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!

What Are Corporate Buyers Buying?

product matrixWhen evaluating what may be the most effective product options for the next branded giveaway, it’s sometimes helpful to know what has been successful for other companies.  Fortunately, the ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute) study of the market share of each product category is available every year as a summary of what was sold the previous year.  Most of the results are not surprising (sale of electronic items grew by 13% over the past two years), and others are a happy surprises (sales of sporting goods and leisure products jumped by 58% in the past five years).

Below is a summary of what’s hot and what’s not by percentage of sales:

  • Shirts:  19.7% (shirts accounted for approximately $4 billion of sales)
  • Writing Instruments:  9.7% (grew from 8.1% of the market to 9.7%)
  • Bags:  8.6%
  • Drinkware:  8.5% ($1.74 billion worth of drinkware products in 2013)
  • Other Wearables:  6.8%
  • Caps/Headwear:  5.0%
  • Desk/Office/Business Accessories:  5.0% (sales increased by 16% last year)
  • Calendars:  3.4% (sales dropped by 21% over past 5 years
  • USB drives:  3.4%
  • Health and Safety Products:  3.2%
  • Buttons/Badges/Ribbons/Stickers/Decals/Emblems/Transfers/Lanyards:  2.7%
  • Housewares/Tools:  2.6%
  • Electronics:  2.6% (sales from electronic items grew by 13% over the past two years)
  • Recognition Awards/Trophies/Jewelry:  2.5%
  • Computer-Related Products (except USB drives):  2.0%
  • Sporting Goods/Leisure Products:  2.0% (sales in this category have jumped by 58% in the past five years)
  • Automotive Accessories:  1.9%
  • Magnets:  1.6% (magnets accounted for $330 million worth of sales)
  • Books/Cards/Postcards/Stationery/Giftwrap:  1.6%
  • Textiles:  1.6%
  • Food Gifts:  1.5% (more than $300 million worth of edible promotional products were sold in 2013)
  • Personal/Pocket-Purse Products:  0.9%
  • Clocks/Watches:  0.7%
  • Games/Toys/Playing Cards:  0.7%
  • Gift Cards:  0.7%
  • Other Products:  0.8%

Branded giveaways are a proven successful tool for increasing brand awareness.  Knowing how each category of promotional products is trending provides valuable insight into the consumer trends that every company should track.  Stay informed, and connect with your customer using products that hit the mark!

Simply Better

loopNew products are introduced every day to answer the age-old question every corporate buyer asks their promotional products partner – “what’s new?”.  Of course, the answer to that question depends a great deal on what products the company has traditionally used for branded giveaways, because new ideas can many times mean the same thing as new products.  New to  you, so to speak.

However, it is true that every year original products are introduced that appeal to a wide variety of customers.  Many of those new products are not entirely unique inventions, but rather a simpler design on existing products meant to make our lives slightly less complicated.  And if a company distributes a branded item that helps simplify life, it’s likely that recipient will use the product and therefore continue to increase those valuable brand impressions.

A few of my favorite new items this year are listed below:

The Loop:  Shown in the image in this article, this is a valuable tool for keeping earbud wires tangle-free and easily accessible.  Anyone who exercises, travels or just relaxes with their favorite tunes will appreciate this low cost, high impact gift.

The Bottleband:  Turn any size bottle into a handheld device.  Made out of the same silicone material as the cause bracelets, these handy bottle holders allow runners and walkers to easily carry a bottle of water by slipping the band over the hand.  Hydration simplified!

The Slip Clip:  It’s a beach towel clip that holds a towel or bag onto the lounge chair without scratching or leaving marks.  For a conference held at a beach location or an incentive reward trip aboard a boat, these simple clips offer a large imprint area and easy-to-use design that will showcase your logo every time the weather heats up.

New is good … simple is good … new AND simple is better!  The next time your company is considering a branded giveaway, take a look at what’s available to help make your customers’ lives a little bit easier.



Continuity Programs Grow Business

contin progContinuity programs are often associated with the marketing model of automatic billing for receiving monthly shipments of popular products like the lifestyle beauty and grooming samples offered by Birchbox; paid subscriptions to informative on-line newsletters; or annual renewal services like Amazon Prime’s free shipping program.  In the corporate world, successful continuity programs are built with a combination of targeted communication tools and well-considered promotional products in order to attract, engage and retain loyal customers.

Marketing 101 taught us that consistent communication helps build brand equity, so the communication should be ongoing.  Create branded marketing materials, or touchpoints, that are unique to your program and client base.  Design a carefully timed calendar for sending that communication and follow it up with a personal call or visit.

To compliment the marketing materials, select a few creative promotional products that can be easily mailed and will provide a merchandising message that builds on the program goals.

A few examples:

  • Message:  We care about your health
  • Product options:  stretching bands; pedometer; water bottle holder; stress reliever; hand sanitizer; foil pack pill opener
  • Message:  We want to be your financial institution
  • Product options:  credit card shape flash drive; identity protector card holders; pocket pro brochure for managing finances; magnifier ruler with mutual fund/stock listing financial guide markings
  • Message:  Let us care for your pet
  • Product options:  dog food lid; poopy pet bag dispenser; foldable pet travel bowl; reflector id tag; paw luggage tag

Continuity programs grow business by keeping your company front-of-mind with your prospects and customers.  The hardest part is getting started – call your promotional products partner today to talk about the possibilities!






Brands Stay Current With Color

radiant orchidAt first site, Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s 2014 color of the year, may not seem to be the easiest color to incorporate into your corporate branding strategy.  After all, a study of the world’s top 100 brands (determined by brand value) shows the most popular colors among top brands are blue (33 percent), red (29 percent), black or gray scale (28 percent), and yellow or gold (13 percent).  Not a purple hue among them!  But with thoughtful consideration of the various ways to incorporate the color trends into your marketing game plan, you can stay current without sacrificing the consistency of your branding message.

Refresh web site images:  Although a corporate web site is the best place to showcase the corporate colors, it should also be the place that is consistently updated with news clips, calendars, videos and photos.  The new color of the year may be reflected in subtle images like a tree with purple flowers; or in an on-line ad for a new customer contest using a splashy new background or text color.

Customize online display advertising:  Online display advertising is different from your website or landing page. Display ads will be competing with many other elements on the page that are out of your control.  Test new colors in photography, illustrations and font to help your ad stand out.

Incorporate new colors into promotional product mix:  News flash! Promotional product giveaways don’t always have to be the same color as the corporate logo.  As long as the logo is imprinted according to brand guidelines, the products themselves should appeal to the audience in a creative way.  Tote bags, flash drives, writing instruments, drinkware, caps and t-shirts could all be offered in a variety of colors – with the same logo design, of course – to demonstrate how your brand is both consistent and up-to-date.

While it’s imperative that a brand maintains color consistency in order to achieve long-term consumer recognition, it is also important to let your customers know that your company is not only aware of popular trends, but is also responding to them.  Staying current is easy with color – give it a try!

(Image via Pantone)




The Power Of Bags

ultimate2In a recent study, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) conducted a national survey of end buyers to determine the effectiveness of promotional products versus other advertising media, and the results highlighted the effectiveness of bags as an advertising vehicle.   Besides what we see at the retail stores, eco alternatives are increasingly used to replace paper or plastic on our grocery runs; trade show attendees often receive a lightweight bag at registration to carry all the literature and giveaways; and even the humble brown paper lunch bag and upscale wine bottle totes have gotten bag makeovers.  How do all these bags give corporate marketing departments better brand power?   See below for the highlights of that ASI study:

  • Bags were reported to be one of the most frequently-used promotional products, nearly 6 times per month – even more than shirts or caps.
  • Bags made the highest number of marketing “impressions” during their use, approximately 1,084 per month. This was more than twice the number for caps or writing instruments, and 3 times number of impressions made by shirts.
  • Even more remarkable, bags were kept a long time, nearly 7 months. That’s more than 7,200 marketing impacts over the life of the bag!
  • 88% said their reason for keeping a bag was because it was considered “useful”. The second most cited reason was its “attractiveness”.
  • 82% of recipients said they could clearly identify the advertiser who gave them the bag and 45% said they now had a “more favorable” impression of the advertiser. Best of all, 59% reported doing business with the advertiser after receiving the bag!
  • The overall “cost-per-impression” for bags averages only $0.001. That’s less expensive than traditional media such as prime time TV ($0.018), cable TV ($0.005) or national magazines ($0.045). When measured against other promotional product categories, bags scored equally as well. Bags have a lower cost-per-impression than calendars ($0.003), drinkware ($0.004), shirts ($0.005) and business accessories ($0.008).

Bags are extremely effective marketing and branding vehicles, giving companies a better return on their investment.  Few promotional products are more powerful, so consider one of the thousands of different bag styles when looking at options for your next branded giveaway.

(Image and data courtesy of Bag Makers)  

It Is All About The Presentation

gift wrapCorporate gift giving is serious business.  It helps establish or enhance important relationships with customers and employees.  Different than an incentive award given to high achievers, or promotional products used as advertising, the corporate gift should affirm the personal relationship between the giver and the recipient.  And there’s no better way to achieve that sense of partnership than with heart felt attention to the details around the presentation of the gift.

Investing in nice wrapping paper, unique embellishments and quality card stock with a hand written note makes a statement about the value of not only the gift itself, but of the thought behind it.  Keeping in mind that creative ideas for gift wrapping don’t have to include elaborate bows or Martha Stewart crafting talents, I have listed below a few simple ways to upgrade your next gift presentation.

  • Wrap the gift box in single color wrapping paper that matches your corporate color with wide logo ribbon tied in a simple bow
  • Use brightly colored handle bags for small gifts, stuffed with logo tissue paper, and labeled with the recipient’s name
  • Add plain colored tissue or crinkle paper inside a box or bag that comes in a coordinating color; seal with a simple single color logo label
  • For baskets, bags or odd-shaped boxes, use translucent gift wrap secured with an extra long metallic twist tie that holds a large colorful hang tag
  • Put locally sourced food items inside a customized gift tin or colorful gabled box custom printed with the company logo or seasonal message

Of course, most corporate associates are working hard on the tasks associated with their daily jobs and have little time left over for wrapping gifts.  Understandable, but not a reason to avoid this important part of the gift giving process.  Gift wrapping is often offered for a small fee, or included in the added value services of your promotional products provider.   The next time you work with her or him on a corporate gift idea, make a point to ask about their service options for improving the presentation.

(Image via