Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Promo Products Tips - Define Your Brand

Here's the 2nd of my ongoing series of promotional product buying tips - which hopefully will make the buying process a little bit easier.  These should apply to any size business but can be particularly helpful if you either don't have a lot of experience buying promo items or if marketing is just part of your overall job responsibilities.  

One of the most important things to keep in mind when planning a project involving promotional items is knowing your own brand.  Understanding your brand - that set of values, symbols or ideas that identifies and differentiates your product / organization -  gives you the perfect starting point from which to launch any promotional project.

A promotional item that you hand out should be considered an extension of your brand and thus should reflect what that brand stands for.  If your company sells a luxury product, handing out say, a plastic pen probably, probably  isn’t going to work.  Whereas if you provide a great value product, focusing on something inexpensive, yet well made, might be a good way to go.

Facebook is certainly considered a hip, trend-setting company. You expect cool swag from them, not some generic stuff that everyone else hands out.  As an example I recently attended an event that they put on and among the items in the ‘swag bags’ that they handed out were EOS lip balm and a brand new phone charger.
Some companies, in fact many small businesses, may encounter difficulty defining their brand mainly because they haven’t given it a whole lot of thought given the challenges of operating a business on a day to day basis..  If that’s the case for your company, try writing down exactly what you consider your brand to be.

Every marketing piece an organization hands out should reflect its brand. Knowing exactly ‘who you are’ - i.e. understanding that brand - is often a great way to begin the task of coming up with great promotional items for any project.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Promotional Product Buying Tips

Here’s the first in a series of posts devoted to offering some tips to those of you who buy promotional items.  Doing this as long as I have, I’ve observed both the good and bad of this process from both sides.  Most of the time I’m the seller, but I also buy for my own marketing efforts.

Assuming you’re reading this from a buyer’s perspective, here’s the first of several tips that you may find helpful.

Tip #1- Answer the ‘Why’ - as in why the heck am I buying this stuff?  Often times people want to buy promo items for reasons like ‘it’s expected at that event’, or 'my boss asked me to take care of it' or even ‘everyone else is doing it’.

If one of the above (or similar reasons) applies, I think you need to take a little deeper plunge into the process.

Let’s use a trade show as the event in question. You’ve got a booth at the show and need some swag. Instead of looking ‘what’s 'hot’ or 'different' among products I would suggest you first answer the question ‘What is the primary objective for us at this show?’

To stand out among several competitors?
Introduce your company to the marketplace?
Showcase a new product?
Generate sales leads?
Show your support for the organization putting on the event?.
Be seen at the event while keeping costs to a minimum?
Generate a WOW?
Counter rumors that your company is in a weakened market position?

Or it could be an objective that I haven’t listed.

Promotional products can successfully solve all kinds of marketing challenges, but first you need to determine just which challenge (or challenges) it’s going to be. Defining exactly ‘why’ you’re exhibiting at the show helps narrow the amount of promo item choices considerably and gets you closer to finding the right items for the task.

However this is not the only step.  More to come in future posts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Communicating in 2016

On a typical day, my college student son will head out the door without saying a word,  He’s not big on pleasantries, especially early in the morning.  But then at some point during the day, my phone will beep with a text message from him.  And beep...and beep some more.  And often times, we’ll have a pretty in depth discussion on any number of topics.  

The type of conversation that I used to have with my dad at the dinner table or by telephone (remember them?) now takes place on a smartphone screen using voice to text.

Welcome to communication 2016.  Phone conversations are no no’s.  Texting, emailing, Facebook Messenger, and don’t forget Snapchat and Twitter.  These have all become the communication tool of choice for Gen Y (millennials).  And I fully realize that the further along we go, more and more of the clients I work with are going to fall into this age category.

As someone who can remember dial phones and a time when calling long distance meant a major expense, it would be very easy scoff at this development.  But I also didn’t grow up with the internet, smartphones and X Box Live.

Like it or not, the way that we all communicate is changing or maybe has already changed for good.  And staying relevant means adapting.  Don’t do social media?  How does it feel to be described as out of touch?  Because you are.

In sales they talk about making sure we’re accessible during our clients prime time - not our own.  Well the same point extends to how we communicate with clients.  It has to be through THEIR preferred medium, not ours.

Providing value for clients in part means being easy to contact and communicate with.  Time to study up on those Snapchat filters.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Is Your Business Being Disrupted? Here's a Way to Fight Back...

One of the key buzzwords in business right now is disruption.  And there’s no denying that technology is disrupting many industries from entertainment to transportation, to education, financial services and yes, even promotional products.

Using the insurance industry as just one example, Geico, Progressive and other insurers continue to grow market share with business models that allow customers to go online, click a few links and become a customer very quickly.

The traditional agent model is under pressure.  Customers have been ‘Amazoned’ into the mindset of using their phone or laptop to buy what they need online quickly and without delay.

