Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cotton Prices Going Up

Interesting link forwarded by one of my suppliers last night via Twitter. Chinese cotton prices will be rising:

Here's the link

Not sure what that's going to mean for the shirts, jackets etc that we sell, but I'm going to ask around. On a side note...this is an example of why I love Twitter.....


Monday, December 28, 2009

Product Safety & Promotional Products - Again

Product Safety in the promotional products industry is once again in the news....and frankly this issue is not going away. If anything, it's going to become even bigger as we move forward and and issue that I, as a seller of promotional product advertising, needs to consider every single day and with every single order that I process.

The latest case was made public on December 22 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 19,000 promotional knives were voluntarily recalled by distributor 5.11 Tactical because a number of them failed to lock in their 'open' position. The CPSC investigation is ongoing, and there has been, to date, one reported incident of an end user of the knife suffering an injury (a minor one) due to the issue. The knives were manufactured by a supplier in China, and the recall was voluntary.
When I heard about this, a couple of thoughts immediately came to mind. First, it's a real good thing that both the supplier and distributor of the knives stood behind the products they sold. In this industry, that's not always going to be the case. Ours is a very competitive business -- and often in the quest to win business, distributor companies will take risks -- for example, they'll be willing to roll the dice with a foreign manufacturer they haven't worked with before in order to be able to sell the product at a price a few cents below a competitor. Another thought is that not all overseas manufacturers have the commitment to product safety and quality that's expected here in the United States. With some of these entities, caveat emptor most definitely applies.

In some instances, when a problem like this occurs, the supplier won't always stand behind the products they sold. Maybe there's little or no prior relationship between the distributor and manufacturer. Maybe the manufacturer required a deposit of half down with the balance due before the order shipped -- or maybe even to be paid completely up front -- trust me this happens. Suppliers have been known to walk away from situations like this leaving the distributor holding the bag and on the hook big time in terms of liability. Smaller companies without the financial resources of say, a Geiger, are one situation like this away from being put out of business.

This is where the relationships between manufacturers and distributors are key. We at Geiger insist that our core suppliers (we call them our Gold and Silver level Production Partners) provide complete documentation on safety compliance for the products they sell. That's one little bit of peace of mind you're going to get when dealing with us that you won't necessarily receive from most other distributors in our industry.

And this is just the latest incidence. Are you familiar with Proposition 65? If any promotional products you're buying are going to be handed out in California, you had better be. And if promo items you're handing out are going to be primarily targeted at kids ages 12 and under, the guidelines for lead content in those items recently got tougher.

These are all examples of what's going on with the current regulatory climate both in Washington and at the state level. And its affecting the promotional products industry big time.

Know however, that Geiger is committed to ensuring that the products we recommend and that you purchase from us either will be fully compliant with the tighter product safety regulations that now exist - or if they're not, we're going to tell you that up front. We are continually working with our production partners in this area and its one of the value added benefits that we provide our clients.

My pledge for 2010 is to continue to monitor this issue so that should a situation with one of you arise where we need to consider safety and liability issues, Geiger and I will be able to steer you in the right direction.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on the Erosion of Brand Tiger

Just this morning I noticed this article from Adweek on this subject.

Check it out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Demise of Brand Tiger

Plenty has been written and said about Tiger Woods and his current challenges, but the one thing that I've been curious about throughout is whether his sponsors will stay with him.

Certainly there has been no better pitchman in sports or maybe in general since Michael Jordan retired from basketball. Tiger was identified by Corporate America while still a child and as he grew into adulthood, his name quickly equalled dollar signs for the likes of Nike, Titleist, Gillette, Electronic Arts, General Mills and Buick among many others.

The list of companies doing business with Tiger practically reads like a 'Who's Who' of corporate America. We at Geiger are even in on this act -- though in a very small way. Sanmar, our top wearables supplier, contracts with Tiger via Nike. We can sell you 'Tiger Woods' brand golf apparel because of that relationship -- not that I'll be recommending those items to any of you anytime soon.

Brand Tiger is in a heap of trouble and this past weekend one of those major sponsors, the global consulting firm, Accenture, officially cut ties with him. I would imagine that more may be following suit.

What I find really interesting is that Woods has not 'come clean' so to speak, in the manner that David Letterman did immediately following his recent transgression. Given that Tiger has world class handlers, it leads me to speculate that possibly there's too much there to come clean about. And if that's the case, then how long can these corporations afford to have their brands associated with him?

If I had to guess, the two companies likely stick with Tiger the longest will be Nike and Acushnet, the makers of Titleist golf balls. Nike because of what they have invested in him and because they've dealt with pro athletes for decades. Their brand may also be a bit more resistant to the bad stuff associated with an athlete's off the field activities. And Acushnet only because Tiger IS golf, and is arguably the greatest golfer of all time -- it's either Woods, Nicklaus, Hogan or Bobby Jones -- and personally I think it's Tiger.

But there are limits to the resiliency of any brand and I'm wondering whether this thing will eventually pass the point of no return for even those two companies.

