Great Promotional Marketing Tool

UM Sunglasses
Although we try to make it as easy as possible, I understand that purchasing promotional marketing products can sometimes seem like a daunting task. You’re generally buying thousands of items at once, so you definitely want to get it right! No one wants 2,500 bags in a color that clashes with their logo! The good news is, we are now able to provide “virtual samples” prior to your order. These virtuals show a particular product, in the color that you prefer, with your company’s logo in the location and colors that you’re considering.

Virtual samples are a great tool that we can offer, at no cost, for most of our promotional products. So if you like to look before you leap, ask your friendly Gossett Marketing representative for virtual samples prior to placing your order!

If you look above, you can see a virtual that we provided the University of Miami for some really fabulous sunglasses. The virtual below was for Royal Caribbean International – it’s a notebook with several different imprint methods. Pretty cool, huh?

If you’d like to see some virtual samples for items that you’re interested in, leave a comment below or shoot us an e-mail!

Royal Caribbean Notebook

Make 2015 Business Resolutions!

2013 resolutions
Happy 2015 everyone! I love early January because the whole year is a blank slate, so it’s a great time to figure out how to fill the next 12 months, be it from a budgetary, emotional, or even a physical standpoint (who hasn’t resolved to count their pennies, make peace with their in-laws, or start a diet at the dawn of a new year?!). Well, it’s also an excellent opportunity to resolve to make business changes. I, for one, am making 2015 networking resolutions to help me expand my business reach. Here they are:

  • I resolve to network outside of the box. I hit luncheons and after-work chambers of commerce gatherings, but I’m sure that there are networking opportunities that I missed in 2014. That’s why I want to take a computer graphics course – it seems like a great chance to meet individuals who manipulate artwork (and logos!), which means that they might need to put graphics on promotional products. If I can learn something and possibly pick up new customers on the way, that’s a win-win for me! Networking doesn’t have to happen at sanctioned events, so my goal is to keep on thinking outside of the box.
  • I resolve to get creative with my post-networking follow-up. Like most people, when I gather cards from others with whom I hope to do business, I e-mail and call in order to build those relationships. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But if I do something creative, then I have a better chance of getting noticed. So I plan on connecting via social media – not just Twitter and LinkedIn, but it will be a nice touch to offer to write a guest post for their blogs. And I think I’ll go back to basics and send a follow-up note via snail mail. It’s another opportunity to get my information physically into another person’s hands, which should make me stand out!
  • I resolve to focus my networking. Sometimes when I go to networking events, I find myself floating from group to group, not meeting anyone who seems, well, promising. So this year, I plan on trying to make a list of the types of people and companies that I think will be good business prospects. Do they need promotional products? I want to meet them! Do they know everyone in town? Hopefully they’ll want to get to know me too, and we can refer business back and forth!

Now, like any new year’s resolutions, I can’t guarantee that these three changes will make a difference, but they’re certainly worth a shot. And if I find that one works better than the others, then I don’t mind changing courses and just following that path. Wish me luck!

What are your 2015 business resolutions? Leave them in the comments below.

3 Tips to Foster Business Relationships

networking relationships

Of course the reason that any of us attend networking events is to build new business relationships. It’s easy to meet people at events, but it’s not necessarily so simple to turn those meetings into productive connections. It takes time and a good amount of follow-up to make yourself known and memorable to the people that you meet at an event, and even if you do put in the effort, there is certainly no guarantee that anything will come of it. So I’ve taken a poll of the Gossett Marketing team to see how this group of successful (and modest!) networkers does it. Here are 3 simple tips to foster the business relationships that begin at networking events.

