Blog Archives

Reach and Recall – The power of Promotional Products!

The results are in and once again, Promotional Products carry more Reach & Recall value than other forms of traditional media. Check out this 2 minute video to see the results of the study. Note: There is background music on video, so adjust your speakers accordingly.

Five critical things to remember when developing a new brand.

So you’re thinking about creating a new logo. It could be that you’re a startup company working to get yourself up and running or maybe you’re a long standing company needing to create a brand within your brand. The task of creating your identity is of massive importance and one of the absolute most critical things you will do in setting up your company or brand.

Here is a list of things to make sure you consider when taking on a task like this.

#1. To Hire or Not to Hire? – As one of my sons used to say when he was younger… Are you a good “drawer”? If you have a knack for design and an ability to put it to paper, then you could possibly design your own logo. However, if you’re idea of design involves stick figures and crayons, you should probably seek the assistance of a professional. These services are not cheap, but well worth it if you’ve never done something like this before.

#2. A Great Idea – When you begin to think of ideas for a logo, don’t just stop with the first one you have. Think of at least three completely different concepts and then kick them around.. The more input you can get, the better, especially if you are getting said input from people who want to help you.

ScreenShot503

#3. Kicking Them Around – Show what you have created to multiple people with whom you trust. Get their input. Find out what they like about each one and what they don’t. Fine tune your concept as you may very well find that your end result includes parts from several of your initial designs.

#4. Fine Tuning, and then Some – So now you’ve narrowed it down to the design you like, or even better you may have two designs you equally like. Now you need to fine tune every little detail. Think about what your design will look like printed on business cards, letterhead, envelopes and promotional products like pens, water bottles and t-shirts. How will it look embroidered? It may look really good at a 8″ X 8″ size, but your logo is going to eventually be printed and branded at all different sizes. So while it may look great on a large format vehicle wrap, how will it look on a pen that has an imprint area of 1/2″ X 1/2″?

Are there any really thin lines? If so, you could have problems printing on anything other than paper. Think long term, Once you know you’re pleased with the design efforts, now it’s time to grab the crayons!

#5. Crayola – I know, the kid in you is screaming Yaaaa!, but the reality is that unless you want to photocopy 50 sheets of your design and then spend hours upon hours coloring like a 5 year old in Kindergarten class, you may want to have your design created in vector art. If you haven’t already, now is the time to seek a professional graphic designer to take your masterpiece(s) from the paper to the screen. The beauty of doing this is that once your logo has been created to vector art, you can easily manipulate colors with a few clicks of the mouse. Just keep in mind, the more colors you have, the more cost involved in having your full color logo printed on a very large majority of business necessities.

Lastly, here are a few additional things to take into consideration during your logo development which will help you avoid additional frustrations and costs when using your logo.

  • If possible, avoid really thin lines. While easy to print on paper based products, not so easy when screen printing on a promotional product, of which there are over 750,000 to choose from, so we’re not just talking pens.
  • Avoid gradients if you can. They may look cool on the screen, but they don’t look the same on paper or other products.
  • Know your colors! I encounter a fair number of companies who don’t know the PMS colors of their own logo! If your brain is thinking “PMS?”, please take comfort in that this has nothing to do with the well known Post Menstrual Cycle. This PMS stands for Pantone Matching System and you can learn more at www.pantone.com
  • One more thing on colors, the more colors you have, the most cost involved in in creating your full color logo on products that are screen printed.
  • If your logo is multiple colors, try to create a one color version as well so that you have a version you can use to keep your printing costs down in those times where it is needed.
  • Develop your brand standards guide. This should contain everything you can and cannot do with your logo. It should include information on spacing of text, fonts that are acceptable to use and what specific colors can be used.

Taking these steps will ensure that you will avoid some brand confusion later on. Good luck!

Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of printing services, promotional products multimedia production and e-commerce solutions. To reach Chris: chris@bigdogbranding.com; http://www.bigdogbranding.com/.

* Image provided by istockphoto.com

A Promotion To Be Remembered…

New Zealand Alzheimer’s Society hits a nerve with a memorable promotion:

ERASER USB FLASH DRIVE

The goal:

Design a memorable piece of communication that raises awareness of the disease’s early warning signs, like memory loss, as well as reminding everyday New Zealanders of the importance of Alzheimers New Zealand.

Concept: Actual working erasers were hollowed out and fitted with USB memory sticks. The message displayed on the top is: ‘Alzheimer’s erasers your memories. Save them’, with the reverse side featuring the Alzheimer’s New Zealand logo and website.

Results: Alzheimer’s New Zealand distributed these eraser/usbs amongst the public, various local organizations, as well as distributed them to local politicians, with a letter, in an attempt to raise awareness of the charity. Feedback has been very positive and they’ll hopefully continue to leave people with some sort of understanding of what people with Alzheimer’s go through everyday, and where they could turn for more information and support.

