Disconnect to Connect at Networking Events

Smart Phones We live in a very digitally connected world. I get it, we all have smart phones that allow us to talk, text, check e-mails, browse the web, post to Facebook, Tweet – it’s a huge amount of technology in the palms of our hands. I’m not going to lie, I’m addicted to my iPhone and find myself reaching for it more often than I should, and at times when I probably shouldn’t; however, there are certain times when I feel like playing on my phone is vastly inappropriate. One such time is at networking events.

I was at a networking breakfast not too long ago where a speaker was on the podium for far too long. I’ll admit that he was boring and that the information that he presented wasn’t groundbreaking, but I was there, and I guess my mom raised me right because I tried to give him my undivided attention. It’s the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated – and if I was giving a boring speech at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, then I’d want those in attendance to pay attention to what I was saying! Well, I guess that most of the attendees missed that lesson because the vast majority were bowed over the smartphones that they had quasi-concealed in their laps.

Once the presentation had concluded, we had the opportunity to continue networking with those around us and I have to say that I really wasn’t interested in connecting with the people who had ignored the speaker. My first impression of them was that they were rude and self-important – too good to spend 20 minutes away from their smart phones and pay attention (or fake paying attention) to the gentleman who was presenting to the organization – so why would they bother with the likes of me? And, more importantly, why would anyone from the Gossett Marketing team want to deal with them?

I know, I know, I’m on a soap box ranting about technology to which I freely admitted I’m addicted. I’ll get off in a second, but I just want to hammer home my point. There is a time and a place for everything, and a networking event is neither the time nor the place for your smart phone! Use these events as an opportunity to connect with other attendees – and to disconnect from the digital world for an hour.

The Business Pecking Order

photo from www.survivalmagazine.org

photo from www.survivalmagazine.org

One of my good friends recently acquired a chicken coop and, to go with it, two chickens. Those two yardbirds were doing great, so she got three more – and made her neighbors very happy because she shares fresh eggs. I know nothing about living with fowl but my girlfriend told me that she had to be careful introducing the new ones for fear that her more-dominant chicken would feel threatened and harm one of the new arrivals! She explained further describing the actual pecking order that is established among flocks of hens. I did not know this, but the chickens that rank highly in their groups often peck newcomers – and could possibly kill them if introduced incorrectly. Fortunately for my friend, though, chickens are pretty dumb so you can wait until the established birds are asleep, sneak new ones into the coop, and apparently they will all wake up the next day thinking that everyone had been there all along!

Businesses definitely have pecking orders. You have your boss/CEO who is the top bird, then various VPS, managers, account execs, all the way down to interns. None of these people will peck their inferiors to death, but it is important to have ranks within an organization – it would not be wise to sneak an unqualified person into the c-suite and try to pass him or her off as someone who is ready for that level of responsibility.

While I think that the so-called “pecking order” within an organization is important to have, that is not to say that I believe the dominant hen should ignore a lowly chick. No, unlike my girlfriend’s backyard chicken coop, organizations should be inclusive so that people on every level can contribute to the good of the company. A CEO should never blow off an intern because that low-level employee might have a great way to streamline the organization or a fabulous new product idea that could put the entire organization over the top.

Long story short, although there is a pecking order for a reason, businesses have flown the coop and businesspeople must behave accordingly. Respect employees at every level and they will contribute!

How to Give Effective Promotional Products

Lip Balm I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: when you give away logoed promotional products, be sure to give away items that your customers will actually use. That way, they will see your company’s logo whenever they utilize the gift you’ve given them, and, better yet, if they have it with them in public, then they will be marketing your company all around town!

If you regularly read Gossett Marketing’s blog, then you know that I always recommend imprinted bags as giveaways. I also tout the virtues of embroidered polo shirts, brand name merchandise, and even water bottles – they are all items that individuals appreciate and put to good use. Some other great promotional marketing products are truly indispensable: consider giving away toiletry items.

It sounds weird to say that you should give away logoed toiletries, but I’m not talking about imprinted nail polish (although that is an option!). The cosmetic products that I like are things like lip balm, packets of sunscreen, and even hand sanitizers. These are unisex items that people actually carry around with them and use in public, so if they have a snazzy imprint on them, then they will catch the eye of those around the user. The latter two items (sunscreen and hand sanitizers) are also frequently shared – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used a spritz of another person’s sanitizer spray. When that happens, your logo is literally in the hands of another potential customer. You can’t ask for better marketing!

