A Pen By The Numbers!

National Ballpoint pen Day is June 10th and we know just how to celebrate over at Gossett Marketing!

With some fun and interesting facts about pens! Such as, did you know that 95% of people, when given a new pen, write their name first? That person will, on average hang on to that pen for 6 months. That makes sense because pens have been around for over 5,000 years! Egyptians first wrote using a reed with a split end and a vegetable based ink.

More than two billion pens are manufactured here in the USA annually. A typical pen can draw a line that measures anywhere from 4,000 to 7,500 feet long? Or approximately 45,000 words. I don’t think I even know 45,000 words!

Pens continue to be a top promotional item, as over 56% of people own a branded pen. We like to refer to pens as a traveling billboard for your business! And while many hold onto pens and lose them, they are undoubtedly going to end up in the hands of someone else. Which in turn, means more exposure for that brand! So be sure, when selecting the pen that will showcase your brand, that it will be one that one will want to hold on to and be upset when they lose it!

Protect Your Checks with Anti-Fraud Ink!

Most may not realize it, but the checks we write are one of the most targeted forms of fraud.

According to a 2015 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, they account for 77% of all fraud cases. Check washing accounts for more than $815 million in fraud every year. Even more so, prescription drug fraud accounts for more than $10 billion in annual losses.1439318971954

To many, writing checks is an “old-school” method that has virtually been replaced by debit cards. Because of this, when we write checks now, we may not consider the ink inside of the pen that we are using to write. This is where ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has established ink standards to be used in pens that protect our documents from fraud. ISO-12757 applies to the ballpoint ink refills used for documentary used and general use as well. These standards mean the ink under these standards must be water-resistant and fade-resistant. The ink will essentially become trapped in the paper, making it impossible to erase or alter any important documents. Other requirements include Ethanol resistance, bleaching resistance and light resistance.f

While the FBI estimates that losses total over $18.7 billion annually in check fraud, the testing and standards of the ISO-12757 are reviewed every five years. So how are we to protect ourselves?

As I mentioned earlier, many people don’t find themselves writing checks anymore thanks to bank debit cards, allowing easier access to our bills online. However, for the occasions that you do have to write checks, or fill out personal prescription information, it is important you come prepared.

I can almost guarantee at this very moment you have multiple pens on your person or in your general area while reading this. I know I have about five in my purse next to me and even more inside the desk I am sitting at. A great tip is to always keep a set of these specific pen in two environments where you may need to write a check or fill out important paper work : at home of course, maybe at a desk where you pay your bills and such as well as in your car/purse for the ladies. Mark the pen with a piece of tape if that will help you tell it apart from other pens you may have laying around. This way, you will always be one step ahead.

Imprinting Class: Embroidery

Embroidery A large majority of my blog posts involve me harping on the importance of putting your logos on promotional products. Now, I know that you know what promotional products are (giveaway t-shirts, stress balls, padfolios, koozies, bags, pens, etc.), but what do you know about the actual imprinting processes? This is part one of an informative series about those processes. Today’s lesson: embroidery.

The MacMillan online dictionary defines embroidery as “the activity of decorating cloth with [colored] stitches.” That’s easy enough. A design – in this case your company’s logo – is sewn onto fabric. But how do we get from your logo on paper to having it sewn on a cap?

First the logo must be converted into stitches, a procedure that we call “digitization.” This involves figuring out exactly where which type of embroidery stitch will be used, how letters and symbols will be connected to one another, and logo sizing. It’s an involved process that ultimately determines how much your embroidery will cost.

Once the logo has been digitized, an accurate stitch count is determined. That is, we know exactly how many times the needle will need to pass through a piece of cloth to achieve an embroidered logo. Higher stitch counts are more expensive than lower ones because they require more time on the embroidery machine and they use more thread.

But price is not decided by stitch count alone, the cost of embroidery is very dependent upon quantity. Setting up the machines for each logo is a lot of manual labor, so if you are only sewing your logo onto 6 polos (Gossett Marketing’s minimum order quantity), then the price will be higher than it would be for 500 shirts. Basically, if the cost of the setup is amortized over fewer shirts then the price is higher.

