Friday, November 13, 2009

Targeted Group Eats Up Restaurant Gift-Card Promo

Most people would associate Scotts Lawn Service with a thick, green lawn but probably not with a thick, juicy steak. However, last summer, selected Scotts customers got just that – or any other meal they wanted – when the company paired up with for a gift-card promotion.

John Lewis, director of segment marketing for Scotts, says the company worked with Anthem Marketing Solutions to identify customers who were likely to cancel their lawn service during the summer. "Our attrition model takes into account historic cancel data to assign a likelihood of cancellation along with a predicted timing of cancel," he adds.

Customers in that segment received a direct mailer that offered them a $25 reward if they registered with Scotts online or a $50 card if they registered and signed up for automatic payments. Those who did got a gift card in the mail or an e-mail with a code that could be redeemed at more than 12,000 restaurants nationwide.

"Most of our customers who took advantage of the opportunity simply redeemed the card and enjoyed dinner on us," Lewis says, "but the few who we did hear from told us that they were surprised to receive this type of offer from their lawn-service provider and were delighted to receive this extra benefit for no additional cost."

Scotts had hoped the promotion would increase retention 5% over their control group, but the program resulted in a whopping 26% increase versus the control. "This promotion far exceeded our expectations from a results standpoint," Lewis says. "We plan to initiate similar programs in the future."

Muscle Milk Flexes During Fashion Week

During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in early September, passersby in New York were asked to pose in front a circus mirror. (You know, the kind that makes you look skinny.) Two brand ambassadors for 100-calorie Muscle Milk beverages then challenged people to make the altered image a reality by trying their product.

At a nearby GNC location, by Bryant Park, live models posed as mannequins in the storefront window. As part of its "From Cute to Catwalk" live window takeover, Muscle Milk's seemingly plastic women posed while brand ambassadors handed out free samples to the public.

The brand then armed 20 key influencers with a Muscle Milk Fashion Week survival pack. It consisted of a Nike sports bag with Muscle Milk Light, Muscle Milk branded lip gloss, a $100 Nike gift card and a Muscle Milk shirt.

All of these efforts were aimed at keeping busy models, designers, celebrities and members of the media fueled during Fashion Week, via CytoSport Inc.'s ready-to-drink protein-enhanced beverage. Samples were handed out at five key locations, including salon venues, the IMG Fashion Lounge and the Lu Biscuit Cafe.

The campaign is part of the brand's commitment to the promotion of a healthy image and active lifestyle. "Promotional items allow us to relay our messages to targeted consumer groups. For example, at New York Fashion Week our shirts read, 'Ready to Wear, Ready to Drink,' speaking about our Muscle Milk Ready-to-Drink Nutritional Shake, which is perfect for on-the-go fashionistas," says Shane McCassy, lifestyle marketing manager for CytoSport.

Jones-ing for Promotional Products

This summer, Jones Soda proudly proclaimed that it was "the official soda of the road trip." To prove it, the premium soda brand teamed with Griffin Technology to reward people for sharing their most creative photos taken while traveling across North America.

Using Twitter, travelers were asked to make a post with the hashtag #roadtripjones and include their destination or itinerary. Photos and videos could then be uploaded at and hashtagged through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Ten winners received one of 10 Griffin iTrip AutoPilots, and 10 photos from their journeys were selected to appear on Jones Soda bottles internationally. The grand prize winner also received a $500 shopping spree at The promotion wrapped up on August 28.

During the summer, the Jones Soda RV hit various locations during a 10,000-mile journey throughout the country, tweeting all the way (@Jones_Soda_RV). Consumers who caught up with the RV or stopped by the soda company's national headquarters received bumper stickers and coupons.

Jones Soda has a long history of giving out branded items and will continue to do so, says Josh Groff, brand manager for Jones Soda. "It is a badge of identity for people who wear and use gear branded with the Jones Soda logo – it's how they distinguish themselves from the crowd," Groff says.

The brand, which has a partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, gave away T-shirts before the NFL team's home opener last year. This year it gave out schedule posters. "By making these personal connections with our fans, they each become brand ambassadors," says Groff. "It is an efficient way for Jones Soda to expand awareness, and it is extremely effective because it is done in a viral and genuine way."

Hanes Wants Us All to Be "Passionately Pink"

For anyone who has ever wanted to create their own beautiful T-shirt design, Hanes provided their big chance. Through October 26, the top-selling, Michael Jordan-fronted T-shirt brand invited consumers to become "passionately pink" in the fight against breast cancer.

Original T-shirt designs that offered messages of hope, love and support were entered to win a weekly $100 Hanes gift card in mid-August. Twelve finalists' designs will be featured at between November 11 and November 25. The grand prize winner will be announced on December 7; the grand prize is a $250 gift card and a T-shirt with a screen print of the winning design.

Entrants were invited to use the Web site's graphics tools to create their own design. Each week the first 30 people who participated received a free shirt from actress Sarah Chalke, best known from the TV series Scrubs. (She got into the act by creating her own design, which was also for sale.)

The competition was created to launch Hanes' Pink Collection, as well as to raise awareness and support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The Pink Collection line of bras, panties, socks and shirts was available at select stores and at

Hanes announced earlier this year that it had donated a quarter of a million dollars to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It became the official apparel sponsor of Passionately Pink for the Cure. Hanes will make a $5,000 donation in the shirt design winner's name to a local affiliate or the Susan G. Komen global headquarters.

Chalke said in a statement that she was excited to be "a part of an amazingly dedicated network. Awareness is the best prevention, and this program encourages people across the country to join the fight against breast cancer in a truly meaningful way."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Real "Cold Call"

In all of my years in sales and marketing I think there is one or maybe two people I have come across that truly like making cold calls. For most sales people it's the part of our job we dislike the most. Here's an idea to help you get a warmer reception on your next "cold call".

