The WOW Factor

We’ve all heard the saying: don’t judge a book by its cover. This may be true when it comes to books but when it’s your product or service packaging, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s imperative that you attract your customer’s attention-immediately-if you intend to get their business.

 Case In Point

 Several years ago, our company won our regional American Marketing Association’s first place Diamond Award for the best three-dimensional direct mail piece.  It was an invitation to our customers and prospects to attend our annual promotional product and sportswear show.  It was a very successful direct mail piece with an extremely high response rate. Why did the direct mail piece work so well?  

 ·      It was bulky mail and caught the customer’s eye

·      It was intriguing enough to compel the recipients to open

·      It provided (inside) an easy method to immediately respond (see photo)

 Not only did we have an exceptional event, we had several inquiries to design invitations for our client’s upcoming events.

 Case In Point

 For several years we supplied a national company with a first-class, low cost presentation folder made of gallery board.  This was far different than the standard presentation folder used by many companies.  Our client made a press release presentation to the New York Post using this folder with the hope of receiving press coverage for their new product.  Not only did an article appear in the newspaper, the writer stated that in his 30 years as a journalist, he had never seen such a cool presentation piece.  

 If your company sending information on your products and services to customers, prospects and the press, make sure your materials make a “WOW” statement they will notice. This will greatly increase the chances that the materials inside will be read and significantly improve your sales and publicity results.

 Whether it’s packaging your products, presentation materials, e-mails or your web site, you only have seconds to capture the customer’s attention. If any of these tools are boring, unprofessional or lack the WOW factor, you’ve already lost the prospect.  Don’t skimp on the creative, (it’s probably more affordable than you think) and don’t assume intelligent packaging won’t make a difference.  It does!

 Written by









 It takes a substantial amount of money and time to discover the ideal company name and define the unique market position that elevates the value of a business in the eyes of prospects.  CEOs that capitalize on every opportunity to optimize their promotional dollars and build brand equity in their market position will build brand recognition faster and profits more successfully. 


 I work with a client in Florida who utilizes natural architectural materials to craft cabanas at resorts and spas, tiki huts on beaches, grass hut bars in island themed restaurants and theme parks.  They called me concerning a party they were planning and wanted to produce an invitation to be mailed to architects and designers.


 We were give three objectives for the part invitation.

1.  Attract the attention of the invited guests so they would open the invitation.

2.  Reinforce the client’s market position in their industry: Delivering Paradise. 

3.  Make sure our unique invitation packaging would meet postal regulations.  


 The event was being held at an upscale restaurant in Orlando with an “island escape” motif.  We looked for products that would pull together the idea of travel and the exotic destination theme.  

 Our Idea

 A well traveled “trunk” as the package with a ticket and invitation inside.  This inventive suitcase, decorated with exotic destinations of the world traveler, measured 10” x 7” x 3”.  We shrink-wrapped it for mailing, exposing the graphics on the trunk to insure to get the recipient’s attention.  The invitation and the event was a huge success! 


 The next time you plan and event, launch a new product or re-brand your company, be sure to include a seasoned promotional products expert in the planning process.  They are often your best source for position-building, inventive-packaging ideas. 




One of the most commonly used buzzwords in business today is branding. When most of us think of branding, we think or our logo, the collateral it’s printed on and the advertising we do to get our company name and brand in front of our customers and prospects.  An element that plays a role in conveying our brand, yet is sometimes not considered when protecting it, is our employees. 

 Employees, their attitude, actions and personality can positively or negatively impact a company brand!  Whether you have the best-known brand in the world or you’re working to build one, it’s important to train your staff as to how you want your brand represented.

 Several years ago, my company experienced this exact scenario.  For two years, I had been providing promotional products to a large well know university. This had been, and still is, a great client, however, I realized that I was only receiving a very small percentage of their budget for promotional products and sportswear.  So, we began to work diligently to gain a larger share and finally we received a personal introduction from our contact to the head of event planning for the school.  We completed a few small merchandise projects for the contact that went smoothly.  Each time the client communicated that they were very pleased with our products and our performance.  

 Soon thereafter, however, the bottom fell out and we missed the delivery of a product for an annual golf tournament the university sponsors every year. The product was a gift with the schools logo on it. It was to be given to attendees representing major companies from across the country who traveled to Rhode Island to play in the event. Unfortunately, the national shipping company we used incorrectly routed the product to Florida.  Our university contact,  who was new to the event planning position, was sure she would lose her job because of the problem.  

