Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Four Reasons Great Promotional Products Work

Branded products are everywhere: featured in movies, professional sports, and even on your favorite jacket or thumb drive.


These products bring pleasure and familiarity while sending a message of brand support to friends and casual observers. And these ideas carry substantial weight.


Another Washington First


The first known example of distributing promotional products was in 1789.


Commemorative buttons, created to celebrate George Washington's inauguration, featured a crisp, stamped profile of Washington and the Latin phrase "Pater Patriæ," meaning "Father of his Country."


Sported by patriotic Americans, the buttons celebrated American democracy and support for the first president. The passion behind this message continues to live on: in February of 2018, one of the inaugural buttons was auctioned for $225,000!


The Gift That Keeps On Giving


Washington's buttons fueled momentum, and your customers are wired to respond to promotional products too.


Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years! If those stats don't speak for themselves, here are four reasons that branded merchandise will work for businesses of any size:


1. Free Stuff Grabs Attention.


Like candy at a parade, free stuff draws people.


Promotional gifts catch their eye and make them wonder what the hype is about. When you give gifts, people are attracted to you. Whether its curiosity, playful interest, or eye-catching designs, giveaways generate interest and ignite conversation.


2. Product Giveaways Pave Pathways for Loyalty.


Once you have their attention, you open the door for further interaction.


This happens, in part, as new customers warm in their perception of your brand. According to Tourism Consumer Insights, 52% of those who receive your product are more likely to think highly of both you and your business. As affinity increases, so does their interest in your business, because it's human nature to want to give back to someone who has given to us.


In a Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) study, 85% of consumers who received a promo product said they ultimately did business with the advertiser.


3. Brand Recognition Peaks Through Repeat Exposure.


What is the ultimate goal of branded products? To engage and influence buyers.


Tangible, useful products offer your business endless opportunities to distinguish itself and to do it repeatedly! According to PPAI, 73 percent of those who receive a promo product said they used it at least once a week.


Offering free items to consumers is an incredible marketing tactic that will keep your company on their minds anytime your product is in use.


4. Giveaways Extend the Life of your Message.


How long does it take you to forget a text message or delete an e-mail? Seconds.


But tangible products (especially stylish or fun items) are much harder to toss aside. As you weigh your best product option, consider the interests and needs of your target customers and create the kind of products they'll actually want. If 75% of your prospects use public transportation, tasteful branded umbrellas might become a constant companion during their morning commute.


People love stuff. It's just a fact. And while only 28 percent of people are able to recall a TV ad, 57 percent are typically able to recall an advertiser on a mug.


While promotional pieces bring upfront expense, the longevity and brand recognition they create is an investment that keeps on giving.

Four Reasons Great Promotional Products Work

Branded products are everywhere: featured in movies, professional sports, and even on your favorite jacket or thumb drive.


These products bring pleasure and familiarity while sending a message of brand support to friends and casual observers. And these ideas carry substantial weight.


Another Washington First


The first known example of distributing promotional products was in 1789.


Commemorative buttons, created to celebrate George Washington's inauguration, featured a crisp, stamped profile of Washington and the Latin phrase "Pater Patriæ," meaning "Father of his Country."


Sported by patriotic Americans, the buttons celebrated American democracy and support for the first president. The passion behind this message continues to live on: in February of 2018, one of the inaugural buttons was auctioned for $225,000!


The Gift That Keeps On Giving


Washington's buttons fueled momentum, and your customers are wired to respond to promotional products too.


Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years! If those stats don't speak for themselves, here are four reasons that branded merchandise will work for businesses of any size:


1. Free Stuff Grabs Attention.


Like candy at a parade, free stuff draws people.


Promotional gifts catch their eye and make them wonder what the hype is about. When you give gifts, people are attracted to you. Whether its curiosity, playful interest, or eye-catching designs, giveaways generate interest and ignite conversation.


2. Product Giveaways Pave Pathways for Loyalty.


Once you have their attention, you open the door for further interaction.