Fewer and fewer people want to take the time to meet with an agent, do the needs analysis, wait for the agent to get back with a written proposal and then make a buying decision.

If you’re running into this scenario with your business more often than you’d like, keeping your name or brand in front of customers is your best response.  Out of sight / out of mind?  Expect your book of business to be disrupted.

This is where promotional products can really help. One their key strengths is their ability to keep a brand in front of customers in ways that range from obvious to clever.  Chosen correctly, those logo mugs, pens, calendars etc will work their magic and create numerous ad impressions long after you’ve left your clients home or office.

And don’t overlook the good will that promo items create.  People love giveaways, especially when they’re cool, fun or useful.  The key factor though, is that promo products can help your clients and prospects remember you as they make a buying decision.

Fight disruption by staying in front of your customers.  Promotional products will help you do just that!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Promotional Products Work Week 2016

A few years back the Promotional Products Association International decided to dedicate one week each year towards raising awareness of the effectiveness of promo products as an advertising medium.
It was a very wise move given some of the push back that the industry was getting from some  politicians and a few other loud voiced naysayers who saw promo products as nothing more than an expense - and in their minds, a needless one - that was helping drain public sector budgets of funds that could be better used elsewhere..
This came on the heels of a move by the pharmaceutical industry (equally as short sighted) aimed at curtailing the use of promo items for the exact opposite reason - that they were too effective when it came to influencing physicians on which medications to prescribe for their patients.  
Promotional Products Work Week - which runs from May 23 to 27 this year - is a nice response.  Consider that certain more mainstream forms of advertising have been in more or less steady decline ever since the rise of the internet, yet promotional product spending continues to increase annually.  It’s now a 21 billion dollar industry and is showing no signs of slowing down!
Why? Promotional products engage. They’re tangible (as opposed to abstract like a commercial). They stay in front of their intended audience. They create recall.  They create goodwill.  People want them (and get excited about receiving them) They commemorate and create memories. They reinforce what your brand is all about. And maybe the most overlooked feature - they compliment the other forms of marketing by increasing their effectiveness.  
And as we move forward, with the continued downward spiral of TV, radio and newspaper and the rise of mobile and social media, promotional products are poised for even more growth for the reasons that I just mentioned.
Promotional products work.  They’ve always worked.  And they will continue to work for a long, long time to come!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The BEST Marketing Real Estate Location

In my last blog post, I talked about the ability of promotional products to give your brand access to prime marketing real estate.  Now I’m going to talk about the most prestigious location of all, one where, if allowed in, your brand is pretty much assured to wind up top of mind by sheer osmosis if nothing else!

I’m referring to the smartphone, a device which is pretty much always attached to our hands these.  Think about it.  Anyplace you go people are looking down, focused on their phones, as they deliver an endless stream of information, communication and entertainment.
A few quick stats: 73% of Americans always have their mobile device with them. People pick up their phones between 150 to 200 times a day on average. 75% of adults are now accessing the web via mobile and among 16-24 year old's phone use averages over 3.25 hours a day!*

So what do you think it’s worth to be able to attach your brand to such a device - and I’m not referring to an app?  I mean the phone itself?
Promotional products can do that.  Items like the smartphone wallet, the Backstrap Phone Protector Case or a Cloth Screen Cleaner actually attach to the phone.  Phone cases, which can also be imprinted, protect a phone.  And full color phone decals can dress up the phone case.

All of these are readily available promotional products.

Regardless of which item it is, if you can somehow get your brand on someone’s phone, it’s on the best billboard imaginable!

*Source- 2016 Mobile Marketing Trends Every Marketer Needs by Heidi Cohen

Monday, May 9, 2016

Promotional Products & the High (Marketing) Rent District

I like to think of promotional products as keys that open the door to valuable real estate property. Now it wouldn’t surprise me if your initial reaction to that statement is “whoa….what’s he smoking today?”  But hear me out….

Promotional products are all about gaining people’s attention - specifically the intended audience for a marketing message.  What’s unique about promo items is that the recipient places the item somewhere - be it the desk, in the kitchen, in the car, on a wall etc.
Now think of those areas in terms of real estate.   In the places a promo item’s recipient spends his or her time, your brand or marketing message is gaining access to that ‘property’.  And that’s one benefit that makes promotional items unique. No other advertising medium can place your message into those hard to reach - but extremely valuable - places quite as effectively as promotional products.

Say you’re a freight forwarding company.  What’s it worth to have your brand on the desk of shipping managers every single work day?  Items that could accomplish that task include a desk blotter, note cube, note holder or letter opener among many others.

If you own a restaurant that does Take Out and can gain access to a customer’s refrigerator door, guess where they’ll be looking when they’re hungry?

Think about where you’d like to have your marketing message seen by the people you’re seeking to reach.  You’ve just taken a step beyond the so called ‘trinkets and trash’ mindset and you start to realize just how useful a carefully chosen promotional item can be!