When Will In Person Events Come Back?

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!

An Amazing Virtual Showroom

So let’s assume for just a moment that your signage needs help.  Where do you go from here.  As always, we would be happy to help.  Click here and we can schedule a time to talk.  But in the meantime, I want to share this super cool new tool for you to check out for yourself.  Our partners at Showdown Displays have created this amazing virtual showroom.  You have to see it to believe it.  It’s their 7000-foot showroom at their facility with nearly all of the products they sell.  You can “walk” through the showroom using your arrow keys.  Then when you come to a product you are interested in, just hover on the purple dot for information on the product.  You can click on it to get more information and pricing.  I think this is so cool!

So there you have it.  I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Events will be coming back soon.  Will you be ready?  We would be happy to help!

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5 Products To Reach Your Customers in the Great Outdoors

During the past year, American’s spent more time outside.  To be fair, this is probably true around the world, but after being cooped up in quarantine, we were all thirsty for the outdoors.  Sales on RV’s, kayaks, and boats were all off the charts.  We wanted to take advantage of any chance to enjoy some time in the outdoors.  Prognosticators will tell you this trend is going to continue into 2021.

So how do you take advantage of this trend?  Create marketing and branded merchandise that reach your customers, employees and prospects when they are happy…and out enjoying nature.

Here are 5 products to reach your customers in the great outdoors.

Urban Peak® Blue Ridge Trail 20 oz Water Bottle:  We all know it.  When you are out in the great outdoors it’s important to stay hydrated.  Whether out on the boat, hiking the trail or at the beach, we need to have our favorite beverage with us.  This awesome water bottle will keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot for hours.  And with a great imprint area, you have a chance to really leave a mark.  Get more information here.

Urban Peak® Slate 36 Can Waterproof Cooler:  When you are out enjoying the fresh air with some friends, it’s great to bring a cooler.  This 36 can size is not too bulky and can be great for a small gathering.  No matter if you want to cola, water or your favorite adult beverages, this cooler bag with a leak proof liner has you covered.

BIG UN’ Camp Chair:  When it’s time to take a load off, we have a great item for you.  Travel chairs are always a great gift…but they are not all built the same.  The Big Un Camp Chair was designed with comfort in mind. This chair features an extra-wide design, cushioned headrest, full length back pocket, mesh armrest pocket, and a cup holder to provide for the day’s necessities. The 400 lb. tag rating will give full confidence to the burliest user.  Learn more here.

Coleman® 36-Hour 42-Can Marine Soft-Sided Cooler:  I personally fell in love with this cooler at a golf outing.  It has a great look and a perfect branding location.  In addition, the quality of the cooler is top notch.  And the top lid makes it easy to grab a beverage and go without opening the whole bag.  You can find more info here.

FUSION BACKPACK CHAIR WITH COOLER:  This is the chair you and your customers need if you are “going to be there for a while!”  As the vendor says, this chair has so many features, you may want to make it your new office.  Including a backpack, cooler, a shelf and so much more, the Fusion Chair is for the most discerning of outdoor experts!

There you have it!  Here are 5 amazing products to help you reach your customers while they enjoy the great outdoors!  Want more ideas?  Please reach out to your HMC rep or click here to set up a time to chat!

7 Products That Stuck Out At The TOM 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.

And don’t worry…safety protocols were in place.  Temperature checks were in place to everyone that came into the event.  Masks were required and there was hand sanitizer everywhere.  We have talked about how to host an in person event safely here…and all of the boxes where checked!

In the meantime, there were also some great products that you might want to know about as you plan to market your organization this year.

Here are 7 products that stuck out at the TOM Show.

