Not Just For Gamers – VR And Brand Engagement

virtualTake a college tour.  Test drive a car.  Attend an art gallery display.  Or give a prospective employee a view of the workspace before they arrive for an interview.  Virtual reality gives sellers the opportunity to reinvent the way they market and sell their products.

Beginning with the basics of VR, there are two types:  360-degree VR is a video that allows the viewer to see all around them while remaining stationary.  Immersive VR is virtual space that can be moved around in.

As a practical matter, 360-degree VR is more affordable for corporate marketing purposes since the content can be created using apps for Android and iOS, and will also take videos captured with smartphone cameras.  Full immersion VR requires a specialized development team to create content, which can run into thousands of dollars.

Branded headsets for 360-degree viewing can be purchased for as low as $15.00.  With cutting edge marketing techniques offered at a budget-conscious price, it is no wonder that the promotional products industry has seen a sales surge in this product over the last two years.  Multiple headset styles at varying price points allows nearly every company to turn a future consideration of this compelling medium into a real-world decision for today’s customer or prospect.

Try offering booth visitors at your next trade show the opportunity to submit a creative 3D video for the chance to win a prize.  It will drive engagement and increase brand awareness – which, of course, is the only reason your team is at that show to begin with!

Image courtesy of NY Times

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Get Ready To Sweat

spritzEach January, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way, and many of those people will fall short.  Among the most popular resolutions is the promise to lose weight and get fit, which suggests just how difficult it is to commit to.

However, since most of us know that increasing physical activity is one of the most effective ways to improve physical fitness, corporations have an opportunity to help their customers reach their goals with promotional products that are useful in all levels of exercise.  Focusing on the need to move more and eat less provides these companies with many excellent product options.

  • Pedometers:  This doesn’t have to be an expensive activity tracker – to record daily movement, a simple step counter will do.
  • Cooling Towels:  Towels, bandanas and buffs, made from high tech fabrics, instantly cool with water or perspiration.
  • Misting sport bottles:  Quench a thirst, then spritz a cooling spray.
  • Sunglass Lanyards:  Perfect for a short walk or long distance run – no more searching for a place to put sunglasses when they aren’t being worn.
  • Cell Phone Armband Pouch:  Strap to the arm or leg for a hands-free way to listen to music or answer a call.

At this time of year, when nearly one third of Americans are getting ready to sweat off those extra holiday pounds, one of the best ways to increase brand awareness would be to put a branded fitness product in their gift bag.  Then, even if their motivation slips a bit, the brand will remain on that sunglass lanyard even when sitting by the pool.

 

Embracing And Improving Brand Equity

5864p_groupIn order to embrace brand equity, we should have a good handle on what it means.  Simply stated, brand equity refers to the value of a brand.
That value and its power are derived from the goodwill and name recognition that it has earned over time – which in turn translates into higher profits.  According to an overview of brand equity in Investopedia, “Companies can create brand equity for their products by making them memorable, easily recognizable, and superior in quality and reliability. Mass marketing campaigns also help to create brand equity.”
It is within the framework of these mass marketing campaigns that promotional products can be most effective.  Rather than just giving away more stuff with logos on it, products and packaging that reinforce brand equity can contribute to the long-term goal of increasing brand awareness and improving customer loyalty.  Custom packaging, in particular, adds a higher level of strategic awareness to the brand, elevating it beyond just the value of the promotional product inside.  It becomes part of a strategy to boost the integrity of a brand, rather than being just another giveaway that goes into the trade show bag.
First impressions are important.  What consumers take in during those few seconds before choosing a product helps shape subsequent judgements about the brand.  Companies that sell their products in retail environments have always known this, and have been designing better packaging solutions for years.   They fight for shelf space and are consistently changing and improving their packaging in an effort to catch the consumers’ eye in a crowded market.
Although it takes a little more time to design – and adds a little more cost to the product – custom packaging for promotional products will catch the eye, and attention, of your audience.  Try it the next time you have a high profile marketing campaign with a customer you want to impress – it works!

What Customers Want

speedOur customers want the same things we want – quality products, attentive customer service and a collaborative partnership.  We all think that’s what we’re delivering … but is it?  With the ever-faster pace of business, and the increasing demands on our time and resources, it’s not good enough to be as good as we were yesterday … we need to be better!

Customer Service:  When managing a team of customer service representatives, one of the constant points of discussion in nearly every meeting was how long it should take to respond to a customer request.  10 years ago, my answer was to respond within 24 hours of the original email or phone request.  5 years ago, I directed the team to get in touch with the customer before the end of the same day the request was made.  Today, we need to respond within the hour!  If we don’t have the complete answer, at least our customer will know we are working for them, and they can check that request off their list.

