Promotional Product Marketing Blog

Learn the best ways to market your brand with the use of promotional marketing products. Our blog gives you the best tips on ordering the right marketing merchandise to increase brand awareness within your target market. From creative marketing ideas to case studies of how others have used promotional items to promote their brand, we give you clear direction in aligning your promotional product campaign with your overall business goals.

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5 Things You Need to Know When You Start a Business


By Jason Robbins, CEO

I’ve learned a great deal in my 20 years with ePromos. I started the company with a clear mission to help customers promote their brands and use modern technology to serve them. I used some of what I learned with my undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, but there was so much that had to be learned on the job.

Here are five key lessons I’ve learned since starting ePromos that I think would be beneficial to any entrepreneur, young or old.

#1 Talent makes or breaks a business.

You can’t build a company alone. Many entrepreneurs (like myself) get out of the gate by brute force. At some point, doing everything yourself starts making things worse. You get stressed, there is little engagement from those who work for you, and you hit a plateau. You can put great processes and systems in place so that operations can run smoothly; however, when you want to grow, adapt or evolve on a strategic objective, you can’t keep the ship running and also invent the next thing.

You need great people to keep the ship sailing, and you need great people to start figuring things out with very little input from you. There is no pride in doing everything yourself. If you want to be a $10 million company, you are going to need some people on your team who have been there.

I learned that it’s best to hire for attitude and train for skill. It’s the attitude that typically gets in the way for people, not their intellect. You can have the smartest person on your team, yet if they have a bad attitude, it can be like a cancer growing in your organization, poisoning it from the inside and costing you big in missed opportunities. Conversely, people with great attitudes take obstacles in stride as part of the journey; they don’t focus on blame and what should be that is not. I am lucky to have a number of great leaders who have been with me from the beginning, who have become managers and adapted to new roles because they have a great attitude. A huge bout of success is due to these types of great attitude players.

#2 Setting fewer goals per quarter leads to a higher success rate.

As a new business (or even an existing business) the list of things to do and new ideas developed daily can run like a ticker tape. For years we tried to manage these ideas while growing and running the day-to-day business. Many times we’d meet and think we were clear on three-five goals, then we’d realize we were working on about 10 goals, and nothing really got finished. Effort was spread so wide that we didn’t accomplish anything meaningful.

You may have heard about leading and lagging indicators… For example, if you want to lose weight, you can’t just weigh yourself and expect change. The lagging indicator is the weight, or, the final success measure. The leading indicators are the calories in and out. If you are taking in more than you are burning each day, for example, you are aware of this and know that the weight won’t drop. You don’t need to wait a month to check in and find that you haven’t made progress. It’s the same thing when running a business. Make sure to define a leading goal, and follow through each step of the way through to completion.

In the past few years we’ve learned two great lessons. The first, is to identify realistic goals with which both the progress and result can be measured. The second is that the recipe for success is having very few goals combined with daily and weekly discipline checks. Stay on top of this and you’ll be very much aware of how things are going along the way. It makes it easier to not lose focus and to re-align when necessary.

#3 Define the what; let your team figure out the how.

When I first started out, not only did I decide what we were going to do, I also would work with my staff to figure out the steps and how we would do it. I was heavy handed and came off as the guy who needed to be the smartest, who needed to do things his way in order for it to be done right.

As a leader, you may feel that you know the best way to tackle a problem. You may want to continuously give great advice,to get involved in all details of a project or process. But that is not your role. Your role is to remove obstacles for the group that is figuring out how to hit the goal. I realized at some point in the development of the company that even though my favorite thing was creative problem solving,  I had to stop. I stopped, but then I started second-guessing. Finally, I realized that while it might take a little longer, my team – the people I hired for their brilliance –  almost always got there (and often times got there faster than I would have). Even better, they did it on their own, freeing me up to continue to lead and set direction and remove other obstacles.

The freedom this method provides to a team also makes a huge difference in engagement. Imagine a company where the boss comes in and tells people how to do things. That isn’t fun for smart, capable people. They want to try. They want you to give them the proverbial video game controller and play themselves vs sitting there watching you or having to follow specific instructions. This is particularly important with Millennials. Give them the freedom to figure out the how, and they will be engaged… otherwise risk bad attitudes and high turnover.

That’s also why lesson #1 is so important: having the right team. Not all employees can run with this freedom. It may be their personality or maybe engrained in previous life experience, but sometimes if you feel you have a good person, you have to explain to them that they are allowed to take chances and have fun trying. It can be a challenge to relinquish control – trust me, I know – but it’s the only way to succeed. It’s really a nice human thing to do. No one should come to work to be told what to do with an attitude. Good morale and ethics are always, always good for business.

