Promo, Brand & Marketing News


The Benefits of a Local Networking Group

If there’s one lesson we’ve learned over these last three months, it’s that social connection plays a fundamental role in many people’s happiness and success—both personally and professionally. Because of wide-spread shelter-in-place orders, many social outlets and activities have been suspended, and for many, that means isolation from their professional communities as well.

From loss of communication with colleagues, to missing opportunities to grow and connect with a customer base, to missing out on professional development seminars and beyond, the effects of social distancing extend to every corner of the business world and are leaving many professionals feeling defeated and uninspired.

How to Grow Professionally and Stay Connected

Luckily, technology provides a means of connection when we can’t be physically together—and that plays a key part in continuing professional development during these times.

Greta, a wonderful member of our sales team, recently shared how she’s staying connected and honing her skills by meeting virtually with her local Business Network International (BNI) group.

Using BNI Groups to Grow Professionally

Every Thursday, Greta meets with her group (now via Zoom), which is made up of professionals from various industries including mortgage companies, financial institutions, car maintenance, heating and air conditioning, and more.

During each meeting, all members get a chance to pitch new products and services their company is offering, ask for referrals, and potentially sell to other professionals within the BNI group, all in hopes of making new connections and bringing in new business.

Making Connections and Getting New Business
Greta Presenting at BNI

When asked if these meetings open new doors, Greta said, “I didn’t get business at first—people need to gain your trust and get to know you because they’ll be referring their friends to you. But over time, I’ve definitely gained business. I have people ordering from the group, and they’ve referred me to their friends. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Aside from honing her public speaking skills and perfecting her elevator pitch, Greta mentioned that meeting with her BNI group has also helped her deal more frankly with her customers and provide more valuable service to them.

Providing More Value to Customers

When reflecting on how she’s grown as a salesperson since joining her BNI group, Greta said, “Things happen with orders—we have to get on the phone and help our regular online customers. But with my BNI group, if something goes wrong or they have questions, I’m going to actually see them face-to-face.”

Sometimes, technology creates a barrier that subconsciously minimizes the positive effects of customer service interactions—but Greta says that connecting with her BNI group customers in person helps her see her customers, especially her digital ones, in a new light.

She notes that she’s learned to approach service situations from a more human, empathic standpoint—whether virtual or in person. Not only does this make her a more skillful salesperson, but it increases customer retention too.

Identifying Market Needs

BNI groups are made up of professionals from industries across the board, and Greta noted that consistently communicating with people in different industries is incredibly valuable for her as a salesperson.

These interactions have trained her to identify the common needs and interests that ePromos can fulfill for other companies and professionals. And perhaps most importantly, Greta notes that she’s more confident in her abilities as a salesperson—she uses the insight she’s gained from these industry connections to create razor-sharp sales pitches that are more targeted and effective. In other words, her professional growth is benefitting everybody in the business.

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How to Keep Restaurant Patrons Engaged as You Reopen

Before the current COVID-19 pandemic, 20% of U.S. consumers reported eating out at least once a week. In 2019, over one million U.S. restaurants employed approximately 15.3 million workers.

The national lockdown severely impacted the restaurant industry and has threatened the survival of even the biggest and most popular chains. For those that have made it through, the process of reopening safely brings even more challenges.

Of course, the virus that causes COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and any restaurant or bar that wants to reopen will need to do so responsibly. But while it may seem like distancing and isolating measures hamper the very level of social engagement that makes dining out a pleasurable activity for many people, there are ways to engage your clientele while still adhering to safety recommendations and making dining out a fun, enjoyable experience.

Reopening Phases for Restaurants and Bars

As the country and the world begin the process of resuming business as usual, government and healthcare officials are stressing the importance of proceeding slowly, step by step, instead of rushing to resume full-service dining as it existed before the lockdown began. It’s important to remember the risk of infection still exists, and it’s incumbent on every business to moderate that risk for itself, its employees, and its clientele.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control have released new, more detailed guidelines for the phased reopening of dining establishments and bars. These guidelines establish existing levels of risk for the resumption of various levels of food and drink service. For example, curbside pickup and delivery still remain relatively low risk, while outdoor dining carries an additional level of risk but less so than indoor seating options.

