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10 Good Swag Ideas to Promote Your Brand Offline


Promotional giveaways should always be a part of your marketing strategy. It’s a great way to gain brand recognition, strengthen customer loyalty, and engage potential new customers. Promotional swag provides an opportunity to make an impression that extends beyond a single meet and greet type of event—on average, folks keep promotional products for about eight months. That’s much longer than the single Saturday afternoon you manned the company booth at a community event or industry conference. Further, a whopping 63% of people pass along their promotional swag when they’re finished with it, creating another life for the swag and extending your brand. All in all, gifting promotional goods can be a fantastically smart, organic way to grow your brand offline. After all, an eight-month shelf-life is much longer than a quickly closed internet ad or commercial. 

To be effective, a giveaway should attract your target audience and serve as an ambassador of your company/brand/product. How does the promotional swag help tell your brand’s story? How is it representing your brand to the outside world, to customers old and new? If you can’t make a direct connection from your swag to your brand, how will customers? There’s no denying it, people love free stuff. But will said free stuff make them remember you? In order to eke the needle closer to yes, consider not only how the promotional giveaway relates to your brand, but if it’s:
• Useful—folks will keep it (maybe even past the average 8 months mentioned above)
• Memorable—making an impression with your target audience will increase the likelihood of them remembering your brand, and associating it positively
• Fun—being able to make people laugh should never be underrated, so don’t be scared to be silly with your swag

While they’re certainly not a new concept, giveaways are still an immensely important and strategic marketing route. Below, we offer 10 of our favorite promotional swag giveaways ideas for your next offline gifting event.

Giveaway Ideas

#1 Apparel

Apparel makes for a great giveaway because, frankly, it’s something everyone has a need for. T-shirts, in particular, can be a very powerful giveaway—just ask this guy. Apparel is basically a walking billboard for your brand, so it’s hard to imagine any brand that wouldn’t benefit from this type of giveaway swag, from a local handyman to a San Fran tech startup.

#2 Mobile Tech

We’re living in a digital world, no doubt. In fact, within the U.S., a resounding 77% of the population owns a smartphone. That’s some serious market share. There’s a plethora of mobile tech giveaways that are relevant for, if nothing else, the fact that so many folks own them. Car chargers, phone/tablet cases, earbuds, power banks…the list goes on…and on. These are items that will remain useful daily. Slap your company name and logo on them, and voilà, your brand is now potentially part of everyday customer life. This may not seem like much, but that constant name/logo recognition is powerful—it will help establish a sense of trust simply from seeing it so much.

#3 Kid Friendly4-Pack of Kids Bath Crayons

If your target audience includes either kids or parents, you should seriously consider some kid-friendly swag. Even if kids aren’t attending the event, these swag items make a sweet little gift for parents to give to their babes when they get home. This could include fun items like bubbles, crayons, sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, coloring books, stickers, and more—all things kids will eat up.

#4 Edibles

Snacks, sweets, chocolates…edible swag just may be the best swag (hey—it’s the most delicious at least). A long day of visiting vendors at a big conference or day-long event will leave anyone hungry. Providing nourishment for the crowd is a great way to help folks recharge and refresh themselves with something delicious. You also get a lot of opportunities for customization with food, particularly candies—colors, flavors, and yes, you can even brand some.

#5 Project Oriented

Gifting swag that’s project oriented, like a pack of seeds (plant them!), a puzzle (solve it!), or games (play them!) invites people to spend time with the promotional product—and inevitably time seeing your company name/logo—again, brand recognition equals trust.

#6 Shopping Bags and Totesreusable custom shopping tote bag

Reusable shopping bags and totes are a growing trend—a wonderful win for the green, environmentally-friendly/conscious movement. They’re a great alternative to single use plastic bags at the grocery store, farmers market, or even the mall. In a word, they’re fabulously practical. They also provide a nice chunk of space to display your company name, logo, tagline, and more.

#7 Mugs and Tumblers

Europe just overwhelmingly voted to ban single use plastic—another sign of the evolving green movement (and the strong foothold it’s gaining around the globe). Mugs and tumblers may seem like a basic item, but they’re extremely useful. Sure, everyone has mugs at home, but so many people don’t think to bring one into the office, instead filling up with paper, plastic, or worse, styrofoam cups instead. Tumblers, on the other hand, are great for anywhere—in the office, but also whenever folks are on-the-go and may be tempted to reach for a plastic bottle of water.

If you’d like to promote the green perspective of a mug or tumbler, consider working it into the design of the mug, even if your company isn’t necessarily a green-focused company. After all, we all have care about Mother Earth!

#8 Beauty Items

Estimated at about $445 billion, the beauty industry is one heck of a powerful industry. With that in mind, it’s kind of a no-brainer to give out beauty related swag like lip balms, soap, essential oils, lotions, and more. That said, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all—your brand should have some connection to beauty, well-being, health, or even just women in order to connect with potential and existing customers.

