Tuesday, July 22, 2008

25 Incentives For Under $50

By Denis Jensen

Don’t let the price tag fool you. These on-the-cheap motivational items are guaranteed to wow employees.

Gas prices are skyrocketing. So is the price of milk, bread, and even a bright, shiny apple. These days, consumers are feeling the pocketbook pinch everywhere. But those planning incentive programs needn’t feel the pain. Successful Promotions went in search of unique incentive items that won’t bust even a tiny budget. Here are our top 25 picks that all have a price tag of $50 or less (note: contact Tall Girl Promotions for exact prices).

Summertime is the perfect time to offer this gleaming, stainless-steel 6-piece barbecue set to members of a high performing team. Couple it with some barbecue sauce (choose one with a customized label featuring your company or team logo) and you’ve got one hot incentive. Or, use the set to “fire up” sales for 2009. It comes in a nifty aluminum case that can be engraved with your logo. asi/36988
2. Flash That Flask
Heading to the links on an incentive trip? This tarnish-proof, stainless-steel flask combo is the perfect pillow gift to give attendees the night before the outing. It’s encased in a leather holder lined with tees and ball markers and it comes with a belt loop for easy carrying.

3. Time to Pick a Winner
Women on your team will vie for this women’s analog watch.
It’s an ideal item for a monthly sales contest or for whomever contributes the best idea in the company suggestion box. The watch features a cut mineral glass dome and precise quartz movement.

4. Bragging Rights
This gyroscopic clock has a beautifully crafted wood base which can be engraved to represent team achievements or inscribed as an individual award milestone. In addition, the spincast medallion can be customized for a variety of industries and awards. asi/63110

5. Go for the Gold
This premium gold gift box comes loaded with a generous assortment of individually foiled Gevalia coffee pouches, Ghirardelli chocolates, luscious cookies and a host of other gourmet goodies. Perfect for the employee who just closed a big deal or was named “employee of the month.” Deliver it to employees’ homes so they can share the goodies with their families.

6. The Great Outdoors
If you’ve got a rugged group, this combination backpack, cooler and folding chair makes an excellent reward. The cooler holds 18 drinks and the chair is made from 600 denier fabric with a sturdy enamel-coated steel frame.

7. Comfy & Customized
This triple-layer woven throw is the ideal prize to hand out at company meetings. Or, give it as a thank-you to executives at the next corporate retreat. Choose either this triple-layer woven throw blanket or its custom tapestry companion. Both can be customized with a design or logo. Available from asi/74299.

8. For the Spa
This luxurious spa robe is made of soft-as-a-cloud micro chenille fabric. Embroider it with your company’s logo and you’ve got the perfect gift for an incentive trip. Pair it with some spa necessities, like a loofah and some lotion, and attendees will feel really pampered. Offered in both men’s and women’s sizes.

9 It’s a Survivor
Crank up the volume on this month’s sales contest by offering this AM/FM survival radio as a prize. The radio comes with a compass, flashlight, alarm, siren and hand-crank charger, so winners will be well-equipped even in the event of a power outage.

10. Jazzy Jogging
Jogging is defined as running less than six miles per hour. Customize this California fleece zip with a logo and watch the grateful recipient zip past the speed limit. It’s made with incredibly soft combed cotton that’s machine washable.

11. Hold Everything!
This simulated leather briefcase is both functional and classy. It features a wraparound gusset that expands to 8 inches, a cell phone pocket and an accordion file. Offer this to sales reps as an incentive and encourage them to bring in enough orders to fill it.

12 The Write Stuff
.Everyone has use for a fine writing instrument. This Selectip roller ball pen features an onyx resin finish. Inscribe it with a special message – “Way to go!” “You have the write stuff!” – and you’ve got the ideal gift to perk up practically any program.

13. The Future’s So Bright. . .
Incentive trip winners will feel extra-cool when you bestow upon them these Jupiter matte aluminum shades, complete with a metal clamshell case, a lanyard with leather tag and a cleaning cloth encased in a drawstring pouch. Give them out at the final night awards banquet and predict a bright sales forecast for the upcoming year.

