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Calendar It…Again and Again and Again?

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Here comes December, and along with it come promotional calendars of all shapes, sizes, and styles.

I get ‘em each year, don’t you?

They arrive in the mail or are handed out by my insurance agent, my dentist, my doctor, my dry cleaner, my pet groomer, my barber, my auto mechanic, my CPA…I’ve even received a few from politicians.

Here’s a word for all of you calendar-ers: ho-hum.

As a business owner or corporate sales & marketing executive (don’t get me started on the “sales” vs. “marketing” title), you might think that an annual calendar is a nice and easy and cheap promo item.

O.K., a calendar is easy, and it’s certainly cheap. But nice? Considering how many other calendars your targets, prospects, and customers get, your promo dollars would be better spent on a roll of toilet paper or a box of facial tissue (we all call them Kl***ex, but copyright/trademark laws keep me from using that colloquialism).

With few exceptions, your annual calendar is for your target audience the pulp equivalent of one egg in a dozen. Same same, so what, what’s the dif, ho-hum.

It’s not that calendars aren’t appreciated. But if you’re going to invest in promoting your business with tangible advertising, why do what everyone else is doing? Why spend your precious marketing dollars on “Me too”?

Dimensional marketing — and that’s what we’re talking about here – works, in large part, on differentiating your company from your competitors. The annual calendar is merely an example.

And hey, if you like your yearly calendar, then why not make it stand out? You’ll pay more, sure. However, your audience will more value it….and thus keep it and use it…and thereby more appreciate you.

It’s about marketing solutions, not just quick & easy stuff.

It’s also about building customer loyalty and expectation.

Years ago, we ran an annual dealer trip promotion for a major copier machine company. We did it for 10 years, and each year we achieved at least 150% of sales goal.

Among the dimensional marketing items we used every year in the promotions was a recipe tile. That is, it was an 8” x 8” ceramic tile that featured a recipe for a dish common to the respective promo destination (e.g., London, Hong Kong, Hawaii).

The dealer network looked forward to those recipe tiles.

But one year, corporate management decided to not pay to produce and distribute the tiles. Dealers complained, and sales dropped by more than 50%.

Those recipe tiles were not just appreciated but unique. And yep, they were anticipated.

So what does this have to do with calendars?

Plenty.

If you’re going to invest in dimensional marketing products, follow the recipe for differentiation and audience interest, not merely bean-counter mentality. Seek solutions.

Cheap breeds cheap.

You Don’t Like It?

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Advertising is not an exact science. The industry loves to coin terms and phrases that make it appear to be such, but that’s just part of the ad biz’s perpetual hype and ongoing effort to make marketing seem like it’s not a crap shoot.

Sorry, ad folks, but that’s the truth. All the research and data and focus groups and theories and more can never guarantee a successful campaign. The best you can hope for is putting the best odds in your favor. But even so, the chances are that your initial roll-out may come up snake eyes.

That said, then, one huge gamble that too many ad campaigns risk is not “playing” from the target’s side of the desk. Concepts are approved or disapproved on the basis of personal proclivities and propensities and not on whether they would appeal to the intended audience.

Years ago, I was part of a creative team that was charged with developing a campaign to promote a new subsidiary of an international electronic products distributor. At one point during the project, a vice president criticized the colors we’d chosen, saying he wanted the main color to be purple.

Experience and preliminary talks with our target channel audience told us that purple would not work, but he was adamant. And why? Because purple was his wife’s favorite color. So purple it was.

When the first pieces of sales literature hit the channel, the reaction was a resounding “YUCK!” All the printed materials were quickly recalled, the project was killed, and the “purple” vice president took an early retirement.

So what does this have to do with the headline of this article?

Many decision makers will look at promotional products that are recommended for a program and say they don’t like them. And why? Just because THEY don’t.

They’re thinking from their side of the desk, not from the perspective of the target audience. Their decision comes from personal preference, not from marketing.

Have you ever been guilty of this? Odds are you have. You’re only human, after all, and your personal likes and dislikes are bound to have an influence.

The trick (and it isn’t always easy) is being able to separate your heart from your head. You may not like this or that trinket, but will your target audience?

And conversely, even though you like something, that doesn’t mean that your prospects will. Indeed, they may hate it.

