9 Sleek Sports Apparel Products

When it comes to pitching sports and performance wear, one size does not fit all. Think about your customers’ specific needs – is the apparel for athletes, spectators, gym rats? Then, you can better hone in on what products will work best. And don’t be afraid to break the mold if necessary.


"Market to Target: Pets"

Market to Target: Pets

The first in a year-long series highlighting top sales segments for distributor reps. 

By Jean Erickson
Published in Advantages

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Make no bones about it -- people are passionate about their pets.

About 65% of U.S. households own a pet, according to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). And the large majority of owners consider their pets to be family, shelling out big bucks to feed, care for and entertain them.

In 2016 alone, Americans spent approximately $62.8 billion on their pets, up from $60.3 billion a year earlier. The trend is even more pronounced over time – in 2003, for example, Americans spent $29.6 billion on their pets. Not even a recession could slow consumer spending on our furry friends – sales steadily gained between 2007 and 2009, increasing from $41.2 billion to $45.5 billion for the period.

With these undeniably impressive numbers, more and more brands have introduced pet-centric items. In the promo products industry, it was WOV-IN Group (asi/92980) that sniffed out a huge opportunity when it launched Promopet (asi/79698), a completely pet-focused product line in 2010.

“We recognized the growing trend of how much people were spending on their pets, but there really wasn’t a supplier fully dedicated to this niche,” says Kimberly Damp, sales and marketing coordinator for both Promopet and WOV-IN.

Building on strong initial sales of its pet collars and leashes, WOV-IN partnered with other manufacturers of pet products and added new imprinting capabilities to create Promopet, the promotional product industry’s most recognizable pet line. “No matter how much people cut back on their daily expenses, they always find room in the budget to spoil their pet family members and offer treats,” says Damp, calling Promopet “a growth business for us.” She and several other industry experts helped us compile this in-depth guide to selling pet promos: smart tips, cool products and important trends.


Think Outside the Crate

Every customer can benefit from a pet or pet-related product, so don’t limit your scope by thinking, “I don’t sell to veterinarians or groomers,” says Damp. “If people use even one quarter of their imagination, they’d be surprised how much business they can get.”

Promopet’s products do well in company stores for Fortune 500 companies that like to grow brand loyalty by putting their logo on pet-related items, according to Damp. The supplier recently updated its WOV-IN and Promopet websites to offer more interactive features – increasing its video content and social media presence, adding a blog and providing more educational tips for distributors to target and offer ideas on how best to use its products.

Do you sell to a local school with an animal mascot? Promopet has many paw print items that the school logo could be imprinted on, and its line includes giveaway and fundraising items in price ranges to fit nearly any budget. Pet promo items do well in places with college logos, too. “We do a lot of business with collegiate bookstores,” Damp says.

Local banks often give away pet treats for their drive-through clients. Promopet has gotten lots of orders for items to promote dog parks, which are popping up all over the country, as well as giveaways at community events, runs, walks, and police and fire department sponsored events.

Companies realize pets sometimes get more attention than people, so promotions geared toward pets have increased visibility in the home, says Jay Howard, a senior account executive at HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000). Pet products work well in real estate offices, as realtors are always looking for ways to stay top-of-mind in the home, he notes. Food can lids, plastic flyers, bandanas and pet waste bag dispensers are good options.

Pet Product Entrepreneurs

The growth of pet-focused products has given rise to quite creative entrepreneurs. For example, Moody Pet was started by Michele Levan, a former music industry marketing executive. She came up with the pet mood collar, featuring stones that change color based on how the pet’s feeling. One mood might be: “Feed Me!” and another “Take Me for a Walk!” She debuted the collars at a pet product trade show in 1999, and her business took off. Most recently, her Humunga Bling won Best in Show at the 2016 Global Pet Expo. Poochie-Pets, meanwhile, got started when Cheryl Pederson created a first of its kind, a housetraining doggie doorbell called PoochieBells. It was so successful that she recently rebranded her website to show off more items, including a snuggle blanket, while highlighting the company’s message: “My dog makes me a better person.”


