Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Interactive Direct Mail: Tapping our inner human through Decoder Technology

August 20th, 2012

Human beings are social by nature. We crave interaction, looking for ways to stimulate our natural sense of curiosity. We also love being entertained. Advertising has seen a progression from the simple hand-printed sign to interactive advertising using the full power of today’s technology.  

The goal of advertising has always been to alter behavior and to create a forum for interaction with a brand or product. Direct mail has been a stalwart and proven tactic for marketers for decades. With all the emphasis on sexier social outreach, direct mail has been relegated by some as an outmoded technique for promoting products and securing customer engagement.

 Enter Decoder Marketing. It is the use of a proprietary print technology to deliver a hidden message that can be decoded using on-site verifiers. How effective is this at changing consumer behavior? As it turns out…very effective .

IMC recently sent out a campaign to important clients we wanted to connect with at an event. The direct mail piece was imprinted with a hidden message that could be revealed at our booth location. Clients simply had to bring the card with them to the show. The results speak for themselves. Traditional direct mail has an industry standard response rate of around 1%. The addition of Decoder Marketing technology resulted in a response rate of 38%. Yes, you read that correctly – 38%. Results vary but decoder technology response rates hover around 30%.

The moral of this story: Dust off your direct mail program, have faith in human nature, and give yourself a lift.

Top five ways to use promotional products as incentives

May 4th, 2012

The Advertising Specialties Institute (ASI) has published their most recent study analyzing channel belief versus customer needs. In a world of massive changes in communications technology and how brands go to market, the promotional product is still an effective way to motivate and influence behavior in end-users.

In a previous post (about a year ago), I centered on the number of products and how long people hold on to thier advertising specialties. I challenged you to look in your purse, desk, closets to underscore the point. Today, I am happy to report that promotional products are alive and doing well in the marketplace. People will take action to acquire them. People covet them. People steal them (yep, that data is included in the study too!) End-users still love them.

The following is a list of the top five ways promotional products can, and do, influence the way end-users behave:

1. 82% will take a survey to gain a promotional product.

2. 70.6% of end-users will go to a booth at a tradeshow

3. 41.8% will “LIKE” a company on Facebook or post a Tweet on Twitter

4. 33.2% will buy the “gift” with purchase

5. 27.7% will make a positive post about the company on a social networking site

As a marketer in a sea of new technologies for engagement, it is comforting to know that some things never change.

Top 5 Pitfalls of Promotional Product Development

June 2nd, 2011

We’ve been talking a lot about how to achieve success in the advertising specialties industry using top-notch, attention-grabbing promotional products.

But for every way to get it right, there are certainly a handful of ways to get it wrong. Let’s take a look at five of the most common mistakes:

1) Getting late to market with a trend
In the advertising specialties world, showing up late is almost as bad as never showing up at all – and in some cases, it can be worse. Trends are fickle, and while some have incredible staying power (Mardi Gras beads, anyone?), others pass the peak and are quickly regulated to the dreaded ‘out of style’ status. Only two outcomes can come from arriving to market post-peak: 1) the market is over-saturated and your product isn’t new or exciting, and 2) You risk being overtly un-cool if the trend has passed. 

2) Refusing to innovate/refresh your approach
So how do you avoid getting late to market with a trend?  You pay attention. You remain always willing to mix it up and get on board with the hot new thing as it’s heating up. Doing the same old thing will yield the same old results, so watch for those trends – or partner with people who will watch on your behalf.

3) Failing to differentiate your brand identity
I have no fewer than fifteen branded pens in my drawer. Why should I grab yours to carry around use in public, exposing both myself and others to your brand? What makes yours special? Figure it out, or risk being an also-ran.

4) Sacrificing quality
We’ve talked about quality before, but the importance it simply can’t be overstated. You’re putting your logo – your brand identity – on a promotional product and allowing that product to speak to your consumers. What do you want the message to be?

5) Not targeting your key audience
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s shocking how frequently companies miss the mark. Who gets excited about your brand? Who gets excited about the promotional product under consideration? Make sure those two consumer segments match up. Nobody wants to be company handing out branded beer glasses to pre-teens or offering Silly Bandz to retirees.

IMC’s Shane Erickson reflects on 20 years of developing great promotional products

April 14th, 2011

We have been unearthing cool stuff since 1991 and now we’ve hit 20 years – two decades in the business! Time flies, and we’re having fun. We’re celebrating this anniversary by spilling all our secrets to success. In this exclusive interview, IMC CEO Shane Erickson shares how we’ve come this far and what lies ahead. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

How has IMC established a place in the market?
We don’t try to be everything to everybody. We focus our energy and attention on the areas we know best (sports, beverage, and casino promotions,) and that concerted effort allows us to be exceptional in those areas.

