Monday, November 21, 2011

Fun & Unkown Facts About Thanksgiving

Remember those Thanksgiving pageants you were in during your grade school years & the Pilgrims & Indians sat down to a meal of make-believe turkey, stuffing & yams? Today, in school, our children take part in Thanksgiving feasts with real food depicting the first Thanksgiving. Children across the United States are wearing the same black Pilgrim hats or colorful feathers, if they choose to be Indians--all made the week before from construction paper as an art project.

We were all raised thinking this was a fairly accurate picture of the meal the Indians shared with the Pilgrims & we passed this lore down to our children as it was told to us. But this isn't how it was at all. The only fact that is correct is the 1st Thanksgiving was celebrated in the fall of 1621. Did you know it lasted for three days?

Here are some other facts about the first Thanksgiving:

Pilgrims are shown as wearing black & white clothing, but actually that was only worn on Sundays & formal occasions. Women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet & gray; while men wore clothing in white, beige, earthy green & brown.

List of foods that were available to the colonists at the time of the 1621 harvest feast & were probably on their menu:
  • SEAFOOD: lobster, clams, eel & cod
  • WILD FOWL: wild turkey, geese, duck, swans, partridges & eagles
  • MEAT: venison & seal
  • GRAIN: wheat
  • VEGETABLES: pumpkin, corn, peas, beans, onions, lettuce, raddishes & carrots
  • FRUIT: plums, grapes
  • NUTS: walnuts, chestnuts & acorns
  • HERBS & SEASONINGS: olive oil, liverwort, leeks, dried currants & parsnips
These traditional foods did not exist at the first Thanksgiving:
  • YAMS OR SWEET POTATOES: Potatoes of any kind were not grown in North America during this period.
  • CRANBERRY SAUCE: The colonists had cranberries, but no sugar. Cranberries were mainly used by the Indians for medicinal purposes.
  • PUMPKIN PIE: The recipes did not exist at this time--they stewed the pumpkins.
Comparing their menu to ours, I'm glad to be celebrating Thanksgiving in the 21st century--although I wouldn't mind lobster as an option.

This is the time of year that football is the #1 sport to watch or play. It's become associated with Thanksgiving whether professional teams are being watched on TV or family members play among themselves. The tradition of NFL football began in Detroit in 1934 when the Bears & Lions played......the Bears won 19 to 16. Football, obviously, was not around for the 1st Thanksgiving but sporting contests went on for the three day harvest festival in 1621. The Pilgrims displayed their shooting talents with guns while the Indians exhibited their skills with bows & arrows, racing, wrestling & other games.

 This is also the time of year when companies thank their loyal customers for their patronage by sending out holiday cards, inviting them to office parties or giving a gift to show their appreciation.

Keep in mind that even though you should have plenty of promotional imprinted products on hand, these should not be given out as holiday gifts. You client won't jump up & down with the .50 pen they've been writing with all year or the letter opener they've used everyday. Customized promotional items should definitely be used as holiday gifts, but they need to be special & more unique than what is usually distributed among the public for company recognition.

It's not what you spend, it's what you give. Whether it's the $1 candy bar boldly displaying your logo or a $50 computer laptop case discreetly showing it, your customized promotional gift should be something you haven't handed out during the year. Choose a gift that will make your client feel his business means something to you.

Just as important, make sure that gift makes an impact with your company name.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope this is your best ever!

Have a wonderful & safe holiday season.

Ronni Sherman

Monday, November 14, 2011

Adding Value To The Holiday Gifts You Give Your Clients

It's probably become routine for you to give your customers a gift during the holiday season. But this isn't a novel idea--every other company is giving gifts also. This means it's very competitive to get your customer's attention & to ensure your gift will be the one they remember & use. There are a few things you can do to add value to your gift so it will be the one that is acknowledged & appreciated. Most importantly, to make sure it's the one that is kept & not stashed away in the back of a closet......or worse, thrown out.

Before I tell you what to do to give your gift value, let me tell you what NOT to do........don't cut corners. Rummaging through your supply closet to find boxes of promotional custom products that didn't get distributed spells disaster, not thank you.

If you buy, as gift items, the run-of-the-mill promotional imprinted products that promote your company more than promote your appreciation of your client's loyalty & business, you'll be doing more harm than good. The .50 pen you've been handing out all year won't look like a gift just because you're giving it in December. Yes, definitely add your logo to the gift, but don't be so blatant about it as you would on a marketing item. A logo or your company name is sufficient--you don't need to add your website, other contact information or a sales pitch.

Now here's a few ideas how to go that extra step to really make your gift stand out among all the others that will be received.

Personalization: Whether the items cost a lot or are inexpensive, if it is imprinted with the recipient's own name, they will be more likely to use & cherish it. Personalization shows that you've put more thought into what you're giving & that it's not just a mass mail-out to your entire data base. The difference in cost may only be a few dollars but it will result in a big difference in the longevity of the item in your client's life.

Some ideas: 
  • An engraved pen that has your company name on one side & your customer's personal name on the other side.
  • A leather embossed portfolio with your client's initials on the outside cover & your logo embossed on the inside pocket. Remember, this is a gift so your logo doesn't need to be as prominent as it usually is on a promotional imprinted product.
  • A ceramic mug with your company name & logo on one side & personalized with your customer's name on the other. It'll make more of an impact if you give the mug filled with candy, cookies or imported bags of tea.
Picking an appropriate gift: This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind because if it's not useful to your customer, it won't be used. 

