Need promos fast? So does Tom! See how he solves his problem below!
As you probably figured out when your bracket fell to pieces on the very first day, we’re in the middle of March Madness, America’s greatest sporting event. Every year, the 64 best college basketball teams in the country Duke it out (see what I did there?) to crown a new National Champion. Between the shocking upsets, the near-misses, and the unbelievable Cinderella stories, there’s nothing that even comes close to the full month of excitement that is the NCAA Tournament. It’s so exciting, in fact, that you no doubt find yourself sneaking a quick glance at your bracket while you’re at the office or checking scores under the table during your business meetings. Don’t feel bad, though. There’s actually a lot you can learn about business by taking in March Madness.
While the regular season has its fair share of mismatches and blowouts, every NCAA Tournament game is competitive. At the highest levels of college basketball, the stakes are elevated to the point that teams have to battle for every single basket. Business is the same way. Your competition’s entire livelihood depends on outperforming you. If you lose, you don’t get to go home and try again next year. You’re playing for keeps, and so it’s absolutely vital that you keep your head in the game. That means doing what college coaches do. Scout your opponents and devise a game plan to come out on top. Business is competition at the highest level, and knowing who you’re up against, what they’re good at, and where they’re weakest puts you in a great position to corner your market and bring home the proverbial trophy.
If there’s one thing that defines March Madness, it’s the Cinderella stories. Everyone loves the Gonzagas of the world, who come sweeping in from out of nowhere and topple the traditional giants. It’s easy to get so caught up in the emotion of a shocking upset run, though, that you miss a fundamental point. Upsets aren’t just about underdogs pulling off miracles, they’re about favorites blowing concrete advantages and coming up short when it matters most. There’s nothing more fatal to a basketball team or a business than complacency. No team is too good or too storied to lose, and no business is too successful to fail. Business history is littered with massive companies who were unable to adapt or grow and fell apart completely. Don’t believe me? Go try to take a photo of a Sharper Image store with your Polaroid camera. If you take anything for granted or underestimate your competition, you might wind up as the next big cautionary tale.
The one thing that really makes March Madness such a huge event, though, is the brackets. Being able to participate vicariously and follow along with something on the line adds a whole extra layer to the viewing experience. People love being able to participate at home, whether it’s an NCAA bracket or American Idol. Find ways to get people involved in your business too. If you sell a product, give a live demo in your store. If you offer a service, build an interactive environment where you can demonstrate the benefits. The more hands-on your customers can get, the more invested in your business they’ll be.
So anyway, go enjoy the games. But between the spectacular dunks and the fadeaway jumpers, pay attention. You just might learn something that will make your business championship caliber.
It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and here in America that means a ridiculous excess of green beer and a lot of inappropriate pinching. Believe it or not, though, St. Patrick’s Day is about a lot more than green garments and public intoxication. March 17 is the traditional date of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and one of its most important religious and cultural figures. According to legend, the reason Ireland has no snakes is because St. Patrick banished them all.
That’s certainly cause for a holiday. After all, no one likes snakes. They’re poisonous, and if you leave one lying around, it’s likely to come back and bite you. This year, for St. Patrick’s Day, instead of wearing that tacky shamrock tie to work or getting way too drunk, celebrate by banishing a few “snakes” from your business. Hopefully, your office isn’t actually overrun by venomous reptiles, but chances are you’re leaving some poisonous business practices laying around, just waiting for their chance to bite you. Here are a few of the common “snakes” that modern business owners should chase away this year in honor of St. Patrick.
Obviously, proper workplace attire is important in any professional environment. That being said, requiring your employees who will never interact with a customer to wear a suit and tie to work every day is just overkill. It makes your employees less comfortable, it makes their morning preparation take longer, and it does absolutely nothing to improve your workplace or your employees’ productivity. As long as no one on your team is wearing anything inappropriate or dressing too informally for the occasion, relaxing your dress code goes a long way toward creating a happier, smoother office.
Excessive Cost Containment
Being smart with your money is the key to operating a successful company. It’s easy, though, to let thriftiness go too far and actually hurt your business. Eliminating waste is absolutely essential, but cutting corners to the point that it interferes with your day-to-day operations or your growth potential could be the death knell for your business. As the old saying goes, “you have to spend money to make money.” Refusing to do the former could prevent you from doing the latter.
