Add Some Fun to your Next Business Meeting or Trade show

Most business meetings are boring and no one is really excited to be there except maybe the person they hired to speak or motivate you. Add some fun to your next business meeting or tradeshow by adding items that light up the room.

I remember one year we went to a tradeshow and they had an afterhour’s event. Each attendee who signed up for the afterhour’s event received a light up necklace with the name of the sponsor. These were a huge hit. You would see attendees wearing these every night during the show.  I, to this day remember the sponsor’s name.

There are many other items that can be a fun part of your event. For instance, for night time events, including an installation of officers, a holiday party, a tradeshow appreciation dinner and other evening type events you could add your logo or sponsors logo to light up ice cubes, light up beer glasses, margarita glasses, shot glasses or even light up wine glasses. The possibilities are endless, and think of all the fun that will be anticipated as attendees walk in to a dimly lit room with glowing Drinkware. Your event will be talked about for weeks afterward and your logo will go home with the attendee for even further impressions.

Light up items are great for tradeshow give-a-ways too. Everyone loves to receive gifts that glow or change colors. Try handing out a light up clock, calculator or computer mouse at your next event. You will have them lining up to your booth to get a light up item imprinted with your logo. Of course you should establish rules ahead of time, like the attendee should listen to your spiel before you just hand one over, or possibly only give them to your better customers and have an item like a LED tip light up pen for the attendees that are new to you.

How to Create an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social Media is a very powerful way to connect with customers and prospects, but without a plan it can also easily turn in to a tremendous time drain. A Successful social media marketing strategy will clearly define your objectives and save time and effort. It can also have a positive impact on your ROI (Return on Investment). According to a recent report from R2Integrated, companies that profited or saw increased revenue from social media marketing were almost twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy.

Here are some tips for creating a successful social media marketing plan:

Set Specific Goals: Define your target audience and your objectives in marketing to them, such as building brand awareness, improving customer service and retention, and driving traffic to your website.

Do your homework: Determine where your audience spends its time online and the best methods for reaching them. Look at what’s working for your competition and research the best practices of other successful social marketers.

Set a Schedule: Create a calendar of when, where and what your company’s social media activities will be. Consider sharing how to info, product demonstrations, facility tours, case studies, exclusive promotions, and contests for gift packs of logo’d merchandise like T-shirts, travel mugs and laptop sleeves.

Go Public: Plan how to promote your efforts. One company for example, gave out sunglasses at a trade show and encouraged recipients to post photo’s of themselves wearing the glasses on facebook and Twitter. The most creative entry won a limited edition hat. Other companies distributed attention grabbing T-shirts and stickers with their twitter handles.

Determine how you will track results: It’s important to monitor and analyze your efforts, but keep in mind that it can take some time to see measurable results. Finally, stay flexible. Your plan will help keep you focused, but also it is important to asses new tools that may come along and change tactics if something isn’t working.

We can give you some great ideas for promoting your company through social media and if your current website needs a check up we can do that too! Check out CEShoppes new division http://www.SocialMediaTrafficConsultants.com

The Man Who Sold Hot Dogs

Recently, a vendor of ours who makes metal bookmarks, die cast pins, ornaments and more, sent us a simple reminder to keep on marketing no matter what is going on around you. In a very simple cardboard folder was a small metal bookmark, etched and painted with a man selling hot dogs out of a cart. It came with a printed message inside the card that leaves a very powerful message – the story goes like this:

 

There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio. He had trouble seeing, so he had no newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs. He put up signs on the side of the highway telling how good they were. He stood by the side of the road and cried “Buy a hot dog, mister” and people bought . . . and bought often. He used promotional products to compliment his advertising. He increased his meat and roll orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He finally got his son to come home from college and help him out. But then something happened.

 

His son said: “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? There’s a big depression coming on! The European situation is terrible. The domestic situation is even worse!”

 

That made the father think: “Well, my son has been to college, he reads the papers and he listens to the radio and he ought to know.” So the father cut down on meat and roll orders, took down the advertising signs, stopped using promotional products and no longer bothered to stand on the side of the road to sell his hotdogs. Sales fell fast, almost overnight.

 

 “You’re right son,” father said to the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a great depression. There just isn’t any business. No one even comes by anymore!”

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 3 Internet Power Marketing

The night before this class I said to DJ, “I bet we can teach tomorrows class on internet power marketing”. We have built websites since 1996 and get great results in organic search. We have heard many of the classes that our industry has taught on internet marketing and in most of those instances; – yes, we could have taught those classes with our eyes shut.  - However, Starr Hall is not your average internet power marketer. We were not prepared for the wealth of information she bestowed upon us in the 75 minutes she had with us. Starr is a powerhouse! She started off telling us how she, as a child used to help her grandmother at tradeshows. She actually was told to “Trip” attendees to get them to stop at their booth!

Whether you are a large or small business you need to have a policy and procedure for social networking. You need to have a plan with goals defined – How can you drive from California to Michigan if you don’t have a map? The same is said about social marketing. – I had never thought about a policy and procedure manual, but it makes sense. We have one for the business, so why wouldn’t we have one for social networking. This policy lays out guidelines for your employees as to what they can and cannot say. – Sometimes what they can and cannot say on their own social networking sites too. You want to increase your company’s exposure, but you don’t want to do it in a negative way. If an employee is posting about the wild crazy parties they go to every night and how hung over they are at work three days a week, it looks bad on your company image. So these guidlines should be spelled out in your manual.

Starr also talked about how to build responses in to your social plan and how to handle negative reviews. At some time in your company history, you will get negative reviews, and how your company handles them out in the social sphere will be very important to how your company is perceived. If you document how to answer these problems before they come up, you won’t be reacting, you will be proactive in your approach.

