What People do for a Free Gift

photo from cleanenergycoops.org

photo from cleanenergycoops.org

I’ve already written about Miami’s new IKEA store and its good marketing strategy prior to the opening, so I might seem a little bit Swedish-furniture-obsessed to discuss it again, but it’s a hot topic around these parts. Besides, I’m not going to write about it again, I am just going to redirect you to the Miami New Times, which did a great job of covering the opening. Check out the lengths people will go to for free gifts – and what the store is giving away to drive traffic through its doors.

Read all about it by clicking here!

Network Like a Concierge

photo from www.tasteibiza.com

photo from www.tasteibiza.com

Every year my family takes a vacation. We’ve been to a good number of places – Paris, the Baltic, St. John, and Hawaii to name a few – so we are no strangers to traveling as a group. Whenever we plan a new trip we work out a general plan of action: we make nightly dinner reservations and decide when we will hit what attractions. It works well because then everyone gets input as far as what we do and we end up seeing quite a variety of sights, but no matter how much we plan ahead I always feel like there is that one thing that we might be missing. Enter the concierge!

Our most recent family vacation was a week in Montreal. It was our first venture to a city (rather than a resort-type setting) with my 3 year old nephew, which definitely changed the dynamic of the trip. Usually our city adventures include hours and hours of walking, but that’s just not possible with such a little guy in tow. Somehow we must have missed that when we planned the trip, so we learned to rely heavily on our hotel’s excellent concierge.

In my mind, a good concierge is a networking expert. He goes to every local event, tries every restaurant, and meets as many people as he possibly can in order to enhance his guests’ stay. The concierge at our hotel, Le St. Sulpice, was no exception. He guided us to what I think were the best croissants in Montreal, recommended museum exhibits we had not considered, and helped us tweak our itinerary to make it more kid-friendly. Every suggestion he made he did without a second’s consideration because he knew everything about and seemingly everyone in the city!

I suspect you’re thinking that the proper type of networking for you is not just going around tasting food and experiencing your city’s cultural events; however, I think you might be incorrect in that assessment. Why not go to new restaurants frequently? It’s a wonderful excuse to call up a business contact and invite him or her to try it with you. Or if you’ve recently met someone at a networking event who seems to be really on top of your town’s goings on, shoot him an email to ask what he thinks you should see and do. That kind of non-business question is an easy way to forge a deeper level of communication – and maybe you’ll ultimately build a relationship of referrals. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet when you go anywhere. You could go to the trendiest new restaurant and have to wait at the bar…next to your dream client!

Long story short, keep an open mind, go out and experience your city, and network like a concierge.

Why Old School Marketing Works

Running Shirt
When people ask me what my company, Gossett Marketing, does and I tell them that we are promotional products distributors who specialize in custom creative giveaways, I often get weird looks. Their faces seem to be saying, “Promotional products have been around forever, how creative can they be? And why should I use them?” Well sure, promotional marketing items are old school, but companies continue to use them because they work – here are three reasons why.

1. People are thieves. Whether they do so intentionally or not, individuals regularly walk away with other people’s writing instruments. Take restaurants as an example – how many times have you signed your bill and pocketed the pen? Well, that can work to the restaurant’s advantage if their name and contact information is imprinted on that ballpoint. The pen thief will continue to use that writing instrument, and continue to see the name of the restaurant, until he or she loses it. Then the next person to pick it up will, in turn, see the name or logo and perhaps be inspired to try a meal there. This isn’t just a “for example” story – one of our customers, the Blue Ridge Grill in Atlanta, has told us about getting a phone call from New Jersey because someone found their pen! People are thieves and it can help gain your brand unexpected exposure.
2. Promos make your customers walking billboards. If you’ve ever read our blog, then chances are you know that I’m a runner. Whenever I enter a race I receive a technical shirt that wicks moisture and has flat seams to prevent chaffing – they are ideal running shirts, so I wear them frequently. These shirts also happen to be emblemized with the name of the race and its sponsors’ logos, meaning that everyone who sees me jog by is also seeing all of those different imprints. In fact, whenever anyone receives promotional t-shirt, bag, or cap and subsequently uses that item, they are marketing your company to perfect strangers – they are voluntarily serving as your walking billboards.
3. Promotional products are rewarding. If a member of your team has had an exceptional sales quarter, why not give her a brand name promotional product as a reward? For instance, Orrefors makes gorgeous crystal stemware that can now be etched with a subtle logo. A pair of such wine glasses would be a lovely gift to give your top salesperson, perhaps with a fine bottle of wine. When that employee toasts with her crystal flutes, she will always remember her accomplishment, plus she will think of your company long after she’s moved on. That’s a fabulous reward that will provide the company with discreet marketing that lasts.

