Time to Start Planning for October

pink ribbon Although Breast Cancer Awareness Month isn’t until October, now is the time to start planning if your company plans on honoring the cause in any way. There are all sorts of ways that you can raise money and awareness for the cause, both within your organization and your community – and as a bonus, doing so will help you gain marketing exposure.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Breast Cancer Awareness Month the first thing that springs to mind is Race for the Cure. While this nationwide series of run/walks does not take place exclusively in October, I think it is the most prominent breast cancer related event (in my mind at least). It’s a great, easy way to get your company or organization involved with the breast cancer cause. You can simply put together a team, raise money, and participate in the race, which is always a fun day. If members of your organization go that route, I’d have them wear matching t-shirts with your logo and maybe a catchy slogan. Such a simple way to show your company’s support to the thousands of other participants and spectators at the Race!

Perhaps you already have a Race for the Cure team and you want to do even more for the cause. If that’s the case, then consider some sort of fundraiser. A gala whose proceeds benefit cancer treatment is one way to go, but I like the idea of an event in which the kids can get involved (start teaching them about cancer and good health early). Wouldn’t a carnival be fun? You could bring in rides, games, and food and donate all of the proceeds from ticket sales to breast cancer research. Advertising the event would bring lots of brand exposure, which could be increased if the prizes that children received were imprinted with your company’s name and an awareness ribbon. Wouldn’t it be great to see dozens of kids walking around hugging a stuffed animal that had your logo on its little t-shirt? Happy children are great marketing!

Breast cancer impacts everyone – I can’t think of a sole I know who it hasn’t touched in some way, shape, or form – so acknowledging it during Breast Cancer Awareness Month is essential. It is a great time to raise awareness, collect donations, and help find a cure any way possible. Fortunately, doing so can also bring your brand exposure, so start planning for October now.

Virtual Newsmakers featuring Gossett Marketing

photo from tech4news.org

photo from tech4news.org

Gossett Marketing’s social media coach is Cynthia Seymour, who is a very busy woman indeed. Not only does she have her consulting business, Seymour Results, but she curates content, manages online communities, blogs, tweets, creates educational programs, and she co-hosts an online talk show called Virtual Newsmakers. On the half-hour program, which takes place on Google Hangouts Fridays at noon, Cynthia and her co-host Debbie Elicksen interview their guests about the use of social media in their lives and their business – in other words, they discuss using social media in the real world.

When I wrote that last sentence, I was tempted to call Cynthia and Debbie’s guests “experts in social media,” but on a recent Friday these ladies sat down with our company’s social media team – consisting of Danette and me – try as we might, we sure don’t qualify as experts on the subject! But, like everything else we do online, Cynthia managed to convince us that we could and should participate in Virtual Newsmakers precisely because we are a work in progress when it comes to our online presence.

The interview was primarily with Danette, who discussed the way communication has changed since she started working, and more specifically how it has changed in the 20+ years since she founded Gossett Marketing. It really is pretty amazing that in just that short amount of time, she has gone from sending orders via mail and having the process take days to now being concerned if an emailed order isn’t received within seconds! Not to mention the fact that she can now meet people for the first time and reconnect with old contacts without leaving her computer. Technology certainly has changed communication!

I did not join the broadcast until it was around halfway done, but when I did Cynthia put me right on the spot. She knows that I’m always resistant to new social media, so she asked how I get over that initial hesitance. Cynthia also wanted to know my thoughts on how the younger generation, who has grown up immersed in social media, should behave when they enter the real world – hint: they shouldn’t post drunk pictures of themselves on professional networks!

Being a part of Virtual Newsmakers was a really interesting experience in that it allowed us to connect with Debbie – who was in Canada, by the way – for the first time. Plus it brought our experiences with social media to anyone in the world who wanted to watch, or who wants to see what we think about it now. In fact, if you’re interested you can watch our program by clicking on the YouTube link below. Hopefully you will like what we have to say and you will forgive me for not wearing enough powder while sitting under bright lights!!

