Search Interviews:

So the impression, the number of impressions you get as that comes out of a purse or pocket is is valuable, it’s more valuable, in my opinion than just handing out a big, big click stick pin, you know, at a table and you’ve invested about the same dollar amount and you’ve actually incentivize action. You’ve, you know, when you take on that guess you say what guest to flavor, what’s your name, what’s your email, and now you’ve got an opt in database that you are curating. And so you’ve actually got some, some capability to follow up and some lead gen and you’ve created somebody other than just walking by your table and grabbing something, they’re kind of standing around, trying to figure out play the game, and you’re kind of gamifying the experience in front of your table for a very low, you know, low cost of investment.

Jeremy Weisz  17:59  

No, I love hearing these ideas. Anything. I’d love to hear any other engagement trade shows. I just want to point out for a second, I love how you did your process when you first started though, because you were finding companies and people who were prequalified, right? Because they were whatever you were finding in the news. And then you kind of started local or people you’re familiar with, you know, you had some kind of common commonality with them. And then you just did creative things to get in front of them. So I mean, I love kind of how you thought about how you thought through that. What are some other cool and gay I love the lip balm thing? Are there any other interesting engagements that people use at trade shows?

Nathan Bailey  18:42  

I mean, anytime you can gamify something I think you are winning. Like we don’t have like, one of the questions that we get asked is like, what’s working? What’s really hot right now? And that’s a really hard question for us to actually really answer correctly. Because what a group of engineers is turned on to and is interesting to them at a table is different than a bunch of construction workers. So like, we don’t operate in a one size fits all this really worked well, because it may not work well for the demographic of the people that are walking here.

Jeremy Weisz  19:13  

Yeah, like, I guess I’m gonna I’m gonna have a stereotype for a second. I don’t know, if I see a bunch of construction workers walking around with lip balm. It’s just not what I visualized, not saying they don’t but

Nathan Bailey  19:23  

Yeah, but like, anytime you can gamify the situation. And if that can be as simple as a wheel on your table with four or five options, and they spin the wheel and then one of the in the negative whatever option is on there. And so it’s not really about what’s a cool engagement. The lip balm is good because we always want to point out to people that it doesn’t matter your budget, you can make an impact we can help you make an impact No matter your budget, you don’t need you know, you don’t have to have $10 items to make an impact. You can make an impact with lower dollar items if they are executed correctly, and you do something to incentivize some sort of action. And so what are some of those? So you think about that, that’s what we think about more than anything is, yeah. Yes, around that.

Jeremy Weisz  20:20  

Lower dollar item impact. So what do people use? So lip balm is one, what’s another one that people have used that works, but maybe it’s not, you know, a box that’s custom with a gift card and a video screen or anything like that.

Nathan Bailey  20:37  

I mean, there’s lots of stuff like, you can do this at a trade show, or you can do this as a mailer like we do. We do a canned koozie Cooley, with a thing called a cap B, which is basically a cap for your cans to keep dirt and, you know, drugs out of there somewhere to drop a drug if you were at a party or whatever, you know. And so like, they’re just very inexpensive items that everybody kind of has and uses. You can put kind of like, you know, you can put QR codes and NFC tags and all those kinds of things in them to then you take them to a video that then tells them about your message or your product.

You take them to you can take them to a landing page and have them opt into a database. So I mean, there’s just a lot of, you know, tech items are really popular need to tech organization items can be done for low dollar, we’ll call color branding on them. And one of the things that we like to think about too is like, you know, thoughtfully thinking about the logo and who’s using it, how it’s being used? And does it make sense to slap a logo on it? Or does it make sense to have it more retail inspired, with maybe an insignia or, like we have a light bulb, you know, it’s on our website, we use that a lot as opposed to the name Ideation, a lot of our branding stuff that we send out, just has our light bulb on it, to make it a lot more retail experience, or we’ll have the light bulb in the main part, and then the Ideation logo, maybe on the lid of a water bottle.

