Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Face Of Your Company

The first impression of your company is probably the most important impression you'll ever make & in many cases, it's the only impression you'll ever make.

This initial impression can be made in many forms including your website, what you say on Face Book or how you portray yourself on other social networking sites. There are marketeers out there to tell you how to enhance your image on those sites. I want to talk to you about two other areas where first impressions can make or break you: actual personal contact & promotional imprinted products.

Great customer service must be delivered from the first touch-point to the last. It should start with your selection of suppliers & continue through your organization--from the first line of contact when the phone rings, to order entry--& all the way through to the moment your program is delivered to the client & their end-users.

Does everyone in your business know that they are personally accountable for creating a "World-Class Customer Experience" that exceeds the customer's expectations? A receptionist, or the first person to greet you when you walk in the door or call on the phone, is responsible for setting the tone of your company. Dan Schawbel wrote, "Since people are the face of the company, there must be an emphasis on each person who represents the corporate brand."

The customized promotional items you hand out also make an immediate & lasting impression. It's important in this area of advertising that you don't cut corners & think your recipient will be happy with anything that is free. Wrong! If it doesn't work, if it's not useful to him or if it spells "cheap", he'll toss it in the garbage & forget about you........or if he does remember you, it won't be in a
positive way. The impression you left him with is a company he doesn't want to do business with.

The promotional imprinted product you hand out is an instant visual identity to your company. It's a first impression to someone who has not heard of you before. One of the main purposes of visual identity is to make you stand out & be distinct from your competitors. Your business has a value proposition, that is, you promise customers a reason to choose you. You've told them you're worth their time to seek you out. Your product or service is worth their time & investment.

Suppose you said, "Nothing we sell or do is of any particular interest." Suppose you said, "Shop here because our prices & quality is the same as everyone else's." Not a great first impression. So then, why communicate that visually?

For two years I've been writing articles telling you how important it is to stand out from your competitors & how to make an impact so you'll be remembered. Promotional custom products not only make it possible, but make it easy to do in a manner that will fit any budget. I've said this before & I can't say it enough, the promotional product you give out must be relevant to your company & be useful to your client or future customer.

To achieve a good first impression for new customers & maintain an excellent lasting impression among your older clients, look at your business through their eyes. Are you someone you'd like to do business with? Are you giving the service you expect from the companies you deal with? It might be a good idea to ask your customers where they think you excel & where they think you could do better.

And last--let your smile be your very first impression, the true face of your company. Whether it's actually seen or only heard in your voice, it can work magic & make a lasting impression.  Good luck!

Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Customized Promotional Items At The State Fair

The State Fair: those three words arouse your senses & evoke childhood memories. Rides, games, food, music, local artisans, livestock........& a whole lot of people.

Texas & Minnesota are the two largest state fairs, drawing over a million visitors each year. These attendance numbers add up to one thing for businesses who advertise with promotional custom products: extra eyes on your brand. Think about it, state fairs offer an extraordinary opportunity to spread your company name & logo among the public. While Texas & Minnesota may win 1st place for high attendance, state fairs all around the country attract people in droves. And these attendees are ready for a good time......& free goodies.

Why not consider capitalizing on the throngs of fair-goers with a fun promotional imprinted product showing off your logo to everyone around?

If you go with a t-shirt, draw-string backpack or a visor you'll have enough room to display your logo along with the state fair's logo or design. You've now turned your customized promotional wearable into a souvenir that will be worn over & over. How's that for continuous exposure?!

Other promotional items that are good to give out for the fair are:

BEADS: These are the same colorful ones that are thrown from the floats at Mardi Gras. The same ones that the crowds scramble to grab. These are as popular at state fairs as they are at Carnival in Rio & the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. If you decide to order these, plan on ordering a lot because people will grab more than one. Your logo & company name can dangle in full color on a medallion hanging from the necklace.