#4 There is a target client.

You can’t be all things to all people – no one can – and it’s counterproductive to try. Not everyone will be interested in your product or service, and sometimes you’ll need to establish what market you’re after. It is as much a choice to determine what you are going to be bad at as it is to determine what you are going to good at. “Good at” is the enemy of “Great.” By embracing what types of clients you do not wish to serve, you can better serve and evolve to thrill your target audience.

As a company that started online with Google search providing many of our initial leads, we were forced to be all things to all people. We wanted every sale, and we wanted all customers to be treated with the same love and passion regardless of size. We realized that we couldn’t make a profit if we were going to overserve the smallest customers. We also realized that we couldn’t make a profit even on huge customers if their requirements were too costly to service.

So the biggest lesson here is to find out why your best customers like you and find more like them.

#5 You must accept what you cannot control.

I wasted a lot of energy, resources and time over the years just complaining and worrying. While it’s so logical that we can’t control 99% of what happens, many of us still spend time talking, thinking and expensing energy over things that happened that we can’t change and over things that haven’t happened yet.

How much time are you spending on thinking about something in the past, that is over, that you can’t change? In my experience, business is going to unfold for you, and you can either see things as good and bad or just see things as they are. You can move forward, or you can stop progressing and dwell on the past. I meditate daily, and I’ve developed a skill that helps me be mindful of if I am thinking in the past or future. I continue to meditate because I view mindfulness as a muscle that needs to be exercised.

There is always a silver lining. Accept what you cannot control; learn from what you can. Embracing mistakes will make your company better. Embracing the attitude that mistakes are welcome will help you make the world a better place through your people, through your team. It’s been said that mistakes are just lessons, repeat until learned. At ePromos, we try to learn from our mistakes and move on.

So there you have it… five tidbits from my experience. These past 20 years have been hard work and fun. Best of all, I have grown into a better person. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead my own team – to help all our wonderful staff build their careers and make their positive contributions on those they impact. I love the promotional products business because it give us a chance to use our creativity and advice to help our clients look their best and make their own impact on the world. We are all interconnected, and I really appreciate that. I look forward to seeing how our ePromos family evolves in the next 20 years and thank everyone for the opportunities they have given me to grow and learn as a leader.

Interested in learning more about our story? Click here.


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THE MOPTOPPER COLLECTION: Bring On The Fun


I’ve been working in the promotional products industry for almost a decade now. It’s such a fun industry to be in; so many great people, so many great ideas and so many fun products to choose from! Our featured collection this month is called MopToppers™ and it’s one of my absolute favorites!

These products are among my favorite for many reasons. First, they make people smile and people are instantly intrigued when they see them. Second, they look (sorry for using this word) A-DORABLE!. And third, they have universal appeal. Everyone from doctors to lawyers to schools to Tradeshow-attendees of all types just love them!

When designing each MopToppers product, the creators put such an emphasis on their attention to detail.  Their famous pen not only has a human body shape and a smiley face, but it also has a necktie-shaped clip. The doctor version  has a stethoscope, and the Breast Cancer Awareness version has a light-pink ribbon. They even have a super-hero version!

So much of successful marketing is choosing a product that ties in properly to your brand and your purpose – and of course is memorable. Consider lightening the mood with these cuties before an intense, stuffy and uncomfortable meeting. Or give them to employees with a message that says something along the lines of “When work feels overwhelming, take a minute to smile”. MopToppers are appropriate at any type of event, really — school functions, trade shows, nonprofit events, bookstores, workplace orientations and community show cases to name a few.

For me though, the main benefit of these face-shaped products is the microfiber screen cleaner, or “hair”. You NEED to try the hair!

Benfits of Cleaning with Microfiber:
  •  Microfibers increase cleaning ability because the net-like structure traps considerably more dirt than other materials and keeps them in the mop top. In addition, the unique surface gets down into the nooks and crannies of your devices efficiently pulling out debris.
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths are hypoallergenic, so they are nice for anyone suffering from allergies.
  • Microfiber cloths are eco-friendly because they don’t require any soap or chemicals to do a great job.
  • Microfibers are reusable and can be used again and again by simply rinsing with warm water to keep them fresh.
  • Microfibers last longer than other cleaning materials because they contain more than 200,000 fibers per square inch of product. That’s tough stuff!
  • Microfibers pick up dust, dirt, pet hair, microparticles and 98 percent of anything else your screens and monitors encounter.
  • Rub a little harder and a MopToppers will remove sticky stuff, accidental spills, scuffs and more.

