Swag Your Way to Success: Leveraging Merchandise for Marketing Impact

Are the days of corporate branded pens, sticky notes, notebooks and t-shirts dead? Do we really have too many travel mugs, coffee mugs and ChapSticks? In marketing, “swag” typically refers to promotional merchandise branded with a company’s logo or messaging. These items are often distributed internally and externally. Overall, the goal of providing swag is to enhance brand recognition, create positive associations, and foster a sense of loyalty among recipients. But does it actually work or are companies just wasting their money on items that go straight to the donation bin, junk drawer or even the trash once at home? 

Does Swag Benefit a Business?

It is the million dollar question! If my company purchases $X amount in swag for external use, what is our return on investment going to be? Unfortunately, there isn’t a math equation that can calculate your ROI when it comes to swag. But what we can tell you is that swag can contribute to other things in the business world.

From a marketing perspective, the optimal swag category typically consists of affordable, practical items that fulfill a specific need without the need to compete with higher-end or sentimental alternatives. For instance, items like inexpensive lens cleaner solutions, which serve a functional purpose without requiring an emotional attachment, fall into this category. But higher end items, like name brand jackets that are practical in everyday living, and cost more than other swag, may end up having a positive impact on the end user’s emotions and experience with the product. Remember, when a logo is on the clothing, they will become a walking billboard and thus part of your advertising team.

When considering swag items, it’s crucial to recognize that the difference between low-cost and high-end alternatives may be marginal for most individuals. Since people generally do not have sentimental attachments to these types of products, opting for cost-effective solutions can offer a favorable cost/benefit ratio. However, does lower cost then relate to the item going straight into the community kitchen cupboard with the rest of the coffee mugs, or in the pen cup to never be the preferred pen?

Purchasing in bulk can make swag items more affordable and can provide excellent value as they offer repeated exposure to individuals. Continued and ongoing exposure reinforces brand visibility and can lead to increased brand recall and engagement over time, making them an effective marketing investment.

What Swag is the Best Swag?

Aha! Another million dollar question! And likely what you truly came to read about. The list of possible swag options is quite endless. From the usual pens, sticky notes, coffee cups and water bottles, to brand name clothing, shoes, electronics and beyond, there is a wide array of options to choose from. Things can also vary from internal employee products to external potential customer products.

Let’s start with the external swag. Think trade shows, events, introductory meetings, or just stuff that you leave in your car to hand out when you meet someone new. These are all items that should leave a lasting impression on potential customers. Popular swag items for this group can include things like: 

  • T-shirts and hats, but many say the t-shirts end up becoming pajamas or gym shirts if they are not comfortable for everyday wear or just are too much branding. Hats are hit or miss because people have preferences. Save the hats for people who you know are hat people.
  • Pens, sticky notes and notepads are always useful, but only if they are quality. Think about pens that write really nice, maybe have a stylus on the other end and are nice to grip. Sticky notes that are small enough to throw in a bag, but are not flimsy, and notepads that people actually want to use. Maybe they have jokes or tips on them. Even better are notepads that have sayings that people like to reshare on them.
  • Tote bags that are insulted or any other branded merchandise that serves as a tangible and useful representation of the company or brand. This could also encompass socks, as this has been known to be a popular item in cold places, along with hand warmers and scarves. For those warmer climates, branded sunscreen, sunglasses, facial mist, etc. might be really appreciated and used often.
  • Random other items that are useful that people love to get are mini sewing kits, ice gel packs, mints, calendars and badge/ID holders/pulls.

Internal swag typically costs a bit more as it is usually looked at as an investment into the employee. The employee should then feel valued and a part of the team with their inclusion to the swag club. Popular internal employee swag can include:

  • Backpacks and clothing are always the first things we suggest to give out. It is nice to have a designated backpack just for your work items. Make it nice though as you hope that the employee will stay for a long time thus the backpack should last a long time. As far as clothing goes, we suggest actually getting the employees sizes and giving them size-appropriate clothing. There is nothing worse than always just getting XL clothing because that’s all they have (unless you happen to be lucky enough to be that size!) Also, it is really recommended to go big on the quality of the clothing so that your employees will actually want to wear it. Items that will last after weekly washing in hopes they will wear it to and from the office at least once a week. 
  • Useful electronic-themed items portable chargers, branded charging cables, phone stands for the desk or car, pop sockets for the phone, 
  • Industry-themed ideas like industry shaped paper clips (you could get really creative with this!), branded Tide to Go pens for lunch accidents, ChapStick since lips always get dry in offices and great for the purse and pockets, and coasters for your desk.
  • And don’t forget that your internal employees may also want the swag for your external people, so let them pick and choose. You may find that some items are liked more than others and this can help determine whether you want to get those items again or not.

