How Awards are Effective Marketing Tools

trophies Over the weekend I had lunch with some friends at Coral Reef Yacht Club, which is just down the road from Gossett Marketing in Coconut Grove. It’s a fun place to spend the afternoon sailing, swimming, or just chowing down on some of South Florida’s best conch fritters. But the day that we went was special because Coral Reef was hosting a boat race. Not the regatta I was expecting, though; rather, the children of club members had crafted their own vessels out of cardboard and duct tape and raced them back and forth across the pool! I must say, the boats actually floated and the little skippers managed to steer them quite ably – it was an impressive “nautical” display.

I know the kids had a great time sailing their little ships, and I think that having a wild afternoon competing in the pool would have been prize enough for most of them, but I loved the fact that the club gave trophies to all of the participants. The kiddos who braved the pool will certainly display their boating awards for years to come, and that does give the Coral Reef name some exposure. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a plaque or a trophy, I always read the inscription. Perhaps somewhere along the line a friend will admire one of the kids’ awards and ask about the club, which could spark conversations about fond childhood memories spent in sailing camp on Biscayne Bay. That, in turn, could ultimately inspire someone to inquire about becoming a member.

Awards, even if they are for silly contests, are items that people keep forever. They might not display them, but everyone has a box of trophies that they move with them from place to place. Each time they do, they probably look at them, reminisce, and see the name of the sponsor who awarded it to them – that’s a little bit of promotional marketing every time.

So take a cue from Coral Reef and give awards when you can. Maybe you have a company picnic that includes games – why not hand out a trophy to the overall winner? Or if someone meets her sales goal, have a plaque made: she’ll keep it in her office indefinitely. People love to get awards, and giving them allows you to do subtle promotional marketing for the foreseeable future.

And if you’ve never seen a cardboard and duct tape boat race, click on this YouTube video!

How Controversial Mascots Benefit the Olympics

The opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games takes place tomorrow in London. I happen to love both the Summer and Winter Olympics, so I’m happy that the Games have almost begun, and I decided to write a blog post about some aspect of the events. I did a quick Google search for fun facts about the festivities, and one controversy kept popping up: many people hate the London Olympics mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.

Wenlock and Mandeville were designed to tell a story about London and the Olympics and Paralympics – for instance, they are shaped like drops of steel, which represents the Industrial Revolution, while the ridges on Wenlock’s head signify the three steps on the winners’ podium. Even their names hold significance, as Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England is where the precursor to the modern Olympic Games was held. And the name Mandeville derives from the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, whose games for injured soldiers inspired the Paralympics.

Although the characters manage to tell visitors a bit about the city and the Games, they are, well, creepy! Many people are up in arms that footless, one-eyed creatures were chosen to represent London on a world-wide stage. The organizers, however, are unapologetic even in the face of criticism from the general public and the likes of actor Ewan McGregor. They claim that plush versions of Wenlock and Mandeville are, in fact, the best-selling promotional marketing product associated with the 2012 Olympics.

Whether you like the 2012 Olympic mascots – and clearly I do not – you have to admit that they are a great marketing tool. If their likenesses are selling as well as the organizers claim, then they could generate as much as $32,000,000 in sales! Plus, the controversy surrounding them is generating a heck of a lot of buzz about the Games. Love them or hate them, Wenlock and Mandeville are great for the 2012 London Olympics.

How to Network Ineffectively at an Event

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I write a lot about effective networking here on the blog, so I thought I’d switch it up today. Here are things to never, ever do at a networking event…and tips as to what to do instead.

