SWAG

Gadget Grips® DOT™



A simple Google search will tell us that swag is “An ornamental festoon of flowers, fruit, and greenery.” For those of us in the industry, we’ve heard SWAG to stand for a few different things:

“Stuff We All Get”

“Souvenirs, Wearables, Awards and Gifts”

“Stuff We Acquired Gratis”

No matter what variation of words you use to define it, SWAG does wonders for promoting business. A small, free promotional item can draw potential customers to your booth at a trade show, serve as a “thank you” to a valuable client, or make your company top-of-mind when a business considers securing a new vendor.

Ultimately, promotional products can help differentiate your company, generate demand, and raise awareness of what your company can offer… but does it work?

“The Surprising Power of Promotional Products,” a New York Times article by MP Mueller, suggests that it does.

“American businesses spend $20 billion a year giving away stuff with logos,” Mueller cites. He even suggests there is deep psychological connection involved in promotional products… humans are hardwired to believe that if you give, you should receive, and vice versa.

——

So, you’ve decided to use the power of promo products, but which products? Lanyards and imprinted cups are tried and true. But if you want to think outside the box-set of pens, we have some ideas that will leave a lasting impression.

  1. i-Accessories. Reach into your pocket or your purse, and you’ll likely find your cell phone, if it’s not already in your hand. Nearly everyone carries a phone or a tablet around on their daily activities, which offers ample opportunity for your company logo to be just as visible and accessible. There are a range of products available, from tablet cases and stands to chargers and stylus pens. One of the newest and most attention-grabbing products is called “Gadget Grips® DOT™,” which is a logo that adheres to the home button of a smart phone or tablet. It’s great for universities, alumni organizations, and restaurants, as you can offer incentives, like a discount for customers having a DOT™ on their device.

  2. Customizable sports schedules. If you work at a local business that concentrates on nearby customers, consider printing a magnet or calendar that highlights upcoming local sports teams’ games and features your logo. It’ll start conversation when you give them out, and people can keep to refer to throughout the season.

  3. Golf equipment. Since many decisions are made between shots on the golf course, your company’s name should be where the action takes place. Items such as poker chip ball markers, golf umbrellas or divot tools can all be customized to fit your needs.

  4. It’s all in a name. Consider creating smaller quantities of promo items with your customers name on it. This may not be a practical route for a trade show environment, but is a viable and unique choice for other situations in which SWAG arises.


The SWAG we’re talking about today isn’t the type of “flowers and fruit,” that Google defines, but it certainly could bring your business some more green.

I Want to Use Variable Data Printing… Now What?

Variable Data Printing

Variable Data Printing



In a previous blog post, we talked about the many benefits of using variable data printing, or VDP, for your next marketing campaign. Once you’ve chosen the perfect printer, ­ there’s a lot of design work that goes into creating the perfect VDP piece. Here are some helpful hints we’ve come across over the years:

Know what you want. Just like with any other advertising campaign, you need a clearly defined goal in order to get the most out of your VDP. VDP is typically more narrowly targeted, so you should be able to measure whether your call to action is successful.

Remember… Niche is good. There’s little point in personalizing marketing pieces for customers who do not necessarily need your product… it’ll likely just end up in the recycling bin. Take the time to find contact info for prospective buyers that will find your company relevant at this time. “Selling ice to an Eskimo” in many cases will just leave you in the cold… and waste your advertising funds.

Offer something they care about. Remember that you can personalize more than just your customer’s name… consider varying offers that you send to a specific region. For example, a fitness center could offer discounted in-house childcare on postcards being sent to young suburban neighborhoods, and discounted group exercise sessions to a college campus.

Collect data for later. VDP offers the option of tracking and monitoring response rates. Companies can now analyze this info and send subsequent pieces that are even more relevant to their customers. A great example is catalog retailer, Fingerhut, who logs information about what products an individual customer purchases. The then take this data, analyze buying habits, and send that customer one of 25 different catalogs the next month, depending on her taste.

Sharing is Still Caring!

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

There are a few fundamental lessons that we all remember being taught as toddlers. Sometime between learning that forks don’t belong in outlets, and that no matter how good it smells, play-doh is indeed not edible, we learn that Sharing is Caring.

Fast forward to today, and it’s easier than ever to take care of that last lesson. Email allows you to quickly share messages. Facebook encourages you to share (and overshare) every waking moment of your day. Blogs like this one allow you to share ideas and thoughts about what’s happening in the world.

It was actually on a blog that I came across the most simple, grass-roots way to share. They’re called Little Free Libraries, and they’re popping up across the United States, Latin America, and Africa.

What is a Little Free Library? It’s just what it sounds like! Someone builds what looks like an over-sized birdhouse, fills it with books that they’re willing to share, and the community is encouraged, to “take a book, leave a book,” for free. These libraries live at the end of driveways, in front of the local coffee shop, or in the middle of the community park, and are maintained by volunteers.

Little Free Libraries foster a sense of community and encourage a love of reading. They also make it easy to remember that sharing is caring. (Now you just have to keep away from the play-doh).

