Who Says Freebies Shouldn’t Be High-quality?

I promised to write more often last post so here I am, writing my next story!

We recently celebrated a milestone at our company: our semicentennial anniversary.  It was a significant marker, one that I honestly hadn’t known we would ever reach when we first started operating.  As such, it was an event worthy of celebration with all our loyal patrons.

We came up with the idea of giving out free gifts to our customers for a limited time—tokens of appreciation, as it were.  It’s a tried and tested technique, of course.  Even if it sounds almost counter to the entire purpose of doing business (to make money), giving away something for free can actually be a sound investment, promotions-wise.  Not only does it help show a company’s gratitude to its clients, cementing relationships with longtime patrons and building the foundations for new ones, but it can also be a good way to get your brand more exposure.  So even if we were going to be running a “free giveaways” campaign, we would be getting money back for it eventually, provided we did it right.

We knew, more or less, that we wanted the giveaway to be something customized. It would have to have the company’s logo on it, for obvious purposes.  We also needed it to be something practical and easy to carry around for our clients.  This would give our logo maximum exposure.  Finally, we wanted something professional… and most especially, premium.

Our company, TopupPH, is used all over the world to send load to Philippine mobile subscribers. We also do proxy buying and importing service for Filipinos who need to purchase things from overseas.  To some extent, you can describe our services as premium ones, and a lot of our clients actually pay very well for what we give them.  In return, of course, we give them unstinted dependability and quality.  And there was absolutely no reason that we couldn’t do that even in our giveaways.

So we needed something practical, lightweight, high-visibility or high-exposure, customized, and high-quality for our promotional materials.  Eventually we settled on customized t-shirts, since they ticked all the right boxes.

In a world where custom-printed t-shirts abound—my wife received one for a fund-raiser she attended only last week and my kids got some for their intramurals just a few months ago—you don’t realize how hard it is to find good companies to produce them until you really start looking.  I asked my people to bring back samples of different custom printing companies’ work… and was surprised by the lack of care so many of them showed.

Nearly all were so focused on cutting corners that they skimped unfairly on quality, offering flimsy shirts that I couldn’t possibly expect my customers to wear more than once and delivering the sort of backyard fabric printing work that I knew from experience would fade with just a few washes.  So much for our giveaways helping to solidify the brand among the consumer public.  If we used shirts like that to “give thanks” to our customers, wouldn’t we be shortchanging them gratitude-wise?

Because Im Batman

I wanted a cool looking, yet quality shirt, like this! I just can’t get enough of those Hishe videos BTW.

I rejected all of the first options, naturally.  We looked for more companies.  The samples were all more or less the same, all flimsy, low-quality items like the first set.  We kept looking.  At some point, I realized we were drawing so close to the semicentennial announcement that we might have to either give up the idea or switch to something else quickly.  In fact, I was just on the verge of doing the latter when we finally found samples that stood out among the rest.

They were shirts of very good quality, both in terms of the custom print on them and the fabric.  The design was printed cleanly, with barely any “blurriness” to the shapes and lines, and the color reproduction (the samples we got had prints of several well-known companies’ logos) was absolutely perfect.  The fabric was excellent.  It was soft and comfortable on the skin, but thick, in the way quality fabric is when you know it’s been made to last.  The price was more than reasonable, especially in bulk.  I knew we had our winner.  But now we had a new problem: could they fill the order in time to make our deadline?

We looked around Facebook and saw them. We called the company, JollyPrints, and got our answer: yes, they did rush orders.  Yes, they could produce the number we wanted.  Yes, they guaranteed that the finished product would match the samples’ quality.  We made all the arrangements post-haste and true to their word, they delivered our t-shirts before the deadline, all in the premium cloth and printing style that I had originally envisioned for our campaign.  We bundled each one into our clients’ packages with a special note of thanks for sticking with us through 50 years.  And do you know when I knew we made the right choice?  When I ran into an old acquaintance of mine from high school wearing the shirt at the golf club.  He didn’t know I owned the company, and I didn’t tell him: I just complimented his shirt.

“Yeah,” he said, beaming.  “I got it as a freebie.  But it’s so nice and comfortable.  Isn’t it great?”

It really was.