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Tip of the Day – Break into the Education Market

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Education MarketIf you’re looking to break into the education market, check out these tips from our successful reps.

HARTOWICZ: Have a great idea on how the program is going to run. Do a lot on the front end before you approach schools. It really helps to know how you’re going to work on your end. And make sure that you’re going to be able to handle it!

HIGGINS: Be active and visible in your community. Go to scholastic events, because visibility and accountability are key.

HINSHAW: Everybody knows somebody who’s in school. Just go and talk to other PTOs. I brought items I had done for another school and showed them to my prospects.

TARADASH: Try and get an introduction to someone and drop off some items. We attended homecoming events where all of the clubs have booths. Get to know those people on a more casual basis.

O’DONNELL: There’s more than one person who buys. It might all funnel through one person, but some people are in charge of recruiting new students, while others work with employees. There are opportunities in both, so recognize that there’s more than one door that can open.

From Advantages’ October 2010 issue.

Tip of the Day – 4 Ways to Overcome Eco Objections

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Jennifer Chiu, product manager for Ash City (asi/37127), offers some smart talking points for distributors looking to sell their clients on green. “Clients need to understand the true essence of green products and also, from a business point of view, the marketing value of it,” she says.

Here are four talking points and details Chiu recommends sharing with clients to overcome objections:

  1. Remind clients that green is growing. “Industry leaders are committing to greener operations by purchasing most or all their energy needs via alternative energy sources and building facilities that are green,” she says.
  2. Explain that green is rapidly becoming a business standard. “Green is not a niche anymore,” she says. “It’s become a term to describe a brand’s or company’s philosophies. It has become a marketing tool and soon it will become the standard.”
  3. Highlight the importance of green to the average consumer. “We live in a world where green is part of our vocabulary,” she says. “For example, high fuel prices are constant reminders for green alternatives.” Leverage this common vocabulary and awareness with your client.
  4. Show examples and utilize market research to your advantage. “Retail brands are expecting to expand their product lines in organic cotton products by 33% in 2010, creating an estimated $5.3 billion market,” she says. Sharing this type of information is persuasive and establishes you as the expert, which is key to overcoming objections.

From WearableStyle, vol. 132

Tip of the Day – Promote Your Business in an Eco-Friendly Way

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Want to promote your business in an eco-friendly way? Take a cue from the real estate industry, where sustainability has become a key selling point.

Susan Singer, senior vice president of sales for The Corcoran Group and a self-proclaimed “eco-broker,” has branded herself “The Green Queen.” She promotes the sustainability of the properties she’s offering, and drives potential clients to her website with an eco-friendly self-promo product.

“Years ago, I used refrigerator magnets and a mouse pad, and they both got me a lot of mileage,” Singer says. “But I wanted to do something that was eco-friendly this time and that could be used in an eco-friendly way.”

To help spread the word about her business, she ordered plenty of imprinted tote bags made of recycled plastic material. The bags feature a stenciled image of the historic London Terrace apartment building, for which she’s a broker, as well as her contact information and branding for Corcoran Group Real Estate. She decided not to include the name of the London Terrace building so that the bag would have wider appeal – she wanted it to be “just about living in New York and having an eco-friendly bag … that way people will want to use them and it’s just free advertising,” she says.

Singer sent the totes to her neighbors, clients and potential clients – and gave one to every unit in London Terrace. She also distributes them at events when the opportunity arises. For example, she recently offered the bags after she spoke at an Earth Day seminar at Baruch College in Manhattan.

The totes direct people to Singer’s website, www.susansingerspaces.com. On this informational and self-promotional site, they’ll find information about her properties ranging from Brooklyn to Uptown Manhattan, as well as Tales of the Green Queen, a regular comic strip in which a cartoon version of Singer tours the city, helping people save on energy costs.