Snapple’s Excellent Marketing

photo from nyclovesnyc.blogspot.com

photo from nyclovesnyc.blogspot.com

Know how when you open a bottle of Snapple there is always an unusual fact written on the underside of the cap? Those are the brand’s “Real Facts,” of which there are 999 including #14 “camel’s milk does not curdle,” #319 “the name for the space between your eyebrows is ‘nasion,’” and #460 “astronauts actually get taller when in space.” Well, the beverage maker has decided to bring some of these fun facts to life through its Re-enFACTment campaign.

The first of these Re-enFACTments that I saw (and which led me to write this post) was the creation of Real Fact #444. You see, that fact states that “The Statue of Liberty wears a size 879 sandal,” which has led Snapple to actually create a reproduction of Lady Liberty’s footwear and display it in various locations around New York. It certainly is a giant shoe – it dwarfs Nick Cannon, who is helping Snapple promote the Real Fact and, of course, its drinks! Other celebrities are getting in on the act too. Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, shows off #230 “catepillars have over 2,000 muscles,” in a video on Snapple.com. He further explains that this muscular physique makes them a good source of protein, and then cooks and eats a batch of them!

I, for one, love to read the excellent trivia fodder that is written on the underside of Snapple caps, so I think the fact that the company is bringing them to life is just great! It makes the facts more memorable, plus it drives traffic to Snapple’s website as well as foot traffic to the giant flip flop. Real Facts are a lot of fun, but Re-enFACTments are a lot of good marketing for the beverage maker.

Promo Products and Brand Loyalty

photo from 9gag.com

photo from 9gag.com

You may have read my recent post about picking out my own car for the very first time. I ended up buying a Cadillac that drives like a dream and has the neatest “CUE infotainment system” (their words) that is truly amazing technology. I love, love, love it but the decision process was less than fun, as it found me driving all over the city of Miami to see various auto brands.

Because this was the first time I’ve ever bought my own car, I did not realize how arduous it is. As I said in the previous post on the subject, I had no idea what I wanted, so I shopped around a lot and took a good number of test drives. And I learned that it takes forever. The salesperson at each dealership would meet me, start to tell me about his line, disappear for a while to grab literature, come back, have me agree to a test drive, disappear again to grab the keys, etc. So I had a lot of time to kill, which I generally did by puttering around the dealerships. What I learned is that they are promotional products central.

Did you ever see the episode of Friends where Joey picked up women by wearing Porsche-branded hats and jackets, thus making them believe that he owned an expensive sports car? Well, as I car shopped I learned that every car maker has similar merchandise for sale in their show rooms. It makes sense: people are often passionate about what they drive (or pretend to drive) so they buy logoed shirts, mugs, and even bathing suits to show their brand loyalty. In doing so, they are marketing for their preferred automobile manufacturer – and paying to do so!

Sure, many car dealerships also give away other promotional items with their logos on them – I got a keychain with my dealer’s imprint and their roadside assistance number printed on it – but it fascinated me that so many people are willing to give the auto manufacturers even more money by buying their items. People do it, though, which is a fabulous example of brand loyalty and a great use of promotional marketing materials.

Just in case you don’t know the Friends episode that I mentioned earlier, here’s a YouTube clip:

Stop Networking Snobbery

photo from heidishome.ca

photo from heidishome.ca

Networking is an important activity for any businessperson. It is an effective way of increasing the number of business contacts that an individual has – contacts that could end up as customers, sounding boards, or sources of referrals, all of which broaden that individual’s professional horizons, and hopefully his company’s bottom line. So of course people want to fill their own business networks with quality individuals: people with big titles whose assistance could instantly catapult careers forward. Because of this, I think that many people attend events with the idea that they just need to connect with those revered individuals, which is why they fall into the trap of networking snobbery.

