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A Killer Example Of Co-Branding Done Right

Co-branding is a marketer’s dream. Rather than go it alone, two brands join forces to maximize their marketing efforts. Each brand gets its message in front of an entirely new audience and, here’s the kicker, saves money while doing it. Expenses are split between the two companies.

For small businesses on a budget, co-branding can be just the way to reinvigorate their marketing and achieve greater brand awareness.

Our client, Chris Pendergast of Farmers Insurance of Cold Spring, is the perfect example of co-branding done right. He has successfully co-branded his agency with a number of small businesses in the Cold Spring, Minnesota, community – from supermarkets to cinemas.

“It keeps the cost low, and it gives my potential customers a better experience,” he says. “I want to make sure I’m reaching the right people, spending the right money and getting the right return. A small-business owner can’t afford to make the investment and not see a return.”

Filling A Need

Pendergast’s latest co-branding program began after a conversation with ePromos Brand Consultant, Matt Thompson. Both have children who attend KIDSTOP, a school-age childcare program at 13 schools throughout Minnesota.

Light bulbs went off for both marketer and brand consultant when they learned that children are required to bring a water bottle each day.

promotional water bottles

Thompson pitched the idea to Pendergast: Promotional water bottles for all the kids in the program. He’d be providing a necessary item while getting his brand out there.

Forming A Strategic Partnership

Pendergast approached Jimmy’s Pizza for a co-branding opportunity. He’s a local insurance provider; Jimmy’s is a local pizza place. The alliance made sense. Both brands can benefit from the partnership, and both have similar target audiences. Without crossover appeal, co-branding won’t work.

Both brands had their logos featured on the water bottles. Pizza coupons inserted in the bottles kicked the promo up a notch. When you’re marketing to kids and families, think about what’s going to be used and appreciated.

A water bottle is one of those perpetually useful items, and a coupon for free pizza is right in line with what busy parents need – a night off the hook for preparing dinner.

Both brands came away looking smart. They understood the needs of their target audience, and they delivered a tangible product to keep their companies top of mind.

For Pendergast, promo water bottles were exactly what he needed to get his agency noticed by his core audience: young families.

“I don’t expect people to see a water bottle and switch to Farmers,” he says. “But people are starting to notice our presence in the community. The program will definitely pay a dividend in the future.”

This co-branding partnership rocked for a variety of reasons:

  • The brands meshed well together – they’re both small businesses that serve the local market.
  • They honed in on a common interest – providing something useful to families.
  • The brands used their marketing budgets efficiently, splitting the cost of the promotional items.

Sometimes in marketing, two is better than one. If the collaborative effort makes sense for both brands, co-branding is a cost-effective way to promote your company and get your brand seen by the masses. Check out another example of co-branding done right.


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Partner Up: Why Co-Branding Can Give Your Business The Boost It Needs

Co-branding: You see it everywhere from snack foods (Betty Crocker and Hershey’s) to restaurants (T.G.I. Friday’s and Jack Daniels) to retailers (Nike and Apple).

We happened to see it at the beach—on a custom beach blanket promoting T-Mobile, the wireless communications company, and Activision, the publisher of interactive entertainment software products.

custom beach towel

Companies from many sectors are finding that co-branding is an effective marketing strategy that can help them reach new markets and expand their business. Though it should be entered into wisely, co-branding can create new revenue streams and generate more brand awareness than if you promoted solo.

Think about it like this: Co-branding allows you to introduce your products and services to another company’s loyal customers. It lets you capitalize on another brand’s popularity in order to promote yourself.

Sounds like a pretty sweet marketing opportunity, right?

T-Mobile and Activision think so. They got it exactly right with their promotional giveaway featuring both companies’ logos. It’s an excellent way to cross-promote both brands and get their names in front of a shared core audience.

The great thing about co-branding is that it’s not just for behemoth national brands—it can be super-effective for small businesses, too.

The key is to consider the products or services that could increase the appeal of your offering. Think about the businesses that could complement yours and the companies that do an excellent job serving your target audience. These are the companies that have potential as a possible co-branding partner.

Have you thought about partnering up for a co-branding campaign? We say go for it—it can generate a whole new level of excitement for your company.

Promo know-how tip: Maximize your co-branding initiative by choosing promotional products designed for the appropriate demographic. Our promotions specialists can help you pick the products that will yield the biggest return on your investment.

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5 Simple Ways To Make The Most Of Small Business Saturday

tips for small business saturday

It’s coming … Small Business Saturday. That one glorious day of the year where small businesses around the country have their day in the spotlight.

Small Business Saturday is always sandwiched in between the two other biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The holiday, which falls on November 29 this year, was founded in 2010 by American Express as a day to celebrate local businesses and all they do to make their neighborhoods so great.