#9 Sport Gear

Sports are a powerful thing. From little tykes kicking around a soccer ball, to adult softball leagues, you almost never outgrow how good it feels to run around chasing a ball with friends. Frisbees, golf balls, basketballs, hockey pucks—the options are almost endless when it comes to sport-centric promotional swag. This theme doubles as being kid-friendly, too, so even if the adult passes on the offer to play, their kids likely won’t.

#10 Vacation Gear

Our Basecamp Tundra bottleVacation leaning promotional swag is a great idea for Spring/Summer events since that’s when most vacations tend to take place. Longer days and glorious heat have most folks eager to head to a body of water—the ocean if you’re close enough, or a lake if your landlocked. Sun and surf-oriented gear can include sunglasses, flip-flops, beach towels, water bottles and more. For a camp vibe, binoculars, flashlights, and tin mugs are great options. To beat the heat, a small, electronic handheld fans or visors are unbeatable.

We hope these ten ideas have got your wheels turning for all the different swag you can create for your next offline event. When choosing items, remember to try to understand your audience, and how your swag represents and speaks to your brand. Folks may love free stuff, but if it doesn’t connect to your brand/product/service, it will be difficult for potential customers to make the association—undermining your goal of gaining trust. For specific items mentioned in these 10 items, check out ePromos wide range of promotional swag for your next event!


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Cool Giveaways to Throw in a Sponsored Swag Bag


People love free stuff, which is why gifting a swag bag at your next event is a genius way to not only get noticed, but instantly get on potential customers’ good sides from the beginning. A swag bag, in case you’re not familiar, is a goodie bag full of items like branded goods and samples. They’re usually handed out to folks at events, corporate parties, and other sponsored gatherings. They are a great way to thank guests for attending and making sure they remember your brand.

In short, it’s hard not to love a swag bag. But if you’re going to do one, do it right. After all, your brand or logo will be all over the items inside it—each item is a mini representation of your company. As such, you don’t want to just throw whatever cheap items into it. Your swag bag should be obviously connected to your brand, while being thoughtful and useful.

Sponsored swag bags are also a smart way to stand out in a crowd, especially when trying to win over the crowd at a conference or trade show when throngs of brands are all vying for customers’ attentions. Rather than throwing a few free typical items like pens or water bottles across your booth, switch it up with the conference equivalent of a party favor. Below, we offer 10 of our favorite items to stash inside a swag bag.

Cool Tradeshow Giveaway Ideas

Giveaway #1: Reusable Water Bottles

26 oz Triple Insulated Water Bottle

 

Limiting single-use plastic in favor of more sustainable options is a growing movement around the country, especially for millennials. A sustainable, reusable water bottle is a great way to exhibit your corporate responsibility to the environment in a very trending way.

 

Giveaway #2: Wireless Charging Pads

Looking to excite a tech-friendly crowd? Consider throwing a wireless charging pad into the swag bag. They’re small and lightweight, making them easily fit inside a bag of (nearly) any size. And frankly, they’re neat and unique—a nice upgrade from the standard cord charger. They’re also versatile, working well in the office or at home.

Giveaway #3: Tote or Drawstring Bags

When putting together a swag bag, all your attention will likely go into what you ought to put in the bag but don’t forget—you actually need a bag. Rather than using a bag that will end up in the trash, why not opt for a branded reusable bag (hello, sustainability)? Reusable bags are a favorite promotional giveaway, as they have a strong lasting power. Fill one up with goodies? Even better.

Giveaway #4: Pens

The promotional pen may get an eye roll for being an old standby but they’re actually incredibly useful. With nearly all our communication these days being digital, folks rarely think to carry a pen with them, despite it being an office/desk staple. Simply put, having a pen in your swag bag will come in useful for attendees.

Giveaway #5: PopSockets

You might have seen this useful accessory attached to phones recently. Although trendy, PopSockets help improve grip on expensive mobile phones. Tradeshow attendees (and their kids) will appreciate an affordable yet practical piece of mobile tech applicable in daily life. Plus, when the PopSocket becomes attached, it creates a walking billboard of your brand or logo for whoever can’t put down their phone.

Giveaway #6: Lunch & Cooler Bags 

Multi-day conferences and tradeshows can get expensive for attendees (especially if not work-sponsored). Multiple bottles of water, snacks throughout the day, breakfast, lunch…it adds up fast. It’s not uncommon for folks to bring their own snacks, but they often end up squished and crumpled from laying in the bottom of a bag all day. Help folks out by gifting them a lunch bag—an easy way to carry snacks and even meals with them during the event.

Giveaway #7: Lip Balm

Lip balm is kind of a phenomenon…and a multimillion-dollar industry. As a cold-weather necessity, women are almost never without some on hand. This is a swag-bag item that’s not only going to get some love, but a long-life—folks will likely use it until it’s used up.