14. Pearls Of Wisdom
This beautiful double-strand pearl necklace will be a big hit with female overachievers. Save this one for a situation when something extra-special is called for – say, when she finally gets an impossible client to sign on the dotted line. Features sterling silver clasps and a gift box.

15 The Big Picture
.Give your team members a close-up view of the action with these prism binoculars with ruby-coated lenses and 8 x 21 power. Presentation is the key here: Pass them out at the incentive kick-off party and explain how seeing the big picture is the key to success.

16. Scratch Their Backs
This handmade durable back scratcher is a great gift for the individual who has everything. It’s crafted from exotic hardwoods and comes topped with a solid brass claw. Recipients will want to keep it in their offices as a fun icebreaker.

17. No Stems Required
For a fun fall activity, throw a wine and cheese tasting – and send top employees away with this set of two stemless 21-ounce wine glasses. Employees will appreciate your good taste and congratulate you on your hipness.

18. Side by Side
Incentivize your hard-working sales support team by offering them this double wide portable folding chair that’s great for two and includes a table area between the seats.

19. Get in the Zone
This silver passport world time alarm clock features multiple time zones. It’s finished in brushed aluminum with an easel-style stand that makes it an ideal incentive gift for on-the-road salespeople and traveling executives. Comes with travel pouch.

20. The Green Machine
Companies that want to capitalize on the green theme will appreciate incentive offerings like this eco-friendly flashlight/charger that serves as both an LED flashlight and hand-crank cellphone charger. It works with Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and other cellphones and features a molded plastic case with wriststrap.

21. Safety First
This 151-piece auto emergency toolkit comes with a tire gauge, jumper cables, drive sockets, wire brush, siphon pump and so many other accessories that recipients will run out of excuses for getting stalled on the road. A great option for carpool incentives.

22. Ants Not Included
Employees putting in a lot of overtime? Present them with one of these picnic backpacks and give them an afternoon off. Backpack comes with stainless cutlery, melamine plates and wine glasses for four. Throw in a bottle of vino and you’ll really be a hero.

23. For Spectators
This recreational recliner works anywhere; at the beach, the stadium or at local gatherings or sports events. It’s made from polyester with a sturdy steel frame that’s adjustable for 10 different positions and its shoulder strap portability makes it a wise choice as an arrival gift for outdoor incentive functions.

24. Keep ’em Busy
Family incentive out-
ings can be greatly enhanced by providing something to keep the kids occupied. This Busy Basket makes sure your incentive recipient’s children will never run out of things to do by including a DJ party CD, a sticker game, a book and drawing pad, a jump rope and delicious snacks.

25. Have Wheels, Will Travel
Never underestimate the power of a piece of luggage. This wheeled travel bag whisks through check-in with in-line skate wheels, full-length protective skids, a convenient “U” shaped main compartment and a hideaway telescoping handle. Give it as a gift to road warriors and you’ll make their on-the-road lives just a little bit easier.

Green is the New Black

By Kenneth Hein

Organic apparel is all the rage. Here are four case studies showing how using green items can help boost a brand.

It wasn’t long ago – really, just a few years – that eco-friendly apparel seemed like one of those nice ideas whose time was far into the future. It was akin to such fascinations as plug-in cars and wind-generated power plants. However, much like these other “green” trends, the demand for such products has finally begun to take hold today. In the promotional products world, suppliers offering shirts, jackets and hats made from recycled plastic, coconut fiber, bamboo and organic cotton are quickly becoming plentiful. The trend is so front and center that Coca-Cola, one of the best-known brands in the world, has even begun selling branded T-shirts at Wal-Mart made from recycled plastic bottles. Companies that want to be portrayed as eco-friendly have quickly realized that the ad specialties they use in promotional efforts are equally reflective of their commitment to the environment as the amount of energy their manufacturing plants use or the volume of carbon emissions they release into the environment.

"Organic apparel is growing in popularity because consumers are looking for easy ways to clean up the environment,” says Lynn Syman of the Organic Trade Association. “By choosing green products of all types, they are reducing pesticide runoff, toxic exposure to farmers, mill workers and ultimately everyone. We all live downstream.”

