Category Archives: Marketing

The Information Game

Information GameIn a competitive business environment the most important form of currency is information. Most promotional products distributor owners and salespeople employ some sort of customer relationship management (CRM) database to manage sales opportunities. A database that has contains high quality information serves as an effective tool to help handle accounts as well as understand how many and what types of opportunities are in the sales pipeline at any given time.

However, a database is only as good as the information that has been entered into the system. A lack of information or, even worse, access to bad information will hinder your ability to drive business growth. To keep in touch with prospects and clients, it is essential that your CRM database contains relevant and accurate data. To accomplish this, there are three simple steps:

1. Keep it Current – Utilizing a CRM database is useless if the information is out of date. When this happens, calls don’t get answers and direct mail pieces don’t get to the right contact leading to a waste of resources. If you can’t clean outdated data, get rid of it. Bad data is more costly to keep than it is to simply purge.

2. Input Everything – To get the most out of a CRM database, record everything so you can analyze your clients. Are there missed opportunities for add-on sales? Do certain customers buy in cycles? Is there a company milestone coming up next year? Looking at your data this way will keep you thinking in terms of helping your clients and building relationships.

3. Act Now – Armed with insights generated from clean CRM data, it’ far easier to make informed resource decisions. After each sales effort (prospecting call, presentation, merchandise quote, etc.), data should be collected to give additional insight on future sales endeavors: What worked? What didn’t work? How did the client react? Were the ideas presented in line with their goals?

Used properly, a CRM database is an enormous asset to your company. Keep it current, input everything to identify new sales opportunities, and use those insights to drive sales activity. The CRM database should provide far more than just a list of current contacts and their particular details. It should be the starting point for any and all sales efforts.

Bill Petrie
engage@brandivatemarketing.com
brandivatemarketing.com
 
 brandivatemarketing
 @brandivatemktg
 

 

About brandivate
Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership position at leading promotional products distributorships. In addition, he launched brandivate – the first executive team outsourcing company solely focus on helping small promotional products companies responsibly grow their business. In March of 2015, Bill began a partnership with Proforma to assist their Owners growing their individual distributorships.
 
A former speaker at the PPAI Winter Expo and current member of the board of directors for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), Bill has extensive real-world practice coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and delivering RFP responses, and successfully presenting promotional solutions to Fortune 500 clients.

Taking the “Blah” out of Blogging

Blog Article about BloggingDigital client engagement has evolved to the point where there are so many tools; it’s not only hard to know where to start, but also to know where to focus the resources necessary to achieve results. This generally leads to frustration or, even worse, inaction. Today’s business environment is far too competitive to ignore that digital marketing – specifically, content marketing/blogging – can not only drive traffic to your website, but also position you as an expert and win you clients.

Why content marketing? The numbers are staggering:

  • 54% of marketers generated a client from their blog in 2014
  • 86% of small business marketers view their blog as their most impactful marketing tactic
  • 72% of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) professionals rate blogging as their top inbound marketing activity

How about a personal, real world example? If you go to Google and type in the word “brandivate,” at least 8 of the top 10 results will be some form of brandivate marketing. While there are many factors at play, I mainly attribute this SEO success to content marketing: the brandivate blog.

While success through blogging isn’t a new concept, it is one that is gaining wild momentum. In 2014, the largest blog hosting site as over 83 million unique visitors in the United States EVERY month.  Blogs fuel SEO as search engines crave valuable content and reward you for it as evidenced by the brandivate blog.

Once you’ve decided to incorporate a blog into your marketing strategy, there are five guidelines to steer your efforts in the right direction:

Consistency – If you don’t have a calendar set up for your blog, how will your followers know when to come back for new content? For example, excluding holidays, the brandivate blog has fresh content every Monday and Thursday. Find a schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) that works for you and hold yourself accountable to it. No one starts a blog only to become one of the 95% that abandon it due to lack of consistency.

SEO – Use your blog to drive people to your website. A great way to incorporate key words is to take advantage of alternate text for images. On every brandivate blog post, the alternate text of the image used to support the text has the words “brandivate blog” and then the title of the blog. This has resulted in the brandivate website to be the top search result on Google. Also, ensure your blog is mobile friendly as it will negatively impact your SEO if it’s not.

