Monday, April 29, 2013

Don't Let This Happen To You!

Don't let your next promotion embarrass you. Whether it's a sign advertising your company or a customized promotional item, it's important to not only think about the product being imprinted, but what kind of message are you sending.

When a business places any sort of message on a printed product, not only must the statement be politically correct, but the logo or an image you're using must not carry a secondary meaning. Even if it's an innocent or subconscious mistake, others may see it as intentional & view your company unfavorably.  Look at what you're printing as others would--people who know nothing about your business--how would they interpret your logo?

It might even be a good idea to put your mind in the gutter while you're studying a new logo or image. Here's some examples of what could go wrong:
The black & white images in this poster create an unintended optical illusion.

It even happened to Disney Pictures. Millions of video covers for The Little Mermaid were sold before a hidden phallic symbol was discovered in the castle.

Now I've got your's not just images that can give a wrong impression. Spelling errors can make your company look sloppy & give potential customers the idea that you don't care about the end result.  Spacing between words & letters & your selection of fonts is also very important.

When it comes to 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 make sure that your image professionally reflects your company & what it stands for. Above all, this must be consistent--don't waver because 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.

We've all seen errors like these & we've all laughed at them. Jay Leno flashes them on The Tonight Show constantly. But they're far from being humorous when it happens to you. That's why it is so very important to be meticulously observant when you get a proof for the printed product you ordered.

What do you think a client could do after spending $600 on 1000 pens that read:
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 was his error & eventually saw the humor in it. Very few people have his forgiving temperament.

Any message placed on a promotional imprinted product must be sure to follow good promotional marketing practices. For example, in 1998, an elementary school in New York received pencils with the imprinted message: Too Cool To Do Drugs.  The customized promotional pencils were a great idea to promote a positive lifestyle to children.  But unfortunately when the pencils were sharpened, the words would spell out "Cool To Do Drugs" & eventually "Do Drugs".  The pencils were recalled & altered by imprinting the beginning of the slogan at the erasure end of the pencil.
Here's an example of a bottle opener sending a wrong message. A national car rental agency used to purchase key tags with a bottle opener attached.  They claimed they were given out at non-alcoholic events they sponsored & not to customers renting cars.  But still, think of the message they're out a bottle opener with their corporate logo on it when it's associated with driving?  It promoted drinking & driving in an indirect way. Someone must have rethought that strategy because that item was later replaced by others more conducive to the nature of their business.

So another thing to watch out for--while a promotional imprinted product may work for one field, it could be disastrous in another.

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

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Clever Ways To Advertise With Promotional Imprinted Products

Spring is finally here & it's again time to bar-b-que. What does your grill look like after the long winter season? With this cheap & easy advertising campaign, a manufacturer of barbeque grills attracted attention to his products. Several street corners with sewer covers were chosen for the ads.  The question, "Need a new barbeque?" & the name & phone number of the company was then added. Anyone with a barbeque knows what it's like to have a grill that is beyond cleaning, so this was an effective campaign.

This new way of advertising was done on the streets in England. I don't think there's a city in the US that would allow you to write your message on their street corners.

Here is something Bounty paper towels did on the streets of New York & Santa Monica that grabbed the attention of everyone who passed.  On the streets of New York & Los Angeles, Bounty successfully demonstrated how well their product works.  The ad read: "What better way to demonstrate the superior absorbency of Bounty paper towels than with some big spills".

And they are talking about some seriously big spills. On Seventh Avenue in New York, busy commuters were greeted by a six foot tall coffee cup knocked over & spilling onto the sidewalk--complete with steam & the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  In Santa Monica, week-end shoppers found a seven foot, 500 pound ice cream bar melting on the Third Street Promenade. The message: "Bounty makes small work of BIG spills" was highly effective.
(Advertising agency: Publicis, New York, NY)

Ok, so most of us don't have a bigger than life budget for advertising but there are other ways to cleverly advertise your business & use promotional custom products as well. The whole idea is to be unique......grab the public's attention by doing more than simply handing out pens or t-shirts. If you find a unique way to distribute your marketing products, the image of your business will make a long-lasting impression.

If you are a realtor, instead of just sending out calendars with your photo on them, offer something out of the ordinary. Something that's a little bit more expensive than the normal promotional custom product to the first ten (20? 25?) customers who register at a showing with an agent.  A good example of this would be a flash drive--something everyone with a computer could use, but few people actually invest in them. If advertised correctly, chances are that many more than ten or twenty people will show up & may make an offer since they are already in the office. Plus, having these people actually in the office allows the owner to hand out other applicable, but less expensive promotional items & show what they have on the market.

Another way to capture the public's attention is to reach out to people waiting in line. Dubbed "wait marketing" by the industry, this concept centers around the concept that everyone will have to wait in line at some point. A small business owner can offer free promotional products & will usually be met with a favorable response because those in line have little to do but wait. One word of caution: many public places require exhibit permits to give out advertising material--no business owner should try this in a public environment without permission.

Here are three ways my customers used to stand out form their competition when handing out customized promotional items:

1. One of my customers goes to local soccer matches & high school football games when it rains & hands out plastic ponchos with his company name imprinted on the lightweight poncho. The poncho easily folds into a small pouch & can be worn at other times--showing off his logo at a variety of places. When the rain catches the spectators off guard, he's more popular then the players.

2. Another customer, an auto dealership, had an ad campaign, "Biggest Savings In The Valley". They bought plastic piggy banks with their logo & name on them to distribute among people who walked on to the lot. They put a coupon in each bank & hten displayed them throughout the dealership. Most coupons were for maintenance while a few were for bigger items like detailing or a free set of tires. You couldn't tell ahead of time what the coupon was for until you randomly picked your bank.

3. A chain of gyms bought beach balls with their logo vividly displayed & on hot summer days when the beaches were crowded, they had employees go to various ones in Los Angeles county.  The employees stood on a rise above the beach or on the pier & threw the balls out at the crowd. People clamored to get them & for the rest of that day & for weeks after, the gym's logo bounced along the Pacific coastline in LA.

 Don't have the time or the budget to get creative with your campaign? That's alright too. The bottom line is that you have promotional imprinted products at your disposal to distribute among your targeted audience at all times.  You've heard the saying: "out of sight, out of mind"......don't let that be you.

The whole idea is to get your company name out there & to be recognized. Pens travel from hand-to-hand like a dollar bill does, t-shirts are walking billboards & will go wherever you or your customer goes, shopping bags are seen by 100's of people monthly as they are used in grocery stores.  Letter openers, note pads & stress relievers are only a few of the items that are used regularily by people & every time they're used, your name & logo are in front of them.

Distribute, distribute, distribute & if you can come up with a clever idea then that's icing on the cake. It could be that one creative step that will make someone really notice you & call them to action.

Good luck!
Ronni Sherman