Spread the Wealth or Stay True?

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During a conversation about a client’s marketing needs – including signage, website content, collateral material and more – my contact told me that, while she appreciates my the fact that Lev Promotions can help her with all the needs we discussed, she prefers to “support the community by spreading the business around.”

Now, while I can’t refute that supporting multiple businesses is a nice thought, let’s look at what that means to a company’s marketing efforts when it’s providers are treated as vendors rather than partners:

A vendor wants to sell you stuff.

A partner wants to find the best solutions to meet your needs and resources.

A vendor will take whatever you provide and run with it – even if your brand standards haven’t been respected.

 A partner will protect your brand image, checking that each component meets brand standards and does not deviate from them.

A vendor doesn’t guarantee that the product you choose will be the best possible quality for that product type.

A partner will find the best possible quality that your budget will allow. Moreover, a partner will also make sure that imprint quality is up to or exceeds industry standards and that delivery will happen as expected.

A vendor will sell you their products or services they have, even if they’re not the right fit.

A partner will evaluate your needs and refer you to another resource if they can’t provide the appropriate product or service for your specific needs. Moreover, they will know that whoever they refer you to will uphold the same levels of quality and ethics that the original partner has.

Taking all that into consideration, would you rather entrust your business’ brand image to a vendor or a partner? Yes, it’s nice to “spread the business around,” but you need to decide when a vendor relationship is the way to go and when a partner relationship is worth investing in.

Time for a Shameless Plug! :)

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It’s been a bit since I’ve talked about promotional products here, so, instead of my usual marketing words of wisdom, or something about a product I just saw at a trade show, I thought I’d share a photo of one of my clients exhibit tables.

I’m proud to say that Lev Promotions was able to help Windward Life Care as they transitioned from another name and brand image. We produced their table drape, promotional products and name badges for this particular event educating seniors on some life choice options.

This was Windward Life Care’s first event under their new branding.

What do you think?

It’s an Honor Being Asked Not to Attend!

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Lev Promotions has had a display table at the SD Regional Chamber’s quarterly morning mixers for over 2 years now. I find the event to be a good networking opportunity and have gotten good exposure from them.

The last one for 2015 was held this morning at a big box office supply store’s downtown location. Knowing that this chain sells promotional products as an adjunct revenue stream, I asked the Chamber to make sure that it would be ok for me to attend, since our display focuses on the physically tangible aspect of our business – the promotional products.

Well, the rep from this national chain told the Chamber’s rep that they “would be uncomfortable” with Lev Promotions having a display table! OK, I get it, we both share the promotional product aspect of our respective business.

I’ve certainly displayed at other tabletop events where one or more of my competitors also had a display table. I never saw it as a threat – after all, there’s enough business to go around and different businesses will work better together than others.

To be viewed as a threat by a major national chain, however, is quite the coup – after all, Lev Promotions is a small, locally based company without anywhere near the clout of this major big box store. Even so, they weren’t “comfortable” enough in their promotional products offerings and/or staff to allow me to go head-to-head with them in that area in their own store.

I say, woo-hoo for the little guy! They know we’re out there and we make them “uncomfortable”!

Why Are We Followers Instead of Differentiators?

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This is a discussion I have often with new clients. It’s also something I’ve written about here some time ago. Nevertheless, as I watch television and see commercials with similar themes, I am reminded that even the big guys don’t necessarily get the fact that marketing should be about setting yourself apart, not following the pack.

What set me off on my rant this time? Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but, over the past four months or so, I’ve realized that there are at least three major companies out there all using a screaming goat in their advertising.

These are all companies in different industries (insurance, credit card and cell phone service).

I don’t know who came first, second or last.

All I know is that, every time I see one, I wonder why three different companies all chose to use a screaming goat as part of their advertising message. One of them is really funny, one of them is cute and one is just ehh; but the goat itself doesn’t really relate to their messaging or product. It’s just there for shock value.