#1  Paper Soap from Webb Collection:  If you are looking for a low cost promotional item that is useful and timely, this might be your answer!  I mean…who is NOT looking for that combination in a branded piece right now?  http://www.webbcompany.com/product-detail/Citrus-Scented-Paper-Soap/148

#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

#4 PPE Kit from Galactic Line:  While it’s great to go “ala carte” on your safety branded merchandise, this kit allows you to outfit the team in once place.  And at a price of only $5.99 you won’t break the bank to help keep people safe.  http://www.galaxyballoon.com/Search.do?keyWords=PPE+Kit&Search.x=17&Search.y=12

#5 2 OZ Gel Hand Sanitizer (IN STOCK) with full color process die cut label from Galactic Line:  On the other hand, sometimes it’s just great to get a good deal on hand sanitizer.  Here is one for only $.99.  It might be time to stock up.  http://www.galaxyballoon.com/pl/2-oz-GEL-Hand-Sanitizer-Imported/181

#6  Washable Kraft Paper Grocery Tote Bag with Web Handle from American Ad Bag:  We have all seen tote bags.  They have great imprint area and they are super functional.  This Washable Kraft Paper Grocery Tote Bag is different…and super cool.  Oh…and did we mention that this one has a give back component?  https://www.adbag.com/product-detail/TSUNAMI—Washable-Kraft-Paper-Grocery-Tote-Bag-with-Web-Handle/936

#7 New Versions of the Viking Nova Tumbler from Crown (Koozie):  One of our favorite pieces of drinkware of all time has some new updates.  The double wall vacuum sealed tumbler is still a best seller and an amazing value.  And when you add some of these snazzy new colors, you almost have a new product entirely!https://www.imagenbrands.com/Product/20-space-oz-dot–space-Rainbow-space-Viking-lt-sup-gt–reg–lt–slash-sup-gt–space-Nova-space-Tumbler/CDKW056

Bonus:  Jack Nicklaus 1/4 Zip Pullover:  I will make this quick.  This is beautiful and SO soft!  http://cgcorporate.com/JackNicklaus/men/JNM212/JNM212_910.asp 

And this was just the tip of the iceberg.  Special thanks to Kelly Bowe for attending the show and helping me put this list together.  We are excited to jump in and help you make 2021 a great year!

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Tips on Creating A Company Store

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.

Inventory Store

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.

Non-Inventory Store

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.

P.S.  Another store, which we talk about here, is an employee sale.  This is a great way to allow your team to show their company pride and order just one at a time.  If you want to learn how to do this…read this.

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!   

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How To Create A Successful Employee Sale

One of the buzzwords that is thrown around a lot in business today is the word “culture.”  I actually love that.  It’s important because it speaks to the environment around the organization…and how everyone feels about their work.  When you create a successful culture, you have the ability to create a tribe.  If you have done that…congratulations.

And when you create a company and a brand that people are proud to represent, something cool happens.  Your employees will actually WANT to wear the logo.  In fact, they will often be willing to pay their own money to buy branded merchandise with the organization’s logo on it!  That shows a powerful culture.

Now if you already have a company store created, some team members will be able to “get their fix” that way.  If not, and you want to learn how to create a great company store, you can learn more here.

If you find yourself here, then it might be time to create a Employee Sale.

An employee sale is a fairly straight forward exercise.  It’s not a new concept.  You would select some items that could be imprinted with the company logo on it.  Employees have the opportunity to select items for themselves.  You would curate the items and the way they would be imprinted.  This allows employees to select items that they would be excited about using or wearing, while you get to manage the brand.  While the concept is not new, the technology has improved.  Now you can create an online shop to help you manage this process in a much more efficient way.

But an employee sale can really get out of control.  When they do, they can become a real nightmare to manage.  And when that happens, leaders often throw up their hands and say “no more!”  That’s a shame.  Because if you have created a culture and a tribe that want rep your brand…you want to help them!

So here are a few tips on creating a successful (and less painful) employee sale.

Keep It Simple

One common mistake I see with employee sales, especially the first one, is to try and include everything.  The more items you include, the more you have to manage.  What I recommend is to keep it simple and include the basics on the first sale.