Last year, shoppers spent $5.7 billion with independent merchants on Small Business Saturday, according to research from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

It’s not just small businesses that have embraced the day.

Forty-one governors issued proclamations supporting the campaign, and more than 3.3 million Facebook users have liked the Small Business Saturday page.

Check out these educational tidbits about shopping small:

  • 80% of every dollar spent at an independent retailer goes back to the local community
  • Money spent at a local business generates 3.5 times more wealth for the local economy
  • $1 spent at a local retailer is usually spent six to 15 times before it leaves the community

Retail sales in November and December could hit nearly $617 billion this year, according to projections from the National Retail Federation. This would be a 4.1% increase over 2013, which only saw a 3.1% increase over the same season in 2012.

Thousands of small businesses around the country are hoping to boost these numbers, and Small Business Saturday is their chance to ramp things up for the holiday season.

If you’re a small-business owner, here are some simple, smart ways to get all you can out of Small Business Saturday:

1. Educate your customers.

The shop-small movement has really picked up steam since 2010 – almost half (44%) of consumers were aware of the holiday last year – but there are things you can do on a local level to get your customers excited.

Share interesting factoids and research about the impact of small business in your social media channels and on your website and blog. The Small Business Saturday website is chockfull of information. You could also send an e-mail blast to your database of customers, letting them know about the holiday and inviting them to your store.

2. Don’t compete on cost.

You likely can’t afford to drop your prices as low as the big-box retailers in your neck of the woods, so don’t. Instead, compete on something other than price – think atmosphere or experience.

If you own a pizza joint, you could host a dough-flipping contest. Coffee shops could have sipping stations with different flavors of coffee or hot cocoa. Bookstores could aim to draw in families by holding a story time with costumed characters.

You don’t have to offer deep discounts to win over new customers – you just have to do something memorable and unique.

3. Pick a partner.

Small Business Saturday is an excellent time to co-market because you’re already part of a group of like-minded businesses.

How do you choose a co-marketing partner? Look for a business that naturally overlaps with yours.

If you own a flower shop, for example, it makes sense to partner with a local wedding business. You could collaborate on everything from social media to promotional products. You get your brand in front of new audiences and save money at the same time. Check out this article for a great example of a co-branding partnership.

4. Make it a celebration.

Small Business Saturday is a big deal. It’s a nationally recognized day with a whole country of supporters rallying around it. Dive into the day and make it fun for shoppers. Create an in-store countdown calendar leading up to November 29. When the celebrated day arrives, kick it off with some exciting incentives. Make people want to shop at your business.

Think about decorating your store with balloons, signage, and banners. Hand out products imprinted with your logo. Get on social media and use the official hashtag, #smallbizsat, to share special offers. The idea is to let the community know you’re proud to participate in Small Business Saturday.

5. Express your gratitude.

When customers take the time to choose your business over a mega retailer, show them how much you appreciate them. It doesn’t take much to say thanks. You could post a message on Facebook thanking shoppers for their patronage. Or you could hand out small promotional products – think seeded paper bookmarks for bookstores or individually wrapped cookies for bistros – as a token of appreciation.

Personal, thoughtful gestures like these will help set your business apart from mass retailers. Customers will remember that you took a moment to show appreciation, and they’ll return the favor by vising your business again.

Small businesses: This is your day. Make the most of it. It can be a challenge attracting customers to your shop – especially in the wake of Black Friday. But by approaching the day with a plan and plenty of enthusiasm, Small Business Saturday can be an amazing kickoff to your best holiday season yet.

What is your business doing for Small Business Saturday? Share with us in the comments!


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Coffee Promotional Products That Will Perk Up Any Coffee Lover

If you want to hear about coffee promotional products, you’re in the right spot. But first, a quick back story.

Fourteen years ago this month (June), I married my best friend. I won’t bore you this time with the romantic tale, but I will tell you I tried to be the super wife in the beginning.

I would get up with my hubby at 4:45 every morning, fix a full breakfast, and make his lunch. I thought I was doing so well until after a few weeks in, he lovingly turned to me and said, “It might be best for our marriage if you stayed in bed.”

I pressed, “Is it my cooking?”

It wasn’t. (It’s awesome. Just ask our Minnesota crew.) I wasn’t a morning person then, and after 14 years, I’m still not.

graphic 1

Of course there are several solutions to the chronic anti-morning person, but none bigger than the $100 billion commodity coffee industry (second only to oil).

Oh coffee, that sweet nectar that brings me to life every morning.

Believe it or not, I am the only coffee drinker in the house. (My husband doesn’t eat chocolate either … the things you find out after you are married!) But my husband knows me well. He gave me one of my favorite anniversary presents a few years ago – a Keurig machine. (Yes, ladies, he’s a keeper.)

graphic 2

So what does all of this have to do with ePromos and promotional products? Well, with coffee being the second largest commodity market, there is a major opportunity to be in front of your customers.