Giveaway #8: Baseball Hats

T-shirts are a favorite promotional item because folks tend to keep and wear them for a long time to come, but they can be tricky when you’re trying to appeal to folks in a one-size-fits-all manner. Swag bags need to be stuffed and ready to go prior to the event, so you can forget tailoring them to each attendee (can you imagine trying to check each person’s size preference at a huge event?). Enter the baseball cap. Same principal as the t-shirt, but much more universal and easier to fit all most attendees.

Giveaway #9: Web Cam Covers

Technology is fantastic but like all good things, it has its bad side, too. Privacy is a huge issue when it comes to computers, especially with the threat of hackers who can break into webcams. Conspiracy theories aside, it’s also far too easy to accidentally turn your webcam on during a team meeting—and suddenly everyone sees that you’re running it in your pajamas at home. To avoid these mishaps, many folks place tape, a sticky note, etc., over the webcam on their computer. Gifting a real web cam cover in a swag bag will delight guests (and likely make them wonder why they’ve been using a sticker all this time…).

Giveaway #10: Notebooks

Soft Touch Lined Custom JournalLike a pen, paper has been largely traded in for its digital counterpart (much to the relief of forests everywhere). That said, there are plenty of times you still wish you had a piece of paper handy, especially when at an event like a conference or tradeshow where it’s difficult to lug around a laptop. A notebook is a great way for folks to jot down notes while on-the-go or while listening to presentations. Placing one in a swag bag is like gifting the thing folks didn’t know they needed—but do.

We hope these ideas for swag bags have got your wheels turning as you prepare for your next event. Just remember, while folks love free stuff, it’s the quality/functional/thought-out items that they’ll actually use and keep—and everything in your bag (including said bag) is a representation of your brand. Make sure it’s giving off a message that’s on track with your brand, its values, and voice.


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Why is Brand Consistency Important to Business?


Carving out your brand is important, essential even, but do you know what brand really means? Is it the products you create? A business logo? Business name? Many would easily answer “yes”, but a brand is much more than a visual representation.

Why is brand CONSISTENCY important to businessA Brand is the perception of your business and/or products. It’s what makes you stand apart from the competition and how customers identify your business in the crowded, ever-growing market. It’s also how you gain loyal customers, who are said to spend some 67% more than a new customer. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder business are focused on cultivating their brand in a bid to win over customer love and loyalty.

The importance of brand has led to brand-focused marketing, rather than product-first. The difference? A brand-focused marketing strategy is ever-cultivating the distinct identify that makes up your brand. Product-first marketing, on the other hand, focuses on pushing out a new product without the detail paid to the brand voice. Ergo, get the product to market in a bid to get money flowing in. While not inherently a bad goal by any means, it is somewhat short sighted. Think of it this way: “brand is strategy, marketing is tactical.” While you need those smaller tactical wins to build a business, it’s your overall strategy that will allow your business to survive the long haul.

Brand consistency, or the art of communicating to the public in a consistent voice that clearly mirrors your business’ core values and identity, is everything. Not convinced? Keep reading for 5 reasons why brand consistency is so important across all channels—digital marketing, social media, billboards, commercials, and more.

5 Reasons Why Brand Consistency is Important

1. Increase Brand Trust

Trust is key to any good relationship, including that of business and customer. Once you establish your brand identify, customers will come to expect certain messages and actions from you in your marketing—keeping brand consistency is vital to not only avoid customer confusion, but also vital to avoid losing customer trust. Always remember, customers have an emotional connection to your business, which is established through trust. Gain their trust and gain a lifelong customer.

2. Increase Awareness and Recognition of Brand

Brand consistency helps customers (both potential and existing) pick out your brand amid the crowd. This should include consistency with the use of a logo, colors used in designs, and slogans. While these tangible items are a cinch to reproduce across marketing products, it can be more difficult to get the same level of consistency in voice. It’s the character of your brand, if you will—and you will likely need to spend the most time honing it for consistency. That said, it’s well worth the effort, as customers will come to recognize these details over time.

3. Standing Out Among the Competition

Customers are bombarded by options, especially when one considers the un-ending options that are churned out from a simple browse on retail giants like Amazon. The market is more global than ever, and purchases are made with a simple digital button push. Capturing customers isn’t easy among so many choices and frankly, the market is noisy. It’s all too easy to get lost in the rumble. By focusing on your brand identify, and keeping it consistent, customers will be able to easily recognize your voice in the crowd.

4. Building Upon Existing Success

Businesses are ever-evolving, just like the rest of the world. Being able to stay nimble and dynamic when changes come, all the while keeping a consistent branding is what sets apart a business in it for the long-haul. For instance, brands like Apple and Coco-Cola have been around for decades, yet they’ve shown flexibility in adapting to ever-changing times while staying true to their core values. That said, they’ve remained true to their core values and identity, making it easier for customers to adapt and change with them.