 In an attempt to salvage our relationship with this client and the potential for thousands of dollars in future business, we needed to turn this into a “win-win” situation.  The plan I presented was to supply another gift at no additional cost to the client. Although it would not have their school logo on it, the item had a much greater value than the one they originally purchased.  This gesture cost my company over $2000.00.  I addition, I recommended they use this situation to their advantage by suggesting that when the original gift arrived, they send it out after the tournament to all of the participants, with a thank you letter for their participation. We also paid for the cost of the mailing.  

 The president of the university loved the idea; my contact became a hero for using our ideas and I saved a client, thousands of dollars in future revenue and my company’s brand-our reputation.  

Make sure your employees are representing your brand with long-term goals in mind.  Brand is much more then the stationary it’s printed on, it’s what your company stands for. 

Written by,


Managing Partner 




Every year, companies spend thousands of dollars sponsoring sporting events, contests and other public events without receiving much more than their company name on some literature as a sponsor of the event.

How did your company measure the success of its last promotion?  In many cases, the idea of measuring results or collecting business leads for future sales in not considered in the planning or sponsorship of an event or promotion. 

Take golf tournaments for instance.  Gift bags full of promotional goodies, ranging from golf gadgets to polo shirts, are handed out to attendees and participants.  Sure, the merchandise may display the logo of the sponsor company, but seldom do these items alone create a measurable increase in business.

When committing you marketing dollars for the next event you sponsor, think about ways your time and money can generate business after the event.

For example, a soft drink company launching a new product chose to sponsor a professional golf tournament because they new their target audience, sports enthusiasts, would be attending the event as spectators.  At the event, they set up several taste testing booths and offered attendees a free key chain bottle opener if they agreed to a taste test. Additionally, They directed the tasters to their website to obtain a free product coupon.  

Not only did they benefit from their exposure at the tournament by building their brand name, the soft drink company was also able to generate and track sales through the website visits and coupon redemption after the event.

 Another example from the same event came from a national investment firm that wanted to generate leads that their sales team could follow-up on after the event.  Rather than just handing out company literature at the tournament, the company decided to give away a book on golf tips to anyone that filled out a short profile. After the event they were able to quantify the success of their marketing dollars by selecting the hottest leads and pursuing them.

This year’s resolution?  When purchasing sponsorships for events, develop new creative ways to develop more and stronger leads.

 Written By:


 Managing Partner

The Promotional Product Industry/ A Unique Business Model

Over my 42 years in the promotional products industry, I’ve come across many a client who was confused about my industry and what I do. Am I a manufacturer, importer, printer, middleman or just making sales?

So I decided to sit down and answer these questions, hopefully helping others understand how this industry works. First of all, it’s a large industry that has annual sales of over 23 billion dollars in the United States alone. Most of the products we sell are decorated with a company, school, team, church, or organization name. In addition to t-shirts and other sportswear items, the products we sell include writing instruments, drinkware, headwear, desk accessories, electronics, calendars, and umbrellas, among many other product categories. 

This industry holds an interesting model. It is made up of over 3,000 manufacturers located across the United States. These manufacturers purchase or develop products with their overseas factory partners, import the products, and hold substantial amounts inventory that are ready to be printed with a logo when they receive an order. That number doesn't account for the thousands of independent garment decorators in the US not belonging to industry groups who aggregate these statistics. The other part of the model includes distributors, like myself. There are over 20,000 promotional product distributing companies in the US, with thousands of employees and over 100,000 sales people. 

You may be wondering how the distributors in this industry connect to the manufacturers? In 1950, a businessman by the name of Joseph Segal, a promotional product sales person, wanted to create his own directory of manufacturers. Realizing that this directory information could be a goldmine for distributors and manufacturers alike, he decided to start a for-profit company called the Advertising Specialty Institute, also known as ASI. Membership in ASI allows distributors to more easily find manufacturers while manufacturers have a wider base to market their products. Generally, ASI manufacturers are only allowed to sell to ASI distributors, who then sell to the end user. Each ASI manufacturer and distributor is assigned an identifying number, enabling each side to rest assured they are either ordering from or selling to a fellow member of ASI. This rule has exceptions, especially for garment manufacturers and wholesalers, as they would be disallowed from selling their blank goods to retail or to the thousands of screen printers and embroideres who are not members of ASI. Most hard good manufacturers abide by these ASI guidelines to this day as well.