So yeah, I mean, there’s so many things, and it’s just really hard in this conversation to say like, oh, do this, do that, because it’s really like, what are we trying to accomplish? And I think a lot of agencies that do what we do fail to ask, like, what are you trying to accomplish, and then build their campaign campaigns around? What what is the end goal, and that can be an opt in database to watch a video just to spray, you know, to, to put your logo and brand out more for brand recognition? Like there’s a lot of different reasons why, you know, people order promotional products and branded merchandise. And so I think it’s our responsibility as agencies, you know, my team is tasked to find out what it is that the objectives are, and then build campaigns around that based on the budget delivery times and all those kinds of things.

Jeremy Weisz  22:53

So, use cases, obviously, if someone has a trade show, they can create engagement around that. I mean, they could also send it out and get engagement from cold. other use cases you mentioned was it could be sent to some of your best clients also gonna be sent to really great potential clients. Another use case that you have is with staff talk about that.

Nathan Bailey  23:22

I mean, yeah, I mean, one of our favorite, our favorite things that we probably did during COVID, everybody was scared, nobody knew what’s going on. We didn’t know what the economy was gonna look like, we didn’t know what sales for businesses look alike. And so we did a lot of into 2020, working with HR teams, HR departments, and creating kind of comfort boxes to their employees to just say, Hey, we’re thinking about you, we know this is difficult, we know you’re working from home. We know it’s scary, but like, you know, here’s a you know, we made a kit that had a puzzle and a coloring book and color crayons for the kids and it had a blanket and a candle and you know, something for the desk, a coffee mug or something for the desk for the employee, you know, so like, that was kind of where the business evolved, I felt like and I don’t think it’s gonna go back. Were kind of these higher end gifts, these nicer them in gifts packaged in this kind of kidding custom mentality.

Because in such a digital world, that direct mail piece that came to somebody that they got to open an experience like emotionally changed them or affected them. And I don’t think that there is any other marketing medium that does that as well as promotional products do. Because it’s it is it’s receiving a gift whether you hand it to somebody or you thoughtfully thinking about how to package it and what the user experiences from the time the UPS driver hands it to them to the time that they open it and go through it. And we think about that, like we just got a box here at Ideation that had glitter in it and it’s

Like, of course a mess, so like, we would never tell a client, like, let’s put, even though we’re celebrating whatever we’re celebrating, like, we’re not gonna put glitter in a box unless you really want us to, because if you tell us that we will tell you like, it’s not a great experience, because when that box opens, you’re gonna have glitter all over the carpet. And, and so, you know, those are the things we think about. But those are a lot of the employee experiences new, we do a lot of new hire kids, onboarding people used to we’ve been built with build those kids backpacks, usually with some sort of apparel item, maybe a hat, journal, pin, water bottle, or coffee, tumbler. And clients would kind of keep a swag closet at their office and hand those out to new hires.

Obviously, most hiring lately has been done. In a hybrid model, where they don’t even come to an office, they get they get hired, you know, from the zoom. And so we’ve become the swag closet where we send that on their behalf. With a little personal note welcoming them, we can do things that have QR codes, or in a C tags on the items or in the note where they can scan it and then you know, a hiring manager can say like, Hey Jeremy, Welcome to Team, whatever it is, we’re really excited to have you you know, whatever the message is, so we can do this we can make it personal as as personal as the customer wants. And, and there’s a ton of statistics around that onboarding experience that new hire kit and how it makes the new hire feel and their adoration and loyalty to the business. So we I’m a big proponent of no matter what the budget is doing something to recognize a new hire, with some some branded merch.

Jeremy Weisz  26:49  

Let’s talk about what you did with PayPal, but I love what you said about the glitter. I don’t know gifts gone wrong or mistakes.What are some other things people should not send? I don’t know if you’ve seen the glitter bomb videos, Mark Rober videos where he has the glitter bomb versus porch pirates. Have you seen literally use that? Yeah, because it was probably a pain in the butt. And it’s, you know, has the fart spray and has the glare?

Nathan Bailey  27:21  

Yeah, yeah.

Jeremy Weisz  27:22  

What are other glaring mistakes that like, it should be obvious, but maybe most people don’t know like, don’t send glitter, what else should people not be sending that to others.

