It’s that time of year when finding the perfect gift becomes an obsession. We spend countless hours scouring the malls and online shops for something trendy, something sports-related, something techy, something gourmet, something affordable, something special, and so on and so on.
If you think it’s hard coming up with a gift idea for every person in your family, you should try doing it for your colleagues. Many companies like to show their appreciation by giving their team a little something at the end of the year but sourcing a gift that meets your company’s budget, expectations, and isn’t a repeat from past years can be a hugely daunting and time-consuming project. Don’t believe us? Just ask Patterson Brands, one our awesome #sagesupplier partners specializing in corporate gifting, apparel, branded merchandise and swag (in case you didn’t know, the term ‘swag’ is actually an acronym for the phrase ‘sealed with a gift’).
Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with Jayne Ircha, Account Manager at Patterson Brands and this is what she had to say…
Tell us a bit about the company and the services offered.
Patterson Brands offers a wide variety of promotional items, everything from t-shirts to tech items. We like to consider ourselves a boutique agency that gives exceptional customer service to our clients. We not only deliver promotional goods, but also offer our expertise in company branding and design. Patterson also manages and runs retail web-stores on behalf of some of our clients.
How long has Patterson Brands been in business? When did you join the company?
Patterson Brands has been creating and producing corporate “swag” since 1999, founded by Rich Patterson. Rich began his work in the corporate branded product business with Roots so had a great understanding of the industry when he built his business.
I myself started with Patterson back in 2011 after 10 years in the marketing and events industry. Throughout my years as an Account Manager for a local events company I grew a passion for swag and corporate gifting. I often referred to myself as the “Gift Guru” within the company, so it was only natural for me to join Rich at Patterson. He was always my go-to and favourite supplier when I needed promotional goods. My main clientele and focus at Patterson is the events industry.
What sets Patterson Brands apart from other promotional product companies?
Without question it is our customer service. Rich and I like to pride ourselves on being there for our clients whenever they need us, no matter how big the project. Being from the events world, I understand tight timelines and budgets. I have been in the event planners’ shoes (literally) so feel as though my knowledge and experience sets me apart from our local competitors.
What are some of the items you specialize in for events?
I do such a wide variety of items, as each event is so different. Lanyards, conference totes and employee uniforms are definitely the most popular. That said, I have also done some really unique items like beverage sampling packs for a promotional street team who wanted to showcase warm beverages during the winter months. I have also done a wide variety of incentive gifting programs for companies taking their employees to remote destinations.
Tell us about the coolest client project you’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
I love all my projects but I would say the requests that come from experiential marketing companies asking me to outfit their street teams are my favourite. There is always so much room for creativity with the uniforms. I feel like I’m a personal shopper for my clients 🙂
Let’s talk a bit about deadlines because they are a huge challenge in our business for both the planner and the supplier…
What kinds of timelines can clients expect when working with you?
We prefer to have a 15-day lead-time but are well known to get a job done within 7-10 days. Right now I am working on a project with a 3 day lead time. This is not ideal, but we can usually make it happen with the right product in a crunch.
When should companies begin planning their holiday gifts?
If they haven’t already they should definitely start! I always recommend that clients see physical samples before they place an order as some products are different in person than they appear online. The sample process can delay timing a bit but it’s worth it in the end. Orders should definitely be in by the first week of December to avoid rush charges and high shipping costs.
I imagine that you build in some wiggle room to protect your ability to meet client deadlines when last minutes changes come up. At what point in the process is wiggle room possible and when is it not?
In the perfect world, I like to allow for at least 3-5 days of wiggle room but with a majority of my clients being in the events industry, wiggle room is usually not possible. Most of the time, my clients do not receive approval until the last minute plus their needs are constantly changing so usually we deliver just in the knick of time 😉
Now let’s talk a bit about everyone’s favourite topic…budgets!
What kinds of budgets can you work with?
At Patterson, we like to think every job is as important as the other no matter what the budget is. You never know when a small budget project can lead to a larger budget in the future. The main objective is to help our clients fulfill their promotional needs.
How do you work with clients who don’t know what their budget is?
We like to offer our clients a range of products (when possible) in a tier of budgets. A “good”, “better”, “best” type scale. That way the client can decide whether they want to spend a little or spend more.
When it comes to budget planning for the next year, what per person budget do you recommend companies set aside for their 2016 holiday gifts or for event giveaways?
That is so hard to answer as each company is different. Gifting can be quite effective in the $10 range (think cool American Apparel tees or Contigo water bottles) but there are some more impactful items in the $50-100 range.
Since we’re nearing the end of the year, we’d love your expertise on current and upcoming trends in your line of business.
What types of gifts have been the most popular for 2015?
I would say that tech items such as power chargers and USBs (aka flash drives or memory sticks) are still very popular right now because of their practicality.
What gifting trends are you anticipating for 2016?
I see the technology trend continuing. There are very cool new wearable tech items out there. I was just asked to quote on apparel that actually lights up! There are also a variety of bags and coolers with built in speakers. More specific to the meetings and events industry, I recently saw blow up couches and chairs that can be branded and used multiple times for event receptions or hospitality suites.
To wrap up…
What’s next for Patterson Brands? What is the business focused on for the upcoming year?
Continuing to do what we do best! Being there for our clients no matter what the project is. We also anticipate opening one or two more company web-stores on behalf of our clients and we’ve just completed a Magento theme upgrade so web-stores have a contemporary online shopping look and feel.
Interested in knowing more about Patterson Brands? Follow them on twitter @pattersonbrands hashtag #sagesupplier or on Facebook Patterson-Brands for updates from Rich Patterson, the owner of the company.