  • Someone who is a builder & is on site all day long can not use an executive desk pad; but an insulated coffee mug would most likely be a sure hit.
  • If your clients are in the health & fitness field a pedometer would probably be more appreciated than tins filled with cookies, candied popcorn or chocolates.
Attention to detail: How do you feel when you get a present? What do you reach for........the one that's beautifully wrapped or one that's in a plastic bag from the store where it was purchased? Think about your presentation when your customer receives your gift. That extra little detail will add a lot of extra pizzazz to your gift.

Some ideas:
  • Remember that mug filled with candy or tea bags that I mentioned earlier? Cello wrap it & then tie it together with ribbon curls that are your company's colors.
  • An engraved pen or flash drive can usually be purchased with a gift box. That little added expense will make a huge difference & add value to your gift.
  • Buy gift bags with your logo & company name imprinted on them & put your present in them surrounded by colorful tissue.
It's so important to think of ways to add value to your gift & ensure that it is used daily & not thrown out. Look at the items on your desk or look around you at many came from a company that appreciated your business. Is there a special mug, mouse pad or paper weight? Those items were probably carefully selected by someone to suit your needs & that's the reason why you still use them to this very day.

I hope this helps you pick the perfect gifts for your customers. Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blankets As Customized Promotional Gifts

This is the time of year that depicts warmth, contentment & comfort. Think about it......falling leaves in all shades of brilliant oranges & yellows, maybe the first dusting of snow, pumpkin patches, football games, Thanksgiving, holiday decorations & lights, cinnamon scented pinecones, celebrations, presents wrapped in bright colors & adorned with gold & silver ribbons, kitchens smelling of freshly baked cookies, hot cocoa with marshmellows, hot apple cidar............

Picture a frosty morning, a cool crisp afternoon or a night when the temperatures dip into the 30's. It's the perfect time to curl up with a good book or movie, a crackling fire in the fireplace, a glass of wine or a cup of herbal tea. And a cozy throw or blanket is just what is needed to round out this picture.

Fleece & chenille blankets, with your logo embroidered in a corner, come in an array of colors & are reasonably priced. This makes them the ideal gift for the holidays or later in the year when you want to show your appreciation to a special client.

Their uses are endless: 
  • car or boat--some come rolled in a self-contained pouch which makes them very compact.
  • air travel--others come folded in a separate bag with a handle & it includes an inflatable neck pillow.
  • football games--perfect since the weather can get very chilly......especially if you're sitting towards the top of the bleachers.
  • at home--they're very can save money & keep your heating bills down while reading or watching TV.
Remember your targeted audience & all the advise about giving a gift that is appropriate for that group of people? What if your audience covers a wide group of varied ages & interests? What kind of present can you give them that will be appreciated by everyone? A blanket given as a customized promotional gift is your answer. They'll be appreciated & used over & over......that means your logo will be seen over & over.

These promotional imprinted products, when offered as gifts, will definitely boost your company recognition. Your logo will be seen outside the office--maybe thousands of miles from your office if they're used when traveling. That's a quick & easy way to get your business name out among the public. An after all, that's what it's all about!

And when used at home........that's a good way to stay in your customer's mind. It's a subtle reminder of your service or product without a hard sales pitch.

Most important, they will "warm up" your relationship with your customers & clients.

Blankets, as promotional custom products or gifts, are creative, unique & effective. You'll stand out from your competition when you hand these out with your colorful embroidered logo.

Whatever you decide to distribute with your company name, I hope it does the trick. Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guilty Pleasures & Customized Promotional Gifts

A guilty pleasure is defined as something you like that you can't justify liking. Guilty pleasures are those things you do that you love, but feel a little embarrassed to tell people about it. Or it's something you love doing, but feel you should be doing something else instead.

It's playing games on Facebook for hours on end or lying on the couch all afternoon watching old movies on TV. It's spending an entire day going from one garage sale to another & then looking back to wonder if you should have been doing something more productive.

My guilty driving or walking aimlessly along the beach when there's a long "to-do" list waiting for me at home. Even when there's not a list, I can't help giving into that urge a few times a week.

The point is: even though we may feel guilt for enjoying that special something, we still indulge ourselves in it from time to time.

As a business owner, guilty pleasures are your opportunity to give an appreciation or holiday gift that will really wow your customers. If you give them an item that naturally appeals to them, they will not only love it, they will use it. And every time they use it, your business name & logo is right there in front of them. That's how promotional custom products can work their magic for your company.

Don't forget about your employees. You can use your staff's guilty pleasures when choosing incentives or holiday gifts which will solidify your relationship with them.

There is a large "guilty pleasure market" out there if you're willing to be a bit more creative. If you incorporate it with a customized promotional item, you'll be giving a gift that will make a huge impact with your customers.

Is your audience crazy about technology? Do they always have to be connected? Techies will probably relish a USB flash drive, a computer travel set, a multi-USB kit, a mouse pad with a memory foam wrist rest or a laser pointer pen.

