Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Promotional Products for Summer

Summertime and the living’s easy….

July has arrived, and it's hard to believe we are halfway through 2013 already. July is a month where most people’s calendars are jam-packed with events, activities, vacations and other obligations. No one wants to be working when we could be outside, on the water, or doing otherwise more-fun things than worrying about sales quotes, business plans or marketing strategies.

I don’t know about you, but I am all about working smarter not harder. I like to take advantage of all and any opportunities to make my job, and therefore my life, a little bit easier. Enter: promotional products. These are items that by design are MEANT to do half your job for you. Items that people will use regularly, to keep YOUR company name and brand at the forefront of their mind.

Luckily, summer events and activities lend themselves to using all kinds of promotional products. Things that are handy and practical are good choices because they are used all the time. Examples of these are: sun screen, hand sanitizers, water bottles, koozies/can coolers (these are VERY popular), and bug spray. Other items can be customized for a specific event as a prize/giveaway (think golf tournaments and other charity events). Examples of these include: golf items, picnic baskets/items, blankets, coolers, bar/stemware, etc. There’s also the option of making custom apparel for group events (like health and fitness walks/runs/races, little leagues, block parties and family reunions). Custom apparel can include: tshirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, hats/caps, sunglasses, shorts, etc.

The thing about all of these items is that they are FREE ADVERTISING for your company or organization. As people use or wear these items with YOUR company logo/brand and contact info on them, you will continue to be relevant to that customer or potential customer.  The promotional product you choose to distribute does not have to reflect the kinds of products or services your business offers on an everyday basis. It certainly can, if you choose, but it does not have to. You just want to ensure that you are choosing something that the people you plan to distribute these items to will find either extremely useful, or so unique and different that they want to use the item as often as possible.

Fit cans/bottles of different widths
Waterproof Material
The free advertising with these items continues when OTHER PEOPLE see your items being used. It is advantageous for your business/organization to have your own team using/wearing the products you create. For example, here at JC Graphics, we had slap-koozies made (shown on the left). I regularly use one of these koozies when I’m at the pool or at an outside activity. Many people see it and, because it’s a unique item, inquire about it. Then I have the opportunity to not only talk about the item, but to talk about our business. Does it guarantee any kind of sale or incoming revenue? No, of course not. But the hope is that the person now knows we exist, where maybe they didn’t before, so if a need arises in the realm of what our company specializes in, that they will remember us and come to us in the future. 

Free advertising and marketing. Promotions. Increased brand recognition. All doing the work for you while you are lounging by the pool or practicing your golf swing. Doesn't sound so bad does it? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

How to get Success from Your Business Card

I am going to take a guess and say that we can all look around and see how the world has changed in recent years. Fewer and fewer people have “home phones”, most people have more than one e-mail address, and there exists such a thing as a “twitter war”.

While businesses and organizations move to adapt to this fast-paced, mobile and “paperless” world, one thing that has remained consistent is business cards. Yes, physical, printed business cards remain the most popular way for business professionals and colleagues to exchange contact information.
Consider your business card something like your first impression. It’s a way for your organization or business to present itself to a new potential customer or client. Generally, the card should be reflective of the attitude and spirit of your organization. Here are 5 ways you can get the most success from your business card:
Simple. Organized. Contact options.
Foil-Stamped. Mounted.

Give options of ways to contact you. People prefer to contact and be contacted in different ways. Even though it is so incredibly commonplace now, you can’t assume that everyone you hand your business card to will be comfortable contacting you by email. Options will ensure that there is a way for everyone to get in touch with you. Be sure to give cell & office phone 

       Social media landing pages. Websites, Facebook, Linked-In, and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular. So much so, that putting your website, Twitter handle, Facebook & Linked-In links on your business cards has now become a necessity because it will encourage people to visit your pages and view the content and materials you have to offer them. The more traffic you can drive to your sites, the more exposure you will get and, ultimately, increased business and sales.

Keep it simple. Since a business card is a small space, simplicity pays off. Be careful of getting too wordy with descriptions or taglines, or using too many graphics or pictures. You want to make sure the person you are giving your card to can easily find the information they are looking for, and can read it clearly.  A good designer will be able to get all the pertinent information on the card without it looking cluttered. 

  Use Your Logo. Images tend to be remembered more often and more easily than words or phrases. An
Adding social media landing pages on a
business card is becoming increasingly popular.
attractive logo is great a way to consistently represent your brand across all forms of marketing. As your organization works to create a larger following or client base, using a logo on your business card can be extremely helpful. As you distribute your cards to new connections and potential clients, they will see your logo on the card and connect your brand with that image. That person will then keep your card (keeping in mind your organization’s specialties for when a need arises in the future), or pass it along, creating more brand awareness. Either way is beneficial because your image is now more likely to come to mind for them to recommend when someone has a need that your organization specializes in.


