Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Halloween Bags As Customized Promotional Items

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 promotional  products.  The first on the list & probably the one that will give you the most exposure are customized promotional Halloween bags.

You may be asking: Why should my company order these? Here are just a few reasons why personalized Halloween bags 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 giving you a great marketing return on your purchase. They 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 that are imprint in fun, colorful designs. If your business is child oriented, your customers will appreciate that. For added safety, look into buying the metallic reflective bags.

4. Every parent of a trick-or-treater needs something for all the candy. With the expense of costumes & accessories, Halloween has become a very expensive holiday. Save your customers time & the added cost of a container for the treats & give them a sturdy promotional bag with a fun design. Your company will be remembered for this personal & thoughtful gesture.

5. People love getting something for free. You can't deny that people love getting a free gift, no matter how small it may be, just so it's useful & these definitely are. You can give out the personalized bags with each order or just have a FREE TAKE ONE display.

6. 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 time.

7. The bags are reusable & recyclable. You can 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 sizes & materials including the popular non-woven polypropylene.

8. It's a great way to promote your business--now & later in the year. You can put your other customized promotional items such as pens, sticky notes, stress balls or letter openers in the bags. This way your customer will have a lasting product with your logo on it long after Halloween is over.

The bags have preprinted designs. You have a large variety to choose from & depending on the design you picked, your logo & custom adverting message will either be on the front or the back of the bag. Either way, your business will be bold & large for all to see.

I, personally, like the non-woven bags because they're eco-friendly & have multiple uses. They make a perfect shopping bag during the month of October. Remember these figures......a non-woven bag is used about 10 times a month giving your business exposure to approximately 1038 people. That's just one bag--now multiply that by the number you gave out.

Another question you may be asking: It's not even Labor Day, why is she talking about Halloween? In just a month pumpkin patches will open. Soon after that there will be pumpkins, witches & scarecrows in every front yard. Keep in mind, if you order the bags now, you won't get them for another three weeks--that's mid-September & that's just 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

Monday, August 20, 2012

How To Avoid 1000 Little Mistakes When Ordering Promotional Custom Products

So you think you've found the product that's perfect for your promotional campaign. Where did you find it........online because it was advertised to be cheap & the picture looked good or did you call a distributor of customized promotional items? I hope the latter. We have the experience & have developed good relationships with reputable vendors to bring you the best quality.

If you go directly to a company advertising promotional products online, you'll have no idea whom you're dealing with & no recourse should your marketing products come & it's not what you ordered. That same company who eagerly answered all your emails & phone calls before you placed your order could now avoid you once you paid upfront & your order was shipped.

I am a distributor of promotional imprinted products & often wondered about these ads I see online that sell imprinted pens from .08 - .28........they look good & the price is good, but there has to be a catch.  Well, there was but you have to read the information in little print that they try to hide.  This is what I found in one of the ads I read.  While it may not be true for all cheap pens selling direct to the consumer, it is typical of many of them. 

1. IMPRINT--sometimes you only have a choice of two basic & boring fonts--Helvetica or Times. There's nothing to make your copy stand out & be noticed. The ad I looked in to added a third font: Comic Sans, which any graphic artist will tell you is the one font to avoid.  To make matters worse, your copy is small because they suggest you use four lines.  Even if you use only two or three, the type size doesn't get bigger.

2. NO PROOF--they tell you to proof the copy you're submitting carefully because once they receive it, they print as you sent it & they're not responsible for any mistakes. What, no proof so you can see how it will look? Wait until you get the pens with that small copy.

3. MINIMUMS--their minimum order was 1000 & that's a lot if you've never ordered pens & this is a trial order. Most minimums, when you order through a distributor, are 300 - 500. Your actual cost could be almost the same as what's in the ads.

4. INITIAL ORDER--this is the best one........the price of .28 (in the ad I read--it differs) is only for the first order. Every order after that, the price jumps to .48.  Even the ads that advertise pens for .08--read the small print because they also go up to .40 or higher.
The ads you read may not have the glitches I found, but most of them have something along the same lines.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Save yourself time, money & a lot of aggravation & go with a distributor who can guide you to the right pen or other promotional imprinted product that works best for you & your company.  And still will fit your budget.

Ok, now you found a distributor of promotional products & you've discussed what items are best for your business. You've read the description, seen the photos & you're ready to order. At this point it may be worth seeing a sample of the product prior to placing the order.