It's fascinating, but not in a good way. The demise of Brand Tiger is very much in play and that's something I would never have thought possible.

Just think of what it took to create that brand....all the work Tiger put in to become the greatest golfer of his era, the incredible, off the charts performances that helped create the Tiger legend, the time and money that these major corporations all devoted to make Tiger's brand what had been up till mid November of this year. All of that could be flushed down the drain because of Tiger's alleged problems.

I guess it's proof that no brand is indestructible. And the marketing lesson that I take from all this is that a brand - any brand - has a certain degree of fragility, and needs to be fiercely protected at all times.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Brand Building

When people ask me what Geiger is all about, my response is 'we specialize in brand building via promotional products'. And a reply that I sometimes get a back is 'What do you mean by branding building?' It's a good question. So I'll answer it.

Definition of a brand- The emotional bond created between an individual and a company, product or service. It is created through the delivery of consistent messaging and actions around an easily identifiable consumer promise.

Or in the practical application:

I believe that Volvo builds safe cars.
I believe that when I'm playing with a Titleist golf ball, I'm using the best golf ball on the market.
I believe that Nike enhances my athletic achievement.

Volvo, Acushnet (makers of Titleist) and Nike all understand that every contact with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to build their brand. Accordingly, every time you interact with their brand - for example when you see a polo shirt embroidered with their logo -you will find that that the companies key brand messages are reinforced again and again. Example- you'll never see a screen printed Titleist logo on a cheap polo shirt.

If your company brand is something that has real value, think long and hard about how it appears in the market place. Not everyone in an organization is programmed to think in marketing terms. Yet it's everyone's responsibility to protect the brand.

If you're ordering anything that features the company logo -- whether is business cards or $100 jackets -- don't overlook basic stuff like the correct PMS colors or the correct type font for logotype. You could be wasting precious marketing dollars that have already been spent to develop what your company's brand defines in the minds of your customers.

Promotional products are a key branding tool and we at Geiger have the expertise to help you build, protect and/or enhance your brand.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Calendar Inventories Dwindling

Looks like the calendar suppliers are having a better year than anticipated. Have been running into inventory problems with certain styles already selling out -- and others with very low remaining inventory.

One solution comes from Norwood, the industry's largest calendar manufacturer. They've got guaranteed inventory on 90 different styles from now through the end of the year. This encompasses the full range of calendars out there -- appointment, commercial, desk - you name it. And they also have 7 day production on all 90 of those.

Also By Geiger, our own in house dated product manufacturing operation is still running 8-10 working days on most items -- plus it's only one day transit to any New England state.

If you need calendars, we can still get them. Just contact me at sboyages@promoresource.com and I'm happy to walk you through the process.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Hand Sanitizer Market Exploding

I know I've written about this before....but I had to post this.... All you need to do for a great promotional product idea is look in the newspaper... This was in this morning's Boston Globe:

Flu and fears create one feverish market
Duo’s all-natural product the latest big splash among hand sanitizers

If you’re looking to launch a business, here are two words any budding entrepreneur should know: hand sanitizer. In the age of swine flu, the market for this germ-killing goo is white hot. Sales skyrocketed more than 70 percent in the six months ending Oct. 3, compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Nielsen Co........

Read the Full Article

By the way, we have all-natural hand sanitizer available through one of our top suppliers....If you'd like me to send you a sample, just let me know.


ASI Power 50 -- Part 2

Each year, the Advertising Specialty Institute, the major media & marketing organization serving the promotional products industry, releases its Power 50. It's a list of who it considers to be the 50 most powerful people in our business. And as I noted last week, once again for 2009, the combination of Geiger's CEO, Gene Geiger and our Executive VP, Jo-anLantz, is ranked #5 on that list.

As ASI describes it, the Power 50 all have significant influence on our industry. They are listened to, followed and respected to the point that many of their industry colleagues emulate their strategies and business beliefs.

If you're a regular reader of Counselor Magazine - the major monthly 'What's Happenin' periodical for the promo products industry, chances are you've seen Gene and Jo-an quoted regularly. Part of that is due to Geiger's prominence -- we're the only company that's remained in the industry's Top 10 largest distributor firms for each of the past 30 years. But more than that, both of them are leaders who have guided Geiger through quite a bit in the 19 years that I've been with them.

Over that time we've experienced the technology revolution, major booms and busts in the US economy, the soaring influence of China and lots more. And Geiger has emerged from all of this stronger than ever. Our sales volume has grown consistently, we've become an industry leader in Company Store programs, have made several acquisitions and have become a company that's poised for continued future growth.

The folks at ASI have certainly taken note, as has the rest of our industry, so Gene and Jo-an remain ensconced at #5, even as the names and rankings of others on the list have fluctuated.

For me personally, it reinforces something I've always felt and that is that I'm affiliated with the BEST business partner in our industry. We have a marketing slogan that says 'Geiger Gets It' and they really do. Gene and Jo-an communicate with our sales force regularly and keeping us up to date on the key issues impacting our industry as well as insights on where they think we're headed and what to be on guard for. A lot of the topics that I write about on this blog result from information that I've obtained from them.

