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.
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.
Vinyl insurance card holders are one of our most popular items. The most common question buyers have is what colors are available.
Before I start the list, keep in mind that navy is a dark blue, royal blue is a few shades lighter than navy and medium blue is a Carolina blue.
Here’s the list of colors available for each style…
The style 807, 807T and 807E are available in red, navy blue, green, black, maroon, grey, white, medium blue, orange, purple, yellow, teal and royal blue.
Styles 806, 806E, 806T, 808, 808W, 803L, 803, 803P, 805 and 805P are available in red, black, green, navy blue and royal blue.
Style 809 is available in red, navy blue and black.
Styles MCR215, MCR216 and MCR217 are available in clear, red, navy blue, green, black and royal blue.
The MCR800-1-1C is available red, dark green, royal blue, navy blue, black.
The MCRI818FO is available in 2 colors: royal blue and black.
The MCR800-1 is available in red, navy blue, green, black, brown, maroon, gray, white, medium blue, orange, purple, yellow, bone, royal blue, teal, pink, lime, gold or silver.
The MCR800-2 is available in red, navy blue, green, black, brown, grey, white, medium blue, orange, purple, yellow, bone, royal blue, teal, pink, gold, silver, maroon.
The MCR800-3 is available in red, dark green, navy blue and black.
Lastly, the pricing on the insurance card holders includes up to 5 lines of text and a stock logo (excluding the 808W). Stock logos are typically insurance company logos and associations. There is no set-up charge to use a stock logo.
If you’d like to use your agency logo, there is a $50 set-up charge. The set-up charge is a one-time charge which will not be assessed on future orders unless you make a change to the logo, the text or the item.
The 808W is not customizable. The “What to do at the scene of an accident” imprint is a stock imprint and cannot be altered. Additionally, when using that imprint on the 808, there is no room available to print any custom information.
For a free sample of an insurance card holder, please call 877-558-6002, ext. 1.
I’ve been saying for years that the most important factor in successfully using promotional products to market your business is the plan to distribute the promotional products.
With Spring fast approaching, I have for you a very inexpensive, creative, guerrilla marketing way to market your insurance agency by distributing imprinted flyswatters.
This little beauty is our item number MCA42100. In various quantities, it’s about a buck apiece. The pricing includes the setup charge and a one-color print on one side. This particular flyswatter has imprinted, “We swat the competition.” The agent’s information and then an insurance company logo. This item is available with a print on the handle too.
OK, so here’s how the idea works. Go to the dollar store and buy some ribbon. Cut off about a foot of ribbon and get brochure, like an insurance company or an agency brochure and then punch a hole in it. Then take the ribbon, thread it through the hole and then through the hole at the top of the flyswatter. Then tie it off and now you’re done step one.
Here’s step two: once you have all the flyswatters and brochures done, on a nice, beautiful day, go to a neighborhood that you you’d like to write some business in and go door to door and hang the imprinted flyswatters from doorknobs. The homeowner will receive the flyswatter and they’ll also receive the brochure.
This is a perfect way to market your insurance agency on a nice beautiful sunny day in the Spring, Summer or Fall. It’s also a perfect project for some teenagers or some college kids who are looking to earn some extra money.
The big idea here is that if folks are interested in receiving a quote, they’ll have your contact information on the brochure and the imprinted flyswatter. If they are not in the market to get a quote at the time, they’ll keep your flyswatter and they’ll have your contact information available if or when that need arises.
Here’s a great video showing you how to market your agency using imprint flyswatters:
Well, it happened again last night. It was bound to happen again and last night is when it happened.
Some guerrilla marketers came through my neighborhood again and they were promoting their produce business. Here’s what they did:
They had some flyers printed up. Then they rolled them up and they used a rubber band to attach the flyer to some simple cotton work gloves. Then they went through my neighborhood and they threw them on our driveways.
This morning when I woke up to take the dog out for her morning walk, the rolled up flyer and gloves were on my driveway. This is brilliant. Here’s why it’s brilliant.
I’m going to throw out the flyer but I’m going to hang on to the cotton gloves. I’ll probably remember where I got the gloves and I’ll be reminded of that produce business every time I use them…and long after I’ve thrown out that flyer and long after those guerrillas paid for the flyers and gloves and spent the time rolling them up and driving through my neighborhood distributing their marketing message.
Those guerrilla marketers were smart but if they were really smart, what they would have done is they would have had the gloves imprinted with their logo or their contact information or both. That way as time goes on, people will know where they got those gloves and have the marketer’s contact info.
Promotional products are the ultimate guerrilla marketing tool. Promotional products deliver their marketing message over and over and over and long after the advertiser paid for them. The promotional product doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be distributed. That is the number one factor in using promotional products effectively is the distribution.
The folks at the produce business near my house did a great job. They could have done better but they did a great job.
