February 23, 2010
Have you said this… “I/We need a pen” or “I/We need a mug” or how about “I/We need a notepad…maybe sticky notes”. Now, you may very well like to have these for various reasons but there are so many questions to be answered before you invest in these promotional products….and how many!!
There are over 85,000 promotional products and all too often business executives are not working with a marketing consultant or promotions director when they are in the decision-making process. No matter what your budget is, there are products that will represent your business more specifically, will have “hang around” time, and will successfully meet your branding goals…..and not just because it is the color of your logo.
Even if it is a tradeshow and you want to spend $.30/piece, a pen is NOT the only answer. It could be if you are an accountant and you found a nice, smooth writing fine point or a real estate agent and it is a pen with several imprint areas or a corporate law attorney where many documents are signed. Well you get the picture. Questions to ask yourself:
- Where are you giving these out
- To whom are you giving them
- What value do you expect in return
- Did you look at this promotion from a marketing perspective
In this economy, it is tempting to eliminate name awareness opportunities. The dictionary says “…..tempt ~ draw into a foolish or wrong course of action“. Well no one I know is foolish and positive that with the correct guidance would not make a wrong decision. Consult with a marketing professional with promotions expertise so that you get the direction you need. A recommendation would be cut-back but don’t cut-out either marketing, PR or promotions…..have to add Social Media as well. By the way, I have a pen and a mug for retention and leave behind gifts…..very different than give-aways no matter what the event.
February 20, 2010
Competition is a good thing…right?
Motivates us to be the best we can be, helps to keep us up-to-date with what’s happening in our industry, teaches us to be more responsive to change, sharpens our skills, tests our values.
With all of these positive responses set forth above, why do many view the competitor as the “enemy”. It takes far more energy to study and complain about what someone else is doing or not doing, rather than developing our own strengths, deepest values, passions, and commitments so that what we are competent at is NOT JUST A JOB.
Keep in mind…somewhere down the line, that competitor may be a potential client and no door should ever be closed. Respect for the way a person does business should be across the board. Author Dr. Henry Cloud, “Integrity”, encourages us to be aware of the “wake” we leave behind us as we go through life and interact both with our personal and business relationships. Smooth or very little waves are good!!
Focusing in on your own worth and value to your client is a whole lot more beneficial to them than comments about what your competitor is or is not doing. Approach all with respect and it will come back to you ten-fold.
“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” ~ Walt Disney
February 16, 2010
First there is marketing….
“… if the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday’, that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.” If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.
Uncomplicated example of how marketing, advertising, promotions and public relations all work together. At a time when we are reviewing budgets, this is a good reminder to just cut-back don’t cut-out.
Strategize getting value in return.
Bring brand to the attention of potential and/or current customers
Keeps brand in the minds of customer which in turn stimulates demand
Helps public to understand company/product
What would you cut-out…..hopefully nothing!!
February 11, 2010
Long before Branding was recognized as crucial to continued success, retention and referrals, my Dad, known as “Charlie” to all who knew him well, was practicing the best branding techniques and in turn I was learning. He didn’t even realize he was teaching me. Here is how Charlie and Count Artell, the magician, did it:
- Basically believed everything and everyone was “all good”
Vaguely remember hearing him talking on phone with either agents or customers recommending his competition if he thought his act would not suit the audience as well. He never understood about nationalities either….if you asked him his background, he would say he was an American.
- Reduce pricing, undersell, underquote a colleague
Also, overheard him many times being asked to “underquote” a colleague….he just would not do it. Just wasn’t fair to him.
- Code of Ethics
I am sure everyone knows the “Magician’s Code” and believe me, growing up we took it very seriously. Kindof the right thing to do. Growing up I traveled with my Dad to all the conventions and most of his shows. He and I were buddies. I learned early on in my youth that holding true to an ethical standard was truly rewarding. Building TRUST resulted in respect…..and let me tell you Charlie was extremely respected.
- Customer Service
No matter what….the show must go on. Count Artell was always polite, upbeat, gave of himself and truly enjoyed pleasing all that came to see him. Backstage we would only know that he had a cold, or his back was bothering him or we just came through a raging snowstorm….he never transferred his woes on anyone must less his customer.
- Personal Image
As he got older, he started to get arthritis in his hands and couldn’t do card manipulation as well as he used to. Instead of dwelling on the negative, he tailored his act with tricks that appealed to his audience just as well because his business (magic) was never about him but about his “customer” (audience).
