Great Customer Service Matters

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I have a confession to make: the team here at Gossett Marketing is spoiled. We are promotional products distributors, and people in our field generally see our suppliers’ new wares at huge trade shows that take place throughout the country. We do go to those on occasion, but we are spoiled because our favorite vendors actually bring their newest products to us; thus saving us the time that it would take to travel to, say, the PPAI or ASI shows. It is a great luxury, and one that we thoroughly appreciate!

This week we have had company-wide meetings with three of our preferred promotional products suppliers because they are rolling out their holiday merchandise (yikes – holiday!). I love it when they come to see us, as it affords us the opportunity to touch and feel new products, plus we have plenty of time to ask pertinent questions, request samples, etc. Our reps also offer case studies and give suggestions as to how we might sell the new items, which is always helpful because I don’t necessarily look at a particular pen and think “wow – this would be great for a cruise line,” but our reps can tell me why, in fact, it is good for that industry. Basically, they spend enough time with us to make us feel special and to help us sell their product. Great customer service!

So yes, our suppliers do spoil us by doting on us and by keeping us from having to attend huge trade shows. We appreciate their above-and-beyond customer service, and to prove it to them, we spend more money with the companies who send reps to visit our office than we do with anyone else – by a long shot. We are more than happy to guide our customers towards products whose suppliers we love because we know that they will keep us happy, which, in turns, makes our customers’ buying experience a more pleasant one.

Great customer service, like that which our wonderful supplier provide, takes a lot of effort, but by keeping their customers pleased with them/their companies/their products, our suppliers drive our sales towards them. It works the same in every industry – so take a cue from our vendors and go above and beyond with your customer service.

Always be Prepared to Network

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My husband Nick and I spent this past weekend in Boston, where we know exactly one resident – Nick’s fraternity brother. I had never been to Boston, so we had a ball doing all of the touristy things. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts, the Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, an Italian festival in the North End, Harvard, Newbury Street, followed parts of the Freedom Trail, etc. We also ate our body weight in lobster rolls, chowder, clams, Chinese food, and cannoli. It was, to say the least, a great weekend!

You might be wondering why I started this post by mentioning that I know one, and only one, person in Boston. Well, the weird thing about our weekend visit to New England was that although we only know one individual who lives up there, we actually ran into four people we knew! First, we got off of our plane and immediately saw my lifelong best friend’s little sister and her fiancée. Our flight was very, very early and I slept through most of it, waking up just prior to landing, so I honestly thought that I was hallucinating when I saw them in the airport, but they were really there! Weird coincidence! The next day Nick and I were window shopping, and we heard someone say “Whoa! No way!” before hugging us. It was a friend from high school that neither Nick nor I had seen in approximately a decade, who now lives in Connecticut, and who also just happened to be spending the weekend in Beantown. It was the strangest thing to just stumble upon someone my elementary-through-high-school classmate, with whom Nick played golf for years. So unexpected to happen upon him in a totally random location! Lastly, we happened upon one of Nick’s colleagues in Logan Airport on our way back to Miami. He was headed back from a long weekend in Maine and we were on the same flight. Also pretty coincidental.

Allow me to start this paragraph similarly to the last by saying that you’re probably still wondering what I’m talking about. Well, the world really is a small place: I visited a city in which we only know a single resident and ended up seeing four people that either my husband or I know. While running into all of these people was hugely coincidental, it goes to show that it’s always worthwhile to be prepared to network! While I don’t do business with any of the individuals I bumped into while in Boston, I could have just as easily seen fellow members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce during my visit. In that case it would have behooved me to exchange contact information and follow up with them post-trip. We would definitely have something in common – our time in Boston – and that would be a great opportunity to start a dialogue with a potential business contact.

You never know who you will see where, so always be prepared to network!

The NFL’s New Bag Policy & Your Marketing

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Football season is upon us, and this year that poses a unique set of challenges for fans who have traditionally carried a large pocketbook, zippered cushion, duffel bag, tote, or cooler into NFL stadiums. That is because as a safety precaution, the National Football League this year is requiring individuals to either carry a 12” x 6” x 12” clear tote bag or a small clutch purse into games – all subject to search, of course.

