Taking Marketing Beyond Word of Mouth

Alligator

As I’ve mentioned, Gossett Marketing is located in Miami, Florida. I’m not going to lie to you – it’s a weird place. Case in point: I just read that a South Florida company has begun to rent alligators to swim in the pool with children. And according to the owner of said company, Alligator Attractions, it’s a hit! I’m sure that the bulk of Alligator Attractions’ marketing is word-of-mouth (if I swam with an alligator in a friend’s pool I’d sure as heck spread the word), but I think they can do so much more. Here are my ideas:

  • Alligator Rafts – Remember those alligator-shaped rafts that took hours to blow up?  It would be a hoot if Alligator Attractions gave a logoed version to those brave enough to swim with their gators.  That way, they could continue to swim with them at home!
  • Direct Mail – Some people think that direct mail marketing is “old school” and boring, but I think that if it’s done correctly, it can be a useful tool.  If the company sent out postcards with an alligator tooth affixed to each one, I guarantee that it would garner them instant attention.
  • T-Shirts – Little kids like to prove that they’re brave and I’ve often seen them sporting an “I Survived” t-shirt.  You know the ones; they are printed with slogans like, “I Survived The Hulk Coaster” plus the Universal Islands of Adventure logo.  Giving a brave little guy a t-shirt proving that he swam with alligators and lived to tell the tale would make him into a walking billboard for Alligator Attractions – one that would certainly provoke questions and more word-of-mouth marketing.

Apparently Alligator Attractions is being investigated by the Fish and Wildlife Commission, so we Miamians may not be able to rent gators for long. Therefore, I’d recommend that the company market like heck now in hopes of making more money off of alligator rentals before they’re shut down!

Don’t believe me? Check out this YouTube video to see the alligators in action!

A Counterintuitive Networking Tip

counterintuitive Successful business networking is all about meeting new people, then pursuing those new relationships so that both you and your new contact gain business from each other and by referring one another. It’s something that we should all be doing regularly, but I understand that it’s very easy to let it fall by the wayside. There are various reasons why that happens, but today I’m just focusing on one: very often, individuals are not held accountable for attendance. Sure, they might pay to reserve a space at their local chamber of commerce luncheon, but who’s to stop them from blowing it off? Probably no one.

Well, I have a unique idea to keep anyone from playing hooky – find a networking buddy. As the title of this post suggests, I think this plan is counterintuitive, and I’m sure that “find a networking buddy” does not strike you as such. Well, here’s why it is: I don’t want you to exchange contact information with that person. Seems strange, huh? Keep reading to figure out my admittedly-odd thought process.

I’ve mentioned several times in this blog, I’m a runner – this idea stems from that. I have a couple of running buddies that I meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings whose phone numbers and e-mail addresses I don’t know after several years of running together. Our reason for this is because it forces us to show up. Because I can’t call them to say I’m not going to make it to our meeting point by our usual start time, I hate to miss a run – it’s a guilt thing. Fortunately, it works both ways and they rarely stand me up because they’d feel bad making me run alone.

My running buddy mentality easily translates to networking. If you meet someone at your next chamber of commerce event who admits that she has a hard time forcing herself to attend such gatherings, make a deal that you’ll see her at the next one. Then don’t network with her! Don’t give her your card and don’t take hers – that way you can’t cancel on her and will feel obligated to show up. I know that this tip seems highly counterintuitive – don’t network with someone in order to enhance your networking – but it will hold you accountable and get you to those events that you can otherwise so easily blow off.

Crystal Gel: Now Custom Crystal Promos are Affordable

If you’ve ever purchased crystal, then you know that it’s expensive. So you can imagine how very costly it would be to create custom crystal promotional marketing items – between labor, materials, and mold charges, it’s an absolute fortune. I know that several of our customers have explored the custom option and decided to forgo it because their budgets wouldn’t allow it. Well, I have good news: now there is a way to create custom crystal items without breaking the bank!

