Blog Archives

Are your marketing materials “Sticky”?

As I’ve delved into the depths of SEO and web design, I’ve seen several sources mention that a cornerstone to good online advertising is having “sticky” content.

Sticky content refers to content that will entice visitors to a website to come back often.  Examples include chat rooms, forums, games, etc.

As a provider of promotional products, that made me wonder: how “sticky” are the promotional products you are using to promote your business?  Businesses use promotional products for a variety of reasons, including: tradeshow giveaways, as a thank you to valued customer, conversation starters, etc.  One thing I hear often when discussing promotional products is, how much will these cost?

A better question is, how much value are they?  Value can be considered by evaluating how much something costs and how much return on your investment you get from them.  If I had to spend $1000 on expensive briefcases with my logo on them, but got $100,000 in new sales as a result, I would consider it a good investment.  On the other hand, if I spent $200 on branded pens that get thrown in a drawer and forgotten, I would not reinvest in that item.

A key factor is how “sticky” the product is.  How often will the person use the item?  Is the item useful in itself?  Does it inspire conversation?  Will others ask about it?  Examples of promotional items that have good stickiness are tools, water bottles, calendars, sports schedules and office supply items.  These items get used frequently.  Other items may work well, depending on the industry and the typical customer.  Whether they acknowledge them or not, people will see your name and/or logo every time.  And they will remember your name when you talk to them.  Next time you’re looking to advertise or order promotional items, go with something that’s sticky.  It will be money well spent!

To your success,

Jim Kurtz

P.S. here are a few of the items we use:

Accurate Forms & Supplies Car calendar

Our Fast Trax car calendar

Magnetic business card

Magnetic Business Card

Baseball schedule wallet cards

Baseball Schedule wallet cards

Using Google Adwords to find your hot marketing buttons

I stumbled on this idea while reading up on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and building a good website.

One of the primary concerns of any marketing staff or business owner is finding out what people will respond to.  I refer to these as “buttons”.  The reason they are called buttons is that once a button is pushed (meaning once the word or phrase is said), it will produce a reaction in the intended audience.

As an example, consider the button “terrorism”.  When I say that word, most likely it evokes an emotional response.  When creating a marketing campaign, advertising piece or even a simple sales or marketing email, a key feature in the success of the advertisement is what buttons are used and how they are used for a specific type of audience.  But how do you know which buttons to choose?  Or how do you know if the buttons that were successful last year will be successful this year?

The answer is keywords.  Keywords are the words and phrases that people enter into search engines like Google or Bing when they are looking for something.  Keywords are the most important factor in building an effective Search Engine Optimization strategy for a website.  If your website has a high concentration of a particular word or phrase, it will generally rank higher in search engine results when people type in those keywords; all other things being equal.

In order to find out what buttons to use in a marketing program, consider using popular keywords.  If a lot of people are already using a particular work or phrase to find things in search engines, it stands to reason that these words are already on their mind.  By using these same words in your marketing, you stand a better chance to evoke a response to your marketing piece.

Google Adwords is a paid form of advertising that appears on the results pages when people search for related topics.  One very helpful (and free) tool that Adwords provides is a keyword suggestion tool.  If you type in adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal into your web browser, you will be able to find out what phrases people are using to find similar products, services or information when they search on Google.

To give you an example of how to use this process, my company is running a special on promotional products this month, and I want to know which words and phrases people are using to search for promotional products.  I enter in “promotional products” into the keyword tool, and I get 100 top keywords and phrases that people use in Google.  By doing this, I found that people use “promotional advertising products” and “Cheap promotional products”  more than others.  I then incorporate the words “cheap” and “advertising” into my marketing.

This tool works best for marketing to a broad audience.  If you want more targeted uses, such as limiting to regional markets, you may want to add the region you’re marketing to in the search phrase above.  So, in my example I would enter “promotional products dallas” to try to get more locally targeted results.

To your success,

Jim Kurtz

The value of time

How much is your time worth?

If I asked 1000 people that question, I’d probably get 990 different answers.  And, if I asked the same 1000 people that question a week, month or year later, I’d get 990 different answers.  In business, the question can be answered by taking your salary and dividing it by the hours you work to arrive at a value of your time.  Interestingly, your perception of time changes with your workload.  If you’re twittling your thumbs, you probably would not have as much sense of urgency as when you’re swamped.

save time, marketing ideas, business forms

Dwindling spiral of time.