When I joined in ASI in 1977 as a distributor, membership qualifications required me to prove by showing invoices that I had purchased from 3 ASI manufacturers. Because ASI manufacturers do not sell to anyone except ASI distributors it was difficult for me to come up with the proof of purchase. Fortunately, I owned Two's Company, a sportswear screen printing factory that had purchased from several garment wholesalers who were members of ASI.

Manufacturers often receive calls from end users looking to place orders, but these manufacturers point these prospective clients to their distributor partners to service these orders. This allows the manufacturers to continue focusing on product development while the distributor is able to focus on the sales of the product. However, with the advent and ease-of-use of technology, manufacturers' websites are easy to find. While most of these manufacturers won't sell to the end user, distributors use them as a helpful sales tool, often replacing the need for lengthy catalogs. Pricing is available on these sites, but you should always contact a distributor, as these relationships can often work to the client's benefit, financially. 

With companies likeAmazon offering cost-effective two-day shipping and Zappo's offering free next-day shipping, we're aware that shipping costs are a concern for many of our customers. Because this industry is so widely represented across the US, Payden & Company will always do our best to pair your hard good needs with the manufacturers that are close to you. Purchasing specific brands will call for shipping from specific warehouse locations, however. If you're looking for theKoozie brand of can cooler, the manufacturer keeps those warehoused and decorates in Red Wing, Minnesota. Regardless of whether you order Koozies from a distributor next door to you or across the country, that product will always ship from Minnesota and correlating shipping charges cannot be avoided. A Bic pen is going to be shipped from Clearwater, FL. 

You may find that when purchasing garments for decoration, shipping costs tend to be a little higher. Although many ASI garment manufacturers offer decoration, it's often easier for smaller, local decorators to do the screen print or embroidery for an order. This does usually require two sets of shipping costs to be assessed (from the garment mill to the decorator and from thedecorator to the client). However, these garment manufacturers often offer programs for freight allowances, and at Payden & Company, we pass those savings on to our clients.

Almost everyone owns a promotional product with a logo on it. The promotional products industry has become an important part of the advertising and marketing fields. Having your logo or name on a product makes sure that recipients will remember who you are and where you met. In addition, promotional products have staying power. They may be worn or displayed on a desk for years to come, gaining additional advertising along the way for the company that put their logo on it. 

Written By,


Managing Partner

Payden and Company, LLC

Not Just Trinkets Anymore

Corporate branding through promotional products and corporate merchandise, once a cottage industry, has grown to over an $23 billion a year industry with numerous applications.

When I first entered the industry in 1977 with a sportswear screen-printing and embroidery business called Two’s Company, my future mother-in-law questioned the longevity of my chosen career, stating “tee shirts are just a fad.” At the time, few people realized that the tee shirt, and related sportswear items, would become such a powerful branding tool, with individuals of every age sometimes paying to wear your company’s corporate logo and brand on their chest.

According to a study commissioned by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), 95% of the 839 businesses surveyed used promotional products. Today, companies in every industry and of every size use promotional products to launch and promote new products, reward employees for their accomplishments and build customer loyalty.

The use of promotional products as a brand building tool has become a staple for many companies and organizations. It has become as important to their advertising budgets as their print, radio and television campaigns. The key to their success is the creativeness of the product and how it ties into their long-term goals and what the measurable return on their investment is. Just think of how many impressions your corporate logo on a tee shirt receives over the course of its life.

There are hundreds of applications for corporate merchandise and promotional products in today’s business world. The key is to come up with a product that fits your company’s image in a creative and effective manner. Your promotional products distributor should offer suggestions that reflect the image of the company, perpetuate your firm’s brand and contribute to annual marketing goals.

Written by Payden

Managing Partner

Payden and Company, LLC

Now Offering Items with No Minimum!


Do you need just one personalized piece with your corporate logo? Maybe for a corporate event or employee's birthday? We're now offering items with no minimum order quantity at our Payden On Demand site!

Our online personalization tools allow you to upload your logo or photos from your social media page and create the exact look and design you want on the product. The user-friendly tools allow you to create your own message and watch it come together before your own eyes!

If you're anticipating a larger quantity order, the design tool is a great resource to visualize how your design will work!

We'll be adding more items and stock design templates soon, so make sure to keep visiting the site!

How to Avoid Copyright Infringement

We all love to represent our favorite sports teams, actors, and films but always have to keep copyrights in mind! If you're looking to decorate a shirt or hat with your favorite logo, please check out the below article. We're always happy to work with you to find artwork that is original and available for free use!