Do you know a lot of foodies, coffee fanatics or people with culinary tastes? You can dive right into these clients' hearts by giving them ceramic soup bowls, a stainless steel coffee mug, an ice cream scoop or a recipe calendar. Don't forget about that box of chocolates with your name on the chocolate & the box.
If your audience indulges in regular pampering at salons or spas, then you may want to appeal that. You could offer your customers a star massager, nail files or manicure sets, candles, or a set of liquid soaps, lotions, sun screens & lip balms. There's an array of sport, duffel & gym bags available for the work-out devotee.

Or maybe your clients are television or music enthusiasts. Try giving gifts that they would most likely pick up in a store anyway--like a fleece blanket or a CD holder. These items will both promote your company & help them feed their pop culture & media interests.

And who doesn't know that person who spends hours on the golf course or putting green when they should have been in the office? There are so many promotional imprinted products available for the avid balls, golf towels, ditty bags packed with tees & other essentials, umbrellas--even first aid kits that can fit in a golf bag or a water bottle. Believe it or not, tees can be imprinted. Let your logo fly off the tee towards the green, sink in a sand trap or float in a pond when you imprint it on any name brand ball.

Let's face it--Americans love their guilty pleasures. Almost everyone has at least a couple whether they will admit them or not. They're part of what makes us unique.  They help to give each of us a personality, & without them, our lives just wouldn't be as fun (or guilty).

How well do you know your customers?  Can you guess what theirs are?
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate As Delicious Promotional Custom Products

Come on...who doesn't like chocolate? This is a really fun way to promote your business since chocolate is pretty much universally loved. This is a promotional custom product everyone is sure to want. So why not get this sweet treat that says something about you & your company & take advantage of the world's love of chocolate!

Some of the best reasons to use chocolate as customized promotional holiday gifts are:
  • Chocolate tastes good! Chocolate is a fun way to get your message across to new & potential customers as well as your loyal clients. You don't have to limit it to holiday gifts......have it on hand if customers come to your place of business, as an appreciation gesture in the middle of the year or distribute at trade shows.
  • Chocolate tastes good! Chocolate is loved by almost everyone. People will look forward to getting your holiday gift each year. It's a good idea when giving it out year after year to do it in a variety of ways.
  •  Chocolate tastes good! Chocolate is proving to be full of anti-toxins, so give dark chocolate & you will give a holiday gift that's a tasty & healthy treat--one people will remember. Make that memory even sweeter by imprinting "thank you" next to your logo.
  •  Chocolate is a comfort food, which when eaten, releases endorphins that make your customers feel relaxed. A relaxed customer is usually more open to your concepts & products. This a good for your next trade show. It now only draws a crowd to your booth, but if they feel relaxed they won't be in such a hurry to leave. It might be wise to have small squares of chocolate with your logo on the wrappers when you make sales call throughout the year. This is a promotional imprinted product that will be sought after all year long.
Chocolate is versatile & can be given as gifts in a number of ways:
  • Chocolate bars are small, lightweight & easy to carry. It's just the right size to fit easily in greeting cards you're mailing. The wrapper has plenty of space for your logo & company name. Many times the bar, itself, can have the same imprint as your wrapper. It will leave an impressive image when a client unwraps the chocolate & finds your logo is also on the bar.
  • Want to give chocolate as a gift for the entire office? One of the most popular ways is a box with a pound bar displaying your logo in the center of the box. It's surrounded by individual size chocolates, some molded to identify with certain fields like travel or finance. 

  • Can't decide between chocolates & chocolate covered pretzels, nuts or fruit?  You can order it all in an imprinted tin with your logo on top or give a tower of boxes each filled with a different treat. The boxes & the ribbon tying it all together are imprinted with your name & logo.

  • I've stressed in older articles when giving a gift during the holiday season, it's a good idea to give something that will remain with your customer throughout the following year so your company will always be in sight. I still think that's the best idea & you can do it while giving out your favorite chocolate. It can be added to any customized promotional gift you give whether it's an engraved pen, an umbrella or something for the desk. You can include it inside drinkware or insert it in a pocket of a bag or tote you're giving.
I do like the idea of giving a chocolate bar with your logo on the wrapper as a holiday or thank you gift. What a delicious surprise! But when incorporating it with another gift imprinted with your company name, it will make a lasting impression of your business & your product or service.

Did I mention that chocolate tastes good?!
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get In The Spirit Of Halloween With Promotional Imprinted Products For Children

It's's's the beginning of the holiday season. What a great time of year! I don't know about you, but this is my favorite & I wait for it all year long. One of my best childhood memories is trick or treating in Minneapolis, MN & the sidewalks were completely covered with dried leaves. I loved the sound of them crunching under my feet.

I miss those bright colored leaves & how the trees painted a picture more colorful than any master artist could. In California they turn gold in November. But what fun now to see pumpkin patches crop up everywhere & all the pumpkin displays in the grocery stores.

