Category Archives: PPAI

05Jan/21

Virtual Event Swag – A Hot Promotional Product Trend in 2021

virtual event swagEveryone enjoys getting something for free – no matter what happens in the world, that is simply a truth that will never change. When it comes to swag and promotional products, you want to turn your clients and employees into brand ambassadors while rewarding their loyalty with something they can actually use and enjoy.  Rather than simply sending out swag, why not incorporate it into a virtual event of some kind?  This is a fun way to foster employee goodwill or increase brand awareness and loyalty.  There are many ways to send fun swag out in advance so that everyone involved in an event has everything they need to participate in the activities.  

Creating themed baskets and swag for your virtual event enables you to better engage attendees, humanize the virtual experience, and extend the positive experience far beyond the event! You can customize themed boxes or baskets with any traditional swag items just as though they were attending a trade show or other event.  And, you can think beyond the daytime events to the breaks and social events where fun networking and bonding happens.

virtual event swagA fun way to better humanize a virtual event is with a virtual coffee break or happy hour. Included in their box that you send in advance, you could include a branded coffee mug and coffee, a bottle of wine with branded wine glasses.  Throw a virtual bingo night and send out bingo cards, a marker, and some delicious snacks!  The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to your unique brand identity and event type.  Let the creative and fun team at Connect the Dots help you design an event with a swag box or basket that will enhance the experience and create a lasting positive impact for your business. Want to start looking for some fun product inspiration?  We’ve made it easy for you to search ideas right on our website – CLICK HERE to start your search!

15Dec/20

How to Maximize Your 2021 Marketing Budget

To say everyone is looking forward to a new year is an understatement. And, while we would all like to say goodbye to the challenges we faced in 2020, we must learn from the challenges to be in a better and more strategic position in 2021. Many businesses saw major budget cuts this year and many marketing departments will be working with a smaller budget than they may be used to next year. With that in mind, it is wise to start strategic marketing planning now so that you can optimize your budget while getting the highest return on your investment.

It is a good idea to look back at 2020 and 2019’s marketing spend and which marketing initiatives were most successful. This will help you narrow down how you want to funnel your budget efficiently. Determining what your budgeting priorities are will help you be more prepared for unforeseen shifts in lifestyle, community, corporate culture, world culture, and consumer attitudes – something we have seen a lot of in 2020.

When looking specifically at things like promotional products and swag, now is the perfect time to be creative and intentional with your branding and marketing message. To do this while optimally using your marketing budget, it is important to start early and order early. This will allow you to be certain you will be able to get what you want, in the timeframe that you need it, for the best price. When you wait until the last minute you risk there being low or no stock of something you need, increased prices for rush orders, and other obstacles that are best avoided if possible.

To build brand loyalty with your customers, acquire new customers, and foster positive relationships with your employees, it is time to learn from this year and think outside the box. While social distancing and staying at home is still heavily encouraged, now is the time to consider how you can enhance your digital presence through employee and customer online experiences. For example, there are many ways to support digital events both digitally and physically – themed swag, baskets, kits, or other items can be delivered prior to digital events to ensure everyone has what they need for the event. Your 2021 marketing budget, whether large or small, can be focused and maximized to achieve your marketing objectives and hav4e a successful 2021 with strategic planning in advance.

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!

 

30Oct/19

5 Holiday Promotional Products for Employees (That They Really Want!)

The holidays are a great time to show employees how much you appreciate their loyalty and dedicated service to your company.  But, we’ve all been on the receiving end of some terrible holiday promotional products and unwanted holiday gifts from an employer.  They go in the desk drawer and never see the light of day again until it is time for spring cleaning, during which they often end up in the trash.  Gasp!  What a waste!   Don’t waste your precious marketing dollars or employee budget on tired, unwanted promotional products.  Not only are promotional products a great way to say ‘thank you,’ but when used correctly, they can also be an excellent marketing tool!  Get a little creative with your employee gifts and keep them motivated with these fun and highly useful employee holiday promotional products!

