Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Power of the Sun in Your Hand

This is part of an article from the September 2007 issue of Promotional Marketing magazine.

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much that is revolutionary about a solar cell phone charger, but oh how looks can be deceiving. Made by Better Energy Systems of Berkeley, CA, the Solio, a universal, portable hybrid charger, is truly a step (or two) above. With its unique three-blade design and recycled plastic shell, the Solio eliminates the need for "old-fashioned" wall charges by collecting and storing solar energy. Then, once the item is imprinted with a company's logo, end-users simply can pug in a wide array of portable devices such as cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras and PDAs. For those in gloomier climates such as Seattle, have no fear--Solio also comes with a wall charger in case the sun doesn't shine for some time.

While it provides a cutting-edge electronic device (and turns other electronic items carbon-negative), the true benefit of the Solio may be the effect it has on its users. The company doesn't want simply to provide portable electricity: It wants to change the way people think about the environment. "It's putting renewable energy in peoples' hands in a very personal, renewable way," says Mike Levin, business development manager at Better Energy System. "It's one thing to put solar panels on your roof. It's another thing to put them in you hand where you use them every single day." Furthermore, by making solar technology part of the everyday experience, Solio is seeing its users make environmental steps in other areas. "Our research has found that our users are making other environmentally conscious decisions." added Levin. "We want to break down the barriers of environmental responsibility so people don't have to make these huge leaps in terms of behavior."

In the end though, the makers of Solio know it isn't enough to provide a product both perfect for imprinting and environmentally flashy with its green-ness; they need to provide a device that performs well and stands the test of time. Which they seem to have accomplished.

Does a Business Card Have to be a Business Card?

I was reading an article called "How'd they do that?" (similar concept to the TV show "Made in America"), on the making of chocolate business cards and it got me thinking, Does a business card have to be a business card?

Chocolate business cards receive a bigger "WOW" from the recipient than a traditional card stock card, but probably not the most practical method of giving your contact information. I am guessing many chocolate cards are consumed prior to being entered into a CRM program or database. But still, what a unique way to stand out from the crowd.

I started looking at other "non-traditional business cards". Some of the ideas were not all that unique. We've all seen business card magnets, tip calculators, letter openers and calendars. But then there were some interesting products that got the gears turning.
  • Lenticular cards - great for contrasting old, boring, plain with new, exciting, vibrant.
  • Emery board cards - If you are a salon, spa or just cater toward women, this is a great way to stay in front of your target audience. (At least whenever she chips a nail.)
  • Plantable Cards - These are business cards that are made from recycled paper with seeds embedded in them. When you plant and water them, they grow into a flower. What a great way to show you are committed to the environment.
  • Mints in Business Card size case - These would be especially appreciated at networking events.
  • Pre-Paid Cards - This is by far my favorite! Pre-Paid cards can be used for music or ring tone downloads, movie tickets, phone time or photo prints. The great thing about these cards is that for the recipient to receive their gift they have to go to a website branded with your company and information. You can have them fill out a brief survey, or view a product prior to completing the transaction. Wouldn't it be great if after a trade show, your booth visitors not only had your product reinforced in their mind, but did the work of entering their information into your database? To learn more about pre-paid cards, click here.
These were just a few of the products I found. There were so many more, I cant list them all. I'd love to hear what the most unique business card you've received or used was.