I was sitting in my office yesterday editing a video. The sun was shining in my window as the signs of spring start to surface in Ohio. My laptop was sitting beside me and the email application was sitting open. It was 11 am eastern when the ads started to arrive.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.
Ad after ad after ad. All right about the same time. This went on until about 11:03 am. Then it stopped. (Actually it slowed down. Emails never really stop, do they?).
The emails dinging interrupted my concentration on the video…and got me thinking about chasing marketing shortcuts. (We can have a discussion about why I had my email open while I was trying to edit a video another time).
Chasing Marketing Shortcuts
When you are trying to tell your story or spread your message, it makes sense to look for the most optimized way to do it. We see these suggestions on social media scheduling apps. They suggest the most optimized time to post each time. You can google the best time to post to Instagram on Thursday or the best time to send your email newsletter. As you get started, it makes sense to do that research. It would be foolish not to. There is a ton of data out there that can help inform you on how to get started.
What I am saying is, don’t keep chasing that time. Once you have decided that you are going to send your email newsletter to your subscribers at 10 am on Tuesday, stick with that. Don’t be a slave to jumping around to different times, trying to find the most optimal time. The idea behind many of those metrics is to combine when most of your audience will be able to see the message with when not everyone else is posting or sending their messages.
The problem of course comes when everyone tries to be different at the same time. You know, at 11 am eastern.
The Power of Consistency
It’s better to pick a time and stick with it. This consistency helps your audience to know when you will be communicating with them. This builds anticipation and trust. It can also shape the message you send. Our newsletter is a good example. I started sending email marketing messages MANY years ago as I got into sales. I decided I wanted to take pro-active activity on Monday, so I decided to send out the message on Monday morning.
Now, if I started my email today I don’t think I would have chosen Monday morning. But I have been doing it for years…so our subscribers are not only used to it, they tell me they look forward to it. And since it is on Monday morning, I work hard to fill it full of inspirational content to help our customers start off their week on the right foot. (You can sign up to get your Monday inbox filled with inspiration here).
So while it’s important to understand the basics of when to post or send an email, it can be fools gold to chase marketing shortcuts. Your messaging and your message will be all over the place.
We really would love to have you on our list of VIPs that get a message each Monday morning. Please sign up for our VIP list and we will email you once a week with all of our latest content.
And while it seems the news is improving (with vaccine roll-out and lower numbers), we are not there quite yet. So we wanted to give you a few hot branded products that will help you show appreciation to your team right now, and reach your customers right where they are.
So here our list of the Best Branded Tech Products for February.
Many organizations are making the decision to work from home permanently. And while we certainly got a real taste of it, many people are still trying to get all the tools to make it productive. This LED lamp and charger is the perfect addition to your home work space. It has an adjustable light with 3 levels and a wireless charger to make sure you can keep productive, even when on the move.
Functional and cool. This is a great item to give your team (and your best clients) as it will be appreciated nearly every day. Wireless earbuds housed in a 400 mAh recharger case, these can be use to better concentrate at work, listen to music on the work out or to communicate on calls. When it comes to your brand, functional and cool seems like a message worth sending.
Living in the world we live in today, this might be the most functional of all. The idea is simple. Put your phone into the box and have it cleaned with a blue light to make sure you are not putting unwanted germs on your hands and face! When you are done, place the phone on top and use it as a wireless charger. Oh…and you can use it for more than phones! You can use it to sterilize glasses, watches, jewelry, smartwatches, fitness trackers, ear buds, credit cards, keys, small personal grooming tools, and other small objects.
The past year has taught us a lot. We have learned to sell from home, groom ourselves, and Zoom. And while there are some things that have been surprisingly positive, most people I know miss being able to attend events in person. There is just something about the energy and the ability to interact face to face that is hard to replace. I know I can’t wait to get back to this level of “normal.”
But when will in-person events come back?
One thing I learned quickly in 2020 was, “don’t make predictions!” It seemed like, starting in March of last year, situations were changing so fast that there was no way to predict the future. We just needed to deal with what was in front of us. But as we look forward, I am getting a little more comfortable breaking this rule.
So here is my prediction…look for small and medium shows to come back in the 3rd quarter.
With the vaccine rollout going forward, more and more people are getting inoculated every day. The more people that have the vaccine, the more people will be comfortable heading to in-person events. The fact is, some smaller events have already started. I talk about a recent show I attended here. Look for more of that to continue. My sincere hope is that it will be closer to summer. But giving event organizers time to get ready, 3rd quarter seems more likely and more realistic.
What Does This Mean For You?