I recognize that with the advent of online marketing, the idea of utilizing promotional products can seem antiquated. However, as you can see from the three examples above, items that potentially allow your customers, employees, and total strangers see your logo 24 hours a day work – so embrace “old school” marketing and start giving away promotional products.

And just because I find it funny, here is a YouTube clip from the movie Old School!

Emergency Promotional Products

Hurricane Andrew Ahhh, summer in Miami! While the whole Gossett Marketing team loves living here, summertime is definitely not South Florida’s best season, and we only have the weather to blame. Heat, humidity, daily rainstorms, plus the threat of hurricanes…aren’t we lucky?!

We were actually briefly threatened with a tropical storm recently. It didn’t amount to anything, but it was a good chance to make sure our “hurricane kits” were ready to go. If you do not live in the tropics, you might not be familiar with such a kit – it’s a stash of water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, etc. that are necessary in the event of a major storm. I looked through mine during our brief flirtation with inclement weather, and I was amazed by how many promotional products have made their way in! I have copies of important documents (insurance records and whatnot) in a plastic sleeve from Suntrust. One of my flashlights was a gift with purchase from Ace Hardware. My cat’s supplies were in a bag that included a pet-preparedness checklist from her vet. And I had a first aid kit from the University of Miami.

I hope that I don’t have to utilize my kit this year, but if a big storm comes, I’m very happy to have it. And I’m grateful that I haven’t had to purchase all of my supplies. The hurricane-preparedness items that I’ve received from various companies give their brand exposure every time my family and I look at them, plus they’re quite handy to me!

Even if your company isn’t in hurricane country, surely your customers must need some sort of emergency kit. Maybe they are on the west coast and face earthquakes. Or they’re in the northeast and they need to be prepared for another “snowpocalypse.” No matter where they are, your giveaways can help ready them for an emergency – and your logo will get exposure to boot!

Are you Working Networking Events

Is there a right way to work a networking event? I must admit, sometimes I marvel at how well some people are able to work a room, while others never seem to move.
I was at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce Trustee Reception recently at the newly opened Doctors Hospital Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Center on South Dixie Highway in Coral Gables. It was a great location for the reception – plenty of open space for all the attendees to mix and mingle.
Of course the bar area was quite the popular spot and when I first approached there was a gentleman just standing to the side observing everyone. He wasn’t engaged at all. I saw others I knew nearby and was immediately intercepted to be introduced to some new members. Probably a half hour later I walked back to the bar area and discovered the gentleman was still standing in the same place, seemingly had not moved an inch, still observing, not speaking with anyone.
I introduced myself to him and we discussed his business a bit and exchanged cards. But I couldn’t help but think – Why was he here? He was just waiting for people to come up to him instead of reaching out and engaging others in conversation. I saw him leave shortly after and thought – was my card the only one he received?
I don’t pretend to have the best or right approach to networking. I do understand how many people are shy or unsure how to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. However, one way that I get over that feeling is to think of myself as the “hostess” of the event. It helps me to get in the right frame of mind to reach out to make everyone feel welcome and for me to introduce myself to those looking lost.
Do you have any networking “tips” to share? Please comment below. dg

Field Trip to the Promo Item Factory!

Susan & Megan at the factory.

Susan & Megan at the factory.

I talk a lot about imprinting promotional marketing products. I discuss size restrictions, numbers of colors, embroidery stitches, laser engraving, pad printing, transfer prints, reversing logos, print tolerances, four color process, CMYK, die cutting, sand etching… Clearly I can go on and on. Part of my job is to ensure that my customer is getting his or her logo printed properly on an item, so I need to know about the different processes to ensure that we get it right. I’ve known a lot about various decoration methods for a while, but I had never seen the imprinting process in action until we recently visited one of our preferred supplier’s factories! It was a Gossett Marketing field trip!

