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?

Brand the Sand: A Fun Summer Item

Flip Flops

Even though it is only May, it already feels like summer here in Miami. The days are long, the sun is bright, and it is hot. So hot, in fact, that I am planning on hitting the beach this weekend- a nice dip in the ocean will refresh this overheated blogger!

A great perk to working at Gossett Marketing is the fun, branded samples that we receive. One of my favorites is a pair of rubber Havaianas-style sandals that we had made for the Orange Bowl a year or so ago. They’re black and have silver “Obie” logos. Subtle but cute! And you can bet that they will be on my feet when I hit the sand on Saturday.

While I love our Orange Bowl flip flops, I wish we had added one thing to them. If I had my way, we would have carved their logo out of the sole of each sandal. That way, when the wearer walked on the beach a logo imprint would have been imprinted in the sand. Imagine giving your customer sandals that literally branded the beach for you! If that person was on Miami Beach, then thousands of viewers could potentially see your company name. It’s a creative promotional product that is ideal for the summer – what an impression custom-soled flip flops could make! (Sorry for the bad pun, I couldn’t help myself!)

Promotional “Real Estate”

Ecosphere
Living in South Florida, real estate is always a hot topic.  It’s hot in the promotional marketing business too, but to us the most valuable piece of property is your client’s desktop.  We want your promo piece to get there and to stay there because if that happens, then your customer will see your logo every time he or she sits down at his or her desk.

Tons of items can take up “desktop real estate” – stress relievers, letter openers, and paperweights will all do it.  But for the most impact, I always recommend something fun and unique.  My new favorite: the Ecosphere.  Originally designed by NASA, it is basically an enclosed fish bowl that houses live marine shrimp and never needs feeding or cleaning.  The shrimp tend to last for 2-3 years, but one actually lived for 10!  Your logo can be laser engraved on the Ecosphere, and I can all but guarantee that it is an item that will sit on your client’s desk and get noticed – a great real estate purchase!

Take a look at this YouTube video to see what I’m talking about!

Don’t Waste Your Tradeshow Dollars

Flying Teacup
Are your promotional products boring? Do you just slap your logo on sticky notes and hand them out at tradeshows? So many companies do just that – their giveaways are an afterthought and, well, that’s why they end up in the trash can!

As I’ve mentioned before, at Gossett Marketing we strive to provide our customers with unique and different promos, and that often means that we create completely custom pieces for them. When I meet with new people and I tell them that, they generally balk and say something like “we don’t have the budget for custom items,” but custom does not equal expensive! For instance, we had a “U”-shaped stress reliever made for the University of Miami Health System. It’s a great piece that I’ve seen sitting on countless desks, and it did not break the bank. We can have “Silly Bandz” made in the shape and color of your logo for pennies. And completely unique lapel pins and buttons can be produced for less than one dollar.

If your company does have a bit larger budget, then the possibilities are truly limitless. We designed and produced a “flying teacup” for Virgin Atlantic Airways. Then there was a “flamingo in a can” for the opening of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. And some of my favorite promotional products have been the distinctive acrylic and pewter Miami-themed frames that we created for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Promotional products shouldn’t be throwaways – they should be different and interesting so that they do not end up in the garbage. For the same price as a notebook you can give away something completely unique. To me, that’s a much better bang for your buck.

What is the most creative promotional product you’ve ever given or received? Leave your comments below.

A Good Networking Event?

Networking EventWhat makes a good networking event? I am sure it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s a good combination of people – those I know and don’t know. As well as individuals that are there to meet people – not just sell.

I prefer an event where there are a few people that know me and are willing to make introductions. I find it helps put most people more at ease rather than walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself.

I was at a function recently at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove and was introduced to a woman starting a new company. We discussed many aspects of her company and as I offered her my card I told her not to hesitate to contact me with questions or if she felt I could introduce her to some prospects. Her response was surprising. “Wow, at most events I go to, no one ever offers to help. It seems they just want to sell me their products.”

A good reminder for any networking event – it’s give and take. Not all take. How many times have you been at an event when someone interrupts a group to push their business card into your hand with not even an attempt to understand what it is you do or need. First impressions count. So don’t be remembered that way or not at all because I throw those business cards away

While we are all out there trying to make an impression and market our small or large business, we also need to be willing to listen and understand the needs of the people we meet.

From the Archives: An Example of Effective Social Media

Miami Bike Polo Logo While I keep up with the news because I think it is important to be informed, my favorite stories are always of the quirky, human interest variety. The Miami Herald never lacks for this type of article – probably because we have so many quirky humans living in South Florida!

I just read a piece on their Herald’s website about Miami Bike Polo, a league that was created just a few months ago which really seems to be taking off. Bike polo is just what it sounds like: polo played on a bike instead of a horse. It was invented in 1891 but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. It’s probably the first time a lot of people have heard of it, but the Miami league is doing a great job of promoting itself. They have a blog that teaches visitors about the game and talks about events, a good Twitter following, and a nice Facebook fan page. All of this great social media exposure has gotten them attention from WLRN, the Herald, and Deco Drive, a local television show.