While I don’t see the mega shows coming back right away, this means that many businesses will be able to go to market at these small and medium-sized shows. If you are planning events, you can start to get these events back on the calendar. We have actually made that decision. Our annual Customer Appreciation Show (canceled last year) is back on the calendar for October 14th (more on that soon).
If you are an attendee at this style of event, it’s time to get ready! Most of us have not taken our signage and display information out of the boxes in a year! It’s time to take a look at that material. Is it still accurate? I mean, a lot has changed since last year this time! I often joke that last March seems like 5 years ago! Do you have new messaging? Is it time for an update? Have mice decided to move into the boxes and eat your display? These are questions you want to ask now…not a week before your show!
At Hasseman Marketing, we welcomed in the New Year with a (gasp) in person trade show. The OPPA (Ohio Promotional Professionals Association) held it’s annual road show in Columbus and Cleveland this past week. While the event looks a little different, the response was really great. Both suppliers and distributors were excited to get back on the road, and get back to business.
#2 Big-Un Camp Chair (holds up to 400#) from Brentwood: The great thing about camp chairs is they have a high perceived value. People love to get them. But when you go cheap on them, it shows. This piece will hold a more “juicy” individual and still have room to spare. And when you combine that with a big imprint area, this is a great piece! https://www.brentwoodline.com/products/cpxr
#3 Speckled Finish Double Wall Stainless Steel Tumbler from Moderne Glass (Glass America): We love our drinkware, and this is a new style that might get you feeling “campy.” This speckled style is like the camp style mugs, but in a tumbler. https://glassamerica.com/#!/product/18820?color=black
Since the beginning of the pandemic, leaders have been trying to find a way to communicate the steps to take to slow the spread of the virus. As we all know, in March, most of the country shut down in order to “flatten the curve.” That worked to slow the spread, but it shut down the economy as well. Now that we are nearing the end of 2020, the predicted ramp up of cases is upon us…and leaders all over the country (and the world) are working to slow down the spread.
That goal is what led Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to meet with local officials in Coshocton County via Zoom. He implored our local leaders to get creative and do what they can to help communicate the message that we need to be safe. After the meeting, officials from the City of Coshocton and Coshocton Regional Medical Center reached to us to help spread the word. We discussed creating a video, including many local officials, entrepreneurs and healthcare leaders to send a unified message to our community. The theme became simple.
We need to “Step up…and Mask up!”
The work on that script and video began immediately and I am proud of what we created. But it was important to us to create something that sustains the message after the initial bump. So rather than just create a video, we worked to create a campaign. Next up, we reached out to government officials to step up as well. We sent out script (that I will include below) and the first person who recorded his version of the video was Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. He applauded the efforts of Coshocton County and encouraged everyone to “Step up…and Mask Up!”
Excited about this participation, we worked to keep the momentum going. We will continue to share the message from leaders and government officials, but we also wanted to add something tangible to the mix. So what better way to encourage people to “mask up” than to provide masks with the message? We agree. The design was created (as you see in the video) and the masks are ordered and are on their way. In addition, we have created re-positionable stickers that are being printed and will be given to businesses that want to promote the message.
We are excited about the positive momentum that has been created so far…and are happy to use our powers for good. So how can we keep this momentum going? Here are a couple of ideas. First, if you are in our area and you want to participate, let us know. While we think these items will go quickly, we can try to get you a sticker and a few masks to help spread the word. We know that some people find this message divisive (I don’t get that and I talk about it here), but we feel it’s the right thing to do.
If you are not in our area, maybe you can create a campaign like ours in your community. In the interest of helping, here is the script we created that you can modify and use.
Step Up…Mask Up Script
In Coshocton County, we are proud.
We take care of one another, and look out for our neighbors.
We believe in supporting small businesses.
And we celebrate our heroes in healthcare.
We are kind…and we are proud to give back.
That is why we want to urge you to “mask up.”
Wearing a mask is not a weakness…it’s kindness. Mask up.
Wash your hands. Keep your distance. And mask up.
Step up…and Mask up.
(Multiple Leaders on screen). Step up and Mask Up
Let’s all do our part. Be kind. Support small business. Help keep each other safe.
That is who we are Coshocton County.
Let’s step up…and mask up.
Special thanks to our local leaders for not only wanting to do what’s right…but stepping up and working together to make it happen.
Here’s to keeping each other safe. Step Up. Mask Up.
Let’s say you are in a leadership role in a growing company. Good for you! Whether you are in purchasing, marketing, sales or the C-suite, this might sound familiar. You have worked hard to create a logo and brand messaging that works. The key players were all involved. You might have worked with an outside firm, or handled it with your internal team, but now you have a logo that you love. The colors are perfect. The feel is just right. And you have even created a set of brand guidelines that make sure everyone understands what you can and can’t do with your beloved brand. This is awesome…it’s how you create a tribe!