Inappropriate Use of Technology
It’s 2016, and there is absolutely no reason to use a fax machine for any purpose. Thanks to e-mail, we can send and receive files of every type instantly. Continuing to use outmoded technology just hampers your effectiveness and is a huge inconvenience to your more tech-savvy customers and clients. On the other hand, just because technology exists doesn’t mean that it is necessary. Yes, videoconferencing can be extremely useful in the right situation, but oftentimes it serves no practical purpose. If you need to show your employees a graphic, e-mail them the PowerPoint. Insisting on a video conference when it’s not needed just slows down productivity, uproots your employees from their desks, and doesn’t really help you in any way. It’s important to embrace modern technology, but only when it actually provides tangible benefits.
Sometimes, when it comes to management, less is more. It’s only right that you expect your employees to perform, but it’s easy to get so caught up on process that you ignore the results. Companies have a tndency to over-monitor every aspect of their employees’ work day, from break time to internet usage. If an employee is performing admirably and getting their work done, does it really matter if they spend 20 minutes a day reading blogs on their computer? Is it really necessary to clock break time down to the second? As long as performance metrics are being met, how your employees get there isn’t really important. By micromanaging every aspect of their day, you are just showing your employees that you don’t trust them to behave properly. Fostering a trusting, cooperative work environment is a much better strategy for success.
By chasing away these proverbial “snakes”, you can improve your company’s culture, performance, and workplace morale. And who knows, maybe your team will appreciate it so much that they name a holiday after you.
As the calendar turns from February to March and the snow fades away to reveal (mostly) sunny skies, golfers are ready to trade in their snow shovels for six irons. Sure, some diehards may have still been playing during the winter months, aggressively watching the weather forecast and poaching serviceable days for a quick round. Some may have even played with snow still on the ground (it does happen, and might I recommend colored golf balls if you ever attempt it.) For most of us, though, the start of golf season seems long overdue.
Golf is one of the few major sports that can be played and enjoyed whether the player is 5, 35, or 95 years old. Athleticism and perfect health isn’t even a firm requirement – though it certainly helps. In fact, the country club next to where I grew up featured an elderly gentleman who played well into his golden years despite a serious health condition that robbed him of both his legs (he played with the assistance of a special custom-built golf cart).
While it is one of the more difficult sports to pick up despite that approachability, golf can appeal to any type of player. The competitive athlete has plenty of opportunities to test his mettle in tournaments, leagues, or even just a healthy battle against a personal record. The fun-seeker can grab a few buddies (and perhaps a few brews) to play a round or two. Golf even lends itself to the more introverted types, who can flee the hustle and bustle of daily life and grab their clubs and enjoy the peace and quiet of the natural world around them.
Golf’s general accessibility is also key in the business world. Inviting a client (or potential client) out for a round of golf is a widely-used move, as it allows businessmen and women to discuss issues, deals, and ideas outside of the confines of a stuffy office conference room. Golf is also an excellent way to learn about an individual. The sport’s self-policing nature, challenging difficulty, and somewhat-relaxed environment can allow a person’s true self to shine through – for better or worse.
Those who are searching for marketing opportunities can also benefit greatly from the sport, as golf has a wealth of equipment that can be branded with a company logo, from sport-specific items like golf balls to more widely-usable gear like custom hats and shirts. Outings for companies and clients are an easy way to distribute that branded merchandise while enjoying a day of food and fun. Numerous vendors and businesses in the Pittsburgh area already use outings as a way to increase awareness for their brand and distribute their merchandise as favors for attendees or prizes for the more competitive player.
Golf’s accessibility and flexibility can provide an individual or business with a wonderful way to connect with other people in a less-formal and more fun-based environment, whether by use of an outing or event, or just a casual round with a few people. The fact that it’s a challenging endeavor that can be enjoyed for a lifetime is just a bonus.
