Latest Posts

Custom Chocolates Make Excellent Corporate Gifts

Two Tone Chocolate Gift BarA great way to get a prospect’s attention? Custom chocolate gifts. Few gifts will deliver the impact of chocolate. It excites the senses like nothing else. You’ll be the talk of the office when you drop off these tasty treats. And there are so many options available that you can certainly create the perfect gift for your next promotion.

My favorite is the Two Pound Executive Gift Bar. It’s a lot of chocolate, and can be custom molded with your logo and promotional message. Available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate or as a two toned (milk and dark) chocolate bar.

Another one of my favorites are the premium truffles in a beautiful gift box. Or the chocolate covered cookies. Or the chocolate covered nuts. Or the chocolate bars with custom wrappers. Yum.

Click here to view just a few of our available options. You’ll be glad you did. And so will your customers!

Top 10 Uses of Promotional Products

People often think of promotional products just as something used by the marketing department. But promotional products have many uses beyond typical marketing. We often work with multiple departments within a business including human resources, public relations, sales, and yes, marketing. Here’s a list of the top ten uses for promotional products.

Top 10 Uses of Promotional Products
1. Brand Awareness
2. Tradeshows
3. New Customer / Account Creation
4. Public Relations
5. Employee Relations
6. Not-for-Profit Programs
7. New Product / Service Introduction
8. Employee Service Awards
9. Customer Referrals
10. Internal Promotions

Learn more about promotional products from our Promotional Products Fact Sheet.

Halloween Bags Make a Ghoulish Promotion

Orange Frosted Pumpkin ShopperThe midnight hour is quickly approaching, but there’s still time to order custom imprinted Halloween bags. My favorite is the Orange Frosted Pumpkin Shopper. Features a smiling jack-o-lantern on one side with educational safety tips on the back. Your logo can be imprinted above the safety tips. Includes black soft loop handles. The bag is 10″ x 13″ x 5″. A great giveaway to parents and children alike.

We also have an assortment of plastic die cut handle bags available in orange, white or reflective silver. Halloween promotions are a fun way to promote your business and safety at the same time.

Putting Your Logo on M&Ms

Custom Printed M&Ms with Your Company LogoMy favorite candy? Yep. You guessed it. They’re M&Ms. I just love them. Plain. With peanuts. All the cool colors. Anytime. Anywhere.

And I was even more excited when I found out that we could now sell M&Ms custom imprinted with your logo. Tons of colors to choose from so that you can pick the perfect assortment of colors for your next promotion. And custom packaging is available as well. Your next promotional campaign is sure to be a hit when you include customized M&Ms with your company’s logo.

Click here to view our M&Ms catalog with all the juicy details! (Approximately 8MB PDF but it’s worth the wait.)

Do you know the history of the candy? This is from Wikipedia: Forrest Mars, Sr. founder of the Mars Company, got the idea for the confection in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War  when he saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of tempered chocolate surrounding the inside, preventing the candies from melting. Mars received a patent for his own process on March 3, 1941. Production began in 1941 in a factory located in New Jersey. One M was for Forrest E. Mars Sr., and one for William F. R. Murrie, President of Hershey’s Chocolate. Murrie had 20 percent interest in the product. The arrangement allowed the candies to be made with Hershey chocolate which had control of the rationed chocolate. When operations were started, the hard-coated chocolates were made in five colors: red, yellow, brown, green, and violet. They were served in a cardboard tube (similar to Smarties). The practicality of the candies during World War II caused an increase in production. During the War the candies were exclusively sold to the military. In 1948, the cardboard packaging was replaced by the black cellophane packaging. In the same year Mars bought out Murrie’s 20 percent stake. (Read more here.)

Maple Ridge Farms

Maple Ridge Farms Make Excellent Holiday GiftsCan you believe the holidays are right around the corner? We have many great ideas about holiday gifts for your customers and employees. One of our favorites? Maple Ridge Farms. We’ve worked with them for years, and they’ve never let us down.

Some of my personal favorites include the gourmet brownies and cookies gift baskets, and the gift boxes with nuts and chocolates. Maple Ridge Farms offers an incredible variety of edible treats and presentation choices ranging from wooden gift boxes to towers. And not only do they have tasty treats, they have ham, cheese and assorted gift tubs.

Follow this link to their online catalog for tons of great ideas, then just give us a ring and let us know what you need!

Glow in the Dark Flying Snow Monkey

Glow in the Dark Flying Snow MonkeyI am so pumped. Imagine the excitement, when out of the dark comes the Glow in the Dark Screaming White Snow Monkey. A promotional item sure to catch their imagination and attention. Why monkey around with boring promotions, when our Flying Shrieking Monkey will help your message soar?! Shoot it across the room and it screams back at you!

