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   January 2013 Meet Our Team     Need Ideas?     Read Our Blog   
Browse From This Month’s Best!

Click on the images below for this month’s collections of products. Questions? Need more ideas? Call us or send us an email!
Meeting Essentials $2 and Under

New Products vs. Products New To You
Twice a year we publish a Trends Report highlighting retail colors, styles and concepts and the latest promotional products to incorporate current trends. Click on the image to download the Fall 2012 Edition. We’ll notify you about the Spring 2013 Edition as soon as it’s available. 
This time of year, thousands of new promotional products are introduced. We learn about them through research, meetings with our suppliers, industry publications, and by attending national trade shows. The largest trade show in our industry is mid-January. Electronic gadgets, apparel in new textures and fabrics, best sellers in new colors – we’ll see it all. So if you’re among those who want to know what’s new, just ask! (We’ll also share what we find at the show in our February newsletter.)

In spite of the buzz new products create, we still recommend tried-and-true promotional products. After all, there are 100,000+ of them in the marketplace! And they have a proven history for making a splash, creating inquiries, memorably thanking clients, enticing prospects to buy, and successfully lighting a fire under employees. It’s all a matter of how the gift is presented.

Here’s an example. Mugs and writing instruments are two commonly-selected promotional gifts. Even though they are available in umpteen styles, colors and price points, when you think of giving them as gifts it probably doesn’t sound exciting. But let’s say you want to create goodwill by sending new clients a thank-you gift. Imagine sending a mug with your logo and contact info, but filling the mug with pens featuring your client’s logo and contact info. You also include a short note explaining that you hope this gift will help spread the word about their products/services. It’s a simple promotion – and ideal for a limited budget -- but it’s certain to get used. 

Whatever your preference – new products or products presented so they are perceived as new – we can help. Call or email us to talk about an upcoming promotional opportunity!

Last month we wrote about The Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family program and our Kansas office’s participation. Here’s a message sent to the Kansas NP team by the employee who delivered the gifts on December 17.

I took all the gifts today to a part of Kansas City that made me realize how lucky we all are. We don’t all have everything we need – or maybe many of us do and just don’t know it. On my way to deliver the gifts, I saw kids walking to the Dollar Store who looked like they belonged in school… a lot of people waiting at bus stops… a lot of bars on windows… and no grocery store in sight (it seems like we have them on every corner). It made me feel very good to help others, especially during a time when everyone should have some happiness. Our donations included wrapping supplies, candy for stockings, stuffed animals, lotions, baby outfits, a child’s tea set, shirts for a teenager, gift cards for Wal-Mart, money for groceries, and a Lego set and scooter for a 5-year-old. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for participating in the program!

We're proud of our employees' ongoing efforts to contribute to the well-being of others. We'll continue to update you about our philanthropic activities in the months to come.


Safe Manufacturing? Prove It

Brian McLaughlin’s behind-the-scenes role at National Premium (NP) is critical to clients’ success. Clients just don’t know it.  

As Director of Global Sourcing & Global Operations, product safety and product quality are among Brian’s key concerns. It’s his job to ensure that every product we custom manufacture or purchase direct from one of our preferred suppliers meets the compliance standards of the country where it will be shipped.

“In the past 12 months we shipped merchandise from the United States and Asia to Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, even Iceland,” explains Brian, who joined NP five years ago as Managing Director of the Hong Kong office and relocated to the headquarters office one year ago. “Every country has its own requirements so products need to be tailored differently.” A few years ago, for example, NP branded a mini-fridge for a client whose recipients of the gift were in the U.S., Germany and Japan. To meet compliance for the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the light in the refrigerator had to be removed; it was viewed as a safety hazard.

Another example of global regulatory standards NP had to address was for a sports bottle for a client’s U.S. and Japanese audiences. The plastic materials used in the individual components forming the main lid had to be manufactured differently for Japanese compliance vs. the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. Bottom line, says Brian, “Our suppliers must be able to meet the standards for each country and prove it.”

As demanding as Brian and his team are, NP’s suppliers are viewed and treated as partners. At the headquarters office, suppliers have a standing, open invitation to visit account executives or use the Supplier Desk if they need a place to work while in the area. They are invited to a Supplier Summit each July where Brian discusses how NP has been performing; he then opens the floor for suppliers to share ideas and/or constructive criticism on how NP can be a better customer-partner. When suppliers asked for more “face time” with NP’s account executives, NP organized a “Supplier Speed Dating” style event, enabling account executives and suppliers to meet one-on-one in several 20-minute sessions about possible projects and new products. At an industry tradeshow each January, Brian meets with suppliers to discuss suggestions for improvement, expectations for the coming months, and if there were any performance issues during the past year. 

In 2013 Brian will visit a number of NP’s suppliers at their manufacturing plants. (The first three visits are scheduled for Q1.) “What we do well for our customers is greatly due to the success of our supplier relationships,” he says. “Getting to know more about our suppliers’ operations in depth -- how they process and produce product – will further benefit NP and our customers.”

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