The promotional product world looks very different now than it did in early March. It’s not all gloom and doom, but the way we interact with each other and stay in touch with our prospects and clients has certainly changed. Despite challenging times, you still need to promote your products and services, get in front of your target audience and generate new business.
So, what’s trending lately in the promo world to help companies stay top of mind? Let’s look at some new ideas and all-time favorites.
Pens have been my all-time favorite product because they appeal to almost every audience. With the focus on everything being fresh, clean, and sanitized, a new pen is a coveted item. Antimicrobial pens are popular because they help fight off germs – plus, many come individually wrapped in cellophane to avoid any contamination.
Personalized golf balls are a crowd pleaser and they’re a cinch to customize. Just add your charity or business’ logo, message or photo, and voilà, you’ve got a unique and memorable giveaway. Some may even become collector’s items! Since golf is one of the few team sports that’s ‘open for business,’ many golf events are still on. Yet another reason customized golf ball remains a top choice!
If you’re like me, you probably want to drink more water, but always forget to pack your water bottle. Problem solved! Give your prospects and clients branded water bottles that they can’t forget! Water bottles are a health-focused promo gift that your target market can use every day – and the benefit is that your name is always front and center. Want a few ideas? Check out my client’s favorite water bottles.
With everyone going back into the workplace, hand sanitizers are a necessity. If you thought customized hand sanitizers were a popular handout before COVID-19, they’re now one of my best sellers. Hand washing is serious business, so much in fact that the CDC has an entire section on keeping your hands clean. There’s even a “Life is Better with Clean Hands Campaign”. Piggyback on that for great PR and to do your part to keep America safe.
Why Promotional Products Now?
Business is coming back and the same problems you solved before the pandemic, you’re still solving now. Don’t stop marketing. Let your clients and prospects know you’re well and alive and open for business. Promotional products that are reasonably priced and customized for your business, let the world know – “I’m here. How can I help you?”
Rachel Leone is president of Leone Marketing Solutions, a women-owned promotional product and apparel firm. She helps big brands and small brands stand out, get noticed, and generate leads through her promotional products and services. Thousands of new products are launched every day, and one of them may be just right for you, click here to browse her website. For more information or a complimentary brainstorming session contact her at 781.740.3171 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Running a business these days is no joke. The global pandemic has put many small businesses into a tailspin. No one’s seen anything like this before and everyone’s talking about “pivoting,” but what does that actually mean? What does a pivot look like for you?
You’re great at running and marketing your business. You’ve got the branding, social media, and your new client funnel down to a science. You’re turning a profit and you can’t believe how far you’ve come since the first days of starting out, but this COVID-19 deal is uncharted territory.
You’re not alone. Sales for many businesses have dropped this month due to the distraction provided by the pandemic, but particularly, due to its associated social distancing practices. Yes, the latter are a matter of national health, but man, are they a pain for conducting in-person sales activities. And, our current world scenario has made all forms of sales and outreach activities far more difficult and far less effective, whether they be in-person, phone, or e-communications ones. That’s why we recommend that your pivot be one that includes relationship building.
What’s the deal with relationships? They will be what sustains you through this crisis and after it is over. By reaching out to potential clients now, you can be certain that you’ll be one of the first people they come to once the crisis has receded. You can establish yourself as a credible, helpful and friendly resource in your field, and even a “thought leader.”
How to make the pivot toward relationship building?
Establish connections online by devoting a half hour to posting and being present on your social media each day. That’s enough time to reply to comments on your posts or to comment on others’ posts. Always make an effort to do this, especially on Facebook and Instagram since that’s part of the algorithm that drives your posts to the top of people’s feeds.
Direct message followers who are your dream clients. Now’s the time to reach out and say “hello” and offer to help or provide information they might find particularly beneficial at this point in time. Most people have more free time lately and are craving connections. If you’re making a practice of extending your olive branch now in a very genuine/authentic and heart-felt way, you’ll be remembered by people for helping make this hard time a little easier for them.
Reach out to people who operate in fields adjacent to yours and who serve the same vertical (target audiences) you’d like to do work for. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you could connect with someone who does graphic design. In the future, when you meet a client who needs a website re-done, you can provide your client with the copy they need, and then refer them to your colleague who will design their fancy new logo or design their new website. If you help nonprofits with marketing, but there are other firms that don’t compete with you that offer bookkeeping services for nonprofits, then why not try to be referral sources for each other? These referrals can go both ways. People in your identical spaces could be competitors but what if you shifted that perspective? What if you turned them into collaborators or work referral sources? Developing a “referral circle” is an excellent way to broaden and strengthen your network and increase your customer base.
Aside from all the business benefits that come along with establishing and maintaining relationships, having these positive, collaborative, helpful relationships just feels really good right now. In this time of isolation, it’s human and healthy to crave connection with others. Making the pivot toward relationship building in your business will not only make your business stronger, but it may help make you healthier and happier as well.