Speaking for just myself personally, I've understood Geiger's prominence within our industry for a very long time. But every so often its nice to be reminded about what they're all about. And once again the folks atASI have done that with the release of their Power 50. Congrats to both Gene and Jo-an.


Friday, November 6, 2009

The 50 Most Powerful People in Promotional Products

The Advertising Specialty Institute this week unveiled its annual list of the 50 most powerful people in the promotional products industry and Geiger is once again prominently featured on that list. The combination of our CEO Gene Geiger and Executive VP Jo-An Lantz together are ranked 5th -- same as a year ago.

This says plenty about Geiger's standing in our industry and reinforces my feeling that I play for the right team. I'll have more on this next week.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Geiger Advantage Part 3 --Exclusive Client Shows

One of the added value benefits that we at Geiger deliver to our clients is our exclusive annual client shows.

In the Greater Boston area, our recent Geiger Expo took place October 20 at the Sheraton Dedham/Boston. The event was a great success. Over 200 Geiger clients attended and they got to see literally hundreds of promotional product ideas. The Expo features our top production partners and because we hold it in the fall, it always features lots of great ideas for end of year holiday gifts.

The Sheraton was a new venue for us, and the feedback from clients and production partners alike was that we picked the right place.

Traffic was steady throughout the half day show, many stayed for lunch and all in all it was time well spent for all involved.

If you couldn't make it, I hope that you can get to next year's event. And if you're not located in the Boston area, Geiger puts on similar shows at various locations around the country throughout the year. Contact me for details on the one in your area.

Thanks to all who were able to get there this year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Power of Promotional Products II

Want more proof of the power of promotional products? Last football season, the Tennessee Titans were one of the top teams in the NFL. In the 2nd to last game of the regular season, the Titans beat their arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers handily to run their record to 13-2 and clinch the best record in their conference.

Several Titan players celebrated by unceremoniously stomping on a couple of the Steelers' famed 'Terrible Towels'.

Recently I posted about the Minnesota Twins Homer Hankie. The Terrible Towel actually predates the Hankie. It was the symbol of the Steelers' Steel Curtain Dynasty of the 1970's -- and like the Hankie, is still going strong even today. In fact the Towel is as synonymous with the Steelers as Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw and the black and gold uniforms.

Needless to say the proud Steeler fans weren't too pleased with that little stunt.

Well, what do you think has happened since?

The Steelers recovered, and tapping in to the karma of a now sufficiently motivated Terrible Towel came together as a team and went on to win the Super Bowl. As for the Titans....they haven't won a game since!

Tennessee lost their last regular season game, got upset in their only playoff game and have started the current football season 0-6, with the exclamation point being their recent 59-0 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots.

Yet another illustration of the unique power of promotional products!


Monday, October 19, 2009

A Few Tips on Calendar Advertising....

Following up on my last post, here are some ways you can maximize the promotional value that you receive from calendar advertising:

1. Distribution is Key

This is the one aspect of calendar advertising that most often gets overlooked and unfortunately it's the most important. Those calendars you bought won't do you any good if they don't leave the box. In fact, you shouldn't even commit to a calendar advertising program unless you've determined what kind of distribution plan will go along with it.

Will you mail them? Deliver them in person? Send them out with your drivers? Have people pick them up in your store? Some savvy marketers will go so far as to hang the calender in their client's office themselves (with their client's permission of course). What better way to guarantee proper placement of your ad?

2. Who's going to receive them?

Clients...prospects....high traffic places like your local convenience store or the post office? Think about where you're going to get the most eyeballs of people who will spend money with you or the most eyeballs in general if that's more appropriate.

3. Think about WHERE you want people to see your message.

This certainly ties into calendar selection. Where do your clients or prospective clients make their buying decisions? In the kitchen? If so consider a food themed appointment calendar. At their desk? Commercial or Year at A Glance calendars are prefect for this purpose, as is the much smaller desk calendar.

4. Remember it's not necessarily about which calendar YOU like......

It's which calendar best appeals to your target audience -- and most importantly which one is most likely to get hung on a wall. You may hate muscle cars and like Norman Rockwell, but if your client base is mechanics, which calendar is more likely to actually get used?

5. Think about the message you're sending about your company.

If you're a Mercedes dealer, chances are your customer base isn't going to be too eager to hang up your $1.30 wall calendar. By the same token if your plumbing company serves a working class area and you're handing out $10 calendars personalized with your customers names, some customers may decide that you'd be better served giving out a less expensive calendar and lowering your prices.

6. Don't order them too late in the year.

Ideally you want to get the calendars in your clients hands at some point in December, so don't wait until mid November to order them. As we move into November, production backs up and inventories of the more popular calendars can disappear. Remembering that distribution is key, handing out calendars in January is generally too late. So get them ordered early enough in the fall to allow plenty of time for proper distribution.