Quality Products:  A diverse assortment of well-made products and value-added services at a fair price (please note:  I said “fair” price, not the “cheapest” price), should be the least our customers have a right to expect.  In the promotional products industry, there are lots of inexpensive, well-made items that can be valuable tools for increasing brand awareness.  On the other hand, there are also many non-compliant, low quality products available that shouldn’t be part of any corporate branding strategy.  Our customers should be able to trust that we can advise them accordingly.  When I think now about the rust-prone, poorly constructed Chevy Vega my father bought for the “kid car” back in the 70’s, I think of everything bad that eventually happened to GM.   That’s not the kind of brand awareness any company is striving for.

Collaborative Partnership:  Understanding your customer is the first step in maintaining a relationship that builds into a partnership.  Get to know their audience; recognize their pain points; and proactively offer creative suggestions for their next project – whether it be a digital brand wrap on a Fender guitar to announce a new store opening, or a bank service that offers check deposits via your smartphone.  Our customers expect, and deserve, a more holistic approach to the partnership. Treat the partnership as a complete system, rather than just a sum of the individual parts … or more simply put, look beyond just what you sell, and understand how you can add value to the company as a whole.

Our customers want exactly what we expect from our vendor partners.  It only makes sense to give it to them!

 

Conferences Are Not Old Fashioned

ConferenceIn our media-crazy world, sometimes we forget the importance of a face-to-face setting with others in our industry, or even in our same company.  But emails, the internet and the occasional video chat cannot entirely replace a well-run business conference where people can come together to discuss new trends and opportunities pertaining to the business.

Coming together doesn’t have to mean leaving your phones at the door.  In fact, today many conference attendees are sharing their experience in real-time on their favorite social media channel.  The event may even have a designated hashtag for sharing updates.  But regardless of the added bonus of today’s media sharing, the attendees are traveling from different cities, or even countries, for person-to-person educational opportunities, networking and (gasp!) a little bit of fun.  So, optimize your next business conference by planning well ahead.

Without going into the specifics of a complete checklist, there are certain important details that should be considered first  – namely, the location, the experience and the materials.  The venue should align with your brand, target market and event goals, while fitting within your budget demands.  The experience – speakers, product demonstrations, games, workshops, & dining – should be planned to address what the people will do, learn and take away from the event.  To enhance and expand on that experience, the marketing materials are designed and the promotional products are sourced.

Regarding promotional products, there are quite literally tens of thousands of product ideas for every event, and they range from the practical to zany.  Journals and pens for small indoor meetings are a must; tote bags, lanyards, badges and bottled water are perfect for larger trade shows and conferences; sport bottles, caps and tees work well with outdoor events; and any item that can be useful for travel events (beach towels in Florida or backpacks in Colorado) are always welcome.  Some items, like personalized robes or a laser engraved bottle of wine for the hotel room are just icing on the conference “cake”.

Conferences are not old fashioned – they are one of the best ways for like-minded professionals to stay in touch.  When planning your next conference, be creative.  In addition to the educational goals, add an element of fun, and take the time to consider which logo gift item will best keep the brand awareness alive after they return home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Brands Make A Good Impression

blk bag

Ultimately, the goal of all marketers and advertisers is to improve brand visibility.  The newest Advertising Specialties Industry Impressions Study provides statistical evidence of the power of promotional products in improving the number of impressions a brand captures.

The number of impressions a product makes is derived from multiplying how long a recipient has the product to how many people they come in contact with each month while using it.  In the U.S., bags generate the most impressions (5,772) of any item measured in the study.  This makes sense, since bags are most often used in public places.  But what about all those caps, pens and t-shirts that your company gives as a way to increase brand exposure?  See below for some insight.

  • Caps:  3,136 impressions
  • Writing Instruments:  2,805 impressions
  • Outerwear:  2,650 impressions
  • Shirts:  2,450 impressions

Of course, number of  impressions is important, but every corporate marketer wants to know which items are most likely to drive new business.  According to the Survey, nearly 4 in 10 consumers who received a product from an advertiser they had not done business with said they were more likely to do business with them in the future.  The rundown on which products had the most positive effect on new business is listed below.

  • Outerwear:  53%
  • Health/Safety:  51%
  • Desk/Office Accessories:  44%
  • Bags:  40%
  • Calendars:  39%
  • Shirts:  37%
  • Drinkware:  36%
  • USB Drives:  33%
  • Caps/Headwear:  32%
  • Writing Instruments:  29%

Increasing the number of brand impressions and selecting a promotional product that helps to drive new business are only two of the many things to consider when purchasing the next branded giveaway.  In my next post I’ll shed some light on which items sway opinions, which are likely to be passed along and how long those products are kept by the recipient.  After all the evidence is presented, it will be hard to deny the power of promotional products!