1.  Power Bank

We have all experienced the dread of our technology running out of battery.  Whether it is your phone, tablet, or laptop – when you are on-the-go, you need power!  But, power may not always be readily available or you may have forgotten that trusty cord to connect your device at home.  Fear not!  A wireless power bank to the rescue!  Whether you are in a theme park, airport, in the car, hiking, or anywhere else, a ready power supply can be right at your fingertips with a power bank.  

2.  Bluetooth Speaker

Employee Promotional Products A portable Bluetooth speaker keeps the music playing wherever you are!  While Bluetooth speakers are not necessarily new (they’ve been a trend the last few years), they are one of those promotional products that never go out of style.  Can anyone have too many Bluetooth speakers?  We think not!  And, anywhere your employees use that Bluetooth speaker, they will see your branding and be reminded of your generous gift and they will also show off your brand wherever they go and use the speaker.

3.  Backpack

Employee Promotional ProductsA backpack is a hot gift right now because there are so many cool ways to brand a unique backpack that is useful for storing a laptop, taking to the gym, taking on a hike, or toting your things on a flight.  Gone are the days of basic, boring backpacks!  There are many cool new styles, including canvas bags that look like they came straight off the racks at a trendy local shop.

4.  Fitness Ball or Athletic Bands

One of the hottest themes in promotional products in 2019 (and we think this will not change anytime soon), is gifts that promote health and wellness.  Something like an inflatable fitness ball, massaging balls for sore muscles, or athletic bands for stretching or exercising at home or on-the-go.

5.  USB Adapter 

Employee Promotional ProductsWe live in a digital era and we all need to charge all of the technology we use every single day.  Not only does that leave us with a lot of cords but it leaves us trying to find adequate outlets and chargers available for all our devices.  A USB adapter can make your charging life much easier by multiplying the number of available ports and removing the complication of finding the right chargers for devices because you can simply use the USB end of your charging cord and plug it right in!  Your employees will be thanking you when they start enjoying the convenience of a USB adapter with your logo on it!

20Aug/19

If You Don’t Have a Company Online Store Yet – You Need One!

Should You Be Using a Company Online Store?

If you do not yet have a company online store, you probably should get one! Company online stores have become a popular, efficient, and effective way to offer employees (and even customers) a place to buy unique branded items.  Whether you just want to provide your employees with some fun items to show their pride in their workplace or you want to provide your managers and employees a one-stop-shop for employees to choose your branded promotional products and apparel as a requirement of their job, a company online store is an ideal solution.  

Curate a Strategic Company Online Store

One significant advantage of creating your own company online store is that you get control over controlling your brand’s identity and style.  You can control things like style, color, finish, etc.  Additionally, you can further a message about your brand.  For example, if you are a gym, you can offer promotional gym bags, towels, yoga mats, and hoodies that uniquely exemplify your brand’s style.  This is important because people are bombarded with marketing messages thousands of times a day so you want to create a unified, cohesive branding strategy and an online store will provide the ideal platform on which to do so.  

Let Employees (and Customers!) Show Their Company Pride

What is better than using custom apparel and swag to proudly represent something that you are a part of or support?  There are so many ways, large and small, to show others you are proud to be an employee of a great company, or that you love a great company with branded promotional products and apparel.  Every time someone wears or uses a promotional item in front of someone else at work, in a store, in a restaurant, or anywhere else – they see your branding and it reinforces your brand identity.  

Start a Company Online Store with Connect the Dots Promotions

At Connect the Dots Promotions, we are continually looking for unique and diverse ways to assist you with strategic marketing solutions.  We can help you choose items for your company store, design the style, and help you offer your employees and clients a modern and convenient way to source branded promotional products.  Once complete, your company online store can live on its own website or you can embed it into your website for enhanced functionality.  Starting other forms of online stores can be expensive, complicated, and frustrating which is why we love how effective, efficient, and convenient it is to establish your own company online store.

20May/19

Proposed China Tariff Will Have Major Impact on Promotional Products Industry (and Customers)

Forget Winter, the Tariff is Coming and it is Far More Ominous!