As a vendor of promotional products, corporate apparel, signs and print marketing, I often run into buyers who invariably buy the cheapest products they can find.  Those customers, unfortunately, do not understand the value of time.  Case in point: I recently built a custom website for a customer to order all of their embroidered shirts from.  In addition to building their personalized e-store, we gather the individual orders by employee, embroider the items with the correct logo (they have 2 color variations, based on the color of the item), bag the item and label it with the employee name, split the orders into 16 locations and ship them out.

Sure, they may be able to do all of this work themselves, but is it worth it?  To save a hundred dollars by shopping around apparel companies, embroiderers, freight companies and ecommerce brokers, they would wind up spending thousands of dollars in labor, invoices, checks and other expenses.

The moral: when planning a major job, consider all of the time that will be involved in implementing each solution.  Quite often, the penny you save in product may cost you more money and headaches than you realize.

Then, call me. 🙂

I’ll save you the most precious resource you have.

-Jim

Accurate Forms & Supplies

817-498-4840

The secret to saving money on direct mail

Hi all,

It’s been a while, as I’ve been incredibly busy lately with business, family and our new son, Theta.

In talking with a few customers who were looking at sending out some direct mail pieces, I was momentarily blocked by the cost of postage.  Indeed, when you’re looking at sending several thousand postcards or other mail pieces out, paying $.24 to $.40 per piece to the post office gets really expensive.

While you can choose the Every Door Direct Mail program from the USPS to lower the cost of postage to $.15 per piece, your options are limited.  You can’t use your own mailing lists, you have to deliver your mail pieces to each post office ZIP code you’re mailing to, and you’re limited to how many pieces you can send per post office per day.  That’s a lot of legwork, with a lot of restrictions.  Far from being a truly turnkey operation (and when you figure in the gas and time required to make it work, you’re probably right back to paying $.20-$.30 each anyway).

I got an idea from a marketing specialist to use flyer distribution services to hand out promotional pieces in order to get leads.  After I called a local flyer company, it turns out that this is indeed a cost-effective alternative to direct mail.  The two companies I called here in Dallas charged $.07-$.12 per piece to pass out flyers or door hangers door-to-door.  You can customize where they deliver, whether you want residential or businesses, and sometimes choose which demographics you want.

You should do a bit of research on the company you’re choosing, and it’s a good idea to choose a company that offers auditing services, which allows you to verify that they pieces are actually getting distributed to the locations, and exactly when they were delivered, so you can follow up in an appropriate timeframe.

There you have it.  You can contact me for the printing, and cut your delivery costs in half.  I love win-win situations!

Jim

Accurate Forms & Supplies

(817) 498-4840

http://www.accuratesupplies.com

The secret to handling lagging sales

In talking to hundreds of sales managers, CFOs, CEOs and business owners over the years, I’ve encountered a somewhat disturbing trend.  This trend is a behavior pattern that I’ve encountered when discussing my products and services.  This pattern, while common, can be deadly.

The pattern I’m referring to centers around statistics and how these decision makers react to them.  When statistics begin to go down, the first thing many of these decision makers do is cut back on expenses.  The idea seems logical at first; if your sales and profit are down, you need to cut expenses to balance out the P&L statement.  However, I believe it is a mistake, and sometimes a huge one.  I’ve even seen many salesmen do this (and I have too in the past).

The first thing a company MUST do when facing a slight dip in sales or profit is PROMOTE.  Economy is important, but you have to promote as a first action.  If you fail to promote, your slump will either get worse or be prolonged.  If you think about it, promotion makes the most sense.  To promote means to make your business, product or service known and well thought of.  If sales and profit are down, and you rein in your expenses and fail to promote, you rob yourself of the opportunity of garnering more sales and closing the deals that are close to completion.  New customers who may only now be ready to buy or entertain presentations will not be able to find you easily.  Old customers may not know what specials or other products you have.  All of this means that the action that can directly add sales and profit on an immediate basis – PROMOTION – will not occur, and your business will continue to slump.

