Did We Forget Halloween?

jack o lanterns Today is Halloween, a holiday that I’ve always particularly enjoyed. I mean, what’s not to like? You dress up like anything you want to be, you get candy from complete strangers, and if you’re old enough, then it becomes a reason to have a wild party (oh how I miss college!). Now that I work in marketing (and I don’t go to raging parties regularly), I see so many marketing opportunities stemming from the holiday – it’s a great time for, say, a children’s hospital, to teach kids about safety, and it’s a perfect chance for a particular brand of alcohol to give out promotional shot glasses at bars – so why does it feel like we forgot Halloween this year?

Usually during the month of October, I notice that the radio and TV airwaves are full of ads for costume stores and haunted houses. Down here in Miami, that means that I watched the Party City “Thriller” commercials, heard the Casa de los Trucos radio spots, and saw the Universal Halloween Horror Nights signs all along the highway. But it just dawned on me that this year, I’ve watched, heard, and seen very little Halloween-themed marketing; rather, this year it feels like Christmas has started in October!

I saw my first Christmas/Holiday ad of 2012 a few weeks ago. I hadn’t even selected my Halloween costume yet, so needless to say I was shocked to hear about Target’s Holiday deals. But I gave the retailer the benefit of the doubt, thinking that someone had accidentally used that commercial instead of the Halloween-themed one that I was sure I would see. Well, that never happened and I’ve seen (well, fast-forwarded through) the Target Holiday commercial probably a dozen times since then. Target isn’t the only one – Neiman Marcus has been touting its Holiday catalog on The Today Show and Toys R Us has been running incessant Christmas-themed TV ads as well.

I know that the Holidays are really THE time of year for retailers – Black Friday and all that – but forcing the Holiday season to start during the early Fall make that much of a difference? Wouldn’t it behoove these retailers to market other holidays (like Halloween and Thanksgiving) to give their customers two more excuses to enter their stores or shop online? I don’t know the answer, I’m really asking! I’ve realized now that we did, in fact, forget Halloween – but why?!

Why Giving Holiday Gifts Matters

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
I can’t believe it, but the holidays are looming – Thanksgiving feels like it’s just days away, and beyond that is the Christmas season. Scary how quickly 2012 has felt to those of us here at Gossett Marketing! Be that as it may, this time of year is an excellent opportunity for any business to recognize its employees for their service and its customers for their loyalty. How do you do this? Why, by giving them imprinted promotional products, of course!

I know that many companies give their employees holiday bonuses instead of presents, but I think that the two items can go hand-in-hand. Why not put your sale’s manager’s bonus check inside of a beautiful leather padfolio that’s embossed with your logo? That way he’d receive a useful and attractive item that he can pull out at meetings – where your customers will see your logo – while being handed his bonus. If that’s out of your budget, then you might even put your employee’s check inside a custom printed holiday card. A card that includes heartfelt message of appreciation from the recipient’s boss sends a strong message that can bolster loyalty! The gift of a promotional product is a great way to reward your employees – just remember not to let them believe that they’re getting a huge bonus, then give them a jelly of the month club membership like Clark Griswold’s boss did in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!!

Holiday gifts are a wonderful opportunity for you to market to your customers, but many companies fail to take advantage of them. For example, let’s say that my local Ace Hardware typically sends a generic box of chocolates to their best customers. It’s a nice gesture, but once that customer throws away the card (which happens almost immediately), he’s going to stop thinking about who sent the candy. A better idea would be for Ace to send out a box of chocolates that are custom molded into their logo. It’s inexpensive, and it would grant them logo exposure until the last candy is eaten! Another great holiday gift is a calendar because your customers will use them (and see your logo and contact information) for the full year to come. In fact, Gossett Marketing sent 2012 calendars to our customers last year, and I still see them at the desks of Baptist Health South Florida and University of Miami employees!

Promotional products are always great holiday gifts that give you an extra marketing boost whether they’re given to your employees or your customers. Now’s the time to order them, so be sure to give us a call!

Because I mentioned it earlier, here’s a YouTube clip of my favorite scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!

Yelp: Why I’m a Believer

Yelp If you’re anything like me, then you can’t remember the last time you went to a new restaurant without first checking it out online. I make my reservations on OpenTable, I check out the menu on the restaurant’s web page, and, most importantly, I always make sure to read the reviews. What I’m trying to tell you is that I am hooked on Yelp.

Yelp is an interesting website that allows members to write reviews about almost anything – restaurants, bars, stores, even doctors! I know that a lot of people are critical of the site because these member reviewers are not required to meet any qualifications in order to post their opinions. Thus, there have been instances of abuse, by which I mean reviewers posting excessive and false positive or negative critiques to build an establishment’s following or to attempt to sabotage it.