  1. Have a reason to follow up with someone. After an event, it’s tempting to send out a generic “it was nice to meet you today” e-mail to everyone whose business card you received. Resist the urge! Instead, send a personal note that brings up the topics that you discussed. For instance, if you spoke with someone about a problem they are having, try presenting a solution in your e-mail. Not only will you look like a useful contact to have, but you will open up a dialogue that will help your relationship grow.
  2. Bolster your budding business association through social media. As Gossett Marketing’s blogger, I’m particularly fond of this idea – when I meet people in the real world, I like to then connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because I find that it is a more casual, open way to connect than with them than by leaving stiff telephone messages. It’s amazing how quickly you can bond with someone via 140 word tweets!
  3. When all else fails, resort to snail mail. I think that everyone has been rejected when trying to build a business relationship with a new contact. You call, you e-mail, you tweet – all to no avail. At some point you have to throw in the towel (or else risk looking like a stalker). Before you do that, though, take the time to write the object of your business affection a quick note and mail it to him or her. Be sure to include your card, and just be honest about it. Say that you understand that he or she is busy, but that you wanted them to have your information. Everyone likes to get mail, so you know that he or she will read it, and perhaps it will move them to give you a call. If not, then at least they will have seen your name and company logo again – every bit of exposure counts.

I recognize that we aren’t reinventing the wheel with these tips, but sometimes networking – or the time spent following up after an event – can be frustrating. Rather than give up, try some different approaches. You never know, they could help you build new business relationships that could be profitable to both parties.

How E-Mail Enhances Networking

email networking If you are a diligent networker who frequents networking events, makes strong connections there, follows up with those you’ve met, and really created relationships, then you know that over time you can build up a large business network. Having so many business contacts can actually prove difficult – how do you maintain relationships with so many people? If you ask me, you’d better start to harness the power of the internet, and e-mail in particular, to keep yourself relevant to your network even if you do not have time to connect with each and every one of its members personally on a regular basis.

The easiest way to stay top of mind with your vast business network is to send out newsletters. Your newsletters should be informative and relevant to your industry, providing helpful tips that your contacts will appreciate and/or use. The key to a good newsletter, though, is not to send it too frequently. I stop and take the time to read the newsletters that I receive biweekly or monthly, but I delete those that come through daily or twice weekly. I just don’t have time to read that many non-work e-mails, so individuals who e-mail their newsletters too frequently get deleted, and ultimately forgotten.

Writing a blog is another excellent way to stay top of mind with your network. Like your newsletter, your blog should largely be pertinent to your business, although it’s always fun to throw in some “Easter Eggs” to keep your readers interested. The nice thing about a blog is that members of your network can subscribe to it and get e-mailed updates when a new article is posted. In the case of this blog, I write new posts three times per week, meaning that my subscribers see my name that frequently. I recognize that in the previous paragraph I griped about receiving too many e-mails and ultimately trashing those that come in too frequently; however, blog updates are different. Because the people who receive e-mail updates have elected to do so, they are less likely to be annoyed by receiving them.

Now, I’m not saying that sending out a newsletter a couple of times each month or jotting down a few blog posts are all of the networking/networking follow up that you should do. But if you have an extensive network, then both are great tools for your arsenal. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is especially true in the networking world, so make sure that you are visible!

Practical Joke Marketing

Catblock

So many companies are now using April Fools internet pranks to their advantage, and I think it’s a very clever marketing tactic because it gets people talking about them and drives traffic to their sites. Here are some that I saw this past weekend – they’re a lot of fun!

  • Weight Watchers: I got an e-mail from a friend on April 1st. She was forwarding me a recipe from their website – and I must say it looked both gross and fattening, which really surprised me from the company! It was teaching subscribers how to make a crown roast of hotdogs: not terribly diet friendly. Well, as it turned out, it was a joke that the company sent to its participants for April Fools! And what a great strategic marketing move for them to make. When dieters saw how bizarre the recipe was, they were inclined to forward it to their friends, just like my friend sent it to me. That means that these participants were doing the company’s marketing for them!
  • Adblock: I had never heard of Adblock until a tech savvy friend of mine told me to log on and view their April Fools Joke. The company allows you to view webpages without ads, so their prank was to replace that blank space with cats. Everyone likes adorable cats on the internet, so this joke generated a lot of buzz (it was too darn cute!). It was so popular, in fact, that people might be able to get a paid subscription to Catblock!
  • Google/NASCAR: Google and NASCAR used the day to announce their partnership – which would allow self-driving cars to participate in car races! Now, I know that this one is too goofy to be true and that most people probably didn’t buy it, but it does refer back to the self-driving car video that Google recently showcased, so I’ll bet it drove traffic to the video of that technology (and yes, that terrible pun was intended).