Here are some fun & interesting facts & history about Halloween:
  1. The celebration of Halloween started in the United States as an autumn harvest festival. In pioneer days, Americans celebrated with corn-popping parties, taffy pulls & hayrides.
  2. With the large increase of Irish immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th century, Halloween became associated with ghosts, goblins & witches. It was a tradition the Irish brought across the Atlantic with them. But it was never associated with the devil or a devil's holiday, as many believed.
  3. Jack-O-Lanterns are an Irish tradition. In Ireland, oversized rutabagas, turnips & potatoes were hollowed out & carved into faces & then lit with candles to be used as lanterns during Halloween celebrations.
  4. The word "witch" comes from the old Saxon word "wica" meaning "wise one". Witches were once respected dealers in charms, medicinal herbs & tellers of fortunes.
  5. The pumpkin originated in Mexico about 9,000 years ago & is one of America's oldest known vegetables. They generally weigh from 15-30 pounds but can grow to be as big as 200 pounds.
  6. Four out of ten (41%) adults admit that they eat the sweets from their own candy dish filled with goodies they give out to the trick or treaters. I bet that's closer to ten out of ten (100%).
  7. On Halloween night the majority (52%) of those providing treats to witches, superheroes & goblins will be passing out chocolate while about 30% will drop lollipops & chewy sour candies into the bags.
  8. 90% of the parents admit to sneaking goodies from their children's Halloween trick or treat stash. Their favorite treats to sneak are the snack-size chocolate bars. We want to help our kids eat healthier & not consume so much sugar, so we're doing this to protect them--not for our enjoyment.
Well, it's getting close to that exciting time of year. Halloween is only a few weeks away. This is a critical time to really market your business in order to finish the 4th quarter strong. A great way to do this & circulate your company name in the public's eye is using Halloween promotional custom products for children.

Here are 2 ideas:

Halloween Trick or Treat bags. These are one of the best forms of marketing during the Halloween season. These bags not only market your business because of the custom imprint on them, but they also have many safety tips to help keep the kids who are trick or treating safe. They're available in recyclable, non-woven material & make great shopping totes all month. They also come in bright yellow or orange plastic displaying vivid Halloween designs along with your logo.

Halloween coloring books. These are full sized with approximately 20 fun-filled pages & bright colored covers. Many also have safety tips for trick or treating. There's an assortment for different age groups. They are an entertaining yet educational promotional imprinted product.

Want to stand out from your competitors? Get in the spirit of the holiday & be sure to give out promotional wholesale products in October that have a Halloween theme.

Have fun during this month of Halloween. Don't forget to take time out from your busy schedule to enjoy the holiday!
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What To Do & What Not To Do To Make Your Holiday Gift Stand Out

Well, it's that time of year again......time to start thinking about gifts for your customers. And please take time to give it some thought. If you don't, you run the risk of giving a gift that's unappreciated or forgotten.

This is the time to go over your customer list & your budget. When thinking of a gift this year, think of something that will wow your client. Something that will make an impact & will be remembered next year, long after the holidays are over.

There are hundreds of promotional custom products that make great gifts, but where do you start. I'm not going to list ideas for gifts in this article. Let's just say that it all depends on your business & your customers.

But I will give you some tips on what to do & what not to do when giving holiday gifts. These points could determine if your gift will be appreciated & most important, how your customer will regard you in the future.

  • Do NOT give a gift that isn't useful or appropriate for your targeted audience. The same rule applies here that applies when you give out promotional imprinted products to the public. Be aware of the age groups, the special interests, the area they are from, etc.
  • Do NOT give the fifty cent pen you've been handing out all year. Rummaging through your supply closet to find left-over promotional items you gave out over the years spells disaster, not thank you. The products must have value. This doesn't mean you have to spend a lot on the gift, but make sure your customers know it's special & bought for them--not something you distribute among the public for company recognition.
  • Do NOT turn this holiday gift into an advertising campaign. Although the gift should be personalized clearly with your company logo to remind your clients who gave the gift to them, your website & phone numbers shouldn't be included in the imprint. That would make it a blatant advertisement & it's value diminishes. 
  • Do NOT wait until the last minute to order your gift item. You may be hit with rush charges & added shipping charges. UPS & FedEx could add days to their delivery schedules & if you didn't allow for that, you could end up paying for air rather than ground transportation. There's also a possibility that the item you want may no longer be in stock.
  • Do NOT be the last one to give your gift. If you wait until December 22nd or 23rd, it will most likely be pushed aside & forgotten as people concentrate on their own shopping & holiday plans. Beat your competitor to the finish line & get it delivered early........when it will be remembered & appreciated. I actually think you make a bigger impact if you do it long before anyone else--like around Thanksgiving.
  • Do NOT give out something ordinary or common. Make your gift stand out & be different from the others. That tin of stale popcorn or 5lb box of Whitman's chocolates will most likely be regifted. Choose a personalized gift, with your company name & logo, that is both relevant to your industry & is useful to your client. They more they like it, the more they will use it, giving your business repeated exposure throughout the next year.
  • Do NOT give a gift card enclosed in a presigned holiday greeting card. This seems to be the trend lately & nothing could be more impersonal. If you want to give a gift card, then include it with a customized promotional gift......a gift card to a gourmet coffee shop inserted in an insulated travel mug, a gift card to a popular electronic store attached to a mouse pad with a memory foam wrist guard, a generic gift card joined with a shopping tote or book bag.
  • Do NOT give the same thing year after year. It's boring for the client & doesn't reflect well on you, as a business. Impress them with a new & exciting gift each year. Keep them guessing & waiting for your present. Variety, as well as quality, will also make a huge impact. 
It's so important you give your customers a gift to let them know you appreciate their business. If this is where you decide to budget, I'd rethink that--you may run the risk their loyalty will fizzle out.

