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Show-Stopping Promotional Marketing Ideas

A trade show is an opportunity to connect with an audience in a fun and exciting way. Handing out a promotional item is a way to make your company memorable both during AND after the show.

A show-stopping promotional item can:

  • Create enticing pre-show promotion by advertising your booth activities and swag
  • Help drive traffic to your booth at the show
  • Serve as a reminder of the experience with your company after the show ends
  • Promote word of mouth marketing, whenever anyone sees your swag
  • Increase brand recall and recognition to support your business

For these reasons and many more, a trade show is one of the top uses for promotional products. You’ll find some swag at EVERY booth.

This certainly was the case when Michael attended the Milwaukee BizTimes Expo last week.  In walking the show floor, Michael spotted our clients using the promotional items that we helped create.  Here are a few highlights in what he saw:

Promotional Marketing for UWM at BizTimes Expo

The Airplane Stress Toy promotes the UWM Masters in Management program through the School of Business. The literature includes the tagline, “Your future is about to take off.” This has been a very successful campaign!

Promotional Products at work at BizTimes Expo 2014

There were a wide range of products at every table, though pens remained a staple item throughout the show. MSOE also used tire pressure gauges; Innovative Signs used bottle openers and combination pen/highlighters. Mount Mary had a lot of interest in their branded coffee packets as something that is both unique and appreciated. We also love how striking their pennants turned out.

Cultivate Communications Brain Stress Toy

Here is a close-up of the bright orange brain stress toy that our client Cultivate Communications used. Since they are a creative marketing agency, the brain is a fun and engaging way to help tell their story.

Miss Southern Wisconsin and Michael

Miss Southern Wisconsin, Tyra McFarland, spotted Michael’s logo’ed polo shirt, and said, “Hey I work with you.” She was right (and another great reason to have company apparel)! Account Manager Paige Wagner worked with Tyra on creating frisbees to promote the UW-Milwaukee Student Startup Challenge.

UWM Student Startup Challenge Frisbee

Artwork for the UWM Student Startup Challenge Frisbee for our client, Tyra McFarland, also Miss Southern Wisconsin.

What are your favorite show-stopping promotional items? We’ve also heard about sending teasers pre-show to drive booth traffic, such as sending ½ of a pen and then handing out the other ½ at the booth. In addition, we like the idea of holding a drawing for a higher value promotional item, and having higher-value items for VIP’s (or hot prospects) who stop by your booth. There are so many ways to effectively integrate promotional items into your events!

For more event ideas, see our blog posts:

How to Guide: Integrating Promotional Products into College Events

Much More than Tchotchkes

For help discovering the right promotional idea for your events, please contact us.

 

Case Study and Special Savings: Music Download Card

We continually strive to recommend promotional marketing products that are relevant, useful, and exciting to our client’s target audience: prospective college students.  Having worked with two-year and four-year institutions and private and public colleges across the country, we have learned a lot about effectively incorporating promotional products into higher education programs.  Music Download Card

One product that has caught our attention is the Music Download Card.  This is an excellent promotional item for student recruitment activities including direct mail, college fairs, or campus visits.  Complete customization of the card can help communicate key messages and drive traffic to a specific campus website.  Clients can also setup registration to collect valuable data from students before they download music.

Want to learn more?  Click on our link below to read our case study:

Music Download Card Case Study

Act now for Special Savings!

Save 15% off any Music Download Card order. This pricing is well-below our already low standard price. Available through November 22, 2013.

Contact us for more information.

Ripon College Class of 2017 Water Bottle Photo Contest

After researching, presenting, and helping our clients select the best promotional items for their projects, we really enjoy receiving feedback on the item and the results of our client’s overall program.  It is truly rewarding to know that we have played a part in an organization’s efforts to meet their goals.  This positive feedback is what makes our jobs fun and exciting each and every day!

Side view of Ripon College water bottle with mascotSide view of Ripon College water bottle

When we reconnected with our friends at Ripon College, we were thrilled to hear about their Class of 2017 Water Bottle Photo Contest program.  This was the first time they incorporated promotional items in their strategy to encourage newly admitted and deposited students to interact with the Class of 2017 Facebook page.  They mailed students a stainless steel water bottle packaged in a red mailing tube, so it would definitely stand out.