Some people are outraged by this change in NFL policy. Many women are saying that it is discriminatory because men don’t have to deal with it – it’s a female-only issue because most guys do not carry handbags. Other fans think that the clear bags are a way for teams to boost their revenue by preventing fans from sneaking in their own food and beverages; thus, forcing them to buy at the stadium. But the NFL says that the new bag policy is neither a discriminatory move, nor a way to increase profits: in light of the Boston Marathon bombing, the League says that it is an effort to increase fan and player safety. Personally, I’m OK with the new restrictions at football games – if everyone at a game has to carry an ugly bag, then so be it if that’s what it takes to keep fans safe. Plus, from my perspective, it is a great marketing opportunity for absolutely any company.

Anyone who attends an NFL game is going to need an approved bag to carry into the stadium, so why not put your logo on them and give them to the employees who are going to use your company’s season tickets to entertain clients? Along that line of reasoning, why not give them to the clients that the employee is bringing to the sporting event? Neither employee nor client probably has a correctly-sized, clear bag, so I’m sure that they (or their significant other) would be grateful and would use it at the game. And when they carry it around your hometown stadium, think of how many pairs of eyes will see your logo! At a venue that can hold 50,000+ individuals, that is a lot of potential logo impressions – and good marketing on your part!

Even if your company does not participate in pro football events, you can still give away NFL-approved bags. I know that the University of Miami Hurricanes football team is going to go the way of the NFL and require fans to carry clear or small bags, and I’ll bet that many other college teams will do the same. Other pro sporting events might also climb onboard the clear bag train too. Ultimately, who knows how many crowded events/areas might implement bag policies? Giving away imprinted, clear, properly-sized bags will save your customers and employees the headache of having to find and the expense of having to buy their own – all while marketing your organization.

Promotional Products and Office Organization

If you have read two or three posts on this blog, then you know by now that I am an Account Director at Gossett Marketing, which is a promotional products distributorship located in Miami, Florida. That means that we sell the imprinted items that companies give away to employees and customers to keep their logo in front of their target audience 24/7. The people who buy these items from us tend to want to see them before making their purchase – I don’t blame them, who wants to be stuck with 5,000 pens that they don’t like?! – and we are happy to provide those. As a consequence, though, we have thousands of samples in our office.

Having lots of samples on-hand can be a convenient thing – if someone local asks to see something that I already have, then I can present it to them (and hopefully get an order) that day. However, it is an organizational nightmare! We have several suppliers with whom we do a lot of business, so we keep all of their samples in a designated place, no matter what they are. But there are suppliers who we use less frequently, and their samples are organized by type: drinkware, caps, totes, leather goods, etc. are all on different shelves throughout our office. That way, we know where to look when we need something – we either search through the particular supplier’s box or the area where that type of item should live.

Although we do have some sort of an organizational system, it’s really hard to keep track of samples – they are shipped in, we give them to people, we forget whether someone has returned them… You get the picture. That being said, though, I can’t think of a better way to house them. Can you?

Should You Have an All-Day Social Media Presence?

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As I’ve admitted time and again in this blog, I am often stumped as to what I should write about. When I have absolutely no ideas, I reach out to family and friends to ask for suggestions. This week my college roommate, Ashley Foret Dees, gave me a great suggestion. She is an immigration attorney with her own firm – locations in Lake Charles, Louisiana and Houston, Texas – and she emailed the following, “I just read that posting tweets between 1-3pm Eastern time gets you the most clicks BUT what about for professionals like lawyers or sales people who don’t want their clients to think they are tweeting instead of working during those hours? Where do you draw the line!”

I think that’s a really interesting Twitter question. The team here at Gossett Marketing has an excellent social media coach in Cynthia Seymour of Seymour Results, who has always advised us to tweet several times per hour. The bulk of those tweets should be sending out other people’s information – their blog posts, retweets, etc. – and then maybe once an hour should you promote your own content. That way you don’t seem like a selfish Twitter-er, which helps build a following and ultimately allows you to create relationships online. This seems like it would take a ton of time, but you can actually use a program like HootSuite to schedule tweets ahead of time. It doesn’t take a terribly long time and it makes you seem like you are active on Twitter all day long.