A Joint Blog Post by Gail Snow Moraski, Results Communications & Research and Nick Bartos, Social Motion
Where to begin? First of all deep breaths, everyone. We are all in this together and we will get through this period of crisis in our country and in our world if we all continue to remember that it is our purpose in life to look out and be there for others the way we are there for ourselves.
Now, on to the mission at hand. We – Nick and I – have been chatting a lot this week about the nature of content to include in social media posts, currently and in the short-term. It’s a very tricky time for organizations. Many for-profit organizations have already experienced or expect to experience a significant loss of income due to customer work being cancelled or delayed, or an abrupt end to a robust product sales pipeline or stream. And, many nonprofit organizations’ financial and human resources are being stretched to a degree for which they aren’t prepared.
Where we landed is this; these are unprecedented times. Yes, there have been pandemics before, but at least in the U.S., there are likely only a handful of individuals who have lived through something similar. And, there’s never been a time in our country’s or world’s history where we’ve been as digitally and electronically advanced, and therefore, where we’re expected to be continuously communicating and providing updates online. Given all the aforementioned, as we’ve been saying to a number of the people, ”there’s no official guidelines or rule book for this.” The best we can offer, therefore, are the opinions of two digital marketing and PR experts in this blog post that we hope can serve as an “unofficial” rule book for your organization related to your social media voice & presence now and in coming weeks.
Social Media Is Meant to Be Active and Interactive, Not Passive
Social media is, and always has been, a tool to connect with your audience fairly intimately. Social media is not a passive form of interaction, and thrives on conversation, emotion, and the sharing of ideas. Whether for-profit or non-profit, organizations should be utilizing social media —in this situation in which we find ourselves —as an opportunity to demonstrate the values your brand encompasses. While it is important to not profit off of, or appear to profit off of this crisis, it is important to express that your brand empathizes with and is a part of your community. Furthermore, your brand likely has a great sense of what your community’s needs and struggles are, and you may be able to offer valuable insights to your audience during this difficult time.
For example, a construction company may share information relating to grants, or low-interest loans that help contractors, electricians, and plumbers during this crisis. The construction company may also share the precautions they are taking, or share the standards/procedures they have created to protect their employees. Additionally, the company may reach a broader audience by demonstrating their commitment to the cause — like a photo or video of the masks they are donating to a local hospital. Again, social media is a place to build relationships and offer value – if you can do that, respectfully, during this crisis, you are already ahead.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts During a Pandemic
In general, speak from the heart, demonstrate empathy and support; think about how you can truly be, and can be seen as, part of the solution. We saw a fellow communications professional post the phrase “innovate, solve, or stop” when speaking about current social media. We think that the first two in this quoted series sum things up pretty well – if you’re going to post or share others’ posts, then offer creative, meaningful, effective solutions to challenges faced by individuals and organizations right now. We’ll speak to the “stop” piece in our “DON’TS” section.
Post or share, comment on, like, retweet posts that:
Express appreciation to/acknowledge those who are working overtime and/or risking their lives during the pandemic, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, healthcare providers, pharmacy and grocery store employees, gas station employees, home and office cleaners, and anyone else who has to tirelessly continue to work to keep us all safe and well.
Speak to the good work that various national, state, or local nonprofit organizations and agencies are doing to help vulnerable, at-risk populations, and the general public.
Ask for help. If you do ask for help, make it clear what kind of help would be useful. And, whether you are requesting financial donations, tangible goods or volunteer time, be very specific about where those contributions will go, how they will help, who they will support, etc.
Remind others to check on elderly or health-compromised neighbors, or anyone they know who lives alone and who may feel isolated; plus, creative ways to make these individuals feel connected and supported – glass door and window visits, signs you make and show outside their window, texts, e-mail, phone, and video chats, and anything else creative you can dream up
Announce that you are there/here to help and on what fronts
Describe promotional offers or new products or solutions that will be received as heart-felt and legitimate and reinforce a true desire to help, such as a discount on any kind of services that would help a business keep running or get back up and running again
Provide updates about your hours, reduced staff, open or closed locations, etc. that indicate potential impact on customers, i.e., use your posts to manage client expectations
Share ways for your followers to donate to causes in your local community, or industries that you serve, where people may feel most connected
Create an image such as the one below (created by the Girl Scouts) that contains your brand/logo, or create a short video or video snippet along the same lines that shows heart, desire-to-help, or innovation — We are here and glad to help you with this!