Do you have plans to build a Little Free Library, or already have one? Share your story, below!

Could You Use 1,000 Square Feet of More Room?

As a provider of a comprehensive list of products and services, we get to work with a variety of different local and national businesses. In a throw-back to the days of trapper keepers and lockers, we’ve included a “case study” of our work with a graduate university that gives perspective on the ways your company could benefit from electronic document storage.

The Problem:

A few years back, the Office of Business Affairs for a highly regarded medical graduate school contacted us with a problem: 30 years’ worth of records were piling up – employee files, financial documents, student records filled four large rooms with 80 filing cabinets. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the office staff to locate and retrieve files, never mind the severe space shortage the document storage was causing! Their main concern was the distinct possibility that important, and often confidential, files could be misplaced or lost.

The Solution:

With over 2.5 million sheets of paper needing to be digitized, the Office of Business Affairs turned to Professional Systems, USA Inc. We imaged and safely discarded a majority of their paper files, the department reclaimed over 1,000 square feet of space, which conservatively translates to $20,000 per year worth of office space that was able to be put to more productive use.

How did we do it?

Digitized records are stored on our secure and password-protected servers using the sophisticated K-Docs document management software. The servers are held in a secured site with redundant power generators and 24 hour physical security. Scanning allowed the university to eliminate vulnerability to disaster, possible tampering of records, and unauthorized access to confidential information.

Seven Ways Your Company Can Use QR Codes

Phone/QR Code

QR codes are gaining popularity quickly; according to a recent study by Baltimore advertising agency MGH, about 72% of smart phone users say they would be likely to recall an advertisement that contained a QR code.

A variety of businesses are taking advantage of this edgy technology… we’ve seen QR codes on Macy’s television commercials, Disney’s billboards, and a university’s admissions materials, just to name a few. We recently came across a unique example of QR usage in the healthcare industry. Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro, TN launched a campaign with QR codes in the corner of their print advertisements. The code invited people to “experience” the hospitals new facilities and led them to a video of the new TV campaign. See the ad for yourself here.

We brainstormed a list of some other specific ways QR codes can be used in your industry:



  1. Place QR codes at different locations in the building that guide visitors around the campus with a web-based map.

  2. Print codes on laminated lobby cards and link them to an online customer satisfaction survey.

  3. Host redirected URL’s posted on different publication ads to measure which ads get the highest response rates.

  4. Print codes on brochures with links to “how to” videos or instructions.

  5. Put QR codes on “dated” pieces so customers can stay up-to-date about info that changes frequently.

  6. Include QR codes on your business cards and link them to your LinkedIn account, or your company’s “about us” website page.

  7. Use a personalized QR code, or a PURL, to track a fundraising mailing or survey responses.


Does Your Company Need @OneOfThese ?

Social Media Icons

Social Media Icons



The vast amount of social media platforms that exist today, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, means that you can connect with your customers more often and quicker than ever before. It seems like businesses from barber shops to pharmaceutical companies have some kind of online presence beyond the traditional website. Here are some things to keep in mind when you consider jumping on the social bandwagon:

Do you have enough to update about? The quickest way to lose Twitter followers is to update them on today’s lunch choice and the fact that your electrician was late to your appointment this morning. But there are also great ways to connect with your followers – check out how these companies are taking advantage of Twitter and these companies are using Facebook… and seeing results!

Do you have time to maintain your online presence? On the flip side, once you gain an audience, whether it be a group of end-users or other people in your industry, be sure to provide them with somewhat consistent updates. A balance of promotional pieces and resource posts will keep them interested.

How far is too far? In 2009, a Los Angeles woman started receiving a string of messages via her MySpace from a man she did not know, named Sebastian Bowler, who said he was from England and was coming to her home to hide from the police. Bowler continued sending pictures of himself travelling across the country, getting closer and closer to LA. The woman finally reported the incident to the police, only to find out that “Bowler” was actually… Toyota Motors! Toyota launched a marketing plan that was supposed to mimic a popular prank TV show, and was intended to make customers think an English bandit was travelling to their houses, to start buzz about a new car model. The woman sued Toyota, and needless to say, the campaign does not exist anymore. We know you wouldn’t go this far, but it sure makes a good story!

We want to hear from you! Do you think all companies need to use social media? What’re some of the best/worst ways you’ve seen?

Annual Print Solutions Conference and Expo

Baltimore

Baltimore

We returned to our desks yesterday after attending the PSDA 2012 Print Solutions Conference & Expo in Baltimore, where attendees visited with exhibitors in nearly 200 booths and took advantage of compelling education and training sessions when off the expo floor. This three-day event is the only national trade show focused on the distributor channel for print, marketing and business communications.

We returned to work energized and focused.  We learned a lot at this year’s conference.  Here are just a few of the things that we are excited about:

  • Multi-touch, cross-media campaigns that marry print, web, and mobile technologies.

  • Numerous methods for increasing and tracking response rates for direct mail.

  • Beautiful new printing processes that allow for the creation of amazing “dimensional” pieces.  Brilliantly printed postcards, business cards, posters, flyers, and catalogs that utilize new print processes that “wow”!