Recommendation: While I believe this was a very creative promotion, I would have liked to see a call to action with this promotion in order to help the organization achieve their ultimate goal of awareness as well as give them stronger, more measurable results.

Either way, I rate this promotion with an A+ grade because of it’s creativity and unique approach.

This promotion is a great example of how to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary!

Don’t Market Less, Market Smarter

The economy is rough, we all are feeling it to one level or another. Businesses are becoming more and more cautious with their spending and some are even going to the extreme by cutting their marketing budget all together! Big mistake!

Didn’t American businesses learn from the market turmoil after 9/11, that if we stop marketing our companies, we become stagnant? Marketing is what drives sales; sales mean profits and profits help us pay the bills!

This was nearly the exact word for word conversation that I had with a small business owner a few weeks back. We were at a restaurant, both waiting for our guests to meet up with us, and just struck up conversation. He asked me what I did for a living and when he heard the words “Promotional Marketing” in my reply, he quickly replied “Man, your business must be really tough right now!” “No, it’s actually the opposite” I responded, his puzzled expression said it all, but he went on to explain that he had cut all of his marketing budgets in order to save costs.

I explained to him that tough economic times lead to great opportunities for all business, but especially small businesses, and that by cutting his marketing budget, he was actually putting one foot in the grave.

You see, over the past 20 years, American companies have throwing their marketing budgets at every concept and effort they could find, even without proof that it would work. Now that times are tougher, the first reaction is to cut the marketing budget because for most companies, it’s a fairly large expense!

The reality is that you should never cut marketing completely. Yes, you can trim it down, but your efforts need to become intentional, more focused, more creative!

As an example, let’s take an actual case history example from ABC company (the names have been changed to protect the profitable). They didn’t have much of a budget left for the year, but they want to make an impact on their target audience and create brand awareness.

Their target audience is a large company located within their market area, which happens to be in a cold part of the country where rain and snow fall often during the winter. Their goal is brand awareness. They want to create good will and leave an imprint on the minds of this particular customer. Their budget, $600.00 total.

The Concept… “You can see clearly now…”

Since this is a cold part of the country where rain and snow fall, people tend to come out of work and have to scrape their windshields before being able to go home. Two hundred ice scrapers were sold to the customer with their logo and the tagline “You can see clearly now.”

The customer made arrangements with a local high school football team for a donation to be given to the organization as a fund raiser for the team.

On the next snowy afternoon, the team would send over a representative to pick up the ice scrapers. They would then go to the employee parking lot of the large customer mentioned above and would proceed to scrape every windshield perfectly clean. When done, they would take the scraper and place it under the windshield wiper as a gift for that employee. In return, the team would earn a donation of $1.50 per windshield scraped.

A total of 118 windshields were scraped clean and 118 employees came out that cold day to a pleasant surprise and the gift of a new ice scraper for their future use. The customer reported major approval and positive response from their largest customer and as a result, sales increased with that customer over the next year by 30%.

In addition, the football team earned $177.00 in fundraising for about 45 minutes worth of work and the company that donated that money to them earned publicity in the school newspaper and e-newsletter that goes out to parents, showing their involvement in their community. All on a $600 budget.

This is a prime example of a focused and creative marketing effort on a limited budget. What other marketing avenue could they have used that would have gotten their name in front of their target audience, left a goodwill impression and a token of that memory with the customer that they will use often over the next 6-8 months? All on a $600.00 budget!

My recommendation, don’t make the mistake of cutting your marketing budget! Contact a promotional marketing company that offers creative ideas on how to solve your marketing budget. If they just want to sell you the ice scraper, but can’t tell you a creative way to use it, go somewhere else till you get that level of service! Your business depends on it!

Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of printing services and promotional products and ecommerce solutions. To reach Chris: chris@bigdogbranding.com; http://www.bigdogbranding.com/.

Top reasons why companies create an online store

Ever thought about  creating an online store for your company, but not sure if the benefits outweigh the expense? Below is a list of the top reasons that companies pursue the creation of an online company store to manage their print, promotions and company apparel.

1. Control their brand image. Companies have been fight brand abuse for a long time. A company store provides a system of protection for their brand.
2. To organize and control their purchasing efforts. By creating an online store, companies are able leverage their dollars, provide a centralized location for buying and gain control of a disorganized mess.

3. Corporate apparel made easy. By creating an online store, companies are able to control the quality of the apparel that their company employees are buying and wearing, as well as the quality of decoration that is being placed on the shirts. Why have a nice shirt with bad embroidery? Or great embroidery on a poor quality shirt? Control both with an online store.
4. Who, What, When & Where??? Without an organized system, companies with multiple locations and departments have purchasing that is fragmented and out of control. An online store let’s you know who bought what, when and where they shipped it to.
5.  Administration costs are through the roof! Current processes and proceedures take too much effort and energy, which often times is being done by multiple people in different locations, which costs the company a lot of money. An online store can centralize your purchasing processes, save you money and give you back the control you need.
It all comes down to the desire and need to make things easier and save money. If your company has more than 100 employees located in different parts of the state, country or even the world, it would be a wise choice to examine what a company store can do for you.