5. Controlling the Perception of Your Brand

Staying consistent is key to controlling the public perception of your brand. Things are bound to go astray at times, whether from internal or external sources. While it may cause customer upset, sticking with the consistent, trusted messaging customers know (and love) you for will go a long way in weathering the storm.
Hopefully we’re on the same page—brand consistency is king, which the above five items have helped drive home. Now, let’s explore four strategies to increase brand consistency.

4 Strategies to Increase Brand Consistency

1. Visual Consistency for Logo and Design

Your logo and design MUST (!) be consistent. Otherwise, you’re sure to cause all sorts of confusion for customers (and lost revenue for yourself). The power of the logo shouldn’t be underestimated. Look at Apple for example. A simple, bitten apple. Considered for what it is, this simple logo doesn’t seem all that significant, but trust it is instantly recognized a good portion of the world over—even when displayed apart from an actual product (like on the back of a laptop or phone). That little logo bears tremendous weight. With it come all the expectations of the company, the brand that’s been gaining steam since the early 90’s.

That said, Apple is a behemoth. Perhaps you’re a small-town boutique looking to carve a name out on Main St, Anytown, America. You can still find plenty of opportunities to get your logo out into the public, such as having customized shopping bags created with a logo front and center. The best part of this idea? Folks almost always save and reuse a quality shopping bag, allowing your logo to get even more circulation.

2. Internal Team Alignment

The bigger your organization, the more challenging this one can be—but it’s also more reason to focus on it. Ensuring that each company division such as sales, marketing, and design are on the same page is paramount in making sure your brand identity remains clear and on point. Remember, it’s how your customers recognize you in a crowd and trust your business. You can’t afford to deploy an array of mismatched branding simply due to internal confusion or lack of connecting teams altogether.

3. Choosing Brand-Appropriate Channels to Engage Customers

So much of honing your brand identity and voice is understanding your customer. That doesn’t mean your identify changes each time a new group strikes an interest in your product/business, but as discussed above, being amenable to changes in society can help ensure longevity. Social media is a great example of something new that has taken the world by storm—old and new brands alike. Nike is a great example. Officially launched in 1971, they’re credited with being one of the great social media brands of today, (despite starting way before the Internet was even a thing). But a large cohort of Nike customers are young—and they’re on social media. So naturally, Nike has met them there. Make sure to engage on social media channels that make the most sense for your brand or industry and use data to find which relevant demographics prefer specific networks.

4. Creating Brand-Appropriate Local Partnerships

Going into your customers’ communities is a great way to really connect with them where they’re at (literally). That said, you can’t team up with just anyone simply because you share/target a common location. What’s important is that they are an alley to your brand identity. For example, a local gym could be a potentially great partner for a nutritious snack food company. Bottom-line: your customers are buying other things, but there is a theme or a way to can connect them (kid-friendly, healthy, adventurous, beauty, etc.) to your business. Understanding your audience and demographic should naturally lead you to potential brand-appropriate local partners.

We hope this piece has allowed you to start thinking about how important brand consistency is, and the ways in which you can start honing yours to stand out in the crowd. Just remember, say what you mean, and stay authentic and reliable. Customers will notice, and they’ll prize you for it.

Interested in seeing how we keep our branding consistent? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In and Pinterest!


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15 Marketing Failures and Mistakes to Avoid


The marketing industry has continued to grow through the years, with an increasing investment from companies on creating effective strategies. However, marketers and brands still make mistakes that can cost valuable time and energy.

ePromos reached out to marketing experts for tips, ideas and experience regarding marketing mistakes to watch out for. Read more for great information about how to sure your marketing campaigns of 2019 run smoothly.

1. Not Translating for a Global Audience

The biggest oversight that we often see, believe it or not, is a lack of oversight and proper staffing when it comes to marketing translations. Facebook, Google and other major worldwide platforms have made it quite simple for any size business to advertise worldwide, but there is a lack of safety nets when it comes to understanding the language and culture of target markets. 

Most recently we were called in when a client with a five figure social media campaign decided to forgo a translator in exchange for Google translate and call all their customers in Latin American severely overweight. This was a technology company that did not operate in the fitness space and so it didn’t go over terribly well.

-Zachary Weiner, CEO at Emerging Insider Communications

2. Spending Resources to Attract the Wrong Customers

I think one of the most common mistakes brands make is that they try to get as many people as they can to visit their website and become aware of who they are. While this sounds like a good idea because awareness will bring people, people become customers, and customers equal profits, I’ve found that often you can waste a lot of effort trying to get everyone to know who you are.
Instead of making this mistake, spend time understanding who your potential customer is and having a laser-like focus on marketing to them. Granted, you will likely have less people aware of your brand, but it’s better to have a small audience of very interested customers compared to a large audience with very few customers.

