Should you or shouldn’t you start planning for Christmas three months out?
Why you should?
Preparation, most of us believe is key to smooth sailing. And we all know Christmas time is where stress levels can be peaking. Getting organised early on can avoid last minute panic stations.
You have adequate time to shop around for best pricing for gifts, food, decorations, plane tickets, etc.
If you are a lover of everything Christmas, so extending one of your favourite times of the year from one day to three months, makes complete sense.
You actually love the build up / anticipation more than the day of Christmas, and therefore dedicate most of your focus on this part.
You have lots of family coming and need the 3 months prior to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the day.
Dietary requirements are not limited to one person at the table anymore. Every person and their dog has a food allergy / intolerance / preference. If you are catering, this certainly requires an excel spreadsheet.
I know it may feel a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but it does make life a lot less stressful when you can plan ahead. Particularly when it comes to gift giving for customers, staff, suppliers, business partners… and particularly when the quantities are not small. Planning helps you stick to your budget, ensure stock availability, delivery and quality is spot on.
“Detailing the return-on-investment for a business gift, Jennings reveals that C-suite executives are especially impacted by a gift that tells a story and facilitates a deeper personal connection, which 94% of top executives believe is important to business success. Over 80% of C-suite executives believe that business gifts generate measurable positive ROI in addition to intangible benefits. “Gifts humanize business,” said a survey respondent. “It pays for itself two fold,” said another.”
Let me know if you want to talk Christmas gift giving for your customers, shareholders, suppliers, partners and/or staff. I have loads of gift ideas – both new and the classics that never falter.
My not so hidden secret is my absolute love for stationery. I used to dream of owning a filofax when I was young!
I only recently thought about the connection with my business. A lot of the promotional products I work with clients on, are in actual fact, stationery products. My love for stationery, however did start from a very young age. (“Show you the child at 7 and I show you the adult!.”)
If you know me well, you know how much I am in love with my TurnKey Promotion pens. Since the day these pens were delivered they have come into conversation more times than I can count!
I know for sure I am not alone with this borderline obsession. Which got me thinking, where does this world wide fixation on stationery come from. In the times of ‘paperlessness’ (so we thought!), stationery stores are not going away. If anything, in the last 10 years we are seeing more stores pop up.
Thanks to thepaperdashery.com they have shed some light on where the obsession with stationery comes from:
New stationery represents a fresh start
Stationery provides an alternative to digital communication
Stationery puts power and control into your hands – literally
There is a belief that stationery makes us more organised and creative
Stationery provides a channel for us to express our true selves.
Who thought a pen and notepad or diary could deliver so much!
So it appears there are a lot of emotions and feelings, consciously or subsciously flying around in stationery stores. A place of self reflection, clearing the past and ‘potentialising’ the future. Stationery stores are limiting their marketing potential… we are no longer talking about paper and pens, we are talking about people’s lives in big ways! Kikki K (Australia born, starting in Melbourne in 2001 and now has 100 stores) has run with this notion, offering in-store self development workshops. ‘Saved by the ballpoint pen!’
Stationery stores have definitely upped their game, which is most certainly the reason, for those who once watched their love fade away, have since reunited. The choice of stationery products, the colours, the luxuriousness… these are no longer boring places we paced for office supplies. They have become the kind of stores that you think twice about, before entering, because you know for certain, you will spend longer than you initially plan to. An adults toy world!
To be honest I am not sure if this is a gender specific obsession. I know a lot of women who have stationery obsession, but I don’t know of a lot of men. Enlighten me if you have some examples.
For me personally, stationery provides a tactileness, that I increasingly crave – post the computer taking over our lives. Stationery without even realising helps me to connect and focus on what I am doing right now. You definitely don’t want your mind wondering when you write the first word, line, paragraph in your brand new diary!
I found a list (thank you Gena-mour Barrett at BuzzFeed) that has confirmed my stationery obsession is real – “Anyone who’s slightly obsessed with stationery has secretly done:
Organised your pens by colour, type of pen, etc.
Taken the line width of your ruled paper seriously.
Practised your handwriting before making that first sacred mark in a new notebook.
Lied and said you didn’t have a pen because you didn’t want someone to take it.
Been excited by the prospect of starting a new job or term at school because it means having to go stationery shopping.
Refused to use a beautiful notebook for way too long because you still haven’t found a good enough reason to use it.
Convinced yourself that new stationery is the key to organising your life.
Winced when someone asked to borrow a piece of paper because it means ripping a page from your precious notepad.”
Lucky for me I have turned my obsession into a business, and so researching, sourcing, reviewing, testing, selling, stationery products for my day-job is a perfect fit.
