Gotta’ Catch Em’ All!

If you are like me and enjoy catching up with your favorite news station at the end of a long day, there has been no avoiding this topic. Pokémon Go. It is slowly taking over my life.

The US had been awaiting the release of the augmented reality game for some time now and when it first released last week, I have to admit, I was most likely one of the first people to download it. Not joking.

But, I am not one who enjoys (nor do I have the time to) searching all over South Florida for various Pokémon and places to battle others. Thus, leading to me to finally delete the game that has been downloaded over 7.5 million times in less than a week. Oh and that’s just in the US.

Making $1.6 million daily, through in-app purchases alone, while walking the other night, almost every other kid outside was also looking for Pokémon. So how did they manage to capture us so quickly?

  • Nostalgia: Many that grew up in the 90’s spent many days trading Pokémon cards and begging their parents to buy a new pack of cards in every store they stepped into. It’s a total blast from the past. Customers enjoy reconnecting with parts of their pasts and this marketing tactic has proven to entice the customer to spend more time and more money relieving those memories. Those memories are warm and fuzzy, just like I imagine a Jigglypuff would. Connecting with your clients over something nostalgic is almost a shoe-in to creating a closer, more trustworthy and enjoyable relationship in the long-run.
  • Technology: Virtual/Augmented Reality is an industry ready to explode at any moment. Big companies such as Sony, Google, Samsung, etc. are investing big bucks into this technology in hopes to capture the eyes, minds, and money of their consumers. The payout for Nintendo has been huge. Stocks are up almost $12 billion following the release of Pokémon go just a week ago here in the United States. If you haven’t already introduced your clients to Virtual Reality, start thinking about doing so. It won’t be long before they start asking for it anyhow!
  • Community: Augmented Reality creates a connection to the end user. This has created various communities that come together on one common ground. Literally. My park was full of people playing Pokémon. And did you see the video of Central Park? One person compared it to Pokémon HQ. The point is, when people feel a part of something large than themselves, they become hooked. When you can walk outside and connect with a total stranger over Pikachu that is a newfound community. Creating this same feeling for your own clients will serve not only has a brand-builder, but most importantly, a relationship-builder.

 

While issues of safety and privacy have come up over the past few days, the addictive app shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Maybe I will give it another shot, just talking about the app is creating FOMO. Have you downloaded the app? Know anyone playing? Will you integrate these very marketing techniques into your interactions with your own clients? Let us know!

Silkscreening 101

One of the most common techniques for imprinting promotional marketing products is silkscreening. It’s a fairly straightforward process. First, a mesh screen is created with your company’s logo – the design that is going to be printed is left open and the non-imprinted spaces are closed off so that they remain blank. Once the screen is made it is placed on, say, a bag and ink is spread over it. Ink passes through the portions of the screen that are open and the places that are closed off remain blank. Your bag now has a 1-color imprint.

But what if your logo is multiple colors? In that case, silkscreening becomes a more labor intensive process. You see, imprinting a multicolor logo requires the creation of several screens – one for each color. Each color is printed individually, and each must dry completely before the next is added. Because it requires multiple setup and it takes additional time, silkscreening multiple colors on a t-shirt or other promotional item is more expensive than just imprinting with a single hue.

What about sizing? Well all of that depends on what you are imprinting. A logo on a tote bag may not transition well onto say a pen or stress reliever. In fact, certain items will only accommodate a maximum of one color. It is important to keep that in mind when picking items to hold and reflect your branding. Modifications may have to be made to the artwork when printing across several items.

Sizing also matters when it comes to silkscreening on a shirt. A logo that looks good at 14 inches to 24 inches, is most likely too detailed and intricate to print the same on a t-shirt. And depending on the location you will be imprinting on the shirt, you must also consider sizing, whether it will be the front chest, left chest, the sleeve or back. Front and back imprints can range anywhere from 10″ to 12″. Keep in mind the fit of the shirt. If it is more formfitting, the logo may look best a bit smaller, rather than trying to max out the imprint area.

