Academic customers generally already have a theme, a budget, and know what they want to accomplish with their purchases. They want an award or product that is designed for a specific need and often come to the awards shop with full ideas. Very rarely do they look for something off the shelf. The exception to that rule is when a university or alumni association is looking to honor a specific achievement by one of their members and want something extra special.
A great thing about academic customers is that even when they need a full custom design, they tend to make decisions much faster than corporations who have to consult with various groups and make a team happy before a decision is made. In the case of academic sales, usually one person is the decision maker and approval by committee rarely happens.
-Mark Avenson, R.S. Owens