Have fun with it & be creative. Most of all make sure you stand out!

Remember, above all, give something you would enjoy getting.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Umbrellas Make Good Promotional Custom Products--All Year Long

Humans, on foot, have one common defense for defending themselves against the scourge of water falling from the sky: umbrellas. Age, sex, ethnic background or the country they're from makes no difference......umbrellas have been around for centuries & aside from a few improvements or modern revisions, they haven't changed nor have they been passed over for a better product.

Here are a few interesting facts about umbrellas:
  • They are one of the oldest artifacts in history--so old that no one knows the origin or if it was first used to protect against the rain or the sun.
  • The annual market for umbrellas in the United States, alone, is around $350 million.
  • The superstition that it's bad luck to open an umbrella indoors originated in ancient Africa. When umbrellas were first introduced on that continent, they were used as protection from the sun. If they were opened in the shade, the Africans thought it would insult the sun god & bring wrath to the offender.
  • John Wilkes Booth asked President Lincoln for a few dollars to buy a new umbrella in 1864.
  • 75,000 umbrellas are lost on London's bus or subway systems each year.
I live in Southern CA where it rains only a few months out of the year; but when it does, it pours & umbrellas are visible everywhere. People clad in only shorts & flip-flops are seen toting them in all sizes & colors. I, personally, find them cumbersome because I can't seem to fold it & at the same time get into the car without getting soaked. But I'm in the minority.

As soon as the skies turn dark & rain is in the forecast, stores in LA bring out their umbrella displays. These are usually sold out within a few hours with desperate customers trying to persuade sales people to look in the back room in hopes there are still some sitting in unopened boxes.

In many parts of the country, umbrellas are used all year & are always within arms' reach, whether in a car, office or home. It's not unusual for people to have more than one, so if there's an unexpected downpour an umbrella will always be close by & they won't be caught off guard.

With all this in mind, umbrellas make useful & appreciative promotional imprinted products. Logos can be boldly displayed in one or several panels. These become traveling billboards for your business.

This is the time to be more creative than ever. You want your logo to show & be recognized, but at the same time not be too commercial looking. Now, more than ever, you need to think about making your company name fun, fashionable & striking. A logo needs to be more design-oriented than it is on a pad of paper or a pen if you want your customers to use it. A distinctive image & eye-catching color will make these an absolute hit!

They are not only seen on city streets on overcast, rainy days. Golf courses, beaches & parks become crowded with umbrellas when the weather is warm & sunny. That's why they make successful customized promotional items.

Umbrellas are always in season......all year long!

Why not customize umbrellas to promote your business? The holidays are quickly creeping up on us & these promotional custom products make great gifts.

Ronni Sherman

Monday, September 19, 2011

Join The Green Parade With Customized Promotional Items

In mid-march of this year, Pepsi announced an end to using the standard petroleum based plastic bottle. In 2012 they'll introduce their PET plastic bottles made entirely from plant material: grass, pine bark, corn husks, orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps & other left-overs from their food businesses. The company claims these new bottles will look & feel exactly as the current bottles.

Coca-Cola now uses a bottle made with 30% plant materials.

This is huge! What an impact these bottles will have on our environment! But other well-known companies have also taken strides to show they care about our planet.

Bank of America offers employees a $3000 cash back reward for buying hybrid vehicles.

Target has collaborated with eco-fashion designer Rogan Gregory & has launched their own eco-clothing line that will soon be available in their stores.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has the world's largest fleet of fuel-efficient cars & 5,000 of those are gas/electric hybrids. In addition, they have promised to plant 50 million trees across America's forests.

Both Toyota & Honda were the first of car manufacturers to offer hybrids as an option in many of their models. Toyota is famous for the Prius, the world's first mass-market hybrid vehicle.

Other companies that have shown concern for our planet & have jumped on the "green bandwagon" are Verizon, Ikea, The Discovery Channel, Chipotle, L'Oreal, Aveda, Whole Foods, The Gap, Kohls, Draft, Johnson & Johnson, Dell, HP, UPS, Continental Airlines & British Airlines.

Ok, so now you're telling yourself these are big companies known all over the world & they have money & resources to make a difference, but what can you do.  You can do a lot whether your business has one employee or over 100.  I'm not going into how you can save paper or find better ways to use energy......there's so much more we can all do to make a difference.

One area you can show you care about our planet as you market your company is with promotional imprinted products. This is such a natural & easy transition to make if you're already using advertising specialties.

U.S. Corn Plastic is a revolutionary new material made entirely from corn syrup & is on the verge of replacing conventional polymers as we know them.  It's cheap to manufacture & the best part is: it's biodegradable! Many products can be made out of this material & new uses are being devised everyday. Items made from this are 100% environmentally friendly.

It makes great ballpoint pens, stress balls, name tags, letter openers & novelty products. Show the public you care about the environment by choosing customized promotional items made from corn syrup. Those in the know will appreciate the gesture & the moves your company is making to be more eco-friendly.

Retailers are encouraging customers to use & reuse recyclable tote & shopping bags instead of filling up landfills with plastic bags. These are one of my favorites of all promotional items because they are so useful & they allow a large space for your logo & advertising message.

