Networking connection yields new promo item for REALTORS® - new personalized magnetic bookmarks
Networking is second nature to anyone who's successful in Real Estate. But it never ceases to amaze me how it can pay off in such a wide variety of scenarios! Here's one example that has resulted in the North American-wide launch of a new promotional item I first developed for my own use, a new type of magnetic bookmark, and had great success with the prototype run last Christmas. I believe it's probably of interest to many REALTORS®.
(If you want to shortcut directly to what I'm talking about, just go to this link ==> Promotional Bookmark for REALTORS®)
This personalized bookmark's emergence is the result of a connection I made 30 years ago and thousands of miles away from where I now live, combining with my friend's 20-year network connection established on the US West Coast.
In the early 1980's my friend Steve Jackson and I were both pioneers in an emerging technology that revolutionized the manufacturing industry. Although we were hundreds of miles apart - and we're talking pre-internet! - something he wrote caught my attention and I tracked him down. Since then our career paths have moved along, of course, and we've perhaps had a dozen or more address changes between us.
But we never lost touch, and about a year ago we found ourselves enjoying lunch in a small Japanese restaurant near my office in Burnaby, BC.
Earlier, arriving at my office Steve had helped himself to one of the promotional chocolate bars I have customized for my Christmas packages (I now know to lock these away when he's visiting my office).
This led to a discussion of the role promotional items play in the business of a REALTOR®, and I related the story of how I'd recently been looking for something new, something to add value for my clients. I'd come up with a neat idea for a unique bookmark, but been very disappointed with the potential Chinese sources I'd investigated. Their pricing wasn't at all attractive because I was looking for small, quantities of customized bookmarks. But even worse, their lead time was appalling - several weeks if all went well, and I was warned that any delivery dates I was given could be pushed even further out if the supplier got busy with more desirable orders.
What I didn't know was that Steve had a friend - from a friendship that started 20 years ago in the Pacific North West, when that friend also tracked Steve down after hearing him present at a conference - and that friend now owned a very successful plastics manufacturing business in California. What are the odds?
One hour later we established that the factory's degree of sophistication in terms of equipment and training made "mass customization" possible ... small quantities at great prices were do-able. With far better prices than I could get from China. And the lead time ... once we were beyond the prototype stage, and had a production model, an order would typically be turned around in 10 days. In contrast to 6 - 8 weeks from China!
Two hours later, we were discussing the first prototype with Steve's pal, plus the production manager and key customer service representative in California.
One month and 3 prototypes later, I had my bookmark. It was exactly what I wanted, and it became part of my Christmas package.
My clients loved it - it's a cool bookmark, it's novel, great quality, it has a "Hmm, that's neat" factor, and as well as a bookmark and a paper clip it's kind of a "fidget widget" because it has tiny magnets in it, and everyone loves magnets. It's robust where most bookmarks easily tear or stain or "feather" - it could last for years. Most important, it gives me a LOT of real estate - the size of two business cards to establish my brand, my image if I want, and a catchy message. And that message will be right in front of their face every time they use it!
Steve decided to turn this into a full-fledged product this year - and PromoBookmarks are in production, taking orders for quantities as small as 500 units customized with your business cards along with any other branding information you can fit on an additional business-card sized piece of real estate. You can check it out by clicking the link here: personalized bookmarks or go directly to www.promobookmarks.com, there's even a video.
I talk more about the whole process, and the bookmarks, on my blog: