Posted by: brandextenders | February 10, 2011

I Hate it When the Surgeon says “Oops!”

Oops, forgot the proof on this one!

We’ve all heard stories of surgical operations gone awry; from a sponge being left inside a body cavity to the wrong body part being removed. I know people who have taken permanent markers and circled where the operation should occur with arrows pointing to it just for emphasis. Let’s face it, even though most doctors’ study and work to continually improve their skills, stuff happens!

The same is true with promotional products…stuff happens although I do my best to ensure my customer’s orders flow smoothly and arrive on time. There are certain things that can be done to limit the chance of something going wrong and here are five of them although I’m sure there are many more.

  1. Plan Ahead: Just this morning my son asked me for something that will take at least a week to get and I heard my parent’s ghosts when I replied, “You need to plan ahead and not wait until the last-minute.” Although not always easy to do, it’s imperative to plan ahead when it comes to ordering promotional products. If not you may find yourself not being able to review a proof of the imprint (oops, you left off the last two digits of your phone number) or paying rush charges or freight charges that are more than the actual products. I’ve seen it happen!
  2. Decide what you want most: I used to have a manager whose mantra was, “Cheap, on-time or done right. Choose two!” Typically you can’t have the best price, best quality and have it be on-time especially if you wait until the last-minute. We’ve all heard of projects where the lowest bidder won and what they delivered was nothing at all like what had been bid on. Decide if the cheapest product through the cheapest vendor is really going to benefit you in the long run. Put yourself in your customer’s position and imagine being handed a pen that falls apart as soon as its clicked or written with. Not the best image to portray for your company. Decide what’s most important beforehand so when you talk or meet with your promotional products consultant they can help guide you to the best solution.
  3. Use the proper art: I’ve literally been handed a business card and asked to use that as art for imprinting on a product. Garbage in, garbage out as they say in the world of computers. If you want a clean, crisp and professional looking logo/imprint on a promotional product you need to start with clean, crisp art in the correct format. Eps or vector art is what’s needed and without that you may end up with an imprint that will fail to impress (see my November blog, “Are You a Deer in Headlights When it Comes to Vector Art” for more on the correct art formats).
  4. Always ask for a proof: Seeing what your logo will look like on a particular product beforehand is of the utmost importance. If a client tells me they don’t need to see a proof then I have them acknowledge in an email that they are declining this important step. Seeing a proof beforehand doesn’t always guarantee there won’t be a mistake, but in my experience it will eliminate 98.32% of all problems in regards to the imprint! Following Rule #1 will ensure you have time for a proof since rush orders usually forgo the proof.
  5. Work with reputable companies: There are literally tens of thousands of companies that are more than willing to sell you some promotional products…cheaply…on time…and the best quality. And if you believe that, I’ve got this bridge…! Seriously though, working with someone who is knowledgeable, understands the many imprint methods available, is creative and honest will go a long way in eliminating all of the above challenges. Most likely they will walk you through most of these steps, without prompting, because they‘ve seen what happens when you don’t follow these rules and believe me, it’s not a pretty sight.

Promotional products can be a powerful advertising and brand reinforcement tool or they can be a useless throwaway that wastes marketing dollars.

Plan ahead, find the right product, get proofs and work with a promotional consultant that knows the ins and outs and getting your order right every time. If you do you might create a buzz with your giveaways which can’t hurt your brand. If you don’t, you might end up with something like the picture here which is an actual book of matches a friend sent me recently. Oops, no proof on that one!

With 25 years in promotional marketing, Steve works with customers to develop creative and measurable solutions based on their marketing needs. Promotional products, uniform programs, online company eStores, safety programs and rewards and recognition are all included in his marketing toolbox. He builds long-term relationships to become a trusted advisor and consultant his clients turn to for their brand extension needs. You can reach him at Staples Promotional Products:


  1. I never will forget someone once sent me a very VERY large t-shirt to use for the artwork on a pen… AMEN to every point you’ve made!

    • The amount of knowledge it takes to do this job well is amazing since most don’t undertand the ins and outs of art, printing processes, materials, etc. Thanks for the comment and for reading.

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