Proposed China TariffUsually, it is a hot new product making the buzz in the promotional products industry but right now the buzz is all about the proposed China tariff.  The proposed tariff will have a widespread impact on various industries, including a significant impact on the promotional products industry.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we love to share our latest projects or interesting products with our clients and industry peers, but we also believe it is important to have a conversation about how important this proposed tariff is and examine just how wide-reaching the impact will be.

Trump Administration Proposed 25% Tariff Will Impact Everyone

If you have not yet heard the news, the Trump administration proposed 25% tariff on products imported from China.  Make no mistake, this is a HUGE tariff.  Not only is this tariff threatening businesses but, unfortunately, it is threatening widespread impact on our customers because it will lead to an increase in prices. 

USA Today explains what is at stake with the proposed China tariff increase, “The trade war with China could cause prices to rise on everything from toys to clothing, but it also could lead to ‘widespread store closures,’ according to a report by UBS.  The investment bank’s analysis said tariffs on Chinese imports could put $40 billion of sales and 12,000 stores at risk…’We think potential 25% tariffs on Chinese imports could accelerate pressure on these company’s profit margins to the point where major store closures become a real possibility.” Earlier this month, the Trump administration increased U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. The president has also threatened to add a 25% tariff on almost all the remaining $325 billion in goods shipped in from China… ‘We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep prices low,’ said Brett Biggs, Walmart’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, during a call with reporters Thursday. ‘However, increased tariffs will lead to increased prices we believe for our customers.’”

Proposed China Tariff Will Have a Big Impact on All Businesses & Their Clients

Proposed China TariffThe proposed increase will certainly impact large retailers like Walmart, but it will be an even larger strain on small businesses.  While we still have not seen exactly how this proposed China tariff will play out exactly, if it does go into effect as planned, it will most likely lead to increased prices. 

Because of this, and because we love our clients so much and don’t want to see their marketing impacted by this, we highly encourage our customers to consider looking ahead at the next 6 months – 1 year and consider what they have planned for marketing and promotional products.  If you have not yet, start planning your marketing calendar out and considering if now is a good time to order for fall, back-to-school, holidays, end-of-year, or other occasions for which you might want promotional products.  By ordering sooner rather than later (before a new tariff is implemented), you will take advantage of lower prices that will no longer be around if the tariff goes into effect.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Paying Higher Prices If Higher Tariff is Enacted

At Connect the Dots Promotions, you can always count on our dedication to you, our client.  We have been well aware of the proposed tariff for some time and are anticipating the potential increase by researching American made products and other sources to keep costs low but, unfortunately, if the tariff does go into place, it will likely mean increased pricing.  If you are interested in discussing your marketing plan, alternative marketing strategies, or investing in promotional products now to avoid

06Apr/19

Diversify Your Brand’s Marketing Experiences

At Connect the Dots, we constantly strive to find creative ways to help you market your brand and promote your events.  Our love for things like promotional products is well-known and we love connecting clients with the perfect promotional tools to set them apart from the competition.  As we all know, differentiating your brand in a saturated market can be challenging. It is exactly that reason that we added new services for our clients that want to creatively approach marketing their brand.  Now, not only can Connect the Dots help you design unique and interesting promotional products but we can elevate your next marketing campaign with what we are calling ‘Experiences.

CONNECT THE DOTS: MARKETING EXPERIENCES

FLASH MOBS

Marketing ExperiencesBy now, most people have seen a flash mob either on video or in person.  And, if you have, you know just how fun and memorable they are!  This form of viral marketing is a great way to show your brand’s personality, make a memorable impact on your target audience, promote your brand, sale, or product, and just show that you can have some fun!  While flash mobs are great fun, they do require a good amount of coordination, practice and strategic planning to be executed properly – and trust us, you want to execute them properly.  What could be sadder than a bad flash mob?!  Not much! The last thing you want to be remembered for is a flash mob fail! At Connect the Dots, we have access to the talent, all you need to provide is the time and place! Get creative with viral marketing and let us help you create the memorable marketing experiences you want!

