Earn Your Customers’ Focus in a Sea of Distraction

Over the years, American advertising has grown from humble beginnings into a pervasive medium present in nearly all facets of our life.

Think about it.

If you take a look around you right now, I’d wager there are at least several things within your line of sight that are imprinted with a company’s logo. As I’m typing this, nearly a dozen items on my desk are branded. My décor is minimalistic, too, so most of these logos are on things I use every day-my keyboard, mouse, monitors, etc.

This speaks to the prevalent nature of branding in our culture. Unless you’re clad in homemade clothing and backpacking through the wilderness, nearly everywhere you go is likely to be smattered with a logo of some sort. Pair this branding saturation with the increasingly short attention span of the average adult (8 seconds) and you’ll likely come to one inevitable conclusion:

To earn customers’ attention, you need to say something unique.

A task not so easy in today’s market where in just one minute, Facebook users like over 4 million posts, Twitter sees 347,222 tweets, and Snapchat users share 284,722 snaps. As illustrated below, the amount of big data generated every 60 seconds is overwhelming.

With this degree of content overload in mind, it’s clear to see how earning customers’ attention is extremely competitive. This wasn’t the case in American marketing’s infancy. In the late 1700s, marketing consisted mainly of colonists advertising goods on-hand. The messaging was basic, dry, and purely informative. Flash forward a couple hundred and a half years, and marketing has, out of necessity, evolved into a colorful and creative art form.

To stay relevant, marketers are constantly thinking of fresh ways to promote their brand. It’s no longer enough to put your product or service on a billboard and wait for orders to come in. You need to be active and engaging in your messaging. Your need to not only speak to the problems your product or service can solve, but it also must resonate on a personal level with your audience

Native advertising is a medium so clever, you can hardly tell what you’re seeing is an ad. It gets your customers involved by offering an experience beyond the traditional exchange of goods and services. When using this type of marketing, the advertisement often becomes the content itself. Take, for example, the Nationwide Commercial featuring Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning. The commercial portrays Manning singing about his day-to-day life to the tune of the Nationwide Jingle. The most memorable line being “Chicken parm you taste so good”.

Due to its popularity, this spot even lent itself to parody in a subsequent ad; a commercial sequel of sorts.

Is Nationwide promoting any of its benefits with this commercial? Is it clear how their insurance is better than the competition? Not at all, but this was not the purpose of the ad. The purpose was brand awareness and recognition. Nearly everyone can recall their jingle after hearing Peyton sing it. Some have probably even come up with their own versions. You may even be humming it to yourself right now.

In a press release, Nationwide’s Chief Marketing Officer Terrance Williams said “The original ‘Jingle’ ad was one of the highest performing television ads in the history of our brand”. Nationwide’s concept was to bathe Peyton in a relatable light; to strip through the layers of stardom and instead, show him in everyday situations. This led customers to see him as relatable and ultimately associate this feeling to Nationwide. Customers want to buy from relatable companies. It fosters brand confidence.

Although the specific benefits of choosing Nationwide Insurance may be lost in the message, that information isn’t the focus of this commercial. The focus is brand awareness. By gaining this type of brand awareness from just one campaign, customers who need insurance are much more likely to go to Nationwide first. All they need to do at that point is offer at least comparable, if not superior services at competitive prices.

By incorporating an advertisement with a memorable and easily emulated jingle, a superstar quarterback, and a bit of comedy, Nationwide was able to make their brand a household name. They found a way to creatively gain brand recognition with a jingle that was catchy enough to be repeated by everyone around the TV on Super Bowl Sunday. In terms of brand recognition, it would behoove your company to take a page from Nationwide’s marketing playbook.

What are some of your company’s non-traditional marketing efforts? How have you gone beyond your product to engage customers in interesting ways? Maybe you incorporated distinctive product giveaways with your company’s logo. Let us know in the comments below and click through to start customizing your unique promos.


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What is it?

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What it means for you

An expedited design process

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  • Dramatic increase in brand awareness

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    Choosing InvisibleInk™ is simple. Browse any of our thousands of products as you normally would. Once you’ve selected one that’s perfect for your campaign (might I recommend the Malibu Sunglasses), simply click the “blank” tab under “Choose imprint and quantity”. Don’t worry, “blank” is code for “InvisibleInk”. That’s it! Sooner than you know it, you’ll be opening your box of freshly imprinted promos, hot off the presses.

    Renew Your Marketing Strategies This Spring


    Unless you’ve been glued to your desk hatching plans to conquer the business world, you’ve probably noticed that spring is in the air. The leaves are green, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining. Dull old winter is gone and the great outdoors is refreshing itself for a new cycle. Maybe this year, you should take a hint from Mother Nature and do some refreshing around the office.

    Every spring, the air is abuzz with bees swarming around, pollinating for all they’re worth. Bees are some of nature’s hardest workers, and there are more than a few things you can learn from them and apply in your own business. Don’t let the bees take all the shine. Spring is the perfect time to generate a little buzz of your own. Maybe try a start-of-season sale or launch a new marketing campaign. Tax returns are coming and the weather is turning, so people are going to be out shopping. Make sure they’ve got a great reason to visit your business. Flowers don’t pollinate themselves and businesses don’t grow by magic. Put in some hard work of your own and show those bees what real buzz is all about.

    Historically, spring is the time of year when farmers hit the fields at the crack of dawn, ready to till, hoe, and plant until sundown. Every farmer knows that the work he does in the spring isn’t going to pay dividends immediately. If it doesn’t get done, though, the tables are going to be pretty bare come fall. You have to plant the seed in spring so that, months later, it blooms and goes to market. Business is the same way. Everyone knows that the biggest shopping seasons of the year come in fall and winter, but without laying a good foundation in the spring customers are likely to pass you by during the Holidays. Take a lesson from our farmer friends and don’t expect immediate results. Plant some new seeds, care for them year round, and when it matters most you might just find yourself raking in a bunker crop of cash.

    If there’s one thing that really lets you know it’s spring, it’s the constant trill of birdsong. Birds are Nature’s great marketers. A bird who doesn’t advertise his virtues all day in the spring finds himself with an empty nest in the winter. To find a mate, a bird has to stake out his branch and squawk his virtues from sun up to sun down. It’s not about who’s got the biggest beak, it’s about who has the loudest tweet. You can have the best products and prices in the world and it won’t help you if no one knows. So, this spring, perch up on a branch and let everyone know why your business rules the roost.

    Most importantly, remember that nothing lasts forever. Every year, Nature dies and then comes back, slightly changed, ready for a new season. Without winter, you can’t have spring. Don’t get too attached to the way you do things now or fool yourself into thinking your current situation will last forever. Things have to die in order for the cycle to continue. Constantly be striving to eliminate what needs to go and replacing it with something more timely.

    How Watching Your Brackets Will Help Your Business

    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.

    What St. Patrick Can Teach You About Business

    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.

    Dress Codes

    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.

    Why Golf and Golf Promos are Good for Business

    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.

    custom Nike golf hatThose 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.

    How Longer Breaks Increase Employee Productivity

    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.

    3 of Apple’s World-Conquering Business Strategies

    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!

    Avoid These 3 Branding Pitfalls

    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.