The OTA estimates organic apparel sales will increase by 40% by 2011 compared to last year. In 2006, the last time it tracked purchases, sales were $203 million. Many distributors agree that last year, clients began asking about “green” apparel, but it wasn’t until this year that the tipping point occurred, where actual demand for the products began to pick up. “Every industry seems to be asking for it,” says Scott Alterman, co-owner of The Icebox, a promotional products distributor. “There is a lot of attention around these issues, and all of these companies are starting to get involved.”

For Karen Rankin, president of Quality Life Promotions, a marketing consultancy, living off of the land is already a part of her life. For the past seven years, she has stayed in a tent in the mountains when she makes her sales calls at West Carolina University – albeit a tent with carpeting and a full office. “I live green and sell green,” she says. “I haven’t found a ton of customers yet, but it’s going to hit pretty hard in the very near future.”

For many companies concerned about their eco-friendly image, it already has. Here are four examples of marketers who have already wholeheartedly opted to embrace promotional products that even Mother Nature would approve of.

Read Case Studies...

Viva (new) Vegas

By Denis Jensen

No need to bring meeting-goers to a tried-and-true location in Sin City. Here’s a rundown of brand-spanking-new venues in which to play, eat and party.

What’s new in Vegas? What’s not new is a better question. America’s hottest convention city continues to grow like gangbusters, as 9,000 new guest rooms are slated to be added this year.

Nearly $40 billion in new development is planned or underway between now and 2012, providing an additional 40,000 hotel and motel rooms and 5 million square feet of convention space to the more than 9.7 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide.

Even with all of this growth, the city continues to have exceptionally high occupancy rates, with a new high of 90.4% last year. Here’s a rundown of the latest, greatest offerings for meetings, conventions and incentive trips.


Groovy Earth-Friendly Campaign – Green T-shirts Against Toxicity

Computer screens, cell phones and microwave ovens contain all sorts of toxic elements that it’s best not to put them in a hole in the ground when they’re no longer of use. But, the reality is most of these items are carted away and put in landfills. In fact, an estimated 70% of toxic landfill waste is a direct result of technology. NBC Universal used Earth Week (April 21-25) to spur homeowners to recycle these items.

Its “Green is Universal” campaign kicked off on the Today Show on April 21. HP, Staples, the Environmental Media Association and Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) partnered for the event. Part of the push involved placing recycling bins, where consumers could place old electronics, at New York’s Rockefeller Center. In the New York area, consumers were invited to also bring their old equipment to participating Staples stores. HP offered $50 off its more energy-efficient printers and $150 off select computers in exchange for old models.

At Rockefeller Center, New York School of Visual Arts students were invited to create a giant mosaic using the donated products. ERI handed out “Green is Universal” T-shirts at the event. The brand typically provides eco-friendly shirts that say “Green is Good,” but it altered its tagline in honor of the event. ERI owns 1-800-Recycling (a service people can call for free to find out how to properly dispose of their electronics and other items).

“With us, it’s all about being in touch with our green DNA and spreading the word in as many positive far-reaching ways as possible,” said John S. Shegerian, ERI’s chairman and CEO. “So whether we are appearing at a local high school or on the Today Show, we make it a point to come armed with meaningful takeaways that inspire, empower and motivate people to think about the green messages we shared.”

In addition to shirts, ERI hands out logoed tins of chocolate-covered raisins that were grown on organic farms. Its business cards are even printed on recycled paper using soy ink. Shegerian said, “Everything we share is part of our message.”

Fun Grassroots Effort – Newcastle Ale Tries Some Smooth Moves

From how to survive a sunburn to how to properly grill a fruit pie, Newcastle Brown Ale has a few tips for celebrating the 94 days of summer. The top imported ale will share these tips with customers at 5,000 grocery stores, from May-July, via its “94 Days of Summer” guide. “Sam the Cooking Guy” from Discovery Health offers cooking tips while King’s Hawaiian, the Coleman Company and MovieTickets.com serve up discounts for summer fun.