This doesn’t mean, however, that dining out can’t still be fun and enjoyable for your customers and your staff. One way to increase engagement during the current pandemic is with promotional products that can help your restaurant or bar create the atmosphere your patrons miss, even if dining out today is a little different than it used to be.

Fun Floor Decals
Social Distance Floor Decals

Help encourage safe distancing (and help your employees enforce those guidelines) with fun floor decals that guide patrons to stay six feet apart while waiting in lines for service. Printed directions should be clear and succinct but can also include a little humor or human interest to help entertain your customers in a way that’s friendly and relatable while they wait.

For dining establishments that anticipate longer lines and directional control issues, try road-sign-shaped decals such as this “one way” diamond with a directional arrow or this rectangular one-way arrow decal to help your customers find their way safely through the ordering and pickup process.

Outdoor Signs and Flags

Promote your restaurant or bar with attractive, festive outdoor flags and signs. For example, these large feather flags can be customized with a full-color imprint to proudly display your own branding and are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

Or use this classic standing A-frame sign to announce your specials, unique events, or themes along with your branding. With a molded handle for easier handling and water ballast to keep it secure outside, this frame holds two signs with full-color digital graphics, printed with UV-resistant inks.

Games and Other Printed Materials
Disposable coasters with field goal cut out makes for great entertainment

To keep your customers engaged while dining outside with more distance, add a mix of promotional products that help announce your brand and entertain your diners at the same time. For instance, use these disposable printed coasters to promote your brand, specials, or events. Add simple tabletop games, like a pocket sudoku game or this mini-cornhole game (sanitized, of course) so your customers will have something to do while waiting for orders or delivery of their meals. The addition of germ-free tools for diners can help add an extra level of safety, too.

And don’t forget your employees. Give them germ-free disposable branded pens for order taking, then they can tell their customers “keep the pen!” when they pay the bill. Finally, consider having a supply of hand sanitizer in small bottles on hand to give out to customers. It’s a great way to show you care about them and their well-being as they return to patronize your business.

Looking for even more ideas about keeping customers safe and engaged as businesses reopen? Get in touch with one of Account Executives today.


Fuel the Economy by Purchasing USA-Made Products

The COVID-19 pandemic began as a public health crisis—but now, it’s quickly transforming into an economic crisis for many Americans as well. Between employers cutting hours or being forced to let their workers go, the detrimental economic effects of COVID-19 are touching millions of households in the United States.  

Although we’ve seen record unemployment benefits being applied for as the pandemic spreads, we’ve also seen the economic damage extending to businesses as well. Across the world, shut downs and social distance measures are disrupting supply chains and leaving businesses with no means to manufacture their products.  

Looking on the upside, there are a handful of ways we can help and do our part! Purchasing USA-made products not only keeps American factories and businesses afloat, but it also keeps workers employed so they can support their families. We have compiled a list of our favorite USA-made products you can purchase to help stimulate and support our economy. 

Patriotic Products that can Help Stop the Spread 

As our economy has seen better days, it is important to be reminded of how we can do our part and help be the fuel. The pace at which the economy grows is based on how fast our currency changes hands from producer to consumer within the US. Fortunately, we’ve got a few items in stock that may help keep you properly equipped and safe for the everyday endeavors.  

Face masks are part of nearly everyone’s everyday uniform now, and stores can’t keep them on their shelves—consider stocking up on these 100% USA-made cotton face masks while supplies last.  

Another great option for personal protection with some USA spirit? This American Flag Adjustable Face Mask. The World Health Organization warns that touching your face is one of the main ways you can contract COVID-19, so these masks are perfect for curbing that habit and increasing your chances of staying healthy.  

