Working in the world of promotional products, we see a variety of products bought and sold for marketing purposes. Whether it is for an employee recognition program or consumer based marketing campaign, we are always getting the request for “the coolest new item” and something “different”. Sometimes, while stuck behind our computers diligently working to find those items, we forget how they actually get used in the field.
Recently, I was fortunate to be invited to a Samuel Adams Beer Dinner hosted at Aidans Pub in Bristol, RI. It was a six course meal and each course was paired with a specific beer to compliment it. The local rep, Adam Lang of Boston Beer Company, gave a brief explanation of each beer and how it complimented the food. With Boston Beer Company being a customer of parsonsKellogg, I thought it was a great opportunity to dive into the culture of our customer and see how our products and other promotional items translated in the field.
When we walked in, there was a high quality metal Sam Adams keychain at every place setting. It seemed like everyone who sat down immediately got a pleasant little surprise to start off the night. The entire staff of Aidan’s was outfitted in retro Sam Adams tee shirts and the rep had on a 1/4 pullover with an embroidered Sam Adams logo on the left chest. The Sam Adams-attired staff, coupled with several banners, gave a solid feel to the evening as being owned by Sam Adams.
At the end of the night, everyone pulled out their raffle tickets and Adam and Richie Corrente (GMs of Aidans) raffled off a variety of Sam Adams products. They had Nike Hats, Ogio Bags, Tees Shirts, and of course beer! Given that those in attendance spent $50 a ticket for dinner, it was evident that these people were passionate about their beer and excited to win some great gear. There were “oohs” and “aahs” as the items were raffled off and, what I consider the ultimate compliment, people immediately putting on their new hats or apparel to go along with their smiling faces.
In addition to seeing how these promotional items were used, and the reaction of the consumers receiving them, I also got to learn more about our customer. I saw what was important to the local rep and had the opportunity to ask him about his challenges in the field. I also asked him what works well for his promotions, and he was able to explain to me more about the products they sell. For example, I learned that Jim Cook, Founder of Boston Beer, named his Apple Cider “Angry Orchard” because the apples they use are so ugly they can not be used for anything other than cooking. I also learned that the cherries used in the Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer come from Michigan. Michigan!? Who even knew they had cherries there?! These little pieces of information certainly help me better understand our customer, as well as come up with fresh new ideas for future promotions.
It was refreshing to see and be a part of one of our customers’ promotions. It was an experience that every salesperson should have. Whether your customer is a hospital, automaker or luckily, in my case, a brewer, you should get out there and spend some time in the trenches. Being a part of the experiential side of promotional merchandise gives context to the products we have worked so hard to source for our customers.[Pictured, left to right, in the photo above, are Bryan McWilliams of parsonsKellogg, Adam Lang of Boston Beer, and Richie Corrente of Aidans Pub]