A man’s practical gift

Giving any woman a gift could be quite easy. Women are fond of a lot of things, may it be in fashion or just stuffs around the house. Giving something to a man on the other hand is most often a different story. Picking out what they want and need could be an arduous job and somehow costly too.

gifts for men

Giving a man a gift could need some researching about what he is interested in, his hobbies and the job he has. The safest giveaway is always something practical. Opt for anything that can help him out at work, when getting into his hobbies, in performing some sports and in fulfilling his recreational activities.

In terms of the cost, well, you can always do something about it. The very first thing to do to be able to save is to plan the gift-giving way ahead of time. Never rush as this can land you into something out of budget. Now plan and finalize what you want to give. Visit different stores and find one that offers the product of good quality at a reasonable amount; or take some ample time to go on sale hunting. It is always wise to be in a look-out of grand mall sales.

Now, what specifically can you really give? As mentioned, give something practical and avoid clothing in general. If your man is a cyclist then you can give something that can be very functional on his bicycle or anything that he can easily carry around while doing his sport. If in case he loves to play basketball, then you can give him a pair of basketball shoes. Well, a pair of shoes can be a very neat gift to a man especially if that guy has been a friend of yours or partner for quite a time already. Although, when giving a gift like this to man, you have to be very careful as to not make any wrong impression of buying the man off with material things. For an office guy, you can give him something that will organize the files on his table. Contrary to what most people think of men as being passive with cleanliness and orderliness, men are in truth more organized than women, so to help them up with the task, a nice desk organizer can be very helpful. And for a homebody or a guy who is fond of doing things around the house, give him some tools that can be helpful in fixing household concerns or in carpentry. Consider giving the guy the best compound miter saw that you can check out at http://thebestmitersaw.com/. This piece of equipment can be highly useful in making that tiny or simple furniture around the house. With this, wood cutting can become easier and more accurate.

At this point, if the examples are not very helpful yet and you are still in doubt of what to give to your beau then remember that you can always go straight to him. By this, it means that you should not hesitate to ask him what he wants. In this case, you can be assured that your gift or the giveaway is really something that will make him very happy.
Remember, aside from considering what his passions and interests are, always give gifts in accordance to the depth of your relationship. Also, stay on budget and do not push too much in getting something that is way too expensive for the allotted money; as the saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts”. Truly, it’s not the cost that matters but the feelings behind the giving.

Creating Giveaways as a Marketing Strategy: Good or Bad?

GiveawayA lot of businesses create various marketing stratagies in order to promote their products and services. It is very important to do these marketing strategies so you can boost and promote your business without paying a lot. One of the marketing strategis that is popular nowadays is giveaways and promotions.
The prices can be anything: from a new product that will be launched to the latest service that can be availed for free when you join and win the giveaways.  This is one great strategy where you can get information of potential customers and, at the same time, develop and long term relationship with them.
If you are a small business (or any business for that matter) and want to promote your products and services without ease, doing giveaways as a marketing strategy is one of the best. And we will tell you why as you read on.

Giveways as Marketing Strategy

As we have mentioned, giveaways are very popular marketing strategies among businesses and it has never failed in promoting them, no matter how small or big. Here are some information you need to know about giveaways as marketing strategies.

What is a Giveaway?

First of all, what is a giveaway? A giveaways is a marketing promotion where establishments and businesses give away something for free—whether it is a product and service. They are used to spread the word about the business and make a name for themselves to the customers. This is also done so customers will continue to buy the product. The more people join the giveaways, the more possible customers the business will get. Giveaways come in the form of sweepstakes, contests, raffles and freebies.

How Effective is it?

Businesses invest a lot on giveaways because they know it is an easy way to attract customers and even develop a long term relationship with them.  It is a powerful and effective tool in making sales and making sure your brand is known to everyone. When you offer giveaways to your consumers, it can result into a flood of new and repeat customers who will always go back to your shop and buy more of your products and services.
The reason why giveaways almost always work is because it is on a two-fold aspect. For one thing, if those who win yoru products or services test it without them spending anything, they recognize the value of it more and will continue purchasing the product even after the giveaways end. There may even be a chance when they will get hooked on the product or service being given aways and will more often go to your shop and business to get more.
Second, becuase the product or service was give to the customer/consumer for free, there will be some sort of a psychilogical pressure to return the favor by continuing to purchase the products and services. Plus, aside from the free gift that they got, they  might be obliged to try other products and services too as a way to try it or say thank you for the free gift. We think the “Law of Reciprocity” applies here where people naturally feel obliged to return the favor as a way to say thanks.
But doing giveaways is not just about giving free gifts or holding contests just to increase your sales or develop customer service. You must think well about giveaways and what you must remember in order to have be successful in this strategy. And we are here to help you with that.