1. Dress Unprofessionally – Living, working, and networking in hot, humid Miami has brought the Gossett Marketing team to many an event where we’ve seen individuals in less-than-appropriate clothes. Shorts, tank tops, even flip flops! No one wants to do business with or give referrals to someone who makes that poor of a first impression. So don’t be that guy! Wear a suit or a dress, look polished, don’t let your appearance get in the way of good opportunities.
2. Forget Your Business Cards – I know that there are schools of thought that say that you should, in fact, ditch the cards so that you can collect the cards of those you want to meet and reach out to them on your own terms. I am not of that school. I think you should have cards so that you can give all of your pertinent information to the people with whom you’ve made a connection – get their cards too, and follow up with them sooner rather than later.
3. Stick with People You Know – Going into a networking event can be intimidating because you are surrounded by total strangers, so it is tempting to find people that you know and spend the whole event with them. Kind of defeats the point of business networking, an activity whose aim is to allow you to meet new people. Fight the urge to stick with people that you know at events by forcing yourself to sit at a table full of strangers, introducing yourself to people who are standing alone, etc. And if the person that you know at the event tries to glom onto you, then politely excuse yourself so that you (and that person) have the opportunity to meet new contacts.
4. Talk on the Phone – Seeing people talking on the phone or playing with their smart phones at networking events is one of my biggest pet peeves. I find it rude, and besides that, it prevents you from meeting new people. Put down the “Crackberry” and focus on the people around you so that you can make a lasting impression on them – and hopefully gain their business.

I could go on and on…and I’m sure I will do so in future posts. These are the 4 worst sins that I have witnessed during networking events as of late – they don’t even include preparation for or follow-up after those events. I think I smell a series of posts brewing. Stay tuned for more tips as to how to network ineffectively!

Marketing That Goes Beyond E-Mail

Tequila Today, July 24th, is National Tequlia Day! At least one Mexican bar down here in Miami is celebrating – I know because El Vato Tequila & Taco Bar sent Danette an e-mail offering free tequila shots to anyone who RSVPs. RSPV-ing to their event this evening involves giving El Vato your e-mail address, so essentially the bar is giving free booze to anyone who is willing to join their mailing address. And I’ll bet a lot of people will do so! It’s a smart ploy on the part of the bar, as it allows them to continue marketing to attendees long after their free tequila event is over.

Gossett Marketing does not work with El Vato, but if we did, I’d encourage them to take their marketing a step further than just subscribing attendees to an e-mail list. I would also recommend that they give said attendees promotional marketing products at the National Tequila Day celebration. The first and most obvious suggestion would be shot glasses. There are so many fun options these days – they can light up, they can be customized to look like anything from a sombrero to a tequila-soaked worm, and people collect them. I’m sure that if they gave away unique, imprinted shot glasses with those free tequila shots, then they would stay on peoples’ shelves for years – doing still more marketing for the bar.

People at bars love goofy giveaways, so another fun option would be a sombrero. These giant hats would be fun for tipsy patrons to wear at El Vato, and passers-by would most likely see sombrero-clad people wandering in and out of the bar, become curious, and go inside. It could draw new people into the bar even if they hadn’t received an e-mail about an event.

E-mail marketing is a wonderful tool, and I always encourage its use; however, your marketing shouldn’t stop there. Promotional products can keep your company top of mind after an event or even draw new people into a party that they might never have discovered otherwise. Whether you’re celebrating National Tequila Day or something far more serious, use them to market yourself.

I couldn’t write about tequila without including this YouTube clip from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – you know the one, Pee-wee dancing to “Tequila!”

Make Your Own Networking Opportunities

Royal Caribbean Display

Gossett Marketing has worked with Structurz Exhibits and Graphics for years and years. Structurz is a Ft. Lauderdale company that designs and manufactures exhibits, tradeshow booths, banners and the like – so it makes sense that we, as a promotional marketing firm, would work hand in hand with them. Well, it’s a good thing that we have a great relationship with Structurz because they gave us a wonderful networking opportunity this week. You see, they had an open house for their customers, who were invited to stop in and take a look at their new, unique products. Not only were we invited to attend, but they also asked Danette to bring promotional products and catalogs along so that Gossett Marketing could have a greater presence at the event.

Our company loved to have the opportunity to display our wares at another South Florida business, plus it was nice to meet other people who work with Structurz – many of whom indicated that they can also use our services! From that angle, this was a fabulous networking event for us. Aside from that, hosting this type of gathering was smart of Structurz: instead of waiting for a networking opportunity to come up, they created one for themselves.

We could all take a lesson from Structurz and be proactive about networking. Chances are you don’t have a large warehouse for your customers to wander through – we don’t – but you can get your customers together with you and with each other in different ways. For instance, you can host a breakfast to announce your newest project. Coffee and bagels don’t cost a fortune, and if you get 12 clients to attend, then you are building your relationship with those 12 people, plus you are giving them an opportunity to network with each other.