These are just some of the concepts that will help maximize the effectiveness of a calendar program. If you'd like to discuss these a little more in depth, just drop me an email at sboyages@promoresource.com.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Value of Calendar Advertising

Calendars are one of the most cost effective - and underrated - advertising vehicles out there. To touch on the old 'we practice what we preach' theme for a moment, I have used calendars for each of the 19 years that I've been in business, and if I were forced to only choose one promotional item to market my own business, I would pick calendars.

They are the oldest promotional product in our industry and with good reason - calendars are the way we mark time -- both its passage and to see what lies ahead. They're standard equipment in any office and necessary in all homes.

Some think that technology has rendered them obsolete. To that I say - nonsense! If you're in business, try operating without a wall calendar. You need to be able to see the current month, the next one and the previous one...which is the basic information that your typical Commercial Calendar (see above) provides. At home it's the same thing, only for aesthetic purposes and due to the generally limited wall space available, the smaller Appointment Calendar is usually the product of choice.

And if you want to promote your business, there is no more cost effective way to do it than to place your company's name on an advertising calendar.

Think about it. Statistics show that the average person working in an office looks at a calendar 12 times a day. Multiply that by 5 business days a week and then by 50 weeks a year. That's 3000 ad impressions a year!

What would it be worth to have your company's sales message viewed by a client or prospect 3000 times over the course of a year?

In the home, maybe that 12 times a day figure drops to 5 or 6, but also figure 7 days a week and all 365 days of the year. What's that type of ad space worth to you? The answer is a whole lot more than the nominal cost of purchasing the calendars.

But here are a couple of other numbers to consider: Statistics by the Calendar Marketing Association show that 83% of customers purchase products or services from the company that gave them their calendar. And 94% of calendar recipients can recall the advertising message on their calendar.

Finally, think of the waste involved with newspaper, magazine or direct mail advertising. You're paying for lots of impressions that lots of non-customers and prospects will see. Calendars allow you to control distribution and thus cost -- the only people getting them are people who you want to get them.

A calendar marketing program offers great value to any business, especially those with limited advertising dollars. The reason being that they provide lots of ad impressions each day at a very nominal price.

Of course, there are also some tricks for maximizing the value of the dollars you allocate to such a program. I'll cover those in my next post. Until then however if I can answer any questions about calendar advertising, please contact me at sboyages@promoresource.com.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Power of Promotional Products

More proof of the power of promotional products.....one of the most famous promo items in recent history, the Minnesota Twins Homer Hankie....which became famous during the Twins march to the World Series title in 1987....has made a reappearance.

It's being credited with the karma that's resulted in the Twins improbable 16-4 late season run that enabled them to tie the Detroit Tigers for first place in American League Central Division. The two teams will settle things Tuesday in a winner take all one game playoff in Minnesota's Metrodome with 50,000 Hankie wielding Twins fans trying to will their team to victory.

Can the Twins pull it off? With the Homer Hankies involved, why wouldn't they?


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Credit Crunch Impacting our Industry

Here's a little industry scuttlebutt I picked up this week while visiting with some decision makers on the supplier side of the promotional products industry. As we move toward the last quarter of 2009, we're now seeing the after effects of the credit crunch that has crippled so many companies over the course of this year. Suppliers have seen their credit lines reduced -- in some cases dramatically -- and where this affects us right now is with product inventory.

As America finally emerges from this awful recession, business is (finally) starting to pick up and products are now starting to sell out. A lot of these mugs, pens, hats etc have been sitting in supplier warehouses since last fall and because nothing had been moving, the suppliers stopped buying.

These products are finally selling, but now that credit has dried up, suppliers are finding their financial resources reduced and it's forcing them to make some hard decisions about which products they're going to restock -- at least for the short term. So this means some products which are now out of stock -- aren't going to be replaced anytime soon.

Over the past few days, I've been calling around to try to obtain the best pricing that I can for my clients on certain items, and what I've been hearing is certain colors - or in some cases all colors of some products - are out of stock with no replacement inventory due in at least until the end of the year. And based on what I've heard, expect this situation to continue for some time.

What does this all mean?

For me, it means I'm not placing an order until I check inventory levels first to make sure there's enough available to fill it. And if you're a buyer of promotional products, whether you work with me or someone else, get a confirmation that stock is available before committing to a project -- especially one with a deadline. Or at least have a plan B in mind if your top choice falls through.

Like the economy in general, this situation will correct itself over the long term. But from now through the end of 2009 be advised that stock on many items may well become an issue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raymond Geiger School Dedicated

Congratulations got out to the Geiger family for the recent dedication of the brand new Raymond A. Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston, ME. Ray Geiger, a legendary figure in the promotional product industry was the Grand Poobah of Geiger (then called Geiger Brothers) for 60 years. In addition to serving as editor of the Farmer's Almanac for all of that period, Ray moved the company from its original New Jersey location to Lewiston in 1955. He passed away in 1994.