The items that you can silkscreen are seemingly endless. Some of the most popular items include gym towels, mugs, pens and grocery totes. It’s a great way to get your logo on items that your customers will carry – which will, of course, assist in your branding efforts!

 

Virtual Reality Delivers

There is truly no market like the Virtual Reality market at the moment.16863422875_81d02f9901_o

Advances in technology and major interest in other key industries, VR has taken off very quickly.

Companies are using VR to market and showcase their abilities and offerings through 360 degree – interactive visuals that immerse the consumer in a whole new world.

VR is making a phrase like, “Tonight I’m going to Disney, then on cruise through the Panama Canal afterwards” totally feasible.

According to Fortune.com, Disney and Nokia have recently partnered up using Nokia’s $60,000 virtual reality camera and the compatible software to shoot 360 degrees for upcoming Disney films and marketing materials. VR is helping corporations expand their reach beyond boundaries ever imagined. People that have never visited Disney, will soon be able to access the wonder and magic from anywhere on the planet. That is huge Disney and many other big-name corporations diving head first into this industry.

VR has been used by the military for years, but the idea of a truly endless visual experiences for the user was shrouded with doubt. Up and down for years, the VR market has virtual gone from introductory, to shear disappearance and now is back again with vengeance.

Over time, we will witness the evolution of VR, giving us access to much more then we could’ve ever imagined. Are you for the enormous possibilities to come or weary of our society becoming TOO immersed in technology. Sound off below!

 

 

 

 

WalMart Uh – Oh!

I have to admit, geography wasn’t always my strongest subject growing up.

Understandably, it can be difficult to differentiate certain states from others. Wyoming and Colorado can easily be confused, as can New Mexico and Utah. But hey, that is if I am just looking at a map and trying to point out states! It can get confusing!

Certain states, however, have unmistakable shapes. Texas, California, Florida, the list goes on. However, someone at Walmart was able to confuse the state of Massachusetts with the state of Maryland, placing  the University of Maryland Terps logo, stamped over an outline of Massachusetts. Capture

A customer spotted the goof last week, quickly tweeting it to Walmart directly. I still find it amazing that communications with big companies can easily happen over social media now, but I digress.

Walmart responded to the customer with and explanation that made no sense at all and eventually told the customer they would be pulling the shirts off the shelves.

How did this even happen? I can’t wrap my head around it, but this is a great reminder to double, triple, quadruple check before putting a logo of any sorts that will be out there for customers to see and buy! Clients trust us to know their logo’s in and out, that even if it is a simple pen or t-shirt, we better be sure we are getting it right. Lesson learned, Walmart!

 

 

Promote Green!

Every year on April 22, 192 countries celebrate Earth Day by promoting going green!

On this day, many recognize the imperative need to give back to earth and the communities we live in. Whether its by using Eco-friend products, planting a tree, or picking up trash along a beach somewhere, there are many things individually that we can do to promote living in a “green” world.earth day 2

I love gardening. While doing some good for the earth and mother nature, you can grow an abundance of flowers, fruits and vegetables right in your back yard. Look for sets like this one from Prime Line. It includes three biodegradable planters and soil wafers. Add the seed packets of basil, parsley and chive and you are all set! This makes a great appreciation gift, and really is a gift that keeps on giving.

Bamboo items are a popular item as they are eco-friendly and just as useful! Whether is a desk organizer, pen, notebook, or even kitchen utensils, giving this out will surely turn heads and wow everyone.

Everyone appreciates items that can be used for multiple occasions. Give your end-user something they will want to use everyday and most of all, feel good about using day after day. From a recycled tote to a eco-friendly sport bottle, these items will always be an arms length from your client, all the while contributing to our community!

Take a Bite Out of the Food Industry

We hear it time and time again…

“We didn’t know you guys did that!” or “Well, I have a food guy.”

Well, I must admit we are partially to blame. We tend to showcase food items and gifts to our clients around the holidays. But who wouldn’t like to receive a box of chocolates or nut and candy tower? Anyone…? Bueller…?

