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.

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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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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.

The Most Powerful Word In Marketing

I was sitting at my desk, with the feet up, listening to Mike Michalowicz speaking at a recent Commonsku at Home event.  Mike is one of my favorite speakers, thought leaders and authors in the business space.  He has written several must read business books including The Pumpkin Plan and Profit First.  When he said he is working on a new book about marketing, he had my attention.  It was then that he told us about the most powerful word in marketing.

Mike’s new book (still in production) will be called Different is Better.  The concept is simple.  When there are thousands of options in nearly every business space, how do you stand out?  It’s not just about being better (though that is great).  It’s about being different.  You must do something to differentiate in the customers mind.

Simple right?  As we know, simple is not the same as easy.

While I am excited to dig into the book and try many of the tactics Mike discussed, there was one thing that caught my attention.  One way to stand out in a sea of competitors is to use the most powerful word in marketing.  What is that magic word?  What simple word can you put on a piece of marketing that will wildly increase the likelihood that your customer will not only read the piece, but maybe also KEEP it?  Let me give you the word…

It’s your customer’s name.

As Mike suggested, we are all attracted to our own name.  If we are in a conversation with someone in a crowded room, and someone mentions our name, it will break through the noise.  We will hear it.  Our name is special to us.  It gets our attention.  It makes our customer feel important…because they are!  If you want a simple way to make your marketing more effective, personalize it.  It’s the marketing equivalent of listening to Beyonce and “putting a ring on it.”

The implications of this are simple and powerful.  If you are going to create a direct mail piece, you are more likely to get it opened if it actually says the customer or prospect’s name rather than “current resident.”  And if you are created a piece of branded merchandise to say thank you to your customers (and you should), what if you personalized that as well?  If you create a vacuum tumbler with your logo on it, how much more would it mean if each customer, team member and board member had their own name on it?  The effect will be powerful.

And as a side note during this pandemic, it’s safer.  If each person has their own tumbler (or other branded piece), then there is a much lower chance of someone drinking out of the wrong tumbler and getting sick.

So now that we are in appreciation season, consider using the most powerful word in marketing to increase the value of your branded gift.  Use your customer’s name and personalize your gift for even more affect!

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How to Use Promotional Products to Improve Customer Retention

Let’s start with a statistic. It will really make you think.

Studies show that 69% of customers that leave you (as a customer, donor, supporter, etc.) do so because of “perceived indifference.” They will leave you because they simply don’t think you care.

Seriously, think about that. Nearly 7 out of 10 lost customers come down to the fact that you didn’t show them that you gave a crap about them.

Customer Loyalty—The Stakes are High, But It’s in Your Control

This statistic both frightens and excites me.

On one hand, it means that my customers could leave me because I have just been careless and lazy. It means that if I am not careful, my competitors could swoop in and take my revenue…just by caring more!  Am I doing enough to show my customers, regularly, that I sincerely appreciate their business? Are you? The question itself seems scary.

And yet, on the other hand, it is an entirely fixable (and improvable) situation. If I am not doing enough to show them, I can fix it! It is totally within my power to do so. That’s a good thing. I don’t have to wait for some cosmic shift in the economy, or some other outside force to change. This is something I can fix all by myself. I just need to care more, and then follow through with actions to demonstrate that I care.

Create Systems to Improve Customer Loyalty

On the third hand (is that even possible?) I see this statistic about perceived indifference as an opportunity. It means that most businesses—and likely my competitors—are NOT caring enough about their current customers. That means I (and now you) can create systems that allow you to gain market share…through caring! How cool is that?

So how do we do it?

Let’s talk about two very concrete ways to ensure your customers always know you appreciate them.

Two Strategies for Customer Retention

Start a Habit of Sending Thank You Cards

It’s funny. Sometimes the things that make a big difference in your customer’s eyes are the simplest.

  • Send your customers a card on their birthday.
  • Send them thank you cards for their business.
  • Send them a holiday card.
  • Send them a thanksgiving card.