SPIRIT STICKS: These are perfect for the nightly concerts at the fairs. They come in an assortment of colors, shapes & sizes. You can get them with die-cut shapes at the ends & some bend rather than remain rigid--they're called noodle sticks. They are also available in glow-in-the-dark. These are probably the most sought after. These popular items are seen at sporting events & political fund-raisers as well as at concerts.

 INFLATABLE WATER BOTTLES: When you're at the fair, the last thing you want to do is lug around a water bottle--especially if it's empty; yet you hate to throw it away because sooner or later you'll be thirsty again. Also you need to stay hydrated if it's hot. Here's the perfect solution: a deflatable water bottle that is flat when empty & can be tucked away in a pocket or purse if it's not in use. It's inflates when filled.

INSECT REPELLANT: Chance are you'll be at the fair during dusk or early evening when the mosquitoes come out in full force. Don't let these pesky little insects ruin your fun.  Be prepared with this all natural insect repellant that is DEET free.  It's light & compact & will fit in any purse or pocket. It's FDA approved & will repel gnats, flies & fire ants as well as mosquitoes.

HAND SANITIZER SPRAY: If you ever needed this product, it's at the state fair. Your hands will always feel grubby & chances are soap & water are a very long walk away. Also think of the little ones at the petting zoo then all of a sudden they want something to eat.  Do you think they'll want to stand in line to wash their hands? This handy item is compact & will fit easily in a pocket or purse.  It's lightly scented & will be the life-saver of the day.

 "Where did you get that?" Those five words are music to the ears of anyone involved with promotional custom products. And that's what your customers will be asked if you hand these out for the state fair. Strangers will come up to them asking that question, making your promotion a prize winning product.

State fairs won't actually start for another eight weeks, but this is the time to think about your summer promotions. What is a sizzling, hot idea you can do to spice up your campaign for the summer months? Almost every state or county has a fair--make your business a part of it & have your logo travel the fair grounds.

Think about these items for your summer promotion.  Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Promotional Imprinted Products & Summer Sports

Though summer is still a month away, the weather says it's arrived. Businesses can use the time leading up to international, national & local sporting events to boost their company image. There are many events to choose from, but none are more visible this year than the London Summer Olympics & the Euro 2012 Soccer Championships.

These two contests occur once every four years & it's hard to duplicate the excitement as the US athletes prepare for the games. Even the advertisements that will soon be seen on TV will trigger excitement. Companies can use customized promotional items to successfully tie these games to their brand image, but it's important to advertise well in advance to create anticipation for the sporting events & at the same time draw attention to their business.

Depending on the target audience that you're reaching out to, promotional imprinted products can be branded with simple patriotic messages that support the U.S. athletes or a specific event. For example, a company can order note pads with their name & logo at the top & the Olympic rings at the bottom with this message: "Good luck to the American Olympic teams in London!"

Whether you're backing our soccer team at the Olympics or our team playing in the Euro Championships, you'll get the message across by putting your name on a stress soccer ball, a sticky note pad or mouse pad in the shape of a soccer ball.

By giving out these promotional custom products now, you can ensure that they will be visible for most the summer as anticipation builds for the games. This visibility means your customers & prospects will continue to see your company logo & message every time they use the items with your name on them.

These aren't the only games this summer. Look for local teams in your community. What a better way to get involved than to sponsor a little league baseball team or swim team at a neighborhood park. Handing out beach balls, imprinted with your logo, at a swim meet is a fun way to gain company recognition locally. Let the recipients spread the word about you as they take the balls to the beach or a pool party in a back yard--maybe even on a camping trip.

Golf is a big charity fund-raiser during the summer months & many organizations & businesses actively take part. Whether you're playing in the tournament or not, you can still get your name & logo to be seen. Be a sponsor & then donate golf tees, golf balls, towels or even a sports bottle with your company name on it. If it's useful to the golfer, he'll use it more than just this one game & your name will be in front of him, hopefully, throughout the summer.

