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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Your Brand's Lollipop Guild

When was the last time you experienced the way you greeted prospects and clients?

Let's face it, watching "The Wizard of Oz" as a child can be a traumatic experience: the melting witch, the wizard's giant floating head, and, of course, the creepy flying monkeys. Every year around Easter, Dorothy and her friends would fill the 24-inch Zenith console television in the Petrie house, and I would quickly be reminded just how disturbing the movie is to watch, let alone enjoy.

Looking back, the only real moment I felt joy in that movie was when the Lollipop Guild welcomed Dorothy and her dog, Toto, to the Munchkin Land section of Oz with the following song:

"We represent the Lollipop Guild

The Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild.

And in the name of the Lollipop Guild

We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land."

Arriving in Oz via a tornado, Dorothy was a frightened little girl who clearly felt comfort and relief from this greeting. This got me thinking about how branded merchandise distributors "greet" potential customers – especially those confused, hard against a deadline, and maybe, just like Dorothy, a little scared.

This begs the question: when was the last time you took a hard look at the way you greet visitors? More specifically, when was the last time you inspected the most obvious initial impression people have of your organization – your website?

My guess is that most of you have not, and if you have, it's been quite some time. An organization's website is the single most crucial piece of real estate and will either garner interest or elicit a collective yawn from your target audience. For example, those cookie-cutter, product-forward websites that are the flying monkeys of online marketing? They will do nothing but brand you as uncreative and worthy of only participating in a race to the bottom on price.

Here are three areas to inspect to ensure your website can be as welcoming to visitors as the Lollipop Guild:

1. Why – As bestselling author Simon Sinek would say, start with your why. In today's economy, people must understand why you do what you do before they feel comfortable partnering with you. When you clearly articulate why what you do matters, you shift the conversation away from being a simple decorator of merch to a marketing and branding agency that delivers a client message that will move an audience to action.

2. What – After the why, the what needs to be shared with visitors, and the "what" isn't selling promotional products – there are 25,000 other companies that do that. Instead, explain what you do in terms of companies that hire you and your company to create surprise and delight using the medium of targeted branded merchandise. Sharing a case history or two that explains the tangible results derived by clients from specific projects is a fantastic way to describe the what.

3. Who – A website is the perfect vehicle for your target audience to understand the biggest differentiator available: you. It may be 2024, but people still buy from people – and brands – they know, like, and trust. In fact, I would argue that being a bit vulnerable and sharing who your team is in a fun way is more important today than ever before as it relates to turning website leads into sales conversions.

In any industry (including promotional products) where everyone is selling the exact same merch at similar prices, creating a personal and welcoming Lollipop Guild at the initial point of impression – your website –is critical. Candidly, there are too many similar options for your target audience to find if your first touchpoint isn't welcoming and inviting. Invest the time to look at your website from the perspective of someone meeting you and your company for the first time and ensure that it shares the why, the what, and the who. If it doesn't, you likely won't have the opportunity to take them on a personal journey down the yellow brick road to fully understand the joy of branded merchandise.

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