As a business owner, you obviously want to get the most out of your employees. After all, you’re the one with the biggest financial stake in the company’s success, and you want to see the biggest possible return on every dollar of salary that you pay. It’s only natural, then, to institute rigorous schedules and limit break time. By imposing a rigid set of work-time standards, though, you could be limiting the productivity of your employees and, in fact, costing yourself huge amounts of money. As odd as it may seem, letting your workers take more breaks could lead to substantially more work getting done.
In polls, more than 85 percent of employees across various industries have expressed the belief that regular work breaks would increase their productivity. Only a quarter of those polled, though, actually take a break besides for lunch. They cite workplace expectations and guilt as the main reasons they don’t take regular breaks.
Mental focus is a lot like a muscle. When you hit the gym and do bicep exercises, you give your biceps some time to rest afterward. An employee who is taking frequent breaks is always fully engaged in their tasks during the time they are working. The end result is that they’re getting more work done in less time, and you get a net gain in productivity.
Not only will your employees be doing more work while they’re at their desks, the quality of their work will improve as well. A lack of mental focus means that your employees are more prone to mistakes and oversights. Every mistake that an accountant or a customer service employee makes could cost your company money. By making sure that your employees are fully engaged while they are at their desks, you’re ensuring a tighter ship with less costly errors.
Allowing your employees to take breaks isn’t just about increasing their workplace satisfaction and productivity, though. Work-related stress is a huge driver of health care costs, and is costing companies hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Giving your employees the freedom to disconnect from work every so often could have a noticeable impact on their health, which could save you literally millions in insurance costs over the years.
It’s no surprise, then, that massively successful companies like Google not only encourage their employees to take breaks, they provide well-stocked break rooms complete with games and other amenities to promote mental health breaks. It’s essential to not only allow employees to take a break when they need one, but to provide an area where they can successfully detach from work. A small investment now in giving your employees an inviting break room could pay huge dividends for years to come in increased overall productivity and reduced health care costs.
When you’re planning an advertising campaign, you don’t just throw every dollar you have into every advertising medium and hope for the best. You do careful planning to figure out who your target demographic is and how to get the most out of every dollar. Adopt a similar strategy for employee management. Instead of expecting your employees to spend every second at their desk, give them the freedom to take breaks. You might be surprised at how much more you get from each employee overall. Sometimes, less really is more. Allowing your employees to stop and smell the roses every now and then could massively boost your productivity and save you huge amounts of money.
Apple is, without a doubt, one of the most successful companies in the world. For years, their computers and laptops have been highly sought after by artists, designers, and any private customer who values ease of use and platform security. The iPod revolutionized the way people purchase and listen to music forever. Now, the iPhone is the gold standard in the smartphone space, and some of the world’s biggest tech companies are scrambling to compete.
What’s interesting is that, in many ways, Apple’s rise to dominance seems to contradict traditional wisdom about what customers want. A closer look at their strategy reveals some interesting facts and techniques that any business owner can use to help grow their own business. What, then, is the secret to Apple’s success?
#1 – Design Matters.
The prevailing wisdom is that customers want the best products at the best value. A look at Apple’s success, though, reveals that this just isn’t true. If you select a random price point and then compare the specifications of an Apple laptop at that price to the specifications of a competitor laptop, you’ll find that the Apple contains hardware half as powerful as a same-price competitor. Similarly, the iPod had substantially less functionality than some of its direct competitors. The fundamental difference between Apple and their competitors is basic product design. While the competition clearly values function over form, Apple has a huge design budget to guarantee that every product they put out looks clean, modern, and attractive. Investing in quality product design is a surefire way to distance yourself from otherwise similar competition.
#2 – Marketing Matters.
Over the years, Apple has gone out of their way to market themselves differently than their competition. Who can forget the famous “Mac vs. PC” ads which featured cool young actor Justin Long as a “Mac” juxtaposed with frumpy old John Hodgman as a “PC.” In one advertising campaign, Apple shaped the cultural conversation in a way that made their products cool and desirable while making their competition look out of date and dumpy. Obviously, creating quality products that people want to buy is important. Just as important, though, is understanding your target market and then positioning yourself as a superior choice based on what those people value. If you’re successful, you can go a long way toward erasing traditional ideas of value and create a whole new rubric for the marketplace.