So you've got your list of prospects that you want to get in and see. You know if they would only spend 5 or 10 minutes with you, they would realize why they should be doing business with you and not your competition. But it's been impossible getting them on the phone. And they never return your emails. It's come down to...THE COLD CALL! Yikes!!!

No biggie. Try this next time. First call the front desk to make sure your contact is in the office. This wont work so well if they are not. Also, depending on the size of the company, find out how many people are in the office or their department. Send your prospect an email saying you hope to break the ice later that afternoon.

Show up about 3PM with a cool treat for your Cold Call. Your prospect will be delighted when they see you've brought an entire ice cream party for them. Serve and clean up from the party. But don't expect to talk business right then and there. However there is a really good chance you'll get an appointment.

List of Supplies for your Ice Cream Party
  • Ice Cream
  • Syrup
  • Sprinkles & Nuts
  • Whipped Cream
  • Cherries
  • Cups or bowls with your logo
  • Spoons (in your corporate colors)
  • Napkins printed with your logo
  • A nice ice cream scoop that your contact can take home after the party

Things to consider
  • This is a way to get in to your TOP prospects. Be sure to do your research ahead of time to make sure this is someone you want to do business with.
  • You are giving your prospect a pleasant surprise in the middle of the day. Make sure this doesn't end up being work for them. Set-up, serve, and clean-up so no one has to take time out of their day to do that.
  • Have your schedule with you so you can lock in a time to meet then and there.
  • Make sure you have extra time in your schedule in the event that your prospect says that "Now is a good time".
  • Make sure you are prepared to talk about your company/product/service if you do meet right then.

Planning & Preparation
  • Creating an "ice cream party prospecting campaign" schedule is a good idea so you stay on track.
  • Start with 100 or so suspects. (You think they are prospects, but not quite sure.)
  • Do some research to confirm they are the person you want to do business with.
  • Based on that research narrow down and categorize your list to A, B, and C groups.
  • Plan a workable schedule over the next several weeks or months. You may be able to throw a party every afternoon, or your schedule may only allow you to get out once a week.
  • Start your campaign with your top "B" prospects. You don't want to waste your time on lower level prospects, however you don't want to cut your teeth on the golden goose either.
  • Make sure to have a follow-up plan in place as well. You've made this huge impact up front, you don't want it to sizzle out due to lack of contact on your part. Remember it takes an average of 7 touches before a prospect will buy.
  • Speaking of huge impact, you have demonstrated to your prospect that you have a strong desire to do business with them. More so than sending a letter or placing a call. This will go a long way to help you land them as a client.
  • Don't cheep out on the ice cream scoop. This is a way for your prospect to think about you even when they are not at the office. A nice stainless steel scoop will be used and appreciated much more than a cheep plastic one.
  • Once you commit to the campaign, buy your non-perishable goods in bulk at a club store or a restaurant wholesaler. This will save you time and money. You'll still need to buy the ice cream and whipped cream right before the party.

Calculating your Return on Investment
  • After you determine how many prospects you are going to include in your campaign you should do the following:
  • Get pricing on all of your supplies.
  • Calculate the average cost of each party. (Include your time in planning, executing, and following up)
  • Calculate the estimated worth of each new client
  • Estimate the ratio of turning the prospect into a client based on your history or your industry.
  • Finally calculate your estimated ROI

Sample: I decide I'm going after my top 40 prospects. I figure each part will cost me $100 in time and money. My average client is worth $20,000 a year. I figure I'll land 20% of these prospects. The campaign will cost me $4,000. I estimate I will gain $160,000 in new sales. After I subtract my cost and take my profit margin into consideration, I come out with a profit of about $62,000 from this campaign. Of course next year I won't have the expense of the campaign and the referrals I get into other departments and other companies will make this even more profitable for me.

Hmmm, maybe a fun way to celebrate our anniversary of doing business would be to throw another Ice Cream Party? This time I wont have to worry about "breaking the ice".

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Using Promotional Products Wisely and Creatively

Conventional and unconventional ideas that work

"Without promotion, something terrible happens ... Nothing!"
-- P.T. Barnum

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a customer or prospect walking the show floor at your next event. You're likely to be overwhelmed by an endless array of Frisbees, coffee mugs, paper weights and squeeze toys. What exactly does it take to catch your eye or to make an impression

Before opening a catalog or visiting a Web site and drooling over all the shiny items available to promote your organization, think about what you can do that will stick in someone's mind and remain cost-effective. Think about what you want the promotional products to do. What do you want to achieve at your next event? Do you want to generate "buzz" and attract attendees to your exhibit? Do you want to make sure every attendee goes home with something in his or her "goodie bag?" Or do you want to be more selective, rewarding actual prospects with something significant?

The best promotional strategies work toward one of two goals -- reinforcing your branding or emphasizing a call to action. Different products work better to help you achieve each of these goals. Let's start considering three types of promotional giveaways: practical, somewhat risky and green products.

Practical and "safe" options with staying power

When branding is your primary objective, give out high-quality, useful, practical items. Choose something that people will appreciate receiving, and will use often -- preferably several times a day. Some popular imprintable options:

  • Tape measures.
  • Mouse pads.
  • Calculators.
  • Hand sanitizers.
  • Wine openers.
  • Key chains.
  • Magnets.
  • Suntan lotion.
  • Ice scrapers.
  • Flash drives.
  • Pens and highlighters.

Pens? Doesn't everyone give these out? Aren't they old hat? Well, pens remain popular for good reason. They are cost-effective, come in a wide array of colors, are easy to customize and offer a wide rage of prices. Every time your customers reach for a pen, they'll see your logo, your Web site or your phone number. Whenever customers use it, they'll connect with your company. However, don't be too cheap and buy pens that don't work. Request four to five samples in different price ranges and test them out.

