A coalition of leading brands, master fulfillment companies, and travel and gift card companies has formed to promote greater use of brand-name products, gift cards, and experiences in promotional products and business gifts as well as rewards and recognition.
The Brand Experience Coalition is founded by The Certif-A-Gift® Company, a leader in supplying brands to the promotional products marketplace; Harco Incentives, one of top five master fulfillment companies in the U.S., Pulse Experiential Travel, the leading provider of experiential travel gift cards, and Bulova Corporate Sales, an industry leader in timepieces. The coalition is managed by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance at TheEEA.org, a provider of education and certification in all areas of the emerging field of Enterprise Engagement.
Industry veteran Barb Hendrickson will serve the Brand Experience Coalition as Director of Brand Experience Consulting. She will oversee a new Brand Personality manual being developed by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance for the Coalition to help promotional product, gift, incentive, reward, recognition, and loyalty buyers select the right brands for their brands, gift and reward programs, and audiences. Hendrickson is President and Chief Content Creator of Visible Communication, a digital marketing firm specializing in content creation and branding to the rewards and recognition and other markets. She is a former Director and Past President of the Incentive Marketing Association. Hendrickson’s previous companies include Design Incentives, a manufacturer’s representative and performance improvement company; Promotivators, a promotional products distributor, and Fulfillment Force, a master distributor and fulfillment company.
“There is now nearly 20 years of industry research of which few corporate practitioners are aware that demonstrate the importance of the gift and rewards experience and the impact of brands for promotional products and gifts. It’s time for providers of leading brands to work together to educate the marketplace and to promote more sales of brands in employee/event gifts, brand awareness, and business gifts, the main three categories or programs sold through distributors, as well as sales, dealer, and employee incentives and rewards,” say Andy Tobutt, CEO, Certif-A-Gift® , Saro Hartounian, Chief Executive Officer of Harco Incentives Inc.; Adrienne Forest, Vice President, Corporate Sales, and Marc Matthews, President of Pulse Experiential Travel, founding sponsors of the EEA’s Brand Experience Coalition, in a joint statement. “As leading master fulfillment companies, brands, and gift card companies supporting our reseller partners in the market, we welcome all our other master fulfillment partners, brands, gift cards and technologies to join our effort to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities in our market to expand the use of brands in all aspects of corporate gifting, rewards, and communication.
Explains Barb Hendrickson, the coalition’s Director of Brand Experience consulting, “While incentive industry leaders have focused for years on educating distributors on incentive programs, we have overlooked the potential benefits of brands in their current business. I am looking forward to helping all of the brands in this growing coalition tell their story, so that our partners in the promotional products, business gift, incentive, recognition, and loyalty businesses can use brands not only as gifts or rewards but as a medium to tell their own story.”
Hendrickson will be responsible for development of the Brand Personality manual and the development of additional tools under consideration to make it easier and more profitable for promotional products distributors to access brands while enabling brands to carefully control the companies with which their brands are affiliated.
Brand Experience Coalition Fact Sheet
According to Bruce Bolger, founder of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, the objectives of the Brand Experience Coalition are to:
- Provide easy-to-use sales tools to the trade and organizational professionals involved with selecting promotional products, business gifts, rewards and recognition on the findings and implications of multiple research projects related to best practices.
- Develop a Brand Personality manual to help all the brands and gift cards active in the marketplace tell their stories so that other companies can better select which brands to offer in their programs.
- Encourage business practices that make it possible for promotional products distributors and master fulfillment companies profit by becoming brand experience specialists.
- Provide an online platform making it easy to find master fulfillment companies able to provide customization and personalization for brands and gift cards.
- Provide an online learning program for practitioners and a Brand Consultant certification on Rewards and Recognition and the Brand Experience on the online learning platform at EEA.tmlu.org.
- Provide content for business media and presentations at industry events on the use of brands, including at Engagement World, co-located at Selling Powers Sales 3.0 Conference starting in San Francisco, April 1-2.
- Share extensive research on the benefits of using brands in promotional product and gift programs with the trade and end-users.
- Create guidelines for the better control of brands in promotional product, gift, and reward programs.
“While the brands and master fulfillment companies have invested decades in educating distributors on incentive program design, only 13% of total distributor business consists of incentives and recognition,” says Andy Tobutt. “Our goal is to address the top 3 business categories they already sell with a new high-impact solution.” Adds Saro Hartounian, “We know that distributors feel they can make greater margins by using non-brand names for their promotional product and gift programs, but we do not believe this is true when the order sizes and customization costs are included and the fact that distributors can buy directly from the master fulfillment companies. The research and common sense confirm that brands have greater impact, perceived value, and often produce greater volume, than programs using non-branded products, which can often more than make up for that difference.”
Explains Marc Matthews, President of Pulse Experiential Travel, “this notion that distributors can’t make good margins on travel or our travel certificates is wrong—given the average size of the order, the ease of customization and fulfillment, and the tremendous perceived value of offering brand-name experiences as gifts or rewards, the opportunities for distributors is significant and draws upon their natural abilities to help clients find creative, high-impact solutions. The average order size is way beyond the average promotional product order and most distributors can buy directly from companies like ours so that there is no need to pay half of the margin to a buying group.”