These are some of my latest obsessions that you may also find yourself becoming obsessed with:
If you need a sample, don’t hesitate. Nothing would bring me more joy!
Whilst you were summering it up in Australia during January, I was trumping it up in America!
This was travel for both work and play!
The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo was the main purpose for the trip – the biggest industry expo in America. We are talking 11,000 distributors representing 4,000 companies and 30 countries, attended by over 20,000+ people. The Everest of Expos, both in respect to the variety of products, the exhibition space … and trying to get through it in three days. Then throw in the Las Vegas location – the epicentre of ‘can you make it bigger and better’!
With something as big as this, you have to plan and be selective from the start, or you could find yourself lost in the noise, hype and excitement.
The opportunity to attend this Expo in Vegas was a milestone for not only my business, but also for me personally …. as I extended the time to experience America is a completely different way.
We, my husband and I, experienced Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco and then drove to Las Vegas via California Highway 1 for a stay in San Simeon, home to the amazing Hearst Castle. We miraculously stumbled across over 3,000 elephant seals that come to the coastline every year to give birth and mate….But that is for another time and something I would be happy to share if you are thinking about travelling to America.
So, back to the show.
We had a plan and it worked very well.
The first two to three days were purely education in sales and marketing, specific to the promotional products industry. I attended a lot different educational sessions. I think it was 16 in total. Customer Service online and offline, continues to be top of mind. There was also a lot of education around high performance selling, unifying sales teams and the latest trends and topics related to social media, metrics, branding and positioning. A great opportunity to immerse myself in how the world is seeing business and integrating promotional products to further extend and leverage marketing communication and programs.
For the following three days I walked the Trade Show floor on the lookout for new products or a new and fresh approach to existing lines and found the segments with a lot of momentum are:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS are big and only getting bigger. Which is great to see. Recycled straws, recycled materials, less materials, reusable straws, bags, containers for food and drinks.
2. BLING AND MORE BLING! What I mean is bling decoration on anything and everything – bags, drink bottles, in cars, books, clothing, phones. I don’t think this is going anywhere soon. The asian influence in our markets continues to grow, and anything bling acts as a means of creating your own signature add on. Click on the image below to view the Sequin Artwork.
3. SOCKS has turned into a means of self expression. We are seeing a lot of branded socks out there. If designed with the customer and positioning in mind – this is very effective.
4. DENIM. The days of denim are definitely not behind us. There is a lot of denim still to be lived. It’s exciting to see the different ways in which this material is being integrated with other materials – and bringing new life to products we haven’t seen before.
5. THE EXPO LIVE ‘GET IN TOUCH’ interactive stage was also a good bit of fun. There is where live product demonstrations and interviews with industry leaders were streamed. A non-guilt rest break!
Also throw in the very talented, knowledgeable and ENGAGING KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
David Goggins, the closing speaker, was a stand out for me. He spoke on the topic “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great”. An inspiring talk about personal accountability and building momentum. He spoke about in the early challenges in his life, becoming a Navy SEAL in most elite unit in the American military, and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training. He also was in the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man, and Air Force tactical air controller training. A few years later he became one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world.
Scott Stratten was also another great speaker . Who was named a top five social media power influencer by Forbes. He has completely changed how corporations do business. During his presentation, he shared his ‘radical’ insights on how to engage better with customers through social and viral marketing and blended real-world strategies with memorable stories to rethink the way we market and sell.
Connie Podesta … well I have not laughed so much at this stand out presentation on sales as I’ve never heard it being presented before. As an award-winning author, Podesta is an expert on the psychology of sales, leadership, change, life balance and getting your act together, which helped to inspire industry professionals to do what it takes to increase sales, attract and retain more customers, build longer-lasting relationships, strengthen leadership skills and become more profitable, happier and successful.
So back to our plan for the show. It worked well. Or we thought it was working well. Until….we heard about the ‘Pop Up Puppy Stand’. (Which was amongst foodie pop-ups chocolate-dipped bacon, meatballs and rolled ice cream and caricature artists and an illusionists). In a flash we made a run to cuddle the most beautiful puppies.
This is genius marketing distraction and also drove traffic to less populated areas of the venue … and the perfect reminder that we are fundamentally, as humans, emotionally driven. Which brings me back to why promotional products continue to work.
Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO said. “Promotional products are the only medium that allow us to connect with consumers on a tangible level”.
The benefit of tangible connections, is increasing emotion, trust and engagement – which are the foundation for establishing sustainable business and brands.
If you would like more information about the show and the latest promotional products please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Through the years on-screen visual capabilities and resolution has improved. We are seeing funky full colour 3D logos, animated apps and website designs as well as high quality video production.
