New Year: Making the Most of A Fresh Start!

I can’t believe I am saying this, but there are only about two days left in 2015!

This time of the year is a time for reflecting on the past year and preparing our minds for a fresh start in the New Year. Below are some helpful tips to hit the ground running in 2016!

Reflect

For me, this time of the year is so beneficial. I use this reflection period as an opportunity to learn from all experiences in the past year and how I can better myself. Spend some time writing down personal questions and the answers to these specific questions regarding the past 365 days:

  • What were my fondest memories of 2015?
  • Who were the people that impacted my life the most? For better and for worse?
  • What were my failures?
  • What were my successes?
  • What circumstances challenged me mentally?
  • When did I fall short of a specific deadline or goal? What could I have done differently?
  • Did I push myself to be innovative and force myself outside of my comfort box?

    Reflect on the past 365 days!

    Reflect on the past 365 days!

Reevaluate

Once you have reflected on the past 365 days, taking a minute to now reevaluate goals and certain areas or your life is next. Reevaluating your own career path and specific areas of your life on a yearly basis can keep you focused on your long term goals. Are your goals the same from last year? Or the year before? How about your hobbies and interests? This is one of the most useful tools I use. For the past five years, I have been keeping this log and you will be amazed how drastically goals and aspirations change from year to year. Long-term, this can benefit you tremendously when it comes to finding your true passions and goals and working towards those accomplishments, year after year.

Reevaluate past goals from 2015.

Reevaluate past goals from 2015.

Receive

Finally, take the New Year in stride. Receive it openly and confidently. Set your goals high and don’t overthink or count yourself out at the first sign of trouble. So many of us have a bad habit of hitting the ground running on January 1st, and then two weeks later, giving up on all those resolutions and goals. Well, what’s the point of that? Life will happen. Things will get in the way.  That is inevitable. However, New Year’s bring the promise of new experiences and accomplishments and with those will come forks in the road. Receive those forks and keep pushing. The days are long but the year is short and in no time flat, you will be achieving goals you never thought possible.

Cheers to a New Year!

Power Up! This Year’s Most Powerful Gift!

Power was the name of the game for 2015. And boy, did we see a lot!

Power banks were this year’s hottest tech item and we saw them in every shape, size, and style! I knew it when I saw (and just had to pick up for myself) at the ASI show in Orlando a power bank in the shape of a lip stick tube and one in the shape of a blush compact with mirror. From there, we saw ones that were super powered at 20,000 mAh all the way to ones at just 2000 mAh. Depending upon your needs, power banks were made this year for the business traveler to the minimalist user just needing an extra boost while on the road running errands.

Creative power banks to catch everyone's eye this holiday season!

Creative power banks to catch everyone’s eye this holiday season!

What I love most about power banks (outside of the convenience factor) is that it is bringing people away from the walls, and keeping people moving and mingling. Soon, the days of wall hugging will be long gone, because we will have our handy-dandy power bank to keep us connected and going. And also, the more eye-catching your power bank, the more likely it will spark up a conversation and become the apple of everyone’s eye. (Seriously, people are amazed by these things!)

For those that don’t have a power bank and are considering one, there are a few key points to ask yourself and keep in mind. What are you looking for? Style? Endless power? Something lightweight and small? Power banks typically range from 1800 mAh and up. 1800 mAh will give you just enough (almost a full) battery on an iPhone. It will take a bit longer to charge but typically anything under 4,000 mAh will be small, compact and easy to stick in your back pocket or purse. Also, keep in mind, if you have an iPhone, you will probably have to use the cord your phone comes with as most power banks come with cords to charge the actually power bank itself, which also happens to work with android phones. The larger ones will charge you up much faster and provide you with multiple full charges. For example, a 2,220 mAh power bank will charge you up almost twice if powering up an iPhone. Power banks larger than that, you ca count on getting many uses out of it before having to charge the actual power bank in a wall outlet.

Find the right power bank to match your needs!

Find the right power bank to match your needs!

Speaking of battery power, it is important you make sure the item you are using features a U.L certified battery. This means the item was tested and is up to par with the nationally recognized standards for safety. When it comes to electronics, you want to be sure you are chasing quality. Yes, that other power bank may be more inexpensive, but the battery may leak or it wasn’t tested and you will probably only get a couple charges out of it. Because the batteries in this particular item is being used to power  your personal smart phone devices, and sometimes will be charging up to two items of yours at a time, it is important that these batteries are functioning to their maximum capacity and have been tested thoroughly.