The Bottom Line

Obtaining swag can bestow some fraction to sales indirectly by strengthening brand recognition, fostering positive associations with the brand, and increasing customer loyalty. When recipients use or wear swag items, they essentially become walking advertisements and billboards for the brand, exposing it to a wider audience. Additionally, receiving swag can create a sense of reciprocity or goodwill, making potential and current customers more inclined to engage with the brand in various forms or make a purchase in the future.

The impact of swag on sales can be positive or even negative depending on various factors. The quality of the items, how well they align with the brand’s image, the context in which they’re distributed, and the overall effectiveness of the marketing strategy are just some factors we can relate back to sales. While swag and only swag alone may not directly result in immediate sales, it can play a valuable role in building brand awareness and strengthening customer relationships, ultimately contributing to long-term sales growth. And it is even better when swag is personalized, perceived as a wanted item and is something that can be used time and time again. 

Reel Success: How Creating Reels Can Boost Your Business

In today’s fast-paced world of social media marketing, staying ahead of the curve is key to business success. With platforms constantly evolving, it’s crucial to adapt and embrace new features that can elevate your brand to new heights. One such feature that has taken the social media world by storm is reels. Have you tried to create a reel? If not, or maybe you did but didn’t get the outcome you wanted, read on!

The Power of Reels for Businesses

Reels, short-form video content lasting up to 90 seconds on Instagram and Facebook, offer a unique opportunity for businesses to engage with their audience in a creative and dynamic way. Whether you’re showcasing your products, sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of your company culture, or offering quick tips and tutorials, reels provide a platform to captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.

Who Watches Reels?

The beauty of reels lies in their broad appeal. From Gen Z to Baby Boomers, people of all ages and demographics are tuning in to watch these bite-sized videos. Whether scrolling through their Instagram feed during a coffee break or catching up on the latest trends before bed, users are drawn to reels for their entertaining and informative content.

How Long Should Reels Be?

While reels can last up to 90 seconds, shorter is often sweeter in the world of social media. Aim to keep your reels between 15 to 30 seconds to maximize engagement. This concise format ensures that your message is delivered quickly and effectively, grabbing the viewer’s attention and leaving them wanting more.

Criteria for Successful Reels

To create reels that resonate with your audience and drive business results, consider the following criteria:

1. Authenticity: Authenticity is key to connecting with your audience on social media. Be genuine, show your personality, and let your brand’s unique voice shine through in your reels.

2. Creativity: Get creative and think outside the box when brainstorming reel ideas. Experiment with different formats, music, and effects to make your content stand out from the crowd. While it is always fun to jump on the trend bandwagons, those videos get stale fast.

3. Relevance: Keep your reels relevant to your audience and your brand. Whether you’re sharing product demonstrations, customer testimonials, or industry insights, make sure your content provides value to your viewers.

4. Call to Action: Don’t forget to include a clear call to action in your reels, but don’t always be the sales person. Whether it’s encouraging users to like, comment, or share your content, or directing them to your website or online store, a compelling call to action can help drive engagement and conversions.

Which is better – Reels or TikToks?

What sets TikTok apart from Reels? While TikTok enjoys greater popularity, Reels boasts a wider array of features. Each app has its own strengths, leaving the choice of which is best for you entirely up to personal preference. The chart below, from planable, shows the difference of each platform.

Conclusion

In conclusion, creating reels for social media can be a game-changer for businesses looking to boost their online presence and connect with their audience in meaningful ways. In the beginning, you don’t need to make a decision of which platform to use. Go ahead and post your content on all platforms. Just be aware that you will need to make a bigger commitment to TikTok versus Reels due to it being strictly video, whereas Reels can be worked into your already planned posts.

Watch how your video does on each platform and do some trial and error to see what works best on each space. By harnessing the power of reels and following these key criteria, you can create engaging, memorable content that drives results and sets your brand apart from the competition. So why wait? Start creating reels today and watch your business soar to new heights! Need help with creating something? Talk to our team!

Social Media’s Role in the Sales Funnel

Social media plays a vital role in your business’s sales funnel, but it is not the only part of your sales funnel. A sales funnel that involves social media is a strategic process that utilizes social media platforms to attract, engage, and potentially convert prospects to clients. Convert is the key word here as it typically takes multiple touchpoints to complete a sale from diverse media and people. Let’s learn more about social media’s role in the sales funnel and how a team can work together to close the deal.