Ray was a huge supporter of public education in his community and his company has continued that legacy with son Peter leading the way. However many Geiger Associates have donated their free time in support of this cause over the years and those efforts were duly noted at the dedication ceremony which took place September 9.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some Cool Trade Show Giveaways

These come courtesy of MSNBC. A recent edition of the network's Your Business with host J.J. Ramberg covered the topic of unique Trade Show hand outs. The guest was Rich Fairfield, VP and Publisher of ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute), the largest media and marketing organization serving the promotional products industry.

Obviously lots of factors need to be considered in assessing whether any promotional product will be the right fit - things like target audience, intended message, budget etc. - but there are some pretty cool items shown in this clip which may give you an idea or two for your next event.

If you would like additional information on any of the items shown, just drop me an email at sboyages@promoresource.com. Geiger, incidentally, is ASI's biggest customer.


More Farmers' Almanac Links

The Almanac has received some terrific exposure on a number of media outlets in recent days - including CBS Late Night TV.

Here's a sampling:

Craig Ferguson 2 (starts at about the 2:50 mark)

Craig Ferguson 2

WPRI TV Providence, RI

WBZ Radio, Boston, MA

Peter Geiger on New England Cable News (NECN), Boston, MA

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2010 Farmers' Almanac Unveiled

The 2010 Farmer's Almanac is out and the prediction for New England is average to normal temperatures -- that's the good news. But it's also calling for plenty of snow -- the bad (or good) news...depending on your point of view. The Midwest, meanwhile is going to get walloped.

Geiger, in addition to being one of the largest promotional product companies in the country, is also the publisher of the world famous Farmer's Almanac - the oldest continually published Almanac in the United States. It's been out every year since 1818, has been in the Geiger family since the mid 1930's, and the latest edition of America's most beloved publication was officially rolled out to the general public this week.

Peter Geiger, Philom, is the editor of the Almanac and over the next few days he, along with Managing Editor Sandi Duncan, will make the rounds to various media outlets, including network TV, to promote this year's edition.

Why am I mentioning this? Because the Almanac, in addition to being fun to read, is a great promotional item. People enjoy getting it. It tends to hang around because of both the forecasts and the great information inside. You get the front cover and the entire back cover for your ad - a ton of space -- and associating with the Farmers' Almanac ties your organization's name to a time tested brand with a national reputation for reliability and traditional values. It's also a great 'green' product because it focuses on sustainable living.

The retail version of the Almanac is available in places like Barnes & Noble and Walgreen's. And the promotional product version (basically the same thing but your ad is the only one in it) is available only through your organization.

The Almanac's annual publicity campaign promotes the Almanac itself, but it's also done to help our clients who use it promote their businesses.

If you would like a sample of the Farmers' Almanac or more information about how it can help your branding efforts, please contact me at sboyages@promoresource.com. If you have a few minutes, check out the links below.

Boston Herald Story

Video on the History of the Farmers' Almanac


AOL Story


Monday, August 24, 2009

Child Product Safety Part 2 - Case History

The new Child Safety guidelines that I detailed in my previous post went into effect August 14 and last week we at Geiger experienced our first case history. One of our reps in California has a client who runs a program where they hand out promotional items for children. One could easily conclude that the primary target audience was kids under age 13.

They had already committed to ordering imprinted kites and in fact had placed the order prior to the 14
th. When our representative became aware of the new guidelines (thanks to the recent heads up Geiger management sent our way), she checked with the supplier and found that they could not produce documentation verifying the safety of the product.

So she did some research and came up with this item as a suggested replacement: Click Here .

Notice the CSPC certificate link in the lower right hand corner? There's the supplier guarantee that these kites meet the newest CPSIA guidelines and are safe to hand out to children 12 and under.

The client went along with our rep's recommendation that they switch products, and all ended well. The original supplier understood the situation and agreed not to assess an order cancellation charge (and I assume is now in the process of getting their kite and similar products tested).

But I mention this as just an example of how we at Geiger are trying to stay on top of this and all other current issues affecting the promotional products industry and of course you as our clients.

It's part of what the slogan 'Geiger Gets It' is all about, and part of the added value you receive when you place your business with us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Children's Product Safety Regulations Take Effect

This one has kind of flown under the radar, but some new safety regulations aimed at products for children ages 12 and under took effect this past Friday. While these were adopted to focus upon children's toys sold at retail, they also apply to promotional products aimed primarily at this same age group.

Labeling. As of August 14, the government has begun enforcing specific measures improve product safety as required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). Manufacturers now must include permanent tracking labels (no stickers allowed) on children’s products and their packaging so that the manufacturer, production date, and lot can be determined. Specifically, this applies to items primarily aimed at children 12 and under, toys, and child care articles.

Allowable Lead and Phthalate Content. Coming into effect on the same date were new lower limits for allowable lead content – 300 parts per million in substrate, 90 ppm in paint – in products for children, toys, and child care articles. These limits apply to new production, as well as products already in inventory. There are also limits on phthalates (a chemical used to make in plastics more pliable) and a myriad of other things that must be complied with.