Pet items are a natural fit with wellness initiatives as well. “As businesses continue to promote healthy living, activity and exercise, we’ve seen them use many of our safety items to encourage people to stay active, by offering reflective collars, leashes, tags and bandanas for their pets,” says Damp.

Even pet healthcare is becoming a branding opportunity. The pet hospital industry is growing rapidly, and veterinarians are trying to personalize healthcare. “They want to come across as taking care of the family,” says Howard.

As more of these facilities open, there are increased chances for branding and customer appreciation. Plus, cool items can also help to attract top staff, says Howard. “The competition is fierce, and quality branded items can help them stand out in a crowded recruiting scenario.” Pet insurance is another promotional opportunity. Howard has provided welcome kits at sign-up that included items such as chip clips, pet food lids and T-shirts.

Another idea: Some eldercare facilities offer services like pet and music therapy. Promopet recently supplied one such facility with paw-shaped jar grippers, imprinted with the name of the facility and emergency numbers for people with arthritis.

More and more pet-oriented events are emerging, many of which have booths with traditional promotional product handouts, says Howard, adding, “Those that offer pet-related products seem to have a significant edge in booth traffic.”

Another draw to these booths can be prize wheels, with an assortment of pet products used for giveaways. “Trading a spin of the wheel in exchange for information is a popular and creative way to increase your contacts list,” Howard says.

Doug Lally, a HALO regional VP, sees opportunity in dog field trials. These are competitive sporting events in which the animals are put through training exercises and then rewarded for achieving specific goals. Field trials are organized for nearly every breed of dog and are great showcases for pet merchandise, as well as apparel for the organizers of the events, he believes.

Pet care kit by Via Kit Company (asi/93757); www.viakitcompany.com

Pack a Bag for Fido

Bringing dogs on vacation is an emerging pet trend, according to David Fiderer, director of marketing at Prime Line (asi/79530). A recent TripAdvisor survey shows that 56% of Americans are likely to travel with their four-legged friends, and 52% will only stay at accommodations that welcome pets.

“Pet friendly is a whole new category of hotels and resorts – it didn’t used to exist on internet search engines,” says Damp. These hotels are interested in offering both unique and practical items to attract pet owners, and encouraging them to return, she notes. Gifts are a great way to welcome and acknowledge pets so their owners will remember the hotel and come back, plus spread the word to friends.

Pet apparel is gaining popularity at these pet-friendly locations and events, and many offer pet clothing, collars and leashes in their gift shops. “Pet T-shirts, football jerseys and hoodie sweatshirts are a growing product area for us,” Damp says. “Promopet offers low minimums so any restaurants, health clubs and resorts can promote their name without investing in large quantities.” Many of its items are USA-made as well.

Consider this: The Cambria Shores Inn in California presents canine guests with a welcome basket that includes special dog biscuits, towels, a mat and a copy of Fido-Friendly magazine. The Hotel Monaco Denver offers a “Reigning Cats and Dogs Pet Package” consisting of a pet pamper basket, organic treats, a doggie bed and food and water bowl.

Of course, there’s a whole other angle to this vacation scene, too. What if you opt to leave Fido behind? Why not put him up at a pet resort and spa, so he can vacation while you’re away? Lally has provided promo items to Texas-based Rover Oaks Pet Resort for over 15 years. Rover Oaks was created “exclusively to provide superior services for pets who deserve much, much more,” according to its website. It provides lodging, doggie day care, pet grooming and professional training for the discerning pet. Luxury suites, Meow Manor and VIP Packages are a few of its many amenities.

Lally provides Rover Oaks with two categories of promotional items: For pet events like walks and runs he offers inexpensive but high-volume items, including dog waste bag dispensers – a top seller – as well as water bowls and pet food scoops. A second category of gifting is holiday- and event-based, says Lally. Typically these combine items for both pet and owner, and are distributed to clients that spend a certain amount of money at the resort.

The Rover Oaks’ 2016 holiday gift was a custom packaged, branded Leed’s (asi/66887) vacuum tumbler, prepackaged dog treats and chocolates. Lally also provided a custom cap for dog owners that’ll be presented as a giveaway when a customer achieves a certain level of spending. It will also be available for purchase at the resort’s boutique shop.

