I had an appointment to donate blood recently. The computer system at the blood bank kept crashing. The staff had to reboot it a handful of times causing everyone’s appointments to be delayed. Some folks expressed their displeasure and were chirping about waiting to donate. The quick thinking manager opened the supply closet and broke out these bottle openers and distributed them to everyone waiting. The distraction worked – people calmed down while the staff (and tech support) got the computer system fixed and the blood flowing.
Custom printed calendars are still a popular promotional tool and they are a big part of my business. I sell tens of thousands of them every year. Yes, it is true that some folks use the calendar on their phones but recipients appreciate them and use them for a variety of reasons. For the advertiser, custom printed calendars are viewed by recipients so frequently that they deliver a very low cost per impression making them a no brainer.
Many of my customers reorder calendars consistently every year (hint: they are effective) and, over the years, some of them have told me how they distribute their calendars. The fact is that the key to using calendars as a marketing tool is getting them in the hands of customers and prospects. Some of my customers do this really well and almost never have any leftover at the end of the year.
Here’s a list of some of the unique distribution methods my customers have used to distribute their calendars. The common characteristic to these distribution methods is that my customer takes proactive effort in order to distribute the calendars.
Sometimes, at the end of the year, some of my customers have calendars leftover. Perhaps you could adapt one or more of these ideas to help you distribute your calendars before the end of the year or any leftover calendars at the end of the year:
1. Many of my customers mail them to their customers along with a letter.
2. I have quite a few customers who offer more than one calendar to a customer and suggest they take it to work, give it to a neighbor, friend, relative, etc.
3. I have one customer who donates leftovers to a senior center.
4. I have one customer who takes them to a local DMV and leaves on the counter.
5. I have a customer whose office is near a Home Depot. She walks the parking lot and hands out calendars to people who are getting into their cars to leave. She told me that she only hands them out to people who have decent looking cars because she thinks they’ll be better customers than people who have junky cars.
6. Some of my customers take them to commercial accounts and give them the employees.
7. This one takes some guts…I have a customer whose office is at a busy intersection. If he has any leftovers, he stands at the light and when it turns red, he hands out calendars to the motorists stopped at the light.
No, this isn’t a joke. It’s for real and I need to make a confession.
About 20 years ago, my good friend and mentor Ken Dooley and I decided to have dinner at The Ale House in Newtown Square. As we opened the door to the restaurant, we noticed a new business opening next door. It was a running store. Ken and I began talking about the new store remarking that we didn’t think it would last long. The rent had to be high, they served a narrow niche market and we thought the burgeoning internet would hurt their business. He and I ate at The Ale House a few times over the next year or so until Ken moved out of the area. Every time we ate there we always commented, to our surprise, that the running store was still open.
Fast forward to present day. The running store is still open, although it moved to another location in the shopping center. Ken and I based our inaccurate opinion on only 3 factors: perceived high rent, a perceived small market and the internet. We based our opinion on no research. We didn’t know anything about the market itself and the service provided by the store among other unknown factors. So much for being marketers.
I’m not a runner (if you met me in person, you’d figure that out immediately) but I now buy sneakers at a running store. I choose to shop at a running store because I receive expertise. Good sneakers are expensive and I don’t want to throw money away on potentially buying crappy sneakers. Here’s why good sneakers are so important to me – a few years back I developed plantar fasciitis and a friend recommended Hoka sneakers and he told that he buys his at a local running store. To me, good sneakers are really important. I wear them everywhere.
While still I don’t know anything about the running market, every time I go there to buy new sneakers, the staff member has a brief conversation with me to make sure the Hoka model I’m buying is still the right sneaker for my specific needs. I can buy the same sneaker on the internet for the same price I pay at the store but I can’t get the same service from the internet. Now I know why these stores exist and why the one in Newtown Square survived.
The lesson learned is that some marketing research would have prevented me from making that dopey assumption.
After you register on our website, if you have any product questions or you need help placing an order, please contact us through our website or you can call us at 610-558-6002, extension 1. Once you place an order through our website, our system will notify us of your order. We will contact you via email or phone to go over your order and to let you know that we received your order. If we have any questions or you have questions about your order we can handle them at that time. Once we have all those questions taken care of you will receive a proof for the items that you ordered unless the items you ordered use a stock imprinted items that require no proof.
When you place an order with The Manko Company, we will contact you via email or by phone to let you know that we received your order. If you faxed or emailed a reorder form, we’ll let you know the current pricing. If your order is a new order and requires new artwork, we will create proofs for you for your review prior to production. If your order is an exact repeat order we don’t typically send proofs unless you request them. We keep all order information including artwork going back to January 1, 2009 so placing a reorder is a breeze. If your order uses stock imprint artwork we don’t send proofs. Once we answer any questions you may have or get answers to questions that we have and all of the artwork is squared away then we will send your order to production and then it will get shipped out to you.