I understand why some people might mistrust Yelp, but I’m still a big believer because I think that the majority of members post honest reviews of the establishments that they visit. For example, a Shake Shack just opened in Coral Gables and the reviews have been decidedly mixed. There are people who are fans of the original Shack in New York who are clearly brand evangelists who would give this new outpost five stars even if it served them dog food. Then there are those who have given it a single star because they are outraged by the prices and relatively small portions and difficult parking. Plus, there is a range of reviews in between. Sure, there might be one or two fake reviews in there, but because there are 45 different opinions in there – most of them favorable – I feel like I can trust Yelp on this.

While it is an imperfect system, I like that Yelp allows me to get a sense of a place before trying it out and that it has led me to new restaurants that I know I would not have discovered without it. Businesses that are not on Yelp are probably avoiding it because they don’t want to deal with potential negative reviews, but they are doing themselves a disservice because it gives establishments tremendous marketing exposure! And if these establishments are on the up-and-up, then Yelpers will promote the heck out of them!

I get why people are wary of Yelp, I really do. However, as far as I can tell it’s here to stay, so businesses should be on it, users should write honest reviews, and we can all ultimately benefit by helping each other! So keep those reviews coming, Miami Yelpers, I want to try a new restaurant this weekend!

Top 3 Networking Resources

Business Networking As I’ve mentioned many, many times in this blog, everyone here at Gossett Marketing is extremely dedicated to networking. We have a trustee membership to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, where Danette heads a committee, we attend non-Chamber events, heck, I even network with my running group! Although we’re dedicated, sometimes I find this, the networking portion of our blog, hard to fill. I mean, how many times can I remind my readers to bring their business cards to events?! Fortunately for me, I’m not the only person blogging about networking! When I need a little inspiration, I check out what other people have to say on the subject. Here are some of the sites that I find myself turning to frequently. Take a look at their unique perspective – hopefully you’ll find them interesting too!

  1. Network in Austin – This is a site that is completely networking-focused, and it features articles about all aspects of the subject. Want to know about referrals? Check! What about pre-event preparation? You got it! There is no business networking detail too minute for this comprehensive site to cover.
  2. Small Business Trends – this website isn’t dedicated exclusively to networking, but there are many, many posts on the topic. A personal favorite is “The 59 Commandments of Business Networking” by Diane Helbig. Check it out!
  3. Mashable – Mashable is dedicated to all things social networking – news, how-to, design, you name it, you can find it here. It’s an excellent resource for those who are new to the social media world and to people who are comfortable calling themselves “geeks.” I find myself turning to Mashable whenever I have a Twitter or LinkedIn question, and you should too!

Whether or not you write a blog that calls for a weekly post on networking, these three websites are endless sources of information for business professionals. So once you’re done reading InterestingMarketingTidbits.com, be sure to check them out!

Why Brand Name Apparel Benefits Your Brand

In this video, Danette Gossett of Gossett Marketing and InterestingMarketingTidbits.com talks to Rob from SanMar, our preferred apparel style about name brand corporate clothing. Lately, sales of name brand items have outpaced any other sales because it allows the companies to co-brand themselves with some of the world’s most recognized companies. Rob shows Danette three different brands that SanMar sells: Nike, Eddie Bauer, and Red House. Here are my suggestions as to how to utilize these name brands.

NikeNike is known for its upscale technical fabrics, and in the promotional marketing industry we find that the company’s golf polos are our biggest sellers. The unique thing about the Nike shirts that we sell is that the “Swoosh” logo is on the right side or on the sleeve, leaving room on the left chest to have another company’s logo embroidered on the pieces as well. That creates a distinct link between, say, the Baptist Health South Florida logo and Nike’s – making the wearer and anyone who sees the shirt associate the two companies with one another. These shirts are great giveaways at golf tournaments or really any sporting event. They are also nice gifts for board members, valuable customers, and even prospective clients, as they have a high perceived value.

Eddie BauerEddie Bauer is recognized as an outdoor gear authority, and the Eddie Bauer items that SanMar offers uphold that reputation, particularly the warm parkas and layering pieces. I’d recommend those cold-weather items to corporations located in potentially-frigid areas. Target, based in Minneapolis, jumps to mind. They could give all of their corporate employees toasty Eddie Bauer parkas imprinted with their very recognizable logo, and those people would give that logo extra exposure as they commuted to work. Plus, Target’s sterling brand would be linked to Eddie Bauer’s equally-impressive one – benefitting both companies.

Red HouseRed House is the least-recognized of the three brands that Rob mentions in the video, but its quality is second-to-none. The non-iron woven shirts that the line offers rival those made by Brooks Brothers, but like Nike, the brand leaves the left chest portion of every shirt blank so that another company’s logo may be embroidered there. These shirts are ideal for anyone who works in an office or who represents your brand on a tradeshow floor because they stay crisp and wrinkle-free all day. So in this instance it’s more that the brand name item’s quality enhances your own brand by allowing you and your employees to present a well-tailored image with little effort.

