Why “Me Time” Matters

picture from carolynrubenstein.com

picture from carolynrubenstein.com

My first jobs out of college found me working in real estate. Having majored in Communication Studies and Spanish Literature in college, I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up upon graduation, yet I had signed a lease on an apartment so I needed to at least find a summer job – and fast. To my delight, a realtor that I knew in passing needed an assistant, we clicked, and my adventures in real estate began!

I have to tell you, I loved real estate for a really long time. I worked my way up from being a lowly gofer-type assistant to being a realtor myself, then I joined one of the top-selling teams here in town. It was fun to look around the luxurious properties that we leased and sold, I liked helping people find the home of their dreams, and my hours were flexible…until they weren’t. The thing I learned about real estate is that the more successful you are, the less work/life balance you have. I would talk on a cell phone while typing on my Blackberry. I’d get calls that I had to take when I was on vacation. It got to the point where turning off the phone for my one hour church service every Sunday would result in 10+ messages when I turned the phone back on. And while I know some people thrive under that pressure, it got to me – I couldn’t stand it! I learned that I am a person who needs some Me Time!

I figured out my desire for Me Time well before I stopped being a real estate agent, and I was miserable because I saw my friends doing their 9-5 jobs and enjoying their evenings and weekends as I haggled over leaking air conditioners and appraisals. Finally, I had had enough and I left the business – never looking back! In the handful of years since that happened, I’ve started selling promotional marketing products. It’s a job at which I work really hard, it can be stressful, there are deadlines, there are seemingly-endless emails – but when I leave the office at the end of the day, I know that’s that. I get to go to my beloved exercise class, cook dinner for friends every Tuesday, and just generally decompress.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with working long, hard hours. But I really do think that having some Me Time – time you spend doing something that you enjoy – is important. And when I say “Me Time,” it doesn’t have to be something selfish, although I would enjoy a few hours just for me at, say, a spa. Rather, your Me Time can be anything that you like to do. Spend time with your family. Read a book. Call a friend. Anything that helps you decompress from a hard day’s work (be it in an office or, say, taking care of screaming kids). Doing so will give you a better work/life balance, and it might even make you do your job better. If nothing else, it will probably make you a more pleasant person – you can take my husband’s word that adding Me Time to my life made me much easier to live with!

How do You Feel about Cold Calling?

photo from apartmenttherapy.com

photo from apartmenttherapy.com

Gossett Marketing has been around for 20+ years, and as an established business in Miami we are fortunate to be able to gain virtually all of our new business through our networking efforts – yay for referrals! We love it when a happy customer thinks enough of the job we do to refer members of their network to us for their promotional products needs. Fortunately, in my five (!) years here at the company, I’ve never had to cold call anyone for new business leads. But that doesn’t mean that cold calling is necessarily a bad business strategy. Or is it?

I don’t know what it is about this office, but we get a lot – and I mean a lot – of cold calls. Vendors that we’ve never used ring us up to solicit our business. Job seekers give us a buzz to see if we are hiring. We get a number of rapid-fire inquiries in Spanish and Portuguese every day too (it is Miami, after all). Sometimes we’ll take these calls because we are genuinely interested in what the person has to offer us (discounted graphic design? Yes, please!). But I must admit that those are pretty rare occasions because if we are busy then you’d better believe that we’re hanging up the phone lickety split. And when the same person or company calls and calls and calls after being rebuffed, I just get downright annoyed.

While I do know that cold calling can work, I just don’t have it in me at this point – I know that I would take the rejection personally after a while. But what do you think about the practice? Do you use it? How effective is it? I’m honestly curious, so please do leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don’t Stop Giving Promo Magnets

photo from howaboutorange.blogspot.com

photo from howaboutorange.blogspot.com

Not too long ago I wrote a blog post about clips that will stick to any smooth surface without magnetization or adhesive that leaves a residue. I praised those items specifically because of the prevalence of stainless steel and other decorative refrigerator faces that are not magnetic – I like the clips because they replace old fashioned ‘fridge magnets that we all used to post schedules, pictures, invitations, and the like in the kitchen. But don’t worry, magnet lovers! I am writing today to tell you that magnets are still great promotional products.

Magnets might seem like incredibly boring promo items, but they offer a lot of possibility. Flat magnets can be die-cut into virtually any shape and imprinted with a four color process, full-bleed design that allows you to customize them for very little money. Magnets can take the form of clips, to-do lists, frames, dry erase boards, mirrors, schedules…you get the picture. There are really endless possibilities. But what about the non-magnetic refrigerator problem, you ask? Well, that appliance is not the only place where you can hang them. I know that our office is full of metal filing cabinets – and that whenever any of us receives a magnet from a supplier or a restaurant, we throw them up there! Most of the offices I visit, it seems, do the same thing. I have to say, giving an inexpensive magnet to someone who is going to hang it somewhere visible in his or her office, where it will be viewed by coworkers and visitors, makes a lot of sense from a marketing standpoint – it provides a ton of logo exposure for very little money.

Sure refrigerator styles have changed and many are no longer the magnetic bulletin boards that they used to be, but don’t discount the humble magnet as a promotional product. Rather, give them to people who will hang them in their offices and give adhesive clips to those who you think would rather have a promotional item in their kitchen!