Promote – Leverage social media to promote the heck out of each post. By linking your blog post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and commonsku, you drive people to your website. Twitter is especially useful for this purpose and there are dozens of free programs such as TweetJukebox that will automate it for you. In the din of social media noise, relentless promotion is your best friend.

Write for your Audience – I can’t stress this enough. Many beginning bloggers tend to make the mistake of writing about themselves or their business. Remember, readers generally want to read about things that concern them, not you. For example, think in terms of what they already know, and what do they want to know about the promotional products industry. Deliver information based on their needs and focus on how you can help them.

80/20 Rule – Don’t fall into the trap of having your blog be solely about the latest products or just to “sell something.” A full 80% of your posts should be focused on building your readership by educating and entertaining them. Share a case history, relate to a common client problem, or discuss how social media has impacted your personal marketing efforts. This way, when you do change things up and post something that is sales-based, it will stand out.

Content marketing can provide a high return on your resource investment when done correctly.  Being consistent, focusing on SEO, promotion, writing for your audience, and keeping the 80/20 rule top of mind will set you apart from the competition either unwilling or unable to engage with their target audience.

Bill Petrie
engage@brandivatemarketing.com
brandivatemarketing.com
 
 brandivatemarketing
 @brandivatemktg
 

 

About brandivate
Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership position at leading promotional products distributorships. In addition, he launched brandivate – the first executive team outsourcing company solely focus on helping small promotional products companies responsibly grow their business. In March of 2015, Bill began a partnership with Proforma to assist their Owners growing their individual distributorships.
 
A former speaker at the PPAI Winter Expo and current member of the board of directors for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), Bill has extensive real-world practice coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and delivering RFP responses, and successfully presenting promotional solutions to Fortune 500 clients.

Make your Email Blasts Count


Effective email blasts are an art form. The most impactful email campaigns are relevant to your target audience and strike a balance in email frequency that keeps your brand fresh in your customers’ minds without overloading them.

Keep it Simple

Think about your own email inbox and what types of emails catch your attention and cause you to react.

Create an Awesome Subject Line

Make sure your subject lines make sense, are relevant and persuasive.  Remember, you have to compete with all the other emails that are being sent out by your Email Blast Service Provider. Make sure your subject line will catch attention. (What key words should I use? What ones are overused and, therefore, should be avoided?)

Make it Easy

The overall goal of the email is to get people to open them, read the information, and then click through to take action.

Take the guesswork out of wondering if your email generated leads for you. Know if you’re getting results by setting up and tracking marketing analytics. Set up offer codes to track your promotions.

If your email blast content is advertising special pricing, does your blast link directly to that product where it is easily orderable? Or does it go to your homepage and then the Distributor is expected to navigate to find that item?

Make it easy for your customers to respond to the offer you are blasting to them by leading them directly to where you would like them to take action.

Be Consistent

Whether you want to send emails quarterly, monthly, or more often, put your email blast dates on a calendar and stick to the schedule. You’ll build momentum for yourself and your customers. They’ll come to start expecting your emails to arrive. If you’re good about sending your emails for a while but then suddenly go dark, you’ll start to lose the momentum on both ends.

Also make sure your artwork has a consistent look at feel so your customers begin to recognize your style.

Make It Count

When creating the content for your email blast, make sure your messages contain information your target audience will care about and again, keep it simple. It’s normal for brand managers to get excited about every aspect of their product, but an email blast needs to convey information that is exciting for your readers. Email blasts need to contain well-written information and a specific call to action that your audience will respond to.

Create an “Above the Fold” Call to Action

If you create an email blast for which you want your contacts to do something, like take advantage of an offer, make sure you have that high up in the email.  A good rule of thumb is that your call to action should appear right away, when someone opens your email. If someone has to scroll to find it, it’s in the wrong place. Think of a newspaper headline.