And that’s what it takes to embroider your logo onto fabric! Leave a note in the comments below if you are interested in embroidered promotional products.

Click on this YouTube video to see an embroidery machine in action:

Increasing Cotton Prices

Cotton

Like seemingly everything else these days, the price of cotton is on the rise. Now, this doesn’t affect most promotional products – pens, desktop items, stress relievers, etc. tend not to be made from the stuff. However, at Gossett Marketing we produce a tremendous amount of logoed apparel for our customers, so we take note when there are fluctuations in the price of cotton.

The cost of golf shirts, caps, and some bags are all on the way up, but t-shirt prices seem to be taking the hardest hit. Mainly because they are in constant demand so they are continuously produced. Due to the fact that they don’t spend very much time in storage, when you buy a t-shirt you are paying for cotton that was purchased rather recently. Thus, the price jump for the raw materials is more apparent than with the items that I mentioned previously.

Unfortunately, the cost of cotton does not look like it is going to go down anytime soon. While we do extend case quantity pricing to our customers who order t-shirts (and other apparel), it does not necessarily offset the higher prices, so my recommendation is always to buy your t’s sooner rather than later. Would the elevated cost motivate you to buy t-shirts now instead of waiting? Leave your comments below!

Why your Promo Products Must be Good Enough

photo from pacepurge.wordpress.com

photo from pacepurge.wordpress.com

As you’ve read time and time again here on our blog, I work at Gossett Marketing which is a promotional marketing material distributorship. That means that I am surrounded by logoed merchandise whenever I’m at work. There are printed pens in a local bank’s mug on my desk. We have closets full of apparel – much of it embroidered for particular companies. There are shelves and shelves of bags, notepads, hand fans, technology… You name it, we’ve got it and it’s imprinted with a logo!

We have so many promotional materials hanging around that it is hard to keep track of what is new and fun and what has been discontinued, so when we have any downtime at the office we sort through and purge old samples. Those very often end up coming home with my coworkers and me, so at this point I’m also up to my eyeballs with promo items after work!

With all of that said, hopefully you can understand why I do not take other company’s promotional products when they are proffered. I have enough of them. I understand why they want to give me their t-shirt, I really do. But I just don’t have sufficient room for one more thing!

Well, my husband went to Comcast the other day because we needed a new cable box. He came back with our new electronics all in a huge, red bag emblemized with information about their Xfinity service. I hate to say it because I didn’t sell it to them, but it’s an awesome marketing piece. It’s roomy, it has big exterior pockets, and it has already been with me to Publix.

Basically the point of this post is that if you give away promotional materials that are good enough – useful, good looking, novel, whatever “good enough” may mean – then people will use them. That brings exposure to your logo and helps you to build your brand.

Back to School Branding

School Bus

Even though I feel like the summer just started, as of yesterday Miami-Dade County Public Schools are back in session. This time of year is ideal for promotional marketing products – there are so many opportunities to give away logoed items that kids and parents can use, which will showcase your brand.

For instance, the elementary school that I attended now mandates that all students must wear hats during PE and recess, so a local dermatologist gave away caps with her logo embroidered on the front. It’s a great way to teach children about sun protection, plus their parents and teachers will see the doctor’s name regularly – and really, they’re her target audience. She spent a few hundred dollars and the kids are marketing for her all year long!

Another great idea is to give branded items to teachers. A great idea would be to give them school year lesson planners. These books are invaluable to educators, so chances are they will carry it all year long. And if your logo is on the cover, then they and will see it from August until June: that’s great exposure.

Don’t worry, Gossett Marketing practices what we preach. We donate hundreds of pens to schools each year. They are all imprinted with our company name, website, and phone number. Kids don’t necessarily need our services, but they take those pens with them, lose them, and they end up in potential customers’ hands. True story: we got a phone call from a total stranger in New Jersey who wound up with one of our giveaway pens – he placed an order for promotional products.

Children complain about going back to school, but companies should be thrilled! It’s a great time of year to get out there and promote your brand while doing something useful for local schools.

Field Trip to the Promo Item Factory!

Susan & Megan at the factory.

Susan & Megan at the factory.