Typical Stages of a Social Media Sales Funnel

Social media is a bit different than an individual sales funnel in that you are posting to potentially thousands of customers at one time. So while everyone may be at different points of the sales funnel, it is necessary to post for each stage. Below are the stages of the sales funnel that can correlate with social media.

Finding Your Audience

This stage involves creating brand awareness to find your target audience on social media platforms. You can achieve this through various means such as organic content, paid advertising, influencer partnerships, or viral marketing campaigns. The goal is to introduce your brand to potential customers and make them aware of your products or services.

Create Interest/Drive Engagement

Once you’ve captured the attention of your target audience, the next step is to engage with them and spark their interest in your offerings. They started following you for a reason. Is it because they want what you’re selling? They have a need, a want, maybe a desire for your product. Be consistent with sharing valuable content, interacting with your audience through comments and messages, running interactive campaigns like polls, giveaways or quizzes. Sharing of testimonials, case studies, product demonstrations, or offering free trials or samples are also great ideas. The goal is to nurture leads and convince them of the value and benefits of choosing your brand. 

Make Sure There is a Call to Action to Convert

Once leads are sufficiently engaged and interested, you need to remember to guide them toward making a purchase. This could involve directing them to your website to complete a purchase, encouraging them to sign up for a newsletter, webinar or consultation, or offering exclusive discounts or promotions. The aim is to convert interested leads into paying customers.

Customer Advocacy

Satisfied customers can become powerful advocates for your brand. Encourage them to share their positive experiences on social media, write reviews, or refer friends and family. User-generated content and word-of-mouth recommendations can significantly impact your brand’s credibility and attract new customers to your sales funnel.

The Bottom Line

Throughout each stage of the sales funnel, it’s essential to work with your sales team to ask what is and isn’t working for them, what their potential and current clients want to know about and what their favorite ways of maintaining a relationship is. Adjustments to your social media marketing may be needed based on this feedback, market trends, or changes in social media algorithms to ensure the effectiveness of this part of your sales funnel. Remember that social media is just a part of the sales process. When everyone recognizes this, your social media can grow!

The Power of Email Marketing: Navigating Profitability, Frequency, and Collection Strategies

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, email remains a strong player in the field of communications, providing businesses with a direct line to their audience. In this blog post, we’ll explore the enduring profitability of email marketing, address the crucial question of email frequency, and dip our toes into some of the best strategies for collecting email addresses.

Is Email Marketing Still Profitable?

Despite the emergence of new marketing channels, email marketing continues to prove its effectiveness. According to recent studies, email has one of the highest return on investment (ROI) rates among digital marketing channels. Its ability to deliver targeted and personalized messages directly to a receptive audience contributes to its enduring profitability.

Email marketing allows businesses to nurture relationships with existing customers, re-engage inactive subscribers, and convert leads into loyal patrons. The key lies in crafting compelling content, utilizing segmentation for targeted campaigns, and optimizing campaigns based on analytics. Additionally, it is important to know how your target audience reads their email. Is it on their phones (more than likely yes), computer, tablet, etc.? Knowing this information can also help you craft even more effective emails so that they are viewed correctly.

How Often Should a Business Email Their Client List?

Determining the optimal email frequency is a delicate balance. Bombarding your audience with too many emails risks overwhelming them, leading to unsubscribes or a decline in engagement. Conversely, infrequent communication may result in your brand fading from their consciousness.

A general guideline is to maintain consistency while considering the nature of your business and audience preferences. Weekly or bi-weekly emails are common for many B2C businesses, but it’s crucial to monitor metrics such as open rates and click-through rates. B2B communicators may like a monthly email that lays it all out into one email that they could save and come back to later. Pay attention to subscriber feedback and adjust your frequency accordingly to strike the right balance between staying present and respecting your audience’s inbox.

Best Strategies for Collecting Email Addresses

  1. Offer Value Through Content

Know what your readers want. High-quality content can mean different things for different businesses. Some clientele may want ebooks, whitepapers, or exclusive access to webinars in exchange for email sign-ups in the beginning of your email relationship. This not only provides value to your audience but also encourages them to willingly share their contact information. 

  1. Optimized Website Opt-in Forms

Strategically place opt-in email marketing forms on your website, ensuring they are easily accessible and visually appealing. Consider using pop-ups, slide-ins, or static forms in prominent areas to capture the attention of visitors. 