This happens, in part, as new customers warm in their perception of your brand. According to Tourism Consumer Insights, 52% of those who receive your product are more likely to think highly of both you and your business. As affinity increases, so does their interest in your business, because it's human nature to want to give back to someone who has given to us.


In a Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) study, 85% of consumers who received a promo product said they ultimately did business with the advertiser.


3. Brand Recognition Peaks Through Repeat Exposure.


What is the ultimate goal of branded products? To engage and influence buyers.


Tangible, useful products offer your business endless opportunities to distinguish itself and to do it repeatedly! According to PPAI, 73 percent of those who receive a promo product said they used it at least once a week.


Offering free items to consumers is an incredible marketing tactic that will keep your company on their minds anytime your product is in use.


4. Giveaways Extend the Life of your Message.


How long does it take you to forget a text message or delete an e-mail? Seconds.


But tangible products (especially stylish or fun items) are much harder to toss aside. As you weigh your best product option, consider the interests and needs of your target customers and create the kind of products they'll actually want. If 75% of your prospects use public transportation, tasteful branded umbrellas might become a constant companion during their morning commute.


People love stuff. It's just a fact. And while only 28 percent of people are able to recall a TV ad, 57 percent are typically able to recall an advertiser on a mug.


While promotional pieces bring upfront expense, the longevity and brand recognition they create is an investment that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Leaving a Legacy with Your Small Business

In the 1950s, a young boy named John was enthralled by every chance to visit his best friend.


This family owned a soda pop bottling plant, which sparked a lifelong love for exotic flavors in John Nese. Years later, Nese brought soda to his family's Italian grocery store in Los Angeles, known today for its 600 soda and beer flavors from around the world.


The variety wasn't always this broad. Nese said the change came 20 years ago when independent grocers were being squeezed out by chains. One soda dealer offered a profit of $30 a pallet if Nese would streamline shelves and eliminate variety. Nese wouldn't bite:


"Nuts to that," he said. "A light bulb went off (and I said), 'You know, John, you should be happy you own your shelf space, and Pepsi doesn't, and you can sell anything you want.' So I went out and found 25 brands of little sodas."


Nese says this "freedom of choice" philosophy defines his family and his business, and customers can even make flavors of their own at the store. Rows of cane sugar syrups line the wall, along with bottles, caps, and carbonated water dispensers. "Whatever you think of, you can make!" Nese exclaimed.


This passion has fueled the Galcos' grocery for over a century, and the Galcos plan to continue this legacy.


Successfully Passing Down Your Business


Small businesses make up around 99 percent of U.S. companies and 20 percent of these are family owned.


These businesses play a crucial role in creating jobs, exporting products, and generating wealth. As Baby Boomers reach retirement, 4 million of them will be handing off their privately-owned small businesses; in the next 15 years, we will see the largest transfer ever of private business to the next generation!


What are the keys to successfully navigating these transitions?


Preparation and communication are essential. Here are a few steps businesses are taking to pave the way for a smooth handoff:


Think decades in advance.


Small business owners often wait too long to start planning a transition, and typically only half of those planning to retire have identified a successor.


Justin Goodbread, a certified financial planner and exit planning advisor says the process is especially weighty for families:


"Families will most likely also have to cope with emotional and psychological issues that surface during a generational transaction. I believe a 10-year period is needed to successfully navigate a family business transaction."


Sketch out clear successors and exit strategies.


A strong mission statement and business plan, a clear exit strategy for senior leaders, and an early commitment from successors are important hallmarks to longevity.


Build the right team.


Many businesses believe they can manage their transition independently, but this assumption is costly.


Healthy handoffs will require input from lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, business valuation experts, and a family business planner to shepherd the process. Though senior leaders may wish to gift the business ownership, experts believe financial buy-ins allow successors to get some "skin in the game," as they emotionally double-down in commitment, maturity, and vision.


