13Oct/20

Strategic Corporate Marketing During a Pandemic

While we all try to figure out what a new “normal” looks like during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, business still goes on.  Many businesses have struggled to rapidly switch to remote work, quarantines, and pivoting their business models to meet customer needs.  With the majority of large gatherings, expos, and other events being canceled, virtual conferences and events have become popular.  Virtual happy hours are all the rage to stay connected with co-workers.  And marketing tactics have had to adjust to being able to reach clients in a saturated online market.  Companies that have found strategic ways to market their business through these trying times are poising themselves to be successful through the pandemic and long after it ends.

Anyone that manages corporate marketing for their business is probably experiencing a common trend right now – dwindled staff and support, along with a limited marketing budget.  Determining the right way to spend your marketing budget is more important than ever before.  Working with a creative marketing strategist can help you determine the right types of marketing experiences and/or products that will best suit your marketing objectives and budget.  Strategic budget allocation does not mean that you have to waste money on a branded product that someone will throw away.  Fundraisers, creative customer promotional products, and custom products for staff to show appreciation all foster a sense of community that most people are longing for in this time of social distancing.

Remind customers that you are surviving and thriving through the pandemic as a business, and remind your employees that you know how hard they are working in a unique environment with a thoughtful and unique marketing campaign.  When you work with an experienced marketing professional that is filled with endless creative ideas, it is easy to find a way to craft a strategic marketing campaign, market your virtual or in-person (when possible) event, and show loyalty and support which all ultimately does something so important during this time – creates a positive community experience centered on your brand.

11Sep/20

12th Annual UMOM Walk the Walk to End Homelessness

The UMOM Walk the Walk to End Homelessness is a local fundraising event that is near and dear to our hearts at Connect the Dots Promotions. We have supported and participated in this walk since the beginning and have been so proud to see how it has grown and, with that growth, there has been an increase of funds to end homelessness in our community. But, as we all know, there can always be more done to support the homeless community and this year is no exception!

Due to the unprecedented times we are in with the COVID-19 pandemic, plans had to be altered from our traditional walk at the Phoenix Zoo. In past years we have walked to raise funds and support and also set the World Record (which we still hold) for the longest 1K thong sandal race. For the event this year, we will be doing things a bit differently but they will still be a fun way to support UMOM and the great work they are doing to end homelessness. Rather than a walk, we will be having a fun, interactive scavenger hunt in which you get to choose your own scavenger hunt adventure. This can be played in your home or in your neighborhood. Whether you participate virtually or gather a small, safe group to complete the scavenger hunt with, we promise it will be an incredibly fun way to raise awareness and financial support for families, single women, and youth experiencing homelessness in Arizona.

To play along and support UMOM, please register HERE and download the Let’s Roam app so that you are all ready for the event on September 19th from 7am – 12pm. There are exciting prizes and raffles to make the event even more exciting for participants. Homelessness doesn’t stop just because of a pandemic and neither will we! Will you join us to participate in the 2020 12th Annual UMOM Walk the Walk to End Homelessness scavenger hunt?

26Aug/20

Boost Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic With These Products

As we continue to adjust to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are beginning to see a return to the workplace or many people.  While people return to on-site work, workplaces need to maximize safety to protect their employees and clients through a variety of infection mitigation strategies.  In addition to a robust cleaning and disinfection protocol, there are many ways to enhance workplace safety that are both effective and branded.  Branded COVID-19 promotional products or the workplace serve a very important purpose while keeping branding consistent and familiar, even during unique times. Below, we have compiled a list of just a few of the examples of branded products that will improve workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing is one of the best ways to reduce transmission of disease which is why it is particularly important in business offices, retail environments, and schools.  But, as we all know, it can be hard to know how far exactly is enough for proper social distancing. With floor stickers, wall signs, and partitions, you can make it easy to socially distance.

Face coverings are widely required in public spaces or any areas in which social distancing cannot be maintained.  These invisible face shields are effective and will look even better when customized with your business or school’s branding.

Employee wellness is of the utmost importance because in addition to not wanting your employees’ health and safety compromised when employees get sick they miss work which can impact business operations.  There are a number of branded promotional products that support your employee wellness efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Connect the Dots, we have worked hard to research and determine the best safety promotional products for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.  Let us help you continue to promote your brand while protecting the safety of your employees and customers.

13Aug/20

How Your Business Can Show Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic


We’ve all heard it be said about the COVID-19 pandemic by now – ‘We’re all in this together.”  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we have truly taken this to heart and are here to support our clients in any way possible.  We know that businesses are looking for cost-effective ways to show their employees and customers some support during these challenging and unprecedented times. Many businesses have struggled just to stay alive through quarantine or are working with dramatically-reduced workforces but, nevertheless, marketing is still important because the world cannot come to a complete standstill.  There is a multitude of ways you can market your business while showing support to your employees and customers with promotional products.  You can still generate a positive customer experience and foster employee goodwill with a thoughtful gesture.  The team at Connect the Dots is here to help you develop strategic and creative ways to reach customers and employees while marketing your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Your Business Can Show Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Support Home-Based Hobbies During the Pandemic with Promotional Products

    • Gardening:  Seed and grow kits, gardening tools, buckets, kneeler cushions, chimes, and more make home-bound hobbies a bit more fun.  Recipients will be thankful that healthy and fun hobbies are being encouraged when they receive their branded gardening items.
    • Cooking & Grilling:  With the hustle and bustle of life slowed down a bit by staying home more, many are taking the extra time to cook at home more.  What better way to support someone that has recently taken up cooking than with a branded apron, oven mitt, wine opener, cutting board, or other kitchen tools such as spatulas and measuring cups?