I believe that enhancing relationships is an essential element of networking – it’s not all about throwing as many business cards to as many people as possible at a chamber of commerce event. So create a reason and a way to do so. Follow Structurz’s lead and build a stronger network.

How Uniforms Can Enhance Your Brand Identity

virgin america Virgin America recently unveiled new uniforms for its flight crew. These aren’t your typical pilot and flight attendant duds – no boring blue and white here – instead, the airline teamed up with Banana Republic to create looks with a more retail feel that are also more comfortable and functional for the wearers. It’s no surprise that Virgin America has stepped outside of the box when it comes to outfitting its staff; all of Richard Branson’s companies are forward thinking, so it makes sense that their uniforms would reflect that and enhance the brand.

Like Virgin America, all companies whose employees wear uniforms should use them as an opportunity to solidify their brand identity. For instance, a South Beach Diet clinic recently opened here in Miami, and rather than outfit their nurses in typical scrubs, they have them wear fashionable white tunics. The nurses’ attire makes a visit to the clinic feel less “medical” and more like a relaxing trip to the spa. It’s a feeling that being surrounded by nurses in scrubs would not accomplish, and it reflects the brand’s identity of being an upscale “lifestyle” instead of a diet.

Teaming up with a retail chain and purchase elaborate spa-style outfits for your staff members is all well and good, but what if your company doesn’t have the budget for that kind of thing? Well, fortunately you can still enhance your brand with your employees’ uniforms. Look at Coke – their drivers don’t wear anything particularly fancy when they drop off their products, but their polos always have their logo embroidered in their red to make them brand ambassadors. It’s easy and inexpensive to utilize that strategy and have your staff wear blouses in the same blue that is found in your logo. Or if you are a tropical outfit and want to represent that, have your employees wear Tommy Bahama-esque prints.

Whatever you do, use your company’s uniforms like you would a promotional marketing product – have them enhance your brand and solidify your corporate identity.

Miami Marlins’ Smart E-Mail Marketing

Miami Marlins I recently bought my husband tickets to a Miami Marlins game (yes, I’m a great wife). At the end of the transaction I received a standard “thank you for your order” type e-mail from the team, and I pretty much assumed that that would have been the end of our communication. But the Marlins surprised me by sending me two subsequent e-mails, which I thought was smart marketing on their behalf.

The first of the aforementioned subsequent e-mails arrived the day before the game. It thanked me for having purchased seats at the game, told me which pitchers were scheduled to start, and gave me helpful links to parking information, directions, and stadium information. It was a nice reminder that my husband was going to the baseball game the next day, plus he was happy to know who was pitching without having to look it up.

The second e-mail hit my inbox the day after the game. This e-mail again thanked me for supporting the team, gave the final (losing) score, and offered links to game details and highlights. It also did a couple of really smart things. First, the e-mail provided a way to easily send an e-mail to the organization with any feedback – good or bad – about attendees’ experience at the ballpark. It’s a new stadium, so they’re still working out the kinks, and getting fans’ opinions surely helps, so it’s clever of the Marlins to facilitate that. Second, and even smarter than a convenient way to comment on the game, is that this post-game e-mail included information about the next three home games and gave a link to purchase tickets. The people who receive this e-mail had most likely attended the ballgame the previous day, hopefully enjoyed their experience there, and the team is giving them an easy way to enjoy another visit to the stadium – I’ll bet they get a lot of click-throughs and ticket purchases because of that next-day e-mail.

I know that these e-mails are automated and require very little effort, but to me they are effective marketing. They get the recipient excited for the game that they are about to attend, then they remind the baseball fan that he or she enjoyed his or her experience at Marlins Ballpark and entice them to buy tickets again. I’d say that that is e-mail marketing at its best.

Another great Marlins marketing move? They’re going to be on Showtime’s new show The Franchise – click on this YouTube video to see a clip:

Promotional Marketing Ideas for Shake Shack

I’m absurdly excited because the newest and largest Shake Shack is opening today, and I get to go to the opening party! I love a burger and I really love Shake Shack’s “Concretes” – frozen custard blended with unique toppings – so the party is going to be a treat!