Click here to open the full sales literature (145kb PDF).

To see my original post about my Flying Marketing Monkey, click here.

2010 Holiday Catalogs Have Arrived!

2010 Holiday CatalogsLooking for some great gift ideas for your customers, employees or prospective clients? Well look no further. We’d be happy to send you a copy of The Gift Book 2010. This catalog features hundreds of promotional products and corporate gifts at many price points. Just a few of the products featured include custom wine bottles, holiday gift tins, chocolate boxes, desk accessories, clocks, photo frames, watches and art glass. Fill out and submit the catalog request form to get your copy today!

Think Pink Sports Products for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Help spread the word, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And if you’re supporting a charity or local fund-raising event, we have the perfect products to help you promote your business and raise funds for breast cancer awareness. Often these fund-raisers include golf outings and other sports events. Here are just a few ideas for incorporating pink products in your next event.

Think Pink DrinkwarePink Aluminum Sports Bottle: A PBA-free water bottle is perfect for 5k fund-raising runs and walks.

Pink Foam Hockey Puck: Hockey teams at all levels can give out pink foam hockey pucks with information on breast cancer awareness.

Pink Mini Replica Baseball Bat: Bats can be sold at games or online. Neat fund-raising product for baseball teams to raise money and call attention to the cause.

Pink Boxing Gloves: Boxing promoters can use these gloves in a promotion to “punch out” a cure for breast cancer.

Pink Polo Shirt: Real men wear pink, and polo shirts are ideal gifts for October golf tournaments.

Pink Tie: Corporations big and small can provide pink ties to male employees to wear during October.

Golf Balls with Pink Ribbon: A great tee gift giveaway at golf tournaments.

Pink Mini Football: Pro, college, high school and club teams can raise awareness by selling logoed footballs or by tossing them into the crowd during halftime.

Auto Racing Kit: Includes sunscreen, pain reliever, antacid, wet naps and earplugs, all in a pink pouch. Hospitals, doctors and breast cancer awareness activists can hand the pouches out at race tracks during October races.

Turn Employees and Recruits into Advocates

I’ve read several books and articles over the years about transforming employees into advocates. As business owners and managers, one of our greatest challenges is developing comprehensive strategies for recruiting, hiring, developing, rewarding and recognizing our employees. It’s these strategies and your company’s culture that can turn an employee into an advocate.

Turn Employees and Recruits into AdvocatesWhile many companies do a great job of branding and marketing their business to customers, they often overlook branding their business to their greatest asset — their employees. According to Cindy Commander, an analyst for The CMO Group, “Marketers spend significant dollars on a variety of tactics to reach and communicate with customers and promote their brands. However, if employees aren’t aligned with and rallied around that brand, then delivery of that brand promise is broken, leading to suboptimal customer experiences, missed opportunities for true brand differentiation, and customer defection. Organizations often underutilize their employees as a channel to connect and build relationships with customers, leading to fewer endorsements of the brand and the organization to customers and potential future customers.”

It’s our employees who must carry our brand to our customers. Do your employees know what your brand is? Do they know the company mission statement? Can they convey what you do in 30 seconds or less? And as somebody who looks for every opportunity to market our business, there’s no reason that you can’t take advantage of these opportunities to promote your business to potential customers as well.

Employee Recruitment
Companies attend many types of functions to recruit potential employees such as job fairs and campus visits. It’s imperative to sell these recruits on your business. The top recruits will be interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them. What impression do you want to give them? How will they remember your business? The giveaway you choose to give these recruits will tell them a lot about your business. Your first impression may be your only impression.

Hiring and Interviewing
During the interview process consider giving every interviewee a promotional gift decorated with your logo. It’s a great way to break the ice and introduce the candidate to your brand. Most companies will interview multiple applicants before filling a position. These people can become positive advocates of your business even when they don’t get the job if properly introduced to your company’s brand and culture. These people will move on to work for other businesses — businesses that could be potential customers of YOUR business. You want them to remember you, and remember you fondly. The right promotional giveaway is an excellent way to leave them with a positive impression of your company.

Training
Most applicants will require training once they’ve been hired. Make sure you spend time teaching them about your company’s mission and objectives. Whether it’s a coffee mug with the company’s mission statement printed on it, or a training manual with the company’s logo debossed on the cover, every employee must be included and integrated into the company culture. An employee who doesn’t understand the company’s mission is an opportunity lost.

Awards, Recognition and Incentive Programs
One of the most common frustrations among employees is that they feel unrecognized and under-appreciated. Creating programs for recognizing achievement and service at work is a great way to help develop a positive workplace environment. An employee who truly feels appreciated at work is much more likely to be productive and loyal. One of my favorite programs involves allowing staff to nominate other employees for employee of the month, and then vote on the winner. Nothing makes somebody feel more appreciated than recognition by their peers.

