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Your display is the first thing attendees will notice and, if it looks outdated, dirty, or raggedy, it will be a prime factor in whether they want to even stop to talk to you; let alone do business with you.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

Respect the Vendor

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From time to time, I get asked by clients what they should do on a trade show floor to make connections with prospects without actually having a display booth. I tell them they shouldn’t even attempt it.

Believe it or not, this happens often enough that there’s a name for it in the trade: “suitcasing.” It comes from people walking around the floor with a suitcase full of their sales materials and trying to make sales. Every major show, and most smaller ones have a policy against suitcasing that can, at the very minimum, get you thrown out of the show for the duration.

If you want to go check out a show to see if it’s a good fit, but all means, do so. Many of these shows management companies will issue a visitor pass just for that reason – after all, they’d like to have your exhibit dollars next year.

If you want to make sales, but can’t afford to have a display booth, don’t cheapen the show by suitcasing. It’s disrespectful to the people who paid to exhibit and it doesn’t put forth an ethical and successful business image to the attendees.

Finally, if you attend a show with the intention of trying to sell to the vendors who are there – please don’t. They are there to connect with prospects and clients. They paid good money to have a booth and have spent additional time, money and energy to put together the materials to make the show successful for them. The last thing they want to do is hear your sales pitch while their prospects and clients are walking by because you’re taking up their time and space.

Trade Show Season Is Here – Are You Getting the Most out of It?

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One of the things I love doing most is helping my clients make their trade show/tabletop show exhibits more successful.

That starts with pre-show preparation, goes through booth/table setup and training for staffers, and winds down with post-show follow-up.

I recently had a display table at a San Diego Regional Chamber networking event where my focus was on the promotional products that are always a big hit on a trade show floor as well as a live demonstration of one of the many available ways to attract and keep prospects at your display so that you can engage and qualify them.

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With trade show season in full swing, what do you need to do to make sure your exhibit brings in the business you want it to?

Another great promotional product!

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Luggage Tags for Susan Rutan of Cruise Planners

Luggage Tags for Susan Rutan of Cruise Planners

Last week I posted the Post-It pads we did for Susan Rutan at Cruise Planners (www.apassion4travel.com). This week, I’m featuring the luggage tags we did for her. Now you may think that luggage tags are just good promotional products for companies in the travel industry, but there are several other great ways to use luggage tags as a promotion. 1) If you have an organization (school, senior group, Chamber of Commerce, church group, etc…) that is planning a group trip/tour, use luggage tags as one way to identify the luggage of people in the group. It’s a great visual aid for airport porters and hotel bell staff. If you have an annual trip, then doing a different shape or color each year also makes these collectible mementos. 2) Luggage stores can use these as a gift with purchase and/or as an at the register retail purchase item. 3) Businesses who have personnel that travel on a regular basis can use this to increase brand awareness for their company. 4) If you are attending a regional, national or international trade show as an exhibitor, these can be used as a pre-show promotion for attendees who are travelling to the show. Do you have a way to use luggage tags as a creative promotional product? Please leave it as a comment here. I look forward to reading your ideas.

Choosing an Effective Promotional Product

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With business budgets in place for 2013 and the trade show season kicking off, I am fielding a lot of questions about choosing and using promotional products effectively. That’s a good thing, because the days of just picking something out of a catalog to hand out willy-nilly should be over – in fact, they never should have been. Our marketing budgets should be spent wisely with some expectation of a return on investment.

To that end, there are several points to keep in mind when choosing a promotional product for maximum effectiveness:

  1. Who is your target market for this particular campaign?
  2. What is your goal for this particular campaign?
  3. What is your brand image and/or the theme for this particular campaign?
  4. What is your desired call-to-action?
  5. What is your delivery method?

Although it may be easier to simply pick something “fun” out of a catalog, it won’t necessarily be effective. For example, back when I was working in hotel management, we had a convention in-house whose theme had something to do with the wild West. Everyone got a very nice cowboy hat with the name of the sponsoring company imprinted on the band. Everyone loved the hats – they wore them throughout the 3-day convention. Then, at check-out time, the maids got to take home a whole bunch of hats because most of the attendees had flown in and didn’t want to wear them while traveling and didn’t have room in their luggage to pack them. Oops, that was several thousands of dollars of marketing budget that ended up in the hands of the kids of hotel maids, when the target market was meat buyers for restaurants and catering companies.

Consider also that the quality has to be good. What message does a promotional product give your prospects if it breaks or causes damage or just ends up in the trash? Is that how you want your branded image to be remembered?

Finally, keep in mind that the “perfect” promotional product is not necessarily the one that the decision maker thinks is cool, likes the best, or wants the most. It is the target market and marketing message that should define what the “perfect” product is, not the personal tastes of the person making the final decision. That being said, the item chosen should reflect the personality of the brand it is representing.

New & Exciting Promotional Products

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It’s been a little over a month since I attended my big trade show for the year. I came back excite, exhilarated, exhausted and sick.

I’m finally healthy and caught up with everything, so it’s time to wade through the photos and catalogs and samples of what I saw at Expo.

