Every month we’re featuring a guest blogger who writes on a topic I think you’d be interested in as a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who wants to increase their company’s recognition, awareness level or leadership position – and maximize their marketing and PR dollars for promotional ROI.

Today’s blog article is from my client, Robert Rebholz, Co-founder of www.WeSellVisibility.com and industry insider who sells promotional products with ‘zing’ for not that much ‘ca-ching’.

Robert uses his talent for writing and takes advantage of that in his branding to keep in touch with customers, tell a story and make it entertaining.  You definitely want to check out his ‘Pick of the Week’, especially if you buy promo products and hate the SOSO (same old same old) — or any mistakes!

The ABC’s of Buying Promotional Products – by Robert Rebholz  

Promotional products, (also called swag, giveaways, tchotchkes, bling, premiums,) can be a very effective and cost efficient way to advertise and promote your business. And here’s why:

  • 80% of consumers own between 1 and 10 promotional products
  • 60% keep them for up to 2 years
  • 53% use a promotional product at least once a week or more often
  • 88% of people who have received a promo item recalled the advertiser for up to 12 months after receiving the item
  • 62% of these people recalled the advertiser’s message

Studies show only 71% of people can recall an ad they saw in a newspaper or magazine from the week before!

Here’s the point I want you to take away:  this stuff works, people hang onto it, and they use it.

A promotional item does not have to be expensive to be effective. It does need to be useful. Useful items are retained, and that’s what you want as an advertiser.

But, what’s useful? Well, that depends on where you want to be remembered.

Do you want to be remembered in the office? Then think about items like notebooks, sticky pads, pens, desk accessories, wall calendars.

Do you want to be remembered in the home? Then you would consider things like kitchen utensils, magnetic memo boards for the fridge, tote bags, coasters, BBQ tools.

Interested in items that can work anywhere? Think about cell phone chargers, USB drives, water bottles, umbrellas, caps and T-shirts. (Note) Notebooks and sticky notes work everywhere.

Think about who you are going to give this stuff to and what they would find useful.

Alright, you’ve thought about all of the above. You’ve decided you can use promotional products to advertise your business. Here’s what you need to know about buying these items:

  • All items will have a minimum purchase quantity. On less expensive items that minimum might be 100 to 250 pieces. Sometimes you can buy less than the minimum but you’ll be surcharged.
  • All items will have a maximum imprint area. That’s the largest available area for imprinting your logo. The point is — don’t try to print everything about your company on the side of a pen. It won’t work.

It’s also good to know about industry terms and what they mean:

Artwork (that’s what the industry calls your logo or whatever design you’re going to put on your promo item), needs to be in the proper format. The universal format for promo items is what’s called “vector art.” It’s too complicated to go into it here but vector art is a high resolution file that won’t distort and will print clearly. Jpeg, tiff and giff files won’t work. If your logo isn’t in “vector art,” spend the money to get it created in this format.

Colors There are “spot” colors (think of one or two distinct colors on a T-shirt design), and there is “full color process” (think of a refrigerator magnet that looks like a full color photo). When you see the catalog price for an item it includes the first color. Every color you add is going to cost extra.

Set up is the charge to prepare your artwork for whatever process is being used to imprint your item.

Time One of the problems with technology is that we’ve all become accustomed to instant everything.

The problem is that this is a manufacturing process and it takes time. Most products will take somewhere between 7 to 10 business days to produce. Add to that the shipping time. Many of the industry suppliers are located in California and that’s 5 days by ground to the East coast or less, depending on where your business is located. Allow yourself a good 2 to 3 weeks to have your order produced and shipped.

Proof  A proof is a virtual representation of what your design is going to look like on your product. Always insist on a proof and always go over it with a fine toothed comb. The last thing you want is for your 1,000 pens to arrive with a typo!

What can go wrong?  Everything!

The two areas where a project can go wrong are artwork and time. Have your logo (in several  versions) in the proper format before you start your order. Give yourself enough time to deal with any glitches that might come up.

And now, a quick word or two about pricing.

You can get pretty much any promotional product through an on-line distributor. Their prices are often lower than what a local distributor might be able to show you. They work on huge volumes and small margins. If you know exactly what you want and don’t need any help, this might be the way to go. If you need advice and guidance you should go with a local distributor. As someone famous once said, “you get what you pay for.”

You now know:

  • Promotional products work as a way to advertise and brand your company.
  • Pick something that’ s useful to your target audience
  • Have your logo (in several acceptable to you versions) prepared in the proper format well before you begin the ordering.
  • Give yourself enough time

If you stick to these guidelines you will have a successful promotional product campaign.

Thanks to Robert for sharing this mini course on premiums and promotional products. With over 30 years’ experience as a marketer and helping businesses ‘getting noticed’, you’ll always get solid advice and be in good hands! 

It was an exciting week presenting my new workshop, 5 Ways Social Media Can Get You More Sales, Customers and Profits, at the Small Business Expo in Boston. Thank you to all who attended and followed up personally. It’s an exciting time for Social PR and it’s critical to a company’s branding and success – whether you’re a solo business owner, or the biggest fish in any pond!