Things to Remember When Doing Giveaways

There are things you mus remember when doing giveaways so you can successful and get the sales that you need:

1. Information is key

Together with the giveaway, you should also give information regarding the giveaway and the product you plan to give.  It is not enough that you just say you have a giveaway, but do not provide all the details. There are a lot of social networking sites out there that you can use to promote your giveaways and products.
One example we can give is from Weaver Optics, an outdoor gear/sporting goods store that sells one of the best rifle scope and various guns. They held a giveaway where they gave out various gun accessories and one of them is the Weaver Grand Slam Riflescope and promoted it in their Facebook page. When people saw this, they looked for rifle scope reviews of this product and joined the giveaway after seeing its positive results.
As you can see, information is indeed key and you must give that to your customers.

2. Too Good To Be True

Don’t make your giveaways too good to be true or people will be skeptical about it. To avoid this, always explain how you can offer such a great deal and why you are offering them. Whether you are overstocked, got a great deal from your supplier, or you just want to say thank you in a meaningful way, just explain to them why the giveaways is great.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • When doing giveaways, it can result to improve in sales or traiff of expenditure.  This is one of the best ways to attract customers into buying or getting the store’s products and services.
  • It is also a great stand-alone advertising medium because it promotes the business, brand, product, services and the giveaway itself.
  • It can be added to the media mix and social networking, creating a huge impact on both the business and the consumer.
  • It gives a positive and great overall image to the business because it means they value the customers a lot. It leads to a higher likelihood of buying the products and availing of services again and again.
  • Allows repeared exposure to the compant’s message based on the repeated promotions and the lenght of time the products are used.
  • It offers a better perception of the business or store.
  • Repeated promotions of the giveaway makes the customers remember and recall the business/store name.
  • And when you do giveaways, you provide a higher likelihood of customers recommending it to others and haveing your customer base increase more.


  • When you do more giveaways than usual, there is the possibility that customers will expect more free products and promotions consistently.
  • When the giveaways stop, customers become disappointed and unsatisfied, thus your sales may drop and not do good to your store.
  • If you don’t plan giveaway well, this can decrease your sales and you may even lose money. You must avois needless pending along with wasting of income.
  • It is very diffciult to satisfy people so it is good to pick the right products for giveaways.
  • There are products that are sometimes hard to give as freebies like for instance, customized shirts or keychains. For examplein customized shirts, it is difficult to find the right shirt that will fit for customization. For keychains, it may not be the best promotional material because they are hidden and not often seen by people. Choosing the wrong type of product that does nothing to change customer perception of your business will waste money on an unsuccessful marketing campaign.
  • Many giveaways or promotional products are given or thrown away or used just once.


All in all, giveaways as marketing strategies is great and will make your business good. Just make sure to plan it and that it won’t affect your store or business. Let our guide help you with that.

Pushing Bigger Buys

Whether it’s sweepstakes, merchandising events or price-point specials, vending promotions are essential elements of turning single-item sales into larger, more frequent purchases. Often done in partnership with suppliers, promotions are designed to make customers’ daily vending visits a more enjoyable activity. In turn, these unique contests and giveaways generate higher vending sales, higher customer satisfaction and more product sales and brand recognition for suppliers–a win-win situation for everyone.

Brian King, Compass Group’s dir. of marketing and creative services, creates four or five new promotions a year for the Canteen Vending Services division, which go out to 90% of its clients across many segments, including healthcare, colleges and B&I.

Marketed under the brand-name Sparx–New Ideas from Canteen, the promotions are major events customized in partnership with at least two suppliers. One of the tricks, King explains, is to tell people through visuals what you want them to do. Show products together in a happy scene–the all-important point-of-purchase merchandising display.

Gift 1

“What we try to do is suggest a combination purchase in one consumer visit. We do that by offering fun activities and opportunities to win exciting prizes with that purchase behavior. But you have to get something in front of consumers that they can understand in two to three seconds. You’ve got a captive audience, but you still need to capture interest,” King warns.

Habit building: With a lively promotion, he says, companies can increase the number of times the consumer comes to the vending area. “We’re building the habit and giving them another reason to come down and look at the machines. That has translated into sales increases–at the low end 4%, but more typically we’re talking in the 6% to 7% range. We’ve even seen double-digit increases.” King adds that Canteen’s sales force markets the colorful programs to prospective clients as a point of difference from its competitors.

Currently he’s partnering with Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay, Hard Rock Cafe and American Airlines for a promotion called “Two Ways to Rock Your Snack.” A purchase of either Lay’s potato chips or regular Pepsi gives buyers a chance to win a coupon that offers a $5 discount on Hard Rock merchandise when purchased over the web. Or winners can take the coupon to a Hard Rock location and get a free dessert valued at $5. In addition, instant-win prizes include Hard Rock duffel bags, leather jackets and limited-edition motto pin sets.