Different than the rest but riskier, too

Creative, whimsical or different items will set you apart and are memorable. But they carry some risk unless you find a way to connect with booth visitors or appeal to sentiment. Otherwise, they may get tossed. If you go this route -- be creative and be prepared to spend a little more to make a statement. Some popular options on the show circuit:

  • Removable tattoos.
  • Earplugs in an imprinted carrying case (for the plane ride home).
  • Business cards that turn into a sponge when wet.
  • Stress relievers (squeeze toys, Weebles, yo-yos, Rubik's cubes).
  • Piggy banks.
  • Mint and gumball tins in the shape of a truck, computer, home, etc.
  • Chocolate bars.
  • Gift cards.

If you are a new company, attend many shows each year or have a new product release, take a chance on a different item and see what happens. Whimsical items are often a great idea for customization -- to really fit your target audience. Earplugs are perfect for road warriors while a Rubik's cube is excellent for engineers or others who solve puzzles for a living.

For instance, one successful promotion at a bank involved sending a letter marked "Gift Enclosed" to key clients. Inside was a single dollar bill. Try giving away a silver dollar and business card to a qualified prospect who takes the time to listen to a full presentation. What's the downside -- $100? It's original, and they'll remember you long afterward -- that silver "cartwheel" will go home with them for sure.

And who doesn't love receiving gift cards? You'll want to save these for those you consider "premiere" customers, but a $10 gift card for Starbucks, ITunes or Amazon will make them remember you.

Green -- Good word of mouth, growing list of options

Recycled, biodegradable, organic -- you name it, it's available. Choose a green promotional item, and you make a statement about your organization and your values. You'll enhance your reputation and foster goodwill. Remember those pens and mugs? Both are available in an eco-friendly form. Some other green ideas:

  • Tote bags. Giving out an eco-friendly tradeshow bag provides attendees with something useful for the show and for years to come.
  • USB flash drives. Consider offering an imprinted USB flash drive filled with electronic versions of your slide show, printed collateral and an order form. If your budget is tight, hold a drawing, perhaps once or twice a day, for anyone who gives you a business card.
  • Water-powered calculators. Just fill the compartment with water as instructed -- and they work! Better still, they don't require batteries.
  • Apparel. For those attending an event, eco-friendly t-shirts and polos made from recycled materials are also very popular and cost-effective.

Green items are typically pricier than standard giveaways -- but shop around, and you'll see a lot more eco-friendly items available from suppliers, which indicates an increased demand from consumers.

Consider your audience -- One size doesn't fit all

Do your booth visitors spend their workday in a cubicle, or are they out in the field? Do they work from home, or are they road warriors who live in hotels and airports? Consider these important questions when purchasing branded items.

Gifts -- like promotional products -- have to be appropriate for the recipient. So, choose them carefully. Tradeshow exhibitors have long known this secret to success, and as an event planner, you can learn a great deal from their experiences.

Here's a sampling of giveaways at a recent high-tech event:

  • Digital cameras.
  • Computer accessories.
  • Ergonomic aids like grippers and "stress-relievers" (mouse pads and wrist rests are a little passé at this point).

Tip: You may also consider two sets of giveaways: 1) those specifically for "good" customers or potential leads, and 2) those for general attendees and other vendors walking the show floor, shoving anything they can get for free into their tote bags.

The Do's and Don'ts of Promo Items


* Make sure attendees cannot remove your name and logo from giveaways.

* Choose items that attendees will keep and use, not throw away or eat.

* Find something relevant to the local market: windshield shades in the hot summer sun, ice scrapers in the winter (remember it snows in over 40 states).

* Give out mugs and cups with your logo when you visit -- or mail them directly to your target group.

* Match your items to your target group's interests (e.g., realtors appreciate a carpenter pencil, tape measure or mini-tool kits).

* If possible, hand out your gifts personally: Shake hands, smile, get a card, give them their reward.


* Bother giving anything away if you can't brand the product to your company.

* Be a copycat: Envelope openers are useful; however, seven at one event is too much.

* Give out junk. The little balsa airplane might work well for a company in aviation -- but if it doesn't fly well, it'll come off as junk.

* Pass out items in the hope that prospects will give them to their kids. You want the prospects to remember you, not Junior. What's worse, it may feel manipulative to adult recipients.

Think strategically ...

Looking for products that will act as a call to action? These items should have less clutter for higher impact. They should also be highly visible and contain top-level information about your company. Your logo, a tagline and one or two forms of contact are usually the most information that will fit comfortably on this type of item. Keep it simple. Choose a product that will comfortably hold your message.

Looking to get your attendees really engaged with your promotion? A software company recently found a good way to launch a new product. To boost traffic in its tradeshow booth, staff sent a timed series of mailings to their top prospects. Each mailing contained a unique promotional item. In this case, the recipients really couldn't tell what the product was or how to use it. The only way to find the answer was to come to the booth.

This unique approach got people to the booth, and it gave the sales reps time to talk to the customers. As soon as they were done explaining the promotional product, they had a foot in the door to talk about their featured product. Even customers who took the promotional product and ran were exposed to the company's booth and basic message.

As an organizer, you now have a multitude of options that didn't exist even a few years ago. If price is not a major concern, you can really make your items stand out with your logo. Offering eco-friendly items is a great way to make a statement and set your organization apart -- especially since there's a growing demand for green giveaways. The list of eco-friendly options is long and getting longer. Most promotional-product companies offer some green choices, while other companies devote themselves to them entirely.

Even if you choose to play it safe, you have more resources at your disposal to shop for bargains or off-the-wall ideas until you find what suits your organization's goals. Best of luck!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What would you do?

In my reading and research on being a more responsible promotional marketing consultant, I came across this analogy. The writer was likening the way we buy promotional products to the morning ritual of getting our caffeine fix.

