Thursday, November 6, 2008



If so, then doesn't it make sense to advertise, maybe even more than normal, because your competition may go out of business or cut back their advertising. Advertising now will allow you to gain exposure in the market place, reach potential new customers and stay in front of your current customers making sure they know you appreciate their business.

Or, the reverse could be - your competition increases their adverting while you cut back, allowing them to gain exposure with your customers and gain a stronger foothold in the market.


If so, take advantage of the opportunity to reach out and let the market know you are healthy and anxious to do business.


If so, start now to strengthen you position and be poised to have a bigger market share when the economy picks up.


Yes or No?



When a person wakes up in the morning after sleeping under an advertised blanket, on an advertised mattress and pulls off advertised pajamas, takes a bath in an advertised bath tub, shaves with an advertised razor and lotion, puts on advertised clothes, sits down to a breakfast of advertised coffee, rides to work in an advertised car, writes with an advertised pen - then he refuses to advertise, saying advertising doesn't pay.

And then, when the business doesn't make it he advertises it for sale.

Seems ironic, doesn't it?

Now is the time to keep the advertising going. Or even increase it. Do you plan to be in business when the slow down is over?


A Month’s Worth Of Creative Dates For Innovative Marketing

January 2009
By Mae Fairfield

National Thank-You Month - “Thanks, thanks a lot”
This month is a great time for you to shower your employees, vendors and clients with two simple words, “thank you.” You can do so with a mid-January thank-you party. Let everyone know their work and business is appreciated with a thank-you gift that could vary from a mug filled with treats to crystal wine glasses and a custom-etched bottle of wine.

January 1: New Years Day - At the strike of midnight…
Happy New Year! No matter where your clients are in this global marketplace, you can help them usher in 2009 with promotional party poppers, New Year’s resolution journals, and light up accessories.

January 2-5: Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week - “ha, ha, ha…sigh”
So, a 13-year old boy chucks a baseball through a window at his house. Then, $250 later, his father reasons that “someday we’ll laugh about this.” Well why not just laugh about it now? Give employees logoed stress relievers and journals for jotting down life’s ups and downs in an effort to ease their everyday stresses.

January 4: Trivia Day - “The million dollar question is…”
How many witches were executed during the Salem Witch Trials? Today is the day for tough questions. Celebrate trivia day with promotional puzzles and games that really test the mind.

January 16: Hat Day - “What’s that on your head?”
Observe this day by letting your employees wear funky hats to work. Have a contest at the end of the day when everyone votes for the best hat. Prizes can include company headwear.

January 20: Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day - “How many pushups am I supposed to do?”
Say goodbye to all of those diets that don’t work. Rather, encourage your employees to lose weight the healthy way – through diet and exercise. Start a work program and give all participants personal pedometers, food journals and eating healthy guide books.

January 28: Fun at Work Day - “That’s the working spirit”
Commemorate this day by creating a fun activity for the office to do. How about a trip to the zoo? Perhaps an afternoon matinee is in the works. Team T-shirts or photo albums to house those pictures they took are perfect items to give out.

Ask The Experts – Party Favors

Promotional specialists solve your toughest problems.
By Matthew George

There’s nothing bad about these goodie bags. this month, our experts provide answers to four readers who all are looking for the perfect parting gifts.

Q. We’re a Fortune 500 firm that’s having a huge holiday soiree for our best clients in December. It will be held in a nightclub and have a disco theme. What kind of parting gifts can we give to clients that will help them remember us in 2009?

A. A parting gift is a perfect way to ring in the New Year. But one that helps a client remember a certain company must have some sort of significance. The most important factor is the message you’re trying to express. “You want to leave your client with a gift that has meaning behind it,” says Diana Martin, founder and president of Prezents Inc., a promotional products distributor. “A gift that can be used over and over again, such as a vase or a salt and pepper shaker, is ideal. Use a message such as, ‘Shakin’ things up in 2009,’ to help generate that lasting impression.”

Or, try a gift that is colorful to grab the client’s attention year-round. “Gifts that illuminate are very hot these days,” she says. “Something like a candle, which is small but meaningful, is enough to keep a client’s interest in your company at an all-time high.”

Kathy Gregorio, a promotional products distributor for Imperial Marketing Inc., says your gifts should have some sort of value to the client, so it’s not put in a box and forgotten about.

“You want something that can be used daily or even used when a similar event comes along,” Gregorio says. “A disco ball keychain and a lava lamp that plugs into a USB port are two gifts that are not only nice enough to keep around, but they are also constant reminders every time the client views them.”

Another idea: Give the clients a CD with disco music on it. “It’s a great way to address the theme of the party as well as give the clients a resource to be revisited,” she says.

As an additional bonus: You could even go as far as decorating the gift bag. Michelle Altobelli, CEO of Altobelli Advantage and a promotional products consultant, says although the necessities inside the bag should be of importance, the gift bag itself can be used to show your company put a lot of time in planning this event.

“The gift bag should also be of high quality, not just the gifts inside,” Altobelli says. “The gift bag could have your logo on the outside with an array of tissue colors coming out of the top.” Of course, you’ll want the goodies inside to have your logo on them too, so your client knows exactly where they got them from.

Q. I work for a charitable organization and am planning our annual holiday tea for our volunteers. Most of the 100 attendees are executive women. I’m looking for an upscale gift for each. My budget is $25 per person. What can I give them?

A. A volunteer is someone that works for a community primarily because they chose to do so. These good-hearted individuals should be appreciated. And it’s good you are going out of the way to do just that. The most important component is to thank each one for the amount of service they put in.

“In this situation a thank-you gift makes the most sense,” Gregorio says. “I would highly recommend a tea traveler mug filled with teas carrying a thank-you message on the outer package.”

Gregorio also recommends giving the volunteers something to satisfy their appetites during the event.

“The attendees could have an edible treat, such as tea cakes, which would serve as a gift and also symbolic to the tea event itself,” she says.

Other food products might include rich chocolate truffles, chocolate wafer cookies or even petit fruit candies as delectable treats.

Karen Sherrill, director of marketing for a promotional products supplier, believes each person has a budget flexible enough to work with multiple gifts. “The budget allows you to make a huge impact on the volunteers,” Sherrill says. “From imprinted gifts such as mugs or pens to something more elegant like a wine carrier gift set, the budget leaves enough room for you to please each person.”

Sherrill also suggests gifts that can be used for the volunteer’s family members to let them know the organization runs solely on the kindness put in by someone from their home.

“Gifts like an FM radio, a highly functional clock, or retractable ear buds are ones that can be brought home, so even the ones who weren’t there know the volunteers are appreciated,” Sherrill adds.

Q. I’m planning a festive beer bash at a local bar for a group of 20-something customers. Can you suggest some fun, or even interactive, giveaways that will help get the party started?

A. To some, the hardest thing to do is get comfortable in a room full of strangers. It’s difficult at times to begin introducing yourself without having a cup of liquid confidence first. But a simple game can help break the ice. “The easiest way is to start with social interaction,” Martin suggests. “The host could create groups of five customers who have to generate answers to some beer questions with the winners getting prizes.”

Martin suggests prizes such as a high-tech bottle opener, a grooming set or even a Swiss Army knife.
Altobelli also agrees a game is the best way to start this particular event. “Assign certain people a lighted blinking button and make a match-making game out of it by finding the person with your color,” she says. “The winner could get some lighted shot glasses, a hat that lights up or even some shirts that light up with your company’s logo on it.”

Adding to the game idea: Get the customers involved with every college dorm room’s rapidly growing game, “Beer Pong” (must be 21 or older to play).

“It’s a game that is extraordinarily popular right now,” Gregorio says. “The balls could also have the company logo on it as a way to advertise your company.”

Beer nuts, towels and light up ice cubes are also some great prizes Gregorio believes will contribute to the theme.

Q. I’m planning a black-tie, end-of-year awards event for our best employees. What type of item can we put in a gift bag to let the employees know how much we value them?