She also recommends setting goals for social media and this requires you to measure everything. How many emails you receive and  how many sales you produce from it, etc. Constantly try new things and measure the feedback. Find the places your company fits in and become a part of that community. You don’t need to be on every single social networking site. Your company won’t fit all of these sites, so seek out the ones that do and don’t worry about the ones that don’t.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 2 Building your Brand

After Jay Levinson spoke on Guerilla Marketing we broke out in to sessions. There were a total of 4 speakers on various business related topics per session- and three sessions throughout the day. The amazing thing about each class, there was standing room only! The first session I attended was about Building your Brand to Build Your Business. Normally, in the past when I have attended education sessions at industry tradeshows you get the same old ideas, just rehashed in a new fashion or not, but really it is the same old, same old and you are not incredibly inspired, like I was after the Growth 2.0 Conference.

It might be because industry tradeshows focus on the business you are in – You end up getting a narrow view of what is happening in your corner of the universe and lose sight of the much bigger picture. I think this is why a couple of years ago DJ and I started to attend events that were not industry related, but business related. In doing so, a new world opened up to us. The branding session was taught by Susan Gunelius, President of KeySplash Creative, Inc.

Susan’s main approach to us was to remind us that your brand is NOT a logo, your company colors, your products, a slogan or a company. A brand is a promise that sets expectations, and to your customers- meets those expectations in every consumer interaction and experience. A brand is how your customers feel about your company and she used some brands as examples. If you think of these three automotive brands, a single word comes to mind when they are said: Toyota – reliable, BMW- performance, KIA- inexpensive. She asked us to find out what our customers think of when they say our company name. How do they feel our company lives up to our promises and the way we consistently present ourselves? That is a very good question.

 

Feel free to post an answer to help us better understand what we should be doing to make CEShoppes a brand in your eyes.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 1 Guerilla Marketing

They say that you learn something new every day. So, I will tell you that I received a year’s full of learning last Tuesday at the Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference in Miami. It all started with breakfast and then an hour long talk with Keynote Speaker Jay Conrad Levinson, Chairman of Guerilla Marketing International. His ideas and his enthusiasm for the entrepreneur were just invigorating. He spoke about the difference between traditional marketing and guerrilla marketing and why guerrilla marketing works without spending a lot of money.  - One thing that I always wondered about and he made clear was that traditional marketing always measures sales performance. But the real truth of how a business is doing is measured by PROFITS –

In our industry, once a year a list of Top 40 companies is published listing their gross sales. I wonder how many of these top companies would be there if they showed NET PROFIT instead. I always thought that it was a crazy idea to rate companies on how much they sold. – It sounds good to say you sold $100million last year, but if you sold $100million and you lost $25million in the process, what makes your company better than mine, when I show a profit instead of a loss?  Mr. Levinson’s way of thinking makes much more sense.

He also talked about social media and how to embrace it as part of your marketing. No one thing, not television, nor newspapers, nor direct mail alone will grow your business. You need to use a combination of things to keep you in the public eye, as well as social marketing. And not just continually posting things about you, but really “Listen” to what is being said out there and contribute by engaging and participating in the conversation, so your marketing becomes a dialogue not a monologue.

Heading to Tradeshow – What do you need?

HEADING TO LAS VEGAS!!

Next week (January 10-16), we will be heading to Las Vegas to the largest Promotional Products Trade Show in the industry with over 1400 booths!!  While we are there, we would like to take the opportunity to help YOU with your marketing needs for this coming year.  

Over the past couple of months, we are sure you have been working on your marketing plans and incentive and award ideas for 2010. If you have a list of ideas and dates, we can walk the show floor and be your eyes and ears. Give us an idea of what you need and your budget and we will look for the hottest, most creative ideas out there, just for YOU!

 

If you would like our help we will make it easy – Just email us: CustomerService@CEShoppes.com with a list of event dates, the theme of the event, what types of items or ideas you are looking for, quantity, budget and any other information that would be helpful to have as we are walking the tradeshow floor. Please respond prior to January 12, 2010. We will follow up with an email to let you know we received your email before we leave for the show, so you will know we will be thinking of you while we are out there.

Increase your Marketing Efforts in a Down Economy

I recently read an article from Denny Hatch’s Business Common Sense. The article was about Bloomingdale’s catalog being discontinued after being in circulation for over 120 years. It seems that the state of the economy and the internet is the cause of this tragedy. I have heard so many times over the years that when there is an economic down turn the marketing department is the first thing to go at a company. Instead of spending more money to attract more business, many companies get rid of their marketing departments or at least scale them down.

Since I come from a marketing background, this never made sense to me. So this year, as the economy wanes Creative Expressions has decided to heat things up! Instead of “throwing in the towel”, as Denny put it, we have decided to ramp up our marketing efforts.

We hired a graphic artist to create our mail outs. We hired a PR firm to write our press releases, and we are having a Corporate Gift Give Away Contest to get more Marketing directors, Human Resource directors and Sales directors interested in our company and the corporate and promotional gifts we can provide. We decided that possibly the promise of a music download to all qualified entrants would be a nice give away. We could mail out T-shirts, a mug or a related promotional product, but our company is not your typical promotional products company and since we are a bit different, so has to be the giveaway.

We are able to provide proven, successful, result driven promotions by using music downloads and cell phone entertainment cards to help with employee recruiting, tradeshow marketing, customer motivation and a myriad of different ideas. Because this is not your normal promotional product, we thought we could illustrate this by being our own case study using a product that we sell. And of course there is the Grand Prize, the winner’s choice of an X-box 360 or a $400 gas card!

From Denny’s Takeaway Points to Consider he said “Marketing is war—a fight for your share of market and wallet. It is nothing less” – to this I say we are joining the fight by increasing our marketing efforts. There will be no quitters here!