-Ron Stefanski, Internet Marketing Consultant, Cat Kingpin 

 

3. Long and Confusing Brand Names

 

Stacy CaprioOne of the mistakes I’ve made when setting up a few of my first sites, including my marketing blog, is using too long company and domain names. It makes the site and company name awkward to say out loud, and less likely people will remember it. I recommend everyone use a shorter, more creative name over a long, semantic match name any day.

-Stacy Caprio, Founder of Growth Marketing

 

4. Relying on a Single Social Media Platform

Jacqueline BasultoThe biggest mistake I see companies make time and time again is relying on only one social media platform or marketing channel to grow their brand. Companies like Facebook and Google are constantly changing their algorithms, and no one can be sure of what to expect. That means if you are growing rapidly on Facebook, but the algorithm changes slightly to your disadvantage, it can cost you a lot of time, money, and maybe even your business! I advise businesses and individuals to market themselves on multiple platforms and collect e-mails so that they can always reach their audience and aren’t reliant on one medium of communication.

-Jacqueline Basulto, Owner of SeedX

5. Sticking to Tried-and-True Strategies

The marketing world can change in the blink of an eye, forcing marketing teams to predict emerging trends. In other words, it’s vital that marketers don’t invest too much time and money into the same marketing strategies. Diversity is often the best policy in marketing since it helps prevent the inevitable outcome of putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket.

Diversify your marketing budget by investing in on-ground marketing, social media, content development, SEO, and so on. By limiting yourself to one method that has worked in the past, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Different marketing strategies should cater to a specific demographic and give you the ability to outwork your competition by reaching more potential clients.

-Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics

6. Waiting to Utilize the Web

Earl WhiteTraditional forms of advertising for small businesses such as direct-mail and billboards still work for my company – but are expensive and produce less motivated prospects. Our lead generation switched to high gear once we invested in our website and online traffic. My company’s biggest mistake was waiting nearly two years to make the website the core of our business. Developing a great website from “Day 1” would have expanded the lead funnel nearly a year faster. This is particularly important because search engines may take months to discover and rank your site in organic search results.

-Earl White, Marketing Manager of House Heroes

 

7. Not Building an Effective Email List

Pulkit GeraThe biggest mistake I made was not focusing on building my email list right from the beginning.
Since most people who visit your business website won’t ever return, it’s in your best interest to try and get their email address the first time. Automated email sequences are a great way to build those initial touch-points so you can sell more.

So, build your email list right from the start and send out regular newsletters to keep your subscribers engaged with your brand.

-Pulkit Gera, Founder of Blogging Done Better

 

8. Cost-Cutting Professional Advice

Jennifer HoffmanAs the owner of a digital marketing agency, one of our clients was a hot tub retailer who grew from three stores to six stores in the time we worked with them. As they grew, so did their marketing expenses. Our strategy was working, but the business owner was concerned about cost and decided to hire an employee to do their marketing work instead of us.

The new employee started all new campaigns in Google Ads but forgot to set the locations, so their ads now run across the entire US. This local hot tub company has now paid thousands and thousands of dollars in ads to target people all over the US instead of within 10 miles of each their stores.

-Jennifer Hoffman, CEO of Plum Marketing Services

9. Misunderstanding the Needs of Your Customers

Ketan KapoorThe biggest mistake a marketing campaign can do is to focus on what they think is the problem of the audience which is not what the audience considers a problem. You should be solving a core problem and not any fringe or secondary problem. You don’t have to assume what the audience needs but instead prove your intuitions with the right business intelligence. Starting without the adequate research and knowledge of what the audience needs is the cardinal mistake that can be committed by a marketer while making the brand marketing campaigns. The more you focus on their immediate and prevalent need, the more you become successful.

-Ketan Kapoor, CEO & Co-Founder of Mettl

10. Not Preparing for Failure

Shane BarkerYou prepare your marketing strategy and give it your best and hope for good results. But what if it doesn’t work? Everyone who is trying to build a new brand needs to understand that there will be challenges along the way. You cannot be perfect and win every single time. So, you need to have a plan B. I learned this early in my career, after making a few mistakes. Now, I always keep 2-3 options and strategies handy to meet any marketing objectives. For example, when building an email list, don’t depend entirely on a promotion or offer to get sign-ups. Instead, do multiple things simultaneously so that even if 1-2 plans fail, the overall objective will still be met.

-Shane Barker, Digital Strategist at ShaneBarker.com

11. Not Sticking with Loyal Customers

Andrew RudisterIt is very important that you don’t lose sight of the customers who are loyal to you. This means don’t try to change your image or purpose to help benefit your business while hurting your customers. An example of this is a campaign that was done by Netflix. Before Netflix was huge digitally, they were more of a mail-order rental. They had almost a 16-million-dollar market value with many loyal customers. In order to make more money easily, Netflix decided to join forces with an online streaming company called Qwikster. This resulted in more complications and a 60% price increase, which lead Netflix to lose 800,000 subscribers. This only wound up hurting both Netflix and its customers in the long run.