Don’t Let the Holidays Sneak Up On You

photo from singlemindedwomen.com

photo from singlemindedwomen.com

It pains me to ask this, but have you started planning for the holidays yet? Because although right now it seems like they’re a long ways off, they really aren’t! It is time to start preparing. Here are three things to think about.

  1. The first thing to consider for the holidays is whether you are going to “Season’s Greetings” cards to your customers. While many corporations have gone green and turned to holiday e-cards, I have to say that I like to both send and receive snail mail. That’s what the Gossett Marketing team does because we think that they are more likely to be opened than e-mail. Plus, if you send something pretty or interesting enough, then the recipient might display it in his or her office – last year we sent seed paper cards, which could be planted after the holiday, and many customers still have them on their bulletin boards.
  2. After cards it’s time to figure out what kind of gifts you will be giving. As a promotional products distributor, I have to say that I think something logoed is the way to go – and trust me when I say that imprinted gifts do not need to be tacky. A good customer might like a high-end computer bag with a subtle, tone-on-tone logo or possibly a set of Riedel wine glasses with an engraved image on the base. And will you give your employees anything? Even if you decide to go with a bonus rather than a gift-gift, why not present it in a nice padfolio that they can use in the upcoming year? With your logo debossed on the cover, it is sure to gain attention wherever they take it!
  3. Lastly, how are you going to package the gifts that you give? I love custom-printed wrapping paper and ribbon foil-stamped with a logo because it makes still another impression on the recipient. But if you don’t have the time or budget for specialty gift wrap, then at least make sure that what you do use to wrap your gifts is in your company color. If I give my customers a holiday gift, you can be sure that it will be packaged in hot pink to reflect that of our logo! It might not seem very “Holiday” but it will scream “Gossett Marketing,” which is what I, and any corporate gift giver, really want after all.

Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you – take a moment to consider my three point list and get going!

How a Lousy Weather Week will Benefit my Networking

picture from layoutsparks.com

picture from layoutsparks.com

It’s a yucky, rainy week in Miami. We South Floridians are accustomed to rain, but not like this – it’s dark gray in the morning, slightly less gray in the afternoons, and then it gets dark again, all with the constant pitter pat of rain coming down. No, the rain that we are used to is a quick passing shower giving way to sunshine again, so this is downright dreary.

The cruddy weather is making me, in turn, feel decidedly unmotivated. I want to put on sweatpants, watch a movie, and go back to bed! I can’t do that because I actually have work to do here at the Gossett Marketing office, but I can justify not attending a networking event or two based on the weather – who wants to put on a suit and pumps only to step in a puddle?!

Because of my conscious decision not to attend networking events until the sunshine returns, I have freed up a bit of extra time this week. And I am going to use it to my networking advantage by spending my time on LinkedIn, following up with people I’ve met at previous events, Tweeting, sending handwritten notes, and generally doing all of the networking that I can do from my desk.

It’s easy to go to networking events, meet people, and then just fall off of their radar, so this dreary, lousy spell during which I choose not to attend any functions is actually a welcome opportunity. It gives me the chance to do all of the following up that I might otherwise have to ignore on a busy week.

When life gives you lemons, they say to make lemonade. Well, life has given me rain this week, so I am making networking follow-up my priority. It must be done, and having a rainy, gray, bad hair week is as good of an excuse as any to take care of it!

3 More Low-Tech, Effective Promos

photo from innovativelyorganized.com

photo from innovativelyorganized.com

I recently wrote a post extolling the virtues of pens as promotional products. My reasoning was essentially that, although it feels like we use tech devices for the majority of our written communication, most of us still do use them regularly. Plus, they’re a cheap way to get your logo in front of a lot of people! Well, in my humble opinion, pens are not the only low-tech promotional items that I think are valuable marketing tools. In fact, here are 3 such items:

  1. Calendars. Yes, we all have calendars on our smart phones and on our computers, but I’m talking about a physical one that hangs on your customer’s wall or sits on his desk. A wall calendar – which can have images of anything from serene sunsets to monkeys in makeup – is easily tailored to your brand. And because its pictures will give an essence of your company’s personality while displaying your logo for 12 months, it is a great way to make you memorable.
  2. Sticky Notes. I don’t know about you, but I need sticky notes in order to function. They are the easiest way to jot down little reminders for myself and others and to keep those reminders where I need them. They are also really inexpensive, and because each page is imprinted with a logo, they provide you with a lot of opportunities to make an impression.
  3. Bookmarks. In the era of e-readers, bookmarks might seem like they are truly from the Stone Age. But I have to tell you, when I mention my Kindle to people, half of them always seem to wrinkle their noses and praise “the feel of a book in [their] hands.” That leads me to believe that there is still a need for bookmarks, which can be as elaborate as a custom-shaped metal piece or as simple as paper rectangle. Put your logo on them, give them to the “real” book readers, and they are going to see your name time and again.

I love cutting-edge promotional products, but sometime it’s good to stay old-school. The three aforementioned items might seem unnecessary in this high tech era, but you’ll be surprised how effective they are.