What’s the secret? Microfiber is made up of nylon and polyester fibers that are considerably smaller than most other fabrics used for creating mops. Each strand is minute, and when they are woven together, they create a fabric packed with tiny pockets that trap dirt and water. When looked at closely, this dense material resembles a net, and the net-like structure is the key to its efficiency.

Did you know that a whopping 89 percent of consumers remember the company who gave them the promotional product? With this in mind, it is easy to see why it’s so important to make great choices when deciding which promo product will represent your company best. Check out our MopTopper Collection and see for your yourself how much fun you’ll have with these!

SideBar: How To Clean MicroFiber

Your MopToppers product is small, but it will do some big cleanup. So, go ahead and clean your “hair” if it gets soiled. Simply rinse in warm (not hot water because the nylon component in microfiber will break down the fibers and ruin their effectiveness). If it’s really dirty, most cleaning detergents can be used, but adding bleach and fabric softener is not recommended. Air dry.

Call us today, your Promo Know-How People and let us work together to find the right products for you.


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Promotional Products Work! #PowerofPromo


Promotional products:

Useful, tangible items imprinted with an advertiser’s name, logo or message. The perfect medium to increase brand awareness, promotional products are an incredibly powerful marketing tool since they allow a brand to connect with consumers by engaging their senses. As one of the only forms of advertising that allows consumers to interact with a brand on a physical level, promotional products often create a more memorable brand experience. Here are just a few (of many) impressive statistics that were highlighted during Promotional Products Work Week. This annual event is created by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), and is designed to shed light on the effectiveness of promo items.

Isn’t that amazing? Promotional Products should ALWAYS be a part of your marketing mix.

Pretty cool, right!?! Interested in marketing to millenials? Click here.

Especially their favorites. Mine in particular: favorite pen, favorite bring-your-lunch-to-work bag, favorite t-shirt (for the past 7 years), and favorite umbrella.

They also happen to be surprisingly affordable – and, people love receiving them.

Marketing tips we just couldn’t resist:

Trust us, it’s worth it (pre-show). Looking to connect AT the show? Click here.

This years note-worthy choice to include with your next Direct Marketing campaign: Webcam covers. They can be mounted directly to a post card (without much additional weight), and show that you value your clients privacy.

Still not convinced?

That’s right. People remember promotional items, more so (long-term) than any other form of advertising. That’s because when given a useful item, people connect with that item and remember what’s written on it. Promotional Products really do work. Call us today, The Promo Know-How People and let us show you how to choose the right item to support your brand.

 


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Looking Back at How It All Started: ePromos’ Humble Beginnings


ePromos turns 20 this year! You may be wondering, “how did it all begin?” But the real question is not “how” – it’s “why?”

Jason Robbins, ePromos Founder and CEO, shares his story:

It was May of 1997. At the time I had been working on the product supply side of the industry selling promos to distributors who sold to advertisers. I had seen too many advertisers miss the mark in their choice of promo, either by over or under spending, targeting the wrong market, or just plain choosing bad products that wouldn’t impress their recipients.

I knew that I had 20 hats in my closet, but I liked only one or two of them; I had 20 t-shirts that had been given to me, but I kept wearing just four or five of them. I realized that promo buyers would be wasting time and money if they weren’t at the top of the pile. The Internet was just starting to rev up, and I put down my life savings at the time to build the first website that would show off amazing product, make it easy to browse to see all the possibilities, and be capable of making a complex order process simple for online orders.

In June 1997, in the living room of my apartment on 19th Street in New York City, ePromos was born.

I dove head first into this new adventure armed with only one mission: above all else, my customers would look great. Even if they knew what they wanted, we’d provide other ideas with the goal being to give product that would be used and appreciated (not wasted and left in hotel rooms) – product that would elevate the company in the eyes of the recipient. We would do this with smart people who knew their stuff. We’d call them Brand Consultants, and they would guarantee customer satisfaction…

I’m not just talking about the kind of customer satisfaction that comes from on-time delivery of the correct item with the correct imprint – those elements are and should be expected. I’m talking about the kind of customer satisfaction that goes above and beyond, that puts the right logoed merchandise in the hands of the right people to make the biggest impact for our customers. And an experience that is fun and easy for the buyers. That mission is what drove me to create ePromos, develop a functional and intuitive website, and build a passionate team of consultative, in-house marketers. That’s behind our customer’s loyalty driving our business today.