Send the Right Amount

Are you bombarding your customers’ inboxes twenty times a month or just once a quarter? Both are probably not the best way to go about email blasts. If you are clogging up your clients’ email with a dozen or more messages every month they will most likely stop reading them all together or get annoyed and unsubscribe. On the other hand, sending an email blast once every 2-4 months won’t keep your company name fresh in your customers’ minds.

Email marketing is marketing, not magic. You wouldn’t expect to get a great return on playing a radio ad or running a TV commercial just once.  That is why we as a Service Provider do not sell email blasts à la carte.

If you are considering email marketing, we recommend you test the effectiveness for a period of time.  Remember that customers will open emails differently depending on the time of year and even the time of day that your email is sent. To get as many customers as possible to open your emails, you need to commit to sending emails over a period of time and implementing these best practices to make the most of your efforts.

Stephanie Protz, CAS | Marketing Director
sprotz@distributorcentral.com
 @stephprotz

Living in Your Pipeline

If you’ve been in sales for longer than a week, you have heard someone – a manager, co-worker, or accountability partner – stress the importance of building an active sales pipeline. Even so, many sales professionals look at building and maintaining an active pipeline as a “non-sales activity” not critical to their growth. It’s time to think differently about a sales pipeline, using it as a guide to both strategic thinking and actionable steps to sales growth. To get the most out of your pipeline, you need to focus on three areas: the need, the approach, and the execution.

The Need

1.       Focus– You simply cannot keep everything in your head. Notebooks, sticky notes on your desk, email reminders aren’t going to give you the complete information necessary to deliver maximum efficiency. The pipeline is a system to manage leads, status, next steps, reminders, and other sales activities for you. As a salesperson, your time is best spent on the best prospects – the ones ripe to take the next step in the sales process. The pipeline will manage that for you.

2.       Messaging– At each stage of the sales process, prospects want different things from salespeople (type of information, frequency of contact, communication channels, samples, proposals, etc.). By using a pipeline with defined steps, the vast majority of this thinking is done for you and you can focus on executing each stage of the process.

The Approach

1.       No Selling– That’s right, no selling at all. This is especially importing in the early stages when your prospects aren’t ready to buy. Instead, seek for opportunities to become a trusted advisor – connect, educate, and add value. The more value you build, the more your prospects will seek you out when there is a need.

2.       Differentiate– As you communicate and build value along the sales process, take advantage of opportunities to stress differentiation and preference for you and your ideas. In a competitive marketplace, it’s critical to communicate how different you are and how that differentiation will make the prospect better off by working with you as opposed to your competition.

 

The Execution

1.       Stages– Don’t stop at defining the stages your prospects go through during the sales process, but also define your communication strategy at each stage: what do they get, how often, and in what manner. Defining this up front will make for much more efficient decision making and actions to move the sales process along.

2.       Content– Place a priority on providing great content. Be remarkable, educational, and memorable. Show them how working with you will make their jobs easier. People are constantly looking to be taught so seize the opportunity and teach them.

3.       Ease– Make it easy for prospects to move forward in the process. Create situations and content (case histories, samples, decoration swatches, etc.) that put the prospect in control of taking the next step. Because you and your pipeline have done the work up front by building value, showing differentiation, and creating preference, prospects will be eager to work with you.

True sales professionals do much more than simply build relationships; they take ownership and actively live in their pipeline – tracking how each opportunity is progressing down the funnel and making the necessary adjustments if an opportunity is at risk of being lost. These are the activities that separate the good from the great.

Bill Petrie
engage@brandivatemarketing.com
brandivatemarketing.com
 
 brandivatemarketing
 @brandivatemktg
 

 

About brandivate
Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership position at leading promotional products distributorships. In addition, he launched brandivate – the first executive team outsourcing company solely focus on helping small promotional products companies responsibly grow their business. In March of 2015, Bill began a partnership with Proforma to assist their Owners growing their individual distributorships.
 
A former speaker at the PPAI Winter Expo and current member of the board of directors for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), Bill has extensive real-world practice coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and delivering RFP responses, and successfully presenting promotional solutions to Fortune 500 clients.