  1. Contests and Giveaways

This could either go really well or backfire. Proceed with caution if you would like to do this as you will need to be very particular about your contest/giveaway to make sure whatever the prize is, relates back to your brand as well. You can host contests or giveaways that require participants to enter with their email addresses. This can build excitement around your brand but can also expand your email list with individuals interested in your giveaway. Again, use caution when hosting giveaways or contests as the people entering may or may not be truly interested in your products or services. Your email list could rapidly grow, but it may not be the target audience. 

  1. Exclusive Promotions for Subscribers

Incentivize subscription by offering exclusive promotions, discounts, or early access to products/services for email subscribers. This creates a sense of exclusivity and encourages users to join your mailing list.

  1. Social Media Engagement

Leverage your social media platforms to promote your email list. Use compelling call-to-action (CTA) messages and direct users to dedicated landing pages where they can easily subscribe. You can share your giveaways and contests on social media (following specific rules per platform) that will then lead followers to your email sign up.

  1. Referral Programs

Implement referral programs that reward existing subscribers for referring new contacts. Word-of-mouth remains a powerful tool, and satisfied customers can help grow your email list organically.

The Bottom Line

Email marketing, when executed strategically, remains a potent tool for businesses to connect with their audience, drive engagement, and ultimately boost profitability. By finding the right balance in email frequency and employing effective strategies for collecting email addresses, businesses can harness the enduring power of email to foster lasting relationships with their customers in the digital age.

Tracing the History of Podcasts: From Modest Origins to Universal Phenomena

Podcasts have come a long way since the first one hit the digital airwaves. Emerging in the early 2000s, podcasts have grown into a powerful and diverse medium, captivating audiences worldwide. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of podcasts, from their modest beginnings to their current status as a global phenomenon. Additionally, we’ll provide some valuable tips for those aspiring to start their own podcast.

The Dawn of Podcasting

The term “podcast” is a blend of “iPod” and “broadcast,” emphasizing its initial association with Apple’s iPod. The first podcast was technically in 2003 but was not called a podcast. It was a RSS feed created to offer audio content of notable interviews Christopher Lydon’s blog. “Daily Source Code” was launched by Adam Curry and Dave Winer in August 2004 and were the first to use the term podcast. This marked the beginning of a new era in digital content consumption, allowing users to download and listen to audio content on-demand.

Podcasts gained momentum slowly in their early years, with niche content creators experimenting and finding their voices. The flexibility of the medium allowed for a wide range of topics, fostering a sense of community among listeners who shared specific interests.

The Podcast Boom

Over the years, podcasts have grown in popularity, driven by several factors. The accessibility of smartphones, improved audio quality, and the rise of streaming platforms contributed to the medium’s widespread adoption. Podcasts began to cover an extensive array of genres, from true crime and education to comedy, politics and business.

In recent years, celebrities, influencers, and established media outlets have joined the podcasting wave, further legitimizing the medium and growing its popularity thanks to some big name celebrities. This influx of content and diverse voices has broadened the appeal of podcasts, making them an integral part of modern digital culture.

Tips for Starting Your Own Podcast

Define Your Niche

Before diving into podcasting, identify your niche or area of expertise. Whether it’s storytelling, interviews, or educational content, having a clear focus will help you attract and retain a dedicated audience and interviewees if you so choose to do this.

Invest in Quality Equipment

Good audio quality is crucial for a successful podcast. If the means are available, we suggest investing in a reliable microphone, headphones, and recording software to ensure your listeners have an enjoyable and immersive experience. If it is not available, there are studios that allow you to rent time in their podcast booths. All of their equipment is available for use and you just go in, start it up and run your show!

Plan Your Content

Outline your podcast episodes in advance. A well-structured plan can help you stay organized, maintain consistency, and provide valuable content to your audience. Nothing is worse than dead air. 

Focus on Engagement

Foster a sense of community by engaging with your audience. Encourage listener feedback, answer questions, and consider featuring listener contributions on your podcast. 

Promote Your Podcast

Utilize social media, email newsletters, and other marketing channels to promote your podcast. Building an audience takes time as you want to find listeners who will keep coming back to hear more, so be patient and persistent in your promotional efforts.

Consistency is Key

Release episodes on a consistent schedule. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, a predictable release schedule helps build anticipation and keeps your audience engaged. It will also keep you on track as to when you need your next podcast to be finished in the planning and writing process.

The Bottom Line

As we reflect on the evolution of podcasts, it’s evident that this medium has transformed into a dynamic and influential force in the digital landscape. Whether you’re a listener enjoying diverse content or an aspiring podcaster ready to share your passion, podcasts continue to shape the way we consume and create audio content. Embrace the journey, hone your unique voice, and join the ever-growing community of podcast enthusiasts worldwide. And if you are ever interested in creating a podcast, ask us!