Be flexible as you exchange roles and responsibilities over time.


The gap between generations requires effective communication and an organized structure for each person involved.


This should be reviewed regularly to adjust the roles or time commitment of each team member. Goodbread recommends younger successors earn more responsibility on a day-to-day basis:


 "It has to be earned or merited," he says. "The problems start when a junior takes over a senior's position in the company without earning it or wanting the position."

Friday, November 2, 2018

Use Great Body Language to Speak with Success

Ramona Smith, a 31-year-old Houston teacher, has faced many challenges, including coaxing her son through cancer and struggling through a divorce.


But Smith believes life is about more than what knocks you down, it's about the lifelines people offer to help you back up.


One of Smith's lifelines was the mentorship she found in Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership. In her 2018 speech, "Still Standing," Smith posed as a fighter on stage and talked about surviving round after round with life but bouncing back again. Her accomplishments include dropping out of college four times (before graduating at the top of her class) and, most recently, being crowned the Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking in Chicago. 


Smith outlasted 30,000 other competitors over six months of competition before being named the champion in August. Her success comes not only from her will to fight but from one speaking technique that helped her connect:  


"If my hands are open to the audience, and my fists are not closed, and my arms are not too tight toward my body, it just makes the audience feel more connected, like I'm really open," Smith said. "I'm vulnerable, and I want to give you all of me. And it makes me look relaxed and comfortable."


Dananjaya Hettiarchchi, a human-resources specialist who won the Toastmasters competition in 2014, broke down the effectiveness of this technique:


"If you really concentrate, when you look at the inside of your palm, your eye relaxes," Hettiarchchi said. "And a lot of great speakers, they open their palms towards the audience, showing more openness. And that allows the audience to connect with the speaker better, as opposed to showing the back of your hand."


Best Body Language for Effective Presentations


If a simple gesture can have such an impact, what other nonverbal communication can increase our impact? Check out these tips from some of the world's most personable communicators to increase your own credibility.


DO:



  • Open your hands toward the audience to relax and connect.
  • Use facial expressions with purpose. Sometimes when we're nervous our face freezes up. If you don't have an expressive face, work with a mirror to see how your expressions reinforce your message. Give your entire talk silently (while forming each word) and let your face do the communicating!
  • Maintain intentional eye contact. Leaders who speak over people's heads or get buried in their notes seem impersonal or insincere. When you speak, move from face to face, making eye contact with one person at a time to ensure your audience is engaged. When answering a question, use extended eye contact to convey sincerity.

DON'T:



  • Hide, clasp, or fidget with your hands. This implies you don't believe what you're saying, or shows meekness that fails to command attention. Instead, keep your arms forward in an open manner. Use your hands to explain your point through confident, concise movements.
  • Plan your gestures in advance. Physical expression in presentations should arise spontaneously. Though body language is important, planned movements will seem awkward or inauthentic. Instead, plan key moments where you might take a different position in the room or how you will use visual aids to keep communication transparent.
  • Roam aimlessly or exhibit poor posture. Body language communicates a lot about your character, so pacing can make you seem jumpy or slumped shoulders may convey discouragement and apathy. Instead, move with purpose in your presentations. Aim for a neutral position, sitting or standing tall like a string is connecting your head to the ceiling.

Remember, the most important visual you can show your audience is yourself! Sharpen non-verbal communication skills and reap the benefits of credibility and respect!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Start Mouth-Watering Conversations Through Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Karen Weber-Mendham was a part-time librarian and mother of three when she turned her family's propensity for garlic cheesy bread into a cool million.


This northern Wisconsin family often ordered cheesy bread while waiting on pizza. Weber-Mendham said the kids' appetizer passion was so strong "they would arm-wrestle each other for a piece!"  