There are not too many suppliers imprinting promotional marketing items within easy driving distance from Coconut Grove, but fortunately Bullet is. Bullet carries really quintessential promotional products – think pens, stress relievers, letter openers, flashlights, tote bags, water bottles, and the like – so visiting their facility gave our team a great overview of various decoration methods.

Our beloved former inside sales rep Mike Sasario gave us the tour. He started us out in the screen printing room where we were shown logos being converted to the actual screen stencils through which ink presses to create an image on a bag. From there we went to watch bags actually being decorated. It’s actually more hands-on than I thought it would be because someone has to sit at a machine, align a bag on its own specially-sized holder, press a pedal, and then the ink is squeegeed on. The bags are put onto a conveyor belt that carries them through a dryer after which they are hand packed into boxes. Considering this is a supplier who recently turned 5,000 backpacks around for us in less than 24 hours, that seems like a lot of manual labor.

After bags, we toured the drinkware area, pens, and then my favorite – laser engraving. I have items laser engraved quite regularly, but I never thought about how it actually happens. Well, just like it sounds, a laser beam physically carves a logo into an item. It was really fast and quite cool to watch: like mini lightsabers etching metal.

We made a few more stops to see how multicolored imprints are created. This can be very labor intensive in the case of printed transfer graphics (like a souped-up version of iron-on decals for a t-shirt). A little less so if something is pad printed. And fairly simple if a particular product is able to go through a printer that can mark it with a special UV ink.

Our last stop was to the sample room where we loaded up on the items that our customers will love in our supplier’s freshest colors.

Our field trip was a blast and we definitely learned a lot about the items that they sell. My only disappointment? That there was not a conveyor belt filled with chocolate like in the YouTube clip from I Love Lucy below!

A Misconception about Promotional Products

photo from amazingasset.com

photo from amazingasset.com

I recently posted an article that pretty much just linked my readers to an excellent list of blog post ideas. (You can see it again by clicking here.) I’m certainly glad that I did so because today I was searching for a topic, so I referred back to the very extensive list! Reading all the way down to the second idea I came up with an idea – I figured I’d tell my readers about the biggest misconception regarding my company.

As I’ve written about ad nauseam on this blog, my company, Gossett Marketing, is a promotional marketing products distributorship. To simplify it quite a bit, that means that our customers ask us for ideas for imprinted products, we find suppliers with the best items at the best prices, and then we present those to the customer. When he decides to order, we then send an order to the supplier, they imprint the products, and they ship them directly to our customer.

So you’ve now read two paragraphs of this post in which I tell you that I’m going to write about a misconception regarding our company and then describe what we do. So where’s the misconception? Well, very often when our customers order items they ask whether they can pick their products up from us to save on shipping charges. The answer is no because we do not do the imprinting here. Contrary to popular belief, I do not spend my days embroidering logos on backpacks or laser engraving flashlights – that is all done by my vendors. Instead, my time at work is spent finding and pricing items, providing customer service, building my network, etc.

Whether you are purchasing promotional products from Gossett Marketing or someone else (why would you go and do that?!), just note that your distributor is not actually printing those for you. Rather, they are making sure that you get the best items for your budget with the right logo, delivered on time!

Networking at the Keyboard

photo from therealdeal.com

photo from therealdeal.com

There’s a reason why summer is Miami’s off-season: it’s gross outside. Tourists do not want to be here during the hot, humid months between May and October because it’s rainy, there could be a hurricane, you sweat upon walking outside, the mosquitoes are relentless, and it is impossible to have a good hair day. Gosh, did I sell my hometown to you there or what?! Anyhow, much like how tourists don’t enjoy our climate in the summertime, nor do many Miamians. It’s pretty annoying to get dressed for work only to get rained on or to perspire – yuck! But life goes on and so do we (we just keep rubber flip flops at our desks in case of downpours). Work doesn’t quit just because of our climate; however, I do find that networking tapers off a bit during the sweatier months of our year.