Not only are toiletry products useful promotional marketing tools, but they’re also inexpensive! So the next time you need a fun giveaway that will give your logo exposure time and again, consider one of these fabulous items.

Just for kicks, click on this YouTube video, which shows “beauty tips” from Ursula, the sea witch from Disney’s The Little Mermaid:

Promotional Products Work!

promotional products work week
Every spring promotional marketing products professionals celebrate “Promotional Products Work! Week.” Created by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), it is a weeklong celebration of what we do (designing, creating, and selling promotional items) and why we do it (because these products bring our customers excellent brand exposure).

In addition to creating a celebration of all things promotional products, PPAI is also making my job easier by providing videos to support their case. Check out the YouTube clip below to see which items people love in the workplace – and how they help their recipients remember your company’s name.

Before watching, did you know that writing instruments, hand sanitizer, USBs and stress relievers were some of the most popular at-work promotional products? Or that 74% of people have at least one promotional item in their office? The fact that of those people, the majority remember the advertiser whose logo is on them. That tells me that people keep logoed giveaways around for a long time and that they actually use them.

So, to get a great return on your marketing investment, give people items that they actually want – useful office items. Promotional products work!

Make Your Customers VIPs: They’ll Reward You

Stone Crabs
This weekend is sad day because it marks the end of stone crab season! Stone crabs are a delicious South Florida tradition. I grew up in Miami, so I’ve always eaten my fill, so when I moved to Nashville for college I was shocked that so many of my friends had never heard of this delicacy. I remember lamenting the lack of stone crabs in Tennessee and my roommate (from Ohio) responding to my complaints by asking “what’s that?” I explained about eating the claws, the mustard sauce, etc. and somehow mentioned Joe’s on Miami Beach. Well, she had never heard of stone crabs, but she knew about Joe’s!

Joe’s Stone Crab is a Miami landmark. It opened in 1913 and first started serving stone crabs in 1921. It’s always been a favorite spot for the rich and famous and, aside from the crabs, I think that Joe’s is most known for its exclusivity. You see, it is only open for about 10 months each year and you can’t make a reservation! People are known to try to slip the maître d’ big tips for a table, and everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who can get them in, but in reality, if you go to Joe’s you just need to be prepared to wait. It is a restaurant known for long lines, and that seems to add to the allure and, well, the legend.

Joe’s has been around for almost 100 years and is world famous; unfortunately, most of our companies cannot say the same thing! However, we can all learn from their exclusivity. Now, I’m not saying that you should keep your customers waiting for hours; rather, you want to make them feel like insiders – like they knows somebody who knows somebody who can get them a table at Joe’s. For instance, you can thank them for their business with a “special gift” that is exclusively for them (maybe a high-end golf shirt with your logo discreetly embroidered on the sleeve). Or extend them the price that is reserved for only your best clients. They don’t have to know that all of your customers get the same thing. Make them feel like they’re “in” and they will keep coming back for more.

How do you make your customers feel like insiders?

The Power of Uniforms

Uniforms
Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the house in the morning. I don’t claim to be the world’s best dresser, but I try to look put together when I walk out the door, and on occasion this proves challenging. On those mornings, I always think the same thing – wouldn’t it be great to have a uniform?

Uniforms can really be anything. They might be as simple as matching caps or as wacky as full-blown costumes. But no matter their style, they are all great promotional pieces because your employees are literally walking around advertising your company. They don’t have to be a huge investment either: we can embroider as few as 6 shirts with your company’s logo. What a great way to both advertise your company and to make it easier for your staff to get dressed in the morning!

Look at this YouTube clip from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead – not quite the uniform I had in mind!

Modern Stone Age Branding

The Flintstones

When I was a kid my sister and I took Flintstones Vitamins every morning and we always knew that we were going to have a good day when we got a purple Barney. Barney Rubble was our favorite character on the cartoon – sensible and pragmatic – and purple was the best flavor (it was sort of grapey), so combining the two had to be a good omen!

