In the experiential marketing world, missing a deadline, even by mere hours, is missing the event. Most clients in this particular industry are exclusively event driven with decisions being made last minute and contracts and sponsorships signed in the eleventh hour. Once the ink hits the paper, things move quickly and that’s where we come in. We’ve likened ourselves not just as a promotional products company or an apparel company, but a logistics company. Because of these rushed dealings, we have become leaders in our industry by providing trust to the client that the products ordered will arrive on time and intact for their event.
A few things we’ve learned along the way…
The Date: In the “rush” arena, what date is actually important? It is not so much the actual event date, but the ship date. We have processes implemented into our order system that focus on that information specifically; constantly checking in on confirmations for ship dates with our suppliers. Be sure to pick and align yourselves with reliable partners who feel as passionate about timeliness and accountability as you do.
Market Your Ability: Don’t be afraid to market the particular niche of your company’s capabilities. We market our talents for rush orders and have a performance history to back it up. When you are comfortable and confident in your business’s ability, clients should know that this should be a part of their expectations of you.
The Reverse Proof: Provide a mock-up for a client when there is no time for proofs and approvals. Give your client a close rendition of what they can expect and then share the layout with your manufacturer on the other end. With a bit of training, Adobe Illustrator can be used internally for this process. Your client can essentially do an order confirmation and proof approval at the same time.
When to Say No: I told one of our team members this when they asked this question, “You can tell the client no when you’ve turned over every rock to make sure that none of our competitors can deliver.” This is a sure fire way to get your foot in the door if you can be the company that says YES when all other’s said no. Your clients should eventually feel that if that negative, ugly “no” word comes from you- then the task is impossible.
The “When” is Greater than the “What”: Sometimes fulfilling the need for an event is more important than the exact product. We saw that in some instances we couldn’t deliver the specific product requested by that all-important deadline. But instead of delivering Product A two days late, we could successfully deliver Product B by the deadline set. So keep in mind that getting an item in hands on time is sometimes more important than the actual item itself.
Surround Yourself with Great People: None of these things will matter much if you don’t surround yourself with a great team. It will take more than one person to successfully stay on top of mock-ups, ship dates, event dates, etc. The rush order world is maddening, but a great support staff that you can trust will undoubtedly help.