Posts Tagged ‘trends’

Leveraging the “TEXT” for Promotional Marketing & Engagement

September 24th, 2012

According to the Gallup Management Journal, brands that deliver functionally and emotionally for customers result in indexed loyalty scores three times higher.

A bold statement for bold marketers. Promotional marketing is all about engagement. It is the technique of triggering an emotional connection between the customer and brand through relevant function.

Texting has evolved into a mainstream behavior. Ease of use combined with instant gratification has made it more popular than ever. Mobile-based promotion has evolved as well. Enter mobile decoder marketing.

Mobile decoder marketing is basically short code on steroids. It delivers on both the functional and emotional levels by combining popular technology, advertising, and the thrill of a “chance to win”.

The other side of engagement for marketers is data capture. Most promotional products have the ability to engage but do not have the capacity to collect feedback from customers, much less measure the level of engagement. Use of modern communications technology can deliver for marketers too. Optional feedback mechanisms along with measurable statistics make mobile decoder marketing a texting win-win for everyone.

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.

Developing the “Right” Promotional Product – Who are you speaking to?

February 24th, 2012

As we move forward, the audience we promote to is ever-changing. What makes them tick is important to know when developing a successful promotional product, particularly with younger audiences.

The growth of mobile communications and application consumption is on the rise. Developing promotional products that address both online and offline marketing efforts is becoming more important as the population ages. Below is a brief overview of generational cohorts and behaviors that you may want to take into consideration when developing your next promotional product or premium.

Generational descriptions derived from Wikipedia.

Three tips on integrating QR codes and promotional products

August 15th, 2011

I came across a great article about QR codes on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog that I thought was really relevant to the advertising specialties industry. It is a discussion of how to think of QR strategically and how the best intentions can fall flat at the implementation phase.

Why bother? A recent recent report published by ScanLife, estimates that 30-40% of all smart phone users have, at one time, downloaded a bar code scanning application. Another stat for you, there was a 1,600% increase in mobile bar code scanning in 2010. QR is mainstreaming fast and has become a powerful marketing tool.

Many times we think we have a great idea and fail to test. See the Content Marketing Institute article for some great examples of good promotional ideas gone wrong. QR is a powerful tool and can be used really effectively with promotional products – the right promotional products.

1. Flat = Legibility
Make sure the QR code will be displayed flat, not with folds or bumps that can compromise a QR code reader and impact the effectiveness of your campaign.

2. Destination Insurance 
Add a printed message as an alternative for those who need it. While this technology is mainstreaming, it is still new to some.

3. Test, Test, Test!
Make sure the sample works with the widest variety of phones/readers to ensure that the code can be easily read.

Three Twists on the Company Picnic: #1 The Fat Tuesday Theme

August 5th, 2011

With the rough economy, company picnic events are trending positive. According to a study from the Advertising Specialties Institute, 41% of companies in their recent survey were planning a picnic for Summer of 2011.

Hallmarks of the company picnic include:

  • Good attendance (50%)
  • A penchant for giving away promotional items (41% always give away promotional products to attendees, and 28% sometimes do)

Being good providers of promotional products ourselves, we thought to put a spin on the old fashioned company picnic by introducing themes.

Fat Tuesday Theme

OK. So it is not first quarter, but a Mardi Gras theme is fun any time of the year. The biggest challenge at any corporate event is to get employees to engage. Mardi Gras beads have long been a sought after collectible item. Picnic goers can collect bead strands as they participate in games and other activities. Awards are based on participation and number of strands collected, rather than solely on skill.

Instead of the traditional plastic infant hidden in the cake, try contest driven decal beads. Use peel, scratch, or QR code technology to revel the prize.

Masks,novelty headwear, music, and parades can bring the spirit of Mardi Gras to your next picnic event.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Translation: Let the good times roll!

Promotional Products Go Scantastic with QR Codes

July 13th, 2011

The Quick Response Phenomenon is here and promotional products just went interactive!

QR: It’s short for Quick Response, and these codes are taking the marketing world by storm. QR codes are a user-friendly alternative to bar codes. They’ve been around since the mid-1990s, but the surge in camera phone usage has thrust QR codes onto center stage.

Why? Because customers can use their camera phones to quickly scan a QR code that will lead them to more information about a product or company.

QR codes are being put on everything from magazine pages to billboards. One creative restaurant even made a scanable QR code waffle. Now that’s multi-tasking at breakfast.

 What does this have to do with the advertising specialties world? The short answer: everything. QR codes are incredibly versatile and can be placed on just about any imaginable promotional product. Just imagine the possibilities: your branded item could truly communicate with your customers via quick response. This capability bridges the all-important gap between brand visibility and brand interaction.