  • New technologies, products, and processes that are increasingly environmentally friendly.

  • Good (and not-so-good) uses of QR codes.

  • Turnkey solutions for busy marketing professionals.

  • Very affordable logo redesign packages.

  • Web-to-print technologies that continue to make order fulfillment more efficient, easy, and cost-effective.

  • A good marketing campaign requires being smarter before ink ever hits paper and collecting data after.

  • Best quote from the conference:  the best tool that each of us has is our ears!

Space is Shrinking! Why Office Space Planning is More Important Than Ever.

Office Space is Shrinking

Office Space is Shrinking

According to the New York Times, the average amount of space per employee nationwide has dropped from 400 square feet in 1985 to 250 square feet in 2011 … now, more than ever, it’s important that the office space you do have works well for your employees and is put to good use! We’ve put together a list of some questions you can ask yourself to gauge whether your space is being used to its full potential.

  1. Does your space look like a home office straight out of the 1970’s? As we discussed in our previous blog post, styles change throughout the years, and it’s important to keep up! An outdated furniture set can give customers the wrong impression that your company is antiquated as well. Waiting room furniture no longer needs to be drab and uncomfortable… there are hundreds of understated, professional looks to choose from.

  2. Are you using all space possible? Even if you have the perfect furniture, space will be wasted if it’s not organized properly. Find a furniture consultant that has dealt with plenty of irregular spaces and can find a solution for that odd-shaped nook or small entrance area.

  3. Can your employees work comfortably? There are many ways that ergonomics can go wrong because of improper office furniture… desks at the wrong height, rigid chairs, a lack of back support and many other offenses can make your employees uncomfortable and less productive. This doesn’t need to be the case! Extensive studies have been performed to design furniture that isn’t a “pain in the back”.

  4. What’s taking up more room… paper or people? Advanced storage solutions like rotating storage shelves or document scanning means that rooms full of files no longer necessary, allowing you to dedicate space to employee work stations instead of stacks of files.
Whether you need a few new pieces of furniture or you’re looking to revamp your office space, there are plenty of options to fit your needs. We can help you find the right balance of fashion and functionality.

What does “going green” really mean for business?

Green?



It seems like every day there are more and more environmentally sustainable choices available to us… from the introduction of the electric car to the wide usage of tumblers instead of disposable water bottles, we can see that the green movement isn’t slowing down anytime soon. But are these earth-friendly efforts applicable to everyday business? Can your business make small changes to lessen your impact on the earth without compromising your products or service to your customers?

We explored a few ways that local companies are tweaking their day-to-day habits to get involved in “going green.”

Use Vegetable or Soy-based inks

The production of some traditional petroleum-based inks can create harmful agricultural residue and toxic emissions. The next time you need to print your company letterhead, a banner promoting that new product, or any other printing job, ask for vegetable or soy-based inks. These inks have low levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds) which helps reduce emissions and air pollution. Newspapers often use soy ink, because it provides a sharper and brighter image.

Print on Recycled Paper

There are a wide variety of eco-friendly paper options available to you. For example, we offer 100% post consumer recycled paper, and paper that uses 100% chlorine free manufacturing processes. On some projects, it’s even possible to use materials derived from bamboo or bamboo fibers! You can reduce the amount of waste that’s created during printing by working with experts to make certain that quantities are “right-sized.”

Pay Attention to Affiliations

Many products boast labels stating that they’re “green,” “environmentally friendly,” “eco-sustainable,” or a variety of other hot-button phrases… how do you know if what you’re paying for is actually making a difference? Pay attention to certifications from nationally-recognized organizations. For example, many of Professional Systems USA’s manufacturing partners are affiliated with Forest Stewardship Council, EPA’s SmartWay, renewable energy, and Sustainable Forest Initiatives. Most of your projects, including promotional items, logo-wear, brochures, folders, postcards, flyers, and envelopes can be produced only in plants that are compliant in these programs – just ask us to “print green”!

United States Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail® Program Makes it Easy to Reach Local Customers

Every Door Direct Mail®

Every Door Direct Mail®



Direct mail is proven to be effective. It cuts through the white noise of online or email advertisements, and a tangible piece creates a more personal, emotional connection to your audience. The United States Postal Service has introduced a new program that is making it easier to reach more potential customers in your area! It’s called Every Door Direct Mail®, or EDDM, and boasts all the great aspects of direct mail and more…


Features:


*Reduced postage costs – EDDM is as low as 14.5 cents per postcard, which is nearly half of regular postage costs

*You’ll reach every household and business within your exact specifications

*You don’t have to buy mailing lists or postage permits


How Every Door Direct Mail® works for you:


  1. Tell us where you want your postcards delivered… you can choose to reach an audience within a certain radius of your business or in specific zip codes. Select residential or business locations… or both!

  2. Our graphic design team will work with you to create the perfect postcard for your promotion

  3. We will print and package your postcards according to USPS specifications

  4. We will drop your postcards off at the correct Post Office, and they’ll be on their way