Each morning on your way to work you stop by the same quick-stop joint to get your cup of joe. It's something you've done for years. It's convenient, it's always just right, the way you like it. But what if you found out that somewhere between the fields of coffee beans and that first steaming sip that touches your lips in the morning, people were suffering and, even worse, dying - Would that be enough to make you switch coffee shops? Would you be willing to pay a bit more? Would it be enough for you to take a left at the corner instead of a right and change your ways?

As salespeople and business owners, there are bottom line choices that have to be made in order to keep the profit and loss in check. But in today's world, there are new options available. And today, that cup of coffee you were looking for doesn't have to hurt anyone in order to provide us all our creature comforts. Now, there is a shop just another mile down the road that offers Fair Trade coffee, which ensures fair wages and a safe work environment for all involved in the supply chain. As for that fashion-forward tee you are looking for, or the hard goods you need in a hurry, there are ethically conscious companies out there with great products - so no more excuses. Just let your promotional marketing consultant know that these things are important to you.

Is that really your Excuse?

Top five worst excuses not to Go Green, Go Safe, and Go Responsible:
  1. It's too expensive.
  2. One person can't make a difference.
  3. It doesn't fit my lifestyle.
  4. The quality of the products just isn't as high.
  5. I don't know where or how to begin.

Being a Responsible Consultant

I have spent the last few hours reading an industry magazine supplement on responsibility. Subtitled "The Comprehensive Guide to Maintaining the Highest Safety, Environmental & Social Standards for the Promotional Products Industry". Believe me, it's given me a lot to think about.

When I started working in this industry, I was a bit ahead of the curve. I have always be "Eco Conscious". So when their was a big push about 3 or 4 years ago to start making the industry a bit more "Green", I was already well on that path. In fact, since my very first consultation, I have been trying to make my clients more aware of their choices and how it would impact the environment in relation to their marketing goals.

Some of the things I would have them consider when ordering an item were; What was it made of? How long would it stay in use? Was it recyclable? Was it biodegradable?, etc.

That in itself was a lot to think about. But now, there are so many other areas to be aware of. Certainly, as of late, whether a product is made in the USA or not has been more of a concern. Naturally promoting your own company with USA made goods in better for the overall economy. However there are other reasons to consider where something is made. Product safety concerns is a big reason. Fair wage and working conditions. Lot-to-lot quality is something that recently was brought to my attention. Did you know that some suppliers will pay extra to make sure that there is consistency in the quality of material used in the manufacturing of their goods? I didn't until a couple of weeks ago.

Besides the actually manufacturing of a product, it's important to look at the printing, packaging and shipping methods used. What kind of inks are being used? How does the supplier handle waste issues? Does the supplier use recycled packaging? Where is the supplier located in relation to where the product is being shipped?

Lastly, what does the supplier do to "give back"? Some suppliers give a percent of sales of pink products to breast cancer foundations. Others have organized community outreach events. And some will donate products to charity events and fundraisers.

Does your promotional products consultant council you in these areas? Maybe until the industry as a whole comes around, some of the responsibility should be on the client. So next time you place an order for water bottles or t-shirts you ask your consultant a couple of questions other than, "How much will this cost?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Top 10 Reasons To Work With A Promotional Consultant

As I was looking for some information for a class I'm teaching in a few weeks, I came across this list of reasons to work with a professional promotional products consultant. There is a difference in working with a consultant, rather than just ordering from some cyber-store. Here are some of those reasons.

REASON #1: Consultants are the experts in their field. When you’re sick, you want a doctor who has the specialization and training to help you. PPAI consultants meet the highest qualification standards in the industry and display “The Mark of a Professional.” The MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) or CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist) designation after a consultant’s name means he or she has earned one of the industry’s only official certifications. There’s no need to spend all your time on the Internet or searching through catalogs. Your promotional products consultant will come to you—like a doctor who makes house calls!

Good consultants go beyond just selling products. Successful promotional campaigns don’t happen by chance. To realize goals, promotional products programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained. While it’s true that you can buy a product anywhere, an experienced consultant can help you solve problems, plan a program and get results.

REASON #3: Professional consultants have access to vast product research resources, including an extensive database which contains more than 500,000 products. Yes, you can find a mug online, but a consultant can find hundreds of mugs, in a multitude of colors, sizes, shapes, materials, designs, etc. Have you saved money if you get the mugs and they are not the right color? Is it worth the extra savings if you get the mugs and they are so breakable due to inferior materials that they are virtually unusable?

REASON #4: Consultants are in tune with the trends, including hot items and the newest products and processes. A qualified consultant can add creativity, innovation and imagination to your overall program to achieve your goals. Many online services show you the products they want to sell; a qualified consultant will listen to what you want and help you find the right product for your needs. And a consultant can provide tangible samples that appeal to your senses: taste, touch and feel!

REASON #5: Your consultant is more than just a salesperson. Chances are you will buy promotional products more than once in your life. Once a company uses a consultant, that relationship often continues for years—and even decades. Your promotional products consultant is someone with whom you have worked, someone you know and someone you trust. In many cases, companies use the consultant as part of the creative team, even including him or her in marketing meetings.

REASON #6: Personalized service is the role of a consultant. When going online, your selection is what the internet company determines to make available. When you work with a consultant, your selection is determined by your needs and goals, enhanced by the experience, creativity and recommendations of that consultant who has your best interests at heart. Online, you’re a faceless, nameless buyer. With a consultant, you’re a client with your own personal shopper, receiving service along with ideas and prices. When you order online, who monitors your order and your deadline? Your consultant has your interests in mind. Seldom do you receive that kind of personalized, “hand-holding” customer service from an unknown online company.