#3 – Simplicity Matters.
More than anything, this is the real secret to Apple’s success. Their computers and mp3 players might not be the most powerful, but they are vastly easier to use than the competition. A Mac has far fewer settings than your average PC. Sure, that limits the ability to customize your machine, but it also limits the number of things that can go wrong. It’s the ability to pull a Mac out of a box and start using it with minimal setup that makes their computers so popular. Similarly, consumers love the safety that comes from owning a Macintosh, since their simple operating setup makes them far less vulnerable to Trojans, spyware, and other types of computer viruses.
By keeping these three lessons in mind, you can help grow your own business and carve out an unassailable niche for yourself in the marketplace. A well-designed product or service that is built for ease of use and marketed properly can easily outperform a product that is “superior” by traditional standards. When you’re planning your next offering, try to apply these lessons. Who knows, maybe one day someone will be writing a blog post about your business!
Whether your business is a fresh start-up or a veteran celebrating decades in the industry, it’s important that it exudes clear and consistent brand messaging. You want your customers to know exactly how your product or service can solve their problem, and you want to make a lasting connection between your company and the public.
The only way to do this is to understand your customer; know their wants and needs and illustrate how your business can fulfill them.
The mark of any successful company is its ability to facilitate improvement; to always look for opportunities to make the business better. There are many avenues for improvement, but maybe your company can benefit from a little brand maintenance. If so, read on. This post outlines ways to correct some common branding mistakes.
Be Proud, but Stay Customer-Focused
Filling the trophy case in the lobby with awards is surely a boost to employee morale and will give any business owner an immense feeling of validation, but it’s vital to temper this pride with modesty. Some companies may operate under the erroneous assumption that their brand needs to speak volumes about its own accomplishments. While there’s nothing wrong with being proud of these achievements and it’s understandable to want to tout them if the opportunity arises, it’s essential to stay focused on the customer.
Your brand should clearly and concisely communicate your company’s value without patting itself too hard on the back. For example, instead of messaging that says, “We were awarded the Consumer Value Award for 5 years in a row,” focus on what that means for the customer. “For 5 consecutive years, our customers have been getting the most value for their dollar”.
This type of messaging illustrates how well your business is performing in its industry, but more importantly, it also lets the reader feel as though they are the subject of the narrative. When writing copy for your website, blog, email blasts, newsletters, print marketing, or any other avenue through which you want to communicate with your customer, try to maintain this customer-focused point-of-view. Here are a few examples.
Never forget that your customers are the number one reason for your success and, if alienated, will be the sole reason for your downfall. Let them know your business revolves around their satisfaction. Make sure the solution to their problem is at the forefront of your messaging and they will keep coming back.
Speak to Your Customer, Not Every Customer
Often, in terms of advertising, many companies believe in casting the widest net possible. They may feel that this is the best way to attract the largest amount of business. “For better odds of landing more customers, we need to speak to everybody!”
On paper, this seems like a logical premise. The problem here is that not everybody cares what you have to say. When you speak to everybody, you also speak to nobody. Customers want to feel like your business was built for them. They want to know that the sole purpose of your operation is to assist with that one thing they need help doing, or providing them with that specific product they’ve been looking for. If your brand is something vague enough to apply to everyone, who is it really helping? Find your niche and own it. Be a master of one trade, instead of a Jack of all of them.
Listen to Your Customers’ Feedback, Adjust Your Strategy Accordingly
This goes hand-in-hand with recognizing your target market. You must be careful not to make assumptions on what you think your customers want. Instead, engage with your audience. Find out what it is about your brand that they like; what it is they wish you’d improve on; and maybe even gain new insight that would take your business down a path you might not have otherwise considered.
When getting feedback, it’s critical to ask the right questions.
“Would it affect you if our product or service was no longer available?”
“If our company did not exist, which of our competitors would you choose and why?”
“What is it about our business that makes you choose us over others that are available to you?”
“How can our product improve to better suit your needs?”