Ok, you don't want to promote a specific sporting event or sponsor a team or golf tournament........you can still take advantage of summer sports as you hand out your promotional imprinted products.
  • Don't forget about that beach ball......it's a favorite among all age groups.
  • Promote good health while promoting your business with your logo imprinted in full color on lip balm, sun screen or hand sanitizers.
  • Flying discs (frisbees) are a popular item & you can see them being thrown around in parks & on beaches. Make sure your logo is on some of those.
  • For the fisherman you can put your name on fishing lures or bobbers.
  • A sports bottle is a must for everyone who participates in a sport whether it's hiking, biking or observing. It's always seen in gyms as people try to get in shape for the summer. When it comes to sports, this is probably one of the most used of all advertising specialties.
It's always good to hand out something a little different than what you've done in the past. I hope this gives you some fresh ideas as summer approaches. Take advantage of the excitement & fun.

Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Promotional Custom Product That Goes Everywhere

Did you ever wish you could buy a traveling billboard & have it move around town promoting your business? Well, when you imprint t-shirts with your company name & logo, that's exactly what you are buying. This is one of the easiest ways to advertise your business.

No matter where you are, look around & notice what people are wearing in a casual setting........t-shirts with an imprinted message on them. Some people collect them & that becomes their week-end attire. They've become more of a fad than a promotional imprinted product.

Imprinted t-shirts are one of the most popular of all customized promotional items & it's easy to understand why. After all, who doesn't love a cool t-shirt? If you get creative & make it fun, it will be worn & your business will get great exposure. It's as easy as that!

20 Ways You Can Use Logo T-Shirts:
  • Promote school spirit or have the PTA sell them for a fund-raiser.
  • Build a street team to start a guerrilla marketing campaign.
  • Create youthful restaurant uniforms or sell them in the gift shop.
  • Hand them out as trade show give-aways.
  • Use them as custom wedding favors. Guests will love the wearable gift.
  • Develop team spirit for a club team, school or university.
  • Thank customers for their patronage.
  • Reward event attendees for signing up for more information.
  • Hand them out at street festivals & fairs. A souvenir for the public & free advertising for you.
  • Use them in a political campaign & offer them in exchange for donations.
  • Outfit campers & counselors for summer camp.
  • Build loyalty among customers by handing them out to frequent patrons.
  • Uniform a trade show sales team with an attention-getting design.
  • Give them to new account signups.
  • Make a Greek event a night to remember......with a t-shirt.
  • Offer them as family reunion gifts.
  • Liven up a springtime advertising campaign.
  • Promote an event or party using a t-shirt with the logo.
  • Create buzz for a new product launch.
  • Generate excitement for a charity auction.
There are so many other uses for imprinted t-shirts. Can you think of any not on this list?

Promotional t-shirts will be noticed. People tend to read them when they would ignore almost everything else. Design something unique & appealing & your company name will make an impact.

It's the most effective way to get your business the exposure it deserves with the minimum of effort. Whomever is wearing the t-shirt with your logo is taking it places where you haven't been. People will notice you & that's what promotional custom products are all about!

Turn you logo into a favorite week-end outfit.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Impact Of Color On Your Customized Promotional Items

Color is so powerful--it influences much of what we do in our daily lives, whether on a conscious or subconscious level. Therefore, don't eliminate it or underestimate it when it comes to promoting your company. The colors of your logo & customized promotional items are just as crucial as the products or services you offer. The colors you choose say a lot about your business......more than you may realize.

What colors have you chosen for your promotional imprinted products? What were your reasons for making that particular choice? Was it because you liked those colors or did you have a certain marketing message in mind? While visual appeal is an important consideration, your color choices could be sending a specific message to the people who view them. Are you sure you know what that message is?

In a previous article I wrote about the impact colors have on people--color by color. It might be worth reading because each color has positive & negative aspects that elicit reactions from all of us & you can see what emotions your colors evoke.