What has been the biggest change in the industry?
Definitely importing. A lot of people in the promotional products and advertising specialties field are now going direct overseas. Some execute better than others. There is a definite learning curve. Experience counts when developing promotional products abroad. There are a lot of nuances in the process. Our sourcing team is well seasoned and has great relationships. We started importing ten years ago and have learned a lot in a decade. We will continue to help our clients by bringing them the best possible value.

What’s the key to staying relevant and competitive in the future?
For us it’s staying true to our markets and understanding our clients better and better. Our clients are who we talk to every day – the people in the sports, beverage, and casino industries. We talk to them about how and why they use the products.  It gives us better insight to develop the right promotional product for them. We want to see positive results for our clients. We are highly interested how the products worked (or didn’t work) so we can source more strategically. We strive to bring them something that they want with a twist that will deliver more. This can mean a lot of customized development – a strong point for us. It’s really about an exchange of ideas and constantly moving forward. We’re always asking our customers, “What’s new for you guys?” or bringing them new ideas we come across to the table.

 When it comes down to it, we stay true to our passion – unearthing cool stuff to create a better promotional product for our clients.

Where did you get that? Promotional Products for Unique Contest Delivery

April 6th, 2011

Where did you get that?” Those five words are music to the ears of anyone involved with promotional products or advertising specialties. Especially when the response leads interested consumers to YOUR booth or display so they can check out the eye catching promotional item for themselves.

What’s the only thing better than being able to reach consumers? Getting them to come to you. And stick around. And get excited about your brand.

We’ve learned that contests are a great way to attract, delight and engage consumers, but you should never underestimate the power of the delivery mechanism. How you deliver the contest should be as engaging as the contest itself. Why not create buzz and draw them in with a snazzy, attention grabbing promotional product?

The possibilities are endless. Customize a device that’s just right for your contest and your brand. Consider the following options:

Instant Win Contests
Peel & Win, Scratch & Win, or Peel-to-Reveal type contests can be part of direct mail campaigns to drive traffic to a particular location, or used on-site to facilitate prize allocation. The excitement surrounding instant gratification and the ability to create buzz when administered on site, are tried and true, evergreen promotions. 

 

New Technology Contest Delivery
QR Codes are the newest delivery method out there and are changing the way we explore our world. Drive customers to customized contest landing pages via smart phone technology. Customers must have the reader app downloaded on their phone. Codes can be delivered in printed format on paper items, apparel, mugs – virtually on any kind of promotional product.

Contest Delivery via Unique Products
Blinking pins are a great way to draw attention and create excitement around contests. When they blink you either win, or with multi-timer units you go the next stage of the contest. Used to keep people on premise (like in a casino or bar.)

Magic 8 Balls are another unique way of using a retro-toy to deliver your contest results. They also provide the end user with a fun momento of your event.

Edible Contest Items
YUM! Delivery methods like food afford a great way to administer your contest AND provide a sweet treat. Fortune cookies, chocolate bars, or prize inside carmel coated popcorn are fun AND tasty ways to engage your audience!

Excited consumers are valuable assets. When promotional products generate excitement, your consumers just amplify the buzz. They might do this by crowding around to see the results of the contest, or simply by carrying the promotional product around the event.

After all, it’s that kind of visibility that generates that magic question: “Where did you get that?”

The Art of Competition: Are we hard-wired for engagement?

March 30th, 2011

There’s a plate of cookies on your kitchen table. Your son and daughter notice the cookies, and they both ask for one.

Your response . . . only one of them can have a cookie, and there will be a contest to determine who gets it.

Wait — you would never do that, right? Because you know what will happen. By turning the cookie into a potentially unattainable prize instead of a simple giveaway, you’ve created a dramatically increased demand for the cookie. Suddenly, that cookie is the hottest thing since molded silicone bandz.

In the world of sibling rivalry, this scenario is a nightmare. In the world of branding, advertising specialties, or promotional products, it’s a gold mine.

The desire to win and be rewarded with a prize: it’s part of human nature. We’re hard-wired for competition.

Contests don’t just create buzz; they facilitate engagement. Branded promotional products can make your logo and your brand part of that engagement.

