When it comes to branding and lead generation, while new strategies and tactics emerge on what seems like a weekly (if not daily) basis, there’s one “old favorite” that continues to withstand the test of time, and re-establish itself as both a cost effective and results-based way to create valuable mind share and visibility – which, ultimately, boosts sales and profits. Of course, I’m referring to promotional products.

From upscale laptop and tablet bags to functional flash drives and everything in between, promotional products are trusted by business of all sizes – particularly solo, small and mid-size operations — to get and stay ahead of the competition. Indeed, a giveaway that’s of some value to a potential customer creates an opportunity for engagement – which is the gateway for the lead generation process. This is especially true when the service or product is more complicated to explain, or has a higher perceived value.

Of course, not all promotional products are created equal, and it’s important to choose the right item(s) that will make the strongest and longest impression. Here are five key things to keep in mind to help achieve this important goal:

  1. Use Your Promotional Product to Create Differentiation

    If you want to stand out from the crowd as a leader, then you need a promotional product that your audience will like, talk about, and appreciate.  Even if they choose not to keep the giveaway, chances are they will pass it on to someone who they care about – provided, of course, that they find it valuable.

  2. Choose a Promotional Product that’s Functional

    Align your promotional product to the season and/or event where they’ll be used more than once.  For example, my company has given away extremely well-received insulated cooler bags during the summer months, and branded wine openers at Wine Expos. When audiences perceive that a product is functional, they’re less likely to discard it (think of how many lanyards end up in the garbage can at the end of an event).

  3. Don’t Over-Spend on Promotional Products – but Don’t Cut Corners, Either

    Many companies are now giving less expensive promotional products to their audiences in a high traffic location in order to make an impact, while keeping costs under control. When done properly, this can be a successful strategy. Just ensure that you don’t give out ‘junk’ – it’s better not to give out anything at all, than to be associated with something that will diminish or damage your brand.

  4. Match your Promotional Product to your Audience

    Audiences with large buying power and who represent high potential value (as customers) will be expecting a promotional product that aligns with their position. Also keep in mind that big ticket audiences expect more — even if it’s free — especially if they’ve been loyal to the brand.

  5. Remember to Fully Brand your Promotional Products

    Promotional products can have a lifespan that lasts for years – often decades. We’ve all seen everything from memory sticks to stress balls pads that feature a company that we may never heard about or, at least, are not currently doing business with. As such, it’s essential that everything is fully branded with your name, logo, tagline and contact information. You never know who will see it, and how it may influence them to choose you vs. the competition.

Ultimately, and above all else, keep in mind that today’s customers have more marketing savvy than ever before – regardless of whether they’re buying farm tractors or the latest ultra thin smart phones – and, like all customers, they want to be appreciated. If you choose the right promotional products and distribute them in the right way, you’ll fulfill that expectation, and set your business apart.

 

 

Secret #1: Thoughts from the Dressing Room

Become  “media  ready”  by  looking,  feeling,  thinking  and  acting  like  a desirable multi-million dollar brand — even on a shoestring budget

Action Items:   You are your brand, wherever you go. Do you give off an energy of certainty and impression of increase so people will want to know you? Make someone’s life better in some small way, every day. Live life fully. Step into your greatness and your brand.

Secret #2:  Get Your Brand On

Cultivate and position a winning brand image that includes bio, photos, signatures, media kits and more.

Look professional, branded, together and ready for business. The press will feel more confident that you’re a player. You are your brand, so act like one that’s in a successful business.

Action Items: Look at your photo – does it look like you now or your high school picture? Can a prospect recognize you in a crowded room? Do you have a signature on your email? Does it give a description of who you are and what you do? Do you have a bio that includes some fun facts, or a cause you really believe in?  Look at your website with fresh eyes. Is there a headline on your home page with a call to action? Are all the links working?

Secret #3 –  Learn the Lessons Momma never taught you about being social

Are there misspellings? What does your branding say about you as an expert? What does it say to the media?

Leverage the power of social media to reach and impress media partners.

The thought of social media can be daunting if you don’t understand it. You don’t have to be everywhere, and do everything. Which social media tools do you like? Whether it’s Facebook , Twitter or LinkedIn (or others), pick what you’ll use and start engaging your audience. Stop worrying about being perfect. Make an effort every day to promote your business. You can make an impact with 15 minutes twice a day.

Action Item: Every day in some small way take an active role in being an expert, or noted in your field. Need content? Set up a Google alert on your ‘topic’ or ‘expertise’ and collect articles to share. Comment on what’s going on in the news. It’s OK to be a contrarian and have a voice.

