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Back to School: Promotional Products 101

Was that a crisp autumn breeze I just felt? Maybe it’s just all the excitement about back-to-college season. Across the country, campuses are braced for the return of refreshed, enthusiastic students.

Everyone knows that college students have two things in common: 1) A fierce sense of pride for their own school, and 2) A profound love of free stuff.

As a member of the advertising specialty field, you can capitalize on both of these factors with specialized back-to-college promotional products.

Just picture students milling around campus with a branded keychain and drawstring jersey backpack. Imagine dorm rooms decked out with branded banners, Mardi Gras beads, and mascot bobbleheads.

At the first home game of the year, your company could be the winning team with sponsored gate give-aways like Spirit Stix or acrylic soccer scarves emblazoned with your logo.

Perhaps you run a business with locations in college towns? The opportunities for incentives are endless: use customized promotional products to entice students to stop by your restaurant or bar, shop at your store, or open an account at your bank. Give-away items like trend-right titanium ionic necklaces and bracelets in school colors are really popular with this demographic.

Consider this course Promotional Products 101. Advanced lessons in The Anatomy of a Sponsorship and The Science of Gate Give-aways coming soon.

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Promotional Products are Fair Game

The State Fair: three small words, but they evoke a sensory whirlwind. Food, music, livestock…and a whole lot of people.

 Texas boasts the largest state fair with an estimated annual attendance of 3,000,000. The largest paid state fair is in Minnesota, which drew nearly 1.8 million visitors in 2010.

These attendance numbers add up to one thing for those in the advertising specialty industry: extra eyes on your brand. State fairs represent an extraordinary opportunity for the advertising specialty industry. While Texas and Minnesota win the blue ribbon attendance prizes, state fairs all around the country attract people in droves. Attendees are ripe for a good time — and for free goodies!

Why not consider capitalizing on the throngs of fun-seeking fairgoers with a branded promotional product? Give away highly coveted beads, and you’ll have fairgoers asking each other, “Where did you get that?” Offer branded drawstring backpacks and your logo will be loud, clear and mobile as fairgoers carry your backpack around all day.

Consider these additional “fair-ready” promotional product ideas:

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Three tips on integrating QR codes and promotional products

I came across a great article about QR codes on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog that I thought was really relevant to the advertising specialties industry. It is a discussion of how to think of QR strategically and how the best intentions can fall flat at the implementation phase.

Why bother? A recent recent report published by ScanLife, estimates that 30-40% of all smart phone users have, at one time, downloaded a bar code scanning application. Another stat for you, there was a 1,600% increase in mobile bar code scanning in 2010. QR is mainstreaming fast and has become a powerful marketing tool.

Many times we think we have a great idea and fail to test. See the Content Marketing Institute article for some great examples of good promotional ideas gone wrong. QR is a powerful tool and can be used really effectively with promotional products – the right promotional products.

1. Flat = Legibility
Make sure the QR code will be displayed flat, not with folds or bumps that can compromise a QR code reader and impact the effectiveness of your campaign.

2. Destination Insurance 
Add a printed message as an alternative for those who need it. While this technology is mainstreaming, it is still new to some.

3. Test, Test, Test!
Make sure the sample works with the widest variety of phones/readers to ensure that the code can be easily read.

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Three Twists on the Company Picnic: #2 Tailgating

This is the second installment for our Three Twists series on the Company Picnic.

Friendly competition has always been a part of the company picnic. Sack and three-legged races, egg drop relays, arm wrestling . . . I have fond memories of these not too serious activities. Why not go all out on the sports taligating theme?

Whether you choose pro or school team colors, company colors, or completely random color association by division, team color themed picnics can underscore friendly rivalry and a sense of team. Bonding is what its all about – right?

How to execute? Try decorated sports promotional products like pom poms, spirit sticks, or cowbells (see our previous post on noisemakers) as a way to get employees on the sidelines to engage.

For the more adventurous, sponsor a corporate facepainting contest. The individual or team who best represents the company logo/colors in their design wins.

Wigs or novelty headwear like logo head boppers, can be used to create a sense of whimsy. Picnics are about relaxation and a break from the boardroom. Silly stuff breaks the ice and can help bridge the gap between divisions.

High value prizes like titanium ionic necklaces in company colors or custom designed titanium ionic necklaces with company logos are great to reward participants.

Small give-aways can be tucked in to custom drawstring jersey backpacks to further underscore the team color theme. The bag itself is useful and will be used outside of the event – further showing solidarity with the company after the main event is over.

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Three Twists on the Company Picnic: #1 The Fat Tuesday Theme

With the rough economy, company picnic events are trending positive. According to a study from the Advertising Specialties Institute, 41% of companies in their recent survey were planning a picnic for Summer of 2011.

Hallmarks of the company picnic include:

  • Good attendance (50%)
  • A penchant for giving away promotional items (41% always give away promotional products to attendees, and 28% sometimes do)

Being good providers of promotional products ourselves, we thought to put a spin on the old fashioned company picnic by introducing themes.

Fat Tuesday Theme

OK. So it is not first quarter, but a Mardi Gras theme is fun any time of the year. The biggest challenge at any corporate event is to get employees to engage. Mardi Gras beads have long been a sought after collectible item. Picnic goers can collect bead strands as they participate in games and other activities. Awards are based on participation and number of strands collected, rather than solely on skill.

Instead of the traditional plastic infant hidden in the cake, try contest driven decal beads. Use peel, scratch, or QR code technology to revel the prize.

Masks,novelty headwear, music, and parades can bring the spirit of Mardi Gras to your next picnic event.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Translation: Let the good times roll!