But is it bad to seem like you are spending your whole day online? In the case of my girlfriend the attorney, do you think her clients would be irritated to see that she has an all-day social media presence? I happen to think that the answer is no. Plenty of important, successful people and companies are on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn all day long without sparking criticism because people know that they are using it as a tool to boost business. Some of their tweets might be personal, but overall it is a strategic way to create new relationships and to increase their searchability online. It does take time, but so does attending a networking luncheon, which serves much the same purpose.

What do you think? Have I just convinced myself that it’s OK to have an all-day social media presence because my company does? Please let me know in the comments below – I think this is an interesting question and I’d love to get your feedback.

Trend Alert: Mirrored Shades

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My very favorite pair of sunglasses spontaneously broke recently. I wore them as I walked to the gym, and when I got there I took them off and did that thing where you hook them over your shirt. When I let go, both the arm of my sunglasses and the glasses themselves clattered to the floor – the arm had somehow snapped! It was the weirdest thing and such a disappointment, as they were simultaneously my all-time favorite and my all-time most expensive sunnies. Fortunately, my friend, who witnessed the whole incident, asked me where I had gotten them asked me if I happened to have purchased them at Nordstrom. I had! So she pointed out that they would replace them for me – love that return policy!

Armed with the knowledge that Nordstrom would most likely swap out my now-broken glasses for a pair with two arms, I hit their accessories department. Sure enough, they were more than happy to help me get into a new pair of Tom Fords (I told you they were my most expensive glasses!). It took a while, but they sent me home with a new pair of “Jennifers,” as my preferred style is known. As my excellent salesman looked up my original purchase, I puttered around and tried on all of the latest designer shades. One trend that I noticed was the prevalence of mirrored lenses in every color – from neons to rich jewel tones.

I am not the only one who has noticed the rise of colorful mirrored sunglasses, as they are all over the promotional products industry right now. There are knock-off Wayfarers, stylish aviators, and all of the styles in between that can be imprinted with your company’s logo either on an arm or directly on the lens. These inexpensive accessories are so on-trend that when you give them to a customer, either she will wear them or she will give them to someone who will. They stand out – and they will bring your logo great exposure!

Although Nordstrom generously exchanged my broken, non-mirrored “Jennifers” for a new pair, maybe I will take a break from my all-time favorite shades and sport a mirrored pair for a change. Emblemized with the Gossett Marketing logo, of course!

Fantastically Creative Billboard Ads

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My blogging juices seem to be drained today. Fortunately, there are marketers out there who came up with some excellent billboard ads for the public to enjoy. Click here and enjoy their creativity – I hope I can come up with something this clever for next week’s blog!

Custom Promos for any Budget

Pineapple Postit In this section of the blog I share unique promotional marketing ideas – new products that our suppliers show us, interesting imprinting methods, and custom products that we have created. I like to keep you up to date on the latest, greatest, and most intriguing ideas out there because I believe that when you give a customer an uncommon promo item imprinted with your logo, he or she will be more likely to both remember your company and to use the item, thereby giving your company additional exposure. Generally when I give my spiel about creative promotional products at, say, a networking event, people are really excited to go that route and order something totally one of a kind! Then I send them the nitty gritty details like the time involved in custom sourcing products (3+ months is pretty standard), and they become less thrilled. Well, the good news is, there are custom products that can be produced inexpensively and fairly quickly!

If your company is looking for custom promotional products that are extremely affordable with short lead times, I always look to paper products. For example, spiral bound notebooks can be made with unique covers – think cutouts shaped like your logo or sleek metals – tip-in sheets full of info and images can be added, and you can even put your corporation’s name/main contact information as a phantom image on each page. That adds up to hundreds of branding opportunities in each 100-page notebook!