REASON #7: Industry consultants can offer experienced advice on how (and IF) to imprint items. You may have found the perfect key chain, but will your logo imprint on it? Will it be recognizable? Some things don’t work, or there might be something else that will work better. A qualified promotional products consultant can explain to you the best printing process for your program, your imprint and the product you’ve chosen.

REASON #8: Trained consultants can save you money in the long run. Many times, a price you see in a generic catalog or on the internet does not cover many “hidden” costs involved—set up, imprint duplication, shipping, etc. A consultant can help you avoid unexpected and unbudgeted costs by quoting the total price up-front.

REASON #9: Consultants will work with you to get your artwork imprinted properly. Say you want your company’s logo embroidered on a golf shirt. How do you ensure it will be done properly, and with the correct colors? A trained consultant can work with you to insure accurate transfer of your artwork, including correct fonts, size, spacing and many other important factors. And your consultant’s commitment to quality customer service will guarantee your satisfaction with the finished product.

REASON #10: Professional promotional products consultants can assist you in developing a workable distribution plan for your products. Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products. But what if the cost of distributing your product is more than the product and more than your expected ROI (return on investment)? A consultant can help you avoid unexpected problems like this.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Calling All Connors

If your name is Sarah Connor or John Connor, you were in luck on May 21. To celebrate the premiere of the movie Terminator Salvation, Pizza Hut offered a free salvation pizza, with one topping, to those with the same name as the movie's character. You just needed ID to prove it.

This was just one part of the pizza chain's massive tie-in with the highly-anticipated summer sequel. On April 6, it launched a sweepstakes at, where one grand prize winner was given the chance to attend the official premiere after-party and take a behind-the-scenes tour of Warner Bros. Studios. And, through May 30, there were a variety of instant-win prizes given out.

The awards included branded T-shirts, logoed Xbox 360 consoles, the Terminator Salvation video game and other merchandise. One first-prize winner even received a replica of the T-600 Terminator.

"Fans strengthen their connection to their favorite movies by acquiring collectables, and as a part of our promotion with Terminator Salvation, we're giving fans the opportunity to win a once-in-a-lifetime collectible – a life-size replica of the Terminator robot from the film," says Bob Kraut, vice president of marketing communications for Pizza Hut. "Anything we can offer our customers that brings the experience of their favorite movies to life will always be a sought after prize."

The Web site also offered a sneak peek of exclusive footage from the film, the movie's trailer and downloadable wallpapers – available whether your name was Connor or not.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Digital Download with a New Spin

I'm a big fan of the Digital Download card. A promotion that not only gets my message into my prospects hand at an event, but even after, and that is interactive - gets my vote!

If you're not familiar with a digital download card, let me give you a brief summary. Usually it's a plastic "business card" with your message/information on one side and instructions on how to redeem the download on the back. The download could be for anything from a few songs, photo prints, movie tickets, phone time, etc., you decide. So for your prospect to redeem the card, they go to your website, follow a link, fill out their information or even a survey and then get their song, etc.

Now here is where this gets really cool. CFS Promotions has now an Instant Win Mystery Promotion to their cards. Say you get 1000 cards with one song on them. 990 of those cards will have a code for the song download, 6 will have a code for a $20 Starbucks card, and 4 will have a code for a new iPod. Think about it, you give the card to a visitor at your trade show booth and tell them it could be worth an iPod. Do you think they'll take the time to visit your site? My bet is YES!

For more information vist my website or CFS Promotions.

Prime Placement

Why is it, that when looking for a thank you gift, trade show give away, or sales call drop off people don't think of coasters? Almost everyone drinks coffee, water, etc. at their desk. If they don't have a coaster they either end up with a wet, damaging ring, or place a napkin under their cup. This is a prime place for your message to be. Each time they place or remove their cup they see your logo.

Coasters come in all sorts of material. Leather, brass, ceramic, rubber, sandstone, glass... the list goes on and on. There is a line that I happen to like quite a bit. It's from Buntingware. They are made from an absorbent ceramic material and are rubber backed. The coasters can be imprinted in full color or have an image debossed on the face. You can order them in sets or in bulk or even pair them with a matching mug. They are also made in the USA.

Think about this prime placement next time you want to be remembered while your client or prospect is at their desk.

View Buntingware Coasters or the Full Line of coasters.

Bamboo Shirts! Really?

Last week I became familiar with this line. It's the Bamboo Collection from AKWA. Golf/Polo shirts and t-shirts made from Bamboo fiber.

Did you know that Bamboo is 100% biodegradable and doesn't harm the environment. Naturally grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. The cross-section of the bamboo fiber is filled with micro gaps and holes to promote superior moisture absorption and ventilation. Keeps you cool in hot weather while possessing a permanent anti-bacterial agent.

Most of this line also happens to be USA made!

Check this out for your next golf or corporate event.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

May 11th is Eat What You Want Day

  • Have salespeople deliver snack baskets to their customers when they visit on this day.
  • Create a promotion based on the Eat What You Want Day making the connection between feeling like you can't eat what you want and you can't seem to get what you want when it comes to (plug in your product or service category). Tell them that on May 11th they can not only eat what they want, but they can have what they want when it comes to (plug in your product or service) by scheduling an appointment with one of your sales reps. When the rep makes the call on May 11 he or she brings a logoed basket of goodies or cookies.