I explain this to everyone when we start this process.  They always nod and say “Yes.  That makes sense.”  Then when we select products, they ultimately want to include 20 or more items.  It’s easy to do!  First, we are excited!  Second, we have everyone (including our boss) making special requests to be included.  Then you look down and have a ton of options on the table.  This is what most often leads to frustration.  Trust me.  Keep it simple.  You can always add the special requests on the next sale.  This leads nicely to…

Do Them Every Quarter

One of the ways to manage the requests and the expectations is to let everyone know you will do these sales consistently.  That will allow you to add special items to the “next time” list.  In addition it allows you to add seasonal items.  Things that people want in December are not what they want in July.  If you do the employee sales every quarter, you can help manage the items and the expectations.

How Do They Pay?

This may sound simple, but there are several ways to do this.  There is no “right way.”  But it’s important to figure it out up front so that both the team and the vendor know!  One way is that the company gives everyone the ability to order the item…and the company pays.  Another popular option is to allow employees to order what they want and then deduct the cost from their pay.  This payroll deduction option is one of the most popular.  Finally, you can let employees just pay themselves.  The employee sale can be set up with a credit card option to make this work.  Either way is fine…but this needs to be worked out in advance to avoid confusion.

Test and Test Again

Just like any other online product, your new store needs to be “proofed.”  You need to look over it with a fine tooth comb.  Are the colors right?  Is the logo the one I want?  Then run a few test orders to make sure the site works like you want it to.  You will likely be the first person people come to when they have questions.  So make sure you have used the site and can answer the basics.

Be Patient

As I write this, we are in the middle of the COVID crisis, so everything is colored by this time.  Stock for nearly all suppliers is a challenge.  Delivery times are tough and shipping has been delayed.  I wrote about this here.  But even in normal times, an employee sale has a lot of moving pieces.  There will be hopefully fewer if you took our advice on keeping it simple, but there are still lots of individuals, ordering lots of items, with different imprints.  That means things can be confusing.

My advice is to be patient.  Your tone will be powerful in your organization.  This is a spot to under promise and over deliver.  When you are talking about delivery times, give yourself time.  The order will not be placed until the Employee Sale closes.  After that, give yourself 3 to 4 weeks to expect delivery.  When you say that from the outset, you manage expectations and headaches.  If then, the items come in sooner, great.  But expect the unexpected.  It will decrease your stress and the amount of emails you have to answer about the items.

These are a few simple steps you can take to make your employee sale successful and less stressful.  If you want to talk about creating an employee sale for your team, let’s talk!

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How To Create A Virtual Event That Rocks

Creating and hosting a “slam dunk” event for your company or organization can have a huge impact on your success.  This has been a foundational concept for years.  But now 2020 has happened, events can look very different.  So how can you create a virtual event that rocks?  Let’s dig into some ways to create an event that is one to remember.

Let’s start with a note.  When creating a virtual event, you need to understand that it’s not the same as an in person event.  That’s okay, but it’s really important to understand.  The more you try to “recreate” the in person event, the more you will struggle.  It’s a different animal.  So as you imagine what your event will be, and what you want it to accomplish, remember that your attendees will not be “with you” in the physical sense.  So creating an experience that meets them where they actually are is critical.

With that being said, whether it’s a fundraiser, an educational event or an thank you party, a well-run event can help increase loyalty and
create revenue.   
But just like anything else in business, if you want to have an exceptional event, the devil is in the details.  Let’s talk about a few of these details on how to create a virtual event that hits the mark.

Create Your Theme

Most successful events (whether in person or virtual) have some sort of theme to build around. The more fun and creative the theme, the more you can build it up. So spend some time around the brainstorm table and come up with a theme that really moves the needle for your audience.  And because this event is virtual, I love the idea of building around that.  

After you have created the theme, you can take it to the next level by creating an event logo. You don’t have to do this, but it helps to brand everything at the event and make it feel “first class.” And you don’t need to spend big bucks on this. Have a staff contest and come up with something fun and simple! It will help to improve the overall impression of the entire event.

hasseman marketing masterclass

Each year, our company hosts a Customer Appreciation Show. The event has evolved from a strictly “thank you” event for our customers, into a real business event complete with Trade Show set up and a speaker.  But this year, 2020 happened.  So we decided not to host the in person event.  Instead we decided to create an virtual event we called the Hasseman Marketing MasterClass.  The event featured amazing speakers, some really cool break out session, and even a vendor area.  As you can see, we created a theme and a logo to kick off this inaugural event with a bang.