I think it’s pretty understandable that businesspeople in Miami aren’t rushing out to networking events when it’s steamy or stormy out, and I just use that as an excuse to ramp up my online networking during this time of year. If I’m trapped inside, then it’s a perfect time to check out my LinkedIn connections and maybe shoot a few emails to individuals with whom I’ve lost touch. I also like to take rainy days to focus on expanding my Twitter reach. I check out the people I follow to see who they follow and start connecting to other people that way.

Summer is the best time of year in some parts of the country. If you live in one of those idyllic climes, then by all means continue to pound the pavement and hit any and all in-person networking events that you can. Surely there is a less-fun season during which you can hunker down and do your networking from your desktop. But for me, this is when I give myself a bit of a pass as far as events and look at it from another angle – summertime is prime time for my networking at the keyboard.

Get Playful with your Giveaways

photo from moebiusnoodles.com

photo from moebiusnoodles.com

I don’t go to toy stores very often, so when I do I’m always weirdly excited to see what kids play with these days. Although I’m terrible at them (even when I cheat) I’ve always had an affinity for board games, and I like to check out that aisle even if I’m just running into Toys”R”Us for a 1-year-olds birthday gift. The last time I did so, a new version of Monopoly caught my eye. It was called Monopoly Empire, and rather than buying and selling property, this iteration of the classic game involves buying and selling iconic brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. I love that! It’s great exposure for the brands involved and a smart way for Monopoly to create a new game and expand its own empire.

The Monopoly Empire game reminded me that I’ve seen customized versions of the board game in the past. I want to say that my alma matter, Vanderbilt University, had its own edition for sale in the bookstore when I was there (but it was so long ago that I’m not 100% certain). If my memory serves me, though, then I seem to recall that you could buy and sell the different properties on campus. Obviously I didn’t buy it, but I’m sure someone did – there was always a lot of last-minute Christmas shopping in the bookstore right before winter break! What a fun way to boost brand awareness!

Any company can get into the custom game act. Maybe Monopoly isn’t your favorite or perhaps your budget won’t allow for such a special giveaway. If that’s the case, then what about a pack of cards imprinted with your logo? Those are inexpensive items that your customers will ultimately use (I know I travel with playing cards and have definitely worn them out waiting on delayed flights). You can also imprint on dominoes, dice, checker boards, backgammon sets, and more.

Long story short, get playful with your giveaways – give away toys and games to boost your branding!

The Importance of Staying Current

Ice Cream This is a post from our archives, but I still happen to love this place and the way they stay fresh…

I have a sweet tooth. A major sweet tooth. So it’s fortunate that I live very close to what I consider to be Miami’s best ice cream shop – Whip N Dip. It’s a little shop on a busy road with so-so parking, yet they’ve managed to stay around for 25 years because they do such a great job of keeping things fresh. Yes, their homemade ice cream is fresh, but that’s not what I’m referring to. What I mean is, they really know how to stay on top of trends.

I’ve been a Whip N Dip fan for years, and they’ve always adopted what’s “new” out there. When frozen yogurt became a trend, they brought in their “lite cream” machines. And they give Starbucks a run for its money with their delicious blended coffee drinks. They also stay on top of what is going on around town. A recent flavor was “White Hot Chocolate” in honor of the Miami Heat. Or they might make a batch of seasonal ice cream – I love to have their pumpkin in the fall.

In addition to keeping their creamy concoctions current, Whip N Dip has also embraced what’s new in marketing. They’re starting to use social media to promote themselves. Their facebook page lists their new flavors, promotes the contests and events, and even has pictures of happy employees and customers. Now I think that they should call our fabulous Social Media Coach, Cynthia K. Seymour at Seymour Results to learn how to really promote themselves.

So they keep their customers happy with their tantalizing new creations, and they’re gaining more of a following by hopping on the social media bandwagon. I’d say that staying on top of trends is working for my favorite ice cream store – must be why they’ve been around for so long.

Wow, reading over this post shows me that my love of Whip N Dip is pretty obsessive. I guess I’ll have to get one of their t-shirts to advertise my adoration!

I’m not their only fan – a music video was actually filmed at Whip N Dip. Check it out on YouTube!


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