Some other designations for May that you might be interested in are:

  • May 2nd: No Pants Day
  • May 3rd: Free Comic Book Day
  • May 4th: Respect for Chickens Day
  • May 5th: Cinco de Mayo
  • May 5th: Teacher's Day
  • May 4th - 10th: Be Kind To Animals Week(R)
  • May 5th - 11th: National Wildflower Week
  • May 8th: World Red Cross Day
  • May 10th: Mother's Day
  • May 11th: Eat What You Want Day
  • May 12th: Stamp Out Hunger
  • May 11th - 17th: National Police Week
  • May 14th: National Receptionists Day
  • May 16th: Armed Forces Day
  • May 16th: National Pizza Party Day
  • May 17th: Armed Forces Day
  • May 18th: International Museum Day
  • May 18th: Victoria Day (Canada)
  • May 19th: Armed Forces Day
  • May 18th - 24th: National Dog Bite Prevention Week
  • May 20th - 26th: World Trade Week
  • May 21st: National Employee Health & Fitness Day
  • May 23rd: World Turtle Day
  • May 24th: Brother's Day
  • May 25th: National Missing Children's Day
  • May 26th: International Jazz Day
  • May 26th: Memorial Day
  • May 30th: Hug Your Cat Day
  • May 31st: World No-Tobacco Day

The week of April 27th is National Volunteer Week

Thank all of your volunteers with a small memento of their efforts. Hold a thank-you celebration and include table favors that commemorate their contributions. Select a Volunteer of the Year and award them with a larger commemorative gift. And, be sure to get pictures and send to the local papers.

Some other designations for April that you might be interested in are:

  • Alcohol Awareness Month
  • National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • Holy Week
  • National Donate Life Month
  • April 1st: April Fools Day
  • April 2nd: International Children's Book Day
  • April 3rd: Tweed Day
  • April 4th: Victims Of Violence day
  • April 5th: National Fun At Work Day
  • April 6th: Teflon Day
  • April 7th: No Housework Day
  • April 9th - 15th: Egg Salad Week
  • April 10th: National Sibilings Day
  • April 11th: Trivia Day
  • April 13th: International Plant Appreciation Day
  • April 7th - 11th: National Public Health Week
  • April 13th - 19th: National Library Week
  • April 27th: National Volunteer Week
  • April 15th: Income Tax Pay Day
  • April 17th: International Ford Mustang Day
  • April 19th - 27th: National Wildlife Week
  • April 22nd: Earth Day
  • April 24th: Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day
  • April 27th: Mother, Father Deaf Day
  • April 28th: Cubicle Day
  • April 29th: National Dance Day
  • April 30th: Spank Out Day USA

This One is a Real Cutie

Cuties, a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin, knows that things can go ugly without the right marketing support. That's why when Cuties hit stores in November, it did so with a $7 million integrated marketing plan that included ads, promotions and events that positioned its product as a healthy snack option, especially for children, in a fun, playful way.

Print ads read "Root for the fruit" and show a healthy Cuties mandarin orange chasing away a slice of pizza. T-shirts bearing the ad were also created, as were branded adhesive bandages, custom ice packs that say "Cuties. They're so cool," temporary tattoos and iPod covers that say "Root for the li'l guy."

These items were distributed at American Youth Soccer Organization games, Radio Disney events and other kid-friendly happenings. Members of the press also received these items, as well as Cuties branded lip balm, shoelaces and a USB port shaped like a business card. And, more than 3.5 million first through fifth grade students were exposed to the brand through custom-designed lesson plans, book covers and reward stickers.

As the rollout of the product continues through May (when mandarin orange season ends), other promotions including a Valentine's Day effort will hit markets.

"Cuties are a fast-growing citrus brand," says Dominic Engels, vice president of marketing for Cuties, in a statement. "Increasing our marketing support throughout the season will continue to grow the category, especially in today's market where we know consumers are looking for quality, health benefits and convenience."

Dickies Honors the American Worker

America hasn't exactly had a strong run of late when it comes to its workers. Many are struggling to make ends meet; others are fighting for their jobs. Dickies, the brand that outfits many of our hardest workers (as well as some hipsters), decided to honor the hard working men and women who give it their all each and every day.

Through the summer months, beginning June 1, consumers were invited to name themselves the hardest worker in the country. Entrants were given the chance to win a grand prize of $1 million and VIP trip tickets to the Dickies 500 race at the Texas Motor Speedway.

The "Dickies American Worker of the Year" sweepstakes honored farmers, builders, teachers, electrical lineman and other strong-willed workers. Six regional finalists were selected. Each received a prize package including a trip for two to the American Bull Riders World Finals in Las Vegas.

Dickies, the "voice of the American worker," also awarded each with a new Yamaha Grizzly 450 4x4, a Dickies gift certificate and logoed bags and clothing.

Hal Hughes was named the winner. For his honest day's work, he received a new 2009 Ford F-150 with a B&W hitch, a Yamaha Rhino 700 FI 4x4 as well as the chance to win $1 million by picking the number of the Sprint Cup car that would win the Dickies 500.

Dickies rep Misty Otto says, "The American Worker of the Year contest really embodies what our company stands for - hard work and determination."

OrangeSoda Uses Promo Products to Make Things Pop

Small- and medium-size businesses have a lot of online marketing agencies from which to choose. Still, agency OrangeSoda feels it has the best search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click offerings. The problem is how to stand out from the pack. A strong brand name like OrangeSoda helps, but to really drive the point home they decided to give away, well, logoed orange soda cans and bottles to prospective clients, partners and investors.

They also distributed standard promotional giveaways like pens and note pads. But the actual soda works best because it ties directly back to the company’s overall branding and positioning., says Jay Bean, CEO and co-founder of OrangeSoda.

Bean says he didn’t lose a great deal of sleep over deciding which item would be best to use for his marketing efforts. “The choice to give away orange soda as a promotional item was actually pretty simple since it’s in our name. But, more than that, we wanted to give something away that’s nontraditional and would help us stand out like our product and services do.”

Well aware of the pun involved, he says, “It’s also a part of our culture and brand since we try to put some fizz into the online marketing we provide for thousands of clients.”

While many online agencies lean on the Web for their marketing efforts, OrangeSoda has proven its faith in offline tactics. It also runs local billboard ads in Utah that prod drivers to first ask, “What the heck is SEO?” and “What does OrangeSoda have to do with it?” When it comes to promotional products, apparently a lot.

Boru Takes Battle of the Bands Online

Anyone who has ever attended college has likely experienced at least one battle of the bands competition. The scene generally involves a few wannabe rock stars with semi-tuned instruments and loud amps. Boru Vodka, for the second year, decided to pay homage to these rockers via its online “Defend the Bar Band” competition.

Consumers were invited to visit and vote for their favorite bar band. A panel of judges spared viewers’ eyes and ears by selecting 14 semifinalists from among 800 applicants representing 47 states.

To generate interest, Boru brand ambassadors hit the bars hosting “Defend the Bar Band” nights. Patrons were spurred into competing in impromptu Guitar Hero competitions. For their hard work and hard rocking, they received promo kits containing posters, T-shirts, hats, tattoos, coasters, napkins and other items.

A band called The Loveblisters emerged victorious after voting had ended. The band received a professionally produced music video of their song Devotion as well as $10,000 in new equipment. The Castle Brands-owned Irish vodka also delivered the track to 650 radio stations using Yangaroo’s eNotes technology.

“This year’s Boru ‘Defend the Bar Band’ competition was extremely successful, with more than eight times the number of bands participating over last year’s number,” says D’Arcy King from C2 Creative, Castle Brands’ agency of record. “Fan involvement through online voting helped The Loveblisters, capture the top spot in the competition and claim the title of the most passionate and authentic bar band.”

Thanks to the success of the campaign, Boru is looking to vastly expand the competition in 2009 in hopes of finding the next The Loveblisters.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Treeless Paper... Really?

Here's a new environmentally sound product I recently became aware of.

Green Smart™ Treeless Paper is the best eco-friendly material that not only provides a great product, but also reduces the consumption of two of our greatest resources: trees and water. This factory spent 10 years developing the process to make Treeless Paper. If you are interested in really going GREEN then you need to check out GREEN SMART™ Treeless Paper.

A revolutionary innovation, Green Smart™ Treeless Paper is the newest and most Eco-Friendly material to-date; composed of 80% calcium Carbonate (the main element of stone) and 15% natural resin. The result of this technology, during the production of Green Smart™ Treeless Paper, no wood pulp, no water, no acid, no alkali, no bleach is used; saving tons of wood and water, helping prevent water pollution and ozonosphere. In addition, saving energy because less electricity is used to produce Green Smart™ Treeless Paper than traditional wood-pulp paper. Furthermore, Treeless Paper is waterproof and oil proof and under natural environmental conditions, it will biodegrade in less than one year and is recyclable.

Green Smart™ Treeless paper is environmentally safe. It uses no natrium (Latin for sodium), Hg, Lead or cadmium. It provides an excellent printing surface that beautifully accepts 100% eco-friendly inks, including inks made from soybeans. And it meets FDA requirements. Green Smart™ Treeless Paper is available in a variety of thicknesses and can be used just like paper and cardboard. It is available in press sheets and rolls. Treeless Paper can therefore, be used -- just like paper and cardboard -- to produce a variety of products, like shopping bags or even stickynotes.

What's your next project that involves the use of traditional paper? Maybe it's time to consider Green Smart™ Treeless paper.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Change We Can Believe In - Litterally

I am so excited about our 44th president. I can't speak for an entire generation, but as a gen-xer this is the first time I've felt connected to our country's leader. He feels like my peer, not my father's or grandfather's peer. He seems to share many of my values. He seems to see the world as I see it.

I was planning on taking my children to the mall on the 20th to witness history in the making. Now that it's going to be a mad house, I'm not so sure. I might just celebrate this historic occasion with my family and friends from the comfort of my living room.

As I was searching for gifts my clients could give to their members or clients who were coming to town, I came across this Obama "Change" Collection.

This commemorative tribute to Barack Obama, our first African-American President, includes the following coins: 2007 Washington dollar; JFK half dollar; Illinois state quarter; Hawaii state quarter. Each coin is colorized with a different Barack Obama image. Each set includes a Certificate of Authenticity and is packaged in a black velvet gift box. Each of these designs have been registered and trademarked.

Own a piece of history. Or give this as a gift to your clients, family and friends.

They start at $26.00 for one set. And are as little as $18.00 for 500 sets. The gift box can be personalized. Call or email for details and pricing.

More Information

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Month’s Worth Of Creative Dates For Innovative Marketing February 2009

February 20th is MardiGras

  • Send your salesforce out with logoed boxes of doughnuts to leave with clients on this day that's also known as Fat Tuesday or Doughnut Day
  • Create a promotion that delivers all the beads and trappings of MardiGras and ties in the carnival atmosphere. Make a connection to how the carnival atmosphere seems great on MardiGras, but when they wake up to the sobering reality of the next day your business, product or service is what will carry them over long haul.

Some other designations for February that you might be interested in are:

  • American Heart Month
  • National Pet Dental Health Month
  • National African American History Month
  • National Cherry Month
  • February 1st: Women's Heart Health Day
  • February 1st: Super Bowl
  • February 2nd: Ground Hog Day
  • February 4th - 10th: National Consumer Protection Week
  • February 5th: Mexico: Constitution Day
  • February 5th: Mardi Gras
  • February 6th: Ash Wednesday
  • February 7th: Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbors Day
  • February 8th - 19: Florida State Fair
  • February 8th: Boy Scout Day
  • February 9th: Corvette Day
  • February 10th: Pro Sports Wives Day
  • February 11th: White Shirt Day
  • February 11th - 17th: Jell-O(R) Week
  • February 12th: Darwin Day
  • February 13th: Get A New Name day
  • February 14th: Valentine's day
  • February 15th: Flag Day (Canada)
  • February 15th: Susan B Anthony Day
  • February 16th: Family Day (Canada)
  • February 16th: Crown Royal International Race Of Champions
  • February 16th: Louis Riel Day (Canada)
  • February 17th: Daytona 500
  • February 17th: My Way Day
  • February 18th: Chinese New Year
  • February 18th: President's Day
  • February 19th: Chocolate Mint Day
  • February 21st: International Mother Language Day
  • February 23rd: Anniversary: Iwo Jima Day
  • February 24th: Mardi Gras
  • February 25th: Ash Wednesday
  • February 26th: For Pete's Sake Day
  • February 27th: Spay Day USA
  • February 28th: National Chili Day

