Thursday, February 25, 2010

Setting yourself apart - creating memory hooks

Here is a just a quick post to share a personal story and a marketing lesson. Yesterday was my birthday. For the last ten years, I have given every employee at Arizona Cap a paid day off on their birthday. I, however, have managed to work everyone of my own birthdays. This year my dear, sweet (and sneaky) wife convinced a good friend to invite me to go skiing for my birthday. I have never skied before, but it sounded like fun and I always wanted to learn. So, about 9Am, I left the office. While I was gone, my dear, sweet (and sneaky) wife remodeled my entire office - new desks, built-in bookcases, blinds, plants, the works. It looks great, and it is much more functional - I love it. The only problem is that several of the computers, printers, and other office equipment got moved to slightly new locations. Now, the cords don't quite reach where they need to for keyboards and monitors, etc. No problem! I have a great vendor I use for all of our networking cable needs, and they sell the full variety of other computer cables, as well. Best of all, they are about a 1/10th (yes I mean 1/10th) the price of Best Buy or Office Max.

The problem is, as happy as I have always been with them - and I have used them 4 or 5 times in the last few years - I just couldn't remember their name. I could Google computer cables and get ten thousand results, but I would never find the guys I wanted. While I couldn't remember their name, I did remember something special about them. Every time I received an order from them, there was a package of Skittles candies in the box. It didn't matter whether I ordered hundreds of dollars of cables or a single 75 cent connector, they always put a bag of Skittles in the box. The second time I received an order from them with the Skittles in the box, I realized the first bag was not just a fluke or a one time gesture; it was part of their marketing. I once received a wrong item, and they had to ship a single piece out to replace it. It came with a bag of Skittles. I realized that sometimes the bag of Skittles cost more than their entire profit for a tiny order, but they always sent it anyways. I was impressed at their consistency, and I admire their ability to give me a warm fuzzy feeling about them for just 50 cents.

But, yesterday, I realized that all those packages of Skittles didn't just create good will (and make my kids happy) but they had, for just a few dollars, created a permanent memory hook. I Googled "cables free skittles," and the first two listings were consumer reviews and ratings for - my long lost cable selling friends. Not only did the Skittles make an impression on me, but they were such a great memory hook that other clients mentioned it in their reviews.

At Arizona Cap, we don't sell Skittles to toss into your boxes or hand out with your receipts (I'd recommend Costco or Sam's Club for that). But, what if DeepSurplus had given me a a really unique looking or super-smooth writing imprinted pen (the kind you'd want to keep). Not only would I have remembered them, but I could have looked at the pen (good durable advertising doesn't get thrown in the trash after your kids eat it) and had the web address instantly.

The lesson of the story is that all of your shipments - or if you don't ship a product, all of your customer, donor, or client contacts - should incorporate a memory hook. Durable advertising products are ideal, but even more important is how you use them. was consistent. They didn't just sometimes send a bag of Skittles, or just send one with orders over a certain amount, and they didn't sometimes send me a Snickers bar. Their consistent and unique marketing created a memory hook that I will never forget and guaranteed them a customer for life. It also got them a free plug here on our blog and in our newsletter.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wish Your Customers a Merry Christmas - Not a Politically Correct Holidays

This week I was writing a quick gift guide with tips on office and client giving. One of the questions I addressed was

How do I avoid offending people of different faiths during the holidays?

My answer was politically incorrect.

In recent years retailers and marketers have seen a backlash against the phrase "Happy Holidays" and events or sales that avoid the language or symbols of Christmas or Hanukah. We have become a society so afraid to offend 1 in a 100 that we disrespect the traditions of the majority. If you are a Christian wish your customers a Merry Christmas. If you are a Muslim wish them happiness and peace during Eid.

But what if I offend someone with my religion? The best way to not offend someoneis to get to know them. I am a Christian. I send Christmas cards. If I know a client is Jewish or Muslim I will give them the appropriate holiday wishes for their faith as well. They appreciate that I remember their faith and they respect the fact that I have a faith of my own. If you don't know your clients faith why not ask? What better way to show that you care about someone then to make a quick call to say "Dave, I am sending out some cards for the holidays. I am a Christian and I send Christmas cards but I didn't know your faith and I want to include the appropriate greeting."