Newcastle is no stranger to giveaways. To tout its “Smooth like no other” brand positioning, a team of “Smooth Operators” has been hitting bars all across the country. This grassroots promotion involves sampling efforts and interactive games to engage bar patrons in games like “spin the bottle.” Consumers who answer questions correctly about Newcastle win free prizes.

“Newcastle Brown Ale’s target audience is male consumers ages 21 to 35. This demographic tends to prefer premium items and enjoys a rich tasting, imported ale such as Newcastle,” says Katie Casey of Formula, the marketing firm that created the brand’s promotions. “Therefore it is only natural that our target consumer would gravitate towards premium giveaways such as our T-shirts and baseball caps.”
Smooth Operators also give out branded bottle openers, bottle light projectors, air fresheners and, where legal, free beer. “They are out there to educate the consumer about the taste and flavor of the beer,” Casey says.

Newcastle launched the program in 2005. It has grown threefold in size as last year, 4,500 promotions were held in 50 cities. The Smooth Operators connected with a quarter of a million customers in 2007 helping the brand exceed 6 million cases sold.

Wacky Beverage Launch – Bawls Guarana Proves It’s Sweet on Geeks

Most brands are interested in tapping “influencers.” You know, the cool people who have a large network of really cool friends. Not Bawls Guarana. This brand of energy drink is more interested in attracting the guy dressed as Darth Vader.

Bawls relishes its role as being the official drink of geeks everywhere. So much so, it launched a series of “Geek Singles Nights” in conjunction with the online dating site Sweet on Geeks. The first matchmaking party kicked off in April in Lauderhill, FL. The event, naturally, was held at a comic book store. Raffles, displays of light saber skills and speed dating was in the air as local members of the 501st legion of Star Wars enthusiasts were invited to attend in full costume.

Beyond giving “Yoda” and “Princess Leia” the chance to hook up, the inaugural event was also an opportunity to launch the brand’s new flavor Bawls G33K B33R. “Drinking Bawls G33K B33R is a fun, refreshing way for anyone to celebrate their inner geek,” says Hobart C. Buppert, owner of Hobarama Corp., which produces Bawls Guarana. “To further celebrate geekiness at singles night events, Bawls distributes non-traditional, branded items including Bawls G33K eyeglasses, taped and all, for fans to get their geek on.”

Rather than mix alcohol in with its drink, like many energy drink brands, Bawls distributes G33K B33R floats. The company also gives away branded T-shirts, stickers and drawstring bags.

Bawls also regularly sponsors video gaming competitions (more than 1,000 per year) as well as the 2008 Geek Prom. Geek singles nights will make their way across the country with Jacksonville, FL., Minneapolis and San Francisco on the schedule. So this would indeed be a good time to shine up your Stormtrooper costume in case a cute droid happens by.

Creative Consumer Promo – Svedka Sees a Future in Ad Specialties

So what will be the best-selling vodka of 2033? Svedka, of course. The high-end vodka has fashioned a critically acclaimed ad campaign around a sarcastic sci-fi campaign that looks into the future and sees its vodka as “the choice of the stem cell baby boomer of 2033” and going “great with a $450 pack of cigarettes.”

When it comes to its promotions, Svedka also looks forward rather than copy the boring giveaways of the past. For example, realizing that we’ve all had one too many chocolates on our pillows, Svedka created limited-edition “Turn up kits” last fall. They debuted at the Soho and Tribeca Grand Hotels in New York and then rolled out to other trendy hotels.

The kits were custom designed by avant-garde fashion icon Jeremy Scott and included two Svedka mini-bottles of vodka, a swizzle stick and three mood elixirs – Bionic Boost, Love Potion #2033 and Artificial Intelligence – in glass vials.

In April, the brand continued to innovate by launching their eco-friendly T-shirt collection at Fred Segal Fun in Santa Monica, CA. The shirts were imprinted with “Make cocktails, not war” and “Help end global warming – add more ice.” Guests sipped “Cosmopoliticians” at a special kick off event. Shirts, created by e.vil, were distributed to models and made available for sale shortly after, with proceeds going to “Heal the Bay.” The non-profit environmental organization is dedicated to cleaning up Southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds.

