The most common question I get asked after I tell people that I run a Branded Merchandise agency is “How did you get into that?”

It is a fairly unconventional story, but in hindsight tells me a lot about how important it is to always revitalise and mix it up in business. It goes a bit like this:

“Back in 2006 my business partner Tim and I had a Men’s Accessories & Tie business with 6 retail stores and over 100 stockists in Australia. Business was great –  until around 2008 the perfect storm hit us of  both people stopping wearing ties and cutting retail spending. Our sales literally dropped 92% at one of our stores. Around the same time a leading German carmaker and one of Australia’s biggest banks approach us to do their uniform ties. And then their uniforms. And then their merchandise”

That’s it.

If we had stayed as just a tie company we would be about as extinct as the neck tie. Luckily with a bit of trial and error we evolved, added products and adapted our offering.

We still make ties, but only if a logo is involved!

How are we evolving today? Constantly securing exclusive distribution of licensed products, innovative website product showrooms and a new 3 click customer re-ordering system to name a few changes.

How is your business evolving to stay ahead?

About the Author

Jeremy Chen is a co-founder and Director of Marketing at Promotive Group – a specialist Branded Merchandise and Clothing business with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

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In Today’s post Tara Rose – a Marketing graduate who recently joined the Promotive team outlines what she has learnt since commencing work in the Promotional Products Industry.

We are creating an experience.  I was recently introduced to a book that I should of picked up long ago – ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ that I’ll admit didn’t really sound like my type of book – my motivation to pick it up was lacking even just looking at the cover.   However, I am proud to say I picked up that book and began reading and I was transfixed, barely putting it down.  Now, if there is one thing I learnt it was the absolute importance and effect positivity and genuine goodwill can have on people.  I wanted to be that person that made people smile over the phone!  That’s because a smile can be the factor that makes an exchange an experience worth repeating.  Promo products are an amazing way to enhance this experience.  Simply put, by giving someone a branded product you are communicating to a customer their importance and your want to invest in creating a valuable relationship.

Social validation is real and important .  We are living in a culture of connection. We are continually sharing, commenting and ‘liking’ content – we are connecting on so many different platforms. Instagram is one of my personal favourites  If a product or experience can be created that instigates a conversation between your brand and customer you are already have one foot in the door.

People love free stuff…as long as it’s used. There are those things that we may leave lying around that gets picked up every now again, but are useful and have a purpose.  It could be as simple as a pen, as long as its kept and is used it reinforces your brand and is perfect!

About the Author

Tara Rose - white background

Tara started working at Promotive late in 2014 and is our resident graphics and photography guru.


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A few years ago I bumped into an old school friend who had just completed an MBA. Having toyed with the idea of doing an MBA myself, I decided to quiz him on his experience. Rather than come back with the usual “great networking, great people and subjects etc” he summed up his experience in one word: DATA.

A little taken aback, I asked him to elaborate, and he simply said “Measure, track and record EVERY piece of data of EVERY aspect of your business and you’ll be sorted”. Easy. That saved me a few years and a few dollars too!

If you speak to anyone in SEO or Accounting they’ll probably tell you the same thing. The numbers usually don’t lie – although marketers are usually not as number savvy!

Back when we first started our retail business my partner and I were absolutely certain based on ‘gut feel’ about some things like Best Selling lines, Busiest periods and even best Sales staff. That is, until we started measuring everything through a new POS system.

Almost every single piece of data we speculated on was incorrect which was a real wake up call. If we were so certain on some things and we were incorrect, how accurate would we be on important information that we had no idea about?

In the context of Promotional merchandise marketing we have clients who approach us without any clear objectives yet alone goals or measurables. Quite often this can lead to disillusionment as to how effective a campaign is.

A part of how we approach this is by clearly setting our Marketing objectives before getting into the design or budgeting phase. Then we can go about how to quantify and measure things whether it be through tracking website visits, increased sales or brand lift.

You definitely can’t hit a target that doesn’t exist.

How clear are your businesses targets and measurements?

About the Author

Jeremy Chen is a co-founder and Director of Marketing at Promotive Group – a specialist Branded Merchandise and Clothing business with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.


To see more of what we do click here:


One of the biggest things I’m learning in business is the importance of Focus. When we first started out, I’d tell friends that our business model is great because literally everyone could potentially be a customer.

We had clients ranging from local footy teams through to banks and automotive giants. Perfect right?

We thought so, until after a while we realised being everything to everyone meant that we were a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Companies soon began to approach us a bit like someone would go window shopping – we weren’t particular good at anything and had just a basic knowledge on a wide range of products. Not exactly who you’d come to if you wanted a good degree of specialty knowledge and your emphasis was on quality and reliability – two of our main values today.

As a result we began to attract the type of customers that you’d prefer not to, our workload increased while customer service levels went down as we were trying to do everything. Since then we’ve wisened up a bit (just a little) and really started to focus on particular markets and products.

For example our Promotive Education team specialises in designing products that appeal to Schools, Universities and Alumni and that means we can definitively say we are the Experts in all things Education related in Australia.

Our Custom Made team focus on really engaging creative ‘ground up’ design that is really cutting edge for Brand Activation, GWP and retail promotions. As a result we’ve found we are attracting our target market as we have naturally become better at what we do and can inspire the confidence to win these sort of clients.

This focus has resulted in a win-win situation for us and our clients – they know exactly what they’re getting is something we focus vast amounts of effort on and have plenty of experience designing and manufacturing. Our lives are that much better and less stressful knowing that what we deliver is exactly what we promise. Oh, and we still do the occassional footy team, but only if it falls within our focus product range!

Below is one of my favourite parables about focus – how can you be more focused in what you do?

An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked: “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.” They then decided they both would walk!

Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

The moral of the story? In Marketing, if you try to please everyone, you might as well… Kiss your ass good-bye.

About the Author

Jeremy Chen is a co-founder and Director of Marketing at Promotive Group – a specialist Branded Merchandise and Clothing business with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.



To see more of what we do click here:


I am often asked by clients and prospective clients “What is your best product?” and “What should we give to our customers/clients” ? While there are certainly trends and innovative new products always coming through, we strongly believe in finding out specific company objectives of marketing campaigns rather than being totally product oriented.

The questions we prefer to ask our clients are:

Who is your target market?

This seems very simple from the outset but it is surprising how many people overlook this point. One of our main specialties is in the education sector and alumni/advancement – quite often this is the totally opposite spectrum to some of the retail brand giveaways and GWP products we design.

What are you trying to achieve exactly?

We don’t believe in a promotional product being thrown in a showbag just for the sake of it as a ‘bag filler’. Quite often it will quickly be thrown out which has its own negative impact both on the brand and on the environment. What are the goals of the promotion, is it to build brand awareness? Customer Loyalty in the form of repeat sales or just increased customer engagement – Beginning with the end in mind almost always yields superior results

How can we be different and stand out in the marketplace?

In a world where manufactured goods are given away seemingly everywhere the key for maximum impact is usually just being DIFFERENT. People will talk about products that are well designed and unique whilst also being functional. Yes an Umbrella will always be an Umbrella but if it has a unique print (inside or out) or a bluetooth chip in the handle you will be memorable and spoken about.


About the Author

Jeremy Chen is a co-founder and Director of Marketing at Promotive Group – a specialist Branded Merchandise and Clothing business with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.




To see more of what we do click here: