Gracious Promotional Marketing

I recently placed an order for logoed pens from a company with which Gossett Marketing had never done business – Acehigh. It was a very pleasant experience, as their customer service team communicated efficiently and our customer loves the pens that were delivered to her restaurant.

To be perfectly honest with you, even though I enjoyed working with Acehigh, they are not one of my regular vendors and they probably would have fallen off my radar unless I needed to reorder the pen that they supplied. Well, obviously they know that this can happen quite easily, so they took a clever step to prevent me from forgetting about them.

A few days after my order was delivered to my customer, I got a package from Acehigh. It contained a handwritten thank you note from Natalie – part of that wonderful customer service team I mentioned earlier – as well as an eagle-shaped stress reliever named “Ace” that is imprinted with the company’s information. Aside from thanking me for the order, Natalie’s note said “I’m sending Ace for your desk to serve as a reminder to call me when I can help!” And guess what? Ace is sitting on my desk and when I need the items that Acehigh provides, I now remember to look at their website!

A stress reliever doesn’t cost a lot and a handwritten note doesn’t take a lot of time, but both leave a lasting impression on your customer and give your brand the excellent marketing exposure that it deserves. Take a cue from Natalie at Acehigh and get your logo on your customer’s desk!

How do You Handle New Customers’ First Orders?

New!

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am a big believer in non-traditional networking. I do not think that you need to be at an event sponsored by your local chamber of commerce in order to make strong business connections; in fact, I often get referrals through my running club (and I, in turn, refer customers/clients/patients to my fellow runners). I have ongoing relationships with my running buddies, which is why I’m always comfortable giving and receiving referrals to and from them, but what about the one-offs, the people you meet in passing who could be good customers but who haven’t been “vetted” by a chamber or who you don’t know personally? Are you comfortable doing business or getting referrals from them?

I’m bringing this up today because I attended the South Beach Wine & Food Festival over the weekend and met some interesting people. As usual, we got to talking about business and when I told them that I work at Gossett Marketing, a promotional products company, they indicated that they might need my services. Of course I am more than happy to help them and have already sent them some tote bag suggestions that might work for their event, but because I do not know them and I do not know anyone else who knows them, I am going to ask for a deposit when they place their order. While I hate to seem untrusting, I also want to be sure that I get paid for the goods that I deliver – and frankly, when I place my first order with a new company, I expect them to ask me for money up front as well.

What do you think about how I handle first orders from new customers? How do you handle this somewhat-delicate situation? Do you take the risk or cover yourself like I do? Please leave your comments below.

Networking Tip – Make Time to Follow Up

Dali The Persistence of Time One of the most difficult things about networking, for me, is following up. It’s not that I don’t want to stay in touch with the people that I’ve recently met at a Chamber of Commerce event, it’s just that I’m busy. Gossett Marketing has a number of large, established customers and the bulk of my job is to keep them happy, which doesn’t necessarily leave me much time for prospecting.

Well, recently I’ve implemented a new time management strategy that allows me to actually follow up with new contacts, and it’s absurdly simple. I simply block out a bit of time each day to do just that. Sometimes I can only spare 15 minutes, so during that quarter hour, I ignore the e-mails that stream in from Baptist Health and the University of Miami and I just focus on making phone calls and sending messages to the new people that I’ve met recently. If I have more time that’s great because I can devote myself to the task for an extended period, but I’ve learned not to totally disregard my networking just because I only have a small timeframe in which to do it. After all, it’s doesn’t take terribly long to say hello or even to schedule a meeting!

I once read that 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact, and by devoting just a bit of time each day to reaching out to potential customers, I can get those interactions in rather quickly – and hopefully gain new customers in just 15 minutes a day.

If, unlike me, you have some extra time, then you can click on this YouTube video of the Pink Floyd song “Time”:

Budget Friendly Custom Promo Products

Die Cut Notepads At Gossett Marketing we love to come up with custom promotional products for our customers. While it’s fun to go all-out and design striking awards for the likes of Audi Latin America, not everyone has the need, budget, or time for something so grand. Well, they’re in luck because it is possible to get custom promo items without spending beaucoup bucks!

I think that logoed notepads are some of the best promotional giveaways because everyone needs them at home and at work – they get used, so the company who is handing them out gets excellent marketing exposure. They’re also cheap! Well, did you know that if you spend just a few pennies more per notepad then you can have them cut into customized shapes? For instance, I’m currently working on an order of die-cut sticky notepads for Baptist Health International. Their logo is a pineapple, so the pads are cut from a 4” x 6” rectangle into that shape, then they are imprinted with a gold and green background that gives the fruit some definition, plus their logo. They’re not done yet, so I can’t link you to a picture, but suffice it to say that they will stand out on a desktop!

The next time you consider purchasing promotional marketing products, get creative and go custom! If you need some more ideas, click here and watch the YouTube video.

Going Viral…Or Selling Out?

The band OK Go has done it again – they’ve created another new music video that has gone viral because, well, it is just so darn cool! This time they’ve teamed up with Chevrolet to customize a Chevy Sonic so that it can play their song “Needing/Getting.”

Now, some critics might argue that using an artistic outlet like a music video as an ad for a car company is “selling out” but I think it’s smart marketing by both parties involved. Clips of the video were played during commercial breaks for the Superbowl pregame show, which gave OK Go an audience of millions. If having that many people view a really neat and creative video isn’t good publicity for the band, then I don’t know what is. And sure, Chevy got those millions of viewers to see their car being used in a novel way, but they also got to capitalize on the band’s indie cred – that should boost their cool factor with potential buyers.

Check out the full YouTube video below, and let me know what you think in the comments. Is the band selling out or just having fun while promoting themselves?

Disney: Profiting from Promo Products

Disney Gift Shop As I said in Tuesday’s post, I spent last weekend in Disney World, where the scenery and experiences almost make you believe that you are somewhere other than Orlando…but then remind you that you are, in fact, at a Disney theme park. It’s a great branding strategy because it means that your pleasant memories of your trip are always associated with Disney. But they don’t stop with just your memories – Disney wants its visitors to advertise for them once they leave the parks, so they sell branded promotional products at every turn.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Walt Disney World, then that last sentence seems like hyperbole, but if you have been there then you know that I’m not exaggerating. Take the World Showcase at Epcot as an example – it’s a semicircle of pavilions that represent 11 countries. Each of these pavilions has its own gift shop, selling Disney caps, t-shirts, and other merchandise that is either themed after or imported from that country, and boy oh boy were they selling! The line in the Japanese gift shop snaked back and forth and almost everyone was purchasing multiple items that featured the Disney logo. Nothing at the park is cheap, so if they bought a logoed promotional product there, then I can almost guarantee that they will wear or display it back home – they’re going to do Disney’s marketing for them!

Even if you choose not to visit the World Showcase, Disney will get you into their gift shops. We also went to Magic Kingdom and rode the attractions there. Wouldn’t you know that every time you exit a ride, you go through a gift shop?! Leaving Space Mountain you can buy astronaut ice cream or an “I Survived!” lapel pin. Or if you are brave enough to conquer Splash Mountain, one of the souvenirs that I saw many fellow riders buy was a picture of them going down the ride’s final drop. Cleverly, Disney not only includes their logo on the paper frame that is included with the photo, but they emblemize the picture itself to boot! When kids show classmates how brave they were on the ride – “look Timmy, I wasn’t holding on!” – they are inadvertently marketing to their friends (and don’t you know that Timmy is going to bug his parents to take him to Disney so he can be brave too?!).

We can all learn from Disney World’s shameless hawking of promotional marketing products. Not only do they make a profit by selling them, they are also getting happy visitors to do their marketing work for them back home. It’s an ideal strategy that really works for them!

E-Mail vs. Face-to-Face Interactions

face to face As I’ve mentioned before, lately the Gossett Marketing team has been working on a Big Project for one of our customers. Well, earlier this week we had a Big Meeting about the Big Project, which was attended by about 30 marketing, events, and community outreach people from our customer’s organization. Although I work with all of the departments that were represented, when I first glanced around the room, it felt like almost everyone was a stranger. However, once I started reading their nametags, I realized that I communicate with most of them on a regular basis – I just hadn’t met them in person!

In this age of e-mail and social media communication, I understand that you can get to know someone without ever actually meeting them (I have Twitter friends whose pictures I’ve never even seen!). But standing in that room, connecting faces with names and personalities with which I was so familiar, made me realize how much stronger an in-person connection can be!

Personally meeting all of these individuals who I’ve “known” for years allowed me to bond with them in a way that a conversation over the phone or via e-mail can’t do. We spent the afternoon looking at a wide variety of promotional marketing materials, and interacting with my customers in person made it much easier to determine their likes and dislikes very quickly. A big smile here, a wrinkled nose there, and it is already easier for me to focus my product searches!

I know that many of our readers also form relationships on the phone or the computer, and that’s OK! But converting those into in-person interactions will probably make your bonds stronger and your working relationships easier. So make an effort to meet all of those “friends” from cyberspace!

Branding Disney World at Disney World

Epcot Disney Nemo and Friends I spent the weekend at Walt Disney World, and boy oh boy is Disney the master of branding. They create experiences that make visitors feel as if they’ve been transported to a completely different world, yet there always seems to be a subtle reminder that they’re on Mickey’s turf.

For instance, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is truly a magnificent hotel. You walk in and it looks like a huge African structure, complete with subtle tribal-sounding music in the background and a savannah filled with all sorts of animals right out the window. As my husband checked us in, I was admiring the detailed craftsmanship that clearly went into building the soaring ceiling in the lobby. Now I’ve never been to Africa, but it seemed beautiful and authentic to me – that is, until I noticed that the “tribal” markings painted every so often were actually an Africanized version of Mickey’s silhouette! The effect was understated, but it was clearly Disney taking an opportunity to brand itself.

Our favorite park to visit when we’re in Orlando is Epcot. The branding there is a bit more overt than it was at our resort. You see, when I was a girl Epcot had a ride/exhibit called The Living Seas. It involved getting into a moving seat and traveling past huge aquariums that were stocked with beautiful tropical fish – that was it. Well, they still have the exhibit, but it has been updated and is now called The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It’s a similar concept; however, it now involves animated characters from Finding Nemo swimming alongside the real, live fish. It’s still a relaxing ride among beautiful creatures, but it has been given that twist to remind us that we’re not in any old aquarium – we’re at Disney World.

While at Disney World, I was constantly reminded that, well, I was at Disney World. It’s a terrific strategy because I had a wonderful time – fun that I will always associate with my visit to the resort. You know what? I can’t wait to go back. That’s great branding.

And for your amusement – click on this YouTube clip from Finding Nemo!

Why Give Babies Promo Products?

Two Cute Babies Sleeping

Now this might seem counterintuitive, but babies make excellent promotional marketing product recipients. When a baby gets a promo product, he or she certainly cannot recognize the logo that is imprinted upon it, nor can he or she go out and buy something from the company that supplied it, so why give them anything at all? Simple: people love babies. They coo over total strangers’ bundles of joy when they pass on the sidewalk, and proud parents are generally willing to stop and show off their new child. When that happens, the baby’s admirer will see the logoed beanie or t-shirt that the tiny tot is wearing, which means that the company who gave those items is getting a nice dose of brand exposure.

But you don’t have to put your logo directly on a baby in order to get marketing. There are various other promotional products that are wonderful gifts for new parents. One of my favorites is a diaper bag imprinted with a company logo – this would be an excellent gift for a hospital’s maternity ward to give to a new mother as she leaves their care. Babies require a lot of stuff, and a spacious diaper bag in a neutral color is certainly something that new parents will want to carry around. As I’ve said before, bags are the promotional product that have the highest ROI, and diaper bags are no exception; they are an excellent marketing tool.

Another baby-focused promotional item that I think is a great giveaway is a frame. Small or large, sterling silver or plastic, picture frames can fit any budget and they are sure to get used – have you ever heard of a parent who had too many framed pictures of their newborn? I think not! I’d recommend a sweet frame with a teddy bear on it as a nice giveaway for a photographer. It could be something that they give out to entice new parents to have their baby’s portrait taken, or it would be a nice gift for them after their photography session. Either way, when it sits on their mantle and their friends and family admire the photo within, that frame would serve as a marketing piece for the photographer.

So many businesses cater to new parents – give them promotional products for or related to their baby and they are sure to use them. What an easy way to gain logo exposure and to market your company!

Connecting, not Networking

Connecting I just read an article, “Forget Networking. How to Be a Connector,” at Entrepreneur.com. It is about “Connectors,” who they consider to be the “people who seem to know everyone” and who have “Traits such as energy, insatiable curiosity and a willingness to take chances seem to be the common thread among connectors — as well as an insistence that connecting is not the same as networking.”

Admittedly, I am not one of those people, but I would like to be! And two of the things that I took from the article will help me become a Connector of sorts.

First, the piece claims that Connectors are not born as such – they have to work for it and some actually find it to be scary! I identify with that. When I walk into a room where I know no one, I get anxious. While my nerves might make me clam up a bit, a Connector will take that nervous energy and refocus it on being outgoing instead. In doing so, they are making those around them more comfortable and I believe that this allows them to make deeper connections with the people they meet.

The second thought that I took from the article was that Connectors don’t necessarily think of meeting people as “networking.” Instead, they meet and get to know others because they genuinely enjoy doing so – they want to know their stories, and they make people comfortable enough that they’re willing to tell them. Essentially, they meet and bond with others for the simple pleasure of doing so, not to gain new customers. However, because they tend to hit it off with so many people, they actually do end up gaining business – it just isn’t their initial goal.

As an aspiring Connector I plan to put these two tips to work for me. I want to get over the nerves that crop up when I’m in a room full of strangers – I know that they’re nervous too, so by being more outgoing I am doing them a favor, hopefully one that will make me memorable. And I’m going to stop focusing on the term “networking.” Instead, I will go to events to meet people. Maybe even to make friends! And while the friends I make might not need promotional marketing products, they’ll probably know someone who does, so I’ll bet my business will get a boost!

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to read the whole article at entrepreneur.com. You can click on the link above or right here. Hopefully it will inspire you to become a Connector too.

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