I’m sure that everyone reading this article has been a networking snobbery victim at some point in their lives. I know I have, so I’ll use myself to expand on my newly-minted term. As an Account Director at Gossett Marketing, it is my job to sell creative promotional marketing gifts – the items that keep your company’s logo in front of potential clients 24 hours a day. Well, I have my “elevator pitch” that expands upon that a bit, and I tend to use that pitch when I meet someone at a networking event. It’s a quick way to share a bunch of information. Not too long ago, I approached someone at a luncheon and he told me that he is an attorney at a firm here in town, the type of law he practices, etc., and I started to give him my spiel. He actually put up his hand and said, “I’m going to stop you right there – I don’t do that kind of thing, let me give you your card back and I’ll take mine.” Talk about rude – it was a total Kanye West man-diva moment! And what a stupid way to behave. This person obviously wanted to talk to bigger fish at the event, but he didn’t give me a chance, so how did he know that I didn’t have a juicy referral that I wanted to send his way? It was complete and utter networking snobbery!

If you ask me, a better way for this man to behave would have been to hear me out, take my card, and move on. Then if he happened to decide that he needed promotional items or if one of his clients did, then he could have had a resource in his arsenal. Plus, he wouldn’t have left me with a bad taste in my mouth towards both himself and the firm that he represents. Because if I do come across someone seeking legal advice, you can darn well know that I’m going to tell them not to work with him or any of his partners!

Look, I know that the key to successful networking is making quality contacts – not connecting with the largest-possible number of people – but don’t be a jerk about it! If you meet someone and decide that you are unable to assist them in any way, just blow them off after the event by ignoring their follow up. Don’t treat them like a lesser person. It’s awkward, it’s rude, it’s networking snobbery.

If you don’t know what I mean by a man-diva moment, click on the YouTube video below to watch the awkwardness unfold:

Icky Marketing!

photo from gizmodo.com

photo from gizmodo.com

Full disclosure: I watch Food Network a lot. For some reason, watching people cook is very soothing to me, so if I’m just puttering around the house doing little chores, then chances are that the channel is on in the background. One thing that my habitual Food Network viewing has beaten into me is the urgent need to wash one’s hands after one handles raw meat – chicken in particular. I know you’re thinking “obviously everyone knows this,” and I have always known it too, but Food Network is fanatical about the hand washing and actually shows every host washing his or her hands after he or she touches raw meat. Seriously, with the number of cooking shows that I’ve watched, I’ve probably seen these cooks scrub their hands hundreds of times! And I must admit that it has made me completely paranoid about raw protein.

The reason I’m telling you about my nerdy obsession with Food Network and with the cable channel’s belief that raw meat is evil stuff that must be scrubbed away immediately is because I recently saw a promotional product that I find pretty amusing. Gizmodo ran an article not too long ago about the dish towel that Fisher & Paykel gave away at its sales conference – it looks like a raw chicken carcass! It made me giggle because I can imagine it sitting on my counter and scaring the heck out of me due to my Food Network-enhanced meat paranoia. And if I owned a chicken-towel, I’m not sure if I would be able to wipe my hands or counters with it just because raw meat – raw chicken in particular – freaks me out from a bacteria point of view.

While I do not want to have Fisher & Paykel’s chicken-towel giveaway, I have to say that it’s a clever piece of marketing. People might not use it, but they sure will talk about it just because of the pure “ick” factor. It’s creepy, it looks gross, and that makes the chicken-towel an excellent promotional marketing product.

When Following Up Goes Too Far

photo from toworkandback.com

photo from toworkandback.com

I’ve written many blog posts about the importance of following up with the people that you meet at networking events because it really is an essential step in the process of building a business relationship. I have gone so far as to say that being persistent in trying to engage with someone during the following up process is not annoying – after all, they can just ignore your queries until you give up. Well, right now I’m not 100% sure that I agree with my own sentiment. You see, I’ve recently been car shopping and I made the mistake of giving one of the dealerships my phone number…

Let me start from the beginning. I’ve been driving for over half of my life and in that time I’ve always had a car, but until last weekend I had never picked out my own car. My awesome grandparents gave me a Volkswagen Jetta when I turned 16, then my delightful parents surprised me with a Volvo while I was in college, and I inherited my grandfather’s Lexus a few years later. I am a lucky, lucky girl with a generous family who gave me 15 years of driving without a car payment. But recently when I took my Lexus into the shop for service, my mechanic sat me down and told me that it was time to decide whether I wanted to keep putting money into my old sedan or if I would be better served by purchasing something else – something with a warranty. Looking at the numbers, my husband and I decided that it was time to buy me a new vehicle, and so began my first car shopping experience.