A Few Work-from-Home Essentials 

If COVID-19 has initiated you into the work-from-home club, you might be lacking a few of the essential office supplies needed to stay productive. Stock up on the following for yourself or send out to your employees to support them as they work remotely. Check out this collection of Products made in the USA to help complete your new home office. 

Working from home has so many possible distractions and interruptions, it can be tough to stay on task and remember every single detail as you did when you were in your former work space, in work mode. But with the help of these Full-Color BiC® Sticky Notes, you won’t forget a thing. Their 3″w x 3″h size is perfect for jotting down small reminders and tasks and sticking them on easy-to-see spots like your desk and computer. Plus, you can imprint them with your company’s logo, and even send them to your employees in a care package. 

Another USA-made product that can help you stay organized while working at home is our Monthly Academic Planner. Each month has a two-page spread and provides plenty of room for writing down meetings, phone calls, and project reminders. The planner comes in fifteen different colors, and you can also imprint your company’s logo on the front and send it out to your employees and clients. 

If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly way to fuel up our economy, our high-tech Rocketbook Everlast Smart Notebook provides an eco-friendly, innovative way to jot down all your ideas without paper. It comes with thirty-six reusable pages that can be wiped clean with the included cloth. Once you take your notes, download the Rocketbook App, scan your notes, and send them to be stored safely in the cloud on Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and more. Welcome to the future of taking notes. 

If you’re looking for more products to purchase to support the American economy, browse our full inventory of USA-made products here. We have nearly 1,300 products you can purchase for yourself, your employees, or your clients that will not only be incredibly useful on a day-to-day basis but will also serve a bigger purpose during this pandemic.  

For Patriotic products, not necessarily made in the USA, click here.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Our team is standing by to ensure you have the products and information you need to keep your business running forward. 


Keeping Kids Entertained At Home: Promo Gifts Worth Sending

While we’re all adjusting to the many changes in lifestyle that have come with Covid-19, we know families with young children are facing unique challenges. With kids home from school, it can be especially difficult to strike a balance between parenting, supporting distance learning efforts, and working from home.

Kid-friendly gifts are appreciated right now to help families create a work/life balance while quarantined at home. Here are a few ideas that can help keep kids stuck at home occupied.

Crayons and Art Supplies

Drawing and coloring are activities that children of all ages (and many adults, too!) love. We’ve created these coloring sheets for you to enjoy with any of these options. Pair them with a box of crayons for classic fun.

For younger kids, the Crayo-Craze® Six-Color Crayon Wheel offers the advantage of a box of six crayons in one easy-grip wheel! Crayo-Craze is non-toxic and perfect for creative little hands at home, at school, or on the go.

If you prefer to send an entire kit, consider this Spiral Bound Notebook Coloring Book, which includes 25 coloring pages, 25 blank pages for doodles, and 12 colored pencils in their own PVC pouch.

Planting Kits for Hands-on Learning

Parents are looking for hands-on activities more than ever. With spring gearing up in much of the world, what could be more fun and engaging than growing a few plants?

Our Full-Color Grow Your Own Herb Garden comes in three varieties, is packed attractively inside a recycled 6-count egg carton, and features your full-color logo. It’s a great and practical giveaway that will be received well by kids of many ages, and grownups, too!

If you’d rather grow trees than herbs, we also offer a Pine Tree Planter. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the satisfaction of growing their very own pine tree in a biodegradable pot made from spruce wood, until it can be transplanted outside. Choose from four stock label designs.

Puzzles and Fidget Toys

Nothing keeps kids busy indoors quite like creative puzzles! Fortunately, we offer a wide variety of ways you can help fill this need.

This Wooden Poseable Robot Puzzle is a fun fidget toy (and a great conversation piece). Imprint your logo on the chest or face. Constructed of wood and held together with strong elastic bands, it keeps little hands busy and helps stretch young minds while everyone stays safe indoors.