In April of 1998 epromos.com launched, and that’s really where our story begins.

The expertise of our Brand Consultants and their personal relationships with our customers combined with the wide reach and seamless shopping experience of the web catapulted our business forward. We wanted to merchandise all categories while ensuring high-quality products at a range of price points. This is not an easy feat as there are millions of items we need to choose from in order to provide our online offering of between 12-15k products. We wanted a site that had not too much and not too little – a selection that was just right.

Then and now, customers can easily browse our inventory and have that special, reliable connection to our consultants who are not only great with creative product recommendation but also save time. ePromos was conceived from the idea that promotional products deserve a personal approach, a personal connection. That connection is what is at the heart of our company… and I’m proud to say that heart is what started it all.


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PUMA Polo Shirts: Why You’ll Love ‘Em & Why Your Brand Needs...


Company apparel – and the desire to wear it – has come such a long way. Long gone are the days of boxy, thick, white t-shirts and bunchy button-downs. Many businesses have scaled down their dress codes significantly, especially when comparing the way women dressed in the twentieth century. Now, so much a part of company culture is the desire – and the interest – to wear corporate branded apparel not just to support and promote the business, but also because it fits well. It’s moisture-wicking and cut just right. Teams get together to take selfies and voluntarily share them on social media. Companies offer apparel to their employees to purchase at a discount, and they gladly do. The change from then to now is remarkable and gives us an opportunity to hone in on how we can use this exposure to build up a brand.

Reasons to consider branded apparel for YOUR business:

1) Promote a sense of unity. Branded apparel – worn at every level – sends a message that everyone’s contribution is valuable.

2) Distinguish your brand. Uniforms assist with the brand experience after all, and customers notice the difference. Consider these statistics published by J.D. Power and Associates:

• 75% of consumers prefer employees in uniform
• 97% of the public believes uniforms make employees easier to recognize
• 70% of customers think uniforms make employees look neater and more professional
• 60% of prospects feel that uniforms make workers look better trained

3) Help guide the tone for the dress code: Dress codes can be complicated. As an employer, when you provide a “uniform,” you have just simplified your company’s dress code – that’s one less detail to worry about on how your business can succeed.

4) Logoed teamwear is cost effective. The benefits of branded apparel find their roots in the benefits of promotional products in general. More exposure! The number of impressions you get from each shirt makes apparel the best form of advertising that you can purchase.

5) Create some brand buzz. Have you ever heard the business expression, “word of mouth is like gold?” It is! There is no better way to sell your business than by your employees’ recommendation. It shows they have pride in their company. When team members take pride in their employers, they often share it with others. By wearing logoed shirts, hats or other items, employees will carry your brand out of the office and into their communities without saying a word.

With this in mind, we teamed up with our apparel experts to find a buzz-worthy shirt to feature this month. Being that polo shirts are timeless, in comes our PUMA Essential Polo Shirt. PUMA® is one of the world’s leading brands and grounded in four values: brave, confident, determined and joyful… to motivate people beyond their potential. Wrinkle-resistant and not too tight, not too loose, this polo shirt is great for work or play. It is made from 3.8-ounce, 100% polyester pique knit with a moisture wicking finish. It has UV protection and dryCELL moisture-wicking properties, drawing away sweat and keeping you dry and comfortable. The PUMA Essential Polo has all the right components: two-button placket with contrasting buttons, shaped seams and tapered waist for a flattering fit. In addition to its essentials, the polo is available in six stunning colors.

See more about the look and feel of this item on Nikki, our amazing Account Executive:

PUMA® promotional apparel offers a wide range of options to accurately reflect your business and make people take notice. Its usefulness makes it a popular and effective choice for building your brand. Remember, if you can wear it, you can brand it and advertise with style. Call us, your Promo Know-How People, to talk through how to incorporate these great polo shirts into your marketing plan.


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Strategies for Marketing to Millennials through Their Phones


Companies are chomping at the bit to nail their strategy for marketing to millennials. And let’s be upfront about that: it’s bloody smart. The U.S. is home to 80 million millennials, more than any other generational cohort in the country.

When you consider that the youngest millennial is now 22, you understand that this generation is officially of working age. As such, millennials also make up the biggest generational segment of workers. Workers=paychecks=spending power. It’s estimated that by 2020, millennials will have $1.4 trillion in disposable income. The bottom line? Businesses can’t afford to not entice and win over this huge generation with a strong marketing strategy. Their spending power is enormous and as they continue to age will only increase.