>> Pets Big Part of Harley Davidson Brand 

Blending New With Old

Pet promo items are a growing sector for Prime Line, both with stock merchandise and overseas requests, according to Fiderer. “We are always looking for cool and unique items to expand this category,” he says. The company’s Jetline (asi/63344) value line offers functional pet products like doggie waste bag dispensers and drinking bowls, in addition to pet-themed items including pet paw design pens and stress relievers. This year, Prime Line is introducing a light-up pet collar, designed to fit in well with safety-themed promotions, Fiderer says.

Pet products, meanwhile, aren’t a new category for Jornik Manufacturing Corp. (asi/63549), “but it’s definitely growing for us. We try to add new products to the line every year,” says COO Jordie Freedman. “People are as passionate about their pets as they are their children.” Jornik recently shipped nearly 10,000 waste bag dispensers to a distributor who was servicing a water utility client. The customer was looking to build awareness of storm water contamination. The dispensers were distributed at community events.

Jornik is debuting a new doggie waste bag dispenser in 2017 with a flashlight for nighttime and early morning dog walks. Another new Jornik product coming soon is an herb-growing kit targeted to pets as a homeopathic treatment for various cat and dog ailments. “We think this will do well – people like natural remedies for their pets,” Freedman says.

>> WWE Launches Pet Products

Pet Charities

Ed Levy, owner and president of Edventure Promotions (asi/186055), is such a believer in pet promos that he plans to launch several pet-related websites this year, with a special emphasis on charity. “People spend more on their pets than they do on themselves – it’s a big market opportunity,” he says.

Edventure creates custom-designed pet food mats, based on an artist client’s pet-themed oil paintings. “They are quite humorous and great sellers,” says Levy. Edventure takes high-resolution scans of the paintings and converts them to digital files, then uses a dye-sublimated process so the images don’t wear off the neoprene mats.

Levy thinks animal shelters are one potentially lucrative pet market. Promotional products are great ways to create brand awareness, spread anti-cruelty messages and encourage pet adoption. Organizations like Paws Chicago sponsor events, like its annual Fur Ball, which is a pet-friendly black-tie gala to benefit the city’s homeless animals. Promotional opportunities include branded aprons for volunteers, treats and giveaways for canine guests. In addition, Paws Chicago has an online store, where the proceeds benefit its mission of preventing the killing of homeless animals.

Fresh Step Litter launched a “Hot to Adopt” campaign during New York’s Fashion Week to benefit cat shelters across the country. American Apparel (asi/35297) T-shirts branded with the “Hot to Adopt” logo were offered on Fresh Step’s website during the holiday season.


Can Your Logo Fit On A Hat? We Can Help.

ASI "Wearables" says:

As you gain experience with digitizing, you’ll be able to tell just by looking which embroidery designs cross-pollinate better than others. Here are few guidelines to help you figure out whether a chest design will work well on a cap.


1. The design must be smaller than 2.25 inches tall to fit most hat frames, though some frames allow for designs as high as 2.5 inches. There are a few machines in the marketplace with a slightly larger sewing field for caps.

2. Designs with multiple borders around text rarely work well on caps.

3. Most caps today have a seam down the middle. This can play havoc with an embroidery design. For example, say you have the letter “I” in the middle of a design with no fill behind it. That letter will fall into the seam and look bad. This is never the digitizer’s fault. You wouldn’t park your car in the middle of a canal and expect it to float, right?

4. Detailed designs with tight registration can be very tricky on hats. The reality is that caps tend to move around in the hat frame, even when properly hooped. If a hat moves while it’s sewing a fill, there’s a good chance when the machine comes back around to stitch the border, it may not register.

Incentive merchandise fulfillment and program administration.


We are please to announce that Payden and Company is now offering incentive merchandise fulfillment and program administration. We're committed to helping business owners create incentive programs that work. Your employees will love earning points they can redeem on your custom rewards website.


Payden and Company is now offering incentive merchandise fulfillment and program administration. 

