Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mouse Pads As Promotional Imprinted Products

To run a successful business today, it is immensely important to have brand recognition. If a potential customer recognizes your business name when needing your product or service, they are more likely to choose your company. In order to achieve company identity, you simply have to get your name out there! Inexpensive, but successful & effective ways to do this are word of mouth marketing & handing out customized promotional items to your customers & prospects.

Again the age old questions: What promotional imprinted product is good for me? How can I put everything I want known about my business on one item? I've always rated pens as an ideal marketing tool because they're economical, everybody uses them & they travel. But they have very limited space for your advertising message--room for only your logo & company name. Maybe a website or email address can be added.

So you want room to really sell your business--to expand on what you do, what you stand for & perhaps highlight a special event or sale......mouse pads. They're mini billboards. They have the space to advertise all there is to know about your company & you can do it in a fun, colorful & creative way. Promotional mouse pads make an impact!

Nearly everyone uses a computer daily, at work or at home. If you give your existing clients & potential customers logo mouse pads, your brand recognition will soar. Your customers will see your information all the time & so will the people around them. They are not only seen by the user, but by people who pass the desk showing off this colorful promotional custom product. This is a very effective strategy in company identity.

Whether you order mouse pads in the traditional soft or hard covers, they've come a long way from the conventional look you're used to seeing.  They're available in die-cut shapes that represents your business, special interests or the shape of your logo. 

Worried about our planet......they can be made from recycled materials. Want to make an impact & add comfort for the recipient......get a mouse pad with a memory foam wrist rest. This, for sure, will make yours be used & stand out from all others.

A novel & fun way to enhance your logo day after day is on a four piece puzzle mouse pad. It can be used as a mouse pad or separate into four individual pieces & they become coasters.  No more annoying wet circles left by coffee mugs or water bottles on desktops.

All of these come in full color to show off your business at it's best.  So think how you want to show it off before you order.  Take advantage & add more than just your company name, logo & website. Have fun with it & create a wow effect. You'll be happy you did & so will your customer.

Photographs of your business establishment or products are another way to advertise on mouse pads. Customize them with pictures of your staff so people can relate to the voice over the phone.  Whatever you do, make use of colors & design to enhance your logo & advertising message & give your company pizzazz!

Branded mouse pads advertise your company to customers on a daily basis. Your name & logo are in front of them all the time. If your customer sees your logo frequently, they will certainly create more business for you. Mouse pads are a fun way for the public to learn about your business & remember you the next time they need something in your field.

Go for it. Get creative with your business & soar above the competition.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oooops! Could This Happen To You?

Customized promotional items that try to offer a unique spin on a common product must be carefully scrutinized by a business owner to ensure that such items will not accidentally offend anyone, will not send the wrong message--one you didn't want to be associated with, won't be misused......or worse, not be used at all.

A great example of this is the custom flip-flop with a bottle opener inserted in the sole. Flip-flops are a cost effective way to market a brand image during the summer & obviously the person responsible for this innovation had good intentions in mind.  It was an innovative idea.......a "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" idea, except.........the bottle opener is on the bottom of the shoe where it is exposed to unsanitary conditions. Most people will be turned off by putting the bottom of their shoe on something they're going to be drinking from. This promotional imprinted product will most likely be tucked away at the back of the closet or the bottom of a trash bin & the logo will never be seen.

Here's another example of a bottle opener sending the wrong message. A national car rental agency used to purchase key tags with a branded bottle opener attached. They claimed they were out at non-alcoholic sporting events they sponsored & not to customers renting a car. But still, think of the message they're out a bottle opener with your corporate logo on it when it's associated with driving? It promoted drinking & driving no matter where they were given out. Someone must have rethought that strategy because that item was later replaced by others more conducive to their nature of business. So another thing to watch out for--while a promotional item may work in one field, it could be disastrous in another.

One of my customers made this mistake--but be sure they only made it once. An auto dealership was having a bar-b-que to promote a blow-out sale on their cars for an entire week-end. They did extensive advertising, including ads on TV inviting families to the dealership for bar-b-qued hamburgers & hot dogs & games for the children while parents looked at the cars. They ordered flyers (frisbees) from me that were used to put the paper plates in & when the guests were finished they could keep the flyers with the dealer's logo. Good idea, except the bar-b-que was in the parking lot where the new cars were & the kids were soon flinging the flyers all over hitting the cars. Today, this dealership gives out beach balls, plastic piggy banks & coloring books to children.

Also, any message placed on a promotional custom product must be sure to follow good promotional marketing practices. For example, an elementary school in New York received pencils that sported the message "Too Cool To Do Drugs". Again, the promotional item was a great way to promote a positive lifestyle to children.  But unfortunately, the design of the slogan on the pencils was not thought out & when the pencils were sharpened, it would spell out: "Cool To Do Drugs" & eventually: "Do Drugs". The pencils were recalled & altered by imprinting the beginning of the sentence at the eraser end of the pencil.