What makes your agency clearly different than your competitors? Why should a prospect do business with you? Most importantly, why should a customer continue doing business with you? Before you say something like “we give great service” or “we save people money”, think again. Those phrases are not differentiators because they are not quantifiable facts. Those are your opinions and your competitors will probably say the same things about their agencies. Thus, if you say that about your agency, you’re not any different than your competitors.
One way to stand out in the crowd is by creating a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. It’s a short description of what makes your agency irrefutably different than your competitors and declares a promise that you’re making to your customers and prospects. Folks often confuse the USP with a catchy tagline which it is not. The USP is THE compelling reason why a buyer should purchase from you. The goal of a good USP is to create a perception of difference between your agency and your competition.
The fact is that you’re in the insurance business and to the typical buyer your agency is probably not perceived any differently than all the other insurance marketers. The question now becomes how do you discover what makes your agency different and how do you communicate that?
The first place to start is to take a look at your competitors. In addition to pricing, some points of differentiation are variety, coverages, benefits such as additional services, availability, convenience and customer service just to name a few. What advantages do you have over them and vice versa? Here are some places to look:
- Do you have more carriers available? (i.e. more variety)
- Do you serve a niche market? (i.e. specialization)
- Do you offer longer office hours? (i.e. convenience)
- Do you have a dedicated claims person? (i.e. expertise)
- Do you have 24 hour claims service? (i.e. convenience)
- Do you have a dedicated person for certificates of insurance? (i.e. expertise)
- Do you make house calls? (i.e. convenience)
- Do customers and prospects have easy access to your office? (i.e. convenience)
- Do you guarantee a quote within a certain amount of time? (i.e. reliability)
- Do you guarantee a return phone call within a certain amount of time? (i.e. reliability)
This list is by no means complete. I don’t know your specific agency and your marketplace so it’s impossible to offer a cookie cutter solution. That said, hopefully this short list will be helpful in the brainstorming process.
The next place to look for ideas for your USP is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. I once heard someone say “If you want to know why John Smith buys, you have to see the world through John Smith’s eyes”. What is it that customers and prospects really want? They may tell you that they want lower premiums but I’d be willing to bet that pricing isn’t the only reason they’re shopping. Take note of what makes people happy and what makes them mad and make accommodations to satisfy those wants and needs. Then you can use this as fuel for your USP.
While the products and services you offer are not necessarily different than those of your competitors, you can differentiate your agency in other areas. The point is that you need to uncover distinct attributes that make your agency more attractive to the target market you serve. Here’s an example: suppose you discover that most or all of your competitors close by 5pm AND you’ve gotten some after-hours voicemails regarding new business. Perhaps you can change your hours and close later. Then you can create a USP around your new, more convenient hours. The USP could sound like: “We have longer office hours just for you”. Here’s another example: let’s say that you write a lot of contractors and you find that they need insurance certificates quickly and that’s something you can accommodate without much trouble. How about a USP that sounds like “Insurance certificates issued within 10 minutes”?
Creating a rock solid USP is not an easy exercise but it’s one of the most effective ways to separate your agency from your competitors, attract more customers and increase retention. As you’re doing the research to write your USP, you may discover that your agency may not be a whole lot different from the competition. If this is the case, pay close attention to what your competition is saying in their marketing. As mentioned previously, the ultimate purpose of the USP is to create a perception of difference. If you’re the first to tell the market about a distinction, your agency may become associated with that distinction and then you will own that attribute. For example, if you’re the first tell the marketplace that you do certificates of insurance in 10 minutes or less, it will likely not matter that your competition can do the same thing. The marketplace will associate that attribute with your agency and you’ll have the advantage.
I traveled to Montgomery, NY this past week to deliver a speech to a group of Erie Insurance Agents. I live in the Philadelphia, PA area and my route took me through the Pocono Mountain area – what a beautiful drive! The mountains and hills were magnificent and everything was so green.
I’ve delivered about 15 of these speeches over the past 5 years or so. I’m not a pro but I’m not a shy guy and I enjoy doing them. The speech I delivered was about the promotional products industry as a whole and why promotional products are a smart way to market an insurance agency.
Before each speech, I research all my talking points to make sure they are current and valid. During this process, I’m always reminded why I love this industry and why I think promotional products are the ultimate guerrilla marketing weapon. Here are 5 aspects of the promotional products industry that I’m so proud of:
1. According to PPAI, Promotional Products Association International, our industry is a $20,000,000,000 industry (THAT’S $20 BILLION!). We are one of the only advertising mediums on a growth trend even though we’re one of the oldest advertising mediums. We are finally getting some well deserved respect!!
2. When using promotional products, an advertiser only has to buy the ad one time and the recipient of the item will be exposed to the advertiser’s marketing message a countless number of times. You cannot get that kind of value from ANY other marketing medium because all of them have a much shorter shelf life.