Provide helpful information about the pandemic vs. creating fear (for example, sharing scary statistics related to the virus and its impact or frightening videos showing suffering of victims). Helpful info. may include:
Where/how to get help if you think you or a loved one has COVID-19, where to get food or other assistance, e.g., websites, phone #’s, text lines
Federal, state, or local government mandates or recommendations, such as group size limits and social distancing guidelines
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to reduce anxiety level during our pandemic
Ideas for crafts for children to make with supplies that are likely on hand in any home
Family games and other bonding experiences, such as reading a book together, watching a movie, baking, or playing card games
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to stay healthy during the pandemic, such as a daily walk or eating as healthy as possible (recognizing somehow that everyone might not have easy access to nutrient-dense food)
Reminders to find gratitude and appreciation somewhere, somehow in every day (aka “silver linings”) – whether it be taking advantage of unexpected free time, or additional time with loved ones
Thoughts on how to work efficiently and effectively from home
In general, don’t post, like, share, retweet, or comment on any content that might be offensive or seen as heartless, un-empathetic, or completely oblivious to or out-of-touch with what is going on in our world presently.
Don’t post about:
A new product or service you are offering that might appear as trying to prey on others’ misfortunes/take advantage of them in their darkest moments
Services and products that would seem like an incredible luxury, or irrelevant to or off-limits to many at this point in time. For example, some investment and insurance company advertisements about helping one prepare for retirement just don’t sit well right now. Audiences may be feeling that they won’t be able to retire, or must work much longer than anticipated before they are able to. Restaurant and vacation ads feel out of place as well when we’ve all been asked to “stay put.”
Services and products that encourage individuals to engage in activities that ignore mandates and guidelines set forth by federal, state, and local officials.
We are both here to help you regarding your social media or other digital marketing needs, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. We really want to help as many organizations as we can during this difficult time, and we’re always glad to have a complimentary discussion. Be safe and be well.
Every marketing blogger probably already has or plans to blog about the success of the ALS ice bucket challenge, but I’d be remiss as a marketeer who understands both the perils and benefits of social media, if I didn’t post about the great example of using social media for good that the ice bucket challenge represents.
Social media is no longer a new or innovative form of promotion. It has been around for quite some time now and, almost undoubtedly, is here to stay — for better or for worse. Since both organizations and individuals have very little control over what is said about them on various social media sites, particularly Twitter and Facebook — and even YouTube because of the ability to comment on videos — it’s a wonderful day for an organization when social media users use these channels to support good activities and altruistic behavior.
I imagine there will be lots of copy cats now — particularly, non-profit organizations who could really use a large influx of funds to support necessary research for their cause, or just to carry out their social service activities. I certainly won’t blame or criticize any organization with health-related or other social service missions for trying to launch an equally effective campaign. However, I do believe the organization in-question will need to still come up with a theme and activity that differs a fair amount from ALS’.
First of all, it wouldn’t seem fair or right to steal ALS’ thunder or divert funds away from them using tactics they employed so effectively and on a large scale. Secondly, if the majority of large non-profits decide to implement similar campaigns, I believe there is going to be a limit to the return on investment. Perhaps, I’m wrong, and I welcome your thoughts, but each and every individual and organization only has so many $$ they are willing and able to contribute annually, so regardless of the effectiveness of such campaigns, both the dollars and newness/fun factor that encourages people to participate are going to run out. So, those implementing such campaigns are going to need to come up with something very different and engaging to both grab the attention and donations of their target audiences.
I have to close with thanks, prayers, blessings, and good thoughts for both Pete Frates and his dear friend, Corey Griffin, who was so instrumental in launching the campaign. As most of you may know, Corey recently lost his own life to a scuba diving accident. My heart and thanks goes out to both of their families too — for all the pain and suffering they’ve endured or will endure and all the good they’ve done through their support of and work related to the ALS campaign.
I am adding Pete and Corey to my Keep Up the Fight page right now as I can’t think of anyone more deserving.
An organization that knows how to create memorability related to both its brand and its marketing activities is going to give itself an immediate leg up against its competitors. You’ve all probably heard the expression that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” because it creates brand awareness, which then may prompt sales or revenue growth. I’m not so sure I agree that it’s a good idea to create memorability through strictly negative associations or activities, but I do believe is that if you can create something memorable that’s positive about your brand and/or in your advertising, your organization is likely to benefit from a brand awareness perspective, at a minimum.
A couple of well-known and simple ways of creating memorability related to both your advertising and your brand are with a jingle, a mascot, or both. I was reminded of this at last week’s Braintree Relay for Life event, sponsored by Frito Lay, and attended by their furry tiger mascot, “Chester Cheetah”, who is highly associated with Frito Lay’s Cheetos snacks. He was one of the major attractions at the event for children of all ages, including me!
My last employer, BMC HealthNet Plan, has employed a mascot for years, “Sunny” (a big sun character who wears big black sunglasses) , to create good will and brand awareness. Sunny has attended literally thousands of community events and children and adults alike flock to him.
