The cinch packs effectively fulfilled all the requests of the department and the children loved them. —Source: Pinnacle Promotions


Case Study
Outfitting Recovery Teams
When relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy were being pulled together last fall, the New York City mayor’s office was a central location for aid coordination. Dan McClung of New York, New York distributor Axis Promotions (UPIC: axispromo) became part of those efforts when he was asked to supply 1,000 orange nylon jackets and 1,000 orange knit caps with “NYC Restore” imprinted on them.

“I was contacted on November 5 and they wanted delivery by November 9,” says McClung. “These items were needed so that Hurricane Sandy cleanup volunteers could be easily identified in neighborhoods and areas that were hit the hardest.”

McClung and his team searched several sources before finding 998 jackets from Washington-based supplier Cutter & Buck, which were overnighted to Axis’ embroiderer in New York. The 1,000 knit caps were found at SanMar and also overnighted to the embroiderer. “The jackets and caps were delivered as needed via messenger delivery from West Nyack, New York (the location of the embroiderer) to a central location in lower Manhattan.” —Source: Axis Promotions

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