One way to do this (that’s very near and dear to my heart) is the Tervis Tumbler. These great mugs can be decorated in so many creative ways, and they bring co-branding to a whole new level.

Since I am a Keurig fanatic, I’d like to introduce you to some of our newest products: the custom K-Cup and the K-Cup case.

custom Keurig cups

Your options are endless when it comes to marketing to coffee drinkers such as me. Disposable cups, coffee sleeves, endless mug choices and more.

What coffee item can you not live without? Share on ePromos’ Facebook page.




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10 Creative Promotional Ideas To Put Into Play This Earth Day

Earth Day

Earth Day is approaching (it’s April 22 every year), and you know what that means: It’s time to green up your marketing. For businesses, promotional ideas for Earth Day are plentiful. You can do something good for the planet and create some good will, all while promoting your company on the greenest day of the year.

By participating in Earth Day, you’ll be joining with more than a billion people in 190 countries that are taking action to make the world a better place. Whether your business is deeply rooted in the eco-friendly movement, or this is your first year to do any kind of Earth Day promotion, we have 10 clever ways your company can get involved this Earth Day. Let’s take a look.

1. Hold a contest.

Get your employees, customers and the local community fired up for your company’s Earth Day contest by announcing it with promotional products. It could be any kind of contest: art, photo, essay, logo design. Create a hashtag for your contest and promote it in social media. The winner scores some awesome eco-friendly swag with your company logo. And depending on the type of contest, you might score a cool new logo or piece of art for your office.


custom mug

2. Green-ify the office.

No, we don’t mean unloading a pallet of philodendrons in the break room (though that’s not a bad idea) – we’re talking about greening up the kitchen. Replace Styrofoam and paper cups with reusable custom mugs. You’ll slash expenses in the long run, and staffers will have an eco-friendly way to sip their morning java.





 3. Give out green freebies.

For your Earth Day promotion, think green – literally. Check out what kind of Earth Day festivities are happening in your community, and get involved in the action by handing out promotional items in the color du jour: green. Stay true to the theme of the day by having employees in green custom t-shirts doling out the promos.


custom notebooks

4. Help out a local school.

Would a team of your employees enjoy reading to a class of young students (bonus points if the book is about Earth Day!) or helping them plant saplings near the playground? Reach out to some schools to see where your help might be needed. Make sure to take some leave-behinds promoting your brand – think recycled pencils or eco-friendly custom notebooks.




5. Swoop in as a sponsor.

Look into the Earth Day marathons, walks and runs that are happening in your hometown. You’ll get some major exposure for your business on banners, t-shirts, and registration bags, and you might be able to set up a booth on-site to promote your brand and hand out promotional products.


custom lunch bags

6. Lend a hand at lunchtime.

Give employees custom lunch bags. You’ll be helping them reduce their eco-footprint (no more brown bags) and save money on lunches out, and you’re providing them with a useful gift that’s relevant not just on Earth Day, but every day.





7. Seek out co-branding opportunities.

Earth Day is a great time to connect with like-minded local businesses to promote green initiatives. By collaborating with another business (or two or three) on promo items for Earth Day, you’ll be maximizing your marketing budget while reaching new audiences with your marketing message. Here’s an example of a co-branding campaign done right.


personalized bookmark

8. Make an impact with a mailing.

Inspire your customers on Earth Day by sending them a mailer with a promotional seed kit or seeded bookmark. Get creative – use the mailers to announce a new product or promotion, a green initiative your company is putting into play, or include tips for living a greener lifestyle.







9. Host a donation drive.

Become a rockstar in the community by turning your business into a drop-off location for items people wish to donate or recycle. On Earth Day, nearly everyone wants to chip in and do something for the planet, so be prepared to handle the scope of the project. Recruit volunteers and get employees involved in organizing recyclable goods and donations. Make it fun – hand out a cool promo item to everyone who drops off a donation, or hold a raffle with bigger promotional prizes.


custom golf tees

10. Go green on the green.

Marketing to golfers? Hosting a tournament? Make the switch to eco-friendly golf tees. It’s a simple way to position your brand as environmentally responsible. You have lots of options, too, such as handing out golf tees individually, or tucked inside an imprinted pouch or box.






Don’t just sit on the sidelines this Earth Day – plan a promotion to get your business involved. Participating in Earth Day – even if you just pick one of the ideas we listed above – demonstrates that your company cares about more than just the bottom line. You’re showing that your business is an active member in the world community, in tune with what’s going on, and intent on making a difference.

Looking for some more ideas? Check out our 20 new ideas for 2018!


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