Or how about a Full-Color Jigsaw Puzzle? Ours has 35 pieces and is completely customizable to your brand.

If you want to really think outside the box, consider the Ball of Whacks Creativity Tool This item is more versatile than a puzzle and more fun than a brain teaser. There’s no wrong way to play with it! It consists of 30 magnetic design blocks that can be rearranged into a wide variety of shapes, and it comes with a 96-page illustrated guidebook.

Other Creative Ideas

Consider these other ideas for helping to keep kids entertained and engaged.

This Full-Color Sticker Bookmark is two items in one, and it promotes reading. And who doesn’t love stickers?

Or you might go for our Full-Color Assorted Foam Putty, a simple but popular children’s toy that offers creative entertainment and features your full-color imprint on the label.

If you want something classic, a Domino Set in Wooden Box is another great option. A travel set of the classic domino game, it’s neatly packaged in an imprintable wooden box with a sleek sliding cover.

You can deliver any of these items right to the doorstep of your clients, prospects, or employees as a reminder your brand is here during this complex time. Looking for more ideas about staying in touch with consumers during our “new normal”? Let’s talk soon. Call us, the Promo Know-How people.


Protection During a Global Pandemic: Face Masks for Public Health

As individuals around the world continue to be impacted by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, recommendations about the best ways to stay safe and reduce spread have continued to evolve.

While there was initial controversy over the general public wearing masks in response to coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that people wear masks or face coverings in public, especially in situations where social distancing rules may not be properly followed or are difficult to enforce.

In fact, many scientists and doctors are now advocating for a nationwide official policy encouraging the use of facial coverings or face masks during public outings.

Protective Face Masks in Response to Coronavirus

There are several types of masks or face coverings to be aware of, each with their own level of availability to the general public. In addition, there’s a lot of information circulating about different mask types, including who should be wearing them and when. Here’s a quick breakdown:

At one end of the spectrum are N95 respirators. N95 respirators are rated to protect the wearer against 95% of very small pathogen particles. These masks are considered PPE (personal protective equipment) for healthcare workers and first responders. They should not be worn by the public as a general rule. There are also now KN95 masks, which the CDC has listed as a suitable alternative to N95’s.

Surgical masks, such as 3-Ply masks, are worn by staff in surgery and other open medical procedures. They protect against most large particles but may not protect against microscopic viral particles the way N95 or KN95 masks do.

One step below surgical masks are cloth masks and face shields that cover the face but aren’t designed to stop the transmission of those tiny viral particles. They may, however, help protect the wearer from larger particles when social distancing fails. These masks, like others, also remind wearers not to touch their faces, another important protective measure.

Finally, you can simply tie a bandana or other similar fabric around your face. This reusable approach isn’t quite as protective as a snug mask, as it leaves the mouth and chin area open. However, many wearers say it offers some protection, which is better than none. Additionally, a bandana covering, like any facial covering, may help remind others to comply with social distancing guidelines and stay six feet away from everyone else.

As doctors and other health care professionals began warning the public and the press about dwindling and disappearing supplies of personal protective equipment, instructions on how to sew face masks (DIY) out of bandanas and other kinds of material have begun circulating online. Businesses, brands, and everyday consumers have set to work determining which fabrics and mask styles offer the best protection for public health.

Guidelines for Face Masks and Coverings from the CDC

The CDC has advised the public that for any cloth facial mask or covering to be effective, it should meet the following criteria:

  • It should fit snugly around the face, while still allowing the wearer to breathe and speak.
  • It should be attached firmly through the use of ties or ear loops to keep the cloth from slipping.
  • It should ideally consist of two or more layers of cloth fabric to improve the mask’s barrier function against viral particles.
  • It should be constructed of cloth that can be properly laundered for hygiene.

These masks should be worn when out in public and then removed carefully upon returning home. If at all possible, wearers should avoid touching their faces while the mask is in use. After removal, users should wash their hands thoroughly.