3. Most people enjoy receiving promotional products. On the flip side, do most people like hearing radio or TV ads? Do they like ads popping up on the webpages they’re viewing? Probably not. Most people will say “thank you” when given a promotional product. Can the same be said when they’re exposed to a billboard? Again, probably not.
4. Promotional products can target just about every demographic no matter the size or obscure the market. Do you want to sell insurance to Eskimos? With approximately 800,000 items available from approximately 4,000 suppliers, I can guarantee you that there is a perfect product available that would be effective and meet the budget.
5. Promotional products are advertising that integrates into our lives. Research shows that there’s a 1 in 4 chance you have a promotional product on your person right now. We use these items in our day to day lives. Do you write a note with a pop-up ad? No, you write a note with a writing instrument. Do you wear newspapers as clothing? No, but you can certainly wear an embroidered sweater to keep you warm. In addition, promotional products typically only carry one message at a time. This makes for a crystal clear, unimpeded transmission of a marketing message. How many billboards are in Times Square? Probably too many to count. A calendar is a miniature version of a billboard at a fraction of the cost and communicates a marketing message for pennies a day. Insurance card holders keep your insureds registration and insurance information handy while marketing your agency at the same time. Do you see the guerrilla marketing connection?
I fell into this industry over 25 years ago. I have been witness to some real marketing successes with promotional products and that is so satisfying. I’ve also been the recipient to some ridicule of my industry. For those folks who think of promotional products as “trinkets & trash” or “tchotchkes”, I urge you reconsider your position. They truly are THE epitome of guerrilla marketing. As our world shrinks, technology speeds things up and younger generations become tomorrow’s buyers, advertising mediums will gain and lose effectiveness. One thing that I think will never change is that, as humans, we like to receive things and, if they are useful and relevant, we keep them. Recipients sometimes thank the advertisers for giving them a promotional product (talk about guerrilla marketing!). Promotional products are the only advertising medium that is useful so I think this medium is here to stay and may become an even more important marketing tool in the future.
This morning, while taking my walk, I discovered a guerrilla had come through my neighborhood last night.
A guerrilla marketer that is.
Dispersed throughout the neighborhood lawns were promotional flyers imprinted with ad copy promoting a lawn maintenance company. On the inside, the guerrilla added a weather proof label featuring even more information about the company’s service offering, contact information and a discount offer. I’d be willing to bet that the guerrilla marketer spent less than a few bucks per unit to capture the attention of my fellow neighbors. Given the cost of lawn maintenance, if the marketer acquires one customer, I’m sure the cost of this promotion will be paid off and the marketer will see a profit on their investment.
This simple idea could work for your insurance agency as well. They can be printed with your contact information, they’re easy to distribute and they’re really inexpensive. Best of all, people love flyers so your marketing message will be seen over and over again.
Lastly, the big idea when marketing your agency with promotional products is the distribution. This idea is rock solid proof that marketing does not need to be complicated nor expensive. Great marketing starts with a creative idea and effort and both of those are free. I very often tell my customers that you can have the coolest promotional item every created and if it never leaves your supply closet, you’ve wasted your money. On the flip-side, you can purchase the dumbest promotional item ever created but if you’re distributing the item to your prospects and customers, you’ll eventually be a winner.
The Manko Company has available 1000’s of promotional items and the know-how to help you successfully market your agency. Many items are well under $5.00 per unit and most are well under $2.00 per item. We have experience working with nearly 2000 insurance agencies just like yours and we have case study examples of how other insurance agencies have used promotional products to market their agencies.
Consider marketing your agency with imprinted coloring books. Here’s why: have you ever tried to do business with a husband and wife who showed up to your office with a small child in tow? Was it distracting? Did the appointment take a lot longer than necessary because little Timmy didn’t feel like being cooperative while mommy and daddy worked with the nice insurance agent? I’d be willing to bet that this has happened to you and, if it hasn’t, it will someday.
Giving promotional products to children may seem like a waste of money. After all, children don’t buy insurance. While this is true, pretty much everyone on planet Earth knows that children are a heavy influence upon the behavior of their parents so, if you can keep little Timmy from having a meltdown, you might be able to write some business before Timmy forces his parents to leave your office before you complete the transaction.
How about offering little Timmy a coloring book? It’s a win-win-win: Timmy is happy because he has something to do, his parents are happy because he’s not creating a scene, you’re happy because you can get the necessary work done AND Timmy is happy and he’s way too busy coloring in his new coloring book to tear your office apart.
Here’s another creative way to use coloring books to market your insurance agency. Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a local fair or community event. Consider offering coloring books and a yummy snack like cookies or cupcakes to the kids as they walk past your booth with their parents. The kids won’t be able to resist the offer of the food and coloring book and they will drag their parents to your booth. As they approach your booth, you’ll have a chance to strike up a conversation with the parents. Bingo! Another new opportunity to write some new business!