Marketing can be very serious, and it’s important for brands to maintain their dignity, but I love that so many took the chance to goof off on April Fools Day. It’s a great conversation starter and it’s what viral marketing is all about. So start planning your prank for next year!

If you want to see some other jokes that companies pulled, check out The Washington Post’s Style Blog by clicking here.

What Not to Do After a Networking Event

robot
I write a lot about networking – heck our blog has a whole category dedicated to it – so I always wonder if our readers think that the Gossett Marketing team is obsessed with building our business network. In a word: yes. Networking takes a lot of our time, effort, and dedication, but we firmly believe that it’s worth the endeavor, as it helps us grown in our community and beyond. If you’re not already a dedicated networker, then it’s time to start so that you can expand your business’s reach (and ultimately its profitability).

Regardless as to whether you’re new to business networking or if it’s old hat to you, I think everyone can brush up on networking etiquette. Last week I discussed what not to do during an event, so this week I’m focusing on what not to do afterwards. Here we go…

1. Nothing – You went to a networking event, met new people, and took their business cards back to work with you. Don’t just leave that contact information on your desk, never to be viewed again; rather, follow up with the people you met! Send a quick e-mail, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, give them a call, or even tweet them. Reinforce the bond you made at the networking event so that you can begin to forge a real relationship.
2. Too Much – On the opposite end of the spectrum from those who do nothing post-event are those who do too much. These are the folks who send an e-mail, then give the recipient a call an hour later just to be sure that they’d gotten it. And who not only connect on LinkedIn but start filling your Twitter feed and continually comment on your blog posts. These people mean well, but it’s overwhelming and, well, feels a bit stalker-ish. Ultimately, this strategy backfires, as the person with whom they are so desperately trying to bond begins to avoid the avid follow-upper!
3. Be a Robot – Now that you know the right amount of follow up, be sure that you’re doing the right kind. Often after networking with someone I, get a form e-mail saying things like “it was nice to meet you at the recent Chamber of Commerce event.” What event? What did we talk about? Do I really want to build a relationship with someone who can’t take the time to write a personalized e-mail? Absolutely not! But if I get an e-mail saying something like, “it was wonderful to sit with you at lunch yesterday, I enjoyed learning about the promotional products industry…” then chances are I will respond to the sender. He has taken the time to absorb our discussion and write me a personal e-mail, which shows me that his networking effort was genuine – I’m happy to consider someone like that a part of my network!

What it all boils down to is that you need to behave like a normal human being both before and after a networking event. I know that sounds strange, but treat others as you’d like to be treated, don’t bother them, but also don’t ignore them, and connect with them. That’s really what it takes to successfully network!

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!

Is it Work or a Workout?

photo from thirdage.com

photo from thirdage.com

Today I was completely stumped as to what to write for our “Everyday Life Vignette” this week, so at my college friend’s suggestion I am pondering exercise at the office. Here goes…

I talk about my fitness routine a lot here on the blog. I run, I walk, I go to the gym, I attend Bar Method classes, I schedule my workouts and treat them as nonnegotiable events. So maybe I’m a little bit obsessive about it (you’d think I’d weigh a lot less!), but I really do believe that exercise is an important part of life. You might think that my workout routine is nutty – many of my friends do – but even I don’t sit on an exercise ball all day or walk on my treadmill at my desk!

Have you ever seen either of the aforementioned setups? There are actually pieces of equipment out there that are specifically designed to allow you to work out while you’re at your desk! People really do balance on those big exercise balls all day – it helps strengthen core muscles. And not only are there treadmill/desk combos available, there are also elliptical machines and stationary bikes that are office compatible. To me, pedaling a bike while writing an e-mail seems really challenging – like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. I’m not sure that I have the coordination to do it.

I understand that our sedentary lifestyles are problematic and that desk jobs offer very little in the way of exercise, but although I’m a fitness freak, I don’t think that exercising on the job is the way for me to go. But it could be yours! If you think that working out at work is a good way for you to get active, check out this YouTube video – you can learn how to build your own desk/treadmill.