Gift 2

Wood Dining Services has run continuous vending promotions since 1994 at a large Baltimore/Washington, DC-area account. On glass-front machines, static-cling posters give details on the giveaways customers might get if they purchase the winning item.

When a customer gets a product with a “WINNER” sticker, he calls the company’s vending office at headquarters to claim the prize, using the number provided on the sticker. Over the years, prizes have included bicycles, Baltimore Orioles baseball and Baltimore Ravens football tickets, gas grills, T-shirts, hats, stuffed animals, key rings and other items.

Participating suppliers, which donate all prizes, include Frito-Lay, Pepsi-Cola, Snapple, Coca-Cola, Nestle, M&M Mars, Hershey and Act II Popcorn. Some promos are run for a month and others for just a week, depending on the promotion and supplier.

Vending customers are happy with the ongoing program and enjoy participating, says Leiba Parmeter, marketing coordinator. “Our customer base for vending is young and they just love winning whatever it is.”

Free samples: At another Wood account, staff offers tastings of vending food tied in with surveys, T-shirts and more. To increase traffic through vending areas, coffee machines run on free-vend for the day the promotion runs. This tactic encourages people to try products they wouldn’t normally try, officials point out. Random free vends in food machines are also very popular with this location’s customers.

The most recent ARAMARK vending promotion was run last spring, in conjunction with Nabisco. A $5 folded-up Pizza Hut gift certificate was attached to the back of four different products. Machines in all locations had four winners over the course of the promotion.

“It’s an instant win and immediate gratification,” says Mary Halloran, v.p. of mktg. for ARAMARK Refreshment Services. “They take the taped coupon from the back of the cookie bag to their Pizza Hut and use it.” Prizes from past promotions include a coupon for a free video rental at Blockbuster or a $5 cash card at Kmart. Both prizes were tied in with Frito-Lay, so again customers became instant winners when they discovered the notice taped to the back of their snack bags. Posters announcing the promotion are set up near the machines and a static-cling notice is attached to the front of the unit to reinforce the display.

Halloran does national promotions twice yearly, primarily for B&I clients, but says on the local level the company adds a couple more. ARAMARK has been running vending promos for many years, but the programs have evolved over time. “Our focus in vending is on employee needs. That research, different prizes and instant win demonstrate an example of our employee focus,” Halloran states.


Cola giants pack promotional power

At the U.S. House of Representatives, Beth Stankewich, Guest Services’ dir. of food svcs., does most vending promotions with Coca-Cola. Sometimes Coke buyers will receive a coupon for another Coke product right on the bottle or can. Or, the coupon might be good for a Coke fountain drink or bottled beverage in one of the House’s eight food operations.

Monthly raffles for prizes are also run; customers fill out entry blanks with no purchase necessary. Prizes vary from Coke products to a seasonal gift, like this summer’s picnic cooler. Stankewich says Guest Services’ national account is with Pepsi so the company does periodic Pepsi promotions as well.

“We get a lot of positive feedback when customers come in to redeem coupons or pick up prizes, and from comment cards,” she notes. The account is in its second year of running company-generated promos and Stankewich has seen nice sales increases in vending overall. “I will continue to run these promotions based on their success and the favorable reaction I’ve had.”

Giveaways: Freebie favourites

1. Confectionery

Simple but very effective and an exhibition stalwart, as everyone loves a free chocolate. Sweet Temptations offers branded confectionery and its current clients include financial services firm Medex Direct, which uses its lollipop sweets, chocolate bars and chocolate fountain as a mainstay.


‘The chocolate fountain has proved an absolute show-stopper,’ explains Sweet Temptations director Colin Levene. He should know – he’s even managed to sell his products to dental clients for use on their stands in recent times.

2. Goody bags

goody bags

Not only will most people gladly accept goody bags, but they also attract attention as recipients carry them around. They can be as exclusive or mass market as you like, and the latter option doesn’t mean skipping on creativity. Julia Harris, partner at Ultimate Promotions, says: ‘One of our clients makes inflatable beds and exhibited at this year’s Ideal Home Exhibition. We created 300 gift bags for the press day containing eye-masks, ‘do not disturb’ signs and chocolates and they proved a real hit.’

3. Colour-Change products

Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but a great way to go beyond the norm. B&H Colour Change supplies clients such as Kingfisher Gift Vouchers.

Kingfisher recently ran a competition on a pre-exhibition mailer containing a colour-changing ice cream spoon to bring to the stand. They received free ice cream and if the spoon changed colour from pink to blue when placed in it, the recipient won incentive vouchers.

4. Funky info packs

Everyone needs to get their details out there, but with delegates swamped with unwieldy information, how do you stand out? One solution is the iKyp – a pocket-sized data holder featuring retractable information cards.