Sure, brand name apparel might cost a bit more than its generic counterpart, but it allows your company to piggyback on another brand’s success. It’s no wonder that these are currently our apparel supplier’s strongest seller!

 

How to Market a Local Delicacy

Stone crab October is a favorite month here in South Florida, as the 15th marks the begging of stone crab season. Stone crabs, made popular by Joe’s, one of Miami’s most famous restaurants, are a unique delicacy because you just eat the claws and because they’re generally consumed cold, dipped in delicious mustard sauce. The meat is so sweet and luscious that many folks down here – including yours truly – prefer stone crab to lobster.

Now, being a Miami native, I’ve enjoyed this delectable crustacean since I was a little girl, so when I went away to college in Nashville, Tennessee, I was shocked that the beginning of stone crab season went unheralded. Then I was aghast when I mentioned that fact to a friend who looked at me like I was crazy and asked, “what is stone crab season?” Apparently, stone crab is a rarity outside of my home state. I doubt that there’s much that I can do to change that fact, but of course I like to think like a marketer and come up with ideas as to how to spread the stone crab love – here’s how I would do it.

First and foremost, I’d broadcast the fact that stone crab is sustainable seafood. As I said, you only eat the claws, but that doesn’t mean that the body goes to waste; rather, the fishermen remove one claw from each crab, then throw the crustacean back into the ocean. In about 6 weeks the crabs generate new claws (which can be harvested again when they reach the legal size). I feel like we only hear doom and gloom when it comes to commercial fishing, so it would be good to frame stone crabs in an eco-friendly light.

My second marketing point runs along the same lines as the first. Whenever I hear commercial fishing stories it seems that huge, soulless corporations are being blamed for ruining our seas. Well, because of the delicate nature of its harvest, stone crab really can’t be collected by a large-scale operation. Rather, South Florida fishermen are the ones who bring it in to the fisheries that deliver to Joe’s, Truluck’s, and the line – meaning that the season is a boon to the local economy. I think people can feel good about eating a product that greatly benefits individuals instead of huge corporations; thus, I’d promote that fact as well.

Aside from being sustainable seafood that helps local fishermen, stone crab has an exclusivity factor. It’s an expensive product, and if it’s shipped to other parts of the country, it will be even more so. Some people like that, though – it makes them feel like big shots to eat a delicacy that other people might not fork over for (see what I did there? “fork”?!). On top of that, it’s widely known that it’s nearly impossible to get a table at Joe’s without waiting for hours, but that people are willing to do just that to get their hands on some crabby goodness. That idea of exclusivity could really heighten people’s desire to try South Florida’s favorite seafood.

Stone crab has a lot of great talking points that I would use as marketing tools, but what really sells it is how good it tastes. So if I was trying to boost its sales in other parts of the country, I’d fill an imprinted cooler with jumbo claws and FedEx them to my target audience. And if tasting this delicious seafood doesn’t make them want to sell stone crabs in their venues, then no amount of marketing will!

Check out this YouTube video to see local fishermen harvesting my favorite stone crabs!

How to Make Sense of Twitter for Networking

twitter hash tags
If, like the team here at Gossett Marketing, you are a Twitter user, then you know how overwhelming it can be. Seemingly every business, celebrity, and Average Joe has an account, with some users tweeting hundreds of times per day – that’s a lot of  messages in any given news feed. It’s all so random: The Rock might be tweeting about his latest workout, a new mom might send out a picture of her baby, and a business could be promoting itself. This is where hashtags come in. If you mark certain words with a hashtag (#), it makes that word searchable on Twitter thus allowing users to find tweets that interest them. As you can imagine, I often post about #promotionalproducts and #marketing!

Like Twitter itself, though, these hashtagged words are really random. A quick glance at my feed shows #marriage, #SM (short for “social media”), #needed, and #branding – all over the place, right? While I am a frequent Twitter user, I am by no means an expert, but I think that the tagged words seem random because they are random. I think that individuals with certain interests use hashtags to mark words that others with similar interests would search for. Actually, that’s how I found the #promotionalproducts tag – I thought about how someone in our industry might try to get noticed, and there it was!

The nice thing about using hashtags is that it allows you to network easily. When I come across #promotionalproducts, #promoproducts, or #marketing on Twitter, I take notice of the people who use them. I frequently RT them, engage them in conversation, and follow them. They generally do the same, and, like at a traditional networking event, I’m able to begin building relationships that will hopefully lead to business – or to case studies and tips that might help our company in the future. I’m not saying that hashtagging is the new networking, but it’s a good way to make sense of Twitter, the ultimate online networking tool.

