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?

Being a Mentor

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I was recently asked to teach a class on how to handle a promotional products order from beginning to end to ensure the best possible outcome. Who was my audience? My “competitors.”

Yes, this class was held at a trade show for people in my very own industry of promotional products and I gave my “competitors” my method to tracking orders for successful outcomes.

Why would I give my competition one of the secrets to my success? After all, isn’t having a reputation for completing promotional product orders that are consistently of high quality with a great imprint and on-time delivery part of the reason that Lev Promotions is where it is today?

Well, yes. But that’s certainly not our only secret; nor do I believe that everyone in that room who got my handouts and actively participated in the class will implement their version of my system. Heck, a couple of people in there thought it was a complete waste of time – wonder what happens the first time they have a major snafu that costs them a client and the money for the job.

I wholly believe that there is plenty of business out there for everyone. There are people and companies that are better served by working with me, just as there are those that I will never be able to adequately help because I just don’t understand their business model or personalities don’t click. Even if I could work with everyone, where in the heck would I find the time?

Given that, I believe that it’s important to elevate my profession to the highest possible standard so that people see the intrinsic value in the marketing products and services that we provide. If my profession is more highly valued, then my expertise within that profession is worth even more.

If I can teach my competition to be more professional in the way they handle their business transactions; or, if I can mentor someone new to the industry to bring them up to speed faster, ultimately it reflects well on the industry as a whole and I will reap the benefits.

What have you done to make your industry more professional/respectable/trustworthy? Why not reach out to someone you know in the business who’s struggling or new and give them a hand? You don’t have to reveal all your secrets, jut give them the basics and let them run with them.

It’s Trade Show Season Again!

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As I’m about to head off to my big industry trade show to find out what’s new and exciting in the world of promotional products, I’m also inundated with clients needs for trade show displays, handouts, and pre/post-show marketing.

It’s a good time to remind you that, if you’re exhibiting at any type of trade show, from an international one to a regional one to a local tabletop show, you should be looking at your display aids (table drapes, signage, marketing collateral, etc…) to see what needs some sprucing and what needs replacing.

Your display is the first thing attendees will notice and, if it looks outdated, dirty, or raggedy, it will be a prime factor in whether they want to even stop to talk to you; let alone do business with you.

Take the time to do a mock-up of your display and see what needs cleaning, replacing or tweaking.

If you need help, Lev Promotions can work with you on every aspect of your trade show exhibit – from your display to your promotional products to staff training to pre/post-show marketing.

Now go have a great trade show season!

Keep Your Business Growing with Relevant Promotional Marketing

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I was meeting with a prospect the other day who seemed set on getting pens for their promotional product. I gave them my standard answer on pens usefulness: “It’s a great item to have in your promotional products wardrobe, if the budget allows, but it is usually not the most effective item if you’re looking for results.”

The response I got back was fairly typical – along the lines of: “Since everyone gives out pens, I thought they were great giveaways.”

My answer to that was, “Everyone gives out pens because ‘everyone’ gives out pens. Marketing should almost never be about what ‘everyone’ else is doing, especially when there’s no proof that what they’re doing is actually effective.”

OK, so that’s the long way of saying that there are so many promotional products to choose from (over 600,000) that it really is possible to choose a product that is right for your particular needs.

I found a few very interesting products that caught my attention at my recent trade show, so I’ll be taking the opportunity to share a few of them from time to time here.

For instance, the item pictured below is an herb garden – it comes packaged with everything needed to get it going (other than water). It’s all eco-friendly, since even the packaging is a cardboard egg carton. It’s right on point for marketing messages themed around growth, health, new flavors and more.

 

Jornik herb garden

Now this may not be the perfect promotion for your company or your goals at the current time. If you are considering incorporating a promotional product into your marketing efforts, please ask the person you’re working with why they’re recommending the products they are. If the best answer is “because they’re really popular/one of my best sellers/everyone likes it” then find someone who can recommend an item and justify why how and why it can work to meet your marketing goals.

Of course, if you can’t find someone like that, Lev Promotions is always here to provide those answers (blatant self-promotion)!

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.

Yes, It’s Holiday Business Gift-Giving Time Again!

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I know, it’s only August, but, believe it or not, now is the time to start thinking about your holiday gift-giving needs.

Here’s a list of some of the things you need to think about for your business holiday gifts:

  • Who is getting gifts this year (employees, clients, referral sources, vendors, networking contacts, etc….)
  • Is everyone getting the same thing, or will there be levels of gifts based on revenues generated and/or referrals sent?
  • How much do you want to spend per gift at each level?
  • When will the gifts be delivered? (Pre-Thanksgiving is my recommended time – see previous blogs on this subject or contact me for why.)
  • How will the gifts be delivered?
  • Wrapped or not?
  • What type of imprint should be on the gifts? See previous blogs on this subject or contact me for more information.)

By choosing and purchasing your holiday business gifts before mid-October, you are assured of the best selection with no rush fees and timely delivery because production lines haven’t become backed up yet.

Need help with your holiday business gifts? Lev Promotions can be your own, private Santa!

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