Once I’ve uploaded my photos from my phone to my computer, I’m going to write the occasional blog about some of the items I saw that got me thinking and creating.

This seemed to be a big year for wine-inspired promotional products – from bottle stoppers to wine carriers to ice buckets to special glasses for drinking wine on a boat (yeah, really!).

Also, new styles in tumblers, including one that allows you to infuse fresh fruit flavors into your water and one that mixes the powder for your protein and other health drinks into your water better!

Want to promote healthier eating, watch for the portion control plates.

And, the last teaser, for those of us looking for added sun protection, a real sunbrella that provides proven SPF category protection.

Keep watching for detailed product information and ideas.

Trade Show Season Begins

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In the world of trade shows, all the buzz right now is about CES – the Computer Electronics Show – happening in Vegas right now.  It’s a big enough and important enough show to even make the evening news.

January 2nd marked the beginning of the 2013 trade show season. Not all the shows will be as talked about as CES. Many will come and go with barely a whisper spoken about them. Nevertheless, every trade show holds importance to that industry’s professionals.

If you’re planning on exhibiting at a trade show any time this year, now is the time to start your preparations. In fact, if your particular show is less than four months away and you’re not already working on your booth, personnel and marketing materials, you have some serious catch-up to do. (Yes, Lev Promotions can help!)

Personally, I will be attending the promotional products industry’s biggest trade show of the year next week. I’ll be in Vegas for five days getting education on various marketing subjects, meeting with my preferred suppliers, getting to know new ones on the scene and seeing what the “hot, new” promotional products for 2013 are.

Am I excited? You betcha! I love this show. It gives me the opportunity to touch base with people I communicate with all year-long but only get to see in person once or twice a year. I get to learn new marketing techniques that I can pass onto my clients and use to build my own business. And, I get to see, touch, hear and even taste my supplier’s offerings.

If you have any upcoming marketing needs or events that I should keep in mind when I’m walking the show floor looking for new ideas, just let me know.

How Do You Define Marketing Success?

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Setting defined goals for your marketing strategies is a given… at least it should be. After all, how do you know if a strategy has been successful if you don’t have a way to measure it or something to compare it to? Of course, to know if you’ve achieved true success, not only do you have to have something to measure, but that measurement has to be meaningful in terms of the growth of your business and the achievement of your goals.

With the explosion of social media marketing, the claims are everywhere about how “successful” businesses have been with their online campaigns. My experience is that this “success” is generally measured in terms of how many followers, friends and connections have been amassed. If your goal was to achieve x number of followers, friends and connections, then congratulations, you have indeed achieved success. Now, my question for you is: “Did your business grow as a result of this success?” If not, then did meeting your goal allow you to: get a business loan, win a contest, get a grant; or, did you just get bragging rights as to reaching your magic number of people who can press a button on their keyboard?

Social media is not the only culprit here. Does your phone ring off the hook because of a yellow pages ad you’ve placed? How many of those phone calls convert to business – enough to at least pay for the ad; or, are you just bragging about the fact that you had to hire someone to answer all those phone calls without paying attention to the money that’s being earned or spent?

Do you even know where your business is coming from? Are you tracking your various marketing outlets (newspaper ads, online ads, yellow pages, radio, TV, online, networking, e-mail, signage, etc…) to see what is and what is not getting people to contact you? If not, how do you know what is and is not working. Maybe it’s time to drop or tweak one outlet and put more of your resources into the ones that are producing results for you. Don’t forget to measure each individual marketing outlet. For instance, if you’ve taken out ads on multiple websites, you need to track each one individually so you know which ones are productive and which ones are not.

If you need more information on tracking your marketing hits, we have a tracking sheet template we can send you. Just e-mail your request to info@levpromotions.com.

Walk the Floor – Trade Shows are Your Friends!

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It’s not unusual to find me at a trade show – usually as an exhibitor or working with in a client’s booth. Next week, however, I’m off to one of the two industry trade shows that I attend each year for my own professional development and the opportunity to make valuable connections for Lev Promotions’ growth.

What have I learned after ten years of operating Lev Promotions?

  1. The number of people employeed in any given industry who come to their industry trade shows as registered attendees (I call them “walkers”) is a small percentage.
  2. The people who attend these trade shows usually either brand new to the industry or are the cream of the crop and value the opportunities presented for professional growth.
  3. Valuable connections can be made not only with vendors who are exhibiting, but with “competitors” who are attending. I know how much I appreciate the opportunities I have at my trade shows to meet in person with the MasterMind group that I participate in via e-mail all year long. Their insights, tips and tricks have been invaluable to me over the years, as I hope mine have been to them.
  4. The education opportunities that exist at most trade shows is a great way to gain knowledge in all aspects of running your business at little to no additional cost. Sometimes, these sessions are where we remember what we already knew, but forgot to implement.

I don’t know any industry that doesn’t have trade shows of some sort – from local to regional to national to international. If you are interested in learning what is new or coming for your trade, making connections with vendors, and networking with the movers and shakers in your industry, a trade show is the place to be.