Nathan Bailey  27:34  

It’s not necessarily what you shouldn’t send, it’s more of how you send it being thoughtful around that experience I got in the mail. And we do this here at Ideation where we take stuff that somebody sends us and then we kind of sit together as a sales team and kind of go through it so that we don’t make those same mistakes. But like I did a transaction with a bank and I got a a tumbler a coffee tumbler like a yeti coffee tumbler wasn’t Yeti, but it was just for the audience of the Ken Robinson getting type coffee tumbler with my logo on it and their logo on it, which is super nice. It is great. It came with a no card telling them like you know a generic no card thanking before working with them. And then it also came with a personal handwritten note all great, they put it in a mailing envelope.

And by the time it got to me the envelope was so wrinkled and the paperwork inside of it was so wrinkled that the user experience for me just wasn’t great. Obviously I have more critical eye because I do this all day long every day, but like for the same money you can put that in a white mailbox and with some shred and lay that stuff sitting there beautifully and it would have done a lot better. But we’ve seen everything from you know coffee grinds to lick to liquid items to ceramic mugs with ceramic mugs is more difficult. It’s more expensive because you have to protect them and they’re heavier.

We don’t tell people not to do it but I mean there are you there are those thought processes of round okay, if we put that in its breakable, it’s going to require more packaging it’s going to require you know some bubble wrap is that a good experience for somebody to have something bubble wrapped if we do have to bubble wrap it and so it all can be done it’s just a matter of more about the packaging to make sure that it arrives safely and not broken and and you know, we do a lot of ticking boxes and throwing boxes and kind of putting them through a test we shipped boxes from our office back to us just to see what how it what the experience is like what while UPS has it or FedEx has it and then we reopen it to make sure the items you know didn’t break or didn’t shift or whatever.

So that’s the biggest thing is about about that but I would say anything loose like a glitter or confetti or you know when you open the box that then falls everywhere is what I would stay away from And then we try and be as eco thoughtful as we can as well. I mean, there’s some packaging that we just can’t get away from it. But, you know, we also think about items that are recyclable and items that and, you know, packaging that’s recyclable or, or can decompose. And so that’s always something especially in the Northwest that we’re talking to customers are around as well. Yeah, we’ll think about Styrofoam peanuts, we stay away from wonder pain, like confetti, and too, they’re not great for the environment. So we try and stay away from those. But yeah,

Jeremy Weisz  30:30  

so mostly think about I mean, you don’t want something’s gonna make a mess. You also don’t want something, you want to make sure the presentation is on point. And it’s protected. I mean, I’ve gotten stuff to Nathan, people super thoughtful, I forgot what it was like some kind of little alcohol bottle with something else. And it came broken. I didn’t have the heart to tell them. It came broken. And it wasn’t I don’t probably wasn’t their fault. But it wasn’t packaged properly. It was in a nice box presentation. But it was broken. And I was like, I, it was such a nice thing. I didn’t want to be like, Hey, thanks for sending me, you know, a broken alcohol bottle that spilled in the package. But yeah, not not good. But

Nathan Bailey  31:13  

yeah, that’s terrible. And one of the reasons that so when we got into COVID, one of the reasons that we move towards our own warehouse and our own warehouse team that kits stuff, is so that we could control that quality, because there are not very many agencies that do what we do that do that work in house, they outsource at five kitting and fulfillment companies, or they have our supplier factory partners, kit for them. And even us who during Christmas time one year, you know, Ken did an order and thought it’d be easier for just to have the factory partner do the kidding. And all that stuff. They just threw ceramic mug in a box without any protection. And you know, luckily they came to us before they went to the customer.

But But I mean, that is a big a big deal of why I made the decision to invest in our own warehouse and our own team because I wanted to make sure that when Jeremy gets his box from Comcast or Intel, or whatever customer has this, do that work, that the experience is not Oh, that was nice, but it’s broken. You know, we wanted the experience, to be honest, it’s credible. I mean, the best compliment we can get from our customers, or even our customers customers is when they posted on LinkedIn a picture of the cool thing we sent and then you know, tag them in it. And then usually, you know, somehow we kind of hunt those down and find them. And that’s like, the greatest compliment we can get is when that kind of packaging work that we’ve kidded and then drop shipped and delivered gets posted on you know, LinkedIn or Instagram or anything like that.

