Play cards, catch a crook

Once again, promotional products demonstrate their problem solving power.

Take an ordinary deck of playing cards. Print the details of 52 unsolved crimes on the face of the cards. Distribute these decks of cards to all 515 police departments and sheriff offices within Minnesota, as well as 75 countywide jail and annex facilities. In addition, send over 10,000 decks to Minnesota state prison inmates. Wait for the tips to come in. And they are coming in.

The neat thing about this project is that it puts the information about these cold cases right into the faces of people who are most likely to be able to help catch a crook. Other crooks. This is a good example of targeting the proper market. Except in this example, the customer is not buying, they are selling… information.

This is a great example of a creative use of an everyday, ordinary product. One that we produce millions of every year. However, this is just one example of thousands of products that are used everyday carrying an important message. Maybe the next great idea will carry your message. We will never know until we try. How about we start today?


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Linked In, Face Booked or Plugged Up?

The big question is no longer: “Should I be on Facebook, or My Space, or Linked In? (or one of the many other social networking sites “out there”)  That question has been answered in the affirmative – for anyone who wishes to remain relevant in the “New Economy” of the early 21st Century. Most “experts” suggest that one should chose 3 of these sites and concentrate your efforts on those three.

The new big question is: “What the heck should I do when I get there?”

I have been asked this question a number of times in the past 6 months. The best answer I have to date is: spend time and learn your way around.

Each of these sites has its own culture, applications and “niche” for your marketing plan. However, there is no “one size fits all” strategy for using these sites in your marketing. The only way to know how to use Linked In for your business is to play with it. Facebook has been used successfully by many to help grow their business, but it took them hours and hours to find what worked for them. These sites can be a great way to connect and get your message out to others; but you gotta “tweet” if you are going to Twitter.

Consider the time spent to be an investment in your education. At least you can attend class at your desk.

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Temporary Cover – Lasting Effect

Summertime cook-outs, non-profit cook-offs & autumn tailgating are all great opportunities to advertise with an apron. After all, who wants to get sauce all over their party duds? No one! You can do them a big favor by providing the temporary cover they need to look the part of the cook, even if the results leave something to be desired.

Use an apron to tell your customers and prospects that you have them covered – literally.

Here is a bonus spin on this weird idea of the week. This fall, hundreds of grade school students are going to be painting, glueing and creating messes in art classes all over the area. Question: Would your local school appreciate some donated aprons to help keep their students clean? If your business has anything to do with children, art class aprons provide a wonderful opportunity to build brand awareness in an environment that builds credibility and good will.

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Stretching the Truth

Charlie Girsch has a pretty good gig. He has created a career for himself in the toy invention business, which means he gets to spend his days thinking of new ways to play. Fun work if you can get it, but damned difficult to be successful in it.

Charlie is one of the best and he shares many of his secrets in a book he wrote with his wife(Maria Girsch, Ph.D)  “Fanning the Creative Spirit”. This book is full of practical “creative”stretch” exercises and activities that help one increase their creativity and innovation quotient. I highly recommend you purchase a copy of his book and put it on your desk for when you need a burst of inspiration.

To give you some idea of the exercises you can use to “stretch” you creativity, here is something you can try over the long weekend coming up – Try, for one day, to do nothing but truthfully complement or say something nice about everyone you talk with or meet.

Believe me, when it comes to picnics or time spent with the relatives, this exercise will require you to think quickly and creatively. Good Luck.

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Coming Soon (to a phone in your pocket)

Why be on the web? What is the value of a presence on Facebook or Twitter? To get an idea of what is going to be coming to a smart phone near you, take a look at this video from Engadget . In it you will get an idea of what local promotion will consist of in the not-to-distant future. Follow your viewing of the video by reading this article from Fast Company.

The short version of what this means to you. If you run a retail outlet or any other type of business which relies on having consumers finding you easily, you need to start working on your web presence now! Before we know it, consumers wanting to find anything they need will be consulting their phones before going anywhere. One of the primary sources of information for the applications these web-based phones are going to rely on are social networking sites and/or local web portal sites.

The shorter version of what this trend means to your business is this: If you aren’t planning on entering the world of social networking or investing in your web presence, you are planning on being out of business before you know it.

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William Tell has nothing on me

William Tell knew something about hitting a target; although all he had to do was hit an apple on his kid’s head with an arrow. Targeting today is a whole new challenge; our task is hitting customers, not apples.

Marketing today is about targeting. The old days of blasting a message out into the world and betting on sheer numbers of audience are as gone as disco. Getting your message in front of a favorable demographic is the most efficient, effective ways to spend you marketing dollars. So how can you do that?

Promotional products have always provided a type of advertising that can target a specific group of people. Mass media (television, radio, print) can’t give you control over who (if anybody) might be reading, watching or listening to your ad.

However, you can control who receives a calendar, flashlight or t-shirt. You can deliver your message personally or use direct mail to put it squarely in front of them on their desk. This creates for you an opportunity in that person’s day to (William) Tell your story.

Ready – determine your unique selling proposition.

Aim – determine the market you want.

Fire-  Promotional products can deliver your message, on target, with impact, creativity and class.

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Don’t talk to me, I’m texting

If you are, as I am, still somewhat starstruck by the awesome power of the fax machine, I have some bad news for you. Get ready for the Death of Voicemail. In a recent article in the Mpls Star Tribune, we find that pesky younger generation (you know who you are) has completely abandoned voice mail in favor of text messaging. In fact, some of these wily youngsters have the audacity to not even check their voicemail! Many no longer even bother to set up a password for the systems they may have available. This can be bad for those of us who have worked years to hone our message-leaving abilities to a razor’s edge.

However, it can be a good thing also. Texting can be easier to deal with, gives one a record of the message without having to take notes and will allow us to leave those “umms”, ahhs” and awkward silences in voice messages behind. Anything that makes communications more accurate has got to be a good thing, right?

Except, now I have to develop manual dexterity in my clumsy fingers and double up on my bifocal prescription in order to deal with those tiny little buttons on my phone. Seems my need for personal growth will never end.

But isn’t that the way we really want it to be?

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