-Andrew Ruditser, Lead Technology Coordinator for MAXBURST

12. Broad Targeting for Advertising

Our product is an online tool, with a free trial for people to see if they like it before buying. Like many others, we were running ads via AdWords and Facebook Ads, to get new trials and ultimately, sales.

Everything was going smoothly. We had a lot of traffic that converted into trials for a pretty cheap price, so we were convinced that our marketing campaigns were doing great! However, after digging a little more into this, we realized that all those new trials never converted into clients. The problem? We did not target efficiently. Our product is sold worldwide, however certain countries and segmentations offer a better conversion rate than others. Some offer a lot of traffic who then never convert into clients, while others usually lead to more expensive trials, but with a higher conversion rate.

So, by having very broad campaigns, including all countries, we were getting a lot of new cheap trials that simply never converted into clients. And paying ads for traffic that will never convert into clients, that’s an incredible waste of money.

-Marie Lamonde, Content Marketing Specialist at DashThis

13. Relying on a Brand Ambassador Without Help

One very expensive mistake that I’ve seen inexperienced brands make is hiring a spokesperson, influencer or celebrity representative without the help of a marketing or PR pro.

Diana KozakChoosing the right influential partner can quickly elevate a brand, product, or campaign to unprecedented heights but when the person or team responsible for selecting a representative is inexperienced, the result can be disastrous. I have worked with clients that signed long-term contracts with an influencer prior to bringing on PR and often saw it lead to legal battles, low return on investment, destroyed brand reputation and so many headaches. The celebrity or influencer will sometimes refuse to do media interviews, forget to use the name of the brand they are the face of during an interview or will accept a press interview and mispronounce the name of the brand

-Diana Kozak, Partner at AD2 Public Relations

14. Prioritizing Design Over Message

Stan TanWe’ve seen it time and time again where companies pay thousands of dollars to ad agencies to design campaigns that look good but forget about nailing the message. We’ve seen ads that make us go “That’s a terrible ad” and 99% of the time it was because of the message, not because of the design.

For example, the “Red Bull Gives You Wings” feature a cartoonish design but get the message across extremely well. Ads with the right message and terrible design always beat ads with the wrong message and world-class design.

-Stan Tan, Digital Marketing Manager at Selby’s

15. Forgetting to Double-Check for Errors

Matthew RossMy business partner and I made a huge marketing blunder in early 2018. In short, we created a promotional video to help drive traffic to our website. Within the video, we mentioned a few of our competitors and why we offered a better service. Well, somehow when our social media manager was finalizing the campaign within the Facebook ad platform, our competitor’s website link was used instead of our own. I’m still not sure to this day what exactly happened but somehow directions got lost in translation.

Bottom line, we poured $15K into the campaign and one of our competitors received all the traffic from it. In hindsight, I wish my business partner and I would have been more hands-on while finalizing the campaign specifics.

-Matt Ross, COO of The Slumber Yard

Creating a fruitful marketing strategy does not have to be rocket science. Remember that marketers are only human, and mistakes provide a valuable learning opportunity. By being aware of the possible and past failures of others in the industry, you can have a leg up on the competition by knowing exactly what to avoid in your campaigns.

Love to keep up on tips from experts? Enjoy 20 Small Business Marketing Ideas.


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College Reps Say These are the Top Giveaways Students Want


Giveaways College Students Actually WantColleges are a haven for marketing giveaways. College students are tech-savvy, impressionable, and generally resigned to cafeteria food or dollar ramen packets thanks to the exuberant cost of a college education these days—which is precisely why you should target them with promotional gear. Unlike older generations, they’ve grown up using technology. Hence, they’ll have great use and appreciate for your tech-related branded giveaways, such as power cords and USB keys. Their youth allows them to be open-minded, as they form interests and loyalties outside of the family home—an opportune time for a company to make a lasting impression and potentially earn a brand loyalist. Gifting them items they can actually use in their daily at a time when funds are limited means your item has a greater chance of sticking around for a while.

With that said, don’t assume anything you throw at them will stick. College students may typically have limited resources, but they’re not desperate. Gifting them something completely unrelated to their daily lives and interests is a surefire way to ensure it ends up in the trash—a waste of your time, efforts, and money. Instead, consider these ideas below for items that college students will use, keep, and enjoy.

Giveaway #1: Drawstring Bags 

Lightweight, compact, and able to hold a decent amount of stuff, drawstring bags are a must for college kids moving around campus.