I talk a lot about imprinting promotional marketing products. I discuss size restrictions, numbers of colors, embroidery stitches, laser engraving, pad printing, transfer prints, reversing logos, print tolerances, four color process, CMYK, die cutting, sand etching… Clearly I can go on and on. Part of my job is to ensure that my customer is getting his or her logo printed properly on an item, so I need to know about the different processes to ensure that we get it right. I’ve known a lot about various decoration methods for a while, but I had never seen the imprinting process in action until we recently visited one of our preferred supplier’s factories! It was a Gossett Marketing field trip!

There are not too many suppliers imprinting promotional marketing items within easy driving distance from Coconut Grove, but fortunately Bullet is. Bullet carries really quintessential promotional products – think pens, stress relievers, letter openers, flashlights, tote bags, water bottles, and the like – so visiting their facility gave our team a great overview of various decoration methods.

Our beloved former inside sales rep Mike Sasario gave us the tour. He started us out in the screen printing room where we were shown logos being converted to the actual screen stencils through which ink presses to create an image on a bag. From there we went to watch bags actually being decorated. It’s actually more hands-on than I thought it would be because someone has to sit at a machine, align a bag on its own specially-sized holder, press a pedal, and then the ink is squeegeed on. The bags are put onto a conveyor belt that carries them through a dryer after which they are hand packed into boxes. Considering this is a supplier who recently turned 5,000 backpacks around for us in less than 24 hours, that seems like a lot of manual labor.

After bags, we toured the drinkware area, pens, and then my favorite – laser engraving. I have items laser engraved quite regularly, but I never thought about how it actually happens. Well, just like it sounds, a laser beam physically carves a logo into an item. It was really fast and quite cool to watch: like mini lightsabers etching metal.

We made a few more stops to see how multicolored imprints are created. This can be very labor intensive in the case of printed transfer graphics (like a souped-up version of iron-on decals for a t-shirt). A little less so if something is pad printed. And fairly simple if a particular product is able to go through a printer that can mark it with a special UV ink.

Our last stop was to the sample room where we loaded up on the items that our customers will love in our supplier’s freshest colors.

Our field trip was a blast and we definitely learned a lot about the items that they sell. My only disappointment? That there was not a conveyor belt filled with chocolate like in the YouTube clip from I Love Lucy below!

Promos: Practicing What We Preach

Self Promos
As Account Director here at Gossett Marketing, it is my job to tell people (my blog readers included) about why they should purchase and give away promotional products imprinted with their own logos. If you read this blog or attend meetings or networking events with me, you might say that I beat you over the head with info on promos, but I really do believe that they work. Well, I thought that today I would take the opportunity to let you know that I/we here at Gossett practice what we preach. Our offices are loaded with our own promotional items and we give them out wherever we go, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to receive any of our promo gifts I thought I’d fill you in on what we like to give out. Here is our most recent lineup of promotional products:

  • Hand Sanitizers – We have two hand sanitizer sprays in our present arsenal. I recommend giving away the FDA-approved variety that has 62% alcohol, that way anyone, even healthcare professionals, can use it. It’s a great promo gift because people carry it around and see our logo whenever they use it.
  • Sunglasses – Ours are goofy because they have imprints on the lenses, but any logoed sunglasses are great items to give away. People can always use a spare pair in their car, and whether they have a logo on the lens or something more subtle on the arm, the recipient will appreciate you when they need them.
  • Pens – Writing instruments are always excellent promos. Even in this digital age, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t pick up a pen or pencil every single day (or hundreds of times per day if they are like me). People also pass them along, so who knows how many pairs of eyes could see your logo before it runs out of ink?
  •  Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – Cleaning cloths are great for glasses, but they also work for all of the handheld electronics that we carry around. I most frequently use mine on the touchscreen display in my car, which gets filthy very quickly. No matter how they are used, though, it’s great that they can be printed all across one side in high quality digital images – you’d be hard pressed to find a detail too small to print cleanly on microfiber.
  •  Flashlights – We are located in Miami, and hurricane season is just around the corner, so we give flashlights to help our customers prepare for that eventuality. I particularly like the ones that we have currently because they are magnetized, so you can stick them on something metal and they stay put. Handy!
  •  Lip Balm – Much like hand sanitizer, lip balm makes a great giveaway in that people carry it around and use it. Thus, they see your logo time after time.
  •  Mini Desk Kits – I don’t know about you, but I can never find a paperclip when I need one, which is why I think our mini desk kits are nice things to give customers. They are short rulers filled with clips and sticky notes. I like that our customers can keep them on their desk all of the time and easily spot our contact info.
  •  Notebooks – I could ramble on and on about our promos, but I’ll stop with this one. It’s actually my favorite thing right now. We have refillable orange notebooks that are imprinted in such a way that our logo appears to be glowing. The picture above does not do it justice, but trust me when I tell you that it looks like a neon sign in person. Very cool, and everyone who has received one has inquired about ordering their own.