The same thought process works for individuals also.  If your personal statistics are down slightly, you need to PROMOTE.  Salesmen who experience lulls or dips in their sales need to promote and get their name and products out there.  Work hard to get appointments, make more calls, send more emails, disseminate sales materials, etc.  Other employees can get their statistics up by promoting and PRODUCING.  Sometimes, if your job doesn’t directly relate to sales, the action step is to produce.  For example, if the Accounts Receivable clerk has a responsibility to process invoices, send out invoices and receive payments from customers, each of these responsibilities can be measured in statistics.  Then, if the number of invoices sent, checks in, etc., start dropping, she can Promote by calling people directly for payments, asking sales departments if there are any pending sales to invoice, etc.  She can then Produce by getting those invoices out and checks in.

Promotion doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money.

It can be as simple as emailing your customers and prospects to let them know you’re there, or better, that you have a product or service that can really help them.  Email blasts are good for broad contact, but you should also send personal, individual emails or messages that focus on a specific product or service for that customer.  Make sure you tie in how that product will help that particular business or individual.  Other forms of promotion are phone calls, cold calls (when done correctly), website ads, how-to You Tube videos, etc.

My company is positioned to help businesses in two ways: promotion and economy.  We consult with customers and help them design one or more marketing pieces, such as flyers, postcards or promotional items.  Our relationships with manufacturers helps us save money while promoting.

Our connections also help customers save time and money on their office supplies, toner and printer supplies, business forms and A/P checks.  It is a good strategy to use cost savings on these items to pay for promotional actions.

If enough companies and business owners stopped complaining about the economy and just PROMOTED, we would go a long way toward turning our entire economy around, not to mention putting extra money in our pockets.

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The easiest money you’ll ever make

As salesmen and business owners, we have limits.  How many leads can I generate?  How many prospects can I see or call per day?  How many presentations can I make to decision makers?  How many deals can I close?

The latter questions are the ones salesmen, management and business owners are most concerned with, because closing deals is where the money ultimately comes from.

However, the first few questions can be the most challenging questions to answer.  Salesmen spend a great deal of their time trying to generate viable leads to present their products and services to.  If the average salesman was spending 80% of their time making presentations and closing deals, they would be highly successful.  Indeed, this is what highly successful salesmen do.  They use referrals, marketing, social media and other means to generate leads for them so they can spend the majority of their time selling.

Having said that, I find that I am extremely busy.  Between managing my staff, following up on existing leads and presentations, taking care of existing customers, managing our social media and website content, etc., I find that I lack the time to diligently prospect and cold call.  Much like any manager and/or business owner, I find myself needing about 5 more of me than I have to get everything done.

On the other hand, I know that I can do a better job, with better service at a more competitive price than my competition.  All I need is more business.

This is where you come in.  If you refer customers to me, I’ll give you a 10% finders fee on the first order.  If they order $200, you get $20.  If they order $1000, you get $100.  And, I’ll reciprocate by giving you leads in return when I can.

If you have a business and would like to use me, I’ll give you a 10% discount for mentioning this blog.

My areas of expertise: business forms, custom print, business cards, envelopes, postcards, 4 color process, business check printing, pressure seal, labels (stock and custom), tax forms, printer toner and supplies, and storage media.

Promotional product lines: Calendars, holiday cards, trade show giveaways, custom apparel (screen printed or embroidered), tools, banners, signs and magnets.

Yes, we do all of that and much more.  We’ve been satisfying customers for 29 years, and we’re always looking to help more people.

Call us today at (800) 777-0072, visit our website at http://www.accuratesupplies.com or email me at jkurtz@accuratesupplies.com.

Best regards,

Jim Kurtz

Accurate Forms & Supplies

Maximize your Marketing with Persistent Advertising

There are two ways to keep your name in front of customers:

1) A steady flow of calls, messages, ad pieces, emails, etc.;

2) Useful items that customers will keep and reuse often.

Both strategies have their uses, and can be an important part of marketing.  I view marketing as having two essential functions: first, to assist sales by generating interest in the product or service; and second, to make your product or service well known and well thought of.  Ideally, the second helps establish the first. Brand recognition, humor, information and product comparison all contribute to these two functions.

The downfall of continuing to barrage customers and prospects with a litany of calls, emails, flyers and other messages is that it is expensive in terms of both time and money.  Additionally, people can become annoyed if you overdo it.  Every person has a different tolerance level.  Moreover, if you are in a field where there is a lot of competition, your customers and prospects are probably being inundated with messages and requests for meetings by your competitors as well.