“In our quest to continually innovate, any logoed items have to be one of a kind,” says Marina Hahn, chief marketing officer of Svedka. “When we developed a relationship with e.vil and created this limited edition collection of fabulous headlined tees, we knew we had a winner.”

Cool Multi-Media Campaign – Monroe Says ‘Save a Squirrel’

Monroe Shocks and Struts has a message for all of the animal lovers of the world: “Replacing worn ride control components could improve vehicle steering, stopping and stability – and just might save the life of an innocent squirrel darting across the street.”

This was the official statement released by the company after it sent a bag of squirrel food, the Squirrel Street Journal newspaper and a personalized note from a squirrel to reporters. Next the recipients received a logoed bag of peanuts and a squirrel, or rather, mouse pad.
These promotional products were used to build hype for its “Save a squirrel” campaign which launched in April.

“We’ve already had tremendous interest in the ‘Squirrels’ campaign from the automotive industry as well as consumers,” says Carri Irby, brand manager of Monroe Shocks and Struts, which is owned by Tenneco, prior to the launch of its ad campaign. “As our billboards go live in the coming weeks, we expect a tremendous spike in traffic to our Web site, as well as word-of-mouth advertising driven by local broadcast outlets and the thousands of businesses that sell and install Monroe shocks and struts.”

The squirrels have gotten around as the message is broadcast on billboards throughout the country, on 2,000 radio stations, within Major League Baseball stadiums and via the Web.

Monroe also made sure to add a heavy assortment of promotional products to the mix. Mouse pads, note cubes, pens, trash cans and bagged peanuts are available for use by its sales force. “Our promotional programs are tightly integrated into the campaign,” says Irby. The squirrels could not be reached for comment.

Promos Still Hot as Real Estate Chills

Real estate was the place to be for a lot longer than many expected. Unfortunately, due to the subprime mortgage meltdown and other economic factors, the industry has taken a hit. However, this hasn’t stopped the major players from advertising. For the first three months of 2008, real estate brokers and developers spent $566,457 on measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Re/Max, Prudential and Apollo Management’s Coldwell Banker and Century 21 invested the heaviest, even among the market downturn. Unlike many other ad categories, print proved to be the favorite medium with nearly $1 billion spent on print ads. TV was a distant second at $300 million.
“My vote has been and will be with print,” says Bill Golden of Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside. “I don’t have an ongoing ad campaign, but I run print ads sporadically, geared to specific audiences featuring specific properties. TV and radio are generally not a practical solution for my real estate practice, in terms of cost-efficiency.”

For many Realtors like Golden, promotional products are a favorite tool even in the current climate. “I think logoed products are more valuable in a down market, when there’s so much competition for business, and other agents are less likely to spend the money on such things,” Golden says. “I’ve been in real estate long enough to know that it will rebound and that it is just as crucial, if not more so, to reinvest in my business during the slower periods.”

Brian Coeste, president of Coester Appraisal Group, a real estate appraisal company agrees. “We use logo-based items for all of our marketing. We give away pens, sticky note pads, calendars, calculators and all kinds of things with our logo on them to our clients. We have found them very effective and well worth the money and set-up costs. We use them when we go into a new client’s office as a drop off and also to visit existing clients as a reason to stop by.”

Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes and Company, which boasts more than 6,000 real estate agents within its brokerage, says a little creativity goes a long way. “I have received a lot of reaction to rubber jar openers because of their shelf life and usability,” he says. “I give a dozen mugs that say ‘You’ve Been Mugged by Denny’ to the local florist, and for $15 I am able to send the mugs with a floral arrangement inside to my clients and colleagues. People love that! I promote my business every way possible. My staff wears logo shirts, my coffee is served in logo glass mugs and my napkins also have my logo on them. It really only costs pennies more to help reinforce your brand and image.”