Communicating Your Value Proposition

Are you giving away merchandise to customers and potential clients? Delivering merchandise to a customer or potential client is an incredible way to stand out, but if it is not conveying a specific, applicable message, it may not be living up to its potential. A few days after calling on a prospect, send a memory stick with a brief message on it that will tie the gift to some part of your value proposition.For example, company XYZ’s unique benefit is their quick mobilization of their resources. Their memory stick could include a presentation that conveys the following message:

“Mr./Ms. Prospect, the next time you need to quickly transport information, just download the data onto this memory stick and hit the road. The next time you need to quickly gather product information from the field, call us and we’ll hit the road for you.”

Creative Mail Pieces

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 the packaging of your product or service, 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
Payden & Company is a winner of the 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 product showcase. It was a very successful direct mail piece with an extremely high response rate. Why did this direct mail piece work so well Packaging!
It caught the customer’s eye.
It was intriguing enough to compel recipients to open it.
It provided an easy method to immediately respond.
Not only did we have an exceptional event, we had several inquiries to design invitations for our clients upcoming events.
If your company is sending information on its products and services to customers, prospects and press, make sure your materials make a “WOW” statement that 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 its packaging your products, presentation materials, e-mails or your web site, you only have seconds to capture the customers attention. If any of these tools are boring, unprofessional or lack the WOW factor, you’ve already lost the prospect. Dont 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!

Package, Promote, Profit!

It takes a substantial amount of money and time to discover the ideal company name and to define that 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.

Example: amaZulu, a client located in Florida who utilizes natural architectural materials to craft cabanas at resorts and spas, tiki huts on beaches, grass but bars in island themed restaurants, and polynesian gazebos in theme parks. amaZulu reached out to Payden and Company because they wanted to produce and introduce architects and designers to their expanded product and service line with a big party.

Challenge: We were given three objectives for the party invitation and packaging:

1. Attract the attention of the invited guests (architects and designers) so they would open the invitation.

2. Reinforce amaZulu’s market position: Delivering paradise. This thematic approach was fully developed in a graphic on amaZulu’s marketing collateral – a trunk spilling over with paradise. We were also referred to amaZulu’s website for other ideas.

3. Make sure our unique invitation packaging would meet postal regulations (weight and size).

Strategy: The event was being held at a nice restaurant-bar 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 stickers representing the exotic destinations of the world traveler, measured about 10″ x 7″ x 3″; by shrink-wrapping it, we expose the graphics on the trunk to get the recipients attention.

Summary: The next time you plan an event, launch a new product or re-brand your company, be sure to include a seasoned promotional product distributor in the planning process. Payden and Company can be your best source for position-building, inventive-packaging ideas.


Is There Value In Your Sponsorships?

Every year companies spend thousands of dollars sponsoring sporting events , business award dinners, and contests; without receiving much more than their company name on the literature as the sponsor of the event.

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

Take golf tournaments, for instance. Gift bags full of promotional goodies, ranging from the latest 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 trinkets alone create measurable increase in business.

When committing your 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 knew 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 the taste test. Additionally, they directed the tasters to their web site for a free product coupon.

Not only did they benefit from the sponsorship by building their brand name at the event, the soft drink company was also able to generate and track sales through 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 teams 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 of golf tips to anyone that filled out a profile. After the event they were able to quantify the success of their marketing dollars by selecting the hottest leads and pursing them.

When purchasing sponsorships for events, develop new creative ways to develop more – and stronger leads.

Branding and Your Most Important Asset – Your Employees

One of the most commonly used buzzwords in business today is branding. When most of us think of branding , we think of our logo, the collateral it’s printed on and the advertising we do to get our company name or brand in front of our customers and prospects. An element that plays a role in conveying our brand, yet is seldom considered when protecting it, is our employees.

Employees, their attitude, actions and personality can positively or negatively impact a company’s 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.

Here is an example. For two years I had been providing promotional products to a large university. This has been a great client, however, I realized that I was only receiving a very small percentage of their budget. So, we began to work diligently to gain a bigger 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, which went smoothly. Each time, our contact communicated they were pleased with 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 contact, who was new to the position, was sure that 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 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 firm over $1000.00 . In 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 the participants with a thank you for participation. We also offered to pay the cost of this mailing.

The President of the school loved the idea, my contact became a hero for using our ideas and I saved a client, 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 than the stationary its printed on, it’s what your company stands for.