Color & the impact it has on your company identity is very important to the overall success of your business. Colors set the emotional tone & play a big part in how people react to your company. Many times it's more subconscious than conscious.

You'd be wise to consider the psychology of color when designing your marketing materials. Be it business cards, brochures, a website, posters or promotional custom products, you'll be making color choices. Colors not only enhance the appearance of the item......they also influence our behavior. It's important to consider the impact the colors you use will have on your target audience.

For instance have you noticed that most fast food restaurants are decorated with vivid reds & oranges? It's no accident that these colors show up so frequently. Studies have shown that reds & oranges encourage diners to eat quickly & leave......and that's exactly what fast food outlets want you to do.

Market research shows it's not just chance that you see a lot or reds & blacks on adult websites. These are thought to have sexual connotations.

Now here is where I say nothing is written in stone......my website is red & black & my logo is red, black & white. And believe me when I chose those colors, sex was not on my mind nor did I want to get your attention subliminally with those colors. First & foremost, red is my favorite color & I chose it to go along with black & white because I liked the contrast & it was an attention grabber. But before I decided on the colors, I read about them. I opted for black because it depicted sophistication & red is dramatic, energizing, creative & it steals the show. And that's the message I wanted to convey: we're an energetic, sophisticated company that's strong on creativity.

Ever notice that children's books, toys & websites usually contain large blocks of bright, primary colors? Young children prefer these colors & respond more positively than they do to pastels or muted tones.

Jaguar is a luxury car with a luxury website. There's a predominance of black (sophistication) & silver (prestige). Jaguar markets to people with high incomes who view themselves as sophisticated & look for a prestigious vehicle.

The Xerox Corp conducted a study with merchants & business owners across the country to evaluate just how important color was to their customers & to the general public when it came to marketing. Here are the results:
92% believed color presents an image of impressive quality
90% felt color assisted in attracting new customers
90% believed customers remembered presentations & printed material better when color was used.
83% believed color makes them appear more successful
81% thought color gives them a competitive edge
76% believed that the use of color makes their business appear larger to clients

Market researchers have had a field day identifying colors & the likely effect they have on us.

The effects of color differ among different cultures, so the attitudes & preferences of your target audience should be considered when you plan your advertising campaigns.

For example, white is the color of death in the Chinese culture & it's never worn to a wedding--not by the bride or by the guests.  Yet, in western cultures, white means purity & is worn by the bride & guests at weddings. Purple represents death in Brazil, but in the US & many European countries it depicts royalty or wisdom. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but signifies sadness in Greece & jealousy in France.

Color also effects shopping habits: impulse shoppers respond best to red, black & royal blue; shoppers who stick to budgets respond best to pink, light & navy blue & teal; traditionalists respond best to pastels.

So how can you put this information to use?

Give some thought to the message you want to send & to the psychology of the recipient. Who is your market? What are their demographics? What message do you want to send them? How do you want them identify with you?  Then choose your colors accordingly.

Last, but not least, don't forget about your company colors. Did you choose them because they were your favorites? That works if they're compatible with the message you're trying to relay about your company. If they give a different message, then save that color for when you repaint your bedroom & think what color best describes the mission of your business & your product or service.

Your company colors deserve as much, if not more, attention than the other details you took time to plan. They should not take a back seat. It's the first thing someone will notice about your business & most likely be a huge factor in company identity. Research shows people make a subconscious judgement about a product within 90 seconds after seeing & between 62% & 90% of that assessment is based on color alone. So don't under estimate the power of color.

One last figure to consider when selecting your company color or colors--color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

Look at the logos & advertising around you & think of the major colors being used. How do they make you feel? Do they represent the product or service & is the correct message coming across to you? What colors would you have selected if you were asked for your opinion?

I hope this helps you in promoting your business.  Good luck!
Ronni Sherman