With advertising in general and promos specifically, try to put yourself in your target’s chair. This tactic applies not only to your selection of tangible advertising products but to how you evaluate a proposed marketing campaign.

After all is said and done, you’ll still be rolling the dice. That’s just the name of the marketing game. However, the more you can think from the table and not your hand, the better the chance that your promotion won’t crap out.

Maybe you like purple. But will your R.O.I.?

All Work and No Play?

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When you’re considering promotional products – either on your own or, I’d hope, per the direction of a properly developed program – are you drawn to practical stuff and away from just-for-fun items?

If so, you’re far from alone.

Over the years, I’ve encountered too many clients who look at possible promo products through the prism of “work” and with little to no regard for “play.” That is, they tend to think in terms of an office supply store instead of a toy store.

Now I don’t know about you, but I see no inherent fun in a pen, a pad of sticky notes, a ruler, or the like. Useful items? Sure. But playful products? Nope.

After all, the misguided reasoning goes, this is serious business. Toys and games are for kids, not top executives or business owners. Those people are focused on success. Whimsical non-business doodads that hit their desk get immediately dropped in the circular file…and along with that trashing is the dismissal of any interest in talking with the sender.

There’s a word for that kind of thinking: Wrong!

Business decision makers are people, and virtually all people like to have fun. O.K, yes, there are some who are hopelessly wrapped tight (you KNOW who you are!). But for the most part, a bit of unexpected fun in a business day is…well…fun.
Star Trek fans will recall an episode in which Mr. Stock observed, “The greater the intellect, the greater the need for play.” This came from the ultra-logical and rather humorless Vulcan!

Yet Spock was right. Top decision makers aren’t stupid. What’s more, their business days (and nights and weekends) are suffused with the stresses and demands of, yes, being business serious. They don’t have the time to toy around.

So when some fun and unexpected little non-business play item lands in their inbox, most will smile…and if you can get a prospect to smile, you’re already halfway to being allowed to make a pitch and quite possibly make a sale.

Even if you don’t get a quick “come on in” response, though, your target isn’t going to throw about that toy. It’ll stay on his or her desk or credenza for weeks, months, or years, or your target will give it to his or her son, daughter, or grandchild. Either way, the reminder of that surprise fun will linger, and so will the reminder of who sent it.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting that you go for promo item toys for the sake of just going for toys. The products used in your promotion need to have some kind of relevance to your business, your message, your offer, and especially your program.

But they need to be fun.

All work and no play ain’t fun…and all “work” and no “play” in a tangible advertising program is typically no fun for your bottom line, R.O.I. and targets.

Strategic Trade Show Campaign Resulting in a Measurable Sales Increase!

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Objective: To Reinforce Logo Identity and be a Regional Leader

The objective was to to reinforce logo identity and to position their company as a knowledgeable, regional leader in the their industry.

Strategy:  A Strategic Trade Show Campaign before and during the show

Taking advantage of the Business and Industry Expo, they used an extensive array of promotional products before and during the trade show.  Before the expo, post cards served as invitations to the booth, and expo “To Do Lists” with Bic pens were distributed to other exhibitors.

A live costumed elephant character representing their brand waved outside on the main road, generating curiosity and eventually drawing attendees to the booth. Booth visitors received a wide variety of gifts: temporary tattoos, Post-it Note dispensers, T-shirts, candy jars, tote bags, and pewter elephants, to name a few.

Results:  252% Increase in Sales from Previous Year

For the two months following the trade show, sales for the client increased 252 percent over the same period for the previous year.

 

SO WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

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Sounds cynical, greedy, or selfish, doesn’t it?

But at one time or another, we’ve all thought or said the same thing, at least when we’ve received some kind of pitch in the mail. XYZ Company wants to show you how to save oodles on this or that, and all they want is “a few minutes” of your time. No cost, no obligation, right?

However, your time isn’t free. You have other things to do. So aside from some super-duper discount, what’s in it for you?

In other words, what’s the offer?

Yes, saving money is cool. Yet the only way you can save is if you spend, and that still impacts your wallet.

Enter dimensional marketing…and how too many advertisers drop the proverbial ball in trying to land a face-to-face with a prospective customer.

Again, it’s called the offer, and even the biggest corporate names screw up here. Goodness, I can’t count the number of letters I’ve received from a major insurance company, for example, that tout lower rates but offer me nothing except the opportunity to carve out time to be sold.

