Bottom Line Up Front: Shipping delays, cost increases, & low inventory levels are at an all-time high. Direct your customers to start thinking about their branded gift orders now — to ease their supply-chain problems later.

We’ll set the scene. Right now, our industry is facing an unprecedented blow to supply chain normalcy. 

There are shipping delays and cost increases. There are low inventory levels and heightened competition for the products that are there. There are frazzled suppliers and frustrated distributors, and there are customers — plenty of them — who never saw this state of the market coming.

The thing is, your customers’ needs haven’t changed. They still depend on branded apparel and promotional products to connect with their people — internal and external –, and they still depend on the Holiday Season to be their period of gift-giving extravagance. Their expectations are firm. And maintaining their connections has never been so important.

So those are your two opposing forces: a supply market that’s deep in the thralls of struggle and a customer base fueled by relentless demand. They want what they want, and they want it when they’ve always wanted it. This Marketing Kit was developed to help you give it to them. 

The key? Preparing early. Encouraging them to book their orders and start their processes today — so that when the holidays do roll around, their hands are filled with gifts to give. 

Holiday gift-giving is always a time marked by chaos. But this year, the power of simplicity is in your hands. Wield it today by inspiring early prep-work — and watch as your customers’ expectations are met and surpassed. Without any sign of a headache.

Market Context

Let’s break down our current reality. On the one hand, product verticals ranging from drinkware to electronics to apparel are experiencing substantial shortages — and they’re not expected to go away anytime soon.  In fact, according to Jeremy Lott, President, and CEO of SanMar, shortages in apparel are expected to last “into the first half of 2022.”

On the other hand, supplier expenses are blowing through the roof. Importation, labor, and transport costs have reached uncanny heights, and the suppliers in question have been forced to adapt through price hikes of their own. 

The result is an industry that’s volatile with its inventory, pricing, and scheduling. And with some of the biggest voices in the supply world — including Lott — raising the alarm, the print shops and decorators who continue to operate as normal will be this year’s biggest losers. In the Holiday Season and beyond.

Holiday Gift Giving in 2021

There’s no question that holiday gift-giving is a tried and true strategy for boosting morale, fostering retention, and strengthening connections — for organizations of all sizes. Whether the branded gifts are going to employees and investors, customers and sponsors, or vendors and volunteers, the results are fruitful: a show of gratitude that heightens brand awareness, increasing brand affinity at the same time.

  • Employees: Branded gifts make them feel appreciated, inspiring them to want to work harder for their workplace.
  • Partners: Branded gifts give them an easy way to spread brand awareness to their networks, advocating for the organization without saying a word.
  • Vendors & Suppliers: Branded gifts make them feel like they’re part of the family, inspiring them to maintain a positive relationship with the brand.
  • Customers: Branded gifts lead to increased brand recognition, loyalty, and evangelization, as customers love interacting with brands that make them feel special.
  • Volunteers: Branded gifts make them feel valued, inspiring them to keep donating their time to the same organization.
  • Sponsors: Branded gifts help keep the brand front-of-mind, reminding sponsors of its distinct value — as a partner and in the market at large.

Equal parts gifting solution and marketing solution — that’s the rationale. That’s why your customers, regardless of industry, are so desperate for gift-giving plans that can be executed effectively and on time. Want to meet their needs? Here’s the process you need to walk them through in 2021:

  • Plan Earlier: the smartest businesses are already placing their holiday gift orders by the time summer rolls around — and that includes the majority of Fortune 500 companies. Don’t just softly encourage your customers to jump on the early-riser train; clearly articulate the risks involved if they don’t. The sooner you paint the picture for them, the sooner they’ll get their actions into gear. 
  • Customize Earlier: once they’ve pinpointed their audience, budget, and timeline, loop them into the customization process without delay. Whether that’s showing them the latest product trends or highlighting the newest add-on packaging options, focus their eyes on the details sooner. So that you can get them their first choice, guaranteed.
    • Tip #1: Custom kitting and gift-wrapping options are a great differentiator (as customers are attracted to turnkey fulfillment abilities) — but they’re also an excellent opportunity for monetization. Leverage it. 
    • Tip #2: Custom Online Stores are another high-value differentiator, as they enable your customers’ gift recipients to redeem (and personalize) their own gifts. With InkSoft’s gift certificate feature, the process is frictionless from all sides.
  • Choose Earlier: planning and customizing the strategy early is great — but if they’re not putting that strategy to practice, it won’t help them get ahead. Let them know that they have to be ordering products, approving designs, and specifying packaging and shipment details while it’s still warm out to ensure that they’re not left with a lackluster version. Or worse: empty-handed. 

The strongest point you can make from your very first conversation is that what you’re offering is an end-to-end process for peace of mind. From design to finished product to delivery, you’re the one-stop shop for a seamless, high-quality, and hands-off gift-giving strategy.

The Wrap Up

Holiday gift-giving is critical to every customer. Show them that you’re the expert who thinks ahead — that you’re the expert willing to go the extra mile to ensure their satisfaction — and you’ll do more than just impress them this time around. You’ll retain them. 

Simply put: this is the strategy that empowers you to set your customers up for success while locking in your own earnings. 

In the Marketing Kit, you’ll find everything you need for seamless execution: email copy that ignites interest and declares urgency, social copy that spreads awareness and hooks prospects, and CTA’s for your own site that informs — and prepare — your audience for what’s ahead.

The market’s unsteady, but the demand isn’t. So do your part. Promote sooner, explain better, and sell faster than you’ve ever managed before. You have it in you. Let this Marketing Kit help you bring it out.
And, if you’re looking to wow your customers beyond their wildest expectations, offer them an Online Store solution that enables their receiving audience to choose their own gifts, enter their own shipping preferences, and even customize their own products — from wherever they are. Perfect for remote teams, international investors, and beyond. Get better acquainted with Inksoft’s Online Stores now.

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