As Miami Bike Polo expands, I think they should throw promotional products into their marketing mix. During TV spots, it would be great logo exposure if the interviewee was wearing a polo shirt that featured their logo. And regular participants need bags to carry their mallets and helmets! Exposing their logo to more pairs of eyes would definitely pique the public’s curiosity: I know I would ask someone who was drinking from a Bike Polo water bottle about the sport.

Keep up the good marketing work, Miami Bike Polo. And when you need promotional products, please do not hesitate to contact Gossett Marketing!

Click on this YouTube video to see Miami Bike Polo in action:

Creative Direct Mail is Effective

Mail Box

At Gossett Marketing we discourage direct mail if you are just going to stuff information into a plain white envelope and send it out willy-nilly. No one takes the time to read that stuff, so you are just wasting paper. What we do like is a targeted campaign that catches the eye of the intended recipient and moves them to action.

Let’s say you’re a hotel on beautiful Miami Beach and you want to attract conference groups to your property. What I would recommend is sending several mailings to people like event planners at major firms and travel agencies that specialize in group travel. In this scenario, the first mail out would be a brightly colored post card showing the beautiful beach on one side and giving information about conference facilities on the other. In a few weeks I might follow up by sending out a small package with a pair of imprinted sunglasses along with an information pamphlet. My last mailing would be a custom printed box (perhaps that looks like a suitcase) filled with beach and business items: maybe a pair of flip-flops, an embroidered cap, margarita mix, a notebook, pen, and a mouse pad. The mix would make it memorable – the fun-in-the-sun pieces show the venue’s allure (the beach, obviously!), but the business products would be useful to the recipient and remind them of your meeting facilities. At this point I would also include detailed information about the hotel, reception rooms, and any other relevant details.

Someone on the receiving end of that kind of campaign is definitely going to take notice. Plus, he or she will probably keep the logoed promotional products, which gives the hotel extra brand exposure. So when that hotel calls to follow up on the mailings, the recipient will have developed a level of familiarity with the brand and be more likely to discuss the prospect of working together.

My hotel mailing is just one example of a creative campaign – they can be done on a smaller or larger budget and still be effective. The rule is that they need to entice the recipient. And who has ever been enticed by a plain white envelope?! So get those creative juices flowing, target your audience, and get mailing!

Suitcase Box

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

Non-Traditional Networking

Plymouth Congregational Church

Think about the word “networking.” What immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s two of the business networking groups here in South Florida – the Coral Gables and Greater Miami Chambers of Commerce. They both host wonderful events that attract excellent professionals, and I’ve made good connections through both organizations. However, some of my best contacts have come from less traditional outlets.

If you’ve read this blog before, you probably know that I’m a runner. But you might not know that I actually lead a half marathon training group. We run extremely early on Saturday mornings because about 95% of us are business people and that’s the only time we can all get together. We come from all walks of life and professions and spending hours together each week has really allowed us to get to connect with each other. I know who to call when I need a top rated neurosurgeon, an architect, or a legal guru, and they know who to call when they need promotional marketing products (me!).

While I don’t go quite as often as my mother would like, I do frequent Plymouth Congregational Church. After Sunday service, there is always a social hour in the garden. While I don’t always talk shop with my fellow parishioners, I do develop bonds with them. Those bonds can ultimately extend to business – a man I met while sipping my coffee actually ended up re-roofing my parents’ house! And I know that when he needs marketing materials, I am going to be his first phone call.

Those are just two quick examples, but the moral of the story is that you can network anywhere! Get involved in groups that interest you, make new friends, and business will follow.

Top 10 Personal Promo Items

Promotional Products
People always ask me to name my favorite promotional marketing items, and it’s kind of hard to narrow it down because there are just so, so many different things out there.  So when pressed, rather than give a general list I like to share my favorite items for certain types of people – think techies, sports enthusiasts, etc.  So here are my favorite promotional products are ideal for your on-the-go customers. They will get a lot of great use out of them, and in doing so they’ll also be showing the world your logo!

1. Umbrellas – useful and they have a lot of room for your logo
2. First Aid Kits – who couldn’t use a few extra bandaids?
3. Water Bottles – these can be small, large, stainless steel, or BPA free plastic
4. Nail files – personally, I have one in every handbag
5. Bags – as simple as cinch bags or as nice as brand name luggage
6. Travel Pillow/Blanket – a thoughtful gift for weary travelers
7. Stadium Cushions – perfect for Florida Marlins games
8. Notebooks/Agendas – busy people need to stay organized
9. Pedometers – help your customers stay fit and let them flaunt your logo
10. Hand Sanitizer – gel, lotion, spray, foam, or wipes

What is your favorite on-the-go item? Please let me know in the comments below.

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