Staff Uniform

The theme also allows you to start thinking about what the staff will wear.  Now you might be thinking “If we are not in person, why do we need to do this?”  Fair.  But I think by creating a “uniform” that stands out, your attendees can really see your team unity here.  It’s great that we have been able to be more casual in working from home, but I don’t think your organization’s event is the one where every one should be wearing sweatpants.  It does not have to be fancy, but it’s just a small detail that can make it look sharp.

Pre-Event SWAG Box

One of the reasons to create an event logo is to create a pre-event swag bag (or box).  With a virtual event, I think this is more important than ever.  We have all been invited to an infinite number of Zoom meetings.  While this technology has been a Godsend, we are all tired of them.  This box of branded goodness can help to not only increase your organizations brand awareness, but also improve excitement for the event..

Another reason to create this swag box in advance of the event is the promotion you will get on Social Medial.  Obviously, you want to promote the items you will be giving away.  But if you create a box of branded merchandise that delights, then you will get your attendees and customers to tell the story for you!  Help them.  Create a card to include in the box to explain the items and to ask them to post their goodies.  My suggestion, create a hashtag for the event and ask them to use that when posting!  This allows you to track the content and helps to build excitement in advance of the event.

Choosing The Platform

At an in person event, the venue is really important right?  Well for a virtual event, the platform is your venue.  A platform that is easy to use is really important.  And having technology that has the details thought through can really help you shape the flow of the event.  We used the platform Hopin and I really liked it.  More than just a zoom meeting, Hopin allowed us to mimic the flow of a normal event in order to keep the pace of the event moving.  With a virtual event, I think pace really matters.  When people can simply get up and walk away from their computer, you better keep them engaged.

At The Event…First Impressions

I know I am dating myself, but I remember a scene from the original Karate Kid movie. Mr. Myagi was teaching Daniel-san to shape the Bonsai trees. He told Daniel-san to close his eyes and imagine what the tree should look like. He told him to see it like a picture. Then he told him to open his eyes and “make the picture.”

That’s a little like planning any event. Close your eyes and imagine all the details of the event. Now go make the picture.

Here are some quick questions to ask yourself:

What do I want people to see first when they “enter” the event?

What do I want them to hear? 

How do I want them to interact?  

A virtual event is different, so it’s really important to be intentional.  We felt it was important for them to be greeted into the event.  It was going to be the first time many of them used the platform, so we wanted to explain it to them.  How was the day going to go?  What could they expect?  During a virtual event, some people are going to struggle with the technology, so you need to over communicate.

Preaching Patience

One piece of advice I got when planning the event was to “preach patience.”  This advice came from some of the early adopters of virtual events…my friends at Commonsku.  These folks were some of the first to create really great virtual events…and they continue to up their game in this area.  As they told me, there will be technology glitches.  You are dealing with hundreds of different people, with different computers, and individual internet connections.  Things will go wrong.  From the very beginning of our event, we tried to explain that.  We told them to refresh if things locked up…and where to reach out if they struggled.  It was not perfect, of course.  But overall, the event went off well.  Oh…and if you want to hear their take on virtual events from them, check out this podcast.

Follow Up After The Event

In almost the entire business world, most people fall on their faces in the follow up. So make sure you have an actual plan in place to thank your attendees for coming. Often this can be done with a simple email campaign to recognize that you actually did notice the participants were there. But if you have a few select clients, this might be the place to take it to the next level.

Create a quick mailer with one last premium (with the theme) that goes to your “target list” or your “top clients” or whatever. Just one last touch like this will not only make your event (and your organization) stand out, but it will also provide one more “lasting impact” piece for their desk, office or home.

As much as we would love to imagine that all of these COVID restrictions are going away, I think that is naive.  We need to be prepared to keep being creative when it comes to business.  I hope this helps you think about how you can go to market and create a virtual event that rocks!

If you want to discuss how to create an event for your organization, we would love to help.  Head to our Let’s Talk page to set up a time to discuss.