If the product is inexpensive they can usually be sent to you free of charge. This simple precaution will ensure there are no nasty surprises when you receive your full order.  An image of a pen may look great on your computer screen but when you get the actual item, it could look totally different. If you don't have time for a sample & if you're dealing with a reputable distributor, they may have had customers order the pens in question & can give you feedback. They will also have a list of best selling pens for you to make a selection.

Now you've placed the order. The next step in the process will be the most important one........to approve the proof.  This is the most important step because from the time you approve the proof onwards there is no turning back. Take your time to check & recheck all the copy, color & positioning. I make sure a virtual proof is sent is sent back to my client. This is true with every order I take, no exceptions.

A distributor can make a simple pen stand out & give it pizzazz!

If you follow the above suggestions then you might save yourself from receiving 1000 little mistakes delivered to your office. There is little worse than handing out 1000's of customized personalized pens or other products only to discover the website is wrong, pens skip when writing, the lids don't stay on the travel mugs or the lip balm stings rather than soothes the lips.

I hope this helps the next time you're thinking of ordering promotional items.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Expanding A Medical Practice Using Promotional Custom Products

Retail companies dedicate a lot of time & research to figure out the best ways to market their business. On the other hand, medical & dental practices tend to have little perspective on effective marketing practices that help build a strong, referral based business. Ironically, it's the referrals that expands the practice.

Are you in the medical field or, as an advertising specialties distributor, does your data base include doctors' & dental offices?  Promotional imprinted products are a natural for the medical profession.

Older, loyal patients & the new ones just referred are not enough to sustain a thriving practice. No business, no matter what field, can afford to stay stagnant. A main concern for everyone is how to retain the customers & patients they have & still get new ones.

So how does a medical office spread word about their practice without spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on TV or radio advertising & still keep a demeanor of professionalism? One logical, effective & economical solution is the same other professional fields........customized promotional items.

Distributing promotional custom products to existing patients after an office visit or to prospective new ones at health fairs & other special events is a healthy way to grow a practice. Giving the recipients something of value that will be useful to them will not only be appreciated, but will keep the doctor's name in front of them every time they reach for the item. And an added bonus is that name will be seen by others when the product is used in public. This is a subtle way to advertise.

The list of promotional merchandise a medical practice can use is endless--from the obvious to pushing the envelope & getting a little creative.

GENERAL MEDICAL PRACTICE: Pill box organizers, band-aid cases, reusable hot & cold packs, compact 1st aid kits for the purse, desk drawer or car are items that can be used in any age range & there are no boundaries regarding sex & activity levels. Every practice uses clipboards. Pedometers are great tools for preventative health care. 

PEDIATRICIANS: Logo imprinted toys, junior sized sport bottles that come in a wide assortment of shapes & bright colors & coloring books that teach healthy habits are ideal for the little ones who come in for visit. If a child has to go to the hospital there are coloring books that, in a nonthreatening way, tell what they will encounter while being there. Stuffed animals with imprinted t-shirts offer comfort for kids of any age.

OBSTETRICIANS: There's a whole spectrum of baby products that can promote a practice while pleasing the expectant mother. From newborn t-shirts & medicine dosage spoons to baby shampoo, soap & lotion all imprinted with the doctor's information......the list is endless.

DENTISTS & ORTHODONTISTS: There are many promotional imprinted products such as dental floss, toothbrushes, toothpaste & sugarless gum that can help advertise good oral hygiene & a practice as well. My dentist gives stress items in the shape of a molar to those anxious patients to squeeze during a procedure. A pediatric dentist can give his young patients coloring books touting dental habits. When teens have braces, their lips get dry so lip balms in different flavors is a good idea for orthodontists.

OPTOMETRISTS: All glasses come with glass cases, so why not give them out with the doctor's name & phone number on them? They'll be used daily & his name will always be seen. Other items that would promote an eye doctor's practice are microfiber lens cloths, a package of disposable wipes for glasses or an eyeglass repair kit.

CHIROPRACTORS: The obvious is the hand massager. They come in a variety of shapes & can be found in brightly colored plastics or sturdy wood. The options don't end with massagers--there's also hot & cold therapy gel packs, stretch therapeutic bands & pain reliever & muscle relaxant patches made from Arnica......all having ample space for an advertising message.

DERMATOLOGISTS: Sunscreens & lip glosses that are SPF30 are ideal. There's also a wide assortment of lotions & hand sanitizers. These all come with full color labels to really make a practice stand out & be noticed.