When a small business places any sort of message on a promotional imprinted product, not only must the statement be politically correct, but it should be permanent. It's so important to not just think of the item you're distributing, but what kind of message are you sending.

While the gaffs mentioned above are extreme examples of mistakes, businesses would do well to learn from them. A general rule to follow in promotional marketing is the more normal, the better. Personalized pens will be used everyday & can be customized in bright colors to make them stand out. It is also advisable to avoid sensitive issues like politics, political issues & war. Unless there is a specific reason, a small business should focus on neutral subjects like healthy living & be as unique as possible without crossing the line into absurdity.

I hope this helps you from an unforeseen disaster. Think everything out beforehand.  Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Make Sure Your Promotional Custom Products Aren't "Useless"

Many people don't realize the value of customized promotional items & therefore, don't use them. Or so they time you hear someone utter those words, ask him to look at the pens on his desk, his coffee cup or mouse pad.

Years ago there was an image of men at trade shows standing in front of their booths with a slew of cheap, gimmicky promotional products--blowing whistles, doing tricks with yo-yo's or throwing balls at people in the aisles trying to grab their attention. Pens were boring stick pens with a cap or plain click pens. Note pads were called scratch pads because that's what they white paper with a black header at the top.

That was when we had to go home to make a phone call because there were no cell phones & we depended on the mail to deliver an "air mail" letter within a week because there were no instantaneous emails. Everything's changed & that includes the world of promotional items.

Promotional imprinted products are a good way to build a sustainable image. Think about all the paper products with custom imprinting, a majority of the pens you write with have a company's name or for example a USB flash drive to send your customer--a memory stick with your logo on it. If it's part of a corporate image & it's useful to the recipient, then promotional items prove to be one of the most lasting forms of advertising.

It's useful to both you & the person receiving it. It helps you because if the promotional custom product is being used & being seen, it spreads your company image. If it's something your customer wants & uses, then it's especially useful to him.

The products are not useless, but can become useless when they are purchased by businesses who:
  • don't have a specific need for the product, but just want to order some "promotional stuff".
  • don't specify their target audience & end up with the wrong item.
  • don't bother to make or distribute the products once they have them, but keep them stored away for a specific time or a special customer.
  • order as cheap as possible & get stuck with products that ruin their company image.
Don't fall into the four pitfalls listed above.

  • Order a promotional item that represents your business & that your target audience has a need for. Think about what will set you apart from your competition & still sell your company in the best possible way. Try to wow your customer--at least give them something that will make them sit up & notice you.
  • Know your target audience--this is probably the most important of all. Who are the people who will receive your promotional imprinted product? What age group, where do they live, any special interests, are they a part of an ethnic group? Young professionals will probably deem a beach ball or kitchen utensil as useless, but would value & use a letter opener or flash drive with your logo.  On the other hand, if you're reaching out to the American family--they probably would appreciate beach balls & kitchen utensils.
  • Hand out your products once you receive them--don't save them. When a special event comes up, order something special for that event. Don't "save" your customized promotional items to save money. You've basically wasted your money if they're going to sit in a storage closet where no one will see them. The purpose of promotional products is to get them out among the public so they are aware of your business & will remember you.
  • If you order something as cheap as possible, the only place your name will be seen is in the waste paper basket. Yes, you'll be'll be remembered as a company who doesn't care about quality. This is a sure-fire way to drive your customers to your competition. You don't have to spend a fortune for a quality promotional item......just don't buy the cheapest. "You get what you pay for" may ring true in this case. On a budget? Distributors of promotional products always have specials--all year long. Don't be afraid to ask about them--we're only too glad to share the news.
So I don't think promotional custom products are useless. Most of the time, these are regular useful products, but made promotional because of the personalization possibilities. Sometimes these items are ordered for wrong purposes & then if used wrongly, the are useless.

Next time you order, think about what will put your business in the best light.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

America's Top Five Promotional Imprinted Product Markets

The Advertising Specialty Institute's (ASI) Counselor Magazine has ranked the top 100 American cities & metropolitan areas for selling promotional materials. Below are the top five cities that made the list & the reasons why.

I was surprised when I first saw what cities were the top 5......not New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Atanta or Houston. But after reading why these cities made the list, it made sense.

Businesses can look for similar characteristics within their own communities to determine why promotional imprinted products are effective marketing tools for their companies & the services & products they provide.

1. Bridgeport, Connecticut
There are many factors that account for the fact Connecticut's largest city sits at the top of the list, but the most noteworthy may be the location. Approximately 35% of the U.S. population & 64% of Canada's is contained within a 500 mile radius of Bridgeport. Additionally, Bridgeport is close to a high number of Fortune 500 companies & sits almost directly between New York & Boston, two very densely-populated areas. Bridgeport's lesson: consider all of the markets available to your organization, not just those in your immediate vicinity.

2. Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota
Though they constitute a large metropolitan center in their own right, the Twin Cities hardly make up the bulk of the U.S. population. Such isolation & unique location may account for the success of this market. Minneapolis/ St. Paul boasts 28.5 small businesses per 1,000 people & saw upwards of $316 million in promotional product sales last year. The Twin Cities lesson: being isolated from the competition means that small businesses can flourish on their own turf.
(The Twin Cities are home to some of the nation's largest companies such as Target, General Mills, United Health Insurance, Cargill, 3M & Best Buy. That also has to be a factor why they're #2 when it comes to customized promotional items).

3. Miami/ Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The proximity to trading partners in the Caribbean as well as it's geographic location near the meeting point of major shipping routes makes Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale are burgeoning meccas for many businesses. Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale has experienced a 3.3% population growth in the past five years & is home to over 176,000 small businesses. Miami's lesson: pay attention to where other industries have found success.

4. Jacksonville, Florida
This city is the site of enormous financial & population growth, with an almost 10% increase in residents over the past five years. Jacksonville is a gateway between the traditional South & the exploding cities of FL (like Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale). The destination contains 27.34 small businesses per every 1,000 people. Promotional products work so well in the area because it has positionaed itself as a corridor between major markets.

5. Nashville, Tennessee
The traditional home of country music is experiencing major growth in the 21st century. This has quite a bit to do with its position as an economic power in the middle of the South. Add to that a 12% population boom in the past five years, as well as a staggering 38,000 small companies within the city limits. The ASI's Advantages Magazine discovered that the South is the top American region for promotional products sales, so it's easy to see why Nashville would be so successful. Organizations that seek out the most bustling hubs in their regions will likely experience the most success when offering promotional custom products.

Ok, those are the top 5 cities where customized promotional items are the most popular; but it doesn't limit the effectiveness of promotional products in all cities. If you own a business in Baltimore, MD, Kansas City, KS, Des Moines, IA or Sacramento, CA advertising specialties can just as useful to you.

Bottom line, it's not the location--where you distribute them; but HOW you distribute them. The companies handing out promotional imprinted products in the top five cities flourished because they knew their market. Know your market & most importantly, your target audience--WHO you're giving them to & how they will be used.

I hope this helps you hand out your marketing items.
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A New Twist To Standard Promotional Imprinted Products

There are certain customized promotional items that will be given out more than others, mainly because they have proven, over time, how well they work. These are products that people use almost on a daily basis & can't get along without them. You may spend most your time in front of a computer, but can you think of a day when you didn't use a pen or a note pad?

Go to a local grocery store & you see dozens of the non-woven shopping bags with someone's logo on them. You don't have to go further than your desk drawer to find pens with imprinted company names.

The big question is........if you know how effective these promotional imprinted products are & you felt good distributing them, how can you be different from all your competitors & still hand out a product that's useful & needed by your target audience? After all, you didn't invent the reusable shopping bag or the ball point pen.

Here are a few ideas to stand out from your competitors & at the same time be noticed by the public. You can take the fundamental promotional custom product & turn it into a fun & unique item.
1. Giant pen: Believe it or not, this 8" pen writes as smoothly as a normal size pen & is just as easy to handle; yet you will definitely stand out from others with this large & unusual ballpoint. I have customers who have been successful with these & have been reordering them for years.

2. Gloss laminated non-woven bags: This bag is the non-woven shopper you see all over but it has a gloss laminated finish. Lamination provides extra strength, wipes clean easily & is tear resistant. The high gloss finish gives it a fashion forward image. Your company will make an impact with this bag.

3. Square insulated travel mug: Insulated travel mugs are seen all over........round ones. It's a popular & useful item--& a common one. People can't get enough of them. Look at this square metal lined tumbler for a change of pace. The shape is sure to draw attention to your logo.

4. Six-sided sports bottle: Another item that everyone carries wherever they go. Try this 6-sided Triton bottle in bright jewel colors & you will really show off your logo.  They're also available in a triangular shape--clear with bright colored tops. No doubt, these are fun to have.

5. Sticky notes with beveled edges: Sticky notes are another common household or office item & most people have more than one pad. Have yours jump out from the crowd with a beveled, 3-dimensional edge. It will give this ordinary, everyday item real pizzazz.

6. Mouse pad: Make sure the mouse pad with your company name & logo on it is the one that your customers are using.  Add a memory foam wrist pad for an extra touch of comfort. These have a large imprint space so get colorful & creative & your name will be seen all day, everyday.

The next time you buy your customized promotional items, think how you can be a little different than the you can stand out from everyone & not blend in.  Good luck!

Ronni Sherman