    Be Creative. More and more often, we are working with people who are choosing non-traditional ways to make their business cards stand out from the business cards we are used to seeing. We have recently done business cards with die-cut holes cut out of them, with foil stamps,  made out of plastic, not standard sizes, foldover cards (for those with too much information to fit on two sides) – all modern, unique ways to switch up the traditional business card. No matter what you decide as far as design, paper, font, etc. make sure it reflects the spirit of your organization.
This is a clear plastic card with
a die-cut square cut out of it.

The combinations of options are truly endless when it comes to creating a business card. Style, color, design, paper, size are all free game for your organization or business to be represented in the most successful way.  However, whether  you are considering getting a new business card, or possibly re-designing your current one, keep these 5 points in mind to help ensure that you’re getting the most out of your business card.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spotlight on Apparel: Custom for Spring and Summer

Custom-Designed T-Shirts 

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m probably not the only one with a dresser drawer full of t-shirts I received either as a free giveaway at an event or for participating in an activity. As I look through those t-shirts (and there are a LOT), I can’t help but smile as I am reminded of the day I received it, what the event/activity was, and the people I was there with.

I know I’m not the only one with a stack of t-shirts like this, because organizations and businesses understand that people really like custom-printed apparel – especially t-shirts.  Some of these organizations use t-shirts as free giveaways and prizes. Other organizations (ie: sporting events and leagues or fitness walks and races) choose to create t-shirts to help unify teams or groups. Many children’s organizations (YMCA, park districts, schools) create t-shirts to identify classes, sports teams, or to group children by age.

Custom-printed apparel not only helps identify and unify groups or teams, but it is also a way for organizations to express creativity through design and art, humor through text and taglines, a schedule (for a musical groups or sports teams), advertising and sponsorship (for public/private sports leagues) among other things. The options for material, colors, cut/style, and design are truly endless.

Shirts/Jerseys for Sports Teams
Custom-printed apparel doesn’t have to just be a keepsake – but can also be a powerful (and FREE) “Wear and Share” marketing tool. Of course your participants will enjoy wearing the t-shirt AT the event, but odds are that they will continue to wear that shirt in the future. The biggest fans of your brand, organization, business or cause are the ones that will continue to wear the apparel the most – so be sure that those fans don’t miss out. With your brand logo/name on the apparel (and possibly your website, phone number, facebook and/or twitter handle), you will continue to get brand exposure as people continue to wear the apparel in public. They end up working for you, and are driving attention (and with attention comes more clients and participants) towards your cause without you having to do anything more!

Summer and spring events and activities seem to be the ones that lend themselves to needing more custom-printed apparel, so as you start to plan your events this season, consider creating some unique apparel for your participants. Our design team will work with you every step of the way to make sure the design you already have is printed with the best possible quality, or will help you bring a brand-new design to life. The keepsake will certainly make your event one that your participants and attendees will never forget.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What are PMS Colors? JCGWeb

Say you are creating a brochure for your business and you found the most PERFECT shade of blue for your background. You just know that this color is going to take your brochure to the next level and make it the snazziest, most eye-catching brochure out there. But wait? How do you tell your printer/graphic designer what color it is, so that they print it correctly on your brochure?

You can’t very well say “blue”, as there are (seemingly) a million different shades of blue. Even narrowing it to “light blue” leaves too many options for you to feel confident that your exact color will be printed.
You could email your printer/graphic designer a sample image with the color depicted, so they could see it. But wait, each computer monitor displays colors and images at different resolutions -- the color that shows up on your computer, will more than likely show up differently on theirs.  You could try printing that sample image and delivering or mailing it to your printer/designer but, just like with computer monitors, each printer will print colors differently.

But you were really sold on this shade of blue. It was just perfect for your brochure. There must be a way to effectively tell your printer/designer the exact shade you were wanting.

Well good news! You’re in luck! Enter: the Pantone Matching System, or PMS for short. PMS is a universal system of colors used in the printing and graphic design industry. Much like we use a set of letters in the English Language, called the Alphabet, to communicate words and sentences to each other; in the printing and graphic design world we use PMS to communicate specific colors. It takes out the guesswork of figuring out exact hues and shades of color.

“Ok, I like the idea of a common system of colors. But I don’t have a PMS book, what do I do now?”
Good question. PMS colors can be viewed online, in documents like the one HERE. You can choose the color that most closely matches the one you were wanting and tell your printer/graphic designer the number that has been assigned to that color. However, as helpful and efficient as technology normally is, it can’t always do the job of the human eye. The very best way to be sure you’re getting your exact right color is to personally view a PMS book to pick your shade. Your printer/graphic designer should have that available to you.