WORLD RECORD ATTEMPTS

Marketing ExperiencesThere are few bragging rights as cool as being able to say you hold a world record in some category!  Really, how many people or brands can say that?  Not many!  And, that is exactly why you should not only pursue a world record if possible, but you should coordinate marketing experiences and media around it because it is something definitely worth sharing with your clients and employees!  Our team can help give your existing or new event the fun twist you need to help increase attendance, bring in more fundraising dollars, or and/or build invaluable brand awareness!

MISSION STATEMENT BUILDING

Marketing ExperiencesWhether you are a charitable organization, non-profit, school, small business, or major corporation, a mission statement is simply a must.  Every organization should have a mission statement because it fosters a team mentality amongst your employees, facilities an organized effort in pursuit of goals, and shows a cohesive effort to your clients.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, our consultants will work with you to understand what you prioritize and what your ultimate goals are to help you craft a unique mission statement.  Once completed, we will provide a custom metal fabricated mission statement for you to display in your office with pride!

DIGITAL MARKETING EXPERIENCES: BLOGGING & SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

Marketing ExperiencesToday’s marketing expands far beyond print, radio and television media campaigns.  Create a unified brand presence that is cohesive across all platforms, including your website and social media platforms.  Consistent, well-written, SEO-optimized content such as blogs will reinforce your brand as an authority in your industry, share helpful or useful information with your employees and customers, and increase your search engine ranking to make your brand more discoverable.  Further, social media marketing is a great way to show off more of your brand’s personality and reach your employees and customers directly.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we have a variety of digital marketing tools and management options to help you facilitate the digital presence you want for your brand!

20Mar/19

Client Spotlight: Corporate Air Mechanical Services

Connect the Dots Client Spotlight: Corporate Air Mechanical Services

promotional productsBuilding connections, fostering relationships, and supporting businesses in which we believe are some of the most fundamental priorities at Connect the Dots Promotions.  From time to time, we enjoy shining the light on some of our most recent projects and customers.  We recently had the opportunity to work with Cherri Marrese, President of Corporate Air Mechanical Services on a spring marketing campaign including some unique promotional products!  

Choosing a Perfect Promotional Product

Because Corporate Air Mechanical Services is in the industrial/commercial cooling industry, they presented the idea of a desk fan to give as a thank you to customers.  They knew they wanted one that could have a message on it to remind customers of the upcoming Arizona summer heat.

How Connect the Dots Helped Select the Perfect Promotional Product!
promotional products

Desk Fan with LED Customizable Display

We just happened to be speaking to Cherri about this project right before we attended the 2019 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. The timing could not have been more perfect because we were able to take their directives and go to the PPAI Expo where we could look at products from over 3,000 supplier booths.  It was like they were all just waiting for us to find the perfect item for our customers!  Because the PPAI Expo is so large, we combed through aisle after aisle looking for the perfect fan.  Despite there being such a selection, it seemed to be like finding a needle in a haystack and we were starting to worry the perfect fan was not out there.  But, we never lost hope and continued the dedicated hunt for our customer.  

The last day of the PPAI Expo is always the best when looking for a specific promotional product because many attendees have already begun to leave.  This means it is less crowded and suppliers have additional time to talk to you.  As we were walking on the last day, Karie spotted someone she knew personally operating a vendor’s booth.  While we were standing there, low and behold, Kim looked up and it was like you could hear angels singing!  There it was!  The perfect fan with an LED lighted programmable message capability sitting right in front of us!  Kim shouted, “OMG, there it is I’ve been here for 4 days and now I find it!.”  The supplier/vendor thought Kim lost her marbles!

Dedication to Creative Promotional Products & Unique Marketing Campaigns

We returned home the next day from PPAI Expo and ordered a sample for Cherri to view.  We then met to discuss Corporate Air Mechanical Services’ 2019 marketing campaign and share the sample fan with Cherri and her sale’s executive, Tanner.  Needless to say, it was a big hit!  They started programming it with their phones (an option we love!) and then immediately placed an order.  We have already begun to work on several other items in which they are interested. Also, we always execute a ‘nudge plan’ to help our customers stay organized and ahead of their marketing plans for the holidays, corporate events corporate wearables, and other items. At Connect the Dots, we couldn’t be more happy to have connected our client with the perfect promotional products and we look forward to working more with Corporate Air Mechanical Services!