So yes, we certainly do follow our own advice. Promotional products are an excellent marketing tool and you should use them just like we do!

Don’t Give Away All of your Promotional Products

photo from customflagmaker.com

photo from customflagmaker.com

When you think of promotional marketing products, you probably think about the items that you’ve received at trade shows or other such events. Logoed stress relievers, tote bags, journal books, pens, calendars, t-shirts and the like, all given to you by companies who want you to use or wear those items in public, and thus give their name exposure in the community. As a promotional products distributor, those are the types of items that we sell most here at Gossett Marketing – things that our customers give away – but sometimes promotional products are strictly for internal use, and that’s great too!

I started thinking about this blog topic because we do a lot of work with some of the large hospital chains down here in South Florida and one group asked me to price a very specific item for them. It’s a sign that is placed across the door of a hospital room when it has been cleaned and is ready for a new patient – it says “This room has been sanitized,” and displays the hospital’s logo on either side of that message. While people in a hospital who see these signs surely know that they are in such an institution, I think that they are great pieces of marketing material because they remind patients and visitors that the hospital is doing everything in its power to keep them safe and germ-free. The banners are reassuring and they reiterate the institution’s name – good marketing!

Actually, any type of banner that is used internally can be a great marketing tool. Say you had a successful third quarter – make a big sign that you can hang in the lobby. It will be a great pat on the back for your employees, and it will show potential customers who visit your office how hard-working your team is.

Giving away promotional products is an excellent way to enhance your marketing reach, but distributing them to customers and employees is not the only way to use promo items. Have them visible within your office and they can serve the same purpose – great marketing for your organization.

3 More Low-Tech, Effective Promos

photo from innovativelyorganized.com

photo from innovativelyorganized.com

I recently wrote a post extolling the virtues of pens as promotional products. My reasoning was essentially that, although it feels like we use tech devices for the majority of our written communication, most of us still do use them regularly. Plus, they’re a cheap way to get your logo in front of a lot of people! Well, in my humble opinion, pens are not the only low-tech promotional items that I think are valuable marketing tools. In fact, here are 3 such items:

  1. Calendars. Yes, we all have calendars on our smart phones and on our computers, but I’m talking about a physical one that hangs on your customer’s wall or sits on his desk. A wall calendar – which can have images of anything from serene sunsets to monkeys in makeup – is easily tailored to your brand. And because its pictures will give an essence of your company’s personality while displaying your logo for 12 months, it is a great way to make you memorable.
  2. Sticky Notes. I don’t know about you, but I need sticky notes in order to function. They are the easiest way to jot down little reminders for myself and others and to keep those reminders where I need them. They are also really inexpensive, and because each page is imprinted with a logo, they provide you with a lot of opportunities to make an impression.
  3. Bookmarks. In the era of e-readers, bookmarks might seem like they are truly from the Stone Age. But I have to tell you, when I mention my Kindle to people, half of them always seem to wrinkle their noses and praise “the feel of a book in [their] hands.” That leads me to believe that there is still a need for bookmarks, which can be as elaborate as a custom-shaped metal piece or as simple as paper rectangle. Put your logo on them, give them to the “real” book readers, and they are going to see your name time and again.

I love cutting-edge promotional products, but sometime it’s good to stay old-school. The three aforementioned items might seem unnecessary in this high tech era, but you’ll be surprised how effective they are.

Whenever I talk about sticky notes I am reminded of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, in which the titular characters claim that they invented Post-Its. Check out this YouTube clip!

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