Crystal gel is a product that we here at Gossett Marketing have recently discovered. It looks and feels like real crystal, but because it is not actually crystal, it costs significantly less. The gel is like a resin, so it’s poured into a mold and can take virtually any shape – yes, it can even be made into a giant cupcake. It is also dye-able and can have anything from a subtle tint to a rich jewel tone, meaning that it can match any company’s color.

The options for crystal gel are pretty limitless – I have a variety of ideas for several cruise lines, Baptist Health South Florida, and the University of Miami. Whether your company is very formal or more casual and fun, I’ll bet a crystal gel promotional product could suit you and enhance your marketing!

cupcake vineyards

Is it OK to Network with the Competition?

Joe Frazier Muhammad Ali Have you ever ended up at a networking event where virtually everyone you meet is your competition? While it has only happened to me once, I have definitely sat down at a Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce breakfast only to realize that the individuals to my left and right were also promotional marketing products distributors. What about industry-wide trade shows? Members of the Gossett Marketing team frequently attend the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, which brings together the vast majority of our competition from across the country. So what’s the best way to handle these situations? Ignore everyone around you? No! If you ask me, I think you should take the opportunity to learn from your competitors.

I actually think that networking with people from rival businesses is a great opportunity for all of the parties involved. For our industry, it’s a way to learn how other people are using promotional products in unique ways. As an example, one of my competitors told me that one of her customers – a bank – mailed personalized pens to a targeted list of potential customers, encouraging them to “sign on” with them. They followed that mailing with personalized checkbook covers, and then wallets to really grab the attention of those potential banking customers. The bank had a great return on investment from this series of mailings – and many of the people who did “sign on” mentioned that they loved the personalization on all of the products. While Gossett Marketing does create and distribute direct mail campaigns for our customers, we’d never had the promo products truly personalized, and I thought it was a terrific idea!

Perhaps you noticed that in the example I gave, I didn’t mention my competition’s customer by name. That is because I have no idea which bank used the personalized promo products to lure in new customers due to the fact that my competitor, smartly, didn’t tell me. As businesspeople, it is our job to go out and find new customers – why would a rival company want me to know that Bank X buys a lot of promotional products? It might lead me to research the bank and potentially steal business from this rival promotional marketing product distributor. Sharing ideas with one another is all well and good, but there’s no sense in sharing customers!

So, go ahead and network with your competition – just be smart about it. And play clean, unlike the dirty tactics shown by one of the famous rivals in the YouTube video below.

Marketing Ideas That Shouldn’t Walk the Plank

Talk Like a Pirate Day
Oddly enough, today is the 10th annual International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It’s a goofy celebration created by two friends, John Baur (“Ol’ Chumbucket”) and Mark Summers (“Cap’n Sloppy”) who invented the holiday, and subsequently sent a letter to Miami’s own Dave Barry, a humor columnist. Talk Like a Pirate Day was right up Barry’s alley, so he wrote and still writes about it – giving the day national exposure. In fact, it has become so popular that both Facebook and Twitter have celebrated by adding “pirate translators” that convert users’ posts from English to, well, pirate-speak (the word “scallywag” features prominently).

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a silly celebration, but like everything else, it can be used to your marketing advantage if you give out the right promotional products. For example, I’d recommend Pinch A Penny, a pool supplies company, give its customers imprinted pirate-themed rubber duckies to commemorate the day. They’re so cute that they won’t get thrown away, meaning that they would give their logo much exposure as it floats around in a swimming pool. A fun idea for the University of Miami would be to give away treasure maps to its students, which they could follow to find a prize (probably a logoed UM bag or water bottle). Undergrads would love it, and the subsequent prize could give “The U” great national visibility as students carried the bag through the airport or back in their hometown and other potential coeds saw it.