A. Finding a gift to let your best employees know they’re appreciated is easier said than done. After all, a gift sometimes leads to employees knowing exactly how valued they are. Since these are your best employees, you want to make them feel extremely important. “In this particular situation, less is more,” Martin says. “Employees tend to measure what their employer thinks of them, so something luxurious should factor in.”

Martin suggests something that lets the employee know they’re exceptional such as a leather briefcase, a set of napkin rings for four or even a coupon for Omaha Steaks. It doesn’t have to cost much. But it should leave the employee with the feeling of acceptance.

Altobelli explains that the gifts should show a tremendous amount of quality and should be elegant enough to show the importance of your employee to your company.

“Something such as the annual Swarovski ornament, a set of crystal glasses alone or packaged with a bottle of wine, or a set of champagne flutes with a bottle of champagne are classy gifts,” she says.

She also suggests offering candy as fillers that could be placed in the glasses or its own separate candy dish. “A crystal candy dish filled with expensive truffles is always a gift that shows significance and value,” she says.

Fillers could also include fancy jumbo cashews, jumbo California pistachios, crunchy English butter toffee, pecan turtles and even chocolate covered raisins to add to the implication of elegance.

You may even want to personalize the gift. By personalizing a gift you are showing how worthy your employee is to the company. “An etched bottle of wine with the corporate logo on it and personalized with each employee’s name is showing you care,” Gregorio says. “Packaged in a single wine carrier with a cork screw or a bottle opener and your employee will know why they chose a career with you rather than any other company.”

Matthew George is an editorial intern for Successful Promotions.

Turn The Page

By Katherine Schneider

With millions of how-to marketing guides, it can be difficult to choose one that is worth your time. We’ve elicited a team of experts to do the legwork for you; see what they recommend for your next good read.

It seems as if every day a new marketing book pops up on But not all are worth your time. In order to save you some legwork, we’ve assembled our own book club of sorts. We asked five marketing pros to each review one of the latest reads and give us their unadulterated opinions. Read on as they share their thoughts.

The Book: All You Need is a Good Idea: How to Create Marketing Messages That Actually Get Results by Jay H. Heyman

The Reviewer: Tom Carroll, vice present of marketing and sales at Selco Custom Time, Inc. Carroll has 25 years of marketing experience.

The Verdict: Thumbs up. According to Carroll, this book shows business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers crafty ways to create strong marketing and advertising ideas that increase sales without having to invent new products, increase sales forces or find new distribution channels.

Each chapter features a real-life case study where the principles Heyman highlights have been implemented. In chapter six, “Where Do You Find a Good Idea?” the author explains how not being a golfer was a challenge in creating an ad for golf caps. By stepping outside of his sphere, the author soon found a common element among all sports: better players all had enormous awareness and focus. Thus, the ad copy came to read: “What’s the most important thing in golf? How you use your head.” This copy was joined by a close-up of a model wearing the specific cap brand.

In addition, Carroll liked the fact that the author also includes “good idea” exercises designed to get the reader’s synapses firing. Carroll is actually using several new ideas gleaned from these exercises at Selco. For example, he and his staff have taken the author’s advice to look at products with fresh eyes and no preconceived notions. Recently, an inspired Carroll took to reviewing features about the company’s products; as a result, he and his staff found holes in their current promotions. “In talking with distributors of our product, many were amazed to find that we set the time of all the watches being shipped to the time zone of the ship to address,” Carroll says. This information has always been in the company’s catalog, but hidden in the fine print. “We realized what a great selling feature this is and are planning on using it in future marketing efforts and not taking it for granted anymore that our customers know it,” Carroll says.

Carroll’s only complaint with the book? “It required me to stop and think so many times that it was often difficult to keep reading,” he says. His recommendation: Have a notepad handy so that you can jot down thoughts as you read.

The Book: Branding Only Works on Cattle: The New Way to Get Known and Drive Your Competitors Crazy by Jonathan Salem Baskin

The Reviewer: Lauron Sonnier has 20 years marketing experience. For the past 13 years, she has operated Sonnier Marketing & Communications Inc., and writes a daily marketing guide.

The Verdict: “Any reader who follows the advice and teaching of this book will make and save a ton of money,” Sonnier says. Baskin opens the book by debunking multi-million dollar ad campaigns. “Branding is a tax that your company pays for all the smart and creative people who could be delivering lots more value if they weren’t wasting their time trying to hypnotize consumers,” he writes.

While useful, the book is not a quick read, Sonnier warns. “Baskin delivers a meaty, thorough, though sometimes tedious, explanation of the demise and ineptness of traditional branding,” she says, “It might require a couple readings to digest it, but the richness of the material makes it completely worth the effort.”

Calling Baskin “brilliant in some respects” Sonnier says she admires his insight and moxie in calling the bluff on branding. For instance, in chapter one, titled “Your Branding is Useless,” he writes about Burger King’s recent campaign featuring the slightly deranged-looking King. “You know who I’m talking about. The mascot dude in the cape and crown, with that eerie plastic face frozen in a blank half-smile,” he writes. “The company’s top branding guru explained that the company had surrendered the brand to the collective conversation. And it spent many, many millions of dollars to do it. The only problem is that the King never sold a single hamburger.”

The Book: Building Buzz to Beat the Big Boys: Word of Mouth Marketing for Small Business by Steve O’Leary and Kim Sheehan

The Reviewer: Marc Kramer has been in marketing for 27 years and is the president of Kramer Communications. He also teaches at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Verdict: Perfect for newbies. “The book is very good for people at the beginning of their marketing careers or technical professionals who don’t know a lot about marketing,” Kramer says. “It provides examples of different ways to use the Internet to build relationships and drive potential customers to your business by getting people to talk about and recommend a company’s product or service.” In one example, the authors talk about the importance of online communities and blogs, using a vitamin store as an example. O’Leary suggests building a Web site with a focus on health issues, selecting one specific area each day and then posting information from your vendors that may be of interest to the community. Having a source of reliable information will keep customers coming back to your site.

Kramer says the book’s basic language makes it an easy read and that the information is presented in a logical, clear format. “I would take some of the concepts for building awareness and use the ones that best fit my type of business,” he says. “For example, if I ran a craft shop I would run contests where customers would post pictures of their crafts and have other customers vote for which ones they thought were the best.”

Kramer recommends this book to “people in their twenties who are early in their marketing career and non-marketing people who want to learn about ways to leverage the Internet to market products and services.”

The Book: Relevance: Making Stuff That Matters by Tim Manners

The Reviewer: Lori Anderson is marketing manager for River’s End Trading Co., a supplier of promotional apparel.

The Verdict: “I really love the ideas in this book,” Anderson says. For example, at one point the author talks about all of the ways marketers try to gain people’s attention, including bad jingles and irrelevant direct mailing pieces. “We have spent so many years trying to catch attention with our marketing efforts, creating anything that will make someone stop and look,” Anderson says. “Most of the time the techniques are just irritating people.”

She recommends the book to anyone who is looking to delve further into what their customers are really looking for. “The book has really made me ponder topics such as: What makes my customers happy? What simple, relevant things can I do for them that would help them build their business and increase their sales? What types of apparel or what brands should we carry that would make them happy?” Anderson says.

The book offers tips for anyone interested in serving customers – from C-level executives to first-time salespeople, Anderson says. “There’s really something here for everyone.”

Katherine Schneider is staff writer for Successful Promotions.

Promos That Rock

By Matthew George & Kenneth Hein

After all of these years, Madonna is still a master marketer. Here’s how the pop star, and her counterparts in the music world, use promo products to stay fresh.

Madonna has always done things her own way whether it comes to fashion, music or in-your-face sexuality. So why should her recording contract be any different? The longtime pop star made headlines by signing a $120 million deal, not with a record label, but with concert promoter Live Nation. Live Nation will not only handle her tours, they will also be responsible for selling merchandise bearing her likeness and licensing her name.