Recent users include The Kennel Club at last year’s Discover Dogs show.

‘We needed a device that communicated lots of information to both children and parents,’ says Kennel Club marketing manager Fiona Pearce. ‘The iKyp’s huge capacity for information provided the perfect solution.’

5. Business cards

With all and sundry dishing out their cards at shows, the challenge is to get yours noticed. One way to leave a lasting impression post-exhibition is with Mint Cards – credit card-sized containers filled with sugar-free mints – from Propaganda. Available in a variety of colours, they can be printed in up to four colours. Recent fans include consulting firm Sinclair Knight Merz, which has been using them successfully at exhibitions to drive brand awareness.

6. Clothing

Free caps, t-shirts and badges may not seem the most inspiring choice, but when a megabrand such as Microsoft puts its weight behind promotional clothing, it’s fair to say that it must work for them. Since 2001, BTC Group has produced merchandise for Microsoft’s annual TechEd conference and exhibition, which attracts 7,000 delegates. BTC decks out Microsoft’s exhibition staff as well as producing caps, pens, stationery and party items, which the supplier says form a vital part of reinforcing Microsoft’s position as show organiser.

7. Interactive information

Described as a cost-effective giveaway by supplier Propaganda, the Web Key creates an instant link to your firm’s website via the USB socket to provide post-event brand recognition. It’s available in a range of colours with a large print area for personalisation. Recent exhibition users include IT specialist Computer Services.

8. Pens

Perhaps the most dependable of giveaways, the pen may seem obvious, but it needn’t be uninspiring. The Yoropen may look odd but it is surprisingly comfortable and easy to use. It offers finger support, adjustable grip, extra visual space so you can see what you’re writing, and supplier Coles says it’s also ideal for left-handed people. Converts include London-based courier and transport company Addison Lee at shows such as Olympia’s Business Travel Show.

9. Recycled products

With environmentally friendly premiums in demand, suppliers have stepped up their efforts. CN Promotions has sourced lines from Remarkable such as mousemats made from recycled tyres (right), which CN business development manager Christine Eden says have been a huge exhibition hit. ‘We work with a lot of environmentally-minded bodies and it’s great that so many innovative recycled products have come on stream.’

10. Electricals

High perceived value means that almost everyone loves a gadget. A 64-megabyte USB memory stick keyring from the Electrical Incentive Company (EIC) costs from pounds 7 per unit and was given away by the firm to draw customers to its stand at last year’s National Incentive Show. ‘We demonstrated its abilities and handed them out with our price file and product details pre-saved on them,’ says EIC director Ray Jobz. ‘The show proved to be a great success for us.’

For that fussy executive

For that fussy executive, Balok would try a yo-yo By KAREN GENGENBACHEDDY

Elaine Balokhs gifts list is so long this year that she’s turning over her law practice to a colleague and coverting her downtown office to a gift showroom.

gifts showrom

Gifts Showrom

No, the office full of gifts isn’t all for her friends and family. The array of 130 gifts is for customers of her business, Gift Connection, which is going on its third holiday season.

Gift Connection selects, wraps and delivers gifts priced from $5 to $300. The service charge is $6.50 per gift, with a discount for larger orders. Balok generally goes to her clients, but during December, her downtown office will be open for perusal several afternoons a week.

“We’re here to make the lives of business people easier and to make it convenient for them to provide thank yous, welcoming VIP gifts, employee awards, and gifts for their family and friends.,” says Balok, 40.

Gift Connection initially catered to small to medium-sized businesses in the downtown area. But now she fills requests throughout San Diego County.

“Most people tell me they could easily call the florist, but they want to do something different,” says Balok, who strives to tailor her gifts to meet special needs.

“For one company we do an employee-of-the-month gift basket. It contains business items like a leather portfolio, a Cross pen set, not4e pads and gold-plated paper clips,” she says. “For one dentist who wanted to say thanks without promoting tooth decay, we created baskets with an assortment of popcorns.”

For the holidays, Balok says, “The most consistent request is a gift basket with gourmet foods. But this year I’m getting requests for more fun items. California people take themselves less seriously,. so hardwood yo-yos for the excutive, money socks for financial people or handmade kaleidoscopes are some high-class fun itmes.”

Balok buys at gift shows from Los Angeles to New York. For unique items, she searches out craftpeople. Two of her local sources are Ray Gordon, who hand carves wooden clocks — a favorite with attorneys — and Carrara di Carrara, who supplies her with marble vases. For more traditional items, she deals with major gift and jewelry companies.

She’s also developed her own line of recycled note pads.

Balok became a professional shopper in 1985. With a partner who has since left, she used $25,000 in savings to buy Gift Connection’s initial $12,000 inventory.

