As it's the third annual Promotional Products Week, we've put BPMA Director General Gordon Glenister in the hot seat, to get some insights for you into the power of promotional products and key message from Promotional Products Week 2015.

Gordon Glenister is the Director General of the British Promotional Merchandise Association

1. What career path lead you to becoming Director General of the BPMA?

I have worked for some major brands in sales and marketing roles notable Grants of St James (wines) Bryant & May (matches and lighters) and H P Bulmer (cider and beer), then I had a spell at a distributor business before embarking on my own rewards agency which I ran for 8 years. I ran the business for 8 years before selling it and taking up the role at the bpma in 2007.

2. What are the common obstacles that companies face when it comes to selecting Promotional Merchandise and how can these be overcome?

Sometimes companies leave the procurement of merchandise to the last minute, something like 70% now of all merchandise is delivered within 2 weeks. It’s difficult for suppliers to keep huge volumes of stock particularly when a lot of merchandise is for one off events. There are sometimes complexities with the branding process, and so they must allow enough time for the proofing stage. Failure to get proofs by the deadline can affect the delivery date which could be a real problem if the goods are for a specific event. So leaving plenty of time is essential. Also working a professional bpma distributor and sharing the brief with them will circumvent some of the obstacles – they are there to assist you.

3. Tell me a business success story that started with a promotional product?

Well you could say the Meerkat – the combination of a premium toy that had its own personality and was integrated into the whole marketing strategy was an amazing success. The Compare the Market company is extremely successful and the Meerkats are only given away to those who place insurance with them. The fact you can now buy these as stone ornaments in garden centres has proved the connection with the consumer. Brian the Robot and Churchill’s dog have since followed suit.

The Cancer Research pink branding was an amazing success and branded product and clothing has helped cement the awareness among the public.

4. How can marketers demonstrate ROI on promotional products?

This is still a challenge for some, I always took it to be about impacts and impressions, we know it rains approx. 130 days a year so if 100 people received an umbrella 20,800 impressions (cost of 100 umbrellas @ £10 each= £1000) 100 umbrellas = 2,,080,000 impressions per year and the average life span of an umbrella is 3 years so you could say its costing under 1p per impression.

There are of course other ways, ensuring that web addresses and ideally unique URL landing pages are put on the product, sometimes a unique telephone number or a QR code have all been given as examples of data capture and response mechanism’s.

5.Which medium is best for staying front of mind with your clients / prospects? Radio, TV, Print, Digital or Promotional Merchandise?

Well I would say promotional merchandise wouldn’t I. Well one of the reasons I say this is because product is tactile and useful. When it’s relevant to the recipient in some way, even more so. The desk area is still the largest area for promotional branded product usage. Also people keep promotional items if they are tasteful, relevant, useful and memorable for a longtime.

6. What’s the most important thing to remember if you’re buying promotional merchandise for your company?

I would say there are a number of things to consider. 1. Are they are a bpma or chartered member where there are set standards of practice and a complaint’s service should anything go wrong with a member 2. Do they understand my needs and do I feel confident about placing my business with them 3. Are they competitively priced and show value of service.

7. What’s the important message that you want people to take away from Promotional Products Week 2015?

Promotional Products is an opportunity for the whole promotional merchandise industry to celebrate how effective this media is to marketers and organisations. My most important message, "Don’t make promotional merchandise a cherry on the cake, make it an ingredient in your campaign."

See Promotional Products in action produced by Fluid Branding and enter our competition here »