We’ll Make Sure You’re Covered

We’ll Recommend The Right Products, And Give You Documentation. If you're using promotional products that are aimed at the children 12 and under age group, we’ll make sure the products you use are fully in compliance. Geiger and our core production partners are on top of these new regs and are taking them very seriously. Work with us on your promotional aims, and we will recommend products that have been tested to meet these requirements. We will also provide the testing documentation to back up our assurances, if you wish.

One Less Thing To Worry About. These regulations have come about, in part, because of a flood of stories about unsafe and unhealthy toys and children’s products. Indeed, we both want to be sure the products that carry your message are nothing but fun and memorable. Please know we are actively staying on top of the latest product safety regulations. Work with us, and this is one thing you won’t have to worry about.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Cool Stuff from Galleria

Here are a few more interesting items that I found at Geiger Galleria.

Dual Color Liquid Timer

I brought one of these back with me and it occupies a prominent place on my desk. If you're on the phone, you can't help but turn this item over and over. Two different color beads cascade down from top to bottom and it takes about
2 minutes to complete the cycle.
I think this is a TERRIFIC desk item. $5.00

3M Countour Series Tape Flag Pen
The 3M Flag Pen has been one of the top selling items in the promotional products industry over the past few years. This version of the item adds ergonomic styling and a comfort grip. It's available in pen, marker and highlighter versions and can be imprinted with up to 4 colors. I think this one is going to a huge seller in its own right. $3.40

Six Color Crayon Wheel -

This item won an award when it was recently introduced to our industry. Functions just like a traditional crayon except that it has a six colors and is both easy to grip and fun to use. Great for little hands plus it has a very generous imprint area. Also available with a yellow casing. $1.94

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cool Stuff From Galleria

Here are some interesting products that I found at our recent Geiger Galleria trade show. The show itself featured tables from over 200 promotional products suppliers -- pretty impressive to realize that they were all there just for us. Usually you can only find this large a collection of suppliers at the regional trade shows which are open to (and supported by) all industry companies.

That aside, the nice thing about midyear shows is you often see a fair amount of new products and this one was no exception. These items caught my attention:

Vacation Road Trip Mini Activity Book

Great gift item for families taking a long car ride. Pre-printed with Tic Tac Toe and Lines & Dots - 50 sheets worth. $1.99

Car Vent Stick

Fits in air vent of your vehicle as a non-obtrusive Air Freshener. Odor eliminating technology helps neutralize odors while the air freshener releases a pleasantly refreshing scent. $1.99

Medicine Bottle Opener
A great item for seniors. Provides improved leverage to open most medicine bottles. Just push down and twist. No squeezing necessary. $1.72

Samples of any of these items are available upon request. Just email me at sboyages@promoresource.com.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back from the Geiger Galleria

What's a Geiger Galleria? It's Geiger's annual education conference for its Sales and Production Partners. It's a four day event, held this year in Phoenix, Arizona.

You don't have much, if any downtime, because the time there is crammed full of presentations, educational seminars, networking, socializing and a massive Trade Show. The time spent there was incredibly worthwhile, both from a practical and motivational standpoint. I picked up a TON of new ideas which I know will help my clients get better returns from their promotional product dollars spent with Geiger and myself.

One terrific presentation that I attended was a talk by Author and Speaker, Tony Rubleski on the subject of Mind Capture, which is the process of rising above the clutter of all the marketing messages that are thrown at us daily. In other words, to reach out and capture the minds of our intended targets -- the prospective and existing customers that we're all trying to reach.

Tony's presentation resonated with me because his concept of Mind Capture, to me is what promotional products are all about. Our everyday useful items like pens and magnets have the ability to carry a sales message into places that most other forms of media have a lot of trouble reaching...like your kitchen or office for example. If there ever was a tool made for Mind Capture, it's promotional products....which is probably why the Geiger folks booked Tony to begin with...but I have to say it was a great call. This guy is good.

My immediate goal is to take some of Tony's ideas and utilize them to help you use promotional products more effectively. Stay tuned......

More on the Galleria in my next post....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Promotional Products Banned in MA

On July 8, a Massachusetts law took effect that bans pharmaceutical companies and medical-device makers from giving doctors gifts such as vacation trips and tickets to concerts and sporting events. A similar law is taking effect in Vermont and several variations of this legislation are being considered in other states across the US.

The reason is our lawmakers believe that doctors are being unduly influenced to prescribe certain drugs to their patients based not on what's best for them, but what delivers better perks for the doctor's own benefit. Now one can certainly argue the merits of this one. Personally I would hope my doctor, who I very much like and respect, wouldn't stoop to being 'on the take' and prescribe something I don't need because he's eyeing box seats at next week's Sox/Blue Jays game.

But what's interesting about this -- and impacts me directly and you, the reader, in a way that I'm about to explain -- is that this ban also includes promotional products. This means the next time you visit your doctor, you won't be seeing anymore of those pens, post it notes, or pads of paper touting Ritalin or the latest high blood pressure medication lying around the office.