“I’m a born shopper,” she explains. “All the articles about starting a small business say go into something you know about and, I though I knew something about this one.”

Her profit comes from her ability to buy wholesale from vendors rather than from her service charge. She pays a secretary, one part-time employee, and takes on extra help during the holidays. She expects to break into the black this year with sales of $50,000.

Balok thinks she’s profiting from a change in people’s attitudes. “Years ago I waxed my own car,” She says. “Now I don’t do that anymoer. The change in attitude is toward services.”

“All the articles about strting a small business say go into something you know about, and I thought I knew something about this one.”

Lorrain Griswold, sales manager for Money Financial Services, agrees. “I work and have a 4-month-old baby,” Griswold says, “and I just don’t have the time to go out and shop.” She turned to Balok for National Secretaries Week gifts for her office staff and for a Valentine’s Day gift for her husband.

Eleanor Jaeschke, vice president of accounting at N.N. Jaeschke Inc., a property management and service business, used Balok for two years to put together 100 employee Christmas baskets. Says Jaescheke: “We also use her for our employee-of-the-month program. I call her a few days before the award, give her some information about the person, and she takes it from there.”

Gift Connection is hardly Balok’s first project. She says she usually does two or three things at once. In addition to a law degree, she has a background in administration.

She’s worked for six years as an assistant to three city managers: Ray Blair, Sy Murray and John Lockwood. While in the city manager’s office, she reorganized the paramedic system and worked on the dial-a-ride and Sander projects. She quit her part-time county job in April to devote full time to her gift business.

Balok is quite aware, however, that she’s running a risky enterprise. Four personal shopping services listed in the March 1987 Yellow Pages have gone under. “I think that at the holidays, people consider this an interesting business. They get started and then are unable to carry it through. I think we’ve lasted because we plan for peaks by adding extra people and supplies, and we cultivate our holiday customers and bring to their attention other times during the year to thank people and get their company’s name out,” she says.

Balok’s competitors range from florists to specialty advertising people. One well-established local speciality advertiser is The Recognition People. As a listed distributor for the Advertising Specialty Institute, the firm has access to hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers, says owner Augie Sindone.

He says he can do gift baskets too, but notes he’s somewhat more quantity-oriented with the distributors, setting both the price and the number of items he needs to order. Sindone lists such clients as PSA and Merrill Lynch.

Key to distinguishing Gift Connection, Balok says, are variety and flexibility. “We try to reach those companies who may not want pen and pencil sets for everyone, and we offer the idea of general gifts. I get last minute calls from people saying, “The company is having a dinner party and I need a hostess gift for tomorrow night,’ or ‘We have an employee who is ill and we want to get something right over to the hospital.’” She carries an inventory to accommodate last minute requests.

Balok’s plans for the future include developing a catalogue and tapping the convention and business travelers’ market. She is a member of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and has been active on its host committee.