Madonna knows the power of a well-placed image. Part pop-star/part pinup girl, keeping her image front and center though posters, shirts and other merchandise has served her well. Her current “Sweet and Sticky” tour in support of her release of the album “Hard Candy” (which hit #1 on the Billboard charts in May) stays true to this formula. There is no shortage of posters and promotional materials featuring the Material Girl looking the part of a dominatrix. For her release parties attendees were given giant lollipops with the image of her album cover on it.

“The Madonna deal with Live Nation, in this case acted like the merchandise item. It got her a lot of attention,” says David Katznelson of Birdman Recordings, who spent 11 years at Warner Brothers.

And it seems as if her fans will do anything to get their hands on Madonna memorabilia. At the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit, Madonna auctioned off a 334 diamond-encrusted black alligator bag donated by Chanel, but it was what the bag contained that made it sell for $472, 000. When she emptied the purse to reveal a magnifying mirror, hair clips, skin blotting tissue and some used lip gloss, the bids began to skyrocket. Pretty impressive, although she failed to beat out George Clooney who sold two kisses raising $700,000 for AIDS research the year before.

Still, most artists can’t make headlines by auctioning off personal belongings because, well, they aren’t Madonna. That’s why promotional products serve as an important weapon in a band’s marketing arsenal. “They serve three roles,” says Katznelson, “to stick in the minds of retailers, to work as incentives to get people to buy early and to garner press.”

Some of Katznelson’s favorite promotional items have been logoed rolling papers distributed by the drug-friendly band the Black Crowes and miniature body bags that read “Cop Killer” in support of Ice-T’s band Body Count. “The guy who created the body bags almost lost his job. It helped sell records, but people said ‘If you get pulled over, don’t tell the cops you work for Warner Brothers.’”

But that’s not the only unique way to increase album sales. The rock band White Stripes customized USB drives to resemble the rock duo and had their full-length album on them. Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor went a step further by placing data storage devices that contained unreleased songs from his album Year Zero in restrooms where the band performed. This smart marketing campaign would have fans that discovered these drives buzzing about what they’ve found.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a strong logo. Whether it is Kiss, the Rolling Stones or Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, “it is visual branding,” says Carianne Laguna Brinkman, vice president of Blackheart Records. “It goes beyond brand recognition to conveying a lifestyle, an energy or even a history.”

For other bands, the name in and of itself plays right into the merchandise space like The Plain White T’s. To promote the Sept. 23rd release of Big Bad World, the platinum-selling band partnered with retailer Aéropostale. When teens buy the record at Aéropostale locations they received a free T-shirt. “Hollywood Records and Plain White T’s are always looking for innovative ways to connect to their audience,” says Ken Bunt, senior vice president of marketing of Hollywood Records in a statement. “Aéropostale offers an exciting and direct link to a consumer that is passionate about style and music.”

But for solo artists, sometimes you have to attract your fan base with a different approach. Hip-hop artist Juvenile’s record label found an interesting way to promote his album Reality Check. With each purchase of the rapper’s CD, fans would receive checkbook covers with the album name on it. Of course, fans wouldn’t receive his bank account with the free gift, but the purpose of creating some media hype for the release was accomplished.

When it comes to reaching the media, even concert promoters rely heavily on promotional products to get the word out. Comcast-Spectator, owner of the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, is no exception. To promote Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters’ show it sent out commemorative bricks and custom-made cigars – a nod to Pink Floyd’s songs “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Have a Cigar” respectively.

For the Genesis reunion tour “Turn it on Again,” it gave out light switches. “We find dropping gifts to the media creates a visual and reinforces the importance of the event,” says Ike Richman, vice president of public relations for Comcast-Spectator. “The gifts are often collectors’ items or something that makes an impact when delivered.”

Matthew George is editorial intern of Successful Promotions and Ken Hein is a contributing writer based in New York.


12 hot spas that will deliver the goods for your next meeting or incentive trip.

By Denis Jensen

Anybody can book a Swedish massage or a run-of-the-mill facial at a local day spa. But how about a Native American body ritual or a chocolate ice cream pedicure? Caviar facial, anyone? Well, these treatments might be a little more difficult to find. If you have a group that you want to reward for a day (or even an hour or two) at a spa, check out one of these 12 destinations – and book a signature treatment.

HOT Destination
View Central Park, the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River from New York City’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Located high above Columbus Circle, the hotel has 248 guest rooms and more than 93,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: On the 36th floor, the spa at Mandarin Oriental (shown here), is an Asian-inspired oasis. Guests are welcomed with slippers on a tray decorated with an orchid. There are separate male and female “heat experience” rooms equipped with large stone whirlpool tubs, an iridescent amethyst steam room with New Age music and a rain forest shower. There are six regular treatment rooms, a Tai yoga room, and a VIP couple’s suite.

Book This Treatment: Treat VIPs to the Time Ritual, a two-hour treatment that begins with a soothing foot bath. Attendees consult with a therapist on their needs and then receive customized exfoliation, massage and facial treatments ($410 for two hours).

Group Specials: Groups can book private Tai yoga classes followed by individual treatments or time in the relaxation room. Spa lunches and customized amenities can also be arranged.

HOT Destination
Austin, TX, is the setting for the Barton Creek Resort & Spa, which has 303 spacious guest rooms, including 16 suites and more than 43,000 square feet of flexible meeting and conference space.
The Spa: Located in the main resort building, The Spa at Barton Creek is connected to the health center and contains 27 treatment rooms.

Book This Treatment: The spa specializes in selecting a different product indigenous to Texas each month for its signature offering. For the winter months, for example, pumpkin and cinnamon-spice enzymes are used in treatments. Packages are named for their native flowers. For example, the Lazy Daisy package includes a therapeutic massage, facial, manicure and a pedicure, all using daisy oils ($350 for 50 minutes).

Group Specials: Options can include nutritional therapy, make-up consultations and indoor spa pool activities.

HOT Destination
The Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa in Indian Wells, CA, has 428 spacious guest rooms, 26 penthouse suites and 43 villas, plus 88,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space.
The Spa: At the resort’s Agua Serene Spa, incentive winners can sip lemon water and relax next to the trickling waterfalls at the reflection pool. Each of the 17 treatment rooms has a secluded patio and shower, plus a walled terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Book This Treatment: VIPs will love the signature Dessert Stone Massage, which utilizes porous hot stones from India, creating harmony and positive energy flow to relieve muscular tension ($140 for 50 minutes; $190 for 80 minutes).

Group Specials: The spa offers up to a 20% discount for groups, depending on the number of attendees. Customized activities include fitness classes, yoga or a fitness walk, followed by individual treatments and group lunches indoors or outside on the patio.

HOT Destination
The Trump International Beach Resort on Sunny Isles Beach in Miami offers 390 rooms, many with ocean views. The 22,000 square feet of meeting and function space includes the 5,075-square-foot oceanfront ballroom and 16 meeting rooms.

The Spa: The Aquanox Spa offers six private treatment rooms for massages, facials, hydrotherapy and waxing. The separate women’s and men’s facilities are complete with showers, steam room and sauna.

Book This Treatment: The Passport to Bliss massage begins with a star-fruit hand and arm exfoliation, followed by a custom foot treatment and a full-body Swedish massage ($168 for an 80-minute treatment).

Group Specials: The spa will work with meeting planners to customize group events. Options include a poolside yoga class followed by smoothies, or a spa luncheon followed by massages and a group happy hour.

HOT Destination
Surrounded by the red rock formations of Boynton Canyon, the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, AZ, offers 220 guestrooms, plus 12,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 8,000 square feet of outdoor sites.

The Spa: The resort’s Mii amo Spa is a separate pueblo facility with 19 indoor treatment rooms and five outdoor treatment rooms shaded by wooden trellises.

Book This Treatment: Help frazzled sales stars relax with Inner Quest, a treatment which uses plants sacred to Native Americans and is based on the four directions of the Medicine Wheel. Guests are wrapped in the Circle of Life blanket (to mimic the warmth of a Native American sweat lodge) as the therapist burns sweetgrass (to help cleanse negative energy) and incorporates it into a soothing massage ($205 for one hour).

