Bags, bobble-heads and Beyond
July 28, 2009
Chris Hartley, owner of MCM Productions, believes promotional products should say something more than just a logo.
In fact, the bobble-head pens she hands out to promote herself actually do. Bounce the head and it talks.
Lots of businesses can make mugs, pens and key chains with a company logo local copy centers even do it now. With 21 years of experience in the business, Hartley sells promotion.
"We don’t sell products, we sell ideas. We like to work in a partnership with clients," she said. "It’s not about giving someone a pen; it’s about giving a product that makes an impact."
For example, she had a client call and say they wanted T-shirts for a conference they were attending.
That’s not what Hartley does.
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After a series of questions, she found out the client wanted to give a memorable impression of her company to people who stopped at her booth at a trade show for restaurateurs.
So she sold the woman T-shirts in boxes that looked like hamburgers. That’s what Hartley does.
MCM Productions has access to 800,000 different products and can make sure a promotional item says what the client wants it to say.
Mugs, for example, are a popular item to put a logo on. Hartley knows which companies will let clients do more with the look of the exterior; she knows which ones are high-quality steel versus regular steel. She can get aluminum if clients are looking for something cheaper. She knows how environmentally friendly each product is. And most of this is on her website.
"I don’t just inform the client, I educate them on the differences so they know what they’re looking for," she said.
Husband Ken Block said people are so impressed with the quality of items that free-sample recipients often call him up to get another one when they’ve used it up.
Block maintains a blog for the company at mcmpromoblog.blogspot.com. One of his recent posts was to announce Hartley’s recognition from the Advertising Specialty Institute the leading trade organization for the industry.
Every year the group honors a person of the year embodying 10 positive attributes. This year they recognized 10 different people who each excelled in one of those attributes. Hartley garnered the national attention for "empathy."
"I know how to make things happen quickly," she said.
Companies need a give-away item when they attend shows, but it’s often one of the last things they consider. Block said Hartley gets calls from people who need something great in less than a week.
"She empathizes," he said. "She’s got a matrix in her head from her years of experience that allow her to consider everything and get the right item for the best price in time."
MCM Productions is also experimenting with a new aspect of the business specializing in fund-raisers.
If a sports team wants to raise money, they often order T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts with their logo and sell them to family or friends. That requires an initial investment and a risk of overbuying. If the fund-raiser is successful, they run out of product and struggle to get more.
Hartley’s connections with apparel suppliers and her relationship with designers at Flashpoint enable her to set up on-line stores for no extra cost. Teams can contract with her to supply the items and MCM Productions will create a site displaying the offerings that athletes can direct their supporters to. Only items ordered are made reducing the risk and hassle of the fund-raiser.
Block said Hartley is so good at what she does because after 21 years she still gets out of bed excited. The two love solving problems for clients. For the past few years the couple has also mentored college participants in the Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge. Hartley gives start-up advice and Block lends his corporate experience.
This year, their team from Brigham Young University won first prize with new physical-therapy tape.