Read Time - 4 Minutes
With all due respect to Dagwood Bumstead, the premier hero-maker is you. And all the ingredients are already in your kitchen.
Custom recognition is a great way to serve up a platefull of goodness. Like any worthy sammitch, a hero is made in multiple layers. There are many flavors that are blended together to satisfy any appetite. Done properly, hero-crafting yields a sum greater than the parts.
Here are some things to chew on about custom recognition as I head to the fridge, hoping I still have some dijon mustard:
1. The Bread
Making your client a hero makes you a hero
The foundation of your work. Your effort to make your client shine is the essence of what promotional products can do. Providing world-class custom recognition is a great way to exceed the customer’s expectations. The recipients are genuinely grateful, the C-level types are impressed, and the program manager—your customer—is soaking in the rays from all directions.
And since recognition programs possess an elevated level of visibility, all eyes are on the hero you have created. Which makes you rather heroic.
2. The Meat
Be the champion of the client’s purpose and objective
The central element and main source of calories. It’s just not a sandwich without meat.
Similarly, it’s just not recognition without invoking the brand, identity and culture of the client, all aligned to the principal message of the award. It should answer who is giving the award and why.
3. The Cheese
Create “The WOW! Effect”
Few phrases are cheesier than “The WOW! Effect”, but it’s not something that can be ignored when it comes to recognition. It’s actually the mission statement of effective recognition, so it needs to be embraced, queso and all. A typical your-logo-here award is likely to elicit few lasting and positive memories, and the opportunity to WOW! will have been lost. Instead of aiming for something you hope they remember, give them a solution they’ll never forget.
4. The Veggies
You are creating solutions for your clients, not just answering questions
A client-facing solution is a bit like the lettuce in a sandwich—it’s largely inconspicuous…unless it’s missing. It’s an important ingredient, and fresh and crisp is always better. You need to be sure to dress your hero for success—lettuce for your sandwich, solutions for your client.
Answering questions is great (and necessary)—and you should know your stuff enough to do so. But giving great answers doesn’t mean you win. Unless, that is, the questions you’re answering are addressing the customer’s objectives. This is how you can engineer the discussion so your customers ask the right questions. You can then tailor your responses as a solution rather than a series of answers.
5. The Condiments
Engage your client in the creative process
A dash of authentic flavor is what delivers the zing. Let your customer pour some ingredients of their own into the special sauce. We’re all partial to our own ideas, so give ‘em a chance to engage at a level that makes the solution theirs. That sense of ownership will make what the competition is serving bland by comparison.
6. Ingredient "X"
Offer ‘em something they’ve never considered
I thought I knew all there was to know about the ingredients for a great deli sandwich. Until a lunch companion one day requested raspberry jam for his turkey/bacon/avocado creation.
As humans, we tend to be myopic, seeing only what is familiar to us or what lies directly in front of us. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. Your clients are the same. As promotional products professionals, you know more about the possibilities than your clients do. Of course, you don’t want to slip raspberry jam in their sandwich without permission, nor do you want them to feel deficient for not knowing. But it’s okay to suggest something new or different, even if they don’t specifically ask for it.
So What Will You Make?
Grab a plate, and start building your hero. Resist the urge to order by number—go off-menu instead. A unique blend of ingredients will assure you’re serving up something that is tasty, memorable, and satisfies the appetite of your customer.
Dave Miller is VP of Sales & Marketing at Bruce Fox, Inc. and a professional writer by virtue of the fact his company is paying him to write this blog. He has been with Bruce Fox since 1990, which somehow sounds more palatable than 26 years. He’s working out to join the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, since no major league teams were interested. The goal of his blog is to “edu-tain” (educate + entertain) promotional products distributors, with a focus on custom work. Dave also finds it very awkward to write about himself in the third person.