Talk Like a Pirate Day is about as goofy as “holidays” come, so embrace your company’s silly side and use it to enhance your marketing. You’ll shout “shiver me timbers!” when you see how much new business it brings your way!

(Note: you probably won’t say that, I just wanted to write “shiver me timbers” in this post!)

Can Corporate Apparel be Fashion Forward?

fashion show runway Here at Gossett Marketing we sell a tremendous amount of logoed corporate apparel. T-shirts, polos, sweaters, woven shirts, caps…you get the picture. When you think of those types of items you probably envision something that’s a little boring. Solid colors and boxy fits, right? Well, the good news is that one of our favorite manufacturers, SanMar, is moving away from that and is making corporate apparel stylish.

Rob, our SanMar rep, always brings us the company’s newest selection, and what he’s shown us for Fall has the Gossett Marketing team excited. The line features a wide variety of woven shirts interesting patterns such as checks and stripes, some of which include special details like a ruffled trim. These looks are very “retail,” meaning that your employees will want to wear them instead of dreading getting dressed in the morning. I don’t know about you but when I’m comfortable in what I’m wearing I feel better about myself – it truly makes my day better. If your employees feel good about themselves, doesn’t it make sense that they’ll feel and work better too?

Now, you might be asking yourself whether an embroidered logo would be “too much” on a patterned shirt, but let me assure you that it’s not. I’d recommend sewing the logo in a solid color in a tone that matches, rather than contrasts with, the shirt. It’s a subtle look, but it still manages to brand your employees as members of your company – it makes them your walking billboards!

Check out the YouTube video below – Rob shows Danette some of his stylish new offerings. And remember, the next time you order uniforms for your staff, make sure they’re fashionable!

Networking: Don’t Wait Until You Need It

don't wait! If I can boast a bit, our company, Gossett Marketing, has been in business for 20 years and we count some of the most important companies in Miami as our customers. Truth be told, between everyone who works here, we probably have enough business contacts to keep the company afloat for years to come, but we are all still very active networkers. Why? Because we don’t want to just rest on our laurels, we want to make sure that Gossett Marketing thrives for 20 more years!

As I mentioned, we are active networkers who attend chamber events and community functions regularly, and who aren’t afraid to talk to strangers if, say, we’re out for a run. One thing I’ve noticed when regularly attending said events and functions is that representatives from certain businesses only attend in fits and starts. Seeing them so sporadically always makes me wonder if they are only at the networking gathering because they need to be. I didn’t see John Doe in August, but he popped up with a vengeance in September – have sales slowed down? It makes me feel like John’s company is shaky, and do I want to do business with someone who might go under? Personally, no, I don’t. Sporadic attendees, I’ve found, are also the ones who think of themselves first rather than helping other chamber members (which, in turn, would help them). They’re the “business card spammers” who don’t take the time to connect, they just hand you a card and run. And if you ask me, networking is about quality over quantity.

If you hold off on networking until you truly need it, then I guarantee you that those around you will figure it out. It reflects poorly upon you and your company, and I promise you that it won’t benefit your business like you think it might. Sure, sporadic networking might boost sales, but, well, it will do so sporadically. Think long-term rather than waiting to network when you absolutely need it.

A Real-World Example of Effective Promotional Marketing

Jonathan Vilma Brother Jimmy's On Saturday my husband Nick and I met some friends at a new bar/restaurant where we watched the [horrible] University of Miami football game. The restaurant, called Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, is an offshoot of a small New York City chain and is part owned by football player Jonathan Vilma. For those of you who don’t know, Vilma plays for the New Orleans Saints and was one of the players suspended in the “BountyGate” scandal. He was not supposed to play at all this season, but he appealed the Commissioner’s ruling and got it overturned late Friday afternoon. Upon learning that he would, in fact, be eligible to play in the NFL this year, Vilma tweeted “VICTORY IS MINE!!!”