Giveaways boost volume in 2d Samplefest at Byerly’s

Byerly'sFor the second consecutive year, Byerly’s has run a four-day food giveaway called Samplefest, which proved so successful that the cost of the promotion was absorbed in three weeks through increased sales, according to Don Byerly, president.
The promotion, which ran Oct. 7-10 – 1984, featured 400 demonstrators giving away over 200 food items at Byerly’s six superstores. Among the sample fare were cheese, pizza, soup, salad dressings, dips and ice cream, all washed down with cups of cider, soft drinks and dealcoholized wine.
Although Byerly lauded the promotion’s impact, he declined to release any sales figures or explain to what extent the demonstrations were paid for by participating manufacturers.
Byerly first thought of the idea for a sampling promotion while attending an FMI convention.
“I watched grocers with millions of dollars of inventory in their own stores hit the exhibit floor. All they could think about was getting a free piece of pizza or a hot dog.
“The excitement and enthusiasm for trying even old established products was part of it,” Byerly said. “It struck me that it might be kind of fun to expose our consumers to a similar experience.”
This year, Byerly estimated customers consumed 552 gals. of wild rice soup, 10,000 ice cream cones, and 500 lbs. of parmesan cheese salad dressing. At one store, more than 125 gals. of soft drinks were given away.
“One of the problems you have when you don’t advertise or give away dishes and encyclopedias is that the store doesn’t change much from week to week. It can get a little boring. We wanted to do something that would create a little excitement.”
Byerly altered his institutional-advertising-only policy somewhat to spread the word about Samplefest. The chain ran a quarter-page ad in dailies in Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Cloud, and bought radio time to promote the event.
Organization for the promotion began in August. Store managers decided where to put demonstration tables. Manufacturers were contacted for participation. In some cases, they carried the entire cost of product sampling. With more expensive products, they sometimes agreed to pay partial costs. With private-label products, however, such as wild rice soup and ice cream, Byerly’s absorbed all sampling costs.
To minimize aisle congestion, Byerly’s store managers made an effort to spread demonstrators throughout the store. They extended employe hours to make sure there would be enough help to keep the stores clean. When demonstrators arrived the first day, managers gave them additional training to insure that their approach to customers would be consistent with the service-oriented upscale Byerly image.
Managers had learned from last year’s mistakes, byerly said. For example, toothpicks were seldom used to serve samples. “They get all over the store,” said Byerly, “and they’re really difficult to pick up with a carpet sweeper.” Instead, Byerly’s substituted pretzel sticks. “The consumer gets two items instead of one,” he said, “and since a pretzel is a consumable utensil, there is less mess in the store.”
Last year, some customers who arrived early or late to sample were disappointed. Although the promotion had been advertised as an eight-hour event, demonstrators needed 10-15 minutes to set up or dismantle demonstrations and could not serve shoppers for the entire period. This year, sampling was promoted from noon to 7:30 p.m. to give demonstrators adequate preparation time.
Products served over the four days varied. To cut preparation time, some items were prepared in the chain’s central commissary, some were served from store kitchens and others were prepared on site. To relieve demonstrators serving popular items, workers stepped in during break periods and for lunch. Otherwise, customers waiting in line would be disappointed.
BOSTON — Stop & Shop recently ran its own Sample Fest in all stores from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 21-27. It was backed by radio, television and print advertising.
A spokesman said it was the first time the chain had used this type of promotion and that the company was “very pleased with the results.” He added that Stop & Shop would consider doing it again.
All of the planning was done inhouse. National and local companies participated in the promotion; every area was covered, including groceries, produce, meats and general merchandise.
The program was flexible enabling local firms to limit sampling to just a few stores.
Some product demonstrations that required cooking or preparation were stationary. Other demonstrators walked around the stores with trays, offering samples. In addition, some companies offered coupons.
Product displays from participating companies were set up by Stop & Shop.
The chain also gave out booklets to customers with 150 coupons worth over $40 in redemptions good for one month. Products featured in the booklets included both items represented in the Sample Fest and others that were not.

Take a new look at giveaways

Just about every business gives customers T-shirts or mugs. Chosen carefully and distributed correctly, however, promotional givewaways can set your store apart.
Here are some suggestions for making the most of promotional giveaways, or ad specialties.
Define your target customer. “Ad specialties differ from other forms of advertising in that they are highly personalized,” explained Rick Ebel, director of marketing communications at Promotional Products Association International, Irving, Texas. “They are gifts from the store to the customer.” Like any gift, ad specialties need to be chosen carefully to please the recipient.
Answer these questions in defining your audience:


  •  Age?
  •  Gender?
  •  Education?
  •  Income?
  •  Hobbies and interests?
  •  Travel habits?
  •  Location?
  •  Shopping frequency?


Plan your distribution. Giveaways are commonly distributed at the store. “Don’t be restrained about handing them out,” advised Dr. Dan S. Bagley III, director of the school of mass communications at the University of South Florida, Tampa.
Promotional giveaways are generally inexpensive. An imprinted pen can cost less than a quarter when purchased in quantities of 400. Other typical prices are $1.69 for commuter “no-spill” mugs, $1.79 for a drink glass, 49[cents] for a note pad, 24[cents] for a key tag, 16[cents] for a balloon, $14.99 for an umbrella, $4.19 for a golf cap, and $7.99 for a T-shirt.
In return for your investment, you get a more durable advertising vehicle than an expensive newspaper ad. And a customer who uses your giveaway is more likely to return to your store.
Commonly, a basket of giveaways is placed on the sales counter. For more-personal distribution, Bagley suggests, keep the basket under the counter. After a transaction, thank the customer and then say, “Wait a minute, I’d like you to have something.” Then pull out the giveaway.
Invite new customers to receive a gift with, say, a specified number of rentals. One gift suggested by Ken Kelsey, president of Kelsey Advertising Promotions, Livonia, Mich., is a desk folder with the customer’s name embossed on it.
Tie your giveaways to other advertising. “You can use specialty advertising in conjunction with every other form of advertising,” noted Wingfield Hughes, president of Forrester-Smith, a Riverview. Fla., distributor of promotional giveaways. “For example, a newspaper ad may invite the public to visit your store for a free coffee mug.” And a slogan from the ad can be printed on the mug.

Most popular giveaways
                                       Sales relative to total
                                           giveaway sales
Wearables                                       22.2%
Writing instruments                             13.1
Glassware/ceramics                               9.9
Recognition awards(*)                            9.8
Desk accessories                                 9.2
Calendars                                        7.8
Sporting goods                                   6.9
Buttons/badges/stickers/magnets                  6.8
Automative accessories                           4.2
Other                                            4.1
Housewares/tools                                 2.4
Food gifts                                       1.9
Games/toys/balloons                              1.7
* Trophies, emblem jewelry, clocks and watches.

