When a sizable portion of your business revenue is tied to events and activities, the COVID-19 pandemic requires a major shift. The Owings Mills, MD franchise of Crown Trophy & Promotions, which provides promotional items, screen-printed and embroidered apparel, signage, and displays (and since the pandemic, PPE) in addition to trophies and award plaques, realized they needed to increase the emphasis on promotional items and gifts.
With far less demand for awards when activities such as sports, graduations, and corporate events came to an abrupt stop, the Crown team saw a new opportunity. How could they touch people in a virtual world? They saw that companies were still trying to connect with employees who were working from home, on-boarding new hires or wanted to reach customers in new ways. And not just to sell a product, but to provide moral support in a time of crisis.
Crown began putting together swag boxes and shipping them on behalf of customers. The boxes contain anything from themed items for a virtual event to engraved gifts for customers to new hire packages. They saw an enormous uptick in items like hand sanitizer, lip balm, and face masks and persevered despite the challenges sourcing these items — suppliers often didn’t have enough bottles to store the hand sanitizer and some suppliers were completely shut down at times due to the pandemic. But they always had a Plan B and collaborated with customers to find solutions.
In addition to collaborating with customers, creating interesting swag boxes, and sourcing the right products, the team increased the shipping side of their business as well. While Crown always had experience fulfilling orders by mail, they took on more shipping as an added value to the customer. They were able to take full mailing lists and package promotional items together to ship directly to clients or employees, worry-free.
Despite the downturn, the Crown team discovered opportunity. Not only did the team increase the promotional side of the business, but they also gained insight into human behavior during a crisis. By listening to customers and discovering demand for more gifts and signage, such as lawn signs for new graduates, Crown is in a good position to recover quickly from the pandemic, when in-person meetings and events resume.
Brian Litofsky is Chief Recognition Officer and owner of the Owings Mills, MD franchise of Crown Trophy & Promotions, a proud AMA Baltimore sponsor.