After listening to what your customers have to say about your product, it’s time to take action. Immediately put into place strategies that will align your marketing efforts with their feedback. Once you adjust your game plan, continue to test. This is no one-and-done strategy. You need to keep your finger on the pulse of your consumer. This way, you can proactively adapt to the ever-changing market as the needs of your consumer evolve.
Every year, on Presidents’ Day, we take time out to remember the legacies of the great men who have been elected to lead our country. What started as a Holiday commemorating George Washington’s birthday has grown into a national celebration of all of our Presidents. Obviously, these are some of our country’s greatest and most accomplished leaders. Their legacies impart valuable lessons that we can use to improve our own business management skills.
George Washington: Lead from the Front
Before he was a President, Washington was America’s most accomplished general. He built his career on seemingly impossible reverses, managing to avert disaster against larger forces time and time again. The key to Washington’s success as a general was that, when things were most perilous, he was right in the thick of the fighting with his soldiers. He didn’t stand back and watch the battle unfold; he got his hands dirty and directed things from the floor. The more involved you are in the daily operations of your business, the better. Get to know your team, build a working rapport, and show them that you’re invested, and you’ll be able to fight your way out of even the stickiest situations.
James Madison: Invest Aggressively
While he was a formidable President in his own right, Madison’s biggest contribution came before he took office. As the architect of the Louisiana Purchase, Madison bucked popular opinion and made a huge investment in expanding the United States’ territory. With that one bold decision, made against the advice of many of his peers, Madison literally drew the map for this country’s future. Imagine a version of America that didn’t extend West past Alabama. Without Madison’s willingness to invest in the future, this country would never have existed as we know it. When you get a chance to invest in your business’ future, think of how things would have turned out for the U.S. if Madison hadn’t been so forward-thinking.
Teddy Roosevelt: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick
When he wasn’t winning wars or bareknuckle boxing, Teddy Roosevelt was actually an extremely effective diplomat. His famous quote about foreign relations is equally applicable to managing your own employees. Always treat your team with respect, listen to their ideas, and give them leeway to do their jobs. At the same time, make it clear what you expect and enforce those expectations rigidly. Giving your team freedom to operate but backing up your expectations with consequences is a great way to build a happy, constructive workplace.
Richard Nixon: Keep Good Records
It might seem odd to take a lesson from a proven criminal who was impeached from office and forced to resign in shame. Still, you can’t deny that Richard Nixon was a thorough record keeper. Sometimes, we have good ideas at the weirdest times. Often, we’re too busy to do anything about it, and by the time we have a free moment the idea is gone. You’d better believe that never happened to Richard Nixon, who recorded every word he ever spoke. You might not need to take it quite that far, but using your phone to record voice memos to yourself throughout the day guarantees you’ll never let another great idea slip away.
No matter which president inspires you, it’s clear that the time each of them spent at the country’s helm has shaped America’s past, present, and future. Some presidents have left a legacy to be emulated, while others’ biographies may serve as a cautionary tale. However, varied though their terms in office may be, it’s hard to deny the impact all of America’s Commanders in Chief have had not just on our country but the rest of the world as well.
Are you trying to attract a new customer base but find yourself struggling with traditional marketing efforts? Maybe you could use a little boost in not only new customer acquisition, but also retention. Perhaps some brand recognition could help give your sales the little extra bump you’re looking for. You’re not alone. Many businesses face these same challenges every day. However, there is a solution that can assist in all these marketing efforts and more. Promotional products are an excellent way to grow your business with additional clients; hold on to the customers you have; and help spread the word to potential new clients on the horizon.
Still on the fence? Here are 5 things your business should be doing to get the most out of promotional products:
1. Set a Goal
Determine what you would like to achieve by adding promotional products into your marketing efforts. As previously mentioned, promotional products can benefit a business in a number of different ways. Among other things, promos can help you to bring in new customers. They can also be used to coordinate with your branding strategies, promote your business at trade shows, or be given as high-end gifts to your VIP clientele. A custom rally towel with your logo, for example, would be a great way to attract new customers during football season.