Video Store Promo Puts Excitement in the Air

Making a storefront stand out from all the others in the same strip mall isn't easy to do – or is it? John Pflughoft, owner of Jodati Inc., dba Blockbuster, distinguishes his video stores with SkyDancers – "dancing" inflatables featuring a fan inside that continually pumps air through their bodies, making them sway, bend and "dance."

SkyDancers are typically 20-plus feet in height, come in the shape of either characters or straight tubes and can be imprinted with custom logos or messages. "We custom-ordered ours in colors to match our corporate logo," Pflughoft says, "so in addition to driving customers through our doors, these inflatables also support brand awareness."

Pflughoft is using the SkyDancers at two stores and is convinced they're driving traffic to both locations. "We noticed a near instant response to our use of dancing inflatables, as they really help a business to stand out amongst the many," he says.

In fact, he was so happy with the results that he has recommended SkyDancers on a Web site for Blockbuster franchise owners, plus two other stores had put up inflatables on his recommendation.

A Sharp Approach to Baseball

There's a pretty good chance that if you went to a Major League Baseball game this year after the All-Star break, you were exposed to a Sharp Aquos high-definition television. Sharp Electronics, which spent its second year as the official HDTV of MLB, ran a complete lineup of fan activities and promotions throughout the second half-season.

Much like the Philadelphia Phillies, Sharp ended the season with a serious playoff push. "The Sharp Aquos Instant Replay Roadshow" appeared at every postseason game. The effort, which debuted during the All-Star Game, allows consumers to be the umpire by watching replays on Aquos displays to make the call on controversial plays.

"The Sharp Aquos Experience Mobile Tour," meanwhile, used a 53-foot double-expanded trailer to create the ultimate showcase for its products at postseason games. "At all of our activation points, Sharp gives away promotional items emblazoned with a specially designed logo that features both of our brands and the MLB silhouetted batter," says Judah Zeigler, associate vice president for the retail and marketing group at Sharp.

At the in-stadium kiosks during the post-season, Sharp gave away branded cinch sacks, soft baseballs and playing cards. "Because we give away items that can be used over and over, like the cinch sack and playing cards, we're able to keep Sharp's association with MLB in the mind of the consumer, not just at the point at which they're interacting with our brand at a special event, but for days, weeks or even months afterwards," says Zeigler. More than 5,500 retailers participated in MLB-themed Sharp promotions.

The Athlete's Foot Gives Its Brand a Kick

Hoping to add a little spring to its step, The Athlete's Foot began a rebranding effort earlier this year. The venerable athletic shoe and sportswear retailer has opted to move away from its name (which is also an itchy fungus) and toward the acronym, "TAF."

To help consumers become familiar with its altered name and new logo, the company offered a free drawstring backpack as a gift-with-purchase during the back-to-school shopping season. Consumers who spent more than $75 received one of 11,000 free backpacks.

"If the branded item makes sense to the overall strategy, then it can help build a brand," says Darius Billings, director of retail brand marketing and merchandising for NexCen Franchise Management, parent company to The Athlete's Foot. "For TAF, we have committed to a strategy of serving the everyday athletes of the world – the student athletes, the before-breakfast athletes, the after-work athletes and the weekend athletes. To do this, we need the TAF brand to speak their language and live in their world. A TAF coffee mug isn't necessarily going to do this, but the drawstring bag can, because it is an important element of the everyday athlete."

It was a perfect fit because it jives with TAF customers' athletic routines, says Billings. "For the student athlete, it's their second bag, the first being their book bag," he says. "The drawstring bag is something that travels with them to practice, to competitions and to games. For after-work athletes, it replaces the briefcases at 5 p.m. And so the brand, which aims to serve the everyday athlete, is also a part of the everyday athlete's life."

The bag helps the brand raise awareness in an organic way. A simple gift-with-purchase "may not seem like much, but next time you're near a weekend soccer tournament, a 10K run, or a pickup basketball game, look around." Billings says. "The drawstring bag is everywhere. It only makes sense that TAF should be a part of that space."

Chiquita's Fresh Idea

We all know it's good to eat our fruits and vegetables. Now, Chiquita Brands is trying to make it even better. Consumers who purchase Chiquita and Fresh Express fruits and vegetables can earn "Fresh Funds." This "Healthy Rewards for Healthy Living" consumer loyalty program, launched in September, presents consumers with points redeemable for a host of prizes.

Fresh Funds participants can redeem their points for a branded tote bag or free Chiquita or Fresh Express products. They can also use their points to participate in auctions, for items like a Cannondale bicycle, as well as make donations to charities.

Chiquita hopes the program, will help its products stand out in the produce aisle. It also expects Fresh Funds to increase frequency of purchases as well as promote awareness. "This program fits the direction we're headed as a consumer-focused company," says Bryan Brown, corporate communications director for Chiquita Fresh Express. "It connects with our Chiquita and Fresh Express brands, and just as important, it attracts consumers to the produce aisle and encourages a healthy lifestyle habit of eating fresh fruits and vegetables."

Chiquita Brands, a $4 billion company, is using direct mailers and in-store displays as well as an online push to get the word out. Leading up to the launch of, the company launched an online teaser campaign. Six viral videos drew 400,000 views of the site. It also leveraged Facebook and MySpace to get social with consumers.