While they’re great for everyday use when running between classes, work, and social activities, they especially shine in the gym and at other athletic spaces, such as the basketball or tennis court. They offer a perfect solution for stashing sneakers, gym clothes, and other items that may be needed for a work-out or casual game with friends.

To make sure yours stands out, ideally you could use the college colors, mascot, or another way that links your bag to the school (with their permission, of course).

Giveaway #2: Messenger/Laptop Bags

College Student with Backpack

This style of bag tends to be more heavyweight, sturdy, and stronger, which allows it to hold heavier stuff items like textbooks and laptops. Laptop bags specifically provide compartments and cushioning to allow for extra protection of electronics that aren’t typically found in the average backpack. This makes a messenger/laptop bag a standout item, as nearly every college student considers a laptop as a daily necessity. A nice addition to this bag style is one that has a compartment to hold a drink, like a bottle of water or soda—something many college kids carry on them as they move throughout their busy days.

Giveaway #3: Lighters

A zippo brand lighter will last for ages—well past college in fact. As such, it’s a treasured item, especially when compared to the cheap plastic lighters that are forever going lost. Lighters can be branded with beautiful engraving. Consider doing something school oriented, the name and date of a significant event, or a picture that illustrates something memorable about the school, location, event, etc. This could include a type of tree or flower that grows across the campus, a mountain seen in the distance, a favorite campus food, or anything else that triggers a generally recognized memory of the school.

Giveaway #4: Water Bottles

A reusable water bottle is a great promotional giveaway for college students for multiple reasons, but none so much as they’re simply incredibly useful. Whether filling up at the water fountain between classes or carrying it to a gym session, there are plenty of opportunities for college folks to get good use out of it, which your brand will be along for the ride thanks to a perfectly positioned logo/company name/etc. Bonus: keep the design young and quirky to stand out and catch their attention.

Giveaway #5: T-shirts

The old trusty t-shirt is an enviably easy way to capture attention, as well as something that will get plenty of use. The college crowd is especially keen to throw on a t-shirt for an early morning class (paired with sweatpants after a late-night studying…or partying…). Liven the shirt up with a funky picture or catchy phrase to elevate it to the top of the t-shirt pile in any given dorm.

Giveaway #6: Notebooks

We may be living in a tech age, but paper hasn’t gone away. A notebook is still a highly useful tool for college students, who are juggling lectures, projects, and papers. A notebook is a classic school tool, which means it will be used extensively (until it’s completely filled up).

Giveaway #7: Pens

 

What pairs better with a notebook than a pen? A pen is an inexpensive but effective promotional giveaway. It’s something every college kid needs to keep on-hand. Offering them one free? Even better.

 

 

Giveaway #8: Phone Chargers

Dealing with the ever-important phone charger can be annoying. They have a way of walking off seemingly on their own; imaging trying to keep hold of one in a dorm housing hundreds of students? Frankly, no sane person would throw out a free phone charger, lest of all a college student. Instead, opt to stand out with a portable power bank, especially if you’re gifting them at a school with a large commuting student population.

We hope this list has helped you brainstorm some ideas for your next college promotional giveaway. For even more ideas, check out our running list of college promotional items, tailored specifically for students.

Some parting advice? Once you settle on an item, remember to include an eye-catching logo/slogan/etc.—this is how you’ll not only get used, but noticed around campus by other students. Channeling the ups and downs, heartthrobs and heartbreaks of being a college student is a great way to connect with this giant audience. If all else fails, be funny. Between exams and mounting student debt, what college student couldn’t use a good laugh?


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6 Promotional Product Trends Spotted at the 2019 PPAI Expo


In a word, WOW! We just spent the week pounding the proverbial pavement at the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. This show is, hands down, one of the premier events for the promotional product industry, where thousands of marketers, entrepreneurs, vendors and innovative industry insiders mix, mingle and unpack what’s new and next on the premium front. And this year was truly jaw-dropping, even by PPAI standards.

So the BIG question? “What’s about to burst onto the scene in 2019 and beyond?” In addition to the promotional product trends we identified at our first show in Orlando, there were a ton of truly unique, truly innovative products, each building on 2018’s most high tech, high touch, customer-first must-haves. So, regardless of your budget, your business or the message you want to share with the world, there was something at PPAI for you. Read on, then get in touch.

2019 Promotional Product Trend Takeaways

Trend #1: Branding That Goes BIG on Apparel

Branding was BIG at PPAI. While that may not sound like a surprise, this year’s vendors took branding and messaging to new heights. Whether it was a clever and unexpected placement, high impact technique or simple creative imprinting and embroidery, we saw (and applauded) it all.

One of our favorites was the Elevate Karmine Softshell jacket. This clean classic offers seemingly endless branding options, all while retaining its sleek appearance.