2. See What Your Competitors Are Doing
Now that you’ve determined the purpose for your promotional products, it’s a good idea to gauge how others in your field are using them. You may get inspiration for new ways to use these products that you may not have thought of. Take these ideas and make them your own. Ensure that whatever messaging you put on your promos aligns with your company’s distinct voice. Because whatever you choose, be it a custom polo, custom rally towel, or personalized tumbler are likely to go home with your customers, it’s critical that your customers are able to make the connection between the tangible item they have and your company, even when you are not around. Distributing high quality promotional products over more budget-friendly ones will make sure those items don’t end up at the bottom of trade show waste bin. Give them something they’d want to hold on to and use frequently to give your brand maximum exposure.
3. Get Your Customers’ Feedback
It’s important to know how your customers feel about the products you distributed to them. This is the best way to know whether you’re doing something right or if you have opportunities for improvement. This can be done fairly simply; you could send surveys out to clients on your email list, implement a plug-in directly on your website, or even put it to a vote on your social media accounts. To further encourage this helpful feedback, perhaps offer incentive like discount codes or a chance for the customer to choose the next promo. This will let your customers know that their opinions are vital to your company and their satisfaction is paramount.
4. Reward Their Loyalty
You value your customers’ feedback and want to make sure they’re aware of how much you appreciate their business. Choose promos that will work well as gifts. Don’t focus specifically on your brand. Instead give something to your loyal customers that you know they will appreciate. This may mean allocating more of your budget to allow for a higher quality item. Your customers’ satisfaction is worth it. Of course, your logo will still be on the promotional product, so when your customers look back fondly on this token of your appreciation, they will be reminded of your company’s generosity.
5. Appreciate Your Employees, Too
Your employees work hard to make sure customer satisfaction is where it needs to be. Isn’t it just as important to facilitate sufficient workplace satisfaction, too? To this end, your promotional products can be instrumental. You can use custom awards to recognize outstanding work performance in your employees, or perhaps even offer high-end promotional products as added incentive for over-achievement.
It’s a new year, and that means a new start for you and your business. Every year, it’s a good idea to look back on where you’ve been and decide how that will inform where you’re going. At rushIMPRINT, we’re all about moving forward. That’s why we put together this list of seven handy tips that will help make 2016 your most successful year to date.
1. Try something new!
As the old saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” It’s a new year, so try a new strategy. Maybe that means a new product or service. Maybe it means a new promotion aimed at enticing more customers. Take a look at your business, identify growth opportunities, and then find a new and exciting way to make the most of them.
2. Get rid of something old.
Staying competitive in an evolving economy means constantly shifting your approach. Take a look at last year and figure out what could have gone better. Then, make changes. Don’t be afraid to try new things and jettison old approaches if they just aren’t working out anymore.
3. Market yourself.
A lot of businesses hamper their growth by not devoting enough resources to growing their customer base. Like they say, you have to spend money to make money. Don’t be afraid to invest in promoting your business. Whether that means buying a radio spot, sending out flyers, putting up an attractive wrap or window display, or beefing up your social media presence, find a way to spread the word about your business in 2016.
4. Try a giveaway.
If there’s one thing customers love, it’s free gifts. A free item with purchase is a great way to get people in your door, and branded merchandise featuring your logo guarantees you’ll be on their mind all year long. There’s no better way to grow your customer base and keep your existing customers coming back for more. Luckily, we’ve got a full range of custom-branded promotional items that are perfect for in-store giveaways.
5. Keep stats!
It might seem obvious, but tracking everything about your business can only help you. Are you seeing spikes in website traffic at certain times of the day? Do you get more walk-in customers on Fridays than on Tuesdays? Having a complete knowledge of when, how, and why your business is succeeding lets you build new strategies that capitalize on what is already working.
Use the data you’ve collected and aggressively expand your offerings. Once you’ve figured out why customers are coming to your business, it’s a small step to find more ways to fill their needs. Customers love convenience, and the more you can do for them, the more likely they’ll keep coming back and refer their friends and family. Figure out what they need and introduce new products and services to meet those needs.
This can’t be emphasized strongly enough. A strong professional network is invaluable for a successful business. Don’t miss opportunities to meet, interact with, and get to know as many other business owners as you can. Even if they’re in a different industry, you never know when that contact might come in handy. Networking effectively is the best way to position your business for a bright future.