Even so, three major brands are all doing it. Is it because they all share the same ad exec? Is it because the first ad came out and the second guy said, “Oooooo, I really like that goat. We should do that,” followed by the third guy doing the same thing?

Most people I talk to about this remember the goat, but don’t realize there’s three companies using the concept. And even fewer people actually know which companies are represented.

Marketing should be about telling people what makes you different enough to warrant them bringing you their business. It shouldn’t be about emulating what the other guy (whether it’s your direct competitor, indirect competitor, or just some cool company) is doing for several reasons:

  • You really don’t know if it’s effective for them.
  • If it is effective, then that’s the brand people will think of when they see your spin on the concept.
  • If it’s not effective, then why would you want to invest your marketing dollars into something similar. Cute/funny/memorable does not equal revenue.

Create marketing that tells people who you are and you’ll be the one being remembered and reaping the benefits!

Is Your Website a Good Marketing Tool?

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I’ve recently been approached by a few contacts asking about creating or revamping a website for their business. Although it’s not my forte, if the website is simple with no shopping cart and only about 5 – 7 pages, it’s definitely something I can handle.

The hardest part of building a website for a business is making it a good marketing piece. Too many times, I see websites that are like works of art, or filled with music and videos, or seem to have all the newest bells and whistles that are technologically available.

Many times, what I don’t see is the actual marketing message, so here are three tips for making sure that you marketing is well represented by your website:

1) Make sure that your online branding is consistent with your offline branding. If you’ve got a new logo, double-check that it’s on your website. Are the colors of the site consistent with your branded image?

2) Is the messaging appropriate for your audience? I once reviewed a website for a client in the tech industry that had terms on there I’d never seen before. Now, I’m not a techie, but, I was a potential buyer of their product and had no clue what all the jargon they were using meant. I asked my husband, a software engineer if those terms were real and relevant. He told me that yes, they are real tech industry terms, but using them the way they were was their way of showing off what they know rather than actually speaking to their intended audience. Are you speaking to your audience, or showing off what you know?

3) Don’t use music that can’t be turned off. I personally won’t stay on a website that plays music from the second it’s loaded and doesn’t give me the option to turn that music off. If I can’t easily find a way to turn it off, I close the window and move along. Of course, if your business is music-oriented, have the music available, just be sure the viewer can turn it off or turn it down if they want to.

Finally, don’t be afraid of content. Graphics are fine, but if they don’t add to you message, then they’re useless.

People Are Always Watching!

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So I’m on the freeway today when I see a van with signage for a company that I know. Traffic is moving a bit slowly, so I’m able to peek in the window to see if the driver is someone I know. Well, it wasn’t, but I wasn’t happy to see the driver talking on his cellphone. Not only was he doing something illegal, he was doing it in a company van, which puts that company in legal jeopardy if he gets into an accident and giving people a poor impression of that company as well.

Marketing is about the impressions we make and people are always watching. Whether a salesperson is chatting on the phone to her boyfriend, or a driver is on his cellphone while behind the wheel of a company vehicle, or someone wearing a name badge pitches a fit while in line at the grocery store, people not only take away an impression of that person, but of the company they’re representing.

Make sure you and your staff are keep that in mind whenever they’re in a position to be recognized as an employee of your company.

The Blender Bottle

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I don’t often write about products, but this is the time of year I often get asked about sport bottles. For certain companies and organizations, I’ve been recommending a blender bottle (shown here). 1358378448728

It is a great promotional marketing item for gyms, personal trainers and health food companies because so many of their clients and prospects use protein or weight-loss shakes made from powders. the special ball helps break up those powders and allows them to dissolve more effectively into the liquid being used. The result – a smoother, less gritty drink! That means people more likely to actually use the product so they get better results!

Yes, it does cost more than the average sport bottle, but there are ways to make it fit into the budget.

Want to know more? Let us know – info@levpromotions.com