Chris Morrissey is owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of promotional products, printing services, ecommerce websites and eco-friendly marketing solutions.

To reach Chris: chris@bigdogbranding.com; www.bigdogbranding.com

Cutting your marketing budget? What’s the worst that can happen?

Have you, or are you, thinking about cutting your marketing budget in order to save your company money? Before you do, there are a few things you should think about.

For many businesses owners, marketing is an after-thought. You have a great product or service to sell and you believe in it so much that people should just find you and want to buy it, right? Well unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. If you are going to make sales, you need to creatively market your company and products on a constant basis. The saying “Out of sight, out of mind” is exactly what will happen to you if you don’t stay in front of your customers. They will forget about you!

So if the thought of “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t make you reconsider, then maybe you should examine what could happen if you do make those budget cuts. Here are a few things to consider.

  • No new customers. It is nearly impossible to obtain new customers without marketing yourself to them. Every business needs new customers and this economy provides you a fantastic opportunity to capture market share, but you can’t do it if you have no budget to work with.

 

  • Existing customers can become past customers. It is an extremely competitive business world out there and unless you are in the unique position of having no competition, then you need to stay in front of your current customers as much as possible. By creatively marketing yourself to your existing customers, you will stay top of mind, reinforce your existing relationship and drive their continued business your way. It’s like driving a car. By creatively marketing yourself to your customers, you have your hands on the wheel and can control the direction they are going, which allows you to point sales in your direction. However, if you stop marketing to them, it’s like letting go of the wheel.. The car may stay on course for a short time, but eventually it will run off the road or one or more of your competitors will grab the wheel and turn those sales in their  direction.

 

  • Sales become stagnant. With no new customers sending new business your way and your existing customers driving away from your business, your sales will decrease. We all know that if you aren’t selling, regardless of what business you are in, your business will eventually drop off. If that happens, what happens to you?

In any business, the goal is to sell the products or services that you offer. Sales lead to income, which leads to the ability to pay employees, buy supplies and create more products and services to sell. If creatively marketing your company will help you obtain more sales, make more money, allow you to pay your employees and maybe even hire more, then maybe cutting those marketing budgets isn’t the best thing to do, especially right now. I’m not telling you want to do, i’m just saying…

Chris Morrissey is owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of promotional products, printing services, ecommerce websites and eco-friendly marketing solutions.

To reach Chris: chris@bigdogbranding.com; www.bigdogbranding.com

The Eco-Button; One Small Click, One Big Change!

 Have you ever wondered how much power your computer consumes when you’re at lunch, on a break, on the phone or in a meeting? How about overnight when you “forget” or are too lazy to turn it off?

Computers and monitors can account for over half of the electricity used in a typical office. One monitor, left on overnight can consume the same amount of energy as a laser printer, printing 800 A4 printed copies!

According to a recent survey, there are over 104 million office computers and over 60 million home computers in the U.S. alone! Of this, over 30 million of those are left on regularly overnight and sometimes, even through an entire weekend. This means that over $1.7billion dollars and almost 15 million tons of CO2 emissions are wasted each year in the USA!

Many companies have tried to incorporate standby initiatives with their computers, asking their employees to put their computers into “standby” mode, in an effort to save them energy and in turn, money. What they don’t realize is that during sleep mode, the computer may still use up to 6 watts and the monitor, another 3-6 watts.

Others try using the “screensaver” thinking that it not only saves the screen, but also energy. In reality a screensaver does nothing to save energy. It might prevent your screen from having a picture burned into it, but if a screensaver is running, that means your computer is running, which equates to absolutely no energy savings.

The largest challenge with a “standby initiative” is that it is subject to human behavior. We are a society that is in a hurry. We’re always running late and most times after a couple weeks, employees get tired of taking the steps to move the computer into standby mode, so they just stop doing it.

Enter the Eco Button!

 

The Eco Button is a luminated desktop button that plugs into your computer through a USB drive. Once the software is installed on the system, all you have to do to put your computer into serious energy saving mode is to push the button and walk away! The energy saving mode, called Eco-Mode is a deeper sleep than the simple standby mode and uses a low 1.8 watts total.

Taking the computer back out of Eco-Mode is a simple process; just hit the spacebar and the computer will come back up where you left off. Your windows password will be needed to log back in, which is a nice feature for protecting your system from unwanted access while you are away.