Group Specials: Mii amo Spa can arrange group meditations, yoga, aerobics, mountain biking and cooking demonstrations with emphasis on healthful, balanced meals.

HOT Destination
Located in a quiet, palm-tree-lined neighborhood, The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills offers 285 guest rooms and suites, and meeting space of over 12,817 square feet.

The Spa: Located on the fourth floor, it includes eight intimate treatment rooms, and provides six cabanas surrounding the pool for guests who prefer outdoor pampering. The hotel also offers in-room massages, foot reflexology, full-service Swedish or deep-tissue massage, manicures and pedicures. The signature offering is the Kerstin Florian Caviar Facial Treatment – a luxurious facial loaded with protein-rich caviar and powerful antioxidants. Results are immediate, leaving the skin looking healthy and luminescent ($260 for 90 minutes).

GROUP SPECIALS: No group customizing is offered, as this is an intimate spa.

HOT Destination
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, near Charleston, SC, overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and has 255 rooms and suites. The resort offers 14,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space, plus the 18,500-square-foot Grand Lawn overlooking Kiawah’s private beach.

The Spa: With a total of 17,920 square feet, The Luxury Spa still manages to impart the sense of a grand Southern porch and garden by using natural elements such as trickling water, native wood and resident stone. Both the men’s and women’s lounges feature an aqua retreat complex complete with a mineral whirlpool, steam room and sauna.

Book This Treatment: The signature massage utilizes heated grain- and herb-filled wraps placed on key tension areas and muscle groups to increase the benefits of the therapist’s massage strokes ($165 for 60 minutes and $240 for 90 minutes).

Group Specials: While the Sanctuary does not offer discounts on spa treatment for groups, it does offer packages for individuals that are priced at a reduced rate. One example is the Sanctuary Journey, which includes choices of massage types, followed by a one-hour facial for $270.

HOT Destination
Located above Scottsdale, AZ, the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has 98 luxury casitas. Meeting space includes a 3,200 square-foot ballroom and two intimate lawns.

The Spa: Sanctuary Spa provides a menu of Asian-inspired treatments in 12 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms and a relaxation meditation garden and reflecting pond.

Book This Treatment: Luk pra kope (a massage with medicinal herbs) is a two-hour treatment which begins with a foot soak in a fresh lime and essential-oil bath. Then, feet are cooled and exfoliated with fine, white Thai clay. Finally, fresh lime and organically-grown herbs are massaged and pressed into tight muscles as part of an hour-long Thai massage ($260 for two hours).
Group Specials: The spa offers Pilates, Reiki and acupuncture sessions for groups.

HOT Destination
Located about a mile from Orlando’s Walt Disney World is the Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel and Convention Center, which boasts 1,406 guest rooms and suites and 400,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibition space.

The Spa: The resort’s Canyon Ranch Spa Club has 25 massage, body and skin-care treatment rooms, plus separate men’s and women’s locker rooms with saunas. A Living Essential spa boutique and a fitness facility with cardiovascular and weight-training equipment are part of the complex.

Book This Treatment: Euphoria is a 100-minute treatment that begins with a massage accompanied by soft music and candlelight. An aromatherapy scalp massage is followed by a warm botanical body mask. After the mask is gently buffed away, the guest is immersed in a soaking tub for a revitalizing bath. This service concludes with a light, soothing massage, using warm, herb-infused oil ($250 for 100 minutes).

Group Specials: Service discounts depend on the size of the group and timing. Group fitness classes can be arranged.

HOT Destination
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, is a tranquil Nob Hill hotel with 336 guestrooms, including 60 suites and more than 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: Located on the hotel’s first floor, Spa De Vie has five treatment rooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam and a coed Jacuzzi.

Book This Treatment: The spa’s signature treatment is the Caviar Pearl Anti-Aging Facial.The process lavishes one’s skin with caviar pearl extract, which is billed as producing a “botanical Botox effect” ($250 for one hour).

Group Specials: The spa offers customization and discounts to groups. The spa also offers chair massages after meetings, stretching and yoga classes and group jogs.

HOT Destination
Great Wolf Lodge, located in the heart of the Pocono Mountains in Scotrun, PA, is one of the area’s newest destinations. It includes 401 themed suites and a 91,000-square-foot indoor entertainment area featuring a grand-scale water park. The resort also has 6,670 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: The full-service Elements Spa Salon has eight treatment rooms with more than a dozen massage selections. Guests can relax before their treatments with soft music, aromatherapy candles and trickling water.

Book This Treatment: Inside the Elements Spa, the Scoops Kids’ Spa offers a chocolate-covered strawberry pedicure or manicure, where children soak their hands or tootsies in a real chocolate ice-cream fizz and enjoy a strawberry foot- or hand-scrub while eating ice-cream sundaes. ($35 for a 30-minute manicure; $45 for a 30-minute pedicure).

Group Specials: Discounts can be arranged by contacting the sales and marketing department in advance. They will also customize spa activities, particularly in the area of team building.

HOT Destination
Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ, is situated amidst lush hidden gardens, and resembles a Mediterranean villa. It has 119 casitas and guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Spa: The Alvadora Spa features a two-level open-air facility with 10 treatment areas. Two heated stone tables are situated under custom overhead showers, and there’s a Watsu pool with an eight-foot grotto waterfall shower in a private garden terrace.

Book This Treatment: Alvadora’s signature treatment is a customized bathing ritual, where clients can choose from a bath in either mineral or botanical waters, followed by a light massage ($200 for 90 minutes – $210 on weekends).

Group Specials: The spa offers 15-minute chair massages (ideal for check-ins or coffee breaks) for $50 per therapist, meditations or stretch breaks, and private group fitness classes. Discounts and add-on services are available for groups of more than 10 ordering 60-minute services.

Denis Jensen is a Pennsylvania-based free lance writer.

Major league tie-in

Majoring with MLB, A Wise Move

New York Mets and Boston Red Sox fans were treated to more than just a riveting run at the Major League Baseball World Series title. They were also given the chance take batting practice at Shea Stadium and Fenway Park, respectively, and win baseball-themed prizes thanks to Wise Potato Chips.

The East Coast potato chip brand deployed “The Snack Squad” to two of its top markets from June 24 to July 13 to hand out 25,000 Wise-branded “Snack and Score” game pieces. Wise, which is the official potato chip and Cheez Doodle of the two teams, hit surrounding neighborhoods to promote its popular snack brand.

“Wise is a great street brand, and our business is primarily done in delis and bodegas,” says Amy Erlich, account director at Source Communications which handled the promotion. “It is important to take it to the streets and have fun at the same time.”

Game piece recipients had the chance to win an HP computer, go to an away game compliments of Amtrak, win game tickets as well as logoed shirts and mouse pads. The promotional products “raise brand awareness,” Erlich says. “The shirts looked like rock concert T-shirts. The image on the front was of David Ortiz and Jose Reyes. They’re cool shirts.”

Wise has given away the game pieces for three years. This year was the debut of The Snack Squad. Radio ads as well as subway and platform signs supported the promotion. Wise also has signage in both stadiums.

“The association with Reyes, Ortiz and Wise is impactful,” Erlich says.

Back to school promo

Office Depot Packs it In for School Kids

For 2,250 kids in the Indianapolis area who love NASCAR, July 24 is likely not to be a day they will forget any time soon. They will store it in their memory banks as the day Carl Edwards gave them a free Office Depot backpack.

As part of the office supply giant’s “2008 National Backpack Program,” the driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series traveled to various cities to hand out free backpacks. Inside the logoed school bag, students received a pencil pouch containing a ruler, four crayons, glue stick, pencil sharpener and eraser. Students were able to choose from five colors including pink.

“By placing backpacks containing essential school supplies into the hands of children, we are giving them important tools they need to start school with confidence and to succeed throughout the year,” says Mindy Kramer, director of public relations at Office Depot.

