Hot & New? Try Bold & You!

The number one question people ask me when they find out that I'm in promotional marketing is, "What's hot and new?" 


Unpopular opinion alert: What's hot & new in promotional marketing is not necessarily what you should be purchasing. 


"Hot & New" has no bearing on whether or not a product will produce the results you want for your market.  "Hot & New" doesn't guarantee your clients will like the product.  "Hot & New" doesn't mean anything at all to your brand, when it comes to buying the right promo products. 


When you run across a promotional products professional, ask instead, "Have you seen any successful promo marketing campaigns in my industry lately?"  That will open up a conversation about your specific needs and goals, and help you to design a campaign that can help you achieve them.  "Hot & New" does you no good if they end up in the trash can


Here's what you do need - a promotional products partner who DOES know what's "hot & new" and can source those creative products for you - when and where they assist you in reaching your goals. 


Have an idea of what you need?  Need a fresh idea to start the new year off right?  Contact Nikki here and she'll make sure that you'll be the talk of the town (or at least your clients' water coolers) this year! 


To Rush or Not To Rush?

This day and age, it only takes about 2-3 weeks from the time you place an order with your promotional products expert to the time it's in your hands, all shiny and new with your logo emblazoned across the surface.  However, did you know that many products can be shipped in as little as 6 hours?  Let's explore when a rush order is a good idea... and when it isn't.


The Good

  • Rush orders can be a real skin-saver when you've forgotten to order a promo product for an event.  Hey - we're all human, and it happens. 
  • Many rush orders can be processed without a rush fee!

The Bad

  • Most of the time, rush orders don't come with a proof.  While that isn't usually an issue and the final product turns out great, it can be a small risk. 
  • Not all products can be rushed, so product selection becomes an issue if you're looking for something specific or creative.  It also means that sometimes you're purchasing virtually the same item for a higher price from a different supplier partner who offers rushes.  Sometimes you have to switch products all together, and you're no longer getting exactly what you wanted.

The Ugly

  • Expedited shipping costs MONEY.  A box of tote bags that normally costs $30 to ship via ground might suddenly cost $250 to overnight. Think about how many more bags you could have gotten for that extra $220!! 
  • If something goes wrong, like the product is out of stock or your logo doesn't look quite right on the product, there is sometimes no time to address the issue.  That leaves us with one of two possibilities.  Either 1) the product ships looking less than perfect, or 2) the product doesn't ship at all. 

Do what's best for your company, and use rush orders like anything else - as a tool!  Let BluPlume manage your calendar of events so that you never have to place another rush order again.


4 Tips to Avoid a Promotional Product Horror Story

In honor of Halloween, we're discussing the ultimate horror story for a promotional product. We all have a goal when we order our giveaways - to keep our company top of mind.  But tragedy strikes when we spend our budget on an item that ends up in the worst possible place - the trash can. *Insert scary music here* 


SPOILER ALERT!  It does NOT have to end like this.  Just like with nearly all scary movies, there's a hero to this story, and a happy ending!  No need to fret!  BluPlume has 4 simple tips to make sure you don't fall victim to certain doom: 


Know Your Audience

Make sure you know who will be receiving these promotional items!  It seems so simple, but it's something so many people forget.  They get caught up in finding a product THEY think is great, but forget about what their target audience will think.  Here are some great questions to ask yourself: 


What are the demographics of my audience? 

Gender? Age? Income Level? Job Role? 

What are some things that these people might have in common? Hobbies, interests, etc. 

What kinds of products do people like this already have? Let's make sure to avoid those.

What is something that could make their lives better? 


Know Your Distribution Channel


Will you be giving these away on sales calls to prospective clients?  In person at a tradeshow, or in the mail?  Perhaps directly at their office, or at a party you host? 


The answers to these questions are huge.  Let's say you are a company that makes camo jackets, and you decide that a bottle of BBQ sauce would be a fun promo to give out at your upcoming tradeshow.  While it sounds unique and fun, and fits your brand image, we're missing something important here - many of your attendees may have traveled to the show by air using only a carry on, and due to TSA guidelines, won't be able to get that savory deliciousness home. So in the trash it goes. *dun dun dun....* 


If you plan to mail holiday gifts to your top 100 clients, you might want to consider size and weight. Drinkware in particular is extremely expensive to ship, and you might be able to find something else with just as much impact - WITHOUT the extra costs.  


Know Your Goals


What are you trying to accomplish with these giveaways?  This key question is often overlooked.  Are you trying to get more sales?  If so, how?  Perhaps by staying top of mind?  If so, something that sits on your potential client's desk or lives in their purse would provide many impressions.  Perhaps you want to drive more traffic to your social media pages during an event!  In that case, a portable cell phone lens or selfie stick printed with your logo, instagram handle, and hashtag should get the job done! 