Click Here for more information on how to spot a copyright image or logo!

Digital Couture


Epson Hosts 3rd Digital Couture Show in New York

Leading up to New York Fashion Week, Epson America Inc. hosted its third annual Digital Couture Project Show at the IAC Building in Manhattan. Thirteen designers from the U.S., Canada and Latin America gathered to showcase their collections, all created from Epson dye-sublimation technology.

As models posed along the walkway, fashion and apparel industry experts clung to cocktails while grazing the colorful fabrics, rubbing shoulders with celebrities such as actress Kelly Rutherford and “The Real Housewives of New York City” star Dorinda Medley.

The event also introduced the Robustelli-Epson brand to the international fashion community with an array of high-quality textile samples on site. In June of 2016, Epson acquired Italian textile printer manufacturer Robustelli, increasing Epson's manufacturing capability to bring its digital inkjet textile printers to more customers worldwide.

“New technologies from Epson are allowing designers to push the boundaries of color and quality while simultaneously giving creative teams incredible versatility and productivity,” said Keith Kratzberg, president and CEO of Epson America, Inc. “With the market for worldwide digital textile printing expected to grow annually at almost 25%, this is a very exciting opportunity. Our goal with the Digital Couture event is to spotlight the power and potential that digital printing technology plays in the apparel industry.”

The designers produced dye-sublimated ensembles that followed the theme of “Textile Stories.” New York City-based designer Lindsay Degen blended her history of knitting and quilting with the new technology to create an optical illusion look. “Some things are printed, but look knitted. Some things are knitted, but look printed. Some things are printed denim with actual denim integrated into the pieces. My project is essentially about tricking your eye,” Degen said.

Another design team was Philadelphia University, the first U.S. university group to participate in the project. Led by department chair Mark Sunderland, the faculty and student group combined hand painted abstract florals with photo manipulated prints to craft a surreal visual of nature’s perplexing and changing beauty. “It’s exciting to be a part of history and show what Philly U students are capable of,” said senior fashion design student Maria Balestino.


By John Corrigan
Published in Web Exclusive

Score One for ASI Speakers


Score One for ASI Speakers

Football great Dan Marino is very tall, very tan and surprisingly funny.

He also got the biggest applause from an audience at an ASI keynote as any speaker we’ve had in recent memory. One woman was so thrilled for the chance to catch a football thrown by the former Miami Dolphins quarterback I thought she’d faint.

Aside from the glitz factor, our Orlando audience seemed generally interested in Dan’s incredible trajectory, rising from a working-class family in Pittsburgh to a record-breaking football star in Miami, including the time his truck driver dad lectured the sports-crazy 7th grader about the importance of school, telling him “If you don’t settle down, you won’t get to college.”

If you have any school-age kids in similar straits you might consider sharing that story with them – and reminding them that Dan listened to his dad and is now, at age 55, enjoying life to the fullest, running a variety of businesses and the Dan Marino Foundation, which has distributed more than $20 million to help children with neurodevelopment disabilities.

Of his own son, diagnosed with autism at age 2, Dan told us, “Michael’s done really well. He has an apartment, he has a girlfriend. As an athlete, it’s important to give back to the community. I think all of us can help in our own way.”

Dan’s Q&A with me and the audience at our first trade show of the 2017 season was just one of the highlights of ASI Orlando. Every day, ASI offered distributors one great reason after another to attend the three-day show.


On Education Day, they could choose from 44 new classes, in subjects as diverse as social media, sales success, business management and graphic design.

On Thursday, they could get terrific life and business advice from the effervescent Coach Ken Carter, a former high school basketball coach and small-business owner who launched a new career as an in-demand speaker after his improbable life story was turned into a movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Carter made national headlines in the 1990s when he refused to let the kids on his undefeated team play until they got better grades (are you sensing a theme here?) to teach them that school was as important as athletics as a ticket out of the inner-city.

Carter also asked something of his audience I urge everyone at a trade show to do: Meet 10 new people. “These people are your family,” he said. “You have a problem, there’s probably someone in his room with a solution. You have to seek, to ask. In this thing called life, that’s what we do.”

Among Carter’s choicest bits of wisdom: If you want something, write it down. By putting pen to paper you’re more likely to make it happen. So to anyone reading this, I challenge you to think of one goal you want to accomplish this year, write it down and see if a year from now you’ve made it happen.


And if you do, I suggest you post a video all about it.