Whenever I talk about sticky notes I am reminded of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, in which the titular characters claim that they invented Post-Its. Check out this YouTube clip!

Consider Hosting a Networking Event

picture from nyulocal.com

picture from nyulocal.com

We’ve all been to networking events organized by our local chambers of commerce and the like. They’re often big functions with hundreds of people held in vast ballrooms. They give you the opportunity to mix and mingle for, what, half an hour before sitting at a table – and hopefully there is someone at that table with whom you can make a connection before the program/speaker commences. They’re good events because they attract so many professionals, all looking to build their networks, but there are drawbacks. If you’re shy, these receptions can be daunting. If you want to meet a specific individual or someone from a particular company, how do you know that he/anyone from that organization will be in attendance? Or you might end up at a table with individuals with whom you just don’t connect. So what do you do if you’re a regular at your chamber’s events and you just don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere with your networking? I have an idea – create your own event!

Now, I’m not telling you to organize your own supersized networking function like one hosted by a chamber of commerce or other organization. Rather, the point of hosting your own is to keep it small and intimate so that you and the other attendees can really get to know each other. For instance, Danette recently attended an interactive luncheon hosted by one of our customers and designed to build attendees’ networks. The thirty invitees mixed and mingled, then got down to the business of cooking lunch at Ortanique, a popular and delicious Miami restaurant. Having a joint project – cooking – gave even the shiest person a reason to engage with the other people at her table, and the relaxed atmosphere had everyone chatting. According to Danette, it was a wildly successful event where she met some fabulous people!

If an interactive luncheon is too elaborate to host, then a happy hour is an easy event to throw together. Whip up some evites, tell a favorite watering hole that you’re coming, and there you have it – instant networking event. Or you can start a book club, inviting your professional friends, and having them invite other businesspeople who you might not know. If you don’t drink or hate to read, then get people together in a walking or running club – again, invite businesspeople you know and have them include others that you don’t.

While I don’t think that you should forgo the major networking events in your area, I do know that sometimes it feels impossible to connect with anyone at those type of gatherings. So supplement the networking that you already do by hosting a low-key event of your own! My four examples are just the tip of the iceberg – any time a group of people gets together it can result in some good networking opportunities. Just be sure to bring your business cards!

September 11th

american flag
Instead of reading our blog post today, please take a moment to remember those people who were lost on September 11th, 2001, as well as their loved ones. Thank you.

Auto Emergency Promos

roadside safety kit
As I pulled into the parking lot of my condo complex recently, one of my neighbors flagged me down. His battery had died and he was wondering if I had jumper cables. I knew that my old car didn’t have them, and that neither did my husband’s – my battery had died right before I sold my trusty old sedan and we searched through both vehicles back then. But, as I mentioned in an previous post, I recently bought a new car, so I checked the trunk. Lo and behold, there was an entire emergency kit (imprinted with the Cadillac logo, of course) stashed neatly in there!

I love the fact that my new car came with an auto emergency kit – complete with the aforementioned jumper cables, tire gauge, flashlight, reflector, etc. But clearly these aren’t a standard feature in every automobile. That’s why I think it is an excellent gift to give a respected employee or a good customer. I know that we have several suppliers who sell the same type of roadside preparedness kit that I have in my trunk, and several times as I flipped through their catalogs I thought to myself, “I really need to get one of these,” but I forgot to do so each and every time I made that mental note. Emergency necessities are something that I – and most people – forget about until we really need them, which is why you should consider being proactive with your employees’/customers’ safety and car needs.

As a promotional product the auto emergency kit is pretty unique too. To be honest, your customer or employee will receive it, toss it into his trunk, and most likely forget about it. That is, until he really needs it. When that day comes (and it will come), he’ll remember that it’s back there and see your logo in his time of need! This will absolutely make him associate your company with something positive – safety/help – in addition to making another general marketing impression upon him. If you ask me, that positive association alone is well worth the price of a promotional product.

Football Fever!

picture from borntocompete.com

picture from borntocompete.com

It is a crazily hectic week here at Gossett Marketing. It is also the start of both college and professional football seasons. I searched our blog archive for “football” and as it turns out, we write about it a lot! Take a gander at our football-related posts – hopefully they will inspire you from a promotional products or networking standpoint.

 

What does the NFL’s new bag policy have to do with your marketing? Click here.

Here’s how the Super Bowl taught me that it’s always worthwhile to network. Check it out.

Vanderbilt’s head football coach has business cards that are, well, badass and you need some too! How cool are these cards?!

A bad football game at the beginning of the year was very good for Miami. It didn’t go so well for Notre Dame.

This is a fun, real-world example of effective, timely use of promotional marketing products. T-shirts for all!

HBO’s Hard Knocks tried to instill faith in the Miami Dolphins. It didn’t really work.

Wacky, football themed promotional products. These are really odd.

College football mania means plenty of tailgating! And that means plenty of promotional products!

Temporary tattoos make your customers into your promotional products. They’ll wear your logo!

Finally, here are some great promotional products for game day. You need these.

 

Next week things will be calmer around these parts and I will share shiny, new posts!

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