Beyond recognizing your employees, incentives are often a great way to motivate your staff. Have clear objectives and rules of achievement, and reward your top performers with promotional gifts.

Wellness Programs, Safety Programs and Team Building Events
Wellness programs have become a popular strategy for many progressive companies. Rewarding employees for improving their health is good for them, and good for you. Safety programs are another way to recognize desired behavior, and reward those who engage in safe conduct. Team building may sound cliche, but it’s vitally important. Employees must feel engaged by the company as well as their peers to become true advocates for your business. Participating in community events is one way to help solidify your team while building brand awareness. Volunteering time to help non-profit organizations not only helps the community, but instills employee pride in your business.

Living the BrandPromotional Apparel
Many businesses utilize corporate apparel and staff uniforms for employees. But what about businesses that do not require employees to wear company apparel? If your staff likes your company, they’re probably willing to wear corporate apparel whether you require it or not. One strategy is to pick a handful of items such as polos, hoodies and windbreakers, and offer them to your staff at reduced prices. Items like these that can be embroidered can typically be ordered in small quantities, and decorators typically don’t care if you mix and match different types of items if the embroidery is the same. You can limit options and colors that support your company branding, but allow your staff to pick sizes and products that best fit them personally. If they won’t wear it, it doesn’t do you any good.

Employees have a vested interest in the success of your business. But if you don’t actively engage them with your business, and recognize them for their achievements, you’ll never convert them into true advocates. Commander goes on to explain, “Employees who actively live the brand create significant benefits for both the customer and the organization. Customers of organizations with employee brand advocates enjoy better customer service, greater anticipation of and ability to have their needs met, and more attentiveness to their voice and feedback. The organization also enjoys the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing, greater profitability and financial results, and a more differentiated brand.”

ROI and Target Marketing

We belong to one of the local BNI chapters, and this week is Kristin’s turn to give the group presentation. We discussed a number of topics for her presentation and eventually settled on ROI and target marketing. So I thought it would be a good time to touch on these subjects here as well. This is not intended to be an in-depth discussion, but a group of ideas to get your wheels spinning in the right direction.

ROI -- Return On InvestmentReturn on Investment (ROI)
I’m sure most of you are already familiar with this term, but in case you’re not, ROI is the cost of a marketing campaign relative to the profit generated during a certain period of time.

Now ROI doesn’t have to be rocket science, though it’s sometimes a challenge to develop a trackable plan. As a marketing professional, I try to break down the ROI of every marketing opportunity we consider. For our business we start by asking ourselves a few simple questions. How much revenue must we generate to break even on this opportunity? (Though your goal shouldn’t be to break even, it’s important to know where this tipping point is located.) And what is our projected revenue from the marketing investment? If we can’t answer these questions, then it’s probably not the right opportunity for us. Or if we don’t expect revenues to reach certain levels, we look for other opportunities.

If you’re unable to measure the results of your company’s marketing plan, you need to reconsider your plan. You need to develop a plan that is measurable, and you must track the results. Can you be successful shooting from the hip? Sure. We all know business owners without a plan who have enjoyed spurts of success. But that’s a tough way to achieve success, and it’s particularly tough to thrive over the long haul without a good, measurable plan.

Target Audience
Too often have I seen business owners give little thought to their target audience. If you’re a plumber, your target audience for a marketing campaign should not be “anybody with water pipes in their house”. The broader the audience, the more difficult it is to develop an effective marketing campaign. The more you refine your target audience, the more likely you are to succeed with your next promotion.

Your targeted audience should coincide with how you position your company, and the image you want to portray. A plumbing company can do many things. Is your strategy to be the cheapest plumber in town? Is your strategy to be the company that specializes in installing high-end bathrooms? These would be two very different lists of prospective customers, and in turn, would require significantly different marketing campaigns to be successful.

Conversions
This is where we start to combine our trackable plan with our target audience. How many sales must you generate for your plan to be successful? What percentage of your audience can you convert into a sale? The more refined your target audience, the higher the return you should expect from an effective campaign. Having trouble making these predictions? That’s OK. Once again, that’s why it’s so important to track the results. Not every plan will generate the results you expect. And when presented with the same opportunity again, you can make even wiser decisions because you tracked the results the last time around.

Promotional Marketing
One of the reasons promotional items are effective is because they’re typically used to promote to a more refined target audience. Remember, the more refined your audience, the higher your expectations should be to convert prospects into customers. Where a radio spot or TV ad is broadcast (transmitted to a large undefined group), think of promotional marketing as narrowcast.

Good luck, and happy marketing!