So if you are in the market for one of this year’s hottest tech gadgets, or looking to gift one this holiday season, be sure to research and identify exactly what it is that you are looking for. It can be a bit overwhelming if you do not know what battery power or style will work best for you. May the force be with you!

 

Revealing Your True Brand

We are all unique in our own way.

But what are we doing to stand out from the rest, and develop our own brand? One’s brand should reflect that uniqueness. We must capitalize on what makes us stand out from the rest. But let’s face it: we live in a world where we are constantly being exposed to new brands and advertisements on a daily basis. It can be tremendously challenging to be the one that stands out. Below are a few tips you may find helpful in making the most of any given platform to stand out and shine!

Brand Board

Brand Board: Put those old magazines to use!

The most popular, recognizable brands on earth have been cultivated and nurtured through endless hours of carefully crafted marketing campaigns and advertisements. For you and/or company, the simplest way to begin this cultivation is to put your envisions for yourself on a board. A brand board. The simplicity of this is what I love. Clip letters, images, any goals from magazines, newspapers, online, that you deem fit your board. I have personally always found making these a couple times a year help you with reorganizing and staying on track to reach the final goal. Whether its personal branding or company branding, this creative tactic can provide an edge over your peers by putting things into perspective and helping with maintaining focus.

Explore

To dive fully into creating your own brand, you must explore. SWOT analysis helps tremendously with this. If you are unfamiliar with SWOT, this funky acronym is a great tool (like the brand board) for finding your own purpose and place in this world full of all different kinds of brands! Here is what SWOT stands for:

 

Strengths Weaknesses
Opportunities Threats

 

  • Strengths are the characteristics that help you stand out from the rest, and the advantage they give you over the others.
  • Weaknesses are the characteristics that place you at a disadvantage to the others.
  • Opportunities are the areas in which you can capitalize on creating a niche for yourself and your brand.
  • Threats are internal and/or external factors that can possibly be harmful to developing your brand and achieving your goals.

Laying this out in a table format will help you not only see where you stand out and the strengths that make you unique, but it also focuses on areas you need to develop more and which weaknesses can be fixed. Apart of being your unique you is what sets you apart, and seeing where you are ahead and also areas you may be behind in can bring all issues to the forefront.

Identify

We all know of brands such as Coca-Cola, UPS, Nike and Mercedes-Benz and so forth, but what is it about these brands that appeals to the masses? How can YOU appeal to the masses of people you deal with and encounter on an everyday basis and beyond? Using your SWOT analysis and brand board, you need to ask yourself questions bases on your skills, functionality, and emotional connection to the people around you. Why you? What skillset do you offer? What do you do that makes you stand out from the rest? Are you connecting with those around you on an emotional level? If not, how come? What external factors are prohibiting you from truly expanding your connections and branding? Using the SWOT table in compound with the brand board can truly help you find the missing puzzle pieces to a whole brand.

How many brands can you spot?

Make a Statement!

Now that you have this overabundance of analysis on your personal brand and what brands you aspire to emulate, it’s time to put it all together into one. Using all your research, the final step is creating a brand mantra that thoroughly defines and communicates to all who you are and why YOU. This mantra should speak to you and inspire those around you to want to follow your brand.

These tips and tools help you narrow down the ever-broadening concept of branding to a simple statement that can be used and redeveloped as the foundation of your own brand. Now is the time to go out there and reveal your brand for the world to see!

 

Season’s Greetings: The Importance of a Self-Promo Holiday Card

In case you missed it, December 9th was National Christmas Card day.

This day celebrates Sir Henry Cole who created the first Christmas card in 1843. They sold for only 1 schilling (or 8 cents) each and only about 1000 were printed and sold.

Flash forward to 2015, and the business of holiday card giving has become as innovative as ever! From ones that sing carols upon opening to ones that reveal a 3D pop-up message or special gift such as an ornament, the card business has evolved and changed the way we share greetings throughout the year. So if you haven’t given what you will be sending out much thought, it’s time to get moving!

Greetings lead to smooth-sailing relationships throughout the year!

Greetings lead to smooth-sailing relationships throughout the year!

While our mailboxes are being flooded with all types of greetings and packages from loved ones, how are you to be sure your card will stand out and represent you to the fullest? It is important to pick a card that speaks to you and will enlighten your audience. A card during this time of the year must appeal to a wide audience as well as stand out and capture the attention and awe of the recipient. Personally, a card that includes a separate gift within the card that the recipient can enjoy are my favorite. Cards that include a hand-made ornament, or a bag of tea, or even a magnetic frame/calendar are great options. On top of being kept longer, these will intrigue your recipient and make them feel special, enjoying the extra sentiment of a gift inside along with your warm greeting.