This advice flies in the face of the "don’t mix religion with business" doctrine that dominates our society, but if you really want to impress your clients take your advice from the marketing department and not the legal department. People want to know you care. Every year I get numerous Asian holiday greetings from vendors and clients- Chinese New Year, Thai New Year, Buddhist holidays, Hindu holidays. Am I offended as a Christian? Absolutely not. In fact, I am honored that in a holiday time that is sacred or special to them they care enough about me to send a greeting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately sometimes those are a thousand of the wrong words. Check out this poster from a 1919 prohibition campaign.

Now I'm not one to call another man's wife ugly but this is supposed to be marketing. This is an early example of trying to use sex to sell, and I think they just might have sold a lot a people on a life of celibacy. What happened in 1919 happens every day in businesses across America. Someone comes up with a great ad idea, a great slogan, a great tag line or offer. Then they go to design their mailing pieces, email, or brochure and they use some piece of clipart that ruins the piece. Why do they choose bad photos or clipart - well, mostly because they're lazy. They limit themselves to the Microsoft clipart package that came with their PC. Or maybe they go online and search for stock photography and find out that the picture they want will cost them $500 to use.

Here are two quick tips for getting great images for your
advertising -

This site features almost 6 million royalty free photos. They have a great search engine and you can get exactly what you want. The best part is royalty free images only cost you a few dollars for images sized for postcards or online/email use.

2) Take it yourself. Want a picture of a smiling kid, holding a puppy and getting a bucket of water poured over his head? Line up junior and take the shot. The more creative you get the more often you'll need a custom photo. Chances are you have a digital camera capable of taking professional quality photos, a camera that would have cost $10,000 five years ago but is commodity today. Use it!

So here is the same ad with the correct photo.

Sobriety is looking better now?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Using Durable Advertising to Bring In New Business

The Return On Investment for traditional advertising like newspaper and magazine ads, radio and TV ads and even online ads is continuing to spiral downward. Your adds are heard and seen by an increasingly smaller and fragmented audience who is paying less and less attention to commercials. So what form of advertising is gaining ground? Durable advertising - especially logoed apparel. The prices are much less than print ads and electronic media but the audience is huge and responsive.
Here is a great story about using embroidered caps to promote your business. A client in the landscaping business had been seeing a slow erosion in his client base. Many old customers had sold their homes, some were canceling service because of the tight economy and worst of all his number of referrals had shrunk to practically zero. He had spent more on yellow page ads this year but was getting fewer calls. He felt like he couldn't afford to spend any more on print ads because he was seeing such a poor response. About this time I spoke to him about doing some new t-shirts for his crews.
Knowing the importance of keeping his employees looking professional he had been ordering t-shirts and caps for his work crews for several years. While I was helping him with that order I asked how business was and got the sad story you just read. I suggested that he try using durable advertising to boost business. At first he objected with the fact that he couldn't afford any more advertising. As tactfully as I could I pointed out that without new clients his business was eroding and that what he couldn't afford was ineffective advertising. Willing to try something new, we settled on a embroidered cap promotion for his existing customers. The "hats off to our customers" program involved a thank you letter to 144 of his customers, a nice embroidered cap (style #2100) and a request for referral card with return postage. Not only did we provide the caps but we helped him with the letter and referral request.
Unlike with print and radio ads the results were quick. In the first week the postcards began to trickle in. Did all 144 customers send him referrals? No, not even most of them but by the end of the month he had over 30 new leads, all of which were warm contacts referred by a happy customer.
At Arizona Cap we don't just sell you shirts and caps. We show you how to use those items to build your business or charity and benefit your community. If you need help with a marketing project let us know. Tell us who your market is and what your goal is and we'll show you how to use durable advertising products and apparel to achieve it.

Star Trek Prom?

OK, this post is not really about durable advertising but I had to share this, and it does teach us a lesson about change. Last week we took an order for a couple dozen hooded sweatshirts for a group of kids going to their high school prom together. That's not unusual. We do jobs like that every prom and graduation season. What floored me was the artwork - A Star Trek theme! Star Trek fonts and a Vulcan hand salute. Here is the real kicker... It was a girl who ordered these! Yes, geeks of the world unite. Come up out of your basements. Put your 12 sided dice away and get a date for prom. Star Trek is actually COOL now. I guess if you are looking for a business lesson in this it's that times change. What worked 5 years ago may not be working today. Mass media and print advertising that brought you customers three years ago is not giving you the ROI today. It's time to put durable advertising products to work for you. And although I never thought I would hear the words Star Trek and Prom in the same sentence the world is changing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

12 Reasons Logoed Caps Make Great Gifts

I was sending out a newsletter last week and one of the topics was how to use inexpensive gifts as thanks yous or incentives to buy. One of the items we focused on was embroidered caps. They
make great inexpensive gifts. Here's why:

12 Reasons Logoed Caps Make Great Gifts

1. They're inexpensive. In a very small quantity you can get a nice embroidered
cap for only about $10-12. In quantities of just a few hundred pieces you can
get them for just 4 to 5 dollars.