Why Blogs Make Great Networking Tools

tools When I first started writing InterestingMarketingTidbits.com, my general idea as to its purpose was to tell people about cool promotional products, give networking tips, and just share other general thoughts. And that truly is still the main reason that I write it week in and week out. But when I became a blogger and started to meet other individuals who have created or who write for other blogs, I learned that this site has more value than as just a means to disseminate information. Blogs are really good networking tools!

The thing about a blog is that if you want anyone to read it you have to promote it. And adding its URL to your business card and e-mail signature is never going to get you huge amounts of traffic. Rather, as a blogger you have to use social media to introduce your content to the world while meeting your fellow bloggers. Here at Gossett Marketing we utilize Twitter and LinkedIn (and Google+…soon) to do so. We regularly utilize these platforms to send out our posts, and fortunately, other people think enough of them to share them with their followers too!

It sounds simple when you read the previous paragraph, but building up your social media network takes work. I said that I use LinkedIn and Twitter to share our posts, but I actually use those platforms to promote my social media friends’ posts three times more often than I use them to share mine. Social media is a give and take, but I think the giving is way more important. For example, if you want to connect to someone important on Twitter, a good strategy is to re-Tweet her posts regularly. That way you’re giving her great exposure and hopefully posing yourself as a helpful person who is also worth a follow, a conversation, and a re-Tweet of your own. And if this Twitter VIP does send out your blog post, it could potentially be read by millions of people – think of the business that could ultimately drive!

Another great way to utilize blogs for networking is by commenting on blog posts that you admire. Don’t be tempted to just write “wow, good post,” though. Read the blog a few times, form an opinion, and share your well-articulated thoughts with the author. Or if something is unclear to you, ask an intelligent question. Either of these tactics could lead to a conversation with the author in addition to giving you and your thoughts exposure on his blog. What a neat way to use his blogging success to increase traffic to your own blog site!

Take it from me, blogging takes time, effort, and frustrating periods of writer’s block. But not only does it position you as an expert in your field, it can also be a networking gold mine. So whatever you do, keep on blogging!

The Power of Positive Feedback

gold star We’ve all heard the old adage “no news is good news,” and it’s definitely a true sentiment. When we deliver an order of promotional marketing products to a customer and don’t hear back from them, we know that the recipient must be satisfied with her purchase. But when we get 4 emails and 3 phone calls in a row, we know that there is bad news pertaining to the delivery – and we work our hardest to rectify the situation. I understand only getting “news” when there is a problem because I’m just like our customers. I expect that orders will be completed properly and in a timely manner, meaning that very often the only time I reach out to our suppliers is when there is a glitch.

Well, recently several of our customers have actually been sending us news that’s good. For example, we produced bags for the CREW Miami Fishing Tournament and the organizer sent me an e-mail to let me know that although she got a few for free, she went ahead and bought another because they are so beautiful. And not too long ago, Susan got a phone call from a customer just to tell her what a pleasure it was to work with her. There have been other kind bits of news coming our way this year, but I won’t toot the Gossett Marketing horn too much by listing more! I have to say, though, that every time we hear something nice about the promotional products that we supply or about our good customer service, it makes our whole team smile. In fact, we like it so much that we’ve dedicated a portion of our company bulletin board to what we call our “gold stars.” On a bad day, it’s a great board to peruse – it gives us all the warm fuzzies knowing that people like us, they really like us!

Because we like getting good news, the Gossett Marketing gang is now making a conscious effort to pay it forward. When our suppliers deliver promotional items that our customers love, they don’t know about it unless we tell them. So now whenever we get a “gold star,” we pass that praise along to the corresponding vendor. And guess what? They love it too! Who wouldn’t love an unexpected bit of praise?!

Another old saying is “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” and that’s true too. When my customers treat me nicely, I’m much happier to work with them than I am to work with unkind people. Similarly, I know that the vendors to whom I am nice are more apt to extend good deals, special offers, and are just generally more helpful than those who only hear from me when the news is bad.

No matter what industry you are in, be sure to tell people that they’ve done a good job. It will make them feel good, might compel them to pay it forward, and, if nothing else, it’s another reason to reach out to them – which keeps you on their radar in a positive way.

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