Jeremy Weisz  32:42  

Yeah, yeah, no, that’s actually what I wrote in big bold writing in my notes right here is why did you make the decision to bring fulfillment in house? Because that’s a huge investment in processes a huge investment in people. You’re like, I was started this just to be a one man show. And now you’re starting a fulfillment center.

Nathan Bailey  33:01  

Yeah. Yeah, for that. I mean, that reason, and you’re right, COVID. So I tell people, when I tell this story, we went into this business backwards, because we did it out of necessity from our clients calling us and saying, Hey, we want to do this. Can you do it? And of course 2019 Desperate Measures desperate times. We said yes. And so we basically, already luckily had a small warehouse that then turned into us adding, you know, I got 1500 square feet of warehouse space in May of 2019. thinking this would last us a good five years. By mid 2020, we had another 1500 square feet, and by 2021, we had 7000 square feet. So so we went into it backwards, not as a let’s add this as a service and write the business plan and come up with the SOPs, and you know, all that kind of stuff. So we were doing this work.

And then it was like, Okay, this is not going to go away I could see foresee in the future because we proved its ROI during COVID that even after COVID customers were still gonna want this service because of how effective it was in drop shipping something right to somebody’s address, and then and then having been able to follow up or have them do an action so, so yeah, we invested in warehouse racking and I’m the proud owner of a forklift, I like to say, which I never thought would happen. We have we have a team of three people that do the killing and fulfillment in our warehouse we have another two people because part of the vision that I had was bringing everything in house once we got into film fulfillment as well as we’ll bring embroidery and decoration and how so then we now I have seven embroidery heads and two people that run the embroidery department and the heat press department.

And so yeah, it became this big thing and now and now we got into it. It’s been successful. And you know, the vision has expanded because of it of what we could be for our customers. And, you know, with our mission making our customers look like rock stars by solving their problems removing their and removing their irritations. My, you know, long term goal is to kind of be a one stop shop where we take care of fulfillment warehousing kidney decoration, which decoration is embroidery, depressing screen printing. And so screen printing is the piece that we don’t have yet that I you know that that is part of the vision that we’re marching towards.

Jeremy Weisz  35:32  

What kind of work did you do with PayPal?

Nathan Bailey  35:36  

PayPal, we’ve done a bunch of stuff with them. Now we’ve done influencer kits. We work on honey, which honey, a lot of with the company honey, which is the coupon system that you can do the extension on your kind of Chrome browser to find out find coupons, but we do a lot of work with honey, we do their new hire kids. So whenever they hire anybody from around the country, we created a website for them for their new hires, because they had multiple options.

So they had a Timbuktu backpack, and they had arranged backpacks. So you can pick one of those, you can insert your T shirt size, and so it’s a full on Amazon style checkout process. And then we get that order and then send it off and fulfill it. We did an influencer kit for them where they we said podcasters like famous podcasters big podcasters you know, like the deck shepherds of the world?

Jeremy Weisz  36:36  

I was gonna say I wasn’t, I don’t think I got

Nathan Bailey  36:39  

that. Yeah, I’ll find out that maybe after this interview,

Jeremy Weisz  36:42  

we’ll put it on the map. Yeah,

Nathan Bailey  36:44  

yeah, you should be on it, for sure. They missed it, I think. But so what we did was we made we custom printed a pizza box that they designed with our team. And then inside that pizza box was just a spot for us to adhere a UberEATS gift card. And we then had to find couriers across the country that would allow us to ship the box inside of a box. With regards to the courier, they took the pizza box out of the box and then delivered it to the address as if they were a pizza delivery guys.