Now that you’re all sufficiently jealous that I get to go to the grand opening, let me get to the point. There has been a lot of buzz about the new Shack, which is across from the University of Miami, so I’m interested to see how the store will continue its marketing efforts – specifically, will they utilize promotional products? I would if I was involved. Here are my suggestions:

  • Apparel – as I’ve said before, I think that t-shirts and caps are ideal promotional marketing items because people really do wear them around the community. Shake Shack would be smart to give out free shirts and caps to the first 250 or so students to show their UM IDs when purchasing their meals. Those kids would wear their logoed merchandise around campus and remind other coeds to go grab a delicious Concrete!
  • Key tags – a key tag could be a very smart promo item for the Shack. They could take a cue from Wendy’s who gave out a Frosty-shaped key tag to anyone who gave $1 to their charity – those who donated are now entitled to free Frosty Juniors until 2013 if they buy any menu item and show the key tag. Perhaps Shake Shack could give a free order of fries to anyone who donates to their charity and shows their Shack-shaped key tag – that would get those individuals back into the store time and again for very little money.
  • Printed Cups – at the new Marlins Stadium, if you purchase a soft drink in an imprinted, reusable cup, you get free refills all game. Shake Shack could sell a different imprinted cup each month and offer free soda refills to anyone who brings that month’s cup back in with them. That way, individuals will keep the cups and probably reuse them at home, then be tempted to head back to the Shack!

What would you suggest as far as promotional products for the new Coral Gables Shake Shack? Let me know in your comments below!

How to Make a Good First Impression on LinkedIn

linkedin A lot of smart people have written excellent articles on LinkedIn – its importance, tips for use, ideas to help you connect with more people, etc. They are experts on the subject, which I do not claim to be, but I am a LinkedIn user and as such, I have developed some opinions of my own. Namely, I have strong feelings about requests to connect.

When I first joined the networking site, I felt bombarded by requests – people who wanted to connect with me online. It was exciting! I felt popular! But as I perused these invitations, I noticed that, well, I didn’t know the bulk of the senders. Sure, I might have done business with a friend of a friend of the person who was requesting to connect with me, but without an introduction from that person, I felt weird accepting those invitations, so I didn’t. Personally, I don’t think that users need to try to forge a connection to every person with whom LinkedIn might think I have some tenuous tie, and I don’t appreciate it when they reach out to me willy-nilly. If they think that they want to do business with me or with someone else here at Gossett Marketing, then they should do a little bit more work than sending out a generic e-mail.

Speaking of generic e-mails, I know it’s quick and easy to send LinkedIn’s standard “Please Join my Professional Network” note to people with whom you’d like to connect, but don’t! Who wants to network and potentially do business with someone who takes the quick and easy route? No one, that’s who. Yet when you send that note without taking a moment – literally just a moment – to alter it slightly or to write a new headline, you’re making “quick and easy” your first impression. To be seen as a valuable connection on LinkedIn prove that you’re willing to do the extra work by personalizing your connection request e-mails!

I can go on and on about the importance of having a professional picture, filling out your profile completely, etc., but I will leave that to the true experts. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so I just wanted to be sure that my readers make a good one on LinkedIn!

Gossett Marketing Turns 20!

Gossett marketing

I’m happy to announce that Gossett Marketing had a big birthday over the weekend. Incorporated in 1992, the company celebrated its 20th anniversary last Saturday, July 7th! We’re very excited to have been in business for two decades, helping local and international clients with all of their marketing needs including promotional products, direct mail, employee incentive programs, and more! Fortunately, our customers put a tremendous amount of trust in our abilities and have remained loyal to us for years – for that we are forever grateful.

Our first major client was the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Their business helped our president, Danette Gossett, expand Gossett Marketing in its early days, and their team has allowed us to create some of our most creative custom promotional pieces. The best part, though? We still work together to this day!

As an Account Executive here at Gossett Marketing, the vast majority of my time is spent working with the wonderful people at Baptist Health South Florida. I appreciate their trust in me and in Gossett Marketing!

Landry & Kling is another woman-owned Miami business with whom Gossett Marketing has a longstanding relationship. We love to work with other minority-owned businesses, and we thank the crew at L&K for supporting us in kind.

Today’s blog is dedicated to our faithful customers – the aforementioned companies and everyone else with whom we work. Without you, we would never have entered our 21st year. Thank you for believing in us! I hope we spend the next 20 years working together!

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