2. They're unisex

3. They have adjustable sizing so you never have to worry about what size to

4. You can mail a low profile cap for as low as 1.85 with a thank you note or a
sales letters. Lumpy mail always gets great results.

5. Caps get worn for years, sometimes everyday.

6. Logos on caps get thousands of advertising impressions.

7. There's always room in a shipment to add a cap.

8. It's easy to keep a supply of caps in your office or company vehicles.

9. Caps have a perceived value much higher than their cost. The same cap you
purchase for $5 will sell in a gift store or pro-shop for $15-20

10. Caps come in huge selection of styles we can always find you a style that
matches your image.

11. People don't throw out caps. If for some reason someone who really doesn't
want a cap gets your cap they'll give it to someone who wants it, not trash it.

12. Caps are inexpensive enough that you can reward lots of people with them.
You can be generous and look good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's new for 2009 in Durable Advertising - A report from the PPAI show

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the PPAI show in Las Vegas. PPAI stands for Promotional Products Association International. This is the trade group for suppliers (factories) and distributors (advertising companies and sales people) who deal with durable advertising products. There were literally thousands of exhibitors there which brings to fore one of the biggest problems you have in getting great durable advertising products. Most of these items are sold to the end user by promotional products sales people.

At Arizona Cap we produce our embroidered and printed apparel in house so we see every step of the process. When you purchase a t-shirt from a promotional products sales person he or she likely never sees the product. They've never met the people who make it and they have no idea how it gets done. This can be a recipe for disaster and a good way to waste your money. But we can't manufacture everything in house so how do you get a good laser engraved pen or custom printed breath mints? The key is in dealing with a company who has relationships with top notch factories. At the PPAI show I must have seen 200 different suppliers of pens. How many do we deal with at Arizona Cap? THREE regularly and a handful more for special items. I know which suppliers have a consistently high quality product, deliver on time, and pay attention to detail. The average promotional products sales person simply looks in a stack of catalogs or uses a search engine to find you the color and style you requested and then picks the lowest price. What you all to often get is a pen from factory number #197 out of 200, someone who flubs the artwork, delivers late and can't deliver the same product again if it's reordered.

Unfortunately for you the end user, most promotional products sales people are amateurs. Like real estate and multi-level marketing, 10s of thousands of people get into and out of promotional products sales every year. Most are part-timers. There are a handful of professionals who know there stuff, and know the industry sources well and if you find one, you're lucky. There are an even smaller # of those professionals who have creative and marketing backgrounds. Durable advertising products work when used right. They can give you a great ROI. But if you are just buying (or being sold) something to give away without a plan then you might as well just be giving away money, your clients will always appreciate cash.

So that's my rant on promotional products sales people - what's did I see new at the PPAI show? There really weren't too many totally new items to the industry but there we're probably hundreds of ideas that would be new to your business. An increasing focus from almost all of the different kinds of suppliers was the eco-friendly niche. More and more products of every kind, clothing, pens, journals, toys, drinkware, you name it, are being made from recycled and renewable sources. One really neat idea I saw was a line of recycled, notecards, ornaments, business cards, bookmarks and other items made from recycled paper and with seeds embedded in them. the idea being that you can mail or give these items to a client with your message on it and then they can plant the card, bookmark, postcard, etc which grows into a variety of flowers, herbs, and garden vegetables. The creative marketing ideas for a product like that are endless.

I saw lots of new apparel made from performance fabrics. - Moisture wicking, UV protection, anti-bacterial, wrinkle free, something for every need. There are great packaging/combo options for durable advertising products and apparel, like compressed t-shirts, or t-shirts in a water bottle. I saw some beautiful high end laserengraved crystal awards. Available in single pieces they were stunning and made me wish someone would give me one.

All in all the advertising industry is not changing that much. What is changing is peoples focus on advertising and within their advertising. The current economic situation is forcing more and more of you to refocus on marketing and to seek a better return on your existing marketing. There is no better medium for that than durable advertsing.