The Office Depot Foundation is donating 300,000 backpacks this year to an array of non-profit organizations and schools. The chain kicked off the program in 2001. Since its inception, it has given out 1.8 million free backpacks.

In Indianapolis, kids from the Urban League, Educational Choice Charitable Trust, The United Way, Drug Free Marion County and a number of other organizations were treated to a bag and a lifelong memory of who gave it to them.

Edwards is an old hat at handing out school supplies, as the NASCAR star was formerly a substitute schoolteacher in his hometown of Columbia, MO.

Flavorful Restaurant Celebration

IHOP’s Most Valuable Pancake Butters up Baseball Fans

For half a century, the International House of Pancakes has been stacking them tall or stacking them short. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the popular breakfast chain has hit the road. From May to September, “IHOP’s Discover America Road Tour” will hit 61 Minor League Baseball games in 27 cities across 8,500 miles. The trip will not only promote IHOP’s golden anniversary, but also its nine new pancake flavors.

The Most Valuable Pancake (MVP) mascot will entertain the crowd at each game and hand out collector’s cards and T-shirts. All baseball fans receive the cards when entering the stadiums; they include information about the new “Discover America Pancakes” and a buy-one-get-one-free offer.

Fans get the chance to win a T-shirt, which bears the chain’s 50th anniversary logo on the front and the cities the tour visited on the back, by interacting with the MVP and participating in games. “The promotional aspects, particularly the baseball cards, help generate additional awareness before and during the games,” says Jennifer Pendergrass, communications manager at IHOP.

Consumers can also participate online at Here, they can enter the “Discover America Sweepstakes” and vote for their favorite new pancake flavor and answer state-themed trivia questions for a chance to win prizes. Grand-prize winners get a trip to Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. Other prizes include a $50 IHOP gift card redeemable at any of the 1,300-plus participating IHOP locations and baseball memorabilia contributed by the minor league ball clubs. The contest ends September 7.

Team sponsorship - The Skinny on the St. Paul Saints

On any given night, the clean-up hitter on minor league baseball’s St. Paul Saints likely wouldn’t be called skinny. Muscular maybe or occasionally a tad overweight, but from August 3 thru 9, all of the players were dubbed the “Skinny Saints.” This was part of a unique naming rights deal that the Skinny Water (asi/90296) brand struck with the team.

Visitors to the ballpark that week found that it was renamed “Skinny Water Field.” Here, the Skinny Water flag flew next to the American flag, and logos adorned the field. Behind home plate, the beverage’s tagline “0 calories 0 sugar 0 guilt” was emblazoned.
The roughly 10,000 fans that watched the team daily were handed free samples of Skinny Water as well as mementos such as rally towels and water bottles. “We are looking for promotional opportunities that not only give us an opportunity to promote the brand, but let them experience it and taste it in an environment beyond just handing them a sample,” says Michael Salaman, chairman of Skinny Nutritional. “Minor league baseball is a great environment to have them experience Skinny Water.”

The enhanced water brand, which includes multi-vitamins, antioxidants and an energy boost, is working to expand its distribution across the country. The Saints were chosen because distribution “is really starting to take off in the St. Paul/Minneapolis market,” says Salaman.

The samples, promotional products and naming rights “introduce the product to a large number of people and support our retail partners,” Salaman says. Now that’s phat.

Telecom Gets Creative

Can you hear me now?” We’ve all heard that Verizon expression more times than we’d care to.

Repetitiveness is a key driver of the strategy behind wireless providers like Verizon and AT&T’s media plans. That’s why no category spends more on measured media. The $5.4 billion, per TNS Media Intelligence, shelled out for ubiquitous ads last year that tell us brands like AT&T has “More bars in more places” far surpass most other segments put together.

AT&T, which rebranded itself from Cingular, spent $1.86 billion on media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. While Verizon wasn’t too far off at $1.43 billion. Sprint Nextel was third at $988 million. After that the drop off is steep with T-Mobile doling out $500 million and Alltel budgeting for $200 million.

Why so much money? “Repetition drives memorability,” says Roger Entner, senior vice president of the communications sector for Nielsen IAG. “You need to hammer it home over and over again.”

Every year up to 20 million people are changing carriers, says Entner. “It’s an intensely competitive industry. The pool of subscribers that is up for grabs is huge. A small difference in the effectiveness of the advertising can have a massive impact.”

What’s more, the landscape keeps shifting. One day, it’s “all you can eat” data plans, the next it’s the LG Chocolate phone and then its AT&T’s iPhone. “They need economies of scale to spread their message,” says Entner.

Products Help to Differentiate
Some brands, such as Virgin Mobile, Tracfone and MetroPCS, are using creativity to gain an edge in this competitive space.

Virgin Mobile, for one, has differentiated itself by leveraging its heritage as a music retailer. It created the Virgin Mobile Fest. Unlike some of the other concerts put on by challenger brands, Virgin’s concerts are the real deal. This past year, the show was held at the Pimilco Race Course in Baltimore August 9-10. Acts included the Foo Fighters, Bob Dylan, Iggy and the Stooges, Kanye West and Stone Temple Pilots.

The thousands in attendance took refuge, during the festival, in three domes. Two were sponsored by Kyocera and one by Dell. Within the Kyocera “recharge dome” consumers received co-branded bamboo fans and towels as well as sunscreen.

Virgin gave its VIPs a pack that included a concert branded shirt and backpack. “We try and surprise them with Virgin giveaways,” says Laura Jordan, director of events for the Virgin Mobile Festival. “When you give them a tube of sunscreen when they’re freaking out because they forgot to bring it, they think ‘wow, they thought of me.’”

Most of the items Virgin selects “are to remind concert goers of their experience,” Jordan says. “We see people bringing back the towels we did last year or the fans we gave out.”

While Virgin is never going to spend a billion on ads, the festival and promotional products distributed at it “is more a sticky experience than a traditional media play,” Jordan says. “People have positive associations with the brand because of the experience they had. If you come up with something innovative that they will hang on to, it becomes viral in nature.”

Six ways to use promotional advertising

Here are six way you can use promotional advertising. These ideas will increase your exposure to guard against the competition, increase sales and gain market share. During the current economic slowdown/recession is your competition cutting back? Maybe or Maybe not.

SALES CALLS: Support sales calls by leaving a promotional product with the buyer keeping your marketing message alive.

TRADE SHOWS: Use promotional products to encourage attendance at the booth prior to the show, at the show and in post show follow-ups.

BUSINESS ANNIVERSARY: Use this event to thank customers, employees, vendors and the community for their part in making this event and your success possible.

CUSTOMER RELATIONS: Now is the time of year to say "Thank You" with an appropriate gift. Make sure your customers are not among the 7 out of 10 lost because of indifference.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SALE: Let customers know their business is appreciated by sending a "Thank You" at the time of a purchase in the form of a letter or card with an appropriate promotional product. This is especially true with big ticket items.

REACTIVATE DORMANT ACCOUNTS: Revisit those firms who were once customers, find out what went wrong, ask for their business again and put a promotional product in from of them to keep the message alive. Their new source may not be performing to expectations.

Good Times, Slow Times, Recession Times... Every business can benefit from the most effective method of advertising - PROMOTIONAL ADVERTISING - Especially when it is directed at customers and prospects. Plus it eliminates waste - So the environment benefits too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

December 1st – 7th is Cookie Cutter Week

  • Hold a contest for new cookie cutter designs or other uses for cookie cutters besides cookies. Draw people into your place of business to pick up entry forms and again for the awarding of prizes. Use imprinted kitchen items as prizes.
  • Use cookie cutter week as a backdrop for business-to-business promotions based on the negative connotation of cookie cutter. The idea is that your product or service isn't "cookie cutter." Include shapes appropriate to your industry or business or have custom shapes made to be sent in direct mail pieces.