Because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, I decided to look at everything. That meant dragging my father from dealership to dealership (he enjoys looking at cars) in an effort to eliminate the ones that I didn’t like before I began shopping in earnest. Although I had a seasoned car shopper with me, I made a rookie mistake and I gave my phone number to the first dealer that I visited. I told him that I was just beginning the shopping process, so I figured he wouldn’t pester me. Boy was I wrong! I got my first call from him later that afternoon, at which point I was busy. He asked, “Is this a good time to talk?” and I responded that it was not. So he inquired, “when can I call back so we can discuss getting you into a new X-brand vehicle?” and I said, “as I mentioned earlier, I have just begun looking at cars and will not make a decision for a few weeks – if I decide to purchase the X-brand sedan, I will come back to the dealership and ask for you. Please do not call me again.” Do you think he stopped calling? Of course he did not. He actually rang my cell phone every day for two weeks and left the same annoying message. I don’t know if he forgot that I was the one who told him to leave me alone or if he just didn’t care, but because I had asked him not to call me again, his persistence was mighty irritating. But I was happy when he called me on Saturday, as I got to tell him to stop calling me because I had just purchased a new Cadillac, not his X-brand car. And he’s left me alone ever since!

The lesson of the story is that persistence is OK, but if someone tells you to stop following up with them after car shopping or after a networking event, then knock it off. If you don’t, you might lose a big sale, a referral, or just the respect of a fellow businessperson.

Check out the YouTube clip below – you don’t want anyone to sing this song about you!

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Promotional Products go to the Dogs

photo from allcreatures.tumblr.com

photo from allcreatures.tumblr.com

Miami, where Gossett Marketing is located, is an incredibly dog-friendly town. I love pooches, but the dog-friendliness of this city actually weirds me out a bit, as it is the only place where I’ve ever seen dogs sitting at a table inside a restaurant, tripped over a recumbent whippet in a shopping mall, or where doggie attendance is seemingly higher than that of humans at the ballpark. Miamians love their canine companions and they love to take them everywhere, so it dawned on me this weekend that companies around here (and in any other dog-crazy place) should give logoed promotional products not only to man, but to his best friend as well. Here are 5 promotional items for four legged friends:

  1. Collapsible water bowl. It’s hot in Miami and like humans, it’s important for pups to stay hydrated in the heat. A collapsible water bowl folds up neatly and can attach to a leash. When Fido gets thirsty, simply open the bowl, fill with water, and let him have a drink.
  2. Leashes and collars. Around here, dogs go everywhere with their humans and they are legally required to be on a lead unless they are in designated areas. That makes a collar – with your company’s name or logo embroidered adorably upon it – necessary. There has to be somewhere to clip a leash! It also means that a leash is a great giveaway, particularly because so many styles can be imprinted with a logo. There’s something for everybody.
  3. Treats. Dog snacks are an inexpensive way to give a promotional gift to the pet lover in your life. A small printed pouch can be printed with your logo, filled with treats, and reused for years to come. Or if you want to get creative, have treats custom molded into a shape that represents your organization – what a cute idea!
  4. Toys. There are generic dog toys out there that can be printed with a logo or saying, but I love the idea of customizing this type of gift. For example, it would be adorable if a high-end shoe company gave out squeaky toys modeled after a fabulous pair of pumps that said, “Chew on this, not on your mom’s Manolos!”
  5. Window decals. Many pet households have decals on their front windows so that if there is an emergency, first responders know to look for and help dogs, cats, and the like. Veterinary offices, pet stores, training schools and the like should give these away to their customers. Like all of the other promo items in this list, they can be imprinted so that every person who glances at the decal will see the giver’s name and logo. Not only is that good marketing, but I know that any dog owner would appreciate it.