Some doctors choose to collaborate with a charity or school to create a joint project--one that would boast the name of their practice & website & they, in turn, donate the proceeds to the charity or school. An example of this would be a healthy eating cookbook & the doctor's name would be imprinted on the front cover. One doctor specializing in sports injuries donates reusable hot & cold packs to physical trainers & gyms in this area. These are great ways to show community spirit & still bring attention to a medical practice.

These are just a few of the any different ideas that can be used for advertising a medical practice. Even something as simple as distributing pens among the public get a doctor noticed. I hope this gives you ideas for an entire new area to promote advertising specialties.

The best of luck to you.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nine Reasons To Use Promotional Imprinted Products

The main question is: Why buy promotional custom products?
The answer is simple: Promotional merchandise really works!

Are you interested in growing your business? Do you want to land new clients? Keep your existing ones? Increase brand exposure? Attract attention?

Promotional products are one of the most proven marketing strategies, yet they aren't used by a surprising number of businesses. They are great marketing tools. The idea is to provide the buying public with something in addition to whatever it is they purchase from you. The items should have some perceived value & tie into the overall theme of your company.

1. They open lines of communication.
It's a law of business that the more you give, the more you receive. Promotional products are a perfect example of how this works.

Having a branded item on hand gives you the perfect conversation  started, "Here take this pen." Once you give someone something, awkwardness & tension seem to ease away & the door is open to better communication.

2. They attract attention.
Have you ever seen the lonely table at the trade show with little or no visitors? Well, good news, if you have promotional products on hand it won't be your table. At trade shows, people are attracted to two things: food & freebies. I would pass on the food & go for the promotional merchandise, like a bag with your logo boldly displayed.  Food is expendable, but something like a bag travels the show drawing attention to your company & booth. People may stop someone & ask, "Where did you get that?"

It's not just a trade show that a promotional imprinted product will attract attention for you. Wherever your logo is seen, it will draw people to notice your company. a coffee cup on an office desk, a t-shirt at the park, a water bottle at the gym, a beach ball on the beach, a pen at a seminar, a tote at the airport........the list is endless.

3. They stick around.
Advertisements come & go but tangible promotional products stay. They are easily used everyday, allowing for an increased chance of retention by the receiver.  Items like mousepads, pens & note pads stay with someone for a very long time because they are useful to the recipient.

Promotional products take your cost per impression & drop it drastically compared to traditional advertising. Less advertising expense & greater impression numbers--what more could you ask for in an advertisement?

4. They elevate brand recognition.
A large part of brand recognition is exposure to that particular brand. Very few individuals will remember who a logo belongs to or what a company does if they are only exposed to them once or twice. With your promotional products, potential customers will be exposed to your company & your clients will be reminded of you, all on a regular basis.

Not only will your clients & potential customers be constantly exposed to your brand, they will also develop a favorable impression of your company over time.

5. They expand your company's exposure.
You see your competitor's brand all around you but your advertising is not getting the exposure you want. Well, you too, can get better & wider exposure. Promotional custom products can expand your exposure as well as reach out to potential customers who may not currently be seeing your advertisements. Whether your promotional item is one that changes hands like a pen, or one that is an active billboard like a t-shirt, you can be assured your company is being promoted.

Promotional products often show off your company, brand or logo in a variety of places that traditional advertising has a hard time reaching. These places could include the inside of a boardroom meeting, a gym or even an educational environment like a school or university.  You never know where your customers might be so why not utilize a marketing strategy that allows you to advertise non-stop in even the most unconventional of places.

6. They increase company goodwill.
People who received a promotional product tend to not only remember the company behind the promotion but also think highly of the company who gave it to them. This person will then be more likely to recommend your business or product based on their positive experiences with you.

Promotional products can also be given to employees as rewards for working hard or achieving certain goals. They tend to be great incentives.

7. They travel........they go places you don't.
Often times "re-gifting" is frowned upon, but not when it comes to promotional imprinted products. It's not called "re-gifting" but rather continuous advertising. Passing along a promotional item from one person to another will expose your brand to a vast network of people to whom it had previously not been accessible. A pen travels from hand-to-hand almost like a dollar bill goes from hand-to-hand.

Promotional merchandise doesn't have to go from one person to another to "travel". One customized promotional shopping bag will be used approximately 9 or 10 times a month. That means it will be seen by 1,038 people in that month........1,038 people in locations where you or your advertisements are not present. Now multiply that by the number of bags you gave out in that month. That's a new, huge audience in places you've never been before.