Promote frequent shopping. “For example,” Kelsey suggested, “have calendars imprinted with coupons on the bottom of each month’s page. Each coupon is good for a discount or a gift that month.” The calendar might also be imprinted with release dates for hot titles.
Personalize the gift. A good gift for frequent renters, for example, is a variation on an old standby: the coffee mug. Enhance the value of the mug, though, by imprinting the customer’s name on the front and your store name and logo in lead-free ink on the inside bottom. Alternatively, you can invite customers to sign their names on white paper and have the signature imprinted on the cup.
This customization will add to the cost, of course. A plain coffee cup imprinted with your store name may run $2 in quantities of 200 or so. Add another $2 for imprinting the customer’s name. Generally, you provide the distributor the names for imprinting, and the mugs are delivered to you.
Kelsey recommends porcelain rather than ceramic mugs because porcelain has a more prestigious look and accepts graphics better. This adds another $2 or $3 to the cost, though.
Is it really worthwhile to spend up to $7 for a mug? Yes, if you carefully target your distribution.
Pens are also candidates for personalization. Typically, a distributor will require that you purchase 100 customized pens, at a cost of up to about $18 each, depending on the quality. The distributor holds them in stock, and you supply the customers’ names to be imprinted. These can be as few as one or two a week. The imprinting is often done at no extra charge.
Here are some additional uses for giveaways:
* Enhance your store image. T-shirts, caps and other wearables can be used to advertise your store name. Have employees wear them on the job. And they can be offered as a gift if customers spend a specified amount.
* Promote slow seasons. Just prior to a month that is usually slow, mail out a giveaway. Or offer a free imprinted tote bag to anyone who spends over a certain amount that month.
“Retailers today are engaged in a war of value rather than price,” Bagley said. “Part of that value is psychological. Ad specialties can help make your store image shine in the minds of customers who come back to shop again and again.”


How to turn yesterday’s giveaway into today’s promotional power. (Part 2)

promtiotion, products, priceAs In previous article mentioned, there are 7 ways to get that Extra Edge. The following is the remaining 4 ways in 7 ways:

4. Use the promotional product to get attention.

Cutting through all the clutter and getting the customer’s attention is the key to marketing today. If used correctly, promotional products can make the difference between dull and innovative.
A financial services company had spent millions of dollars in print advertising in an unsuccessful attempt to get the attention of companies relocating to areas where the firm had offices. The company’s ad agency came up with another approach which was highly focused and aimed at just six people – the key executives of an international firm.
Each one received a $400 leather briefcase filled with an exciting array of executive gifts and pertinent information about the company and the area. The briefcases provided the recipients with a thorough “briefing” for both relocating and for doing business with the company.
So impressive was this rather unorthodox presentation that one company officer receiving a briefcase called the financial services firm and made arrangements to deposit $18 million! A $10 million advertising campaign couldn’t get the attention of the right people – a briefcase with the right message did.

5. Take advantage of the power of personalization.

What should be one of the most obvious benefits of a promotional product is often missed. It’s the use of the recipient’s name, whether it’s an individual, a company or an organization. Everything from pencils to plaques can be personalized.
Tens of thousands of coffee mugs are given away every day. Some are used in offices, others are taken to someone’s vacation cabin, while a majority wind up on a shelf somewhere. But not the 400 mugs presented to the employees of a manufacturing company in Massachusetts.
As part of a major safety program. the employees received coffee mugs, individually personalized with their names. Instantly, the mugs became personal property, as if a “this is mine: do not touch” sign went on each one.
More than anything else, personalized gifts are perceived to be of more value.
They go beyond just giving something. Those receiving the gifts know someone took time to think specifically of them. This is what gives the personalized gift its unusual power.

6. Enhance the impact of a promotional product by giving it special value.

Magnets are particularly popular today. Refrigerators and filing cabinets are covered with them. But does anyone really read what they say? Or is their value inherent in what they do – hold papers, notes, orders and whatever? In other words, magnets may be seen and used, but that’s where it ends.
This need not be the end, however, as a regional accounting firm has discovered. Instead of choosing some cute little magnet, the firm decided on one that measures 3-3/4[inches] by 8[inches]. Designed specifically for the front of filing cabinets, the magnet lists which financial records should be kept for what periods of time in order to meet tax requirements.
Are these magnets useful? Absolutely. Will the accounting firm’s name be on display in dozens and dozens of offices? Of course. But it’s not only the firm’s current clients who are requesting the magnets. Others want them, too. As a result, the magnets are actually creating leads.
What’s important to note is that lists of records to keep have been around for decades. No one could remember where they were filed. Now, they’re right where they belong – on the front of the file drawer – along with the accounting firm’s name and telephone number.