With PMS, you will no longer lose sleep over picking your perfect color. You can get your brochure printed with confidence now, because you used a system that made it possible to communicate the exact color you wanted to your printer/graphic designer easily and effectively.

What are Promotional Products and Advertising Specialties?

                Branding yourself is a tricky, yet necessary, component to any business – whether small or large. Figuring out a way to get your name and information, as well as the services and products your business provides, in a way that is likable and approachable is, in a word, difficult. There are many different routes you can take to achieve success with branding and marketing; both direct and indirect. The trick is figuring out the technique that best achieves your goal – whether it is retaining customers, creating brand awareness, generation of new leads for your business, among others.

                Advertising (ad) specialties and promotional items offer a non-threatening way to get your name and information in front of your target market. Promotional items essentially include any item that you put your brand name, logo, or contact information on. There are endless options of items that you could choose to promote your brand, the services and products you provide, or the culture that your company has created.

Some people choose to select items that cater to the clients and customers that they serve. For example, a residential health care company may choose items that their residents will use regularly, such as: coffee mugs, pill boxes, or hand sanitizers with their logo on them. On the other hand, a company that serves a younger clientele may choose more technology-based items like smartphone or tablet cases/skins. Yet another company may choose “desk items” that potential customers might use regularly at their work (pens, calculators), or that will sit on their desk and serve as a reminder of the company’s presence (picture frames, vases).

The goal of an ad specialty or promotional item is to remain in front of the target market as often and as long as possible without becoming a nuisance. You provide them with an item that they find beneficial and will use or see often. When the time comes that they have a need for the services or products your company provides, they are more likely to remember your brand and seek you out for a solution to their need.

Often, the issue of expense arises for promotional items. It is true that it is an out of pocket expense that you may not see an immediate return on. However, is it worth the upfront expense if your potential client doesn’t forget you next time they need something like what you have to offer? Or worse, your current client chooses someone else over you because they have forgotten the quality of what you can offer them in favor of someone who did choose a way to capture their attention in a more profound way?

In this unstable economy, one can argue that the risk of losing business, either current or future, is never worth it. Luckily, with the endless options ad specialties and promotional products provides, there is something for everyone – those who have a large self-promotional budget, those that don’t and everyone in between. Find someone with a vast knowledge of products, suppliers, and pricing and let them help you select the perfect promotional items to take your business to the next level.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Overwhelmed by the Options for Printing and Marketing Resources! How do I choose?

Whether it comes to ordering off a menu or packing for a vacation, people tend to love having options. The option of what school to go to, what to be when we “grow up”, where to vacation, what tv to buy , among countless others, gives us the freedom and independence to choose the best fit for both our needs and our budget.

Sometimes, however, there can be too many options, and we can become overwhelmed and confused. Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start our research on picking which option really is the right option. Or the lowest cost. Or the best quality. Or the very best fit for me and my needs?

The world of printing and marketing resources is a vast world of many options. There are a countless number of companies that specialize in one thing or another, and often there are several that all specialize in the same thing. So often I hear people say, “How do I know I’m getting the best quality for the best price?” or “How do I know this card/brochure/flyer/etc. wouldn’t look better if done by someone else?” or “How can I find a place that will take care of all my marketing resource and printing needs in one place, so I don’t have to waste my time going to 10 different places for 10 different things?”.
The truth is, if you’re spending all your time researching suppliers, coordinating artwork and ship times and getting quotes from several of those companies to make sure you’re getting the best price for all your different needs– you likely aren’t going to get the most bang for your buck. I’m a firm believer in maximizing time, which means leaving some things to the experts.  Many people pay for someone to clean their house, not because they are physically unable to do it – but because it isn't necessarily the very best use of their time and they could be more efficient and productive spending that time elsewhere.

The same can be true for marketing resources and printing needs – there are people, like us here at JC Graphics, who ARE the experts. Choosing to team up with a group that has extensive knowledge of products and suppliers, exclusive access to the trendiest new products, and who has built solid relationships with quality suppliers, will undoubtedly not only maximize your time and efforts, but will also take the researching, production coordination and shipping/delivery off your plate completely.

Wouldn’t it be nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show sometimes instead of sifting through an infinite number of options? I know I do when I’m reading my book at the car mechanic verses trying to research and figure out how to fix that strange rattling noise underneath the hood myself. I leave that to the experts.  Leave your marketing resource and printing needs to the experts as well, to give you more time to do the things you do best. So many things in life are stressful enough, take advantage of the OPTIONS that will maximize your time, and minimize your worry. You’ll thank yourself later on for it.