8. They enjoy wide appeal.
Most advertisements & products are created with a target audience in mind. While the idea of a target audience is beneficial to various types of marketing, the limitations may or may not apply to promotional products. Advertising specialties often satisfy a universal need for a large group of individuals. This means that items like pens, stress balls & note pads can be appreciated by anyone. This also means that they can easily land in the lap of a potential customer who was six degrees separated from your company.

The more people who are exposed to your promotional products, the more potential business you will receive.

9. They generate referrals & new sales.
The entire purpose of purchasing & distributing promotional merchandise is to bring in money for your company. This is exactly what advertising specialties accomplishes. Promotional products can often begin the sales process without you having to do any work!

As promotional items are used & passed along, they create brand recognition in addition to a positive association with your business. This leads to individuals who are more likely to recommend your company to others by as much as 22% over businesses who didn't take advantage of promotional products.

So the next time you're writing with a pen with someone else's logo on it or you're looking at an imprinted shopping bag being used in the grocery store, don't just think "wouldn't it nice if......" or "I wish I could afford......"  You can afford it--actually you can't afford to overlook this economical, yet effective means of advertising.

Ronni Sherman

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Promotional Imprinted Products For The College Student

Either this month or next month, college students will be returning to their campus & getting ready for the school year ahead. There is no greater school spirit than at a university or college, especially among the Freshmen.

Does your target audience include college students or universities? There's a multitude of promotional custom products you can offer them. And I'm willing to bet that most of them are available in the school's colors. If not, they can be imprinted in the school colors.

Now, depending on what type of business you have, there are two routes you can go with this. If you're a distributor like I am, then it would be very lucrative to sell directly to the school book stores & the students purchase them showing off their school pride. Fraternities, sororities & other groups on campus also purchase products promoting their organization or school. Parents' week-end, homecoming, class reunions......all are occasions when items showing the school insignia are used.

If your business is in another field, then promotional imprinted products are a great way to get company recognition. Find a way to distribute the items with your name & logo among the students on campus. You'd be giving them out & saving them the added cost & burden of having to purchase them. Your logo will be on the items, but it could be beneficial to do it in the school colors.

Here's an example: when my daughter enrolled as a first year law student at the University of Minnesota, a local bank had booths conveniently located for students to open new accounts. With each account opened they got a pen & an insulated mug for hot drinks. If they opened up a savings account with a certain amount or an investment account, they'd get a flash drive with plenty of memory. The customized promotional items had the bank's name on them, but the students were thrilled to get them because they were something they could definitely use.

Some promotional imprinted products that would appeal to students are:

Buying a laptop has become a rite of passage for college students, making backpacks with a protected sleeve for the device extremely popular. A separate padded laptop cover that can fit in a backpack is another, more versatile, option. Laptops are a costly investment & they need to be protected.

Speaking of laptops, all of a student's work will be in that computer. Not just his work for the semester, but also everything else that his life revolves around will be in his hard drive. So what if his computer crashes, gets lost or something else happens to it? A flash drive is as important as his laptop.

This is a popular item among college students whether it's folded at the end of their bed & they use it on cold nights while studying in their room or they take them to football games & they're used as lap blankets in the stadiums.  Many students want blankets showing the Greek letters of their fraternity or sorority.  Bookstore shelves are stacked with these.

Whether it's a stainless steel water bottle or an insulated tumbler to keep drinks hot, students carry these wherever they go. This is a tried & true customized promotional item. These, too, can be imprinted with the fraternity or sorority letters.  Many have the university team mascot on them.

Students may use their laptops, but pens are still needed on a daily basis. They'll be stashed in their desk drawers, backpacks & yes, even their computer cases.  And like all of us, they can never have too many.  The pen can be a very elusive item.  Where is it when you need it?  Believe it or not, a pen is not an antique......it's used often.

What college green is complete without the Frisbee-style flying disc floating in the air? They can even be used as holders for paper plates at the food stands during a fall football game & then later used as a flying disc.

This is, hands down, the favorite of all promotional imprinted products for college students. All styles are popular: the crew neck, zippered jacket or the hooded sweatshirt. This resonates with members of any school group whether Greek, sports related or independent student chapters of organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

These 4" - 12" stuffed animals can be found on beds or bookshelves in the dorms or sorority houses with either the school name or sorority letters on the miniature imprinted t-shirt.  If the team mascot is an animal, they are really popular with the students.  For example if the mascot is a tiger, then stuffed tigers sell faster than the other animals at that school.

These are just a few ideas that can be sold to the college student......the list is exhaustive.  Don't overlook this group. Their enthusiasm makes them good candidates for promotional products.

Ronni Sherman