Apart from using them as gifts, think about the times during the year where you see family members and loved ones for a celebration. We come together over food and great meals. Food brings people together in all settings and provides a common grown. At your next showcase or convention, try leaving out some branded chocolate covered pretzels or chocolate covered Oreos with a white chocolate drizzle. The difference in the amount of traffic that table will receive, compared to the tables offering a brochure and pen will be all the proof one needs. The difference will go a long way.

Food can also be a sign of appreciation and good fortune. A client of ours shows that appreciation to her employees yearly by sending them a beautiful gift basket on their birthdays featuring cheeses, crackers, meats, olives, cookies etc. The list of goodies is endless! And so are the possibilities!

The greatest thing about setting up programs like these for clients is that they are fit to meet their needs. They ordered the baskets all at once, but the manufacturer takes care of the fulfillment process, sending out the individual baskets once the date has arrived. Our client doesn’t have to worry about a thing. Say it with me now, “set it! And forget it!”3x

Of course, before clients will order, they must taste. I mean, how often do you buy a car without driving it? Clients must taste what they are going to be gifting or serving at events. A perfect way to do this is to start with creative story boards and virtuals that feature the items and the clients branding. This way, they are able to see and envision what the packaging will look like. However, the hook here is to arrange with your client a tasting, where you will set up all the foods they are interested in from looking at the virtuals, buffet style. This will allow your client to invite others that may be interested in the items for a future event or holiday celebration to come and utilize all five senses.

My point here is that putting the spotlight on a nice ham or chocolate tower of delicious treats shouldn’t just be for the holidays. They draw more attention and appreciation then your clients may realize, and our job is to provide that slight nudge and reminder that food gifts are appreciated all year-round. Now get out there and grab your bite!

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!

 

Negotiating is Part of Daily Life (all day every day)

I attended a workshop recently on Negotiating Skills hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. I was very interested in attending because I feel as if I negotiate something every single day and wanted to learn how I could be more effective. How to make sure I’m not leaving something (money) on the table.

Negotiating Requires Trust

Negotiating Requires Trust

I don’t know about your business and life in general but I would be willing to bet, you negotiate daily too. You may negotiate with your kids or your significant other, your employees, your vendors, your boss, your colleagues… the list seems endless.

One of the tidbits I found interesting was that even when both sides are in agreement the deal still falls through 45% of the time.

Why? Well, many times it is a lack of understanding of what the other side really wants to accomplish. The panel gave a number of examples of how deals weren’t made because of a lack of communication.

The reason “why” can make a huge difference in a negotiation. The panel discussed a recent real estate deal. The two parties; the building owner and a renter had been speaking for months trying to come to terms. They couldn’t and had to hire a mediator. The building owner had an opportunity to sell but the renter had a long-term lease. They just couldn’t seem to come to terms. Why? The renter finally explained that the seller kept insisting that they move out quickly when a deal was made. They just wanted to have 45 days to move. It wasn’t about price or buy-out or anything more than time consideration. They weren’t communicating. Each thought the other had a different agenda.

I recently worked on a custom product being produced overseas. I read the email from the factory incorrectly and sent them a very “questioning” email about their pricing and indicated that I was being charged too much. They came back with several reasons why that to me didn’t seem to add up to their increase. After a little give and take, they lowered the price. Now, yes, I could have made it work at the price they originally quoted, but in the end they not only made me happy on this order, I will be back again.

One of the best tips the panel provided was: “don’t get caught in a lie”. They indicated that is one of the worst mistakes you can make because then you lose the trust factor. Now, that’s not to say you have to give full disclosure from the beginning. Initially you may want to give an overview of what you are seeking and why it’s important to you and release more information as you get further into the deal. It’s not lying, it’s strategically disclosing!!

Another good point they made was that we all need to listen more than we talk. We need to exercise restraint and truly listen to what the other side may be seeking and ask open ended questions. If all you ask are yes and no questions the chance of gaining a full understanding of the deal in play is very limited. A good negotiation ends with both parties getting what they want.

However, in the end if you’ve reached your threshold and you still don’t have a deal that suits you, then you must be prepared to walk away. All you need to say is “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me”.

