Friday, May 29, 2015

Seven Deadly Sins of Promotional Products

The effectiveness of your promotional product hinges on much more than the product itself. The strategy you choose will go a long way toward promoting your company and getting a return on investment. From the moment you decide to use promotional products, you have the opportunity to boost your chance for success. Avoid committing these "promotional product sins," and you just might get there.

1. Distribution breakdown

Failing to make a distribution plan for the promotional product can bring the campaign to its knees. For instance, you may be using high-end golf shirts to reward your most loyal clients, but if you don’t take the time to define the list, a costly item ends up in the hands of the wrong people, and your ROI is diminished.

2. No Clear Goal

Before you select a giveaway, your team should have a clear goal regarding what the product should do-- increase awareness, get leads, etc. Make sure the items you are considering serve the goal. The selection process can be fun for the team members and, by all means, enjoy! However, make sure you keep your goals in sight or the campaign will fall flat on its face.

3. Misjudge Time

While Plum Grove + Tradeshows And Displays can turn around portable displays very quickly, lead times on promotional items are an entirely different animal. Factors to consider include whether they are imported, the type of imprint, whether the item is in stock in the quantity you want, and whether any additional customization is needed. Start planning on the promotions well in advance of when they are needed.

4. Same Old, Same Old

Five years ago, you had the most talked-about giveaway at the big trade show. But guess what-- it's not that interesting anymore. Take a step back and consider some new ideas to bring the sparkle back to your campaign. Ask your promotions rep about new, hot items. Describe your goals and involve your rep in the selection process.

5. Cheap Cheap Cheap!

Sometimes budgets are tight, but sacrificing quality for price makes you look bad. What if you could spend 10 percent more on a promotional product and get a 40-percent higher return on leads? Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to spend more upfront? Don’t let price be the deciding factor at the outset.

6. Meh

You could have the coolest giveaway at the show, but if your target audience doesn't find it appealing, it wasn't the best use of your marketing dollar. If your top prospects and clients are tech oriented, consider a portable charger or some other useful item.

7. "Who Are You?"

With both giveaways and real estate, things often boil down to three factors: location, location, location! Think strategically when it comes to placing your logo and contact information on your item. You never want them to leave the show and think, "What a cool giveaway! I wonder what company this was..."

What are YOUR thoughts on all this? We'd like to hear your comments!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Take the Time to Get Positive Customer Reviews

If you're like most business owners, you love seeing positive reviews come through your virtual door, but you don't really go out looking for them. After all, how many customers actually respond to solicitations for reviews? Is it really worth the effort?

Actually, yes.

Consumers are depending more than ever on reviews from people they know and from sources they trust. They don't put much faith in the write-ups companies develop themselves. They assume the organization will present itself in the best possible light. Customer reviews, however, are seen as more credible.

Consider these three ways you can use customer reviews to support your business.

Improve customer trust on your website

Place customer reviews and case studies on your product/service pages, at the bottom of your home page, and anywhere else prospects might look on your web site. Positive feedback from real customers will encourage visitors to take it seriously and let them know that you already have numerous satisfied customers.

Harness the bandwagon effect

The bandwagon effect describes the natural human desire to try things we see others using. It explains why we instantly want the newest and latest gadget we see our friends or co-workers using. Customer reviews are a fantastic way to tap into this phenomenon.

Use customer reviews to let other people know just how much past customers have enjoyed using your products and services. Invite new prospects to 'join the club' of satisfied customers.

Enhance your marketing campaigns

Since customers aren't all that inclined to believe whatever you claim about your company, don't use your own words. Instead, use the words of your customers. Add quotes from positive reviews to your direct mail, literature, social media posts, and radio ads. Think about the quotes movie producers use to promote their films. Take a similar approach with your advertising campaigns.

Customer reviews might be one of the most valuable tools you have in your arsenal. People want to do business with reputable companies they feel they can trust, and customer reviews help to build that confidence. Take the time and energy to cultivate positive reviews. You'll be happy you did.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Local Marketing: The Biggest Weapon in A Mobile and Social World

Engaging with customers has always been the name of the game in marketing. Thanks to the Internet, target audiences are increasingly spread out. When you think about some of the biggest digital channels businesses are using today, mobile devices like smartphones and social networks like Facebook unquestionably come to mind.

When you break down those two categories into their core elements, however, what you're left with is the same type of local marketing businesses have been using for decades. This is why traditional print marketing and -- more specifically -- local marketing remain hugely valuable tools to businesses in the 21st century.

What Is Local Marketing?

Studies show that most people do most of their shopping within a ten mile radius of their home. This is still true, even at a time when people can have something delivered with the click of a mouse. People are still willing to venture out of the home to pick up that hot new item or to participate in a service they truly believe in. They just need to know where to look.

According to a recent report released by the CMO Council, 49% of all respondents to a survey agreed that localized marketing was crucial to the overall growth and longevity of their business. More than that, one in four marketers were spending at least 50% of their total marketing budgets on localized programs, certain location-centric promotions, and more.

At its core, local marketing allows you to use these types of stats to your advantage by not just targeting as many customers as you can with your campaigns, but by targeting the right customers -- namely the ones who live in the area where your business is actually located.

The Benefits of Local Print Marketing

To illustrate just how effective local marketing can be, think of one of the oldest such strategies in the book: the business card. As you meet new people or network with fellow industry professionals, you're likely to hand out a business card to whomever you meet. Even if that particular person doesn't have any use for the product or service you provide, they may know someone who does. Thanks to your business card, they now have something tangible they can give that person to point them in the right direction.

The whole idea is brilliant in its simplicity. You're establishing your organization as a local leader in a way that creates increased traffic right to your doorstep. On the one hand, it really is no different than sending out mobile "push" notifications to a smartphone or making people in your area "friends" on your Facebook page. The advantage it does have over those digital channels, however, is that it's something tangible. By tailoring your printed materials to a local market, you're instantly increasing their relevance in the lives of those people. The result is improved marketing effectiveness, which will ultimately build brand awareness and position your business as the type of authority you know you are.

Targeted local marketing remains one of the best ways to bring your organization to the attention of a new set of customers who may not even realize you exist. In an age where you're competing with digital businesses that may offer the same services, it's no longer about trying to attract the biggest possible audience. It's about attracting the right audience. That's the power local marketing gives you if you know how to use it.