Then one day you see something that is very upsetting.
You are walking through the halls of your beloved institution and you see a fellow employee wearing a shirt that CLEARLY is outside of the brand guidelines! At first, you think it’s just an anomaly…but then you see another. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it. There is “off brand” merchandise all over! Apparently, a rogue manager (with the best of intentions) wanted to appreciate their staff, so they went and got some branded merchandise on their own. Since there was no clear internal option to make this happen, they did it on their own…and the logo brand guidelines got flushed down the toilet.
This is every brand manager’s nightmare. And this is just one good reason to create a company store.
A company store is an online e-commerce solution that offers branded merchandise for members of your organization to order. Done right, this solution can be simple and easy to use. And it will help to decrease the number of times that well-intentioned managers will “go rogue” for branded merchandise. It gives members of your team a place to shop and find curated branded merchandise that is consistent with your brand AND can be vetted to make sure you can imprint the correct information. While they do take some time to set up, they can help both marketing and purchasing be sure that promotional purchases are done right.
Understand the Kinds of Company Store
If you want to create a company store, it’s important to know what kind you want. While there are plenty of variations, let’s stick with two basic types of stores. These are inventory versus non-inventory stores. Both types of stores have their place, but you need to understand them before you pick the one that’s right for your organization.
An inventory store is where you (or your promotional products partner) order all of the branded merchandise in and warehouse the items. Then, as people from around your organization order, the items can be shipped out “on demand.” Sometimes these items are warehoused at the customer location and sometimes the promotional products partner manages that. The advantages to this kind of store are speed and minimums. Simply put, if you have the item imprinted, done and warehoused, you can ship them to your team right away. In addition, if you just want one shirt, this is a very easy way to do it. You can order just one.
There are several disadvantages to this type of store too. First, someone has to purchase all of these items up front. Whether it’s the customer or the partner, someone is on the hook for these items. So if at the end of year these items don’t sell, you will ultimately own them. So you better be really good at choosing items AND the quantity you will warehouse. In addition, someone has to warehouse the items and manage the items. For larger organizations, this financial commitment might be easy enough. But for smaller organizations this can be a big cash flow challenge.
The other option for a company store includes the non-inventory store. This option has become more and more popular over the last several years. It allows companies to address the brand issues that arise at the beginning of this post without having to commit to large amounts of branded merchandise each year. In this option, a company creates an online store with curated products that match the company brand. Then, as departments need to order, they can order from these selections with a manufacturers minimum. The order is then created “on demand” and the customer is only billed for the items as they are created.
The downside to a store like this is, you don’t have these items on hand. So time and minimums are more of a challenge (though both can be mitigated). If you just need one last minute polo for a golf outing, this is not a great solution. But if want to manage the brand, manage budgets and keep control on both, this can be a great option…even for smaller organizations.
So now that you know what kind of company stores there are…how can you make a good one? Here are a few tips on creating a company store.
Include the Basics
When you are creating a curated collection of items for your company store, don’t out think the room. Yes, you might want to include some cool and hot new products in the mix. That’s great. We are in favor of that. But don’t forget the foundational products that most people want and need. You will want to include a drink ware, writing instruments, and apparel. These are staples. You want to have items that are functional. I would also recommend getting multiples in a couple of these categories. While you may love a Nike 1/4 zip (and I do) not every budget will allow for that. Give people basic options so they can use the company store without breaking the bank.
Keep It Simple
On the other hand, though you want options, you don’t want TOO many options! Keep it simple. Just like at the grocery store, if you give people too many options, they might not be able to choose at all. It’s a delicate balance. And remember, you can always add items down the road. Which leads nicely to…
Update Items Seasonally
If you want people to continue to check out your store (and ultimately stick to the brand), continue to add options. I recommend adding items at least once a quarter. First, this gives your team some new ways to award their team and promote your brand. In addition, this is part of the fun for you! Be on the lookout for cool new items, or have us do that for you! This is a great place to add items to the list that are missing…or give you a place to try more “off the wall” items that might fit during a time.
Get Feedback From the Troops
When it comes to your organization’s company store, your team members are your customers. Listen to their feedback! While you won’t be able to add every single item that is requested, you will likely see some themes. Giving your team input into the items that are on the store will give them more ownership in the idea. That makes it more likely that they will stick to the program and won’t go rogue again!
These are just a few tips on getting your company store up and running successfully. If you want to chat more about whether a company store is right for your organization, we would love to talk!