Most people open their mail standing over the trash can, because all we get are bills and junk mail. A heartfelt thank you card really stands out.

The reason most people don’t send out cards regularly is they lack a system.

Let’s face it; most of us have good intentions. But those intentions go out the window when we can’t find the right kind of card, or we can’t find a stamp, or we don’t have the person’s address.

We need to schedule a specific time each day (or week) that we send out cards. One of my favorite practices is to try to create a reason to send out at least one thank you card each day. Sometimes I send a card to thank a customer for a purchase they made. Sometimes I send one to someone who helped me. It’s a fantastic practice.

Two things will happen. First, your customers will NEVER think you don’t appreciate them. And second, you will have a better attitude about life. If you spend every day trying to find something to be thankful for—guess what—you will become more grateful. That’s not a bad side benefit for doing something to help you increase your business!  Now let’s talk about how to create customer retention with promotional products.

Send Quarterly “Thank You” Gifts to your Best Customers

If you are like most businesses, 20% of your customers or clients produce 80% of your sales. It’s not a universal rule, but it is surprising how often it is true.

So those 20% are the clients you REALLY want to show that you care. So, in addition to sending them a birthday card, a thanksgiving card, and thank you cards, you want to reach out with something extra special at least once a quarter.

Start by establishing a budget.

How much are you willing to spend over the course of a year in order to say “thank you” to these top clients? Remember, these clients are your bread and butter. This is probably not the time to go cheap. How much you can afford to spend retaining your best clients will be different for every business, but, in my experience, you don’t have to break the bank.

Figured out how much you’re able to spend per year, per top client? Now, just for argument’s sake, let’s assume this number is $100 per year. That is, you’ve determined that it’s worth it to your business to spend $100 over the course of a year to say thank you to these top clients. Divide your number by 4. This means you have $25 per quarter to create some sort of gift to give to these clients.

This is more than just a nice gesture. This promotional gift shows your appreciation for them, and it also showcases your logo, reminding them each and every time they use the gift that you are a great company to work with! The trick is to tailor the gifts to your audience.

Start a quarterly thank you gift program and you’re now “touching” these clients 4 more times a year with a tangible, useful piece of appreciation.

A Plan for Thanking Your Best Customers with Awesome Promotional Products

How does this work? Let’s give you an example. Let’s say you are an insurance agent who has a wide variety of customers. You have business professionals, farmers, families and more.

This diverse group of customers gives you an idea of things you do and don’t want to give. So, your quarterly gifts might look like this:

Quarter 1: Roadside Safety Flashlight. This makes sense because you are not only promoting your brand, but you are showing you care about your client on the road.

Quarter 2High End Travel Mug and Cooler Bag. This is a cool combo because your clients might be thinking of vacations or road trips for the warmer months. Great way to remind them that you are with them through the miles and smiles!

Quarter 3BBQ Set. At this point they will be in barbecue season with tailgating just around the corner.

Quarter 4Executive Calendar and Tumbler. These two gifts are sure to stand out in the office and the home.

Obviously, these are just a few ideas to get you thinking. There are thousands and thousands of options. But these are some cool things that transcend generations and gender.

Streamlining the Process of Ordering Promotional Products

Also, here’s a quick tip to make this easier for you.

Call your promotional products consultant (that’s us!) and tell them your plans. We’ll help you find the perfect products that fit your budget and will be genuinely appreciated by each of your top customers. To make it even easier, consider ordering all four quarterly products at once. Have them shipped to you about a month before you need them, which allows you to spread out the cost over the year.

Pre-ordering for the whole year, “poof!” creates a reminder system for you, so you remember it’s time to say “thanks” again to your best clients. When the boxes arrive it’s time to start!

There are lots of ways to thank your clients, to kick the problem of perceived indifference to the curb, and to spread marketing joy all year round.

Get creative to and have some fun thanking your customers. You will be glad you did!

This post is an adapted excerpt from my book, Delivering Marketing Joy. 

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