Creating customized promotional tote bags accomplishes two objectives:
  1. they reduce the need for plastic shopping bags which can't be recycled & end up in landfills - that leads to global warming.
  2. they create an economical vehicle for advertising & promoting your business & they have a large imprint area to really make your logo stand out.
Remember when your customers use these while they shop, they're taking your company name right along with them.

All paper goods you buy that have your logo imprinted on them can be made from recycled paper. This includes note pads, sticky notes, note cubes, spiral notebooks & journals.

Mouse pads & apparel now can be made from recyclable materials while at the same time showing off your company name as vividly as on the same items you used before. Promotional custom products that promote environmental awareness & your brand at the same time are becoming easier to find with a broader spectrum of products to choose from.

To show the public that you care about the environment doesn't require a large budget or a conservation foundation. All you need to do is take care in what promotional gifts you choose to distribute. You can easily achieve all of the results of promotional imprinted products, but you'll add an environmental edge to your marketing & you'll benefit from having a reputation for caring about the planet. A large section of the public will respond very favorably to this image.

Think about this the next time you order promotional items.  Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Promotional Custom Products Help Political Campaigns

I just found this article written by Brad White last February.  Even though it's been six months since this was posted, I feel Brad's statements regarding promotional products & his response to Jerry Brown's weak attempts to cut the state's spending are so significant, I'm reposting his letter now.

The original article that was written on Brad's blog has many comments stating the importance of customized promotional items & their effectiveness over other forms of advertising.

Open Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown
28 02 2011

Dear Governor Brown,

Last week, in an attempt to ease California’s budget deficit, you ordered state agencies to stop using promotional products to as a means to market their programs and services.  I was born in California and lived there for 25 years – I certainly understand the mess the state is in.  What I don’t understand is why you chose to ban one form of marketing but not others.  I don’t understand why you specifically went after promotional products:

“Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills.”

Pardon my tone, but are you really qualified to determine what kind of marketing is effective?  Speaking of things ending up in landfills, did you know that 99% of all direct mail is thrown away?  Why didn’t you ban direct mail?  I know why – because that mail is delivered by government employees.  Why didn’t you ban TV ads?  Well, we all know that it’s not smart for politicians to upset folks in entertainment.  And why not get rid of billboard advertising?  Oh that’s right, billboard company CBS Outdoor donates money to your art school charity – not to public schools, but to your hand-chosen art schools – so you better not upset the billboard guys.

And what about the products you are banning?  The “plastic gewgaws” as you call them.  Things like buttons, mugs, bags, bumper stickers, and t-shirts.

If using logoed merchandise is not a good way to promote your message, then why did you use so much of it in your election campaign?  You remember the election, the one where you and Meg Whitman fought tooth and nail to see who could spend the most money?

Governor Brown, I have no problem with you cutting spending – it must be done.  But why are you picking on promotional products instead of all forms of marketing?  Clearly you believe this is an effective form of marketing or you would not have used it.  If you want to cut marketing spending then cut it all – TV, radio, mail, billboards – ban all of it, or LEGALIZE PROMO!!!

I welcome your comment.

All I can say is pictures speak 1000 words. These are some of the promotional custom products Jerry Brown used in his campaign for governor of California.

Bumper sticker seen on cars all over the state while Jerry Brown was campaigning.

Maybe Governor Brown should look at promotional imprinted products from a different angle........since they  obviously worked for him, he should stress their validity to other businesses.  Think about economic growth, Governor, rather than inadequate ways of cutting spending.

Ronni Sherman

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Halloween Bags As Promotional Custom Products

Wow! Where did this year go?! It just flew by & now it's almost fall. The holidays are still a few months away but it's already time to think about seasonal customized promotional items. The first thing on the  list & probably the one that will give you the most exposure are Halloween bags.

You may be asking: why should my company order these? Here are just a few reasons why Halloween bags that boldly display your company name & logo are great promotional imprinted products for your business to hand out:
  1. Imprinted Trick or Treat bags are inexpensive. They cost less than a pen or a notepad & yet more people will see your logo on these bags than on the other items.
  2. You'll get tons of exposure. Halloween bags are potentially seen by hundreds of thousands of people. This gives you a great marketing return on your purchase. They also have a large advertising area so your logo & message will be seen as children go door-to-door.
  3. They promote child safety. Most Halloween bags have safety tips imprinted in the fun, colorful designs. If your business is child oriented, your customers will appreciate that & remember you the next time they need your services. And face it, everyone appreciates something given to their kids. For added safety, look into buying the metallic reflective bags.
  4. People love getting something for free. You can't deny that people like getting a free gift, no matter how small the gift may be......just so it's useful & these definitely are. You can give out your personalized bags with each order or have a "FREE, TAKE ONE" display.
  5. Halloween is the beginning of the holiday season. It is one of the most popular times for businesses to get promotional custom products, so don't be left behind when your competition markets during this fun & festive season.
  6. The bags are reusable & recyclable. Show you care about the environment when you hand these out with your company name & logo on them. They're available in a variety of materials & sizes: non-woven polypropolene, plastic with a choice of die-cut handles or soft loop handles, metallic that are reflective at night or kraft paper with sturdy handles.
  7. Great way to promote your business--now & later in the year. You can put your other promotional imprinted products such as pens, sticky note pads or a letter opener in the bags. This way your customer will have a lasting item with your logo on it long after Halloween is over.
Your advertising message is imprinted on the back.
Keep in mind if you order the bags now, you won't get them for another three weeks--that's mid-September & that's when you should start giving them out.