Use social media to share your expert opinion so the press, as well as your prospects and clients, can notice you. Share content. Compliment others. Be a part of a caring community. Consistency and frequency count.

Secret #4 – Get on the Inside Track

Be a Publicity Insider — Take advantage of free publicity opportunities from HARO – Help a Reporter Out  www.HelpAReporterOut.com. Help A Reporter out offers quality leads for people in all kinds of industries to get noticed in the media – radio, TV , blogs and articles. It’s published 3 times a day, and it’s easy and free to sign up and get emails in your inbox. Journalists, editors, reporters and producers will post their queries on HARO and you can respond to them and get recognized as an expert.

Take the initiative and put yourself out there.

Action Item: Sign up for a free HelpAReporter account and take the time to respond to their emails. Create a one page template to answer press requests. Don’t be annoyed by the press inquiries, think of them as your assistant sending you opportunities to build your business and your brand.

Secret #5 – Be a media magnet, first. Darling next.

Tell your story often and clearly to gain media attention. Practice makes perfect.

Create and launch media releases that tell a powerful, memorable story that demands attention and generates results. Look at what you’re doing in your business. What’s press worthy? Are you speaking? Have a new product or service? Create a media release and send to industry publications, local media, and established contacts. It’s the who, what, when and why of what you’re doing – and can be as simple as a new office location, workshop, product or service, or being featured as a guest expert. Be clear and brief in all interviews and press opportunities and offer ‘soundbite’ quotes. Reporters have limited time – so make sure you grab their attention.

Make it easy for the press to find you and keep your PR engine going. When journalists and bloggers begin to see you showing up in the news, they’ll be more apt to follow you.

Action Items: Make a list of 5 things that you or your company could write a media release about. Have video footage? Even better! You don’t have to win the Nobel Peace prize to be recognized.

Secret # 6 –  Pitch Don’t Bitch

Stop complaining about the lack of press and do something about it. Pitch your story idea to newspapers, radio and TV stations, industry magazines, niche newsletters and blogs. They’re always in need of material. It can be an idea you have tied to a holiday or special event, tips on how a new product or service is helping customers, a community service project you’re involved with or a local event.

When pitching the media, be brief, concise and to the point. Make your headline interesting. You never know who’ll pick up your story and where it may go. Even if it’s controversial, it’s still news! And news fades fast, so keep the momentum going. Be mindfully persistent, not a pest.

Action Items: Create a bucket of ideas to pitch. Make them short and sweet. Are you a newly published author? (Hint, an e-book counts). Are you a guest panelist at a prestigious event? Do you have a new way of doing XYZ that will make a difference to more than just you? Learn to pitch with perfection.

Secret #7 –  The Press are friends you haven’ t  met  yet

Relationships that matter take time. Identify key press contacts and build mutually rewarding relationships that last.

Make it a point to do your homework and keep your eyes and ears open to top reporters in your region or area of expertise. Press contacts move around a bit, so try to stay connected via social media and keep email addresses current. A savvy admin can help with this task, but ultimately, you’ll be the one to decide who you’d like to watch and follow.

Action Items: A stranger is a stranger till the first hello. Make friends with reporters you find interesting. Follow them on Twitter, and learn the fine art of retweeting. Introduce yourself at industry functions. Send a note that you liked their article and you’re a fan, even if you disagreed with their view point. Send a lead their way. Start the process of ‘getting yourself known’.

Getting noticed by the press is a journey not a destination, and every step and mention gets your name out there. You’ll get recognized as an expert if you promote your brand often enough, everywhere you’ll go. It all starts with a decision to confidently stand out from the crowd.

 

You don’t have to be a Dale Carnegie superstar to know that remembering someone’s name is ‘music to their ears’, and keeps you in a power position when you’re introducing others. Repeating a name in your head, out loud or making an association may work.

In the corporate world, before a big event, we made index cards with the names of all the key players and memorized them (with special notes, of course). Practice makes perfect. If all else fails, smile, engage and introduce yourself first. 99% of the time, that seems to work.

Boston-based PR Firm Robin Samora Inc’s Hispanic Brand Ambassadors will be engaging consumers and communities across Boston and New Hampshire this summer on behalf of its long-time client, Comcast

 

On behalf of its long-term client Comcast, Robin Samora Inc., a Boston-based communication, branding and PR firm, will be sending its trained team of Hispanic Brand Ambassadors out to engage consumers at several Boston and New Hampshire-area ethnic festivals this summer.