Another great custom idea is die-cut adhesive notepads. We do these for Baptist Health South Florida in the shape of their pineapple logo, and they are a hit! Not only are the pineapple shaped, but they are also printed with the logo’s finer details, the full logo, and any particular department’s phone number or web address. Because they can stick on someone’s wall for years (yes, years), they offer the organization as a whole, and the department in particular, excellent exposure that lasts.

While these custom promotional products aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, they are affordable and can be produced much more quickly than a completely unique promo item. Plus, they give you a great amount of flexibility and tons of opportunities to make an impression. And who wouldn’t want a pineapple-shaped notepad as opposed to standard Post-Its?

Keep Work Relationships Civil

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I recently had a meeting with the sales team of a company that I shall not name. They were looking for promotional marketing products that would apply to various situations – trade shows, client gifts, etc. – and we were trying to pick one or two items that the whole team felt would be appropriate. I have these meetings a lot and they usually go very smoothly; however, this particular one did not because two members of this team clearly did not get along.

Honestly, I don’t think that you have to be friends with your coworkers. Sometimes it’s nice to form a deeper bond with someone in the office, but if you do not, it’s no big deal. You just have to be able to tolerate your coworkers enough to get your job done. Unfortunately, at the aforementioned meeting, there was no level of tolerance between two coworkers, and it was detrimental to everyone involved. Two of the ladies in attendance were downright frosty to one another, and when one indicated a promotional product that she liked, the other shot it down immediately and rarely for any good reason. Judging by the looks that the rest of the team members gave each other whenever either of these women rejected the other’s preferred promo item, this was not the first time that these two had behaved that way. It was incredibly awkward and it made it very difficult to nail down their order even though they had an immediate need for promotional products.

Like anyone who has been in the job force for any amount of time, I’ve had coworkers that I really did not like (I’m not just saying this – none of these people have been at Gossett Marketing!). But I cannot say that I have ever had a hostile relationship with any of them – particularly not in front of someone outside of the organization. Workplace hostility is detrimental to teams/departments/companies because it disrupts communication in one way or another, and a lack of communication makes it that much more difficult to succeed in any business. As I said, you do not have to be friends with your coworkers, but try to at least fake a pleasant relationship with those coworkers that you detest. A hostile work relationship is not just negative because it might make you feel bad, it’s just bad business.

Super Snakes?! Only in Florida…

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As I’ve mentioned in the past, Gossett Marketing is located in Miami, Florida and, well, it’s a weird place. My friends who live in other parts of the country find my city/state’s quirkiness to be amusing, so when they hear of a strange Miami or Florida story, they’re always sure to bring it up (they are all jealous that I live in a lush, tropical paradise that is full of unique happenings!). Anyhow, one such friend recently watched a show about African rock pythons and he immediately texted to notify me that they have taken up residence in Miami. Being a Miamian I know that there are pythons in the Everglades – heck, there was recently a snake hunt to rid the park of these invasive predators – so I texted him back and told him as much. Sadly, I did not realize that our usual invasive snakes are Burmese pythons, not their African rock cousins. This apparently overjoyed my friend, who began to regale me with information about the probability of a hybrid snake hatching near my home. Oy.

Apparently African rock pythons are very aggressive, while their Burmese counterparts are very large. Because they are now both found in the same ecosystem – the Everglades – scientists believe that they could breed and create a very big and ferocious Super Snake. Snakes in general don’t bother me, but the thought of a Super Snake freaks me out! And it ticks me off too. The reason that these snakes are in the Everglades is because people had them as pets and then turned them loose when they no longer wanted to care for them. Because we have lovely, non-freezing weather year-round the snakes are thriving – breeding, eating our native species’ food sources, and even eating our native species. That is, as we say in these parts, “no bueno.”

This blog post has absolutely nothing to do with marketing, promotional products, networking, or anything that I usually discuss, I just needed an outlet to share my Super Snake story with someone other than my irritated coworkers, friends, and family. I’ve sort of become obsessed with the topic and I need to vent! Next week I will be back to my regularly-scheduled, non-reptilian posts. Meanwhile, please do not dump your snakes in my hometown’s backyard!

I can’t resist. Check out this YouTube clip from Snakes on a Plane (and excuse the language) – this is essentially life in Florida:


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