HALO Branded Solutions (HALO) gives you an inside look at the world of promotional products with an exclusive interview with Brandman, Terry McGuire. A widely recognized leader in the promotional products industry, Terry has worked in both the supplier and distributor sides of our world.
He has been involved with the promotional products industry for over 27 years, and we’re happy to have the chance to share his experiences and marketing knowledge with you. See what Terry has to say.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I’m the Senior Vice President of Marketing, Vendor Relations and Communication at HALO. I work with a talented Supplier Relations team that works closely with our supply chain to create value for HALO customers and prospects, and then work with an equally talented Marketing team to promote those value offerings in a way that resonates with promotional products buyers.
What do you enjoy most about working with promotional products?
After 27 years, it’s nice to be able to say that I have literally seen something new — a new product, a new distribution idea, a new application — every day. We are definitely in the fun and cool business.
When did you get involved in the promotional products industry?
It was my first job out of college. June, 1985.
What are some of the biggest changes in the promotional marketing industry you have seen in the past 10 years?
The compression of lead times. Ten years ago, the delivery expectation from our customers was 2-4 weeks and now it’s a week or less for most of our products – down to 24 hours in some cases even. The quality level of our products has also changed dramatically in ten years. We’re no longer a “cheap trinkets” advertising medium.
What are three challenges you and the company face today & how does HALO intend to tackle them?
Shortening the time required to product and deliver is one. We continually out-spend and out-smart our competitors on the technology and processes that are required to deliver products and order information more quickly and accurately.
The second challenge is the growing dilution of the market through the internet. Finding a low price on any product on the internet is easy; finding someone that you can trust to deliver a great product at a great price is tough. HALO provides the best of both worlds through a top-selling assortment of proven products available online backed by HALO’s full offline experience, providing you a mature multi-channel experience unique in the promotional products industry.
The final challenge is adapting to the many and varied ways available today to articulate our core values to our clients, our supply chain, and our sales team — providing a similar message to different people that want information delivered in very different ways.
HALO has over nearly 900 Account Executives across the country; can you tell us more about who they are and what they do for the company?
Our account executives are an excellent representation of the industry sales channel as a whole, which is a differentiator for us. They are in the biggest cities and smallest towns, our youngest are in their 20’s yet we still have people in their ‘80’s that trust us with their orders and work part time.
Based on average industry tenure, we have the most experienced sales force and with their experience comes a wealth of product and imprint information that you won’t find in a catalog, e-mail, or website. They do a great job of helping clients select a proven product for any promotion and save a great deal of time for clients in doing so.
What advice can you offer to business owners and marketers who are looking for new ways to promote their businesses? Are there specific types of promotional products that they should consider first?
We encourage a cross-platform approach wherein you utilize the “stay-power” of promotional products to direct recipients to a website (sometimes through a QR code in the imprint) that contains dynamic content like weekly specials, blogs, or other information that changes frequently. It provides the perfect blend of long-term and short-term marketing methods to enhance brand awareness while still prompting a purchase.
Apparel is our largest product category, but it’s based on personal taste. Surprisingly, we sell as many calendars today as we did 15 years ago because they continue to be functional, emotive and inexpensive advertising for businesses. It’s retro in many peoples’ eyes, but calendars deliver.
Another thing to add is that promotional marketing budgets should be based on the business size. Small businesses, which are typically local, should rely more heavily — perhaps 50-75% of their total advertising budget — on promotional marketing.
Medium sized business should spend around 25-30% of their budget on promotional products for direct mail campaigns, trade shows and employee incentives.
And, large business should spend around 10-20% of their ad budget on promotional products.
What is your favorite product on HALO.com?
Join the Conversation:
What other challenges do you think the promotional marketing industry faces? What are the biggest changes you have seen over the last decade? Let us know in the comments below.