According to a 2010 study by the Advertising Specialties Institute
- People in the U.S. own nearly 10 promotional products on average
- Promotional products are kept for an average of 5.6 months.
- 41% of those who have received a promotional product indicate their opinion of the advertiser was more favorable after receiving a promotional product.

Just think what happens to that favorable impression when there’s all the lasting buzz of a contest involved. The fun and spirit of competition combined with focused, engaged attention on your brand: now that’s even sweeter than a plate of cookies.

The Not So Blank Page: Creativity and the Promotional Product

March 8th, 2011

You want all eyes on your brand.

You want dazzle consumers with a top-quality, on-trend promotional product.

Now if only you could figure out what that product should be…

It’s the curse of the blinking cursor: you have all the drive and none of the ideas, and you’re left with a blank page staring back at you.

We’ve been turning blinking cursors into celebrated promotional products for twenty years. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to stimulate creativity and help you start brainstorming ideas:

Dump out your bag
Chances are, you carry advertising specialty products around with you every day. What products were memorable or functional enough to make you incorporate them into your daily life? Why?

Get inspired
Think of a time when you’ve witnessed active demand for a promotional product. T-shirts tossed into the crowd at a baseball game? Branded glasses on a special night at the bar? What created that demand?

Be trend-savvy
Watch the people around you. What’s the must-have item this year? In our trend post we discussed how to capitalize on a hot pop culture trend. Which hot trend could connect with your brand?

Be your own market research subject
What grabs your attention when you’re out and about? Are you swayed by an on-pack promotion? Distracted by dealer loaders? Do you catch yourself reading the branded signs in bars or the display enhancers at stores? Imagine your logo on one of those items. What fits? What doesn’t? What would cause you to stop in your tracks?

More Industry Statistics on Promotional Products

March 3rd, 2010

Another stats video from PPAI. Crazy busy this week. Will try to post more original content next time. There are some good statistics in this piece regarding retention rates for advertising specialties.

They really do tend to cut through clutter. I was at a Science Fair (yes, I am geeky) this weekend and was pleasantly surprised at the number of promotional products at the event. People were beside themselves to sign up for a variety of give-away items. The assortment went from jersey’s and plush, on down to small items like pens and magnets.

Too bad I forgot my flip video camera. It would have made a great “real life” interview opportunity. Instead you will have to make due with my second hand account of happy people glorying in thier good fortune of obtaining another promotional product.

I have to say, I was quite disappointed that I left empty handed and I am in this business. Oh well. Maybe next time.

State of Innovation

October 16th, 2008

In these days of turmoil and uncertainty it seems more vital than ever that we become more in touch with the creative process. Marketers are often challenged with coming up with “innovative” solutions. But what is innovation and how is it defined?

 “Innovation is all about staying relevant. That’s all it is.“
Stephen Berkov, Audi

“When you live in times of rapid change, growth is going to come from innovation because growth is all about fashion.”
Seth Godin, Squidoo

For me (ad hoc industry guru) innovation is the ability to drive connections that change perception and alter behavior. If we take this to be true, the promotional products industry is incredibly innovative. Take into consideration the sheer volume of new products introduced. We make connections and alter behavior daily. The enormity of the effect is staggering. We operate from within an industry that generates around 18 billion dollars a year. Statistical data gathered from a study conducted by Wayne State University supports the conclusion that our products and services are powerful influencers of behavior.

76% of people in a Dallas Fort Worth airport study were able to recall the name of an advertiser who gave them a promotional product.

73% of those who used the promotional product used it at least once a week.

55% kept their promotional products for more than a year.

Messaging attached to and item of value certainly is relevant, fashionable and changes behavior by the simple fact that the recipient chooses to use it. The change in perception lies within the connection to purchasing behavior – demonstrated in this 2004 study by L.J Market Research.

52% reported having a more favorable impression of the advertiser since receiving the item.

52% did business with the advertiser after receiving the product.

 We live and work in a veritable petri dish of innovation – a public pool in which all of us can swim. The Hub article asks a roundtable of experts the following questions:

  • How do you encourage people to be innovative?
  • What are some of the greatest barriers to innovation?
  • Is innovation always critical to brand success?
  • What is the best way to get at consumer insights?
  • Where do you see the greatest opportunities for innovation today?

The gurus also take a good poke at the institutionalized structure of work environment and its effect on creative thinking. They give great insight on how to encourage global participation in an organization.

For the full article click on this link
 
Where’s the Big Idea?
The Hub January/February 2007
 
IMC Marketer – Promotional ProductsPromotional Product Consultingwww.imcsuccess.com