Hey, I like saving money as much as you do. But if I’m going to make time to listen to some in-person sales pitch, I want more than promises. A free and value-perceived gift helps. It may not land you the sale, but it’ll get you in the door…at least more often than just a “let me show you” will.

I mean, people are people. They like stuff, and they especially like free stuff. Your words and brochures may go in one ear and out the other end, but a tangible advertising item will hang around. And if it’s something really neat…well, you’re a people. You may throw out a flyer, but even a common coffee cup? You keep it.

Over my more than 20 years, I’ve seen far too many businesses implement a dimensional marketing program, yet pay no attention to the offer.   Then they wonder why their push failed.

Well, duh! Offer the target something they might want, and a one-time discount ain’t it. Yeah, a special price reduction is nice. But if you want to get facetime with a prospect, offer them more than just the chance to save money. Put a logo’d promo product in their hands. They may forget you and your flyers, but that dimensional whatever will hang around.

The key here is to make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse. Might be practical, like that coffee mug, or it might be whimsical, like some unusual toy. And hey, people do like toys, by the way. There’s a kid in everyone, and that kid likes to have fun. They may not like you or your company or your products, but a free yo-yo? Hmmmmmm.

You also need to remember that people are personal. It’s one thing to tell a marketing director you can help him/her make marketing dollars work. But add to that a personal freebie for the chance to meet? Different story. Or don’t you like free personal stuff?

ARE YOU A HOARDER?

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Hoarding promo

Promo products aren’t free. We all know that. But the less the investment in those products is exploited, the more bottom-line expensive they become.

Years ago, I had a client in the shipping industry. They wanted to promote to prospective clients and, at the same time, promote to existing customers. I suggested, among other things, a series of dimensional mailings and follow-ups with hand-delivered items.

Boy, did I get shot down! They’d bought all kinds of promo products, they said, and none had generated leads or sales opportunities. But they hadn’t used those items. Instead, they’d kept their coffee mugs and tile coasters and pens and more locked up in a cabinet.

I’m not kidding here. They’d bought all of these promotional products, but in their mind they saw them as an expense and not a marketing investment. So there the stuff sat, gathering dust and doing nothing to promote.

Yes, it takes more than products to make promo work. It takes a program, and that’s also not free. But without a program – aka a solution – those items are little more than stored landfill. What a waste.

More to the point, though, if you do buy promo items, buy them with a promo intent in mind. Treat them like marketing tools, not Krugerrands to store in some safe.

And then don’t hoard ‘em. Use ‘em! Put ‘em out there – to your clients, your prospects, your walk-in customers, and more.

Yes, you paid for them. But if you don’t put them to work for your business, you might as well have spent your money on oceanfront property in Wyoming.

That client I mentioned? Their sales force kept screaming for promo give-aways and leave-behinds. But management wouldn’t budge. Those products cost too much, they’d say. No wonder the hoarder had such a turnover in sales staff…and struggled to build market presence.

Does any of this sound familiar? Are you guilty of treating promo products you might buy like they’re a business asset and not marketing tools? Are you, in fact, a hoarder?

Chances are you’ve said yes, if only “on occasion.” That’s O.K. You’re not alone. However, it doesn’t serve your marketing interests – or your ultimate bottom line – if you keep tangible advertising items under lock ‘n’ key.

As for stimulating leads and sales with promo items, let me close with a quick little anecdote about a computer industry company. They made subsystems for mainframes and mini computer systems (uh, are you old enough to remember those terms?).

They launched a dimensional marketing campaign that offered the targets a free pair of high-end Porsche sunglasses with the purchase of one of their subsystems. One such prospect told the company’s sales rep that he was ready to order six of the units…but only if he’d get six pairs of the sunglasses.

Did the company unlock the cabinet and give the customer the sunglasses? You betcha!

Promotional solutions with Dimensional Marketing

Do Promotional Products Turn You Off?

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Let’s be real here. When someone talks to you about promotional products, you think of pens, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, and all the other cheap-o geegaws and trinkets that simply chew at your bottom line.

If you’re an advertiser (and every business is an advertiser – even if your business is selling advertising), you tend to see these give-aways as little more than giving away part of your marketing budget or net profits.

If you’re an ad agency or the like, promo products often are viewed with about the same respect you’d give a carnival sideshow hawker. Tangible advertising – and that’s what promo products are – rarely figures in the development of campaigns.

