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!