November 29th is Electronic Greetings Day

  • Invite employees and customers to participate in World Kindness Day by doing random acts of kindness. Provide bowls of fortune cookies with suggested acts of kindness inside, or gum imprinted with acts of kindness, etc., for people to choose from.
  • Give customers or clients almost any imprinted item as an act of kindness on November 13.

October is National Book Month

  • Adopt a first-grade in a school or schools and provide a book for each child along with an imprinted pillow so they can make a cozy reading nook. Imprint the pillow with your company name and logo and a phrase about reading such as, "You can go anywhere in a book." Include imprinted book plates in all of the books.
  • Create a business-to-business promotion around National Book Month. Use copy to the effect, "You won't have to read between the lines if you do business with us. Book a sales presentation today and you'll receive a complete set of ...(you fill in a book set)."
  • Hold a family read-a-thon. Give away imprinted book sleeves, book marks, etc.

Rockin’ Multi-Media Campaign

7-Eleven Rocks Out with Branded Guitar Picks

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven was looking to get consumers to ‘walk this way’ right into its stores with its May Guitar Hero: Aerosmith promotion. To promote the debut of its Full Throttle Frozen Blast Slurpee, it partnered with Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Activision’s top-selling video game Guitar Hero.

Throughout May, consumers could enter codes on Slurpee cups onto for chances to win the game, an Xbox 360 and other prizes. To promote the sweepstakes and new Slurpee flavor, the popular convenience store chain created a mobile tour. Media vans with 6-foot by 12-foot video screens visited select stores where consumers could play the game live.

More than 10,000 custom guitar picks printed with Full Throttle Frozen Blast on one side and on the other side were handed out. “One of the top ways our core customers for Slurpee drinks, ages 13-24, like to spend their leisure time is playing video games,” says Stephanie Hoppe, senior director of marketing of 7-Eleven, Inc. “So it was natural for 7-Eleven to tie-in with the game.”

Giant tear-off pads of posters featuring Guitar Hero and the Slurpee were posted at 484 locations near schools, train station, beaches and other locations. Coupons were also distributed through college newspapers.

The end result: more than a quarter million fans entered the sweepstakes. “We expect to do more online and guerilla marketing as we continue our ‘Summer of Slurpee,’” says Hoppe. In June, 7-Eleven offered Incredible Hulk movie Slurpee cups and miniature character straws. “Customers seem to be coming back this month,” she says, “because sales are up.”

Lookin’ Good On The Links

By Shane Dale

The right apparel can help complete a top-notch golf event. And, don’t forget the logoed golf club covers.

From a high-end polo shirt to a $1 bag of golf tees, every giveaway on the golf course is important. Here are five pieces of advice to consider before choosing apparel and other promotional items for your next golf event.

1. Determine the Crowd
The number-one thing is, you have to consider what kind of people are going to the event,” says Michael Kaufman, owner of Wear It’s At, a promotional apparel distributor. He notes that the type of golf event typically determines the amount of money you can spend on it. “You have to consider budget, too. How much are you prepared to spend per person? A lot of times, these things are for charity and you have to be a lot more frugal.”

Ryan Andrews, president of Venture Marketing, a promotional products distributorship, says it’s important to ask yourself these questions, particularly about the centerpiece of all golf outings: the polo shirt. “How are the shirts being used? Are they handed out at an event to clients, or are they client gifts, or for internal use, or sales rep uniforms? Usually, if it’s a client gift, you’ll want a higher-end shirt than if the shirts are worn as part of an internal uniform.”

Andrews points out that all the big-name golf brands, such as Ashworth Inc., Greg Norman, Cutter & Buck, Tehama, Ping and Nike, have entered the promotional products world. “After you know the usage, determine if a particular brand is important,” he says.

2. Go High End
Many golf events are part of an expensive gathering for valued sponsors or top employees. As such, attendees are going to expect high-quality items, says Ford Smith, a rep for American Solutions for Business, a promotional products distributor. “When you’re doing country club-type deals, you’re going to want to get into some really nice glassware, plaques and different awards,” he says

Kaufman works with real estate companies, home builders and apartment associations that embrace the high-priced products. One of his clients is Peirce-Phelps, a residential heating and air conditioning distributor that hosts a golf event for its “Million-Dollar Club,” a collection of top sales reps. “We did a high-end Ping golf shirt with the logo on the chest, an embroidered ‘Million-Dollar Club’ logo on the chest and a Carrier air conditioning logo on the sleeve,” he says. “It was very, very well-received.”

Many of the classier golf outings feature additional festivities. Pam Bennett, another client of Kaufman’s, is the executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia. Bennett has been running an annual golf tournament for her company’s sponsors for 19 years. “I always give out a very good golf shirt. I’m talking stuff that retails for $60 to $75,” she says.

But the AAGP’s outings are most famous for their luxurious post-tournament dinners, which feature whole lobsters and filet mignon. Accordingly, Bennett orders lobster bibs and cocktail napkins from Kaufman. “We have really nice cloth bibs for each person at the table, and we have the platinum sponsors’ logos screened on to the cloth,” she says. “These sponsors have paid $10,000 a year to have those sponsorships, and in a room with 250 people, to have their name plastered across them makes them very happy.”

3. Be creative
While golf polos are the staple of any golf apparel program, there’s plenty more out there. Kaufman suggests also considering items such as golf umbrellas, rolling cooler bags and gift kits that feature a divot tool and a ball bag clip.

Andrews recently distributed a hybrid golf club – a club that combines the characteristics of an iron and a wood – as a giveaway for the Ronald McDonald House Golf Classic. “All the players were amazed at such a high-end gift, and several players actually used the club during the round,” he says. “This was a high-perceived-value gift, as the charity spent less than $40 for a name-brand hybrid with a logo on the head cover.”

4. Provide Non-Golfing Items
As evidenced by Kaufman’s bibs and cocktail napkins, a great golf apparel program isn’t limited to golf-exclusive items. “Another good suggestion is to throw in some small items if you have an additional $5,” Andrews says. Products like logoed sunscreen bottles that golfers can attach to their bags, or a first-aid kit that fits in the bag.

Smith has done work with a company that sponsors golf outings in Mexico. Many of the company’s employees like to head to the beach when they’re done golfing. He makes sure to cover those needs, too, by providing low- and mid-priced products. “For the beach, consider nice beach towels and tote bags to put everything in,” he says. “Another popular item is oversized T-shirts – a lot of women like those – and of course, sunscreen and lip balm.”

Smith points out that while some may see these items as independent from a trip to the golf course, a lot of folks choose to keep them securely in their golf bags for future outings. “Most people keep an item in their golf bag or their trunk,” Smith says. “These are some really nice items that people keep.”

5. Don’t Forget the Ladies
In the past, nearly all golf wearables were geared toward men. Not anymore, Andrews says. “All clients will enjoy getting a nice name-brand golf shirt, but now the ladies are happy as the apparel manufacturers have greatly improved ladies’ apparel over the last few years,” he says. “It’s more fashion forward, and the sleeves and waists are more fitted.”

Women may be more selective about their attire than men – many women prefer sleeveless golf shirts, for example. So it’s good to get input from the recipients, if possible, before making a selection.

Shane Dale is an AZ-based freelance writer.

Shopping List
Here are the essential items for any golf outing:.
  • Polo shirt: A necessity for the golf course. They are comfortable, performance-based and affordable. They bring company awareness and allow advertising to a limitless client base.
  • T-shirt: Great for giveaways at golf tournaments, and an inexpensive way to promote your brand.
  • Ladies’ golf shirt: Women need a performance-based shirt. They want to be trendy but comfortable.
  • Jacket: This item is always needed any time of year for weather changes. In the fall, golfers will use their jacket in the early morning and evening tee times.
  • Gloves: A staple that every golfer needs and will always use.
  • Hat: Everyone wears a cap while golfing. It’s the perfect accessory to complete your golf apparel.
  • Hat clip: A trendy way to carry your ball marker.
  • Visor: Women prefer a visor to a cap. They’re comfortable and a great look for golfers.
  • Shoe bag: Many golfers find this a useful item, but not necessarily one that they’d buy.
  • Golf clubs: Every golfer wants to find that “magic” club and will always use the one that works the best.
  • Golf club cover and headcover: Like the golf bag, custom covers offer great visibility, especially when they are creatively done.
  • Golf bag: Custom golf bags offer maximum visibility.
  • Golf balls: Like the glove, golf balls are a staple item that every golfer needs and uses.
  • Clear grip: A very cool, unique way to brand a golf club.
  • Divot tool: Every golfer should repair their divots, but they may need to be reminded to do so. This gift is good for the game and the course.