And then just handed them the pizza delivery box. So the experience was not Oh, I got a corrugated brown box. And then for pizza box, it was as if you ordered pizza and pizza man delivered it to you. And I think it had to do a lot with it with sponsorship and advertising around around the podcast world. But yeah, so that was you know, a fun project that we did for honey Pay Pal. pennies. Honeywell has its own company got bought by Pay Pal, and now they’re integrated. But yeah, so that’s kind of a

Jeremy Weisz  37:49  

that’s cool. Like that. These are marketing kits

Nathan Bailey  37:53  

It’s big, become a really big business of ours, we worked with a couple high end beauty cosmetic companies. And it’s all around like these custom boxes, putting their product along with some promotional products in it to then send to, you know, bloggers, Instagram influencers and all that kind of thing. So that’s become a real like a new avenue of business that obviously was not a channel when I started in 2009.

Jeremy Weisz  38:18  

So if you’re an influencer agency, you can call Nathan. Yeah.

Nathan Bailey  38:24  

A couple of incidents or agencies where we work with brands that have an influencer agency that helped them that advise them. And so like, you know, we work with a company. And I don’t know if I can see their name. So I’m not going to but we work with, you know, high end, global cosmetic company. And we work with them. But we also work with their agency, their influencer agency that represents them as well. So, yeah, that that happens all the time. We do a lot of agency and agency work actually.

Jeremy Weisz  38:51  

Nathan, I, I have a couple questions. I know we only have a few minutes. But one question I have is what are some of the key positions you put in place from where you started off your vision was just you? Right? So what were some of the key you know, in the name people necessarily but key positions you hired for over the evolution of the company?

Nathan Bailey  39:10  

Yeah, I mean, the the business really took off in 2017. When what I tell people when I tell a story is like finally the nice guy wins, right? I was putting enough I won’t say mentorship because she is unbelievably more talented than I am but but Stacey Garrett is her name. She’s a senior account manager here at Ideation. She’s 24 years of experience. She’s in the top 1% of 1% of producers in our industry. And I really just like for whatever reason we hit it off at a industry trade show. We had coffee a couple of times she asked me some questions about managing her business and kind of what I call weed and feeding your business in terms of different clients.

She had an opportunity arose where she was looking to make a move and she called me and you know I was able to To talk to her about Ideation and what I was trying to build, and even then we were, quote, unquote, too small for her. Because and we basically doubled in people and doubled in revenue overnight when she came on board. That was kind of the catalyst that got us going. From there. I, I then helped her with the support that I gave her two to two and a half times her business was, she’s been here for six years, built her team out, doubled her team.

And then, you know, just through I think, having a clear mission, operating under our core values, having a vision that I can tell other salespeople about, like, This is who we are, this is what we’re trying to do. We’re not there yet. But this is where we’re going. And I’ve been, I think, pretty successful in, in getting people to see that vision, telling them where they fit in that vision, what the roadmap is for their career in that vision and been able to recruit some really top talent, talented people

Jeremy Weisz  41:02  

love it. Nathan, I have one last question. And I’d love to hear some of the craziest things that you’ve seen sent out. Maybe off the wall, just things that people would never think of? Before you answer that. I just want to point people to check out your website, people can check out we are to learn more and poke around. If you have questions, you can contact them through the site. They getting their places online, we should we should point people towards?

Nathan Bailey  41:34  

Yeah, I mean, were you looking at some we’re pretty active on LinkedIn. So you can look us up on LinkedIn. Of course, like, give me a if you hear this podcast and want to connect with me on LinkedIn. I don’t have to wait. I am just looking at Nathan Bailey, CEO of Ideation. And just add a note saying that you you know heard you heard about me from this podcast, and I’d be happy to connect with you. And then we’re on Instagram as well. We are Ideation on Instagram. And then my Instagram is Nate Bailey. 524 If anybody wants to

Jeremy Weisz  42:05  

check me out there, the craziest things, maybe you sent them, maybe you’ve heard of them being sent. You know, I love kind of hearing some creative things. But what have you seen throughout the years?

Nathan Bailey  42:21  

I mean, there’s always crazy stories of like, stuff that we that, that you hear about being sent. And I don’t even know the full story or the full story around it. But like, I mean, like things that I was like, I can’t believe anybody buys those, like branded condoms is one of them. That’s like crazy, you know, like people order in our industry. I mean, like, we’re lucky in that we, we are not lucky, I should say like our demographic of clients is very high in corporate global, like, you know what I mean, enterprise customers that are very image conscious, and not what I would call the rabble rousers of business, you know.