With that said, it has become more and more common to receive an “e-greeting” this holiday season as it appeals to those looking for more convenience and reaching clients the quickest with a push of a button. However, as I touched upon earlier, this time of the year is about showing gratitude and appreciation for those who support us on all fronts, and sending something more personal can add the final touches to a great year of developing and maintain long lasting relationships. Not only are greeting cards important to capture the attention of your audience or clients, but it is also important to be sure you stand out so that you may stay fresh and top of mind for your clients approaching the New Year.

Stand out by including a small gift in your greetings!

So the holiday rush has come and gone and after all the parties and gift wrapping, you forgot to send out a card. Not to worry! The great thing about greeting cards is that throughout the year, they will never go unappreciated and noticed. Again, it is all about how you stand out and pull your audience in to make them feel appreciated, not only during the holiday season, but throughout the New Year and beyond. I once received a “welcoming spring” greeting card with a pack of sunflower seeds inside. It was such a simple, but creative way to let someone know that they are being thought of and appreciated (Even though my sunflowers didn’t live for long). So don’t limit your greetings to just the holiday season. Take advantage of various times throughout the year to reconnect with a simple “hello” and message that can change and develop relationships in the blink of an eye.

Staying Connected (Or Not) During the Holiday Season

Do you hear what I hear? Is that jingle bells?

Or just the sound of the snooze button?  This time of the year can be such an exciting and busy time of the year for many of us, and although it can be difficult not to, the inevitable “holiday slump” sneaks up on us faster than Christmas tunes in the mall post-Thanksgiving.

Holiday Parties can Help you stay Connected

Holiday Parties can Help you stay Connected

Personally, I find this time of the year, work-wise, to be critical when it comes to reconnecting with clients and touching base ahead of the holidays. Tying up any loose ends and staying ahead of the New Year rush when new promo items hit the ground running. Although important to stay just as engaged amongst all the parties and work secret Santa exchanges, it’s also important to know how to disengage and remember what this time of the year is about. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all! Below are a couple tips to keep you well- balanced during the hectic holiday season!

Prioritize

Prioritizing during the holidays can help keep you and your clients happy. Once I start a list, I just can’t stop. Prioritizing at the very start of your day is a great way to get ahead of your day – and stay ahead. It also keeps you from the overwhelming feeling of defeat or just wanting to throw in the towel – the slump I mentioned earlier can take over like too much spiked egg nog on Christmas eve. We have all experienced a day during this time that just never seems to end and the calls and emails never stop coming. However, prioritizing what needs to get done first will help you stay focused on tasks at hand, as well as disconnecting at the end of your day to connect with loved ones.

Maintenance Check

Like a well-oiled machine, it is important to make sure we are running on all four cylinders during this time of the year. Taking care of our mind, body and soul is something that can be put on the back burner while we look to please all of those around us (and let’s face it, stuff ourselves endlessly with delicious baked goods). However, if we don’t remember to take care of ourselves and loved ones, it can deter us from prioritizing and staying on top of our work during the day.

Connect

I touched on the importance of staying connected with clients ahead of the holidays, and in the promotional marketing industry, that is more important now than ever. There are so many avenues our clients can turn to for holiday needs. From the gift basket guy, to the chocolate guy, and the florist down the

Smore's can Be a Great Way to Re-connect with Clients

Smore’s can Be a Great Way to Re-connect with Clients

street, it is important our clients know we are the one-stop shop for all holiday needs! We constantly remind our client’s starting in October (never too early) that we can do everything from their greeting cards to gift baskets and personalized chocolates. Even a S’mores gift set! Be a constant and consistent reminder to your clients now and year-round with a well-thought out gift connection.

Disconnect

The final key to staying on top of your game this holiday season is remembering to do the opposite of connecting: that’s disconnecting. Disconnecting during this time of the year can be difficult. It can seem as if your list of things to accomplish before the holiday breaks arrive is endless, but remembering to put the phone down, clear your mind with family and friends and enjoy the festivities of the year, can make a large impact on your performance and capabilities at work. So remember to shut off the emails (at a reasonable hour), throw on your ugliest sweater, and enjoy quality time with the ones you love this season. Your clients and family (and mind) will appreciate it more than you know.

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