The most common headaches of managing merchandise and how to avoid them

Lyndon Evershed
Written by
Lyndon Evershed
24 July 2017

In the fast-paced working lives of today’s marketers and events manager, everyone is so time-short that selecting a branded product for your upcoming product launch or next exhibition can often be an afterthought. There are so many branded products to choose from that it’s sometimes challenging to identify what works best for your brand.

So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? How do you find a branded product that offers a right fit for your budget, brand and target market?

Here at Limelight Publicity we work with some of the world’s leading brands. These are our most valuable tips to help you be more successful with your future merchandise projects:

Prepare a merchandise brief

Before you start browsing endless catalogues, make a list of when and how the item will be used. What reaction are you hoping to achieve from your target audience? Take care to write up this rationale and some of the key questions you have considered that come with it.

Involve your main stakeholders right from the word go

Allocate time to share and discuss this with all stakeholders. If you are all on the same page with what you are hoping to achieve, it will make the sign-off process for your preferred options smoother. A well-thought-out rationale means you can present options to your stakeholders that will fit the brief closely.

For example, a product used as an attention-grabbing giveaway for a B2B event would be entirely different from a product needed by a company who were trying to brand their office to foster their company’s culture. The more you can communicate what the rationale behind your intended merchandise purchase is, the more likely you are to select the right solution.


Talk to the experts

A skilful supplier will ask you a range of questions to better understand your requirements and aspirations for the branded product. They will also explore realistic production lead times. There’s nothing worse than setting your heart on a specific branded water bottle only to find out that the minimum quantity was 250 when you are only looking to purchase 100 bottles.


Every colleague wants to have a say

Everyone in the office will have an opinion on what branded product gets selected. This can sometimes be frustrating as only you as the project manager will know how much budget is available and how the product needs to support the overall marketing approach.

It’s really easy to come up with a highly innovative solution if there is no budget limiting you, but it is much harder to find a great solution on a small budget and/or tight timescale.

Merchandise works best if it amplifies the general branding message you have planned. For example you may select branded sweets and pens as giveaways at an exhibition stand. Their impact will be increased if the visual identity across all customer touchpoints is connected. This takes careful planning and execution.

In our experience, the more confident you are with your decision and the reasons it works for your brief and supports your general marketing themes, the more likely your choice will be a success and be seen as such by colleagues.


Don’t leave storage and delivery planning to the last minute

When you place an order for new merchandise it’s easy to forget that a large order may mean that within a couple of weeks you could get a call to say: ‘Hello, I’ve got  3 palettes full of boxes, what do you want us to do with them?’ Storage space is at a premium in most offices, so this call can make you break out in a sweat.

We recommend that you make a plan for where to store your items and what to do with them on delivery before you place an order. With plenty of time it is possible to book space in your usual off-site storage, or you can select a supplier who offers storage and on-demand delivery service as part of the package.

Whichever option you choose, agree on a clear labelling policy with your supplier. It’s helpful to have the name of the item, a picture and your contact details printed on each box.

We hope you have found these tips helpful. What tips would you like to share?

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