That’s the advice given by another of our speakers, the always informative and enthusiastic Marki Lemons-Ryhal, who posts a video every single day, starting with one on Facebook called “Overcome the Crabs in a Barrel Mentality for Optimal Growth.”

To date, that single video has earned 20,000 views, giving Lemons-Ryhal (@MarkiLemons) more free publicity that she could have gotten with anything else – except, of course, promotional products. “It’s so easy to do – once you don’t care what you look like,” she told her packed class. “It would take me days to write a 4,000 word doc. Video can be repurposed as marketing over 200 different ways.”


For Entrepreneurs, The Gift-Giving Season is Year Round


(Originally posted in


JANUARY 7, 2014

Entrepreneurs, on the whole, are driven by a desire to be great and stand out.

Fortunately, standing out is not only good for an ego boost -- it's also the trademark of successful businesses. According to John Ruhlin, the entrepreneur behind corporate gift-giving consulting firm Ruhlin Promotion Group, the things that make a business stand out mirror the rules for giving -- providing unique, memorable gifts.

According to Ruhlin, companies can set themselves apart in the space by knowing the difference between a promotional item (something that's branded and inexpensive) and a true gift -- an item that should be unique and high-quality with a focus on the recipient.

Ensure it has a unique quality. "No one wants to add to their collection of five leather padfolios, eight pieces of luggage, 15 Tiffany crystal bowls or three pairs of golf shoes," says Ruhlin. Similarly, a business that just jumps on a trend bandwagon -- without offering anything new or different -- is a gift bound to be forgotten.

Offer an item the recipient will actually use. A great business is one that fulfills a need in the market. For gifts, a standard plaque that hangs on a wall or crystal that collects dust in the china cabinet is not ideal. Give something that's used on a regular basis, and the recipient will think of you every time.

Consider lasting gifts. Find something that will last years or even decades. Gifts like iPads, smartwatches or trendy fashion items could be outdated in less than a year. Instead offer items that will stand the test of time, like cookware.

Think customization. "People love to see their name on high-level things," says Ruhlin. Gifts that are customized make the recipient feel special, just as a business that provides a unique experience to every person makes customers feel good.

Focus on the family. Family-oriented gifts and brands forge powerful emotional connections. "Give a gift that includes the spouse and entire family," says Ruhlin. "It wins huge game-changing brownie points for both the giver and the recipient."


Be unexpected. "Deep down at heart, we are like kids at Christmas and want to be surprised with something cool," says Ruhlin "The element of surprise can elevate a gift from good to great."

At the end of the day, it really is the thought that counts. Giving with the recipient in mind is the best way to stand out and ensure your gift doesn't get stuffed in a closet and forgotten.

In the same way, you should build every aspect of your company with the end user in mind. That means ensuring that every touch point is thoughtfully created to delight your customers. After all, success comes from staying true to your values and making sure your actions (and gifts) reflect the way you want to be perceived.




Layered Vinyl

Create Cool Looks With Layered Vinyl

Layering creates dimensional, eye-catching results with mixed media or different colors by layering heat transfer layers. 

Published in Wearables

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Create multiple colors like neon and special effects with glitter, and custom-cut graphics with crisp edges and better registration by layering heat-transfer vinyl decoration. “A lot of gift and custom shops are using this process,” says Courtney Kubitza, educational content manager for Stahls’ TV in St. Clair Shores, MI.


1. Ideal projects would include T-shirts and sweatshirts, or accessories such as bags and towels.



2. Help your customers achieve one-of-a-kind looks, ideal for the shop specializing in short runs of less than 48 pieces.


3. The process is great for adding special effects like multiple vinyl layers, metallic effects, flocks and foils. 

4. The process works by using a vinyl cutter to custom cut the graphics and then apply them layer after layer with a heat press.


Remember: Each layer, color and treatment requires materials cost, time and labor to create the finished product. Price product sales appropriately by the amount of layers and time involved to create them.

Application Tips
Computer software, such as Stahls’ CadworxLIVE, CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator, takes the guesswork out of creating art and ensures any special effects such as drop shadows or contours turn out right. Tack your base layers briefly with the heat press to avoid shrinking them and creating problems with additional layers. Use clear carrier overlays rather than frosted ones to avoid any issues with placement and color, or effect registration. Once you’ve tacked down all layers, complete the transfer with the final top layer placement. Lock in the design, and complete the process as you’re applying the top layer. At that time, make sure to use the total recommended heating time and pressure to finish the piece.