Singer’s totes get an enthusiastic response. “I’ve had people call me or e-mail me saying, ‘I’m so grateful for this tote. It’s so sweet and reminds me of the building,’ and people from the building have just stopped me on the street,” she says. “It’s really been very good for me.”

From Stitches Embroidery Business Insights, vol. 127

Tip of the Day – 3 ways to Create a Great Corporate Culture

Filed under: Tip of the Day

It goes without saying that happy employees help create successful companies. Here are three ways to create a motivational, inspirational and winning workplace – all cost-effective strategies that can be implemented today.

  1. Get charitable. Each fall, Dave Regan, vice president of sales for The Vernon Company (asi/351700), says the company raises about $20,000 for charity. Doing so, he insists, does much to solidify the company’s culture by pulling together staff for a common cause. In the course of raising funds they often end up engaging in group activities (albeit unorthodox ones), such as shopping-cart races. Last year the company built a home for Habitat for Humanity. “When you work with these people year in and year out and then you get together with them on a Saturday building a home for the underprivileged – you spend eight-hour days hammering and putting together a roof – you find out a lot about your coworkers and things they didn’t know about you,” Regan says. “We had 30 people last year, and 40 people signed up this year out of 150 employees.”
  2. Put on jeans. Pulling off a culture-builder on the cheap is easy. Doing it for nothing is a little harder. But Regan has found a way. In fact, one of his most successful tools “doesn’t cost us a penny,” he says. The company allows every employee to wear jeans all week long if they hit their weekly sales goals. It sounds trivial, but Regan says that since the company implemented the reward, productivity has shot up 25% on Fridays alone. “On Fridays about every hour we’ll announce, ‘This is what we’ve got to do’ to meet company goals for the week,” Regan says. “It is absolutely amazing what some of these people will do to wear jeans. They do what they have to do, including volunteering to stay late on Friday or come in on Saturday mornings to get it done,” since orders have to be processed to count toward the incentive.
  3. Mandate time off. At Counselor Top 40 distributor iPROMOTEu (asi/232119), workers get a day off on their birthday. Not to worry if your birthday falls on a weekend – you’ll get the Friday before off.  “The idea is for an employee to sleep late, to do whatever it is you want to do, and while everyone else around you is working, you can feel special that you’re not working,” says Ross Silverstein, the company’s president. “The reason you’re not working is because it’s your birthday and the company gave you the day off.”

Another Counselor Top 40 distributor, eCompanyStore Inc. (asi/185782), does something similar by conducting a drawing for additional vacation days, two to three times a year, says Heather Heebner, the company vice president of human resources. A vacation-day raffle takes place if the company has a successful fundraising event, for example. Heebner says such practices go a long way toward creating an energetic and positive work environment – and helping to place eCompanyStore on the Counselor Best Places to Work list.

From Education Adviser, vol. 31.

Tip of the Day – Get Customers to Pay

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Get Customers to PayHere are 3 ways to gently prompt customers to pay:

  • Pick up the phone and call. Even if it’s a few days before the bill’s due. Make sure the client received the invoice with no problems, and ask if there’s anything else you can do.
  • Set up an online billing system. The system can send automatic reminders via e-mail when bills come due. 
  • Have a system of routine follow-up checks. Do this for all projects that include a question about billing.

From Wearables magazine’s Sept. 2010 issue.

Tip of the Day – 10 Questions to Ask When Starting a Business Budget

Filed under: Tip of the Day

BudgetsJoseph Anthony, a tax expert and financial-planning consultant based in Portland, OR, offers 10 questions that all business owners need to consider when beginning their budgeting process. The answers to these questions will help guide your financial decision-making when planning out budgets for next year.

  1. What’s your cash flow? 
  2. What are your assets? 
  3. What are your liabilities? 
  4. What’s it costing you to produce what you sell?
  5. What’s it costing you to sell what you sell? 
  6. What’s your gross profit margin? 
  7. What’s your debt-to-asset ratio? 
  8. What’s the value of your accounts receivable? 
  9. What’s your average collection time on accounts receivable?
  10. What are your accounts payable?