Support Health & Safety During the Pandemic with Promotional Products

    • Unique Masks & PPE: Branded masks, branded gaiters, branded antibacterial wipes, branded touchless safe key, branded sanitizer, branded face shields, and more will show recipients that you care about their health and wellness during this time.
    • Home Fitness Equipment: Resistance bands, yoga mats, jump ropes, massage balls, exercise balls and more can be personalized with your branding to provide a positive way to stay physically and mentally healthy while home.

Provide Some Luxury During the Pandemic with Promotional Products

    • Food:  What is better than receiving some delicious food and snacks?  Make someone’s day a little more fun with a delicious branded food delivery.
    • Bath Products:  Bath products such as bath salts or bubble bath, as well as body wash and body lotion are a nice gift to receive any time but particularly thoughtful during this stressful time.  Branded bath products make it clear to your employees and clients that you care about their wellbeing.
    • Candles:  Candles are a source of relaxation and improve the ambiance of any room.  Branded candles make time spent at home a little more luxurious.
11Mar/20

2 Creative Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day with Promotional Products

Teachers are molding the minds of the next generation and often doing so with little pay or recognition.  With Teacher Appreciation Day quickly approaching (May 5th, 2020), we wanted to give you plenty of time to consider the way in which you would like to show your appreciation to the teachers in your school in a thoughtful, sustainable, and economic way.  

The job is not easy and yet, teachers persist, and at Connect the Dots, we believe it is important to recognize that kind of dedication.  Who doesn’t want to show a little extra appreciation for the hard-working teachers in our lives?  And, while we are sure that the majority of teachers are running on a heavy dose of caffeine daily, they have probably received their fair share of mugs as a thank you gift.  While the gesture is still thoughtful, your teachers probably do not need another ceramic mug to add to the collection. Fortunately, there are many creative, thoughtful, and economical ways to show the teachers in your life that you appreciate them that they will actually use and love!  Recognizing the hard work of teachers is also an excellent way to foster goodwill and school spirit while reinforcing and encouraging continued hard work.

2 Creative Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day with Promotional Products

1.  Music Accessories: Bluetooth Speakers & Wireless Earbuds

Spending all day in a classroom full of kids means listening to A LOT of noise.  Show your teachers you see that being a teacher isn’t always easy and let them unplug with a little music.  Bluetooth speakers are a great option because teachers can take them with them wherever they go and they are also handy in the classroom!  And, wireless earbuds will come in handy for teachers when they just need a little break from the noise.  They are a great option because they are so versatile and useful while still being economical and fun!

2.  Tech/Sports Accessories:  Backpacks & Duffle Bags

Today’s technology-driven world means that most teachers are transporting a laptop, tablet, and/or other technology in their bag on a daily basis.  Make it easy, convenient, and a fun way to show school spirit with logo backpacks or logo duffle bags in a modern and stylish design that teachers will happily carry with them!  Customizing the bags with your logo or school color makes it both stylish and an excellent marketing tool.

18Feb/20

2020 PPAI Expo Recap & PPAI Pyramid Award

2020 PPAI Expo Recap

As always is the case, the 2020 PPAI Expo was filled with outstanding education, exciting promotional products, industry networking, education, and a lot of fun!  We had the entire Connect the Dots Promotions team there for the Expo and we had the opportunity to experience a lot.

The CTD team learned about the Power of Sustainability and giving back within the promotional products industry.  The promotional products industry must look at sustainable and valuable ways to strategically use promotional products because, when done the right way, promotional products are an extremely valuable advertising medium that is better than many others.  One great example of a company doing promotional products in a sustainable way with social responsibility in mind is Sandmar.  We love their products and their drive to be a part of the solution rather than the problem by reducing waste and implementing better corporate sustainability efforts.

We also had the opportunity to hear from Ben Nemtin, author and co-founder of The Buried Life movement. He had an incredible and inspiring story that we highly recommend you look into if you have the opportunity to do so.  The big takeaway: Don’t live a buried life, don’t bury your passions and dreams.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we can confidently say that we are passionate about what we do and we want to help you live an unburied life too!

PPAI Pyramid Award

We at Connect the Dots are still on a high from our very own Karie Cowden receiving the PPAI Pyramid Award at the 2020 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas.  The PPAI Pyramid Award honors creative excellence in the promotional products industry.  It also recognizes dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns, and exceptional craftsmanship.  The entire expo was a great experience but it was an incredible honor to be recognized for our hard work and dedication to excellence.