This contest was successful in creating engagement with the new class, leading to new interactions and conversations in the social media space.

water bottle mailing tube

 

Want to learn more about the contest and featured water bottle?  Click on our link below to read our case study:

Ripon College Class of 2017 Water Bottle Photo Contest

 

Campus Visit Essential: Mini Map

Having good directions and a reliable map are important for any road trip! When you arrive at your destination, you often rely on local city maps. This also holds true for successfully navigating a college campus. A campus map is essential to help guide visitors around your school and local area.

One of the best map options we’ve found is the Mini Map. Credit card-sized when closed, the TripBuilder MiniMaps open to reveal a fold-out map and your promotional message – both sides are fully customizable and full color, leaving a large space for your own unique design and messaging.

Some design options include:

  1. Side one: campus map, event listing, key information / websites,Side two: city map with places to eat (see UNLV sample below)
  2. Side one: campus map, Side two: credit union / ATM locator (see University of Texas sample below), include advertisements from area businesses
  3. Side one: campus map, Side two: points of interest, including directions and parking options

These design options are just the beginning.  You have complete control over the design and layout of both sides of the Minimap.

MiniMap Samples

In the UNLV sample below, it features one side that lists great places to eat. Space on either side could also feature local business advertisements, as a way to recover some – if not all – of the production cost. These maps are a wonderful way to highlight points of interest, important events, key websites, and information for your college and city.

MiniMaps by TripBuilder

 

Here’s one example from UNLV:

Another example from University Federal Credit Union located at the University of Texas – Austin.

Let us know what you think of the MiniMap product. Did you know? Maps can also be imprinted on tote bags! Stay tuned for more map options in future blogs posts.

Do you need help navigating map options or brainstorming promotional marketing ideas? Contact us today! We’re here to help!

Product Highlights: Tide to Go pen, Chocolate, Coaster Stones

As a follow up to Highlights of the 2013 Product Showcase post, we’ll be featuring a series of videos from the industry-leading suppliers who joined us at Dave & Buster’s for a great customer event. This will give you a chance to feel like you WERE there, as we share video and information about exciting new products.

In the first Product Highlight post, we shared a video featuring gel pens, unique custom drinkware, infuser tumblers, and a folding golf umbrella.

In the second Product Highlight post, we featured new trends in performance polo shirts that are snag-resistant and moisture-wicking, while still being more affordable than ever.

In the third Product Highlight post, we discussed the 1960’s neo retro trend in messenger bags and the Bobble Water Bottle.

In the fourth Product Highlight post, we learned more about new technology items and food storage containers.

For our final installment of the Product Highlight series, we will hear from Jack Witte, who will share more information about Tide to Go and WD-40 pens, chocolate, coaster stones, and a hooded sweatshirt with a unique imprint area.

 

New Promotional Ideas for Events
If you’re looking for a new item to give away at events, consider some of the options that Jack shared: Tide to Go pen or WD-40 pen, or the ever popular chocolate.  We were fortunate enough to receive some of Jack’s leftover chocolate covered cookies, and they did NOT last long in our office – nor would they at an event or as a small appreciation gift.

 

Promotional Item for your Car
The coaster stone fits in a cup holder and absorbs liquids, making it a unique promotional item for your staff, alumni, or students.

 

Thanks for following our Product Highlights from our Annual Product Showcase! We will continue to bring you promotional marketing tips and ideas throughout the year on our blog. For any questions regarding any of these products, please feel free to comment or contact us directly.

 

Product Highlights: Cool Drinkware and Folding Golf Umbrella

As a follow up to Highlights of the 2013 Product Showcase post, we’ll be featuring a series of videos from the industry-leading suppliers who joined us at Dave & Buster’s for a great customer event. This will give you a chance to feel like you WERE there, as we share video and information about exciting new products.