After you approve your promotional product’s order, it’s sent to the factory to be processed. Once it’s at the factory, it’s very difficult to make changes so if you need to make changes to your order, contact us as soon as possible. The order is then sent to production and then shipped out. Once it’s shipped, we will contact you to let you know when it will arrive. It it does not arrive when we tell you, please contact us so that we can start tracing it. When it does arrive, please open all the boxes to inspect your order. Lastly, if you need to change the shipping address while the order is in transit, the shipping carriers charge up to $25.00 per box to change the shipping address while the boxes are in transit so avoid that if at all possible.
We all want (and need) a better 2021 for ourselves so I’d like to share something that has helped increase my productivity this past year. If you want the PDF’s, reach out to me and I’ll get them to you. I call it the Focus Planner and I’ve been tinkering with it for about 2 years. During that time, I’ve made many changes to it and I think this is the most effective version. If you watch the video, you’ll see how it works. I’ve been using this version off and on for about a year but consistently since the Summer. It’s really helped me get stuff done more efficiently. In fact, I think of it as a “to-do list on steroids”. It’s very simple design. Once I got into the habit of reviewing it every morning, referring to it during the workday, closing out the day and carrying over any leftover tasks from the previous week, I found that I was much more effective. Again, if you want the PDF’s to try out for yourself, let me know. You can call me (Avery Manko) at 610-558-6002.
My friend Alex Maynard is a realtor in West Chester, Pennsylvania. In addition to being my friend, Alex is also my realtor and every once in a while, he sends me something in the mail to remind me of him should I or anyone else in my life need a realtor. As a student of marketing, I can’t help myself evaluating any promotional mailing that arrives to my house, but Alex’s mailings stand out. They’re consistently clever which is no surprise because he’s a master marketer.
Shortly before Christmas 2020, I came home from work and I fetched the mail. Included in that day’s mail was a small, white metallic padded envelope. I could feel something was inside. The envelope had no return address. Of course, I was curious so naturally I opened that envelope first (wouldn’t you?). What I found was Alex’s most recent mailing.
The envelope contained a round ornament along with his business card inserted into a clear plastic bag. The ornament was themed “A Year to Forget” and it was printed on one side with icons and phrases that we all used during 2020 like “social distancing”, “binge watching” and “curbside pickup”. The other side was printed with the logo of the real estate team he worked with.
Here’s why Alex’s mailing was so effective: first, he used lumpy mail which almost always gets opened. The bubble envelope was eye catching and stood out among the other mail I received that day. Second, he enclosed a promotional product featuring relevant ad copy that wasn’t about him. The ad copy was relevant to me, his client. Also, according to a survey completed by Promotional Products Association International, 81% of people hang onto promotional products for more than a year because they find them fun, functional or trendy. Basically, people hold onto to promotional products unlike any other marketing mediums. Next, the unique nature of promotional products is that they last a long time. Since I have a connection with Alex, I plan to keep the ornament and I’ll be reminded of him every time I hang that ornament on my tree. When you mail promotional products to people who know you, the chances of them keeping and using the item are very high. Next, Alex took full advantage of the cost-effective nature of promotional products. Once you buy and distribute a promotional product, the item delivers its marketing message long after they’re paid for. Lastly, Alex combined two marketing mediums: direct mail and promotional products. Whenever multiple marketing mediums are used in conjunction with each other, the greater the impact.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 43% of business owners believe they have less than 6 months until they have to shut down permanently and approximately 1 in 4 businesses have temporarily shut down due to this crisis we are experiencing. With all this turbulence we’re facing, as business owners and marketers we need to keep focused on riding out this storm. While we are getting our footing trying to figure out how to handle these rough seas, one expense that often gets cut out is the marketing budget. I totally understand, but without marketing, your business might not survive. I know – you have other expenses you need to pay in order to keep your head above water but, when you’re making these decisions about what to cut back on and what to spend money on, consider the following reasons why you should continue marketing:
1. Your market changes constantly. For whatever reason, some of your customers will disappear. If you sell B2C, some of your customers will move out of the area and new folks will move in. If you sell B2B, some of those businesses will close but new businesses will open. The people or businesses who are no longer available will not be a viable market for you any longer and the new residents and businesses will have no idea who to buy from. If you stop your marketing, you may not be able to replace those folks who moved away, retired or closed and you will miss out on the new opportunities.
2. Sometimes your customers and prospects have short memories. I can’t tell you how many times I received a call from someone who thinks they bought from me previously but actually didn’t. The prospect forgot who they bought from so the marketing money spent by the previous supplier to attract their now former customer has been squandered. That’s no great shock, though. As business people, we are overwhelmed by all the “work” at work. Then, when you add in all the marketing messages we are pounded by every day, it’s no wonder why folks get confused and space out on who sold them what. Keep in touch with your customers and they’ll think of you the next time they need to buy something.