DistributorCentral Adds Email Marketing Service to Arsenal of Marketing Tools for Suppliers

GARDNER, Kansas (January 30, 2015) –DistributorCentral (PPAI: 220404 | UPIC: DC) the promotional product industry’s premier eCommerce sales engine, has introduced an email marketing service. DistributorCentral is now offering Supplier email campaigns that reach over 35,000 industry distributors to help promote everything from Press Releases to Specials to New Product Releases.

DistributorCentral’s email marketing service is its own custom in-house solution. This means they have complete control over their lists and all traffic because emails go out on their own dedicated server.  All measures have been put into place to ensure CAN-SPAM compliance so that emails are validated and delivered from a reputable sender.

“Our list consists of active DistributorCentral users that perform three million product searches per month within the DC platform,” says President Jason Nokes. “For Suppliers, our Email Blast Service is like shooting a bull’s-eye right into the DC Distributors network.  Email marketing is not just a great way to reach your clients, but it can be particularly effective when used in conjunction with social media marketing.” says Nokes. “Each email includes social sharing and the ability to forward to end users.”

“We worked hard to make our email marketing service affordable and easy. All you have to do is provide us with your HTML email or image, and our email marketing specialists will manage your campaign from start to finish. You just sit back, relax and view the campaign reports after the blast is completed”, said Dave Shultz, Vice President of Operations. “We are confident that our new email marketing solutions will help Supplier companies connect with existing and new customers to build successful, lasting relationships.”

“Suppliers who have already sent campaigns out in the month of January experienced great response,” says Tiffany Tarr, Vice President of Sales. “One Supplier noted that their incoming calls and website traffic were remarkably higher as a direct result from blasting with DistributorCentral.”

For Additional Info / Pricing:

http://www.distributorcentral.com/websites/DistributorCentral/emailblastservices.cfm

What’s The Big Idea? Product platform technologies bring creative concepts to light

Perhaps you were not aware, but your company has a Bright Ideas Department. It’s open for business every minute of every day.

If this comes as a revelation, chances are you’ve seen good ideas come and go. So many times – including right here in our own promotional products industry – creative juices go sour under the weight of everyday routines and entrenched processes.

Creativity in the digital world doesn’t consist solely of artistic acumen. Creativity involves an understanding of available tools and the ability to leverage those tools as we respond to the needs of current and future customers. Just like those keyboard shortcuts you were so excited to find in Photoshop a few years back, think about all the features available to you in a platform such as DistributorCentral. Include these tools in your latest creative efforts and make good things happen.

Time to put the Bright Ideas Department to work:

Present products however you want. DistributorCentral provides a variety of tools to showcase your products and services in ways that align with your needs and those of your customers. Get creative with robust product emails, create quotes in a flash or quickly launch a custom informational page on your website. Need more? Launch an entire website around a specific product line, theme, event or customer!

Expand to new markets. Technology allows distributors to tap into new and existing markets on a continual or as-needed basis. Be thinking about how to take advantage of the situation. “We have seen distributors launch a custom niche website in one day and shortly thereafter that new site is generating considerable leads and conversions,” said David Shultz, VP at DistributorCentral. “Say your region is experiencing unseasonably cold weather and you want to launch a custom website to promote products for heating and repair companies. We provide the tools to do so quickly and easily and in your own way.”

Make messages connect with new buyers. Think outside the box when seeking specific customer segments and develop marketing and web initiatives to address their specific needs. Find a schedule of major events in your area and figure out who is in charge. Follow events and organizations on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and get a sense of what would appeal to them. Create a custom catalog on your website featuring sports calendars or products that would appeal to attendees. DistributorCentral’s “featured product block” is one of the most popular tools within our website platform. It allows you to add a product to your website in seconds. Had success with direct mail? Design a flyer and mail it to prospective clients. Technology allows you to get in front of customers in an instant.

No ordinary websites, please! How many times have you stumbled across a home page that looks like a product catalog has exploded? The new era of websites is all about clean lines and subtle designs. Don’t be shy about getting professional graphic design help to create a website that will make a lasting impression. Leverage fresh content by mixing educational information with product ideas. Take advantage of social media plugins to harness the power of these powerful platforms. The more creative and informative the more likely your customers will post/pin/tweet pages or products from your website. Leverage integration with Google Analytics to see which pages or creative approaches are seeing the most visits. Make changes often to ensure fresh and relevant content on your website.