As far as jingles go, we all must admit that there are certain ones that we find appealing and that just stick with us. We find ourselves humming or singing them in the shower or in the car or they run through our heads while we lie in bed at night — and I don’t mean songs recorded by artists that are used as advertising background music — I mean jingles that were created to be used repeatedly in conjunction with a brand’s advertising for many years, or just for a particular marketing campaign of a brand. Here’s one of my favorites.
In addition to mascots and jingles that can be associated with a brand for years and years and continue to contribute to the brand’s success, another means of creating brand or marketing campaign memorability is through messaging and visuals/creative that evoke emotion. And, it’s actually a good thing if a brand or its marketing tugs at your heartstrings a bit, as long as there is an accompanying positive message. For example, an advertising campaign can focus on a personal challenge or societal problem, but then offer an inspirational solution or show non-stoppable people rising above that challenge or helping those less-fortunate.
So remember, mascots, jingles, and emotional messages/creative that show something positive rising out of tough circumstances, can all create memorability for a brand or the particular products, programs, or services it promotes. Despite the fact that lately it would appear that human beings just want to hide behind their hand-held devices and not interact with others, songs, likable and cute creatures, and emotional, but inspiring messages, all provide individuals with an opportunity to connect. And, that’s probably even more valued now by consumers than it ever was.
Friday is usually the day when I create and publish a new blog post. As you would expect, Fridays tend to be a bit calmer than other weekdays and posting here is always a great way to wrap up the week. Keep in mind that ideas are always buzzing around in my brain for days or weeks before I actually post on a topic.
Today’s post will be brief because Results Communications will be shutting down early to make good on a promise that I made to myself and to others when I decided to launch my consulting firm — to be a firm with great heart that is committed to giving back to the community and one that supports research related to chronic and/or serious illness such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimers — three illnesses that have plagued family members and friends.
A small “Results” team will be walking in today’s Braintree Relay for Life event that supports the American Cancer Society. I feel blessed to be well enough to walk in the survivors event-kick-off lap. Last year at this time, I was newly home from the hospital after my second major surgery in two months due to implications from past cancer treatment. Because of poor weather, the Relay shut down early, but my husband and I went and walked one or two laps of the Braintree high school track because I told myself it was something I had to do for myself and other cancer patients I’ve met during my almost eight-year journey — sadly, some are no longer with us. And, this just makes the walking more important — to honor and remember them.
(In Recovery Mode, 2013, wearing my “Live Strong” t-shirt)
Whatever the causes are that are most important to you, I encourage you to make the time to support them. As I always say, “make sure your life reflects what’s important to you” by “walking the talk”.
During my thirty years of working for various sized organizations in a variety of industries, there’s been one activity that has worked consistently well regardless of industry or company size to both create awareness and effect sales growth, and that is the creation of goodwill. But, what I really love as both a marketing professional as well, as the decent human being that I believe myself to be, is that goodwill is good for all. While it helps organizations succeed, it helps the communities that the organization serves prosper, so everybody wins.
: a kind, helpful, or friendly feeling or attitude
business : the amount of value that a company’s good reputation adds to its overall value
As the above definition from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary supports, I believe creating goodwill is all about being helpful. Since there are many ways to be helpful, there are many ways to create goodwill. I’ve listed below some of the more common examples of how businesses (and, of course individuals themselves) can be helpful, but any organization that really understands and fully participates in the communities it serves, can think of lots of other innovative and unique activities.
organize a group of employees to volunteer their time to assist with a community event — whether it be helping with preparations for or promotion of the event, or simply helping to staff the event
solicit a group of employees to pitch in on manual tasks that need to be done at a particular location operated by a non-profit/community organization — such as a homeless shelter, park, or school
purchase a table/booth at a community event such as a health or street fair, or purchase a table at a breakfast, lunch, or dinner event which senior leaders at your organization can attend to show their support
donate tangible new or used goods that are on the “wish list” of a particular organization such as new gloves and socks for a homeless shelter or used coats for a coat drive
donate $$ that can be used as needed by the non-profit/community organization; sometimes, these donations will be reciprocated by the non-profit/community organization via the opportunity to have a display table of informational and promotional items at an event and/or a program booklet ad, or to be listed as a key sponsor on any event promotional materials the community organization produces
I’m sure you’ve found, as I have, that most individuals want to make a difference in their communities. By providing employees with an opportunity to donate or volunteer, you are likely to enhance their engagement — another of the many reasons why goodwill is “good”. And, most non-profit/community organizations are more than willing to share via a press release, an announcement at the podium, their web site, and/or some other activity your organization’s contribution to their success.
I’m always glad to brainstorm with you about what type of goodwill creation activity might be the most effective for your organization as well as best serve the communities in which your organization operates.
Make today the day you do some “Goodwill Hunting” by starting to research upcoming community activities you or your organization might support.