When we say that QR codes can be placed on just about anything, we mean it. In the apparel world, you could put QR codes on tees or jersey scarves. And why not consider QR codes on beach balls for summer? Other codeable items include: Bead Medallions, Leis, Booster Banners,  Drawstring Backpacks, Pint Glasses, Shot Glasses, Coasters, … and the list goes on and on.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Get ready for a quick response from your customers.

IMC’s Shane Erickson on the art of translating popular trends into promotional products

April 19th, 2011

What can we say – we love pop culture.

In this exclusive interview, IMC CEO, Shane Erickson shares his thoughts on the role of trends in promotional product development and how it all got started.  ___________________________________________________________________________________

What would you say is the number one factor that has kept IMC ahead of the game when it comes to promotional products and advertising specialties?
For us, it’s been our ability to continually come up with fresh ideas. We never get complacent and we’re always looking for the next product and the next trend. We are always on the lookout for things we think are cool. We spend a lot of time just brainstorming around the office about how we could translate things into a usable promotional product.

 How have pop culture trends affected your business?
We’ve been involved with trends since the start. When we started it was baseball cards or Beanie Babies or Pokémon, and tomorrow it’ll be something else. We’ve become good at identifying unique trends and turning them into effective tools for the promotional products industry. For example: Someone on the team came in wearing a molded silicone band that their kid was crazy about.  I looked at it and thought to myself “Hey, this could be big if we take it promotional.” My whole team got involved. We wanted to do something more – make a product that our client could really own.  It evolved into the fully custom solution we offer today.

What has been the biggest surprise for IMC over the last 20 years?
I’d say the sports-shaped and customized Mardi Gras beads. We’ve really become known for them. When they first came out we thought the trend would last perhaps one or two years, but they have lasted over 12 years. Today, we’re still known as “The Bead Guys.” We are proud of that. It goes to show how important translating a trend can be in the advertising specialties industry. When you put the time and energy into truly capturing the spirit of a trend, you can end up with a product that stands up to the test of time. I think that is what differentiates IMC from its competitors.

 What’s the hot trend right now?
The newest item is the ionic necklace. The ionic trend has been around for a while, but the necklace is a fresh new twist. You see quite a few people wearing them these days, including professional athletes and college players. Staying true to our mission, we wanted to do more than bring team color to promotional. We offer a completely customized product – from the imprinted decorative knobs to the logo imprinted directly on the strand. It is not enough for us to hop on a trend in a superficial way. We want to create a promotional product that is true to the trend. It brings an authenticity to the process that clients and end users appreciate.

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?

IMC Trend Report: From Pop Culture to Promotional Products

February 24th, 2011

You don’t need to be a professional trend spotter to notice when a pop culture phenomenon has taken hold of the public’s attention. Rather than watching the craze from afar, savvy marketers become active participants in these phenomena.

Infusing your logo into a pop culture powerhouse is like an instant facelift for the brand. What brand can’t benefit from a jolt of on-trend freshness?

It’s a marketing no-brainer: When the market experiences a hot new pop culture trend, the public’s demand for the product has already been demonstrated. All a company has to do is introduce a well-conceived promotional product at the right time, through the right avenues and aimed at the right customers.

83% of people in the U.S indicated they can identify the advertiser on a promotional product they own, and 41% say their opinon of an advertiser is more favorable after receiving a promotional product.

Translating popular trends into unique advertising specialties is far from a new idea. Pop culture products have been successfully permeating the promotional marketing space for decades, and the industry’s getting better at it with every new craze.

Here are just a few examples of items with pop culture presence and promotional power:

     1997 – Beanie Babies

    1999Mardi Gras Beads

    2009Molded Silicone Bandz

    2011Ionic Sports Accessories

The best pop culture/promotional product crossovers don’t just grab attention; they make an indelible impression. When it comes to consumer recall rate, research shows that promotional products tower over TV, print and online advertising.

Promotional products generate a 15-50% higher consumer recall rate than TV, print and online advertising.

The key to success lies in recognizing an up-and-coming trend and knowing how to infuse your brand to maximize potential and resonate with the public. Find a skilled partner who has been through the process before and knows how to capitalize on a trend.

Why shouldn’t your brand be part of the next big trend?

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[i] Visnevsky, Jennifer “Promo Products Rule ROI” Advantages February, 2011 [http://advantages-digital.com/publication/?i=58573&p=109]

[ii] PPAI research via http://www.ppai.org/research and http://www.youtube.com/user/PPAIHeadquarters#p/u/29/8yjZF0d1Wny