I’m kind of bummed today. While out for our hike, my family used two of my favorite promotional items, and it got me thinking about the conversations I’ve had with other professionals in my industry over the past weeks. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a promotional product is anything branded with a logo to promote a business, generate goodwill, or to build traffic, leads, or sales. You’ve seen logos on apparel, drinkware, hats, totes, bags, umbrellas, tech gadgets, etc., but the list of products that can be decorated with a logo is infinite.
I’ve owned a promotional products distributorship called Tagsource, LLC (AKA TAG! or TAG! The Creative Source) for twenty-five years. A quarter of a century is a very long time, folks.
The promotional products industry boasts $25B + in annual revenues, consists of 40,546 companies (most of which are small businesses like mine), and employs 489,064 people nationwide. While most small businesses begin reopening, what remains at a complete and total standstill are events, meetings, and conferences where the lion share of promotional products get distributed. My business is significantly down in revenue since lockdowns began, but we’ve been around a very long time; I’m confident my business will survive, one way or the other. My post is not about my business, it’s about the thousands of small businesses nationwide that may not make it through these uncertain times…small businesses that represent a huge contribution to the economy could be facing permanent closures representing a huge loss in jobs across the nation.
As your businesses continue to reopen, please remember to include promotional products companies and brand message marketing in your budgets. These companies offer the lowest cost-per-view form of advertising that ends up directly in your end-user’s hands whether at a meeting, a conference, or delivered right to a home office. By now promo companies are equipped with ideas to help engage your audience in this new world of work.
One friend told me our industry will come back smaller and mightier.
One friend told me our industry will come back smaller and mightier. That sentiment is true, but after hanging my hat in an industry for 25 years, that knowledge still makes me very sad. Marketing your business effectively requires promotional products in the marketing mix. Please be sure to call your promo pro and engage in conversation today. #promotionalproducts #promoproducts #marketing #advertising #promotionalproductsatwork #PPAI #ASI
A friend of mine suggested I re-write a previous post I made here on my blog about marketing and publicizing a book. He told me that very few people understand that, while a major a coup, publishing a book is winning only half the battle. He suggested I write about what I have been doing, specifically, to get the word out about my picture book app, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, particularly since I’ve taken a somewhat unique and varied marketing approach to the matter. Taking into account my almost twenty years of marketing experience, owning and running a promotional marketing company, Tagsource, perhaps I do have something to contribute in helping others on marketing and brand messaging a children’s picture book, or any book for that matter. I don’t know. But believe me, even with my professional background, even I am still feeling my way. All that said, in just three months, I do feel I’ve made significant progress, and hopefully, if you are a writer, you can benefit from my experiences. So what did I do?
I hired a Publicity Agency:
I knew that I needed to get the word out exponentially to the masses, and the best way to do that was for me to hire a publicity agency, right off the bat. After thorough research, I selected Smith Publicity, a global publicity firm, and contracted with them on an initial, six-week publicity campaign. Special thanks to Lauren Covello, Publicist, at Smith Publicity for her work on publicizing, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. With the help of Smith Publicity, I’m happy to announce we are off to a great start! During and after the campaign, Smith continues to deliver some interesting results. The most notable: InformationWeek asked me to be a contributing, bi-monthly writer covering the educational and mobility segments on their online digital publication. As a busy executive, I have to look at the investment of time and weigh the ROI on the writing obligation. For me, this was a no-brainer. InformationWeek is one of the world’s largest information technology publications. They have over 220,000 subscribers and receive something like 2.4 unique visitors to their website each month. My profile picture and bio will be positioned on their website with each article they publish, which will link back to my businesses and my book. Publicity turned marketing. I like it. Not to mention, this “writing gig” is a pretty major bio booster.