The alternative is by using number 2) above.  Certain items can provide a lasting impression, by virtue of the fact that they are useful.  For example, custom printed pens work well because everyone uses them.  They also travel alot (people steal, “borrow” and otherwise misplace them).  This can be great if your product can be used by everyone.  Not so good if your company has a niche customer base; the pens may leave the customer’s office without ever being seen by the decision maker.

A great item that provides lasting advertising is a calendar.  Calendars are used year-round by virtually everyone.  People make notes on them, mark birthdays, plan holidays and vacations, etc., all using a calendar.  Instead of looking at a flyer or email and throwing it away (if they even look at them), people tend to keep calendars.  Every time your customer or prospect uses their calendar, they see your name and/or message.

                        

You can tailor the calendar style and artwork to your design.  For example, we know some of our customers are car enthusiasts, others like to travel, and still others enjoy inspirational scenery.  So, we ordered several styles to accommodate them.

Another great tool are sports schedules.  If you’ve got quite a few customers or prospects who are fans of the local team(s), get a large poster made of the team’s schedule.  We use both an 11×17 poster with the Cowboys schedule and a column for writing in the scores and W/L next to each game.  We also print up a basketball and a baseball wallet card, which has our logo with the local teams’ schedules on the front and back, with our contact info on the bottom.  Every time they look to see who their team is playing, they’ll see our contact information and remember to call me.

Lastly, promotional products are a great tool to keep your name in front of customers.  I find that if you are in a specific industry, it’s better to tailor your promotional product to that industry.  For example, for the Health Care industry, stress relievers (squeezable foam balls that people squeeze to relieve stress) in the shape of a part of the body work well.  For example, if you’re selling to dentists:

Look around the offices of customers and prospects.  Find out what items are being used regularly.  We did a clipboard for a medical insurance company with their name and a shortcut list for a commonly used software program.  The customer loved it, and the insurance company got a lot of leverage out of it.

We’ve done well with magnetic business cards    and jar openers as well 

The possibilities are endless in this area, so I won’t go into all of the variations here.

The key to these items is that they are used, and as such, they stick around.  When you do make another cold call, or email or request a meeting, you can reference the item and build rapport.  Gate Keepers will recognize your company, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting you to the decision maker.  And, you might just impress the decision maker in the process.

For specific suggestions, or for quotes on the above, visit our website at www.accuratesupplies.com, or call me at (817) 498-4840.

Good hunting!

How pinching pennies can make you penniless

As the economy continues to be sluggish, many people and companies are tightening their wallets and trying to shave every penny they can off their expenses.  While this makes sense on the surface, it can have damaging long-term effects.

I’ll share my personal history to illustrate this.  For several years, I’ve had quite a lot of debt.  About $10k in credit card debt, and another $50k in unpaid student loans.  Much of this debt was incurred as I struggled to find gainful employment out of college; and later, when I was laid off and was out of work for a few months.  To try to get out of this situation, I responded by trying to cut any and all expenses I could: reduce the heat and A/C, cut out all eating out, reduce entertainment to nil, etc.

I expected that if I reduced my expenses, the result would be more money available to pay off debts and greater stability.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.  Every time I started making headway, some mysterious emergency would come and wipe out my progress.  My cars broke down.  My son had accidents or got sick.  Unexpected problems arose.

Only recently, when I stopped focusing on money problems, debt and cutting, did things start to turn around.  I focused on earning more.  Bringing in more income, rather than reduce outflow.  I quickly found new opportunities to earn extra monet.  The bills settled down, emergencies stopped coming up, and I’m finally starting to pay off those debts.

I’ve witnessed the same phenomena in business.  When I worked for a wholesaler in the foodservice industry, I would inevitably run across cheapskates who haggled me down as much as they could to get a better price.  The worst ones had 5-10 separate vendors, and shopped around on every item.

Instead of getting rich, however, most of them went out of business or struggled just to keep their doors open.  They spent so much time trying to stop money from going out, that they never focused on bringing more money in.  None of the several vendors showed any loyalty to these customers, as they barely made any money themselves.  When the account went even slightly past due, they were cut off.

A better approach is to pick one or 2 vendors and partner with them.  Find the vendor that has the best combination of price, service and knowledge of their business (and yours) and give them all of the business.  They will take care of you.  They will give you creative ideas.  They will help you get the word out.  They will promote your business using their social media, word of mouth and other channels.  We’ve just started doing this with our vendors, and we are already seeing positive results.