Let’s go shopping. Leveraging technology and e-commerce as a “tool” to help you meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of your customers in an increasingly efficient manner. Why not be creative in how you approach online shopping tools? Promote its ease, convenience and tracking. Go after repeat customers. Send them an order reminder with a link back to your website to enable reordering with the click of a button.

Present specials and discounts in real time. Specials, discounts, and promotions should be offered when the time’s right and not depend on waiting for special announcements or pricing updates from your vendors. That’s the beauty of working from a product platform where you control your own data. Coupon codes and free shipping have become ubiquitous within the retail world and so too are they becoming common in the promotional products industry. Play them up!

DistributorCentral offers a robust discount tool that allows you to offer specific discounts based on codes you send out in email blasts. Take advantage by playing up free shipping, referral discounts and more on social media. Post a code for free shipping that customers can use seconds after it goes live on your website, blog or Facebook page.

Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis Strategies That Pay Off Big!

Here is a great article by Google Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik:

Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis Strategies That Pay Off Big!

Remember you can integrate your DC website with Google Analytics, instructions are here:

Integration with Google Analytics

 

Make Sure Your Customer Nose About Scented Promotions

Here is a clever promotional product brought to you by this blog epromos.com.  Do you have a customer that deals in food or has sweet sents that you might consider unique?  The example provided gives great in-site into how we use our sense of smell to recognize some of the events in our lives, like fairs and state fairs.

Picture it now: the smell of the outdoors mixed with various foods from cotton candy, to corn dogs, and my all time favorite – funnel cake.  If I were to smell funnel cake today, a flood of memories about fairs and carnivals would come back to me, which makes quite effective marketing.  For the full story click here.

Another great idea that goes along with a sented Banner/promotional product is a corresponding message on it to a pintrest post relating to that sent.  In the example above, why not put a QR code or weblink to a pintrest post on making funnel cake like the below?

A Tip To Marketing Promotional Products To On The Wall Customers

Here is a suggestion of how to market promotional products to customers that are interested, but not really sure if they can spare the money at this time for promotional products.

Inform them that many companies that cut back on advertising are overshadowed by companies that put money into promotional campaigns.   For example, brought to you by a market watch entry, Brian Ouellette, creator of the Private Label Shoewallet(TM) states:

“Initially, both Kellogg and Post were dominant in the packaged cereal industry. When the Depression hit, Post, like many other companies, cut back on advertising. Kellogg, on the other hand, doubled its ad budget and began an aggressive radio promotional campaign. By 1933, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost 30 percent, and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s predominant player. Following Kellogg’s ‘take action’ approach works. Promotional product campaigns are highly cost efficient as an action.”

With our current economical state, this may be an excellent example that those customers on the wall need to use promotional products or start a promotional campaign with your products.  More great tips and three questions about what to keep in mind to make a successful campaign can be found Here.

Top USA Made Products – America’s Pride

A recent list of the top 7 promotional products was released in honor of Independence Day by Advertising Specialty Institue.  This list is as follow, taken from PRWeb post, can be found Here.

Top 7 Made-in-the-USA Products:

  •     Laptop backpack, from Sports System Custom Bag Corp. Protects both books and laptops in a fully-padded laptop compartment and an even larger front compartment.
  •     Cocktail shakers, from Howw Manufacturing Company. Light-up or clear cocktail shaker adds pizzazz to any office party or company dinner.
  •     Lanyard and knit bracelet, from SnugZ/USA Inc. Flash a brand via knit bracelets and lanyards made from 100% Virginian cotton.
  •     Beach towel, from Terry Town Inc. Make any sandy beach a personal billboard by imprinting or embroidering logos, slogans or brand names.
  •      Mini Frisbees, from Target Line. 100% biodegradable.
  •     Wall mounted clock, from Calconix Inc. Time marches on with branded clocks.
  •     Cooler, from Visual Promotions. Made from high-density plastic for extra cold retention, holds over 12 cans, making it perfect for company picnics and retreats.