In addition, Smith Publicity lined-up numerous radio and print article interviews for me. iMedia interviewed me about approaching technology use for children. Recently, I wrote a bi-line article for Today’s Parent, “Coming Soon to an Electronic Device Near You.” Today’s Parent boasts a readership of over 100,000 site visitors a month, and the article included a blurb about me and the book. I have also enjoyed being on various talk radio programs. I really enjoyed this particular radio interview on Tots and Technology on IMI Tech Talk with Tom D’Auria. (Move ahead to about the twelve-minute mark to bypass all the tech news at the start of the show.) I am in the process of putting all my radio interviews up on SoundCloud, so stay tuned for links to all of those. This interview with Derrell Connor on 620 WTMJWisconsin Talks was another one of my favorites, if you haven’t heard it yet. In addition, I’ve been interviewed on the Kim Pagano Show, Manchester University’s radio program, and several other programs throughout the country and Canada. The goal is, with each interview, people will act and download my book.
I Collaborated with Connected and Celebritized People Who Helped Me Produce My Book:
Aristo Media, the publicity agency who represents Robby Armstrong, the Nashville star who wrote and produced my book app’s original Americana-style musical score, pressed news about Robby’s involvement with Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. That press release went out to many country radio news outlets, and the release has cropped up all over the web! It was pretty neat to see Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore mentioned on a CMT site! Country Pulse also wrote up a nice story called, “Catch a Rising Star,” about Robby and mentioned his collaboration on my book. You can read about Robby on his website, here. In addition to Robby Armstrong, I selected Mr. Steve McCoy, a renowned radio broadcaster to narrate the book. Steve boasts a huge fan base and has a lot of clout in the world of broadcasting. Mr. Doug Lawrence and Mark Ceccarelli, both notorious illustrators, and former original storyboard directors for SpongeBob SquarePants, co-illustrated my book. When I produced my book, I knew that each of these unique collaborators would have vast networks of their own. I wanted to cast my personal net out as far as it reached through my own network, but I knew that having networked, connected people working on my book would do nothing but bring more recognition to my project.
Something Interesting Happened, I Became Perceived as a Bit of an Expert:
Being an author who produced an animated book straight-to-digital through my publisher (Skies America)brought me some publicity I didn’t expect. All of my work garnered me a bit of attention as a tech expert. Recently, I was asked to write a bi-line article on app development : http://www.beginningiosdev.com/app-case-studies/children-book-app. Circle back to the radio interview on Tots and Technology, being interviewed for the iMedia article on kids and technology, and then being asked to write on mobility topics for InformationWeek. It’s all connected, and was an outcome I wasn’t expecting.
I Put My Experiences to Work:
I’m a marketing entrepreneur, a conversationalist and a networker, and I put all that experience to work for me. I set up a Facebook page where I dialogue with my fans, and tweet about my book and experiences on Twitter via @toniaallengould. I converted my existing blog to an author’s page and changed the domain to www.toniaallengould.com, to brand myself. There, I continuously pressed new articles about my road to publishing and authorship.
I take pictures of kids who are engaged while reading the app:
I’m producing swag and giving it out to various contributors and people who have become book evangelists. I produced coloring t-shirts with washable markers and posting pictures of kids coloring the t-shirts. I produced magnets, and microfiber cleaning cloths for electronic devices. I deployed the services of the promotional company, at www.tagsource.com, for the swag.
I’m in the throes of being scheduled to speak at an elementary school that has recently moved to an iPad only curriculum (notable since I have an iPad only book), and really do hope to start working with children on writing and going after their dreams, and will invite the press to be there whenever I have a speaking engagement. I can’t wait to spend more time in the classroom with kids engaging them about reading!
I created several videos featuring kids who enjoy the book while showcasing the music and the narration:
Through all this marketing effort, the book made it to the 2nd Best App in the App of the Week Contest at iHeartThisApp. This is a parent/teacher/peer voting opportunity and you can help by voting anytime for the book by clicking the link above. Sam also reached the Top 100 Books in the App Store list for iPad, which in my elated and humble opinion is a major feat, given the legions of books out there! Recently I saw that we are at #100, if those stats are even accurate. But, oh what it would be like to reach #1!