Bottom Line: We are impacting our youth with everything we do and say. They may seem as though they are engaged in listening to something else or not listening at all but the fact is they are better at multi-tasking than we ever were. When I started my own business five years ago, I just knew what my standards would be as a business person but I recently realized, I learned everything from Charlie, Count Artell and my Dad. In the end he got Alzheimer’s and didn’t even remember he was a magician but he knew me, “D”, and he provided me with guidance, high standards, caring, accepting, right thing to do and marketing savvy that only a magician can.
January 28, 2010
Bringing your car in for inspection should not necessarily be a wonderful experience, however, when you are talking about a 15 year excellent relationship with your service department it can be. Besides they take great care of the paternal twins in our family. Oh….perhaps I should clarify that. There are two 1995 Ford Explorers in the household, both white, equally have about 120,000 miles on them, however, interiors different and sunroof on one of them. Love my Ford. The other difference is one of them does not stop and ask directions…but I digress.
Now mind you, I get superb customer service every time but this last time it brought to mind a question. This is where you come in! Here is the scenario. The dazzling Ford Explorer of the family was scheduled for inspection, potentially needed brake linings based on last inspection and I asked for the tires to be rotated. I arrived, was greeted by extremely friendly staff, given a ride back to my office and they would pick me up when it was done. Super great!! Only took about 3 minutes. When I picked it up they said the inspection was FREE because I bought the car there, I still did not need brake linings because of the low mileage between visits and the tires were checked for wear and did not need to be rotated. It was stated that they don’t charge for something unless it is really needed. ALL GOOD!! Right? Certainly was for me.
QUESTION: Would it have been better to mention all this wonderful news upfront…especially if I were a new customer? For instance, “I see you brought you car here, you will not be charged for inspection”. “I see you haven’t driven the car too many miles since the last time it was in, so you still may not need brake linings”, and “Even though you asked for tire rotation, we’ll check for wear first because we don’t want to charge you for rotation if you don’t really need it”. Again, I was perfectly pleased with everything but my thought was that some of these subtle differences could make or break a new business relationship especially. Do you think it makes a difference? Should we remember to advise our clients the benefits of working together rather than telling them that when they get the bill?
December 28, 2009
Just when you thought Branding, T-shirts, Logo Integrity cannot be part of the same promotional product….take a look at this shirt that is laser etched to give a more professional look to even the least expensive wearable. Don’t have to spend a lot on the product, when vendors are offering cutting-edge decorating technology. This technique is offered by Vantage Apparel along with several other interesting methods of logo embellishments.
Most recently, they introduced a new laser decoration technique called Reserve Burn-out Applique’….a trendy option for fleece, t-shirts or denim. This reverse method gives a debossed impression which adds dimension to the logo.
Promotional products should always have a value no matter how little you budget or how much. Consideration given to imprint method as well as product, when given the proper guidance, you might just find that a $2.50 t-shirt could be quite an exciting give-away (not throw-away) when you discuss with your promotions expert imprinting methods such as Etched and Embroidered, Etched and Applique, Digital Photo Imaging, Heat Seal, Crystal Tansfers. How about YOUR company logo heat sealed on the inside of the product replacing the main label….tagless. Yeah! These unique imprinting methods can be more expensive than screen printing but the ROI makes it worth it. You can always get samples!
November 5, 2009
Businesses, even in this struggling economy, are still budgeting some monies for special client gifts as well as recognition rewards for their employees. When doing so, it is important to understand that a majority of advertising specialty vendors do not perform an exact count when processing orders. This can come as quite a surprise when you receive your order and invoice, especially if the vendor adds 5% – 10% additional promotional product when your budget didn’t allow for this. If you order 200 pens, 5% additional product is not a big deal but if you order 200 Digital Frames and the vendor adds 10% additional product that could be $400 – $500 additional on invoice.
You do have a choice. It is recommended that any time you are ordering a specific quantity of promotional product, you ask what is the vendor’s policy for “exact count”, is there a fee for exact count and/or can you accept an underrun only? Sometimes the fee is not that much and is worth it. Other vendors may not charge at all but the request has to be put on the order itself by your distributor.
My advice would be to check it out every time you order….. at least throughout 2010 so that you you can stay within the monies you set aside and fully understand how much product you should receive.