Cheesy fever inspired the family to enter the 2013 Lay's potato chip competition, "Do Us a Flavor," challenging customers to create a new chip flavor to hit store shelves that year. Lays was swamped with 3.8 million submissions as the contest winner was given the better of two options: $1 million or 1% of the flavor's net sales over a year. Beyond fame and fortune, Weber-Mendham was given the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and was flown to Los Angeles for the big reveal with Lay's endorsement celebrity Eva Longoria.


"Eva was so genuine and happy for me when I won," Weber-Mendham said. And yes, "She's as beautiful in person as she looks on TV."


Catalysts for a Great Conversation


What was Lays up to in this fun-loving campaign?


Were they desperate for creative ideas? Hungry for the inspiration only average citizens could bring? Or did they strike gold by tapping into a conversation with everyday Americans?


Word-of-mouth promotion has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing, tagged "the original social media." According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, and trusted referrals are most likely to drive sales for your company. But in an American Marketing Association survey, 64% of marketing executives say that, though they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, only 6% have mastered it.


As you seek to generate good gossip about your company, here are three action points to keep in mind:


Engage


Make a commitment to listen.


What would that truly look like in your context? Allow your customers' space to be heard and to contribute to the company as a whole. Engage with clients through e-mail surveys, online question and answer boards, social media service options, or by highlighting customer success in your printed newsletters. When customers are heard, they feel connected and valued.


Encourage  


Allow people reasons or avenues to talk to each other or to talk about you.


Like a common chalkboard with a fun question in your favorite coffee shop, invite clients into the conversation and give them tools to chat. Encourage people to talk about your services and products with you and with others by creating helpful, shareable content, including icons to your favorite apps that will make it easy for your fans to spread your name around!


Equip


Give your fan base tools to become brand advocates.


Let them know their opinions are important and look for fun ways to spread the word. To create buzz around the Ford Fiesta, Ford gave away a number of cars and asked ambassador "influencers" to test drive and share their experiences.


During "Do Us a Flavor," Lays received over 1.4 million Facebook and Twitter votes, one of its biggest marketing campaigns ever. While you may not give away a car, give away tools to get your fans advocating: ask clients to pass coupons to five of their friends, to give you an online review, or be part of a fun selfie or Snapchat contest to boost your reputation.


Get the conversation started and pave the way for new growth!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Power of Store Ambiance and Sensory Cues

Unmistakable Ambiance


As viewers enter the Richard Mille watch boutique in Paris, their senses are inundated with beauty. Large glass panels are etched with details of the emblematic RM tourbillon, giving viewers the sensation that they might be entering the heart of the watch itself. Extreme elegance buoys buyers through the store, with black leather chairs, Macassar ebony, and brushed steel accents. The impact is palpable.


As a primary showcase of the watches, these interior design elements are vital. The Paris boutique offers a theatrical look with a touch of femininity. "I wanted to go against the traditional macho design, with its dark materials, cold metals, and dark atmosphere," said Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, the watchmaker's creative director. "I thought we needed to open the shops, give light and add lighter colors."


Treton-Monceyron says she's stirred by functional spaces like hotels, airports, and factories, rather than drawing inspiration from typical retail designs. The space itself is her muse: "I was a choreographer and dancer before," she said, "so I look at a shop from a stage design vantage point and move inside the space — using my own body to sense the space left and right and position everything from the watch displays to sofas to walls."


Increased Personalization Through Sensory Impact


As today's merchants seek to grow online sales, businesses are also showcasing more personalized experiences in their stores.


The ambiance is imperative: 1 in 5 consumers said they choose to shop in person because of an enjoyable atmosphere. From convenience stores to car showrooms, merchants hope to connect their product with its people through environmental elements that generate sales. Sensory impact plays a principal role:


"Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play," said Ryan Elder, associate professor of marketing at Bringham Young University. "Our research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why." Data found that people caught in sensory experiences (like taste or touch) were more likely to buy at an earlier time, and suggested consumer behavior can be influenced by both actual and imagined sensory experiences like sounds and smells. Even online reviews that articulated these features were ranked higher in terms of how useful they were to others.