Even better, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore just got a 5-Star Video Review at Give Me Apps where also the reviewer mentions the great functionality and the collaborative efforts that went into the book. At one point in the review, he describes the animation as “something that almost looks like a Hollywood movie!” Here’s their Blog Review as well. Right after the review, Best Preschool Books, put Sam on their list! That’s some really great news and hopefully will continue to help me reach my target demographic, children ages 4-8.
As you can see, I have a lot of great things in the works after just three months since my book app went live in the App Store on iTunes. Writing a book is one thing, getting it published is another, and marketing and publicizing a book is still another. I can honestly say—it’s all hard work. I can’t tell you if I’m doing it right. I can only firmly say, at this juncture, that I’m laying down some important groundwork for the future success of my book.
Finding the right promotional product that enforces a brand, while delivering the right message under budgetary restrictions are some of the biggest challenges that a promotional products sales rep faces with their client. Too often in this economy, salespeople inadvertently compromise brand integrity due to a client’s budgetary constraints, by delivering sub-standard product that meets those budgetary constraints. Too often, the buyer is convinced since they’re working on a shoestring budget, they are limited in the products in which they can choose. Sometimes, this might be the case, but in most circumstances it is not. Even with a sizable budget, it’s imperative that salespeople don’t get too focused on per unit costs of the products that they are selling, but rather a client’s overall marketing spend.
Instead of thinking about per unit costs which limits the customer’s choices, learn how to get an overall understanding of the client’s total marketing spend for the event, trade show, promotion, product launch or campaign. Then, begin to understand where the products you present fit into that bigger picture. I like to think about all of this in terms of a pie. I’ll fraction my client’s trade show budget pie off into five pieces, after we’ve discussed and learned some of her projected trade show expenditures. Her first “spend”, or piece of the pie, goes to her exhibitor company who makes her booth and graphics; the next piece to her transportation company; the next piece to her fulfillment house; the next piece for exhibition costs; and then finally, the last piece of the pie went to her marketing budget for uniforms and trade show giveaways.
In discussing my client’s exhibition costs, or the first piece of the pie; we learned that her exhibitor company outsourced table cloths, banners, graphics and the like, but specialized in the booth hardware. By asking questions, we learned that we could save our client money through our own promotional resources, trimming her booth design costs. Through this process, we also learned that our client’s transportation costs included a handling fee from her fulfillment house for holding the goods as we shipped them, and that she was also charged by the day. In addition, we knew she would be charged both shipping and handling fees for transporting the goods to the show. From that discussion, we worked to save our client money by shipping our products as close to the event date as possible and in some cases we shipped product directly to the trade show, cutting out fulfillment costs altogether. Due to this big picture planning, we were able to trim from the client’s overall trade show budget and shift that spend to promotions that our buyer could use to generate booth traffic, develop leads and promote sales. In my client’s eyes, I shifted from being a product salesperson to my client’s on-call consultant.
Now that the budget was finally determined; I started to break down my client’s needs for their uniforms and promotional giveaways for all attendees. We determined that the uniforms had to be top-notch and SCREAM quality. Next, we realized that we had different levels of needs for the attendees of the trade show. Those attendees were placed into into A, B, and C categories. All attendees who stopped by my client’s booth received an “C” level gift. (We needed lots of under $5.00 items that our client could hand out at will to anyone that stopped by.) Mid-level managers in attendance received a “B” gift with a higher spend and lower distribution, and executives were given a “A” level gift with an even higher budget and much lower distribution. We had four pieces of the pie this time, and determined our giveaways by focusing on the client’s total budget and not the client’s initial per unit cost directives. Inevitably, the client spent more on promotional product used or distributed at the trade show to promote company awareness and goodwill.
Tonia Allen Gould