Let's ignore for a moment the fact that this ban will very likely result in job losses for a promotional products industry that like every other industry in this country is struggling with the worst recession of our lifetime. In fact the dollar estimate for projected losses due to this and similar legislation in other states could run as high as $1 billion this year according to one industry source. This is something that the powers that be in our industry are now dealing with.

But lets instead focus on the what this says about the medium of promotional products and what this means to you as a user of this medium.

It's proof that they work

And all too well, in the opinion of a group of people that's one of our industry's biggest customers -- politicians. Yes, those state reps and senators, most of whom are veteran pols who have come up through the ranks, winning elections at various levels of government to reach their current positions, realize that those imprinted buttons, sponges, bumper stickers and yes, pens that they handed out at 4th of July parades and and Town Days work their magic.... and do it so well that they're afraid that our doctors are going to be influenced to prescribe certain drugs over others to their patients -- the drugs who's brand names have achieved top of mind awareness in the doctor's heads.

Talk about a ringing endorsement.....our pols know all too well that promotional products are an extremely cost effective way to market products and services. They know that they can be easily targeted with little waste, are very functional, and deliver terrific value in terms of cost per impression -- in fact they're so effective that they'll unfairly taint your doctor's judgment to the point where he or she may well be tempted compromise their professional ethics.

Just imagine what they'll do for your organization's sales message....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Geiger Advantage - Part 2

On Geiger's website at www.geiger.com, there is a list of Core Geiger Values. Trust me, none of it is BS. Having been a part of this organization for close to 20 years, I can tell you emphatically that Geiger management actively promotes these core values daily in dealings with both Associates (i.e. employees) at the home office in Maine and with its Independent Sales Partners like myself throughout the country.

The first 3 Values are as follows:

1. Quality Customer Service is our goal and our commitment.

2. We focus on solutions.

3. Continuous improvement leads to lasting success.

Here's my take on these one by one:

1. Quality Customer Service -Let's face it, we fully understand that you can buy a Bic pen from any name on those business cards you have piled up in your desk drawer. But how many of the companies named on those cards receive real time order updating from Bic? How many companies will email you the tracking number (a la Amazon.com) when your order ships? If you're working late at night and have a question about the order, you can email me the question and very likely receive an immediate answer as I usually work nights -- one of the reasons I can't tell you much about Jon & Kate or who deserved to win American Idol this year.

Our competitive advantage is our commitment to Customer Service as we operate with the mindset that we're only as good as our client's last buying experience with us.

2. Focusing on Solutions- Company A sells financial services to well heeled clients and the office manager is asked to buy some pens to hand out at some upcoming seminars aimed at finding new clients. She wants to get the task off her To Do list as quickly as possible and emails me an order for 500 Bic Round Stics. Now the Round Stic is a great pen for the price -- quality product, best imprinting capability in the industry from the most reliable supplier in our industry. But you know what? A $.32 cent pen may send the wrong marketing message to a client with a half a million dollars to invest.

We'll run that thought by you before placing the order and ask whether you want to re-think the situation. We focus on the solution first and foremost because we want a long term relationship with you...not a quick pen order.

3. Continuous improvement- Geiger realizes that stagnancy is a sign of an organization that has taken its eye off the ball. We are constantly looking to improve the way we do things whether it's streamlining our order entry process, integrating video into our efforts to update clients on the hottest new products or consistently attending industry education courses in an effort to better serve you.

When you work with Geiger and me, be assured that we adhere to the concept of striving to improve on a daily basis. We're never going to be perfect, but we are always committed to doing the best possible job of delivering value to our clients.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Promotional Products and the New Media

While I sometimes shudder at the thought that it has been 20+ years since I graduated college as a communications major, the extent to which the media world has changed just amazes me. When I ventured into the real world in the mid 80's, ABC, NBC and CBS ruled the roost, newspapers were still in their heyday and no one had ever heard of the internet.

It's a different world today....and nothing hammers that point home more profoundly than Twitter's impact on the events in Iran these past several days. And a few months ago who knew what a Twitter was?

Someone asked me recently for my opinion on what's next in terms of the how we mass communicate.

Good question...and one I certainly can't answer. But looking at the question from a business standpoint, the one thing that remains as certain now as it was back in the mid 80's is the need for businesses to communicate their sales message to clients and prospective clients.

But, just what the best mediums will be for delivering that message, say one, five or ten years from now, is to me uncertain. Certainly social networking is big right now, but remember My Space? Two years ago it was the place to be. A few days ago they laid off 30% of their workforce with more cuts reportedly coming.

Facebook kind of superseded My Space around the start of 2009, but over the last couple of months, Twitter has exploded on the scene. And given it's key role in delivering news about the chaos in Iran, it doesn't look like Twitter's momentum is going to slow anytime soon. But six months or a year from now, who knows?

Look at what else has been going on in the media world. The days of the newspaper (key phrase being 'paper') getting delivered to your front door...and in fact the days of several big city Daily papers like the Boston Globe... may well be numbered. Direct mail coupons? The US Postal Service is losing money hand over fist and its future could be very cloudy. Radio, the original word of mouth advertising medium, may not exist in its current form for a whole lot longer. (Ever hear of Pandora or Slacker?) And the broadcast networks like ABC/NBC etc are nowhere near as popular as they used to be and who knows what the future will bring for them.