November 2, 2009
Changing behavior regarding how we in business, both large and small, increase sales, retain clients, attract potential clients and everything we have known in the past is not going to be easy for most. Social Media truly has been marketed well and has attracted “possible” consumers. Some Social Media Strategists are skilled at PROMOTING Social Media values and importance of integrating with Business Plan. Skilled promotion will change behavior with never once “selling”. Generous sharing of quality bearing information, providing varied tools to read, hear and see the value are extremely helpful to companies that do “get it” but need the strategists to assist with the HOW TO!!
Promotion assists the consumer in WHY they should do something different than what has always been done and has worked. Behavioral change can be most challenging and frustrating because you may realize you have the consumers’ attention but the “buy-in” is twice as difficult to achieve. Some are doing it right and @CragerInc http://www.CragerInc.com is a perfect example of expertise, value, quality and beyond tech savvy……a true Social Media Strategist (SMS). Recognizing skilled promotion was a natural for me since it is what I do. Realizing marketing by DM needed a SMS was a behavioral change that took courage. I am ready for 2010…..are you?
Recently, Amy Howell, Howell Marketing, did an excellent blog that I would like to share with you if you haven’t seen it. I think it will be extremely helpul…..http://ow.ly/yjWy. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
October 19, 2009
How do you decide what is the “best” choice of client gift for this holiday season? Is there really a best choice or should you individualize your gift? Clients will ask, “What is the hot item for this year?” One of the most asked questions is, “Should we put our logo on it?” Well, let’s discuss these challenging decisions. Advising clients on this decision-making process is not easy because there is a lot of emotion involved when you’re giving a “thank you for your business’ gift. So first we are going to take the emotion out of it and be logical…..we’ll slowly move to the center between emotion and logic.
In this economy careful consideration has to be given on who you are giving the gift to and does it look as though you spent too much. Imagine that!! You may have already decided to cut back on your budget and that is perfectly O.K. The thought REALLY does count. Spend the most time on deciding whether you want to get the same gift for all or different gifts for newer clients, long-term clients and/or potential clients. Set a budget and stick to it. Remember don’t confuse bigger with better because in the end, the most important thing is the quality of your relationship.
Back to the gift now…..the so-called “hot” item depends on the person receiving the gift. Bracelet flashdrives are really a popular item but you have to be sure if it is really going to be appreciated mainly because it is your hard earned dollar that may be wasted. So all that being said, regarding your higher-end clients, since you may decide to budget more dollars for these gifts, a choice may be to put your logo on it but choose something where your logo can go INSIDE. As an example anything leather that can be debossed inside such as a business card case (even if metal that can be etched inside), padfolio, books, document folders, etc. Executives do not want to carry someone elses logo which is too visible. On the inside is fine and it is your client that you want to continually see your logo anyway. Your newer clients and/or potential clients, a visible logoed item is perfectly appropriate. Probably something they use everday or see everyday would be best. However, don’t conform to the usual pen or mug unless it is so very different. Make sure when you are talking with anyone regarding purchasing promotional product, they are not just “selling” but giving great consideration to whom you are giving the gift and if it is going to be something that will show you had an “emotional” commitment when you chose this gift for them. Here is where the emotion comes in!! Your budget, the economy, ROI are all the logical decisions made first, now you are free to get emotionally involved and with the help of a professional in Advertising Specialties you can make a good decision.
October 13, 2009
A simple question like “What color it that?” is not as easy to answer as you might think…..at least in the Advertising Specialties business. For instance, if I said “celery, pistachio, serene, meadow, ming, peapod” to a golf event organizer who needs polos for attendees, the response might be “I just want light green polos!!”
Now I know all professions have their challenges, and I admit this is one of the “fun” challenges, but you can imagine the confusion. The blue shades are even more inclined to cause a blank stare….ice blue, Jamie blue, empire blue, metro blue, Carolina blue, California blue and I could go on but I am sure you get the picture. Men inparticular seem to be totally confused with Taupe or Stone but of course confusion is not limited to either gender. Ladies….I know you can picture the color Flamingo in your mind’s eye but here is the question….”Would you like a nice sweater set in Bitteroot?”
Every year as Promotional Product professionals we take special color courses (just kidding)…but maybe we should. Believe me, we will have new colors next year and I’m thinking we should come up with a name for one.
So that being said…..any suggestions you may have, I will be happy to convey to all the “color decision-makers”. Please comment and send me a Color Name with a brief description of the shade. Join in the fun that I have everyday.