More importantly, don’t skimp on your marketing budget.  While you shouldn’t continually throw money out without results, you shouldn’t cut marketing completely either.  The big advantage of social, online and email marketing isn’t so much in the cost as it is in the ability to track results.  Pay attention to which messages and specials get responses and sales.  Then, back up your online messages with print and hard copy promotional materials that repeat that message.  Some people still don’t use social media or respond to online marketing.  However, by using online marketing strategies first, you can eliminate a lot of the trial and error involved with finding a marketing message that works.  Then, you can use your hard copy pieces more efficiently to really bring in the income.

Happy hunting!

Jim

AFS

How to Multiply your success by 10 or more

When I was working in the food service industry, I was continually shocked at how many restauranteurs assumed that if they opened their doors, cooked good food and kept the place free of vermin, people would beat down their doors.  I was not so shocked that over half of new restaurants go out of business within 2 years of opening, and that number swells to about 90% within the first 5 years.

As a salesman, I often struggled to get ahead, as I was tied to a limited territory, and relied on cold calls and referrals to get new business.  What I lacked was Marketing.  As I’ve moved into the field of office supplies and custom printing, I’ve found that the successful players in the field, in EVERY field, have mastered the art of marketing; to one degree or another.

Marketing accomplishes a few key things for any business:

  1. It creates brand recognition.  People buy from people and companies they either know from past experience, or have heard of or seen before.  Marketing helps get the name of your business out there, either visually or aurally (by sound).
  2. It warms up prospects (slightly) to sales calls by you or your sales team.  If they’ve seen an ad piece in print, on TV or on the radio, they are more likely to field a call than a completely blind cold call.
  3. It keeps your name in front of prospects.  Often, a customer won’t buy from a cold call for various reasons: they don’t need your product or service at that time, they have a good relationship with a current vendor or business, or maybe they need to get the money or financing together.  These factors can change.  If all your prospect has is your business card mixed in a pile of other papers in the bottom of a drawer, what are the odds of them calling you first?  But if they have 3-4 emails with excellent content, a postcard mailer or two, and a few promotional products with your name and contact info, your chances of getting a call back increases exponentially.

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In this newsletter, I’m going to share some tips to help your business increase its marketing efforts, without creating a crater in your P&L statement.

Informational flyers and stationery

When making a call, instead of simply leaving a business card, leave something tangible.  A simple informational letter would be OK to start, but I recommend something that catches the eye.  Photos, color logos and color designs are more likely to grab attention than plain text.  For example:

Image This photo illustrates some of the frustrations that our customers have when trying to design a custom form for their business.  Instead of simply writing a list of benefits, including something to the effect of “we help you sort through the confusion of designing your custom business forms,” I included a picture that shows that frustration.

Full color postcards are great tools, as they are versatile.  If you have a mailing list, you can send a postcard to promote an upcoming special or new item.  Again, use graphics that are not only colorful, but evoke an image.  Do you think it’s an accident that burger ads look so tasty?  If you don’t have a mailing list, or want to give your sales team some to hand to their prospects or customers, postcards work great. They typically cost less than $.05 each, and they give you a lot more room for pictures, descriptions and other useful information than a business card.

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Flyers work well when the decision maker is not in, or is tied up.  Rather than bugging them by demanding to speak with them, a professional flyer that details some key benefits of doing business with your company, along with your name and contact information can be much more successful.  Follow up is made easier, as there is an established reason for the call, namely, did the person get my information?

Business Referral Cards

Business cards are one of the most underutilized forms of marketing.  A twist on the business card is the business referral card.  The difference is you use the back of the card to offer referrals to your existing customers.  Have a few lines where they can write their name and email address on the back.  Then give them the card, so that they can give it to their friends.  Offer them a commission on all referrals that are received.  Additionally, you may want to offer a discount for the recipient to entice them to come in.

Instead of money, you can offer the people giving out the cards discounts on products.  This tool combines referrals and word-of-mouth with incentive-based marketing.  Restaurants love this tool, because it is more effective and cost effective than coupons.

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In the next issue, we will be exploring online marketing in a bit more detail.  Meanwhile, check out our website for more information about us or our product lines:

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Also, please Like us on Facebook.  We often post exclusive information and specials for our fans.

Have a great June everyone!

Regards,

Jim Kurtz

Accurate Forms & Supplies

(817) 498-4840

(800) 777-0072

www.accuratesupplies.com