Ah, the hunt for that perfect gift. The client calls and says, “We need something to give to our customers,” and, being the attentive and creative people we are, we immediately launch a full-scale search in a diligent effort to find the most brilliant treasure that will land the order and excite the client.

We tap into what’s trending, scour some of our favorite product lines and request our colleagues’ best ideas on PPAI’s Promo Connect. With this research in hand, we prepare a presentation and excitedly present it to the client in person or by email, only to learn that while they so appreciated our efforts, they decided to piggyback on something another department picked up at Costco.  

What just happened? We quickly dove into the sourcing waters and emerged with stellar product ideas—at least one of which we were absolutely certain would win the order—only to walk away empty-handed.

If we blame the circumstances, we’re guaranteed to repeat this scenario. But if we assign a dollar value to our time, we’re more likely to win those orders, and those clients, more often.

Here’s what I mean. Say you want to earn $1 million in revenue in 2018. You average a 40-hour work week and take four weeks of vacation plus a week at Christmas. That means, of the 47 weeks you’re planning to work this year, each week represents revenue of $21,276.60. Each day breaks down to $4,255.32, which means the value of every hour is $531.91. Now, in this exercise we haven’t considered Good Friday, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July or lunch hours, but you get the idea.

Given that your time is now assessed at $531.91 per hour, the big question becomes, how can you maximize it?  

You can invest it.  

You see, we usually view time as something that passes and something that we spend. But we can leverage time by investing it.  

Here are six ways in which you can see serious returns on your investment.

1. Invest in knowing your client’s brand. Absolutely everything your client says and does represents their brand. When you know it by experiencing it, by following them on social media and attending their events, being aware of their product launches, staff changes, branch openings, and overall goals and messaging, you already have a leg up on which promotional products would well represent them. The logo and brand promise need to be consistently communicated, and the quality should be in line with the brand’s quality. Just because they are members of a particular industry, such as law, real estate, insurance, etc., doesn’t mean they fit into a cookie-cutter mold. In fact, find out what makes them unique and build on it.

2. Invest in knowing your client's customer. Getting a profile about the people receiving the gifts helps you to home in on why they will appreciate, use and keep a particular gift. Ask your client to describe their recipient so you can get a picture of their age, lifestyle and preferences.

3. Invest in asking a few quality questions about the reason for the gift. Is it for an event? Who is going to be there? Where is the event being held? Has the event been held in the past? How did it go? What worked well? What is being done differently this year?  

4. Invest in the outcome. What does your client expect to happen as a result of this event? How would they like their clients to respond or to feel when they receive this gift? The answers to these questions are crucial to your research and might be triggers for other opportunities: special packaging, name badges, drawing prizes, uniforms, banners, place cards, drinkware, etc., to enhance the initiative and results.

5. Invest in achieving the fiscal goals. Clients aren’t always crystal clear about budgets and timelines, but at $531.91 per hour and almost a million products listed on SAGE alone, you need some parameters for your search. After all, if the best ideas can’t be executed inside the timeline and within budget, that’s time (money) just plain spent. And just because your client gives you a budget of $1 per person, don’t assume they won’t spend $2. When you find the right gifts that perfectly align with the goals, message and client, don’t be surprised when they find the budget to purchase what you are suggesting.

6. Invest in looking good. Different projects or initiatives may require different levels of sign-off. When you understand the process and who will be ultimately responsible for the decision, you can tailor your presentation to meet the needs of that person or committee. In the end, you look good when they look good.

It doesn’t take long to become a pro at gathering quality information through an informal conversation. Why go on a wild goose chase when the golden egg is a few questions away? 


Jae M. Rang, MAS, is founder and chief inspiring officer at JAE associates Ltd., a promotional marketing agency in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. She is past chair of the PPPC Board of Directors, an inductee in the PPPC Hall of Fame, a recipient of the PPPC Humanitarian Award, chair of the PPPC Scholarship program and a multi PPPC Image award winner as well as a PPAI Pyramid Award winner. Rang is also the author of the Amazon bestseller, SENSORY MEDIA: Discover the Way to Anchor Your Brand and Be Memorable, 50 Simple Ways to Increase Brand Visibility and her new book, The Aha! Moment Journal. www.jaeassociates.com