So, how exactly does one market to millennials? To get started, you’ve got to focus on something incredibly near and dear to millennials: their smartphones.

It’s estimated that the average millennial spends close to three hours a day on his or her smartphone. That’s over 20 hours a week and over 1000 hours a year! That’s a whopping 46 days out of the year glued to their beloved iPhones (or, Androids). Additionally, they’ve almost completely swapped out desktop Internet browsing in favor of using their phones.

How do these astounding facts translate to marketing strategies? Quite well. The tips below are key to translating these simple facts into marketing gold:

Have a mobile-friendly site.

We’re going to say it again, as it can’t be emphasized enough: HAVE A MOBILE-FRIENDLY SITE. If your website looks wonky when opened on a cell phone, guess what? It’s just going to be X’ed out of in less time than it took to open it.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you should ditch the desktop version, by any means. Instead, you can have two functional versions of your site at the ready. Want some additional incentive? Google has updated their algorithm to show mobile friendly sites first. Don’t have one? Get with your development team and start making one. Now.

 

Ditch traditional swag for smartphone-friendly promo giveaways.

You’ll never catch a millennial leave their house without his or her cell phone. As such, your business should be catering to that love – and proximity. Not just to the millennial, but to his and her friends, as well!

Create promotional swag for cell phones that advertise your business in a way that’s useful to recipients, like with waterproof cases, cell phone wallets, selfie lights or PopSockets. Here’s where you’ll find a ton of customizable cell phone accessories to consider! Cell phones are the modern-day billboard, so take advantage!

 

Create an app that’s fun, attractive and engaging.

Millennials love a good app. In fact, nearly half use about 20 apps daily. They’re open to downloading and buying an app that appeals to them (that’s right—it doesn’t necessarily have to be free!).

Just make sure yours has an attractive logo. A 2017 comScore study found that the millennials often deleted an app simply because they did not like the way the logo appeared on their screen.

 

Align your brand with their interests and values.

Interested in reaching more millennials? There’s never been a better time to collaborate – whether with a beloved business, organization, celebrity/media influencer or even viral campaign.

When millennials back a brand or product, they do so fiercely. What better way to promote your company’s morals or paint its personality than to draw rank with another powerful brand? Whether it’s promoting the latest Marvel movie to reach comic book fans or hosting a webinar with one of the industry’s most popular bloggers, millennials love a strong collaborative campaign.

 

Design an unmissable social media channel.

Every business has a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account – after all, social media has become a presence in the daily lives of millennials (and truthfully, pretty much every actively-online generation).

If you aren’t active on the top channels, you’re missing out. More than that, if you aren’t innovating and creating content that’s insanely interesting and shareable, you’re wasting resources.

 

If you’re selling goods online, make sure to loop in Amazon.

Amazon was ranked as the #1 millennial “Can’t Live Without” app. If your product is listed, pay attention to as many details as you can—product descriptions, pictures, and answering potential-buyer questions.

Here are a few more tips to craft your millennial marketing strategy that applies to both cell phones and any other way you’ve like to reach this huge cohort:

 

Stay transparent.

Few know how to wield Google quite like a millennial. As such, it’s harder to keep dirty little secrets hidden. Embrace it.

Received some unfavorable press? How about negative reviews online or unsavory comments on social media? Address it openly, honestly, and positively. Let them know your plan for remediation and what your company has learned from their feedback. After all, everyone loves an underdog.

 

Construct a story for your brand.

Put faces to your company’s staff and leadership in friendly, real-world details. This can include sweet but simple videos, snaps or photos. Does everyone need to know that your COO is an apple baking pie extraordinaire? Probably not. But it makes him or her relatable and, frankly, more likable.

 

Inspire millennials by communicating your company’s values.

Does your business practice sustainability? Support a local Boys and Girls club? Volunteer a few times a year at food banks? Capitalize on these accomplishments and don’t be afraid to raise the bar.

Invite your market to participate in their own meaningful way through a campaign hosted by your company. With social media, the world can feel a lot smaller these days, allowing you to connect in ways that geography doesn’t necessarily inhibit.

Millennials are smart, conscious, and hungry for the good stuff in a sea of unending websites, Google search results, and bad YouTube videos.

When crafting your strategy to reach this age group, embrace the authenticity your brand can offer. Kind of like when you were little, and your mom promised you the best way to make friends was simply be yourself. Just make sure ‘yourself’ is tech-savvy, social-media friendly, and transparent. No big deal, right?