Get Creative - If It Fits With Your Brand

Last but not least, creativity plays an important role in an effective promotional marketing campaign.  If you give something to someone that they've never seen before, or that they think is really cool, they're far more likely to hang on to it. It's simple, but it's true.  You can even take a conventional product, like a pen, and jazz it up with a light up logo to make a bright impact. 


If your brand is more conventional or conservative, focus on something useful and high quality.  If you're giving away portable power banks, get the nicest one your budget can handle.  Your clients will thank you for it. Literally.


So, next time you order promotional products, make sure you communicate this information to your ad specialties professional.  It will allow them to partner with you to ensure your gifts don't meet an untimely demise.  And remember, BluPlume would love to be the hero of your next campaign!


Crafting a Life You Love Through Entrepreneurship

Have you ever considered owning your own business?  For most people, the answer is probably "no."  Before I experienced the sorrow of a layoff, that was my perspective as well.  I recently led a table of women at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce event where I shared on this topic. 


I've come to realize that most people, especially women, don't ever seriously consider the path of entrepreneurship as their main or only source of income.  I hadn't either, until a pivotal moment came in my career where I had a serious choice to make: continue working to build someone else's empire, or make a small, solid business of my own.  


I am so happy that I chose to work for my own dream instead of someone else's. 

Why choose entrepreneurship over the perceived stability of a "regular" corporate job?


1) You're never really secure in your job. As much as we would all like to believe that we are irreplaceable to a company, the fact is, we're not.  There's always someone out there who is willing to work just as hard for less money.  If we don't have security in our "regular" job, then what's the benefit of staying?


2) You can create a business that meets your personal priorities in life.  For me, I crave balance and flexibility.  As crazy as it sounds, even though I work a lot more than I did previously, I've found more time to spend with my family, and I've been there for the important moments and spent more time with my daughter than I ever did before. If you desire travel, or learning another language, or working nights and weekends opposite of your partner's schedule, or anything else, you can create a business that will facilitate that.  Every decision you make should bring you closer to your personal goals, not further away.


3) There's never a perfect time to start a business, but there are better times than others.  Just like there's no perfect time to have a child, there's no perfect time to start a business.  If you're waiting for that perfect moment, it will never arrive.  However, you do need to be smart about when you go for it.  Choose a time where you have more energy, are extra driven, and set tangible, measurable goals to get you to the next step in your plan.


4) Have multiple streams of income, but maintain your focus.  Having multiple income sources will allow you to pursue your dreams longer, with less financial stress on you and your family.  Try to find things that intertwine, where you can apply techniques used in one business to the other.  Make sure whatever you choose for your income streams are thoughtful and that you fully commit to everything - there's no use doing something if you're not going to do it all the way.


5) Be in charge of how much you make.  My goal with this business is to manage one third of the yearly amount of business I was handling at my previous job, and I will make three times as much money.  Do the math, and see how much you could be making independently.  Does it make financial sense for you to branch out on your own? 


Book Recommendation: Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened is a nonfiction book written by Allie Brosh. WOW, that is a long book title. I’m out of breath just typing that. This is a review of that booresponsibility12(alternate)k, and why you should drive to your nearest book store and pick it up, NOW (or later is cool, whenever you’re not busy maybe).

Have you ever seen that meme? You know that one meme? On the internet? The really popular one? Have i narrowed it down? Okay, i’ll just show you a picture of it.

You might be surprised to learn that this meme originated from Brosh’s blog-turned-book, Hyperbole and a Half. Or you may not be surprised. In any case, Brosh’s blog is basically a combination of a webcomic and a blog about her life, consisting of drawings made in MS paint. In October of 2013, Brosh released the book Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, which consists of 50% material from her blog, and the other 50% being new material.

You might be wondering, why the heck would i want to read a comic about someone’s life with drawings made in PaintBrush? Well, if it was anyone other than Allie Brosh, i would be wondering the same thing. But let me tell you why you should give this book a chance, if you haven’t already.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened is a book about real life situations that Brosh experienced that will either have you laugh out loud, or think “wow, i GET that”. From describing awkward life situations through her unique point of view, to her account of battling depression, you will find yourself learning new things and relating to things you never thought you could. Brosh has been praised by many critics for her ability to sum up rather indescribable emotions just with a picture or sentence. This is evident in one of the most talked about sections of the book, when she describes her battle with depression. Its astonishing how she took this complex mental illness and put it in a way people who have never experienced depression could somehow understand, and people who have experienced it can relate. ALL through simple comics drawn in PaintBrush.

I remember reading this book feeling like i was going through a rollercoaster of emotions, one minute i’d be laughing to myself in the corner of my room like a creep and the another minute i’d be nodding my head thinking “that totally makes sense”. After blowing through the entire 373 paged book in a day, i felt as if i had connected with someone who lived miles away from me.

In conclusion, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened *takes deep breath* is a comic/book written by Allie Brosh, who takes awkward real life situations and harsh realities of life, and turns them into a brilliant and cleverly written collection of stories and hyperbole.