I love sharing great articles by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and giving credit where credit is due. The article How to Create an Elevator Pitch That Will Get You Funded by Steve Blank gives detailed information and some great tips on how to perfect your elevator pitch (or speech). Whether you’re looking to get funding or need to promote your consulting services, perfecting your elevator pitch is one of the most important things you’ll want to accomplish this week. Get a few great ‘how to’ tips here from Entrepreneur.com.

You may be familiar with HARO, but do you know about their parent company, Vocus? They’ve got an active and well-read blog that hits the in boxes of industry insiders, experts and small business owners around the globe. I liked this article 9 Things You Should Consider in Your PR Plan by Jim Dougherty because it lays out a PR Plan, clearly step by step. Work on one, three or all nine to improve your current PR plan. (And, if you don’t have a plan, we have to talk!)

Lastly, we’re featuring The Power of Testimonials (and How We Get Great Ones) written by Alex Turnbull.  This is a MUST read for anyone in business. Here’s one little snippet we’ve highlighted, but take a minute to click on the link to learn more.

“Good testimonials aren’t fluffy; they communicate very specifically the type of person the testimonial writer is and the type of problem they’ve been able to overcome. This helps readers put themselves in the storyteller’s shoes.”

And that’s a wrap for this week’s edition of Robin’s Rainmakers! If you ever have a suggestion for a great article to feature, please send me an email. I’d love to include it here.

September always seems to bring a new energy to work, and if you’re like me, the pace has really picked up!

The Partner Promotions event team has been promoting the Xfinity brand at 125 events over the last three weeks, we’re gearing up for the IBM sponsored Women’s Tool Box Conference on 9/15,  Mara Glazer’s BizCon14 event in Silver Springs, MD 9/18 – 21, and my workshop and booth at the Small Business Expo in Boston on October 2. Sometimes, it’s fast and furious – and we run with it.

That said, what are you doing with your business over the next month?

Are you thinking about how to get press coverage for your business, product or service – and ways to  pitch the media and other JV partners?

Here are 5 Important Tips on How To Pitch so you won’t give up or go crazy thinking it’s too hard: 

  1. When pitching, make sure you have the right person you want to approach.  Do your homework and research.  Look at the magazine, newspaper or blog where you’d like to be featured and notice their style. How would ‘you’ fit in?
  2. You’ve heard it a million times, and I’ll tell you again. Make your pitch short.  One PR mentor told me to make my pitch 50 words.  Yikes – that’s hard, but putting information through the funnel gives your messaging clarity.
  3. Editors, journalists and reporters WANT to be pitched and are looking for a solution to a problem. Your pitch should include a way you can help their viewers/readers.  They’re looking for the HOW. That’s where you share – your story, best tips, ways to overcome, fix, increase, and help their AUDIENCE with their problem – on air, in an interview, on camera and so on.
  4. Don’t forget to tell your media contact who you are, why you’re the best candidate for the job, and a link to your website, plus contact information.  No attachments please!
  5. But, make sure above all, that you always KISS – Keep It Simple and Sensational!

Ditch the old pitch, and energize with the new!

YOUR TURN

Have you noticed a pattern with certain reporters in the way that they like to be pitched?

What’s your favorite success story from a pitch?

Have you pitched via Twitter or Facebook with great results?  Do tell!

RSI ComplainI’m constantly amazed at how much people complain. Not just small business owners and entrepreneurs telling their woes of not enough business, working too hard, or having enough time. Everyone is complaining and it’s almost an epidemic!

It’s not that I don’t sympathize. I do, to a certain degree. But when people are in a whining state, they’re not in the state they should be – the present, thinking about what their campaign of action is going to be.

Collectively, I’ve listened to problems in every phase of a company’s growth or demise. Heartfelt and game changing discussions have been over coffee, tequila, candle light celebrations, and more than a campfire or two.

Ultimately, successful people are accountable to themselves. They don’t have to be in PR, marketing, or branding. They decide when enough is enough. Complaining offers an easy way to avoid that. Campaigning is about putting action steps into place. I believe it’s always better to campaign than complain. And, here’s why:

3 Reasons Why it’s Better to Campaign than Complain

  1. It’s boring to hear the same complaints day after day. If you want to be engaging, you need to switch up the story and come from a higher place. No woo woo here. Just the facts. Change the vibration, and the attitude. You’ll see amazing results and not be stuck in the past. Think boo hoo, get boo hoo.
  2. Everyone wants to work with a winner. Seriously, do you want to work with a loser? If so, please unsubscribe me from your list and life. I want to associate with the best of the best to learn and grow. Sad sacks aren’t on my prospect list. Show your best stuff and then give it. It always works out.
  3. Winning is contagious. Winning not only builds self-confidence, but a portfolio of success stories. Stories and testimonials which build credibility and trust – which in turn increases recognition, expert status, leadership position, revenue opportunities. Call me if you want to talk about how winning helps grow a business. I’d like to connect a voice with a name.

A campaign has intention, a goal and spirit. A campaign is a string of action items to help you realize your dreams. Create a campaign and you won’t feel-the-pain.