7. Finally, remember that “memorable” is of far more value than “useful.”

“We want something that will be used on a person’s desk,” is the common request. If it meets the “useful test,” it’s considered a valuable promotional product.
In many situations, passing the “memorable test” is far more important to achieving the goal. The briefcases were memorable first and useful second.
Soon after the Gulf War ended, a marketing services firm ordered 100 “Desert Storm” camouflage pens, with the company name imprinted in gold. The pens were sent to prospects with an accompanying letter indicating that a marketing firm’s role is to increase the visibility of its clients, while it stays in the background unseen. More than a year later, people are still talking about the camouflage pens. The mailing was memorable.
The president of the company that mailed the pens opened an envelope one day from someone who had received a pen. But the sheet of letterhead inside was blank, so he called the prospect. Instantly, the prospect’s secretary started to laugh over the phone, stating, “He wrote the letter

How to turn yesterday’s giveaway into today’s promotional power. (Part 1)

Promotional productsIndustry spends an estimated $2 billion a year on promotional products or “ad specialties.” Produced by the millions, they range in price from pennies apiece to literally thousands of dollars each.
Almost without exception, these products are “imprinted with a company name or a message. Most of these items are viewed as “goodwill builders,” “gimmicks” or “giveaways” for attracting attention.
To describe them as essential to promoting a business would be a substantial exaggeration in the minds of most ad specialty or promotional product buyers. In good times, when there’s plenty of money in the company coffers, buyinggiveaways can be justified, but when things get tight, forget about the pens, T-shirts, coffee mugs and colorful sunglasses.
Yet there are significant examples of how promotional products can play an integral role at setting the stage for companies to increase sales. In effect, the power is not in the promotional product, but in the way the particular product or item is used. Many firms are getting positive results from carefully crafted promotional programs built around the right promotional product.
Here are seven ways to put the persuasive power of promotional products to work:

1. Choose a product with the correct fit for what you want to accomplish.

A businessowner took delivery on a new Lincoln Continental several years ago. He had dreamed about the moment he would be handed the keys to his first luxury automobile. The day arrived and the car was delivered to his office by the salesman. But, he will never forget when the keys were dropped in his hand, attached to a cheap, plastic key holder! He had spent more than $30,000 for the car and the dealer had diminished the importance of the sale by giving him a 19-cent key ring!
On the other hand, an aggressive insurance broker offered custom T-shirts at a landscape contractor trade show for completing a brief information form. The shirts went like hotcakes because the company had invested time, effort and money into creating a shirt with attractive, colorful artwork with an appropriate, creative message: “We dig landscaping.”
Every contractor wanted a shirt. It could be worn any time, anywhere because it told the contractor’s story, and, by implication, it sent the landscapers a message about the insurance agency.
At a very small show, these insurance people wrote five new accounts and received an additional 26 qualified leads.
Each shirt cost about $10. Was it worth the money? Yes.
The insurance agency has already signed up for the next landscapers trade show!
By making the promotional-product fit what you want to accomplish, you actually build business. By the way, the auto dealer could have accomplished his goal of impressing the customer by using a leather key holder imprinted with the customer’s name and placing it in a presentation case.

2. Build your promotion around a theme.

More often than not, it isn’t the promotional product itself that turns out to be the problem. It’s the way it’s used that renders the item ineffective.
A bank in Miami, FL, did it the right way. When the bank moved one of its branches, the marketing director realized most of the customers were senior adults who might be wary of going to the new location, even though it was less than a mile away from the old office.
The bank’s marketing agency came up with a comedy theme, “Laugh All the Way to the Bank,” for a promotional program designed to appeal to the senior market and acquaint the older customers with the new location.
Customers were given a fun (but inexpensive) gift – hand buzzers, whoopie cushions, windup “chattering” teeth, bent pencils – each time they came in and used a banking service at the new branch. The promotion resulted in retaining the current customers and actually introducing, many to banking services they had never used.
When the promotion came to an end, the results were positive for both the bank and its customers.

3. Make sure to do a good job connecting the promotional product to your business.

Just handing out pens or mailing calendars isn’t enough. There’s nothing to connect the gift with your company, yet it’s the connection that makes the difference.
A marketing services firm wrote an article asking the question, “What does every customer want?” The answer was “ESS,” which stands for enthusiasm, solutions and service, three qualities customers expect from people they do business with. The firm offered a gold “ESS” lapel pin for the asking, attached to an attractive, colorful card explaining ESS.
As a result of the article being published, the marketing firm has, over the last few years, distributed several thousand ESS pins, which have come to symbolize its creativity and understanding of what customers expect. In other words, a simple three-letter pin has come to express a company’s philosophy – and the company name doesn’t even appear on it!