Robin Samora Inc.’s Hispanic Brand Ambassadors are multi-lingual and specially trained to appreciate the unique cultural expectations, preferences and nuances that characterize the dynamic and vibrant Hispanic community.

“In my industry, we use all kinds of fancy jargon to explain what we mean by communication in a strategic public relations context, but at its core and in its simplest terms, it’s essentially about creating a favorable connection,” commented Samora, who works with some of the nation’s top brands and blogs frequently about the do’s and don’ts of public relations. “And the only way to make that connection happen through genuine engagement. That’s why our Hispanic Brand Ambassadors are so valuable to the clients we serve, such as Comcast. Our team isn’t just made up of product and public relations experts. They have their finger on the cultural pulse of the Hispanic community, and can establish a level of trusted engagement that truly makes communication happen.”

Robin Samora Inc.’s Hispanic Brand Ambassadors are scheduled to attend the following events this summer on behalf of Comcast:

• Semana Hispana in Lawrence, MA: June 23, 2013
• Colombian Festival in East Boston, MA: July 14,2013
• Puerto Rican Festival in Boston, MA: July 28, 2013
• Dominican Festival in Boston, MA: August 2013
• Xfinity Latino Family Festival in Boston, MA: August 2013
• El Planeta Health & Fitness in Boston MA: September 2013

In addition, the team will be attending Caliente in Boston, MA. and Latinos Unidos, in Manchester, NH, on dates to be determined shortly.

Added Samora: “Ethnic marketing at festivals and other culturally important events is vital for companies that want to reach out and impress communities and consumers. Our Hispanic Brand Ambassadors are the bridge that makes the connection between our clients and their marketplace possible.”

For more information or media inquiries, contact Robin Samora at (617) 921-3448 or Robin(at)RobinSamoraInc(dot)com.

About Robin Samora Inc.

Telling a story is personal. Sharing it is an art. Technology makes it global. Robin Samora Inc., a Boston-based PR, branding and promotions firm blends all three to take its clients’ businesses and brands to the next level. With clients like Comcast, WBZ-TV and Blue Man Group, and a roster of authors, entrepreneurs and experts nationwide, the firm prides itself on being a “Promotional GPS” that takes its clients’ brands where they want to go to be seen, heard, engaged and remembered. With over two decades of experience, the firm is as comfortable on major media highways as it is on out-of-the-way niche back roads.

I wish I could be writing to let you know that my first VIP experience at the Boston Marathon was completely joyous, watching runners break records, high fiving their loved ones from the grand stand and running those last few moments with such feverish determination to finish a race, one that started long ago as a dream.

But in fact, it’s not true. My intentions were pure — that it would be an inspirational event, an opportunity to cheer a family friend running for a cause, a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy VIP status at the finish line. That was until the bomb went off — right across the street, about fifty feet away.

I won’t obsess about the details. You probably watched frame by frame what happened on TV. But what you don’t know is my gratitude to the Boston Police Department, Emergency workers, Marathon officials and volunteers. Frankly, to good people everywhere who know the right thing to do and when to do it.

My friend and I were in the front row of the VIP grandstand, and witnessed firsthand, the chaos of a frightened crowd, explosions and uncertainty. Uncertainty not just for ourselves, but of the thousands who were running, spectators, families and their children on school vacation, and what would happen next. Texts and undeliverable phone calls couldn’t ease anyone’s mind of the fear. Were our loved one’s safe? Did they make it to the finish line? We prayed so — silently under our breath and to each other.

After the bomb, and in just a few short seconds, there was a cohesive swift movement to clear the area, keep people safe and out of a danger zone. After hunkering low to avoid the danger of a massive exodus, we went to the Fairmont Copley, where we were in lock down mode. Although no one felt quite safe, we felt protected. The management of the hotel made sure that in whatever way was possible, we felt calm. It was a process, and lock down lasted about four hours.

The tragedy of the Boston Marathon was horrific, especially as we honor in such good faith an international gathering of athletes, vibrancy, human spirit, and hope. Running to keep a memory alive. Running to beat the clock. Running for the love of running, whether it be a first Boston Marathon, or the last. For many it was a challenge, a hope, a dream. Busted yesterday perhaps, but not forgotten.

My wish is to honor the hundreds, if not thousands, of unsung heroes who may never be recognized. Men and women in uniform. Technical crews and public workers. A neighbor who lent a hand. Strangers who assisted someone in need. Colleagues who comforted the injured, or scared, or lost. Volunteers who put someone else’s safety before their own.