We’ve done cool projects, like the pizza thing I told you about, and like the Comcast, box that like shoe boxes I told you about that like, to be honest with you, like I’d love to give you like a crazy wild story about crazy stuff. But like, we just haven’t had that experience from who we work with. But there are definitely things that are you know, that that I can’t believe are in the catalog of things that we can order because of just the nature of what they are and like the only thing I could think of is we like you know, strip clubs and maybe you know, a specific entertainment industry wanting to order some of those products but

Jeremy Weisz  43:44  

um, yeah, people suddenly like very internal like, maybe not crazy but large like people’s having swords or I forgot something that was just obscene ly big they got delivered to someone

Nathan Bailey  44:02  

I mean, not I’ve seen the big like we’ve done Adirondack chairs. Um, you know, like that’s like not I’ve seen the crazy but that’s like a big you know, it takes up a lot of space custom Adirondack chairs. Um I mean, I know that people like we’ve sent peloton we’ve sent brand you know, we’ve seen canoes that had been branded. Like just like there are things that are like this. This is like crazy silly and sometimes it’s like this shipping of the item was more expensive than the actual item was, especially when you’re talking about like incentives like instead of gifts, so like maybe there was some sort of sales contest or something like that.

And so they were giving away the person with the most sales and the most leads and the most whenever they’re giving away a peloton or they’re giving away and that’s all great and fine and dandy until you start thinking about okay, well that cost me $1,400 plus the shipping of it you know or whatever the case may be because it doesn’t get free shipped from peloton it’s got to come to our office we then have to I decorate like somehow either sticker it or rapid, or whatever they want done to it, and then it goes back out. And so we’re just whatever it costs the palletized freight cost for it to go is kind of, you know, obviously we tell our customers up front, but like, some of those boardroom meetings are a little bit, you know, are like, you know, the whiteboard meetings with the marketing team is, it behooves them to have us in there so that we can give them some warnings around the idea that they may not be thinking about?

Jeremy Weisz  45:32  

Yeah, no, I love your idea. Also, maybe you send the paddle with a logo, and you’re like, if you want to meet with me, you get the canoe, or here’s the shoes. You meet with me, you get you get the pellet.

Nathan Bailey  45:46  

Yeah. And it’s crazy. Like you can, I mean, I know that you’re saying that. But like, like, we can do custom shoes that are really cool shoes that look like, you know, Nike Air Force ones, but they’re not Nikes. But they have that vibe to them. But they’re totally corporate branded. And like, I think it’s fun. Like,

Jeremy Weisz  46:03  

It’s fun, but your actual shoes, but yeah, they’re wearable and everything.

Nathan Bailey  46:09  

Yeah, they’re on our Instagram page, you can take a look at them. And there’s a Taco Bell ones that look like they look like they’re white Air Force ones with a Taco Bell design on them. But like, I mean, that’s an interesting thing. Like, if you wanted to invest a couple $1,000 to do an A B test on if I send one shoe to a customer and ask for a meeting, like what’s our what’s what’s the, what’s the conversion rate on that, to me is very interesting, you know, are is an interesting use of, of marketing dollars, to see what that conversion rate looks like.

And so like, I mean, with those shoes, for example, you could order as little as two, I mean, you know, like two pairs. And so you can, you can send, you can send one shoe to one cut one prospect, and you could send both pairs to another prospect and then see which one lands is either on land. And so, I mean, obviously, I think you need more units to get an actual vibe of what you know, to get a real kind of average of what the conversion rate is. But like, there’s some really cool, cool things to do in this day and age to stand out, especially in a digital world where most people probably 5050 are just trying to get a digital zoom meeting. Like so how do you how do you differentiate yourself amongst everybody else that’s trying to get that same meeting. It’s something that I think we can help with.

Jeremy Weisz  47:34  

A lot of Yeah, Nathan, I want to be the first one to thank you everyone. Check out we are Check out their Instagram, get some ideas and listen to this. This podcast. I got a lot of great ideas and just more episodes of the show and thanks again. Nathan. Thanks everyone.

Nathan Bailey  47:51  

I appreciate you. Thank You.