Tee It Up!

These brand-new golf resorts all offer something new for meetings and incentives.
By Gioia Macey

If golfers love something more than golf (if that is even possible), it’s the opportunity to brag about playing on a new course. To score big with meeting and incentive winners, plan an event at one of these about-to-open resorts, all which boast brand-spanking-new golf courses.

Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Located in the Sonoran Desert just 30 minutes from Tucson, this 250-room golf and spa resort is scheduled to open in late 2009. Besides offering 226 guest rooms and suites with expansive views of the desert terrain (including rugged rock formations), the resort will include 24 individual casitas (perfect for incentive winners and VIPs). Meeting space will include a 9,000-square-foot ballroom and a 4,800-square-foot ballroom.

The golf course: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club will feature 36 holes of golf, all designed by Jack Nicklaus; 27 holes are already under construction and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year; nine more holes will be added by 2010. The $60-million club will also feature an elaborate clubhouse complex (great for 19th hole events), complete with swimming pools, dining and a fitness center. Bring your cameras for this outing: Expect challenging play and spectacular desert vistas.

After tee time: The resort and setting are all about relaxation. Treat incentive winners to a special day at the resort’s 17,000-square-foot spa, or arrange for a group hike through the 20 miles of hiking trails that wind through the desert.

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/Waldorf-Astoria Orlando
Hilton Hotels’ new two-in-one resort scheduled to open in September 2009 will include the 498-room Waldorf-Astoria Orlando and the 1,001-room Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Surrounded by Walt Disney World Resort, the complex will offer a combined 150,000 square feet of meeting space. Our pick for an event: an outdoor “island,” surrounded on three sides by a lagoon, would be the ideal setting for a cocktail reception.

The golf course: The 18-hole Rees Jones Golf Course will open later this fall. Its builders say it’s so close to Disney’s Epcot Center that golfers can practically walk from the course to the theme park.

After tee time: This resort is in the center of everything Disney, so booking evening events at one of the theme parks is a hot option. The resort will also have an on-property heliport offering convenient service to Orlando attractions like Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Museum of Arts.

Westin Roco Ki Beach & Golf Resort
Set on 2,500 acres and located about 19 miles from the Punta Cana Airport in the Dominican Republic, this new 315-room resort (including 20 “jungle Luxe” bungalows, which are on stilts) scheduled to open in mid-2009 is bordered by a three-mile-long, white-powder beach and will include five fresh-water swimming pools. Meeting space ranges from a 7,000-square-foot ballroom to its Great Lawn (a spectacular setting for large outdoor gatherings) to its lagoon-side 2,000-square-foot Palapa, which overlooks the beach and dramatic cliffs.

The golf course: A Nick Faldo championship course’s layout takes duffers through rugged cliffs, palm trees and a mangrove forest. Bring out cameras for the 18th hole, which requires shots over the incoming surf.

After tee time: Water sports are paramount here. Book a group dive or deep-sea fishing trip, or work with the hotel’s meeting planner to organize a beach Olympics event.

Campeche Playa Golf Marina & Spa Resort
The first phase of this new resort complex on the Gulf of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula includes a 500-room hotel and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. This phase will open at the beginning of 2009; a second phase to include 3,000 private residences will be completed in 2010.

The golf course: The 18-hole course will be a must-see for eco-friendly golfers. Set adjacent to a mangrove forest, and offering views of nearby beaches, the course was designed to preserve the environment. As an example, the irrigation system uses water purified by a plant being built for the purpose, and chemicals will not be used to maintain the course.

After tee time: Deep-sea fishing promises to be a popular group activity here; the resort has its own marina and yacht club. Attendees who head to the seas can expect to catch grouper, tuna, shrimp and shellfish (and have plenty of stories for “the one that got away”) Don’t forget the disposable cameras so attendees have a record of their excursion.


If you’re looking for some tried-and-true golf courses, check out America’s top 10 as voted on by Golf Digest magazine.

PINE VALLEY (Pine Valley, NJ)
CYPRESS POINT (Pebble Beach, CA)
OAKMONT (Oakmont, PA)
PEBBLE BEACH (Pebble Beach, CA)
MERION (Ardmore, PA)
WINGED FOOT (Mamaroneck, NY)
SEMINOLE (Juno Beach, FL)

Plan a Golf Event in Six Easy Steps

Planning a golf tournament well creates good memories for attendees, and boosts business, too.

Here’s how to plan a golf event that will stand out from all the others your attendees might attend this season.

Step 1: Plan Four Months Out
Most golf courses are ready to help you with the planning task, as their golf shops likely have a few dozen group events come through each season, and so have a system for handling groups, from the golfing to the food and beverages to the gifts and awards. But you must contact the pro shop at your desired course at least 120 days out; not only do you have to ensure that the course is free on the day you want it, you and the staff will need that much time to create your itinerary, coordinate the details and help market the event.

The golf shop will usually assist any group that has 16 or more players, and can accommodate as many as 144 players on a course for a single event. But groups generally need to have at least 60 players – and sometimes 80 – to secure what’s called a “shotgun” start on a course, though the figure can be flexible depending on the season and the time of day. A dual start from the first and tenth tees is also possible for smaller groups, if the event begins early in the morning.

Step 2: Launch Marketing Effort
To drum up that many players, you might have to market aggressively. One tool that helps planners boost attendance at low cost is the Internet. “I’m seeing many organizations create individual Web pages for their golf events,” says Walt Galanty, founder of AIM Meetings & Events, a meeting planning firm. “A golf-events site can be used for registration and for keeping up interest of attendees by letting them find out who else is playing,” Galanty adds. “We can also post names of the winners and the prizes they won, post photos from last year’s event and allow attendees to order photos directly from the photographer. Not only that, but it can allow hotlinks to your event sponsors’ Web sites.”

Step 3: Choose Foursomes Wisely
Once your attendee list is set, there are several things to consider when grouping players into foursomes. The first, of course, is business interest. People come to business-golf events to meet others with reciprocal business interest, so allowing folks to choose on their registration forms who are in their group, or which type of buyer or supplier they’d like to be paired with, is wise.

The other consideration to make regards players’ handicaps. By having players list their handicap (a measure of how well they play on average) on their registration, the golf shop can determine who should play with whom so that the pace of play does not get too slow (four poor players in any one group is a bad thing). Also, handicaps help the golf shop determine which playing format would be best (scramble, modified scramble, low ball)

Once the format and the pairings are established, you must share other attendee information with the pro shop, such as whether anyone needs rental clubs or shoes, as well as each person’s golf-shirt size and hat size, which they’ll need to help you order merchandise with your firm’s logo on it.

Step 4: Drum Up Prizes
Four months’ lead time also helps when you need to secure prizes not only for the event’s winning foursome, but also for the winners of the longest drive, straight drive, and closest to the pin contests. Plaques and crystal can be customized with your firm’s logo, the year of the event, the name of the resort, and the category for which it was won, but these must be ordered at least six weeks in advance.

Logoed apparel, such as golf polos and imprinted sports bags also make terrific options.

Step 5: Consider Food & Fun
Next, you need to plan for providing food and beverages to your players. Most courses have refreshment carts roaming the course, though players sometimes won’t see one for several holes. In light of this, you should contract with the pro shop to have enough carts on the course so that players don’t go more than three holes without being offered food and drink. Also, let players know either that they must pay for what they consume or that the organization has a running tab. Be careful with the latter option, though, since any on-course accident or injury that occurs due to consumption of alcohol will leave you and your company liable.