As always, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll know every hero. But I know, deep down, that Goodness does prevail. It’s just the damn bad that often makes the news.

It’s so much fun to see clients update their brands and showcase their expertise. One of the ways we’ve been helping business owners do this is with their e-books, and promoting them to their target audience.

One of my colleagues and clients is Ceri Rueneck from www.ItsYourCall.com 

Ceri is an expert at business to business telemarketing; cold calling, lead qualification, lead nurturing and trade show event follow up. She’s a powerhouse of information on the subject, as well as a speaker, trainer and yes – an author with her e-book, Cold Calling for the Clueless.

We targeted Ceri’s e-book via national media release to her target audience; the industrial market, manufacturing/production, enterprise software, and electronics and multimedia, to name a few. In the release, we highlighted her expertise, quoted her as an authority, and offered a link to download a complimentary copy of her e-book.

Every click drives traffic to her website and blog, provides her team with sales leads, and showcases her as an expert for speaking engagements – not to mention it’s a great press opportunity to build her brand.

I got an email from Ceri this morning letting me know that a request for her e-book came in from a business in South Africa. How fun.

Take what’s in your brain and put it on paper. Collect what you’ve been writing and gather it in one place. Re-purpose your content to make a product and share your expertise.

An e-book is just one way to showcase your brand. Ceri’s brand just went international.

How ‘bout your brand? Up for the challenge?

Robin Samora Inc.’s marketing and branding division Let’s Make You Shine is funding a scholarship to enable three women to attend the “Mom Gets a Business Conference,” which will take place on April 26 in New York City.

Boston-based branding, promotions and PR company Robin Samora Inc. announced today that it is funding a scholarship in partnership with the upcoming “Mom Gets a Business Conference,” which will take place on April 26 in New York City.

Robin Samora Inc.’s scholarship will be awarded via the company’s marketing and branding divison “Let’s Make You Shine,” and will enable three women to attend the conference who, due to financial reasons, would otherwise be unable to go.

“As an entrepreneur and a mother who has successfully built an established branding, promotions and PR company with a national reach – and raised two amazing kids along the way — I know all about the challenges of balancing career aims, personal goals, and the countless responsibilities of being a mom,” commented Robin Samora Inc.’s principal Robin Samora. “It’s an honor to help three deserving women attend the Mom Gets a Business Conference, and enable them to access advice, insight and knowledge that will turn their woman-owned business dreams into a reality – one that aligns with their role as a great mom, rather than competes with it.”

“We’re proud to showcase Robin Samora Inc. as an organization that supports women as they endeavor to improve their life and create freedom and financial stability, while honoring their goals as individuals and mothers,” commented Patty Lennon, founder of the Mom Gets a Business Conference, which will be held on April 26 at the 3 West Club, on 3 West 51st Street in New York City.

For more information or media inquiries, contact Robin Samora at (617) 921-3448 or
Robin(at)RobinSamoraInc(dot)com.

About Robin Samora Inc.

Telling a story is personal. Sharing it is an art. Technology makes it global. Robin Samora Inc., a Boston based branding, promotions and PR company blends all three to take its clients’ businesses and brands to the next level. With clients like Comcast, WBZ-TV and Blue Man Group, and a roster of authors, entrepreneurs and experts nationwide, the firm prides itself on being a “Promotional GPS” that takes its clients’ brands where they want to go to be seen, heard, engaged and remembered. With over two decades
of experience, the firm is as comfortable on major media highways as it is on out-of-the-way niche back roads.

When networking in-person, find the organizer of the event and introduce yourself, if they don’t know who you are. Give your fun and short elevator speech, a warm smile and ask this question:  “Who are the three most important people I should meet in the room?” You’ve just tapped into the genius of someone who not only has insider information, but laser focus to help you connect.

As a veteran marketer and PR consultant, I’m always looking for fun ways to help my clients grasp the essence of marketing, and how it “fits” into their business. And this latest example comes courtesy of my single friends who are out there on the dating scene.

Indeed, have you ever noticed how much marketing is like dating? From creating a “wish list” for Mr. or Miss Right, to practicing the essential (and increasingly rare) art of active listening, marketing and dating are two time-honored activities that share some uncanny similarities. Here are 5 that make the case:

Similarity #1: They Both Aim for Ideals

Daters play a risky (and sometimes scary) guessing game if they head out the door without a solid of idea of the type of person they’re hoping to find. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be open minded and open to “luck lending a hand.” But without an ideal in mind, who knows where they’ll end up – or with whom?

