Tag Archives: marketing

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.

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.

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!

 

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!

09Sep/19

New Promotional Products & Technology at the AZPPA Exhibitor Show

Learning About The Latest Promotional Products & Technology at the AZPPA Exhibitor Show

While there are some staple promotional products in the marketing industry, there are constantly new trends and technologies emerging.  And, while those staple products are not only time-tested and effective, the implementation of new technologies in marketing strategies often allows a business to reach a new audience or impress an existing audience in a new and memorable way.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we love to stay informed about the newest products and technologies.  In doing so, we are able to connect our clients with unique promotional products that will set them apart from the competition and maximize their marketing budget.  We recently attended the AZPPA Exhibitor Show and had a chance to check out some really exciting new promotional items and technologies, as well as connect with industry peers.

About the AZPPA Exhibitor Show

The Arizona Promotional Products Association (AZPPA), hosts an annual trade show which we recently had the joy of attending. If you are unfamiliar with the AZPPA Exhibitor Show, it is a great Arizona-based trade show that features local and national suppliers as well as attracts distributors from throughout Arizona.  

Exciting New Promotional Products and Technology!

One of our favorite new technologies that we saw is an NFC-enabled pen.  If you are not quite sure what NFC technology is, you may be more familiar with it than you think!  NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is embedded in most new phone technology today.  For example, if you have an iPhone and have ever used Apple Pay, you have already used NFC technology.  Simply put, NFC detects and enables technologies in close proximity to securely share wireless data, without the need for an internet connection. But, there are many more applications for this technology and we were so excited to see how it can be leveraged as a marketing tool by embedding it in a pen.

How You Can Use NFC Technology for Business Marketing

An NFC-enabled pen simply needs to be waved near technology such as a phone, tablet, or other NFC-enabled device and the information can be securely shared.  There are many exciting and unique ways in which this technology can be used as a marketing tool.  First, it is a fast, easy, and economical business card!  Think of how easy it would be at a networking event to simply wave your NFC-enabled pen and share your business card with as many people you want in rapid succession. To use it as a powerful promotional product, consider embedding custom, branded pens with your company brochure, important contact information, photographs, music, games, website, event schedule, or any other information you want to share with your potential or existing client.  Then, that information goes with them wherever they go with the pen.  It is a convenient, economical, eco-friendly, portable marketing tool that is sure to be a hot promotional item in the months and years to come! 

If you would like to learn more about how you can utilize these cool new marketing technologies, we at Connect the Dots Promotions would love to talk to you about all of the new products and technologies we just experienced at the AZPPA Exhibitor Show!

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.