Golden, who has found success with chip clips and sticky note pads, doesn’t plan on stopping. “For me, more than anything, it’s about keeping my name in front of folks, so I’ll come immediately to mind when they have real estate needs. This is particularly important to me because I encourage my clients to call me not just when they are buying or selling, but also when they are considering a renovation or have other real estate-related questions.”

Pump Up This Promo

Aflac Targets Consumers With Decision-Making Muscles
By Betsy Cummings

Aflac is generating a lot of attention among its target audience – female decision-makers – with its Iron Girl series of events. Our experts lay out an eight-step plan to make this gal-friendly promo even more effective.

Insurance provider Aflac knows women are a powerful consumer group. How to tap that contingent, which makes an estimated 80% of household buying decisions, was another story. The company considered ways to target the demographic and ultimately came up with the Aflac Iron Girl series of events, which, this year, run from March until the end of August, says Tracy Martin, corporate sponsorship consultant for the Columbus, GA-based company. The event “is driven out of Aflac’s desire to reach women as key decision makers,” she says.

To reach this important target, Aflac partnered with Iron Girl to create a series of events running, walking, triathlon and duathlon competitions at 10 locations throughout the country and paired them with promotional products that are female-oriented in theme and crafted to tout women’s wellness, empowerment, and the value of Aflac’s servicesThe events also include a sweepstakes for one winner and a guest to fly to Hawaii for an all-expenses-paid vacation.


Promos That Rock The Vote

By Jen Zorger

Promotional products are essential for winning elections. Here are some best practices you can use to be victorious in your own marketing efforts.

Kent Cravens was advised never to use gimmicky items when running for election. But, like most good politicians, he learned that sometimes you need to throw what advisers say out the window. Cravens, who has been a New Mexico state senator for eight years, did just that when he ordered 5,000 of “little round fuzzy guys with sticky pad feet.” “Everyone I came into contact with ended up with one in their pocket or I’d peel it off and put it on their name tags,” says Cravens. “Or it would end up on their dashboard. I got a lot mileage out of it. I’m a believer now in things that have shelf life.”

Winning public favor is a tricky business. Just what formula of mass media, promotional products and luck is needed to win has never been decided for certain even by so-called political “scientists.” However, what we do know is promotional products are as an important part of the mix as a good speech writer, campaign contributions and confident smile.

The same can be said for winning over customers. Just what makes them buy your product, sign up for your service or preach about your brand is often an equally mystifying equation.


Steal These 5 Tips from Political Promos

If there’s one thing good politicians know how to do, it is getting the word out. Their campaign will often succeed or fail based upon just how good they are at raising awareness. Beyond kissing babies, there is much marketers can learn from these master marketers. Here are five tips:

1.Don’t say too much. The letter ‘W’ will never be viewed the same. George W. Bush (who is thought by some Democrats to have a questionable grasp on the alphabet), successfully hijacked the 23rd letter of the alphabet as his symbol and his logo. This made it easier to create impactful stickers and pins.

2.Recycle. Marketers spend a lot of money to create postcards, posters and signs. As any good cash-strapped campaign manager will tell you: if they get tossed out recycle. Have staffers pluck the materials out of the garbage or off the floor and use them again. If anyone objects, just say you are being environmentally friendly.

3.Know your target. College kids like beer. We know this. That’s why some politicians have hit young Republicans’ clubs with logoed cans, koozies and golf towels. It’s easy to try and find a one-size-fits-all product, however more targeted items are likely to leave a lasting impression.

4.Don’t be afraid to use an unusual promotional item. Pens, pencils and pins are the staples of politicking much like hats and T-shirts often find their way into consumer promotions. Still, the most effective items can be the ones no one else is using. Just ask Senator Kent Cravens who used “little round fuzzy guys with the sticky pad feet.”

5.Have a sense of humor. Bald politicians have poked fun at themselves by handing out combs. And, rival parties have handed out brooms pledging to clean up their competition’s mess. These are just two examples of ways politicians have looked to pull themselves out of the cluttered advertising space with items that are more creative and funny. People like politicians and brands who have a sense of humor.