The Problem With Marketing Shortcuts

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.

chasing marketing shortcuts

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.

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Best Branded Tech Products for February

We all want to get “back to normal.”  You can tell that we are excited too.  We have recently talked about when events would be coming back, and we have given you a preview of some great products for reaching your customers in the great outdoors.  These give you an important preview of things to come.

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.

LED Desk Lamp with Wireless Charger

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.

10W Wireless Charger Pad and Phone Stand

There is nothing worse than getting up from a work day and realizing your phone is dead.  It’s time to workout, or do something fun, and you feel trapped.  This wireless charger pad and phone stand help keep that from happening…and help you keep an eye on your messages all day.

Swivel TWS Wireless Earbuds and Charger Case

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.

15W Wireless Charger & Sanitizer Box

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.

There you have it!  It’s our Best Branded Tech Products for February!  If you want more information on any of these items, or you want other ideas to help build your brand now, click here and we can schedule a time to talk about your marketing.

When we Deliver Marketing Joy…your business thrives.

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!

The Step Up Mask Up Campaign

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.

Oh…and if you want to make sure you never miss an update, sign up for our VIP newsletter.  We send it out once a week!

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!

Oh…and if you want to make sure you never miss an update, sign up for our VIP newsletter.  We send it out once a week!

3 Facts About Corporate Giving In 2020

It’s important for our lives to be based in truth.  If we want to be effective, productive and happy, it’s important for us to operate as things are…not how we want them to be.  That’s why I wrote this blog discussing “now that we are here.”  With that in mind, I want to give you 3 Facts about Corporate Gift Giving in 2020.

It’s More Important Than Ever

We are unapologetic fans of showing appreciation.  Of course we are.  It’s the business we are in.  But we also believe there is an appreciation gap in business today.  We talk about that here.  But this year, we are asking employees to work more with less.  Some team members have been laid off.  Others have taken on more responsibilities.  It’s what we have had to do to survive.  At the very least, we are all working in an incredibly uncertain and stressful time.  We need to show them how much that means to us.  And for customers that is doubly true.  These are our truest supporters that have continued to do business with us…and we need to make sure they know how much we appreciate it.

It’s Harder Than Ever

But here’s the thing, while it’s more important than ever, the fact is it’s harder.  Many people are still working from home.  We can’t do the traditional holiday events or parties.  Even if we can, these events will look small or different to say the least.  If we want to give our team a gift, we have to create new ways to deliver them and make them fun.  It’s a real challenge.  There is no getting around it.  (With this challenge in mind, we created this site to help).

It’s Important To Order Early

While we are always a fan of planning in advance, this year it’s a must.  As an industry, we are starting to see challenges with delivery times for many orders.  Because we HAVE to ship to more and different locations, it’s become a challenge for delivery.  As a matter of fact, UPS and Fed Ex have already acknowledged it’s going to be an issue.

In addition, the stock of many items across our industry has been a huge challenge as well.  Why?  Because when the pandemic began, all business in many (if not most) industries stopped.  The promotional products industry was no different.  So suppliers shut off orders from overseas to manage space and cash flow.  When the economy started to open back up, many suppliers took conservative bets on what to order in.  It’s a smart move.  But it has created stock challenges on some items.  What does that mean to you?  It means the item you are in love with for you team might be out of stock.  You either need to order before it is…or get ready to change to a new item quickly so you can still show that appreciation that is more important than ever!

So those are 3 Facts about Corporate Giving in 2020.  They are realities we all need to deal with.  Please be patient as we help you try and navigate these strange waters with you.  Again, if you are interested in seeing a solution to delivering the gifts, check out this site we have created.  Everything on the site is “all in.”  It includes the price of the items, imprinting, setup fees, and shipping to your team member or customers door…all in.