Billions of dollars each year are spent on Halloween related items. In fact, it's the second highest revenue producing holiday. Get on the bandwagon & make sure you are marketing your business during this fun & productive time of year.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Importance Of Proofs For Customized Promotional Items

When it comes to your marketing & promotional custom products--sweat the small stuff. It's those minute details that can make or break your advertising campaign......or worse, make or break the public's image of your company.

Advertising is the main contact that you & your business have with the outside world. Therefore, you & your company must always be "on", making sure that your image professionally reflects your company & what it stands for. Above all, this must be consistent--don't waver. You have just one chance to make a first impression & once you make it, you have to keep it. Don't bank on your customers' loyalty.

Reputations & impressions can take a long time to build but can evaporate in an instant!

What do you think a client could do after spending $600+ on 1000 pens that read:

Jon Peters Hair Salon & Spa
Come To Our Saloon & Treat Yourself Royally

I changed the name of the hair salon, but that actually happened to one of my customers (before he became a customer of mine). He was terribly upset over the mistake, but owned up to the fact that it was his error & eventually saw the humor in it. Very few people have his forgiving temperament.

Below are some examples of errors in printed material--costly errors. These are actual, not made up. They're funny......we've all seen them & we've all laughed at them. Jay Leno constantly flashes them on The Tonight Show.  But they're far from being humorous when it happens to you. That's why it's so very important to be meticulously observant when you get a proof for the promotional imprinted products you order.

I don't have examples of the errors my customers have overlooked when they received their proof, nor would I ever show them to the public. So all I can show you are the mistakes that were made on other printed advertising material, but keep in mind it can just as easily happen with customized promotional items. The only way to avoid it is to carefully look at the proof.

The only cereal that can change your skin color......with that in mind, do you really care how many grams of fiber it contains?

So all it takes is a cool 5.5 million dollars & this could be yours!

Play your music & wash your clothes all in one cycle. Something I always wanted to do.

This gives new meaning to fast food......combine your entree & dessert in one course.

And just what are the 15 best things in these schools--anyone care to guess?

What a huge difference that 1 missing letter can make. Luckily the company that misprinted the billboard corrected it by the end of the day. This can happen with any printed item, including promotional products with your name & logo on them, but rarely can they be corrected within 24 hours. Some can't be corrected at all because by the time they were printed & noticed, the damage was done or the client's budget was exhausted.

It's not just typos you have to look out for. Check your graphics carefully.

Got an extra hand?

When my customers order promotional custom products, I ALWAYS make sure a virtual proof is emailed to them. It is imperative to ALWAYS thoroughly check over the proof for simple mistakes such as the above.

A customer may approve the proof after only a casual glance & like the way it looks. He'll then be irate when he gets the final product & it's misprinted. What about the proof he approved? Color looked great & the layout was what he wanted; but the phone number or the conscientiously did he check the actual copy? Please make sure to carefully read all text & ensure the layout & spelling is 100% correct before approving your proof.

A proof will take the guess work out of your advertising specialty. I hope this helps you with your next order.
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Promotional Imprinted Products Made It To The NY Times

Last month the NY Times ran an article promoting customized promotional items. They summarized how to decide what to give & why promotional imprinted products are effective......a new slant from the reason I've stated in previous articles. This one is called the Rule of Reciprocity.

Here is the article that was in the NY Times last month:

July 18, 2011, 1:00 pm
The Surprising Power of Promotional Products

Branded: An insider’s guide to small-business marketing.

When my grandparents moved into a retirement center, I helped with the garage sale. My cousin Claire and I were joking about how best to display the odds and ends from their 60 years together when I stumbled upon a gift from the gods of high kitsch. It was a letter opener, but this was not your typical letter opener.

In the clear acrylic handle floated a mini uterus with two pills strategically placed where ovaries normally reside, alongside the drug’s name, Hormonin. This promotional product was a gift from a drug company representative to my granddad, a doctor in Laredo, Tex. I tried to imagine how this token must have been received by the taciturn Dr. Puig. “Thanks Hal, I’ll put this next to my collection of kidney stones.” Or, “Do you have that on a T-shirt in an extra large?” Highly doubtful. He probably focused on its utility and kept it right there on his desktop. Which is probably what the drug company’s marketing department was counting on.

Promotional products are, some say, the oldest form of advertising. American businesses spend $20 billion a year giving away stuff with logos, according to Jerry McLaughlin, president of Branders, one of the largest sellers of promotional products online. Which is pretty good evidence that it works. Mr. McLaughlin credits the effectiveness of promotional products to centuries old cultural norms around the rule of reciprocity. “If you give something, the recipient is honor bound to give something back,” he said. “In every language and culture, research has found there are really derogatory words for people who get and don’t give back. We humans are hard wired to respond if we get something.”

Are we really that easy? I visited with Dr. Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University. Dr. Cialdini, who has written a book on the topic, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” became interested in studying the rule of reciprocity out of self-defense. “All my life I’ve been a sucker,” he said.