The greatest feature of the Eco-Button is in the software. When you install the software, you have the ability to enter in some statistical data regarding the cost you pay for your electricity. Once entered and saved, the software will show you how much money you save during each use, as well as how much CO2 you prevented from being wasted. As you continue to use the Eco-Button, it also keeps track of the combined usage from the day it was installed. I have three Eco-Buttons in use on my three computers and from March, 2008 to December 2008, I have saved $81.00 in electricity cost and 1176 kg’s of CO2.

Now that we have covered the importance of the use of the product, let’s talk about the very powerful branding capabilities of the Eco-Button.

The Eco-Button sits on the top of the desk with its bright green glow, constantly drawing your attention. This makes it a great marketing piece for companies to brand themselves to their target audience! Think about it! Desktop space is VALUABLE and to have your company brand in front of your target audience on a daily basis is priceless. Creating brand awareness is a top priority for most every company and what better way to do that than having constant daily exposure to your brand image?

The Eco-Button costs $15.98 per button at a 100 piece minimum, which includes a one color imprint on the face of the button. Most companies like to know what their CPE (Cost Per Exposure) will be, so figuring that your recipient will see the button on average of 8 times per day, which is a very conservative number, with 22 business days in the average month, that comes to 176 “views” per month!

Using those conservative numbers for one month would put you at $.90 per exposure, meaning in the first month it would be costing you $.90 per view. After three months, your CPE would be down to $.03 per exposure and at six months your CPE would be down to $.01 per exposure. If you make a habit of calculating your CPE’s on all of your marketing efforts, you know that being able to stay in front of your target audience for this kind of cost is a dream come true! You won’t get that with any other form of media or advertising out there.

So whether you or your company have started a standby initiative or are looking to start one, I would highly recommend looking into this great product. Yes, its success still ultimately relies on human behavior, but it is much quicker and easier to push the button and walk away than it is to move your computer in and out of standby mode manually. No matter what you do, just make sure you’re doing something!

 Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of promotional products, printing services, ecommerce websites and eco-friendly marketing solutions.

To reach Chris: chris@bigdogbranding.com; http://www.bigdogbranding.com/.

Holiday Gift Giving – The Best Time To Brand Your Business!

In today’s business environment, just saying “thank you” isn’t enough. In addition to saying the words “thank you,” you need to demonstrate to your customer that he or she is valued, appreciated and important to the success of your business. 

 

Let’s face it, today’s economy is tough! Your competitors are constantly looking for creative ways to earn your customers’ business. However, by making a few simple gestures throughout the year, you can create loyalty and secure most, if not all of your customers for life. In addition, these simple tips will strengthen your brand awareness with your customers and keep your company top of mind.

 

Don’t worry, if you are creative, saying “thanks” does not have to break the bank nor be a complicated process. Since the holidays are coming up, now is the perfect time and traditionally the expected time to say thank you to your most important customers.

 

It can be as simple as a holiday card, branded with your company logo and personally signed by the company president. Many companies have everyone in the office sign a card and some go as far as to have signatures printed on the card, which is a mistake. Your customers want to feel a personal relationship to your company, and the best way to do this is to take the time to handwrite a personal message inside! Your customers will notice and appreciate your gesture. Sometimes the best approach is to have the employee with whom that customer comes in contact with the most, write a personal thank you and sign it with an actual pen, from his or her actual desk. I know, scary thought!

 

Another simple, cost effective way to say thank you and brand your company is to send your customers a nice gift. During the winter holidays, a unique coffee mug is always appreciated. What is the cost for such a project? Well, there are a number of variables to take into consideration, but in general, you could do a nice mug, branded with your logo, packaged in a nice gift box or shipping box (if you need to mail the gift), with a custom card for under $13 per customer, which includes mailing cost. Keep in mind most companies have minimum quantities that apply to the production of the mugs and cards.

 

The questions you must ask yourself…

 

Are your customers worth $13.00?

 

What did it cost you to earn that customer’s business? Now are they worth $13.00?

 

What would happen if they left you for one of your competitors? How about the $13.00 question now?

 

For your customers who you are looking to go the extra mile to impress, there is a wide spectrum of products available that will knock the holiday stockings right off their feet! My top suggestion would be the Thank You blanket from Kanata. Made from Ultra-fine Microfibre on one side and VelvaSuede on the other, this beautiful blanket comes embroidered with the words “Thank You” in 5 different languages positioned throughout the VelvaSuede side of the blanket. Also comes folded and wrapped in ribbon with a custom printed gift card and packaged in a zippered vinyl bag.

 

There are hundreds of thousands of products to choose from in all different price ranges. It’s up to you not to miss the opportunity to brand your company and let your customer know “I appreciate you.”

 

Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of promotional products, printing services, ecommerce websites and eco-friendly marketing solutions.

 

To reach Chris: chris@bigdogbranding.com; http://www.bigdogbranding.com/.