Evolution in one industry has a roll-on effect to other industries. This is always going to be the case. Despite, in theory being two industries, in reality, the digital technology and printing industry are both in the advertising and communications space.
So as a result of digital technology lifting it’s quality, printing has also had to raise the bar. One colour printing, whilst still relevant, doesn’t cut it as much as it did in the past. Now we have full colour direct digital, sublimation and direct to garment printing becoming the status quo. To someone not in the industry, this sounds like a lot of fancy words. In essence, you can now print photo quality designs on physical products:
direct digital print on a flat surface (like notebooks and compendiums)
direct digital printing on a slightly curved surface (like pens)
rotary digital prints on a curved surface (like sports bottles)
100% cotton apparel and bags with direct to garment printing, which is a completely different look to heat applied transfers
Polyester apparel and bags with full colour dye sublimation
There is also an increased demand for personalisation, which is also available via digital printing. This is also known as variable-data (VDP) or variable-information printing (VIP or VI), in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process and using information from a database or external file.
The exciting thing about products being printed digitally, is that as the technology continues to improve, then the costs will become even more cost effective. Something that will not just impact promotional products, but printing across all material types.
The fashion industry is a good example of how digital printing has created opportunities: “It currently takes anywhere from two to three months for traditional screen-printing. Digital printing by comparison can happen immediately. Digital printing ensures higher quality, more unique designs at scale, greater variety of rich colors and more. It’s literally possible to take a picture on your iPhone today and print it onto a textile at photo-realistic quality straight away.
The cost performance for small production runs also means looks can be created on a scale of one – rather than thousands.” (Source: How Digital Printing Technology Is Taking Us Closer To Fully Customizable Clothing, by Rachel Arthur, forbes.com, February 2017).
If you are looking for a promotional product that will stand out; that the recipient won’t want to part with; that others will envy, then it’s definitely time to think about going all the way – and letting your brand shine – through a beautifully designed and printed product.
By the end of it, even if you don’t drink Coke, you are thinking about it. And that’s just watching the video. Imagine if you are the customer that experiences all these touch-points? It’s next level infiltration, and you have no idea, the effect it’s having on you.
The magic of this campaign is in the journey:
TV (Sight, Sound)
Phone (Sight, Sound, Touch)
Outdoor events (Sight, Sound)
Social media (Sight, Touch)
Print (Sight, Touch)
Shopping centre where you experience the product (Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, Taste).
The engagement of more than one sense, creates a compound effect, as you continue along the marketing funnel to the conversion point – where you receive/buy the product. One versus all sense interplay – is the part versus the sum. The sum is a lot more powerful.
This is poetry in motion. And we haven’t even mentioned the effect this has on your consciousness or subconscious. Messages coming through, via different channels (Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, Taste). Creating stored memories and emotions. Imprinted in your psyche for the rest of your life. Wow. Sounds a little scary, when you say it like this. The power of sensory marketing!
Coke does have big brands and big budgets, and whether you do or not, the learning’s you can definitely be taken into your marketing campaigns. Look at your activity and ask yourself how many senses are we engaging? How can we engage three? Is it possible?
Some ideas that can inspire your team:
Promotional Products – Whether it’s a t-Shirt, cooler bag, notepad or pen – have fun with this. There are lots of ideas, but what will make your idea unique to your brand?
Scented Printing – The candle industry leverages the scent of smell to create nostalgia, relaxation, passion, etc. Is extending ‘time on page’ through incorporating a second sense experience, something to think about?
Events – What event can you create for your customers? If you can get your customers in a room, you have access to all 5 senses, and an opportunity for the highest level engagement. If you don’t wish to run your own event, can you collaborate with a partner?
Sound – We all know the sounds of milk being warmed at the coffee shop, and the sound of opening a Coke or packet of Pringles. Is there a sound that is unique to your brand that you can leverage through your communication?
Signature Scent – Could you create your own signature scent? Who says you have to be a fashion brand to have your own scent. If you had to create a scent for your brand what would it smell like?
If you are looking at your marketing activity and investment, keep asking yourself how you could extend the life or the engagement with the customer, beyond 20 seconds, 3 minutes, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months… This is the magic that well-thought through promotional products provide. Your customers end up loving them so much, that they promote your brand for you in a way that you couldn’t do yourself. And there is nothing more powerful than third-party endorsement.
A logo on a notebook, umbrella, is ok, but you can do so much more. Your customers will be grateful for the effort you put in and reward you with free advertising as a result.
Good business and good brands make sensory marketing both seamless and mutually benefiting.