Dr. Cialdini observed Hare Krishna Society members in airports, watching them foist paper flowers upon travelers. As soon as travelers accepted the flowers, they became more likely to reach into their pocketbooks and reciprocate with a donation. Sociologists and anthropologists have found, he said, that there is not a single society in the world that doesn’t train its people from childhood to this rule. “Marketers take advantage of this all the time,” he said. “Tupperware parties — one of the things that happen very early on — they play games so every one at the party wins a prize from the Tupperware representative. And they feel very obligated to give something back in return.”

A well-known veterans’ nonprofit group, the Disabled American Veterans, is a case in point. When the group sends a mailing for contributions, Dr. Cialdini said, it gets an 18-percent response rate. When the same letter is sent with personalized address labels, which cost about eight cents, the response rate goes up to 35 percent. “For the cost of the address labels they get almost a doubling of return,” he said. “It’s very powerful rule and very small things can trigger it.”

How do companies find the right promotional item? Here are three suggestions:

  •  Give items that members of your target audience will use in the environment where they make decisions about using your product or service. If you go after executives in corporations, give them something they will use in their offices, around their desktop so your company can be top of mind when they make decisions. Golf-related items are exceptions because lots of business happens on the golf course.
  • Have it underscore your marketing message and differentiate your company. Mr. McLaughlin recounts a computer software client who makes antivirus software. The client put its logo on boxes of condoms and sent them to information technology types with the message, “Protect yourself, protect your computers.” Results? “Most I.T. people are male,” said Mr. McLaughlin, “and don’t really have girlfriends so that’s particularly titillating. They believe they got pretty good results.” A bit edgy for most companies, but you get the idea.   
  • Personalize them.  While we are fond of our company logos, customers really like to use items that have their names on them. “People like seeing their own name above all else", said Mike Linderman, president of Express Pens, and former chairman of the Promotional Products Association International. His company makes pens in small quantities that can be imprinted with both your company’s logo and your client’s name.
Some of the most popular promotional items these days are pens, flash drives, aluminum sports bottles, reusable grocery bags, and anything green or American made.

Did receiving the uterus-enhanced letter opener prompt my granddad to write more Hormonin scripts for menopausal patients? Can’t say, but this promotional product made it 40 years without seeing a trash bin. And it’s now in a prominent place on my desk, right next to a Charlie the Tuna desk lamp.

I think MP Mueller, of the NY Times, summed it all up rather nicely.  Now it's your turn......what can you do to make your business stand out with promotional custom products?

Ronni Sherman

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flash Drives As Promotional Products

USB flash drives, sometimes called USB memory sticks, have been becoming increasingly popular to hand out as marketing items. They are available in a huge selection of shapes, sizes & colors, not to mention memory sizes--all having ample imprint space for your company name & logo.

Some people are not sure of what flash drives are. Here is a simple explanation: they carry the information that is stored on your computer, from data files & photographs to Powerpoint presentations. If your computer crashes, all your data is stored in this one little devise so you won't lose any of your information. It's your back-up for all your files & whatever else was on your computer. They are great for moving data from one computer to another or to simply have important information on hand.

When flash drives are used as customized promotional items they can be incredibly powerful as one of the best marketing tools to promote your company identity. Keep in mind this is something everyone with a computer absolutely needs, but only a few people actually go out & buy. Your clients & future customers will appreciate & use it. The big plus for you is your company logo & name is imprinted boldly on the flash drive, itself, & your business will most likely be held in high regard every time it's used.

Here are a few examples of how to utilize these effectively 
as promotional imprinted products:

1. Handing them out with your preloaded information in the flash drive. This is especially effective at a trade show, seminar, convention or presentation. Besides imprinting your logo on the flash drive, you can customize it by preloading your information into the device. The recipient walks away with your latest brochure & pricing, a summary of what was laid out at the seminar or a preview of the presentation. A realtor can showcase homes that are up for sale, a gym can have a trainer demonstrate simple exercises to do at home or a bed & breakfast can show a virtual tour of their facility. A dentist can give tips on dental hygiene on a flash drive that's in the shape of a toothpaste tube. The options available to you are endless.

2. Handing them out as a basic sale tool. Nothing is preloaded, but your company name & logo are displayed on the device so the consumer will remember who gave it to him. Like I said earlier, everybody who uses a computer has a need for a flash drive & giving them out as a promotional custom product will score big with your customer.

3. Handing them out as a business gift. What a perfect way to say thank you & to let your client know he's appreciated. These can be either preloaded with an introduction of your office staff or maybe a special promotion or they can be left empty for the consumer to load his own information in the device. Because it's a gift, I suggest a leather or metal drive that is subtly engraved with your company name.

Want to make an impact & really stand out with the flash drive you give out? Try preshaped memory sticks in the shape of people. They can be detailed to fit your occupation & logo'd with your brand. Specialty shapes are also available for every occupation or hobby......airplane, automobile, guitar, hamburger, soccer ball, tennis racket......just name it & we'll find it.

How about a flash drive that illuminates your logo when it's in use? A combination pen & flash drive? There are so many options. Be creative so your message will pop.

This time of year is probably one of the best times to hand out flash drives because school starts at the end of this month or the beginning of next month & there isn't a high school or college student who couldn't use one of these. 

As you can see, it's easy to accelerate your advertising campaign when you add your logo to a flash drive. Save, store & share files on this reliable easy-to-use device.

Advertise in a flash.
Ronni Sherman