To Exhibit or Not at a Trade Show

As most of you know, I am very involved in the community and am a member of a number of organizations. For me, it’s a great way to stay connected.

I had two different groups recently host a combination type trade show and networking event. I exhibited at one and attended the other.

It really got me to thinking, what’s the best way to “work” one of these events.

At the event we exhibited I feel we got some great traffic and we met some quality people and we are already working with a few of them. So, definitely a win-win situation.

At the second event, I just walked the aisles and networked. Now, granted I feel I met more people and probably handed out more business cards but are these people ever going to do business with me? I am following up on those prospects that I met, but will I get the business?

It’s a dilemma I am sure we all face. What’s the best use of our time and money?

Have a Plan for Exhibiting or Networking a Show

Have a Plan for Exhibiting or Networking a Show

This year not exhibiting at the second event was due mostly to the timing. It was held on a day that was a busy one for me and I just knew I would be too tired to effectively work the booth.  But on the other hand having people come to me versus the other way around might have been better.

I think no matter if you exhibit or not you need to have a plan to get the most out of your investment (time and money). So many people forget about scheduling time after the event to follow up. Are you marketing materials up to date so it’s a quick and easy follow up. Also, don’t wait weeks to touch base – the lead is cold by then.

I don’t know about you, but I hate getting that email – so good to meet you at the event last month. Obviously wasn’t that great or I didn’t make much of an impression for it to take so long to get in touch. And, besides, by then I don’t remember who you were.

Also, if you have a plan and know who is going to be attending the event you can make a list so you make sure you get to everyone you need to. The worst is to find out that a key prospect was there after the fact. But it’s not a total loss, you can always send a note stating – “sorry we didn’t get to meet at the event but I wanted to introduce myself”. It’s worked for me.

So, I think it’s safe to say, there is no right or wrong in exhibiting or just attending. However, in both cases, follow up is key.

Why Does Digitizing Matter for Apparel?

Why Does Digitizing Matter?

I am pretty sure that each of us has a shirt, jacket or hat that is embroidered with a logo. It may not be for your current company or even anyone you’ve ever worked for, but you have it. I am a golfer and play in a lot of tournaments and always look forward to getting a shirt (if it’s a good one that is… please don’t skimp here!).

I am also sure you have seen some logo’s that look absolutely fabulous embroidered and others that just don’t look right.

The difference may be how the logo was digitized. What does that mean? Well, you take the logo and turn it into a stitch file that tells an embroidery machine how to sew onto a garment. If it’s not done correctly the end result could be a disaster!

It’s not as simple as scanning the logo into a program and off you go. No, it takes someone with skill that can determine the best path for the logo to run (think of the machine picking up the

Eastern Logo is Clean

Eastern Logo is Clean

various threads). The sequence is very important as it affects how the design will “lie” when complete. If it’s not done correctly, you could have unwanted gaps in the fabric or uneven text.

The designer also determines the type of stitches and how many. We have many complicated logo’s that we embroider regularly. Others have tried to undercut us and steal the business by “skimping” on the number of stitches, however, you can always tell. The logo just doesn’t look as complete.

If you have decided to embroider apparel you need to make sure to always get a swatch for approval. This is not a virtual of your logo as it might appear stitched on a shirt, this is a true sew-out of your logo on fabric that is similar to what you plan to use. If you don’t think it looks quite right – speak up! The swatch is typically the best it’s going to be. And, don’t be shy about asking for a swatch until you are happy with the result. Just because they say they can “fix” it doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the case.

So what happens if you approve a swatch and then the shirts look different. How did that happen? If you the digitizer and embroidery machines are in the same company, it shouldn’t. If they aren’t there are a few possibilities.

First it may be the fabric of your garment is totally different than the swatch fabric (a good embroiderer will typically ask what type of fabric so they can use that for the swatch). Another reason may be the speed in which the machines are run. If the file is not set up for that type of speed (typically faster) it can impact the quality of the finished embroidery.

Digitizing is a very specialized process that takes time and experience to produce a quality result – in this case, less expensive is definitely not necessarily better.

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