My point is that with this sea of change going on in the way we communicate with each other, there is one medium that remains as strong and reliable as ever and that's Promotional Products.

Tangible, functional, and easily used to target a message at a specific, defined audience, the one thing that remains certain is that promotional products continue to be a valuable part of any marketing mix.

I don't see us weaning off the pen, coffee mug or T-Shirt anytime soon. However, I also don't think we can say for certain which other forms of media will comprise that right mix for businesses over the long and even short term. 20+ years ago, the end of the newspaper as we've known it since colonial times was not on anyone's radar the way it is right now.

But regardless of the which media win out or maybe emerge in coming years, one thing I think we can safely say is that every day useful items that carry a marketing message will definitely NOT go out of style.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Swine Flu & Marketing

News Item:
On June 11, the World Health Organization officially declared that the H1N1 Virus or Swine Flu has officially reached Pandemic status.

The last time a flu pandemic was declared was in 1968 when the so called Hong Kong Flu killed over 1 million people. And it brings to mind thoughts of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which is believed to have infected 1/3 of the world's population and killed over 50 million people. That's the frightening aspect of this story.

However, the better news is that so far, most cases of Swine Flu have been relatively mild and the mortality rate has been a lot lower than the typical seasonal flu's which strike every year. Some have accused the media and the World Health Organization of overreacting. And whether they have or not is certainly up to individuals to decide. However, one thing that seems pretty certain is that the so called Swine Flu isn't disappearing from press coverage anytime soon.

It's on everyone's mind, and for that reason it presents a marketing opportunity...and here's why:

One of the best ways to prevent spread of the Swine or any other flu virus is hand washing...and over the past few years, antibacterial hand gel has become universally accepted as a more effective method of cleansing hands than soap and water. It's something that health care workers have known about for a long time, but now the general public has embraced this as well.

In the Promotional Products industry, hand gel has become a top selling product. It's available in bottles of varying sizes, on a 'leash' that attaches to a zipper or lanyard, and on a carabiner, which attaches to just about anything. Given the popularity and universal acceptance of hand gel, any organization looking to promote itself may be overlooking a terrific marketing vehicle if it doesn't consider utilizing this product.

The value of promotional products vs other forms of media is that they're tangible and functional -- and usually appreciated by whoever receives them. In the case of sanitizing hand gel, many people will be using the product regularly -- and buying them via retail. If given a container for free -- it's virtually guaranteed that the item will be used -- and each time it is, think of the multiple ad impressions your logo or sales message is going to receive. I'm talking about when it's removed from a purse, a pocket, used in a bathroom, a car, at work...virtually anywhere.

If you're looking to get a marketing message out to a targeted audience....there aren't a whole lot more effective vehicles out there right now than on the outside of a container of hand gel.

I just checked my product database and counted over 300 different hand gel products currently available via Geiger. You'll find all of those on my website at www.promoresource.com. And here's a little insiders tip....hand gel promises to be a red hot product as we head toward the 2nd half of 2009. Our suppliers are going to recognize this and will be fighting each other to grab a share of this explosive promotional market. That means price deals....and great value for the advertiser when you consider the number of ad impressions per marketing dollar spent.

How can you maximize your opportunities with this product? We can certainly help you with that. For more information drop me an email at sboyages@promoresource.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Geiger Advantage – Part 1

For the past 19 years, Scott Boyages Promotions has chosen to affiliate with Geiger as an Independent Sales Partner. Geiger is the largest privately held promotional products company in the nation and the only company that has consistently remained in the Industry’s Top 10 largest distributors for each of the past 30 years.

We’re a 4th generation family owned business that began as a print shop in Newark, New Jersey back in 1878. That’s 131 years of successfully delivering value to our clients.

Geiger, then known as Geiger Brothers, made its mark producing custom imprinted calendars - one of the oldest promotional products in existence. Calendar manufacturing is still a big part of Geiger’s business, with our proprietary By Geiger line of dated products (http://www.bygeiger.com) and our diverse PlannerStore line (www.plannerstore.com).

Geiger also publishes the grand daddy of promotional products, the Farmer’s Almanac (www.farmersalmanac.com ), which has been enjoyed by millions of loyal readers throughout its 189 year existence.

With Geiger, I have behind me an organization of over 400 experienced and talented sales partners, 15 field offices and an excellent back end support staff.

Size, fiscal strength, longevity, and consistency are important only as they enable us to offer one-to-one solutions to our clients. We don’t take a cookie cutter approach as we realize each client is unique and has its own set of goals and challenges.

Know that we take particular pride from building lasting relationships that evolve from delivering value to our clients with an integrity that for us has never gone out of style. Both Geiger and Scott Boyages Promotions are in it for the long haul, which means we'll stand by our commitment to you and continually work to earn both your trust and your business.