From Counselor’s Sept. 2010 feature on budgets called Money Matters.

Tip of the Day – Ways to Generate a Creative Tagline

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Though Jeroen Bours, the founder of New York City-based Darling Agency, may not be a familiar name, readers are likely familiar with his work. The co-creator of MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign and co-creative director on Liberty Mutual’s “Responsibility. What’s your policy?” effort, he has helped coin some seriously memorable slogans. Here he offers tips on devising out-of-the box taglines to help make promotions stick.

  1. When you have a product or a message to tell, brainstorm what you know of that product, and write down what it’s all about. 
  2. Talk to the people who help create the product, from the ground level to the top. “I love talking to people who actually make the gadgets, who put it in the box,” says Bours. “Before you know it you’ve got great market research right there.” He gives the example of working on a brand message for Hamilton Beach. Its engineers work on familiar products (like coffee makers), but often while making useful improvements (such as the no-pot coffee maker that keeps the coffee fresher). A typical compliment among engineers – not prone to effusive congratulations – was “good thinking.” That became the company’s successful tagline.
  3. Dig into the details of the product and the company, and you’ll find a story. Bours gives the example of going to a baseball game with his son: “I spent a lot of money – the tickets were a little expensive and I wanted to spoil him with popcorn and all these things,” he says. “But, out of all this we have the kind of conversation where the kid looks at you and they say something and you say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the next level of childhood I just witnessed.’ ” From this evening, Bours came up with the idea for “Priceless.”
  4. Look at the story and find the one or two or maybe five words (if you’re lucky, it’s one word) that tell you what the product, the company or the service stands for. “It’s like a pyramid – it’s hidden in there,” Bours says.
  5. Don’t make it a claim. “Make sure that the tagline is saying something,” Bours says. “Don’t make it, ‘We’re better than everybody else.’ ”
  6. Consider the line, but don’t fall in love too fast or too slow. “It’s dangerous to fall in love with something too fast, but also dangerous not to fall in love with it – there’s a danger that you have something really good but you throw it away, because you’re over-thinking it,” Bours says. 
  7. Make the promotional products as high-level as the brand message. “If I send you a pen for Liberty Mutual, maybe it will say on the pen, ‘This is the pen with which you’ll sign a contract with your parents that you will not text while you drive,’ Bours says. “Now the pen is not a pen anymore – it’s a challenge.”

From Advantages’ Sept. 2010 issue.

ASI Radio Contest – Good Luck, We’re All Counting On You!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Ladies and gentleman, this is it! For weeks now, you’ve been diligently listening to our ASI Radio Show for the secret “word of the week” in hopes of winning one of four great prizes … prizes we will be giving away during this week’s show! (Tuesday, Sep. 14, 10:30 a.m. EST)

The high-end prizes include a digital camera, camcorder, netbook and Roomba (bagless robotic vacuum cleaner), and all you have to do to win these great prizes is to call in during the show and tell us the word of the week that matches the week in which we said it.

Don’t know the words of the week? No problem! We have them archived and you can listen now! Just click the image below and go to the appropriate archive file.

 On behalf of the ASICentral Team, good luck, we’re all counting on you.

–Dr. Diesel

3 Cold Calling Tips and Strategies

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Here are the success stories behind each selling strategy.

1. Your Lucky Numbers
Gifts galore.

Four years ago, Deborah Price, creative marketing consultant with Geiger (asi/202900), was getting shot down. After making some contacts with a security company at an event and following up with them for two years, they just were not interested in seeing her goods. But, she didn’t give up.

As an associate member of the Building Owners and Managers Association, Price was determined to break through to the security company. She sent them a giant fortune cookie with a personalized message about the tremendous success the prospect would have if they used Deborah Price. In addition, the cookie’s “lucky numbers” were her phone numbers.
After sending the cookie, Price lucked out on one of her cold calls. “I requested an opportunity to show them what I do – they don’t have to buy from me,” she says. In addition, she had no expectations. She knew that the prospect had a promotional products rep that they had been working with. Since the rep was coming in, the prospect allowed Price to come in and piggyback.

Eventually, Price got the opportunity to present her gift ideas. “In my head, more than likely they would throw me a bone. I figured that the worst-case scenario was that they’d continue with their old rep, but they’d give me the opportunity to provide candy for the receptionists,” she says.

The day of Price’s initial meeting was just short of disastrous. The address on her contact’s business card was in downtown Los Angeles, but the office was in Orange County. “It was off to a crazy, rocky, messed-up start. We’re all sweating and I walked in late,” she recounts. It turns out,  she wowed the client. She set up the conference room with beautiful gifts, including items from Leed’s and Cutter & Buck. She presented everyone with a folder of the items she was presenting. She also provided a “Thanks a Dozen” box filled with bagels and cream cheese for everyone. “They ended up buying those from me as well. It turns out that they were so wowed by my items and passion that they gave me the order for the gifts,” she says.

Since that meeting, Price has been the client’s only source for premiums and gifts. “It’s been amazing. I am their exclusive person. They told every salesperson to go through me for their giveaways and trade shows,” she says. Her total sales figures for the client are approximately half a million dollars.

2. Heartbreak Hotel
Don’t treat him like a hound dog.

When Dave Mann was selling copy machines, he knew cold calling was the way he had to go. “There’s not a lot of repeat business in that industry, so in order to be successful, it was 50 cold calls a day, rain or shine, sleet or snow,” says Mann, the director of national accounts for Promotional Designs Inc. (asi/300830).

When Mann switched industries into the promotional world, he applied the same formula and sold over $1 million in his first year. “I approach cold calling as, ‘What the heck, they are currently buying nothing from me, how much worse could it get?’ ” he says. To him, cold calling is true selling, and the rest is just account management. Most years, he sells about $3 million.

When Mann prospects for new clients, he finds pursuing a common interest works. For months, he called on a national music magazine publisher because it was 90 miles away and there wasn’t much other business in the area. He subscribed to the magazine and is a huge music fan, so he had some good ideas to present. The contact never called him back after numerous voicemails over about six months. “One day, I called the receptionist and told her my story and said, ‘What’s up with this lady? She never calls me back. What kind of person is she?’ ” he says. The receptionist told him that the contact was a huge Elvis Presley fan and her office was decorated with all kinds of Elvis memorabilia.

Mann waited several weeks, until August 16, the anniversary of Elvis’ death. He left a voicemail in an “Elvis” voice saying, “Hey mama, this is Dave. I too am a huge fan of Elvis and your not returning my calls has got me ‘All Shook Up.’ In fact, I am staying at the ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ until I hear back from you. Any true fan of Elvis would certainly call me back on the anniversary of his death. Please don’t treat me like a ‘Hound Dog.’” Within five minutes, the prospect called him back and said, “You got me.” After a good laugh, she scheduled an appointment with Mann. He mentioned that he had some good ideas, he did local imprinting and could provide some services that she wasn’t getting. He also ordered a pair of Elvis sunglasses and an Elvis wig, and arrived at the appointment wearing his new accessories. His contact greeted him with delight, hugged him and proceeded to steal his Elvis stuff for her office display.

Mann’s first order with the magazine was for polo shirts. Seven years later, he still does business with the client, even though his contact has since retired. He has been able to penetrate other departments within the account and continues taking orders for T-shirts, hats and other apparel items, pocket knives, chip clips, duffel bags and writing pads. He has sold approximately $200,000 worth of items to this client.
To this day, the receptionist still calls him Elvis.

3. While You Were Out
A memorable fax.

For Ryan Sauers, getting a return call required a creative push. The president/CMO of Sauers Communication (asi/319273) was trying to work with a religious-related entity in his area. “I called on them over and over again. They liked our company, we said all the right things, and they said they were serious about moving their business. The problem was, we couldn’t get them to move off dead center and pull the trigger,” he says.

The tough part for Sauers was that he knew the prospect, he just couldn’t get a return call. “I’d get the receptionist, I’d get voicemail, but I couldn’t get them on the phone. If someone is telling you that it’s a great fit, how do you get their attention?” he says.

About five years ago, Sauers went into the prospect’s office and noticed that the receptionist used a “While You Were out” slip. He decided to go in for the kill and make sure that his message got to the main part of the office. He took the slip and wrote, “Please call Ryan Sauers. He’s having a hard time reaching you. You’ve been chasing each other. Signed, Ryan Sauers.” He blew up the note to 8″ by 11″ and faxed it to the office.

Within an hour, Sauers got a call from the prospect asking when they could get together. In the first meeting, the prospect mentioned Sauers’ creativity, his confidence and his persistence. The prospect said his unique thinking was the push it took to provide an opportunity.

“We were able to develop a relationship and start talking about the people we knew in common. We set up a subsequent meeting with both of our staffs, which led to moving the first projects in our direction,” Sauers says. The new client started booking more orders with him, and eventually ordered apparel, giveaway items and brand-identity products. “This client has also helped get me business with its sister organizations,” he says.

The client has worked with Sauers for about four years now. “They were loyal to their other supplier and didn’t have a desire to change. It took something to get their attention,” he says. He now books about $25,000 per year with the client.

Even though Sauers’ staff thought the fax was risky, he has no regrets. “What would have happened if I had just quit? Try a different direction, try something off the wall. That was either going to work or bite me in the butt. I knew that fax would stand out,” he says.

From Advantages September 2010 issue.

Top 10 Sexiest Celebrity Marketers

Filed under: Uncategorized

In this month’s issue of Successful Promotions, our editors want to know: Who are the 10 sexiest celebrity marketers out there today? So without further ado, I present the Top 10 list of the Sexiest Celebrity Marketers:

Jennifer Aniston. The former Friends star is promoting her new scent, Lolavie, and appearing in Smart Water campaigns.

Jennifer Aniston

Patrick Dempsey.
“Dr. McDreamy” is the spokesman for Versace and appears in ads for Serengeti eyewear and Unscripted, a line of colognes for Avon.

Patrick Dempsey

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.
The ab-fabulous Jersey Shore star charges $7,500 and up for an event appearance sure to attract the paparazzi.

Mike The Situation Sorrentino

Lady Gaga.
The Twitterific pop sensation is now creative director of Polaroid, and has lent her name and image to Virgin Mobile, Monster Cable and Viva Glam by MAC Cosmetics.

Lady Gaga

Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese soccer stud is the official worldwide spokesmodel for Emporio Armani underwear and Armani Jeans.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Megan Fox:
The star of the blockbuster Transformers is the face of luxury brand Armani.

Megan Fox

Isaiah Mustafa:
Portrayed as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” the former NFL player helped Old Spice cologne become the number-one all-time most-viewed sponsored channel on YouTube.

Isaiah Mustafa

Sandra Bullock:
The Oscar winner is the face of Artistry Crème LuXury, an Amway company that hopes its connection to the A-lister will elevate its brand status.

Sandra Bullock

Scarlett Johansson:
The starlet evokes Marilyn Monroe in Dolce & Gabbana perfume and makeup ads, and is the new face of Moët & Chandon champagne.

Scarlett Johansson

Paris Hilton:
The hotel heiress lent her mug to campaigns for Guess and restaurant chain Carl’s Jr. and reportedly gets up to $500,000 for appearances.

Paris Hilton

Though I don’t agree with most of the women on this list, I do think one is ULTRA sexy, but I’m not gonna say who! (The men? Yeah, I guess they’re OK, but I don’t really care, y’know.)

What do you think? Post comments below.

–Vin “The Situation” Deez

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