Anyhow, as I took my boring Centrum this morning I started thinking about my old vitamins and then about The Flintstones in general. Talk about a brand that’s stuck around! The show aired on ABC from 1960-1966, and since then there have been dozens of spin-off shows and made-for-tv movies, 3 feature films, comic books, and 2 theme parks in the US, and a reboot of the original series is coming in 2013. So…how has this brand stayed relevant for over 50 years?

I think there are several factors, but for the sake of brevity I’ll stick with two. The first one is that The Flintstones is not afraid of evolution (terrible pun intended). In the various spin-off shows they’ve always somehow modernized. For instance, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show depicted the former toddlers as teenagers. And in the 2013 version of the show, characters will have “the prehistoric equivalent of an iPad,” according to its creator. Essentially, they work hard to keep their content fresh, which keeps people watching.

My second theory about the strength of The Flintstones branding is probably just my personal connection speaking, but it could be true. As I mentioned, I took their vitamins for years and years – but this was during the 80’s and 90’s, it wasn’t when the show was necessarily on the air. However, even though I might not have seen them regularly those chewable tablets kept me aware of the characters and made me stop to watch when I caught a re-run. The vitamins were introduced in 1968 and are still around today, so they have provided brand awareness to decades of little consumers, many of whom certainly saw the movies and plan on watching the new show.

What do you think? Am I just biased because I love purple Barneys so much? Leave your comments below!

And, just for kicks, watch this YouTube video of the opening credits:

Be True to You

photo from publicchristianity.org

photo from publicchristianity.org

The “Business Networking Tips” section of this blog can be challenging for me. I’ve said a lot of things about networking during my years writing Interesting Marketing Tidbits – so what else is there for me to say? This results in many Google searches and my reading a number of articles on the subject every week, and to tell you the truth, a lot of the articles give the very same bits and bobs of advice. Today I stumbled upon a piece on Careerealism.com called “10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking” and I loved the first tip that its author, Devora Zack, shares. It says:

 

Be True To You
You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.
How true is that?! If you put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable then what kind of an impression do you think you are making on those around you? Probably not a great one – and what is networking if not a first impressions game? So go out there and network, but only in situations that make you feel comfortable and allow you to put your best face forward.

Before you do that, check out the rest of the article by clicking here.

Honoring Nurses

photo from www.dobsonhealthcare.com

photo from www.dobsonhealthcare.com

National Nurses Week runs from May 6th through the 12th. It is a time to recognize the service of nurses, who are often the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. As I have mentioned in the past, here at Gossett Marketing we do a tremendous amount of promotional products for various hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices so we have produced many an order for Nurses Week. Here are some of my favorites:

Power Banks – Tech items are the hottest things going in our industry right now and power banks might be the most popular type of product in that category. We all have personal electronics equipment with us all of the time, right? Sometimes the battery wears out and we have no access to a plug (or – yucky! – we have to sit on the floor to reach one), so having a handheld power source can be a Godsend in desperate situations. One of our hospital chains gave imprinted power banks to their nurses and the gifts were a hit!

Bags – We regularly produce bags for Nurses Week. We have done duffels, backpacks, boat totes and the like and always get good feedback for these gifts. Why? Because who can’t use one?! The best part is that these are either imprinted or embroidered with a logo and then carried throughout the community, effectively doing branding all around town.

Trunk Organizers – When you think of nurses you probably don’t think about the trunks of their cars, but trunk organizers were one of the most popular items we have every done for any organization’s Nurses Week gifts. These are collapsible storage containers that are placed in a trunk and keep things tidy in the back of a car. They are super useful but they might not be the type of products that a nurse (or anyone) thinks to go out and buy themselves, but once they have one they don’t know how they ever lived without it.

Picnic Blankets – Like trunk organizers, picnic blankets are not items that most people think to purchase for themselves; however, they are surprisingly handy to have. While most of us do not regularly picnic, you can bring these to tailgates, use them at the beach or at a park, or just in the backyard. That is potentially good brand exposure!

Anything that you can do to support nurses is excellent – thank them for their hard work, give them a hug, or, better yet, give them a gift! And if that gift is a promotional marketing product then all the better!

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