Check out this example, which shows how a client utilized many different branding opportunities, including:

● Their anniversary logo “HXD” in metallic and on the bicep of jackets

● Their company name laser-printed with zebra print behind the embroidery of their transfer

● Embroidery on the back of jackets to identify staff

●A private label on the back of the jacket

● Custom interior branding utilized to show the company’s core values – this company took full advantage of the available branding space

Our Elevate Karmine Jacket Shown with Various Multi-Media Imprints.

Speaking of jackets, did you know 70% of consumers keep their promo outerwear for a year or longer and that 42% of women wear their outerwear on a weekly basis? Long gone are the days of boxy, hard t-shirts as the only option for your brand. Performance and high-tech is hot right now, and the trend is here to stay. Interested in more stats? Click here.

Trend #2: Tech Swag

No question, all things tech are big again in 2019. The difference? This year we’re seeing tech pop up in some very unexpected places. For example, Threadfast gives you the opportunity to add RFID to their shirts (wow!) A small chip is placed at the bottom and, unless you were looking, is more or less undetectable. What to do with it? Consider activating promotions as wearers pass by your store or trade show booth, go number free at an upcoming race, or simply better control your inventory. The possibilities are endless.
Threadfast shirts offer RFID capability
Bluetooth® has also been front-and-center this week. Looking for something fun and different? These UV 400 Bluetooth speaker sunglasses allow you to listen to music or take a hands-free call with a quick click. Great for fitness and outdoor brands, the top of the case has a beautiful large imprint area.

Our Bluetooth Sunglasses

Trend #3: Retail Meets Promotional

Modern. Sustainable. Efficient. Recognizable. These are some of the words to describe just some of the themes we saw across the board. One of our faves for corporate gift-giving? These compression packing cubes. You just can’t go wrong with useful items.

Our Custom Compression Packing Cubes

Another brand we’re digging? Parkland. Owned by the retail brand, Herschel, these bags use fabrics created from 12 plastic bottles (per bag).  A fantastic choice to show your support for the environment and stay on-trend.

Parkland Bags are made from 12 plastic bottles

Food treats, like this Rice Krispies® jar and topping kit are also making heads turn this year. We’ve seen similar food gifts offered at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. They’re simple and frill-free, but the packaging makes a bold statement.

Our Rice Crispy Treat Jar and Toppings Mix

 

Trend #4: Active Lifestyle Items to Get Out and About

We’ve been seeing a lot of the wilderness and “spending time outdoors” trends pop up lately. While this was certainly present at the PPAI Expo, we also saw other alternatives to “get out” – namely, some very cool, very clever promotional items ideal for an active lifestyle.

For starters, these chargers with suction cups are perfect for everything from tailgating to camping to hitting the beach – suction your charger and, ideally, your device, away from dirt, sand, BBQ sauce and anything that could be a hazard. It’s simple but totally brilliant.

Our Wireless Charger with Suction

Same goes for these speakers with removable tees. If you’re hitting the greens, you can bring along your beats and your tees, all in compact packaging that easily pops into your golf cart cup holder. Every time your clients hop in their cart, they’ll think of – and thank – YOU.

Speaker with Golf Tees

Also ideal for a beach day: custom surfboards. Sure, these are very “big ticket” items, but for the right brand and the right customers, distributing these – even to just one or two relevant recipients – will drive tons of impressions, word-of-mouth and that all-important cool factor. Don’t have the budget? Consider these beach cup holders, which stick right into the sand, keeping your drink nice and clean. So simple, yet so practical and genius that everyone will wish they came up with the idea themselves.

Go big with custom surfboards or budget friendly with beach cup holders

Trend #5: Upscale Wine Accessories

We just couldn’t resist these upscale wine accessories, which seem to be getting more high-tech and more sophisticated by the year. To compliment our top selling insulated wine tumbler, consider this Aviana™ Chateau Double Wall Stainless Wine Bottle Cooler or perhaps this temperature sensor, which tells you the current temperature of the wine.

Luxury Wine Accessories

Trend #6: Classic Creativity Gets a Nod

And, of course, there’s the classic trend: amazing creativity. This year, “thumbs up” goes to these blood bags – yes, blood bags. Each proudly announces the “color” that a recipient bleeds – open the bag and pull out a matching t-shirt for their favorite sports team.

Bleed Bags with Custom T-shirt Inside

Whether it’s Dodgers® blue or Rockies™ purple or Cincinnati’s big, bold red, the choice is yours – or your customer’s. But either way, this one is going to turn a lot of heads and generate a lot of buzz. #WhatColorDoYouBleed, anyone?

 

Want to see and experience more promotional product trends from the PPAI Expo? Check out our album on Facebook, and while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and Pinterest to stay up-to-date with what we’re promoting.

Looking for more trends? Don’t miss our First Look at the Top Promotional Trends of 2019.

  1. Source: Advertising Specialty Institute, 2019 Global Ad Impressions Study.