Drive Sales for Ambivalent Customers


With 37% of U.S. consumers saying that being in the "right mood" spurs impulse purchases, here are some elements that can drive sales for ambivalent customers:


Music and Scent: What are the first things people hear or smell when they enter your establishment? Does the "first impression" profile you display match the brand message you want to project? Like songs or smells adjusted to the holidays or festive events, details create emotional connections with clients, giving brick-and-mortar shops an advantage e-tailers simply can't match.


Décor: From colorful artwork to oversized custom posters, match your décor with your target patrons. Build an ambiance that will encourage customers to linger. And don't underestimate an uncluttered, tidy environment: a 1997 study showed customer satisfaction was greater in "pleasant" (versus disorganized) furniture stores. Customers in pleasant stores spontaneously spent more money on articles they simply "liked."


Spacial Layouts: What does your store blueprint or interior signage communicate? Are you looking for a consistent, orderly flow or a casual, flexible feel? For Richard Mille, directional (yet conversational) spaces were key. Trenton-Monceyron says she designs open spaces to admire and dialogue because the brand believes watch shops are about more than just sales:


"They are like the salon of conversation of Marguerite de Navarre during the 16th century; a place where you can come just for visit, discuss and exchange a point of view."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Keys for Change: Small Businesses Making a Big Impact (Part 1)

The winter of 2013 was a hard one for Georgette Carter.


As a single mom raising two young boys while she cared for a father with dementia, money was very tight. Then, she totaled her car and found her resources – and her hope – were nearly gone. That is, until a 1996 blue Ford Contour arrived from the Connor Brother Collisions "Recycled Rides" program.


Conner Brothers of Richmond, VA, overhauls donated cars and awards them to people who have been nominated by community members. Carter said her heart was rehabilitated almost more than the car she received:


"It turned my life around. I can get to my job on time, and I don't have to maneuver to get my child out of daycare. I'll never take that for granted again."


Getting Others Involved


Small businesses like Conner Brothers are creating innovative giving models that not only impact people but strengthen the business and the character of the companies themselves.


Kevin Conner said his company donated its first car and was looking to extend the "Recycled Rides" program to three other locations, but they had some pushback in the process. Some objected to giving away freebies when they were working so hard to earn a living themselves. But Conner says this mentality changed when employees got physically involved because compassion comes from being part of an experience instead of merely giving a donation:


"I got them involved in actually giving the cars away, handing over the keys," Conner says. "Now the guys at the shop call me and ask, 'When is our next car?' It would be easy to give money or a service here or there, but it's the teamwork behind the program that creates an amazing atmosphere for a successful company."


The car giveaways have become such a cornerstone for Conner Brothers that the program helps define the type of employees the company wants.


"Giving back is a huge part of our company," Conner says. "I challenge the guys every day to give back in some way, to give customers more than they expect. People remember that."  


Giving That "Changes" Lives


Another giving strategy comes from literal pocket change, as givers round up or down for charity.


For example, the ridesharing company Lyft recently launched an initiative allowing customers to round up their fare to the nearest dollar for military appreciation and human rights campaigns. More than 40,000 passengers donated over $100,000 in the first two months!


Grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and retailers have also invited customers to donate change to worthy causes. As technology and digital platforms make such giving easier, small businesses have challenged staff members to round down their net pay to the nearest dollar (or tenth dollar) and give the difference to charity. While painless or even unnoticed, these small donations add up to a collective impact with heartfelt results.


Whether your employees give financially, volunteer together, or embrace a community partnership project, innovative giving helps your business to:



  • Stand out from competitors or set itself apart in the community
  • Make matching donations alongside employee giving to multiply impact
  • Use positive feedback from supported causes to provide content for print and digital marketing
  • Increase team unity as employees give toward a common cause

While generosity begins in the heart, often innovative giving strategies begin with small business. Join us for part two of this series to gain more inspiration for a culture of charity that will strengthen your business.