In both cases, it’s a shame. Promo products aren’t just stuff. Employed and deployed properly, they constitute dimensional marketing…and the kind of marketing that has stay-ability far more than any print ad, brochure, TV commercial, radio spot, or social media burst.

Think about it a minute.

When you read an ad in magazine or newspaper, do you cut it out and then keep it for weeks or months or even longer?

When you hear a radio spot, do you record it for playback again and again?

When you see a TV commercial, does it then it on your desk or hang on your refrigerator or otherwise simply stay around?

Of course not.

But look around your home and office. How many of those low-class advertising fuzzballs do you have…and see (and maybe even use) every day?

Pens? Coffee cups? Fridge magnets? Mouse pads? Post-It notepads? Calendars? Matchbooks? Coasters? Victorinox pocket knives? Pickle pickers?

You see, dimensional marketing products aren’t just products. They have the very real potential to be 24/7 billboards for your business. By themselves, they many not demand immediate response from a prospective customer. But they hang around, and they keep your name constantly in front of your target audience.

I don’t know about you, but for me I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned to my refrigerator to find the name and phone number of a service I’ve needed. It might be plumber or gardener or take-your-pick, and it could well be someone I’ve never called before.

But I had a need, and I remembered “some name” and then went to my fridge, only to find that business card magnet.

One of the key principles of advertising is the generation of impressions. That comes not only from the number of eyes that see or ears that hear your ads, but more form the number of times those eyes and ears receive your message. Why do you think, for example, that you see the same stupid commercial umpteen times while you’re watching TV?

Yet in terms of continuous impressions, no medium can match that of the lowly little refrigerator magnet…and that, folks, is where the power of dimensional marketing begins.

Now I’m hungry for a hot dog. Where’s my pickle picker?

Amazing Advertising Cube…a Magical and Emotional Branding Experience

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Prestige Promotions Advertising Cube

It’s the Amazing Advertising Cube!  The Advertising Cube is a timeless and innovative promotional product tool for desk-top advertising and branding.

 

You immediately involve your audience with a 3D dimensional interactive story board because the cube unfolds in addictive ways to reveal a 9 to 12 custom graphics puzzle.  It engages the sense of touch as well as extremely amazing graphics for the eyes.

PrestigePrestige  Promotions QR Code Usage

Add a QR code and you can QR your cube to video… click on this link to see how…

 

Great for direct marketing, product launch, trade shows, introduce your new office location, use it for business presentations, educational tools, the list is endless!

Life’s a Beach….Creative Advertising with Beach Towels!

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Prestige Promotions Beach Towel

Life’s a beach…or so we’d all like. And a beach towel certainly hints at that implied fun – lakeside, poolside, or surfside.
But as a promo item, a beach towel doesn’t have to be just about sun and sand and tanning lotion.
Indeed, some folks would love to have this Super Beach Towel to use around the hot tub or simply as a generous bath towel…or even as a picnic blanket!
Lots of ways to make this Super Beach Towel work – as a new-customer gift, a unique and keepable give-away, and more.
For example, imprint the towel with a mini-Frisbee toss game (yes, you’d need the mini-Frisbees, too) your targets could take to the beach or the park or, for that matter, their own backyard!
Or what if you “wrapped” your promo around the comfort and ease of your business’s customer service – for a money-saving day in the sun?
“Let us show you….and we’ll toss in the towel, one way or another”?

Drive Your Promotion with Golf Items

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VTK-R_KIT

Mark Twain said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Of course, that was long before the advent of electric golf carts. But surely Twain was at least familiar with the 19th hole.
In any event, golf has become one of the most popular sports in the world, and it is estimated that today more business is done on the golf course than in cocktail lounges or even board rooms.
A promotion built around a golf theme can be exceptionally effective, particularly for programs that target top-level executives. This Deluxe Golf Kit would be a fun and affordable dimensional mailer. But how about offering prospects a free round for two at a local golf course, just for the opportunity to meet?
Or you could be a sponsor for a local golf tournament…and give each player a kit.
And don’t forget your people. An annual golf tournament and picnic can be a great morale booster, and this kit is just one of hundreds of options for golf-themed gifts.
No other outdoor sport is on a par with golf for popularity, promotional drive, and the power to ace your messaging!
Sorry, Mark.