Planners can boost entertainment value (and lower the cost) of their event by enlisting the help of sponsors, who “can be creative with their presence on a hole while also maintaining the integrity of the game,” Galanty says. For instance, having a skill contest on each sponsored hole will intrigue less-than-proficient golfers and interest decent golfers too. Possibilities include having players try to chip a ball into a bucket several feet away, or having a variation of “beat the pro” where a sponsoring firm’s sales rep tries to hit his tee shot closer to the pin on a par-three hole than each player. “A sponsor can put a rep out there who’s a decent golfer, unless they are purposely looking to give away a lot of free stuff with the company’s name on it,” Galanty notes.

Conversely, contests need not involve golf at all. Over the years, Galanty has seen sponsors use the Tic-Tac-Toss beanbag game and others to make sure everyone has a chance to go home with a prize.

Once play ends, there should be a post-tournament cocktail reception and dinner where you can thank sponsors and recognize contest winners. It’s best that these events are informal; the cocktail reception should start right after the last group comes in, and be close enough to the scoreboard that players can eat, drink, and mingle while the golf-shop staff posts the scores. Then, rather than having a formal sit-down dinner and awards ceremony, something like a buffet or a barbecue with carving stations would be a better idea, especially since folks won’t have much time to freshen up or even change out of their golf attire.

Step 6: Create a Contingency Plan
Remember that all of this planning will go out the window if the weather doesn’t cooperate on the day of the event. To combat this, you must have backup plans to keep people occupied. For instance, an indoor event space can be quickly and easily configured to become a putting course where you can offer a mini-tournament. Or the golf-shop staff can set up mats and nets in the space, and critique players’ swings and give personalized lessons as they watch folks hit balls into the nets. At the same time, have the golf-shop staff bring in a few televisions with VCRs, and show highlight videos of memorable pro tournaments. Finally, you could even bring in a few Sony Playstations, Microsoft Xboxes, or other home video-game machines; they run excellent golf games that folks can learn to play in minutes.

In the end, expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $275 per person for what resorts call the “tournament services” package, which includes greens fees and carts, player pairings, tournament scoring, complimentary range balls, access to locker rooms and assistance in the event’s coordination. Of course, the awards and prizes, refreshment carts, and other amenities will cost extra, though they are negotiable.

Pump Up This Promo

More Than a Band-Aid Solution
By Betsy Cummings

Hennepin County Medical Center recently launched a marketing campaign to shed its reputation as being only an urban trauma center. Our expert provides the prescription to extend its message even further.

Being ranked among the nation’s best hospitals for 12 years in a row is no small feat, as executives from Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis surely can attest. It takes a lot of work, constant improvement and seamless medical care delivery to achieve those kinds
of accolades year in and year out. So it’s not surprising that the center’s team of executives was somewhat surprised and frustrated to learn through focus groups that the Minneapolis community didn’t necessarily have the same impression. Instead, the medical center was seen as mostly a trauma center, a downtown facility known more for its intake of accident victims – as was the case after the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge last August – than it was for its nationally recognized birthing center and other medical facilities.

To change that, two years ago, the center began a plan to revamp that image. Executives hired Russell Herder, a Minneapolis brand strategy and advertising firm, to help them launch a community-wide rebranding effort. “The community perceived them as mostly a trauma/acute care center,” says Brent Doering, vice president of client services at Russell Herder, who works on the Hennepin account.

That nugget of information and others were mined in multiple focus groups Russell Herder conducted after a nearly two-year drought of marketing efforts by the medical center, Doering says.

Out of the focus groups came a primary goal of letting the Minneapolis community know that, despite its status as a county hospital with teaching facilities and an academic focus, Hennepin is a downtown medical center focused on serving a far-reaching, “multicultural audience,” Doering says.

The first step was to change the center’s logo. Doering’s team did that and created a new tagline as well: “Every Life Matters.” Then, to drive that message home, Russell Herder developed a series of community marketing strategies to create awareness of various services and programs the medical center has to offer.

One of those marketing efforts was a personal, grassroots type of effort where teams of individuals blanketed local community events and passed out packets of tomato seeds printed with the medical center’s logo and tagline on the front as well as a URL on the back that people could go to for more information about Hennepin’s offerings.

This year at several events – a May Day event, farmer’s markets, a Juneteenth celebration – where some 12,000 seed packets were distributed, staff hired to hand out the seeds and target a diverse audience would try to get in a few words about the medical center’s better features, service offerings and the general idea that Hennepin is far more than a hospital with a high-end trauma center and fully functioning ER. In some places, for example, they would hand out brochures about Hennepin’s birthing center along with the seed packets. The idea was to extend an offering from one community neighbor to another. “What people don’t realize is that Hennepin is kind of a hidden jewel in downtown Minneapolis,” Doering says. The idea being, “if they’re that good in a time of crisis, guess what they could do in a ‘normal’ situation?” he adds.

Word of mouth, he says, is the best promotion there is.

Betsy Cummings is senior writer for Successful Promotions.

Fun Video Game Launch

Wall•E Sees Trinkets as Treasure

For many video game marketing programs, choosing the right promotional product takes a little creativity. Marketing the latest action game or kids’ title may not offer some obvious choices. This wasn’t the case for video developer THQ Inc. when it came time to promote its Wall•E video game which hit shelves June 27.

The game is based on the futuristic robot character’s adventures in the Disney/Pixar movie of the same name. In the film, which debuted June 24, Wall•E went on a fantastic journey across the universe. Along the way, he often turned trash into treasure.

THQ leveraged some of the items that were prominent within the movie to reach out to members of the press. For example, Wall•E is fond of a paddleball so THQ sent 500 plastic logoed paddleballs to consumer, trade and enthusiast press.

“We ordered the paddleball after seeing Wall•E interact with a similar one in the film trailer,” says Karen Fujimoto, spokesperson for THQ. “It was too good to resist. The paddleballs were effective because they captured an element of fun, while serving as a leave-behind reminder that the game would be coming out soon.”

THQ also borrowed the idea of using an Igloo cooler from the film. Wall•E carries around a cooler throughout the film and places trinkets in it. The video game company held an event at the New York Hall of Science for dozens of members of the press and their families. As a thank you for attending, it gave away logoed coolers, hats, shirts and posters.

The gaming company is no stranger to such tactics. For Ratatouille it held a cooking event at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and gave away logoed chef’s hats, aprons and bottles of thyme, a key spice for making the dish Ratatouille. “It’s a fun way to build some buzz with our press,” says Fujimoto.

Cool Consumer Promo

Tecate Gets a Kick Out of Authentic Soccer Promos

With category leader Corona experiencing soft sales, Tecate is looking to take the opportunity to establish itself as the authentic Mexican beer. One of its strategies to show consumers its heritage was by holding its “Futbol Tecate” events throughout the month of July.

The beer brand brought the Mexican First Division Club Soccer teams to four of its key markets to play exhibition games against local teams. The first match pitted the Colorado Rapids against the Tigres on July 9 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO.

Tecate understands how important futbol is within Mexican culture. It saw the exhibitions as a way to solidify its credibility with Hispanic consumers and prove its authenticity to other demographics.

At soccer games, Tecate gives out a flurry of premiums to the fans in attendance. “We always try [to ensure] that the items we use are a reflection of the brand’s character and of the specific event/promotion we’re participating in,” says Tecate brand director Carlos Boughton.

During soccer games, Tecate offers soccer keychains, soccer balls and even genuine soccer jerseys signed by the Mexican stars. “We want to make sure that consumers see or take items that are reflective of Tecate’s bold personality as well as our involvement in soccer,” says Boughton.

Tecate also regularly partners with boxing matches where it gives consumers related promotional products like branded towels, framed shorts and gloves autographed by superstars like Oscar de la Hoya.

Heineken USA, which is the exclusive importer of Tecate, signed a new 10-year deal with parent company Femsa which became effective this year.