Promotional Products: Branding with Brands

Brookstone
Recently one of Gossett Marketing’s favorite brand reps, Jon from Gemline, came to visit our team. Gemline has launched its holiday gift collection, so Jon showed us what is new and different. One of our favorite new products was his Big Blue speaker system – it’s a Brookstone piece that can be imprinted with your company’s logo and given to your valued customers. The nice thing about Big Blue is that it plays music wirelessly and it can be used as a conference call speaker, making it perfect for businesspeople. You can check out the YouTube video at the end of this post to see it in action, but before that read on to learn why it’s a great idea to give out a name brand product like Brookstone’s Big Blue.

Brand name promotional marketing products are excellent giveaways because people actually use them. Frankly, if I had an individual listen to two wireless speakers – one from Brookstone and one of a “generic” variety, I can all but guarantee you that the listener would think that the Brookstone item sounded better. It’s a matter of perception: he knows that this big brand has a good reputation, so he trusts the Brookstone speaker more than the alternative. By the same logic, if he receives Big Blue as a gift (with your company’s logo imprinted upon it, of course), he’ll see the gift as being of particularly good quality – meaning that he will use it. That speaker will go with him on trips and be used for conference calls, so other people will see your company’s logo, not just the recipient. Because you’ve given out this known brand, those people who view your name on it will then associate you with Brookstone, and all of the work that they have done to build their brand will then boost yours. It’s a win-win!

Giving out name brand holiday gifts might cost you a bit more, but in the end you’re giving yourself a marketing gift by using that brand to benefit your own!

Now watch this video to see (and hear) Big Blue in action!

Honoring Miami’s Finest Alumni

Miami Dade Public Schools

This week Miami-Dade Public Schools launched its Alumni Hall of Fame, inducting 14 notable alumni who have been part of our county’s school system. Inductees include actor Andy Garcia, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, astronaut Thomas Mattingly, and wildlife educator Ron Magill. There are many other interesting people who did not make it into the Hall of Fame this go-round (maybe next time, Barbara Walters!), but I’m sure they will be celebrated in the years to come.

While I didn’t attend the Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, I’m sure that it was quite the affair. And I’m sure that the inductees walked away with some sort of beautiful promotional product to commemorate their status as Hall of Fame members. I wonder if Miami-Dade Public Schools sprung for a custom piece? If they used the crystal gel that I blogged about not too long ago, they could have had a sculpture of some sort made – it might have been nice to have it shaped like the Hall of Fame’s logo. Or if the budget was tight, a pretty plaque or vase would have been a nice option.

These first 14 inductees have done our county’s public school system proud by utilizing their education to forge widely varied, but all very successful, careers. I hope that they did walk away from the ceremony with an award of some sort – and I hope that they display it. Going to school down here in South Florida might not seem like much of an accomplishment to them, but to the rest of us locals it’s a big deal that our part of the world helped shape them and I, for one, hope that they received a promotional product so that they can show the world their Miami-Dade County roots!

Networking: Say NO to Small Talk

small talk When you attend a networking event, chances are that you will not know every person there. Heck, you might not even know a soul there, but meeting new people is the whole point of networking, right? Be that as it may, sometimes walking up to a stranger to introduce yourself can be intimidating and, frankly, a little awkward. You each deliver your elevator pitch and then what? Whatever you do, don’t resort to small talk!

Small talk is easy. We can all appreciate beautiful weather or bemoan the most recent Miami Dolphins loss or chat about today’s headlines, but that won’t make you memorable to this stranger that you’ve just met. A better strategy is to engage in a thoughtful conversation so that you and that stranger get to know each other more deeply; thus walking away less as strangers and more as acquaintances who could potentially do business together in the future. So, how do you do that?

One key to steering clear of small talk is asking thoughtful questions. That means that when you meet this person, you need to actually pay attention to what she says she does. So let’s say you meet me and I tell you about how I am an Account Executive at Gossett Marketing and that we are a promotional marketing distributor. Someone who is paying attention might ask me something like, “can you provide custom products?” “Who needs your services?” or “Who is your biggest customer?” Any of these questions would lead me to elaborate – and because you cared enough to ask more about my business I’d probably walk away from that interaction caring more about you.

Another tip to avoid the small talk trap is to contribute thoughtfully to any group discussions. For instance, if you are attending a luncheon and your tablemates all begin to chat about something. Be sure to chime in intelligently – give a helpful tip that you’ve picked up, tell a funny anecdote, or expand on a point that someone else has made. But be sure that the conversation has to do with business or something innocuous: never ring in on politics or religion!

I know that chit-chatting about nothing is easy, and I admit that I’m guilty of it from time to time. However, if you want to accomplish anything at a networking event it is essential to make yourself memorable. So make the effort and say NO to small talk!

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