Face Masks and Other Facial Coverings You Can Deliver to Consumers

If you’d like to do your part to provide masks, face shields or other facial coverings to consumers, you can explore options here. In addition, it can be a good time to send bandanas or other items that can be easily repurposed as a facial covering during this time.

Take advantage of these items while they’re in stock, let your employees, clients, and consumers know you’re thinking of them during this difficult time. Safety for others leads to safety for all and sending face masks, hand sanitizer and other healthcare items can ensure we’re all doing our part to improve public health and flatten the curve.


How to Brand Your Business in Our New Normal

As we adapt to our new normal (being home) and prepare for the recovery period that will follow in the coming weeks or months, we need to consider what does this mean for the way we’re using certain promo products? What does the future hold in the aftermath of a global pandemic from a business perspective? As you tweak your marketing calendar for the remainder of the year, think about the problems that frustrate or concern your demographic the most, and seek out branded products that can help solve, or at least mitigate, some of those issues. As always, we want to help you reach your target market in a way that’s valuable and thoughtful, yet effective.

Sanitizing and Disinfecting Products

Right now keeping ourselves, our homes, and our immediate environment disinfected is crucial. In the coming months, we know we’ll continue to see sanitizing products and other health-related items at the top of everyone’s lists. Fortunately, as suppliers continue to adjust to increased demand, we’ll see more of these products readily available for purchase.

Sanitizing products certainly aren’t new, but they are getting a renewed spotlight in our daily lives. While proper handwashing is our best line of defense against the spread of illness, there are plenty of times when we have to rely on sanitizers instead.

Portable sanitizer for personal use can be critical for travelers on subways, Ubers, and planes, but it’s also helpful to have on hand for more everyday activities, like at the gym, the doctor’s office, the dog park, or when picking up kids after school. We’ll also continue to see a growing installation of hand sanitizer stations around healthcare offices or business.

There are other evolving ways to incorporate high-demand sanitizing products into gifts and giveaways too, including:

  • Hand sanitizer included in virtual event packages (for now), and conference or event welcome packages (once they resume)
  • Packages of disinfecting wipes for phones, computers, tablets, and other work items as a part of remote-working kits
  • Travel soap or other personal care items

Something else you can get started on now? Delivering these high-value promo items through direct mail—straight to the doorstop of your prospects, customers, or employees. And don’t forget to double check that you’re sending products that meet FDA guidelines for safety and efficacy, especially at a time when there are a lot of efforts to capitalize on high-demand items. For example, take note that in order to be effective, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol.

Health Products and Convenience Items

Other health-related products such as thermometers and personal health items will also continue to increase in use and popularity. Products that help consumers feel safe and prepared, like those in a health and wellness care kit, are also timely.

Additionally, you can take a “back to basics” approach by choosing branded products that feel reliable and trustworthy. Consider items such as a throw blanket to encourage relaxation, self-care, and comfort at a time when many consumers are feeling a little more anxious. 

You might also think of ways you can add convenience and ease to essential workers or business travelers returning to work as social distancing restrictions begin to ease. Functional products like a bag or carry-all tote for keeping necessary sanitizing, health, and travel items organized and easily accessible.

Our new, changed reality presents smart and compassionate businesses with an invaluable opportunity. You can authentically and ethically market your brand by being of genuine service to your customers and prospects.

Modern Marketing in a Global Pandemic

As we adjust to changes in the ways we live and work, our methods for reaching our target markets will change too. The best way to adapt is with a slight shift in perspective. This may require getting creative not only about what products we use to reach people, but how we deliver them, too. Focusing on branded promo items that genuinely meet the biggest needs is a way for your company to do its part for public health, while also maintaining good relationships with the people you want to connect with most.

Interested in discussing ideas about branded promo items that are a good fit for our current climate and for the future? Let us help you think outside the box about the best ways to reach your audience. We’d love to hear from you.

Still managing a team from home? Here are tips on how to stay productive.

Dealing with a cancelled trade show or event? Here’s how to stay connected this season.