Michael Wolaver’s Welcome to the 2013 Product Showcase

Paul Rizzo talks about three different product lines in his video:

  1. Pentel Energel pen
  2. Evo Drinkware – where you can brand the outer shell AND inside, or allow your customer to personalize the inside. Paul even talks about some cool imprint ideas using dry erase markers.
  3. Rainkist MVP Folding Golf Umbrella –

Another popular drinkware item at this year’s showcase were the infusers: a 20 oz acrylic double wall tumbler with fruit infuser. It includes a threaded lid and matching straw and can be used for either hot or cold beverages.  Wouldn’t this be perfect for a strawberry lemonade on a hot day?!

 

20 oz infuser tumbler

Stay tuned for more product highlights including: Bobble water bottle, neo retro trend messenger bag, multi-purpose car charger, iPad accessories, new performance shirts, Nike Golf polo shirts, coaster stones, and MORE!

Branding Lessons From Harley Guru Ken Schmidt

I had the opportunity to hear Ken Schmidt speak on branding at the PPAIbio-pic (Promotional Product Association International) show in January.  He worked in marketing when the company almost went bankrupt and was the director of Harley’s corporate and financial communications when they made their incredible comeback.  The Harley brand is legendary and he told an interesting story of how the company is successful.  With our company located in Milwaukee, we get to see firsthand the power of the Harley brand, especially this summer with the 110th anniversary celebration coming to town.

Below are five insights that I took from Ken Schmidt’s speech that I want to share.

1. What is your story? This is a theme that Ken Schmidt kept coming back to.  If no one shares with others that they worked with you, it might as well as never happened.  You might have had a transaction, but the long term value is the testimonials and experiences being told by others.  If you have no story to tell yourself, then you fail to differentiate and your clients/students/donors/prospects will see no difference between you and your competition.  Brands are built person by person through experiences, marketing and personal testimonials.   Have a story, tell it and create positive experiences where it will be retold.

2. Brain = Pain – Ken Schmidt described the sin Best Buy commits with how they sell flat screen TVs.   You see a row of twenty 56″ flat screen TV’s from different brands and all of them look good.  When the Sony is $1000 more expensive than the rest, you need to go to the specs in order to learn why.  This requires the consumer to engage their brain and when they do that, they have pain.  So when faced with pain, the consumer will often take the easy way out and go for a less expensive model.  He then transitioned to Harley vs. Honda. If you compare specs, looks and dependability, they are extremely similar (and admitted the Honda is better is some ways).  Then you look at the cost, and the Harley is significantly more expensive.  So why do people overwhelmingly purchase a bike that is so much more expensive than a comparable product?  Harley learned to stay away from the brain and not compare specs of their bikes, but engage the emotion of owning a Harley.

3. Personal Engagement is Key – One lesson Harley learned in the dark days was the value of asking potential/current customers what they thought of their motorcycles.  They allowed test drives (never been done before with bikes) and then openly engaged with their riders to get feedback.  Through this they received valuable information on how the riders would change the bikes and learned what custom features they would like to have. Most importantly, this gave them a chance to actively engage with their disciples (Ken calls their clients disciples, not customers).  Harley did not grow to be the number one motorcycle company because of great marketing.  You cannot charge that much more than your competition and expect to dominate the market through innovative marketing.  Ken Schmidt said they are successful because how the company engages with their riders.  He talked about their employees, going to events with Harley/non-Harley riders and how they interact with the crowd.  This interaction creates personal stories and valuable opportunities to engage with their riders.

4. Attraction – Humans are attracted to energy and then mimic that behavior energy.  When someone is excited, it is not hard to be excited with them.  When someone is energized, the people around them are often energized.  The lesson here is make sure your brand agents (your staff) send off the right signals.  Be excited about your company, products an services and others will mimic that excitement.  How your staff engages with potential and current disciples is the easiest to positively or negatively affect your brand.

5. Differentiation – When in a competitive marketplace, you have to be different in order to survive.  Ken Schmidt talked about how Harley would do the opposite of whatever their competition did with their marketing.  If the competition had a black theme, they would go with bright colors.  When their competition switched to bright, they would go black.  Do not get lumped in with your competition, follow them at your own peril.  Go your own way, be different and become memorable.

So here is a quick summation in two sentences: Have a unique story based on emotion, engage your prospects/clients/community with passion and individual attention.  Do that and you will separate your company/school/department/service and you will build a strong brand.