Someone at Brother Jimmy’s was very smart and used the football star’s tweet to the restaurant’s marketing advantage. You see, about halfway through the ‘Canes game the bartenders and waitresses began passing out imprinted t-shirts to anyone who wanted them. They had the Brother Jimmy’s logo on the left chest, and on the back they read “VICTORY IS MINE!!!” with the logo below. Everyone in the restaurant got a shirt, and seemingly everyone immediately took a picture of themselves with it – most of which, I assume, were posted on Facebook (the picture is of Nick with his shirt, and I posted it within 10 minutes of receiving the shirt). That is fabulous social media exposure for Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. Beyond that, though, everyone who put on the shirt and left the restaurant still sporting it was getting the word out that Brother Jimmy’s is now open. Nick went to Shake Shack after leaving the BBQ joint, so everyone who spied him there was exposed to their logo – that’s great marketing to a large audience!

Brother Jimmy’s is a great example of effectively utilizing a timely promotional marketing product. Not every business is owned by an exonerated NFL star, so a t-shirt of a tweet won’t work for everyone, but almost any company can capitalize on changes in the weather, holidays, and the like. Make sure that the promotional items that you give out are timely so that you get the most bang for your marketing buck!

In Memoriam

9/11 flag
I was born long after President Kennedy’s assassination and the moon landing, so whenever I heard anyone reminiscing about “where they were when…” I had a hard time relating. That is, until September 11th, 2001. Like most Americans who were old enough to understand what happened that day, I’ll never forget where I was when it happened (getting ready for my sophomore economics class at Vanderbilt University).

I’d like to dedicate today’s blog post to the victims of the September 11th attacks. We’ll never forget the terrorist attacks that occurred that day, nor will we forget the lives that were taken much too soon. In their honor, do something kind for another person today. It doesn’t have to cost anything or take a lot of time, just help someone or make them smile. Turn a sad anniversary into something good.

Tomorrow we’re back to marketing here on InterestingMarketingTidbits.com, but the gravity of this day was too big not to acknowledge.

When Networking Mind your P’s & Q’s

 

 

I know that I tend to write a lot of “what not to do” posts in the networking section of this blog and I was going to try to steer clear of that this week, but I just returned from a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon and I need to vent. You see, I sat at a table with an incredibly rude man and I just thought that his behavior was wildly inappropriate! So here’s what he did that you should not try to copy!

  • Mocked People Being Recognized: At our chamber functions, the chairman will often mention special people who are in attendance (past chairs, politicians, etc.). Those individuals are asked to stand so that they can be recognized by the crowd, and they often look around and wave. When that happened today, the rude man at my table saluted them all mockingly as he laughed. These are people who have worked hard to become upstanding members of the Miami community – why make fun of them for that?
  • Ridiculed The Speaker: Today’s keynote speaker was the President of the Senate of Haiti. English was his second language, and he had a heavy accent – this led the man at my table to elbow the person next to him and mimic the gentleman’s speech pattern. The woman that he did this to was visibly uncomfortable; after all, we live in a true melting pot where most people have an accent! Why make fun of that?! And if you’re going to do so, don’t get a perfect stranger involved (particularly not one who had already told the table that she grew up in Haiti).
  • Had Poor Table Manners: As if the fact that the rude man at my table was making fun of people at the event wasn’t bad enough, he also had lousy table manners. He used his fork more like a shovel than a utensil for spearing food. He slurped his drink. He had his elbows on the table. It made a terrible impression!

I know that we’re all only human – we slip up every now and again. I’m sure that I’ve done things at networking events that can be misconstrued as me making fun of someone. And I’ve certainly caught myself yawning with my mouth uncovered. I know, I know, I deserve a slap on the wrist. The thing is, I don’t make the people around me at these events uncomfortable. The purpose of networking is to meet and make connections with others to expand your business – you can’t do that if no one wants to be associated with you. So don’t be like the rude guy at my table, behave yourself when you’re out there networking!

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