How Tangible Products Can Solve Intangible Problems

Industry News

concept for coffee shop and restaurant identity mock uAs a leader or manager, you face daily challenges that test your abilities and expertise. Corporate messaging is often visible everywhere—on walls, in handbooks, and online. While these are effective communication channels, we’ve discovered that engaging at least two senses significantly enhances recall and adoption.

This isn’t a trick; it’s grounded in brain science, which shows that using multiple senses fosters stronger synaptic connections, leading to better recall and more effective behavior change.

When faced with widespread challenges, it’s crucial to have solutions that are straightforward to implement. These solutions help foster the engagement necessary to drive the desired changes.

Keep reading as we explore common high-level challenges that span across various sectors of society and uncover simple yet effective strategies to overcome them, primarily through the use of physical products.

Lack of Cohesion and Unity

A few years ago, we had the privilege to support an effort at a local public high school experiencing a collective sense of disunity, among other challenges. Within this inner-city school, there were many nationalities and ethnic groups, with many first-generation and non-English speaking students. They had a low graduation rate, a low college matriculation rate, and exhibited many of the problems that are endemic whenever there are wide disparities in resources.

The school had broken up the student body into the Latino cohort, the Black student union, and other identity groups meant to help students see that they were not alone. Unfortunately, this had the negative impact of creating distrust among the groups with each other. One administrator had tried to get a school uniform passed so that all students would dress the same. He received massive pushback from both parents and students with all the usual reasons – lack of money, students would not comply, no alignment on design, etc.

Through a multi-faceted and multi-partner initiative, we provided sweatshirts to the student body free of charge. Many of these kids could not afford warm outerwear, and some lived in cars. At first, they went to the freshmen. Then the entire school body by the end of the first term. When older students saw the younger ones wearing the sweatshirts, they asked when they would get theirs. It created excitement and anticipation and provided an opportunity to incentivize each student to behave better with the promise of a new school-branded hoodie.

The results were nothing short of amazing. By mid-year, the school experienced almost 100% adoption of the hoodie daily. Students felt that they were part of something bigger. More kids started attending school athletic games, and a genuine spirit of unity was formed. We got a letter from the administrator providing the backstory and the results from his perspective. The uniform program he had tried to bring about by dictate happened organically as students saw the positivity of uniformity.

High Turnover/Low Engagement

For any business in the service industry, this is a constant challenge. The restaurant and food service industries are happy to have a turnover rate below 100% annually. For entry-level jobs that only require minimal skills, management is perpetually faced with the challenge of reducing turnover.

One recent collaboration with a SaaS provider brought about improved engagement and a marked improvement in retention for one of our restaurant customers. The tech company provides training online and then gamifies it to spur competition and accomplishment. Employees in all roles within the restaurant are encouraged to improve their skills and gain knowledge by taking simple training courses. When completed by passing a test, the employee is awarded points all of their coworkers can see on an online leaderboard.

Each person accrues points that migrate automatically to an online company store, where they can use their points to acquire branded gear. Employees have the option of picking a gift once they have the minimum number of points, or they can select higher-end brand-name gifts by accumulating more points over time. Having an option allows employees to select an item that matches their lifestyle and needs.

For a few dollars that might otherwise be spent on new employee acquisition costs, this restaurant can instead reward current employees and has seen a significant improvement in engagement and tenure for those participating in the voluntary training program. Believe it or not, something as simple as a nice water bottle or name-brand vest can be enough to keep someone on the job for longer than the industry average.

Not Getting Noticed in a Crowded Field

Most of us want to be noticed. It’s hard to be a growth brand without some focused attention. But the challenge is getting noticed when the bombardment of ad messages, distractions, and constant pings grows by the day.

How do you get a word in edgewise? By doing things differently.

People once looked forward to receiving mail because the mailbox wasn’t always filled with unsolicited and unwanted junk mail. People used to send letters to each other, and sometimes your grandmother sent you money for your birthday.

Go old school and send a handwritten note to your prospect or customer. Bring back those good mailbox memories by sending physical items representing your brand to the people you want to engage. While plain envelopes featuring computer-generated text will likely be thrown away unopened, a box is never just chucked. It is always opened. Always.

The same goes for delicious snacks that align with your messaging. Want a promotion that pops? Send popcorn. Garner nostalgic vibes with classic candies aligned with your message. Go upscale and send branded items from Godiva or a boutique producer. It’s funny how memorable those gift experiences are. People will recall the treat, and when you include your logo and messaging, it creates connections within the brain that lead to wins for your business.

Clever items sent with creativity, cheekiness, or panache will get a reaction. One of our highest return mailings was a message in a bottle. The post office will deliver just about any item with proper addressing and the correct amount of postage, even polycarbonate clear water bottles without packaging.

Customized packing works in every situation where you give away merchandise to an audience whose attention you want to attract. So, please, don’t just set out random items with your logo on them at trade shows. Instead, create a theme and build an experience around that.

At one trade show in wine country, we folded T-shirts into the shape of wine bottles and wrapped them with a label to complete the look. People were intrigued to find out how we turned shirts into bottles and stopped to talk, and, of course, they wanted a shirt.

At another with a Shoot for the Stars theme, we turned a custom corn hole set into two visions of a distant galaxy complete with black holes (literal ones where the little corn bags go). People came by and played our game to win prizes and hear our message. We had lines of adult professional people waiting to play our game and win gear.

Almost every brand can lean into its fun side and create a memorable experience. Can’t you see attendees at an undertaker conference shooting foam balls into open caskets?

Pairing sweet swag that intentionally aligns with your branding message and value proposition works. Several studies have shown that recall is most significant for messages on physical items. If you want to get more information on the research, reach out to us.

People keep high-value items with promotional messaging, especially if those items have daily utility. Charging pads, USB drives, bottle openers, tracking tile key tags, stylus pens, phone holders, device cleaning cloths, and air fresheners – these are all common items that people use daily.

For more ideas, connect with the Righteous team for a consultation. We would love to put our creativity and expertise to work for you.