If your area is as dog-friendly as Miami, giving just one or all five of these promotional products to pets and their humans – they are sure to get your logo exposure all over town!

Would you be a Promotional Product?

photo from meltbarandgrilled.com

photo from meltbarandgrilled.com

As an Account Director at Gossett Marketing, I spend a lot of time thinking about company logos and the best way to get the most number of eyes to see them – namely with promotional products. Giving away imprinted promotional items can give a corporation a tremendous return on their investment. For instance, if the University of Miami gives a student a bag with its iconic “U” logo, it could make approximately 5,700 impressions over its lifetime. That’s a lot of people seeing that logo, meaning excellent marketing for the school. With statistics like those for bags, it’s easy to see why I like promotional products – they work!

I think that it is a great idea to put your logo on products and give them to customers and employees who then utilize them and effectively do your marketing for you, but I’m not sold on getting a logo tattoo.  However, people out there are doing just that and are reaping benefits for their permanent ads. I’m not joking. I was recently watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on FoodNetwork (don’t judge me, it’s excellent mindless entertainment) and Guy Fieri visited a grilled cheese joint in Cleveland called Melt. This particular restaurant has three logos, and if a patron chooses to have one – or a variation of one – tattooed on his body, then he gets 25% off any purchase for life! Then there is the Rapid Realty in New York, which encourages its employees get its logo tattooed by offering a 15% raise to anyone who does so. I have never been interested in getting inked, but a 15% raise might make me think twice about it. And if I worked for them, then tattooing the logo on myself would show my company loyalty and market the organization to boot.

Offering discounts, raises, and the like to those individuals willing to get your company’s logo tattooed on their bodies is a kooky marketing strategy to be sure, but it’s also a clever strategy. It generates a lot of buzz nationwide, it doesn’t cost the company very much, and it means that patrons/employees serve as promotional marketing products for the organization – forever!

Another Chance to Make a Good (or bad) Impression

Business Cards In this portion of the blog, I discuss business networking, both online and off, because I think that it is such an important way to expand your professional network. I’ve touched on the fact that networking doesn’t have to happen in a formal setting, that following up is key, that connecting online is perfectly valid this day in age, and that if you are at a true networking event it is essential to dress professionally. I actually tend to harp on the last point because I think that if you want to be taken seriously, you need to look the part. I’ve had several people disagree with me about this, but I hold to it. My strong feelings on the topic might have something to do with the fact that people actually show up to Miami networking events in lingerie – and that’s no joke. I’m sorry, but I can’t see myself wanting to do business with someone who looks like she is part of the world’s oldest profession!

OK, so clearly I’m adamant about looking polished at networking events, and you can agree with me or not on that point. If you disagree about your sartorial choices being important when you’re networking, then you’ll probably disagree with me about this too: I think that your business cards need to be just as neat and tidy as you are when you network.

Hear me out about this before you stop reading, please! I’m all for a funky business card that differentiates you from your competition. In fact, I’ve written a post praising badass cards that are unique and interesting. What I mean about your card being neat and tidy is that when you hand it to someone, it should be clean and wrinkle-free. It shouldn’t look like it has been swimming in the bottom of your handbag for three months because that makes it appear as if you don’t care about the type of impression you are making to new business contacts. Similarly, hand out your own card – not ones that you’ve borrowed/stolen from your coworker, crossed his name out and replaced it with your information. That just looks tacky and makes you seem unprepared, which is not a great impression.

As shallow as it may seem to some, your appearance plays a part when you network. So I strongly suggest making sure that yours – from your grooming to your clothing and down to the business cards that you hand out – is polished. And for goodness sake, no networking in your underwear!


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