As a business leader, you need to define your ideal client, too. Are they a solo practitioner, or a Fortune 500 brand? What’s their specialty or niche market? If you weren’t getting paid, who would you want to help and how could you best serve them? Often, your ideal target market is “hidden right in front of you.”

I’m a believer that we have the power to manifest things in our lives if we’re clear about what we want. Take a pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write out the qualities you want in your ideal client. This is a discovery process, and the more time you spend identifying your ideal client, the clearer you will be. And remember: you also may find it necessary to tweak your ideal client profile – and your own beliefs — so that you get paid what you’re worth. Start small, expand your influence and work your crowd.

Similarity #2: They Both Fish Where the Fish Are

Wise daters know that they have a better chance of finding their soul mate if they sign-up for classes or attend events. They’re simply more likely to find like-minded people who share a common interest. Essentially, they fish where the fish are – and not near the lily pads.

As a business leader, attending industry meetings or networking sessions is an easy way to mingle and connect with your niche market. Aim for conferences where you’ll find your ideal client. Make it a point to share your opinions at workshops and breakout sessions. Introduce yourself to key players and ask thoughtful questions at Q + A sessions. Work the room, and by all means, stand out in the crowd as a person of confidence and charisma. And while it’s great to make a big splash, don’t be disheartened if you need to start small. Big wigs weren’t born that way. They worked their way up, and the same will be true for you.

Similarity #3: They Both Plant Seeds

Daters let family, friends, co-workers and colleagues know that they’re interested in meeting someone. After all, everyone knows someone who would like to be in a committed and loving relationship.

As a business leader, you also want to leverage your network so that you can connect with your ideal clients. Now, keep in mind: there’s a right way to ask for an introduction (in person or virtually), and a wrong way. The right way is to be respectful of the fact that most business contacts are protective of their network, which is a valuable asset that they’ve developed and cultivated for years. So don’t be pushy or aggressive. Instead, work on building trust and identifying common ground. Building relationships is the key to growing a business. Start by knowing how to plant seeds in places where they’ll grow and flourish.

Similarity #4: They Both Depend on Attitude

Folks on the dating scene realize that they need to have the right attitude, which is one that’s positive, uplifting and energizing – and, of course, realistic. People can spot a happy person OR an angry person a mile away.

As a business leader, you need to have the same mindset. Even when the chips are down, and you’re feeling at the bottom of the barrel, you’ve got to let the world know that you have it together. Since you are your brand, in both your personal and business worlds, it’s important to look and act successful so you’ll inspire success in others. Truly believe in your greatness, and others will believe it too. There’s an energetic aura around you, so use that to let the world know who you are in a very big way, and how you’ll help solve their problems.

Similarity #5: They Both Need to Ask Questions and Listen

Dating superstars understand that people love talking about themselves, and so they ask questions about interests, work, family background, and so on. This not only sparks meaningful conversation, but it’s a great way to gauge interest and compatibility early on.

As a business leader, you need to think about what’s “in it” for your client – not you. If your clients are happy and you solve their problems, they’ll continue to be your clients. And the only way you can position yourself as a trusted partner is to ask meaningful questions, and actively listen to what’s being said – and what isn’t being said. Keep digging until you find your client’s true needs and wants. You’ll not only glean invaluable data, but you’ll impress your clients since, well, who doesn’t love talking about themselves to an attentive, thoughtful listener?

A Final Piece of Advice

We all know that love takes time. That’s not to say that an instant connection isn’t possible — it is. But usually, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint to really get to know someone and ensure that the attraction is more than superficial or “skin deep.”

As a business leader, keeping this timeframe in mind will serve you well. Is it possible to land a six figure account with one email or phone call? Since I’m an eternal optimist, I’d say yes – just don’t bet on it. Instead, lay the foundation to a solid business relationship as you would a friendship. Be there for your clients through the good times, as well as the bad times.

By doing that, your rewards won’t just be measured in sales and profits. You’ll also evolve and develop as more helpful and – believe it or not – loving and loveable person.

Whether it’s Two Guys and A Wedding, or the Lincoln movie, know what your brand resonates with and hop on the publicity train. Take advantage of local events in your area to tie into, comment on entertainment or local news, or be a contrarian to what’s happening in and around where you live, or where your business is located. Take a stand or support what’s important to you. You have a voice, use it or lose it. Carpe Diem!