3. Your competitors are still marketing. If you pare down your marketing, your customers may think you shut down for good. If they no longer to hear from you, they will move on and buy from someone else. Your competitors who have maintained their marketing will scoop up the customers you lost. Staying in touch with your customers is critical now more than ever.
4. Some of your competitors will quit marketing. I know what your thinking – didn’t I just tell you that your competitors are still marketing? Yes, some are maintaining their marketing, however, some are not. Those customers will be up for grabs. Your marketing, and their lack of marketing, is to your advantage. As your competitors reduce their presence, your marketing can cut through the rugby scrum of marketing messages and attract more attention.
5. Your marketing will continue to build your brand. When you decrease your marketing, all the time, effort and money you put into it will have less value and the branding momentum you created will eventually come to a stop. The confidence and trust you worked so hard to build with your target market and customer base will weaken. Marketing will continue building your brand so when the economy rebounds, you will not have to invest as much time and money and effort to rebuilding or maintaining your brand as those who cut their marketing budget.
6. Some of your competitors will shut their doors which leaves more of the market available to you. Did you see the movie “Forrest Gump”? During the hurricane, his boat, the “Jenny”, was out at sea and survived while the other shrimp boats were destroyed. This left Forrest and Lieutenant Dan the entire market after the storm had passed. The current storm we are experiencing will eventually end and, if you maintain your marketing efforts, your business stands a better chance of surviving and then thriving when things get back to normal because there may be fewer competitors.
State and local governments are forcing businesses to shut down due to COVID-19 virus and many businesses are feeling the pinch. Business owners and marketers are cutting budgets and trimming expenses. After being in the marketing and advertising business for 30 years, one thing I have learned is that when there’s an economic downturn, one of the first budgets to get the axe is marketing. While this may be a necessity, I’d like to offer an idea to you. Whatever marketing money you have available, put some of it to promotional products. They deliver an amazing return on marketing investment by allowing you to leverage your money and time.
Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with new customers and prospects about promotional products. If I could boil down these conversations, my customer or prospect wants to know 3 things:
- Why should I buy promotional products?
- Which promotional products should I buy?
- How can I use them effectively?
Promotional products are one of the oldest marketing mediums dating back to the days of George Washington and they are still a viable marketing medium today. Why have they lasted this long? The answer is simple: people love receiving promotional products and they use them in their day to day lives. Promotional products are the only marketing medium that recipients will say “thank you” as they repeatedly see your marketing message. What’s even better is that once that item is distributed to your target market, the message is seen over and over again without interruption and without any additional cost or effort on your part. After you distribute that imprinted mug, calendar, lip balm, hand sanitizer, magnet or whatever, your job is done. That item will do its job showing your marketing message without fail and you won’t have to keep paying for each marketing impression. Additionally, it’s impossible to “unsubscribe” the message on a pen, it’s impossible to click “skip ad” on the message on a chip clip or “mute” the message on an imprinted shirt. Talk about efficient marketing!
There are approximately 800,000 promotional products available but choosing the right promo item for your business comes down to just 2 criteria:
- Your target market.
- Your distribution method.
Very often, customers get hung up on wanting the “latest and hottest” item. In my experience, this isn’t important. Choosing an item that your target market will like, enjoy and use is significant. This is why I advise my customers to choose items that are found on the recipient’s person, in their kitchen or in their workspace. Do you wear shirts or caps with logos on them? Do you keep a lip balm in your purse or pocket? Do you have magnets on your fridge or mugs in your cupboard? What about custom printed sticky notes and notepads – do you see them in your workspace? Promotional products are everywhere and distributing useful items that recipients will keep with them, use in their kitchen or use in their workspace will increase the chances that your message is seen repeatedly.
Next, you could have the latest and hottest promo item every created but if you don’t have a plan to distribute it, you’ve squandered your money. On the flip-side, you could distribute the most boring promotional product and it will do its job because it’s reaching your target market. There are 3 ways to distribute promotional products:
- You can mail them out.
- You can hand them out.
- You can leave them out.
If you go to your mailbox today and find that you received a box, would you open it? YES, of course, you would! Lumpy mail almost always gets opened. Mailing or shipping promotional products is the most expense form of distribution but you are almost 100% guaranteed that your message will be received.
Taking an active role in handing out your items is effective, as well. If you order imprinted pens, you could hand them to servers at restaurants or cashiers in retail businesses. Bring those pens wherever you go and hand them to whomever will take one. It’s really that easy.
Lastly, you can leave them out for recipients to take. The post office I frequent has a cup on the counter filled with pens. Also, many of my customers order calendars that they keep on the counters at their place of business and their customers take them as they come and go.
Promotional products are the only marketing medium that will continue to deliver your marketing message long after you pay for them and this can help you get through these tough times. Choose items that your target market likes and uses and have a plan to distribute them. The recipients will love receiving the free stuff and your message will be seen so many times that your cost per impression will become almost zero.