PPAI Pyramid Award Recognition from PPAI:

“In an effort to create sizzle and increase funds for UMOM New Day Centers, Connect the Dots Promotions pitched a rebrand of the current End Homelessness Walk to feature a Guinness World Record attempt.  Refreshing the logo from a tennis shoe to a pair of flip-flops and updating the event name to “Walk the Walk to End Homelessness,” along with providing attendees with branded flip-flops and t-shirts, allowed the event to take on a new life. The flip-flop 1K world record attempt helped UMOM New Day Centers in attracting new donors and raising awareness by connecting all advertising mediums.”

The PPAI Pyramid Award Demonstrates Why You Should Work with Connect the Dots

This award beautifully demonstrates what can happen when you allow Connect the Dots Promotions to coach and help you with your business, brand, event, or marketing and promotional efforts.  For UMOM, giving and donations had plateaued and by implementing our marketing and promotional strategy, they experienced a 60% increase in giving!  

We work closely with our clients and put a substantial effort into creating dynamic partnerships that, when clients fully buy-in, facilitates creativity and growth!  If you are ready to grow your business, brand, or event, Connect the Dots Promotions has the team, creativity, and network to produce exceptional results!

04Feb/20

2020 PPAI Expo – Trends Recap

Attending the PPAI Expo is something that our team at Connect the Dots looks forward to every year.  And, the 2020 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas did not disappoint! One of the reasons we look so forward to the PPAI Expo is learning about the latest trends in promotional products (trust us, this is only one, stay tuned, there will be more blogs soon about the other things we enjoyed while attending!).  

What we really loved about the trends we saw this year is that the trends weren’t simply feature or style-related, there were some trends in the core essence and intention of promotional products.  This is so important because promotional products are not just basic marketing tools, they can be used as powerful and complex tools that are both useful and impactful which further raises brand awareness.

2020 PPAI Expo Trend #1:  Connection & Protection

It is no wonder that we at Connect the Dots loves this trend – it is at the core of what we as s company strive to achieve – connection.  Fleeting moments and flashy trends are fun and can be useful but when it comes to lasting impact that develops true brand-awareness and loyalty, connection is the name of the game.  Promotional products that foster connection include things that make you feel good and/or give back to a specific cause.

When you know better, you do better – or at least that is the hope and trend we are seeing in promotional products for 2020.  Generation Z cares more about protecting the earth more than any generation ever before. Fortunately for our clients, we have special search tools to make it simple to search product lines that give back to specific charities or causes.

2020 PPAI Expo Trend #2: Homeward-Thinking

So often, promotional products are for a specific task or purpose that is work-related (mouse-pad, calendar, pens, etc.), fitness or activity-related (water bottle, gym bag, stress ball, etc.) but now the focus is turning homeward.  By this, we mean that promotional products are much more personal and focused on well-being and quality of life.  For example, sleep is the hottest new luxury – yes, we said sleep.  More and more people know how important sleep is and are making self-care goals to get more sleep – why miss the marketing bandwagon here?  Perhaps a promotional product focused on improving the quality of sleep experience is something that would not only be deeply appreciated but would make a lasting, positive marketing impact.  

Additionally, much more focus is on quality experiences a part of a marketing moment including immersive experiences and other activities that encourage experiential play such as escape rooms or other experiences like Meowolf.  These types of promotional products and experiences encourage people to be present and in the moment and that is certainly a hot trend for 2020!

19Nov/19

Connect the Dots Invests in Continuing Education and Certifications 

Connect the Dots Invests in Continuing Education and Certifications 

At Connect the Dots Promotions, we believe strongly that the best service can only be provided to clients when we are continually striving to learn and improve.  Continuing education and certifications keep us well-informed of industry standards, new technology, creative marketing strategies, and help us develop valuable skills and knowledge that we can pass on to our clients.  The entire Connect the Dots team is invested in our industry and we have recently had the opportunity to do just that through continuing education and certifications.

Marcie Becomes TAS Certified with PPAI

Marcie is a valued member of the Connect the Dots team and recently became TAS certified through PPAI (Promotional Products Association International).  PPAI explains what it means to get your Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) certificate, “The PPAI Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) Certificate is an initiative of PPAI Professional Development aimed at providing promotional products professionals—who are new to the industry—with a source for finding answers to their questions and a plethora of information about the industry.”  We are very proud of Marcie as she keeps working to provide outstanding service to our clients and keeps working towards the next level certification – CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist).  Karie is also proud to be a certified MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) through PPAI.

Karie Participates in the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative

The Small Business Administration or SBA is dedicated to helping Americans start, build, and grow businesses.  Recently, Karie took the opportunity to participate in SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative in which she participated in a series of intensive executive-level educational and training opportunities with the intention of accelerating the growth of high-potential small businesses in America’s underserved cities.  For this training, experiences from advisors and business leaders in urban communities across the country were used to inform the curriculum.  Specialized areas of training include growth strategy planning, financing and access to capital, government contracting, and CEO mentoring.  Karie is constantly learning and staying on the cutting edge of all things business, marketing, and promotional products and this Emerging Leaders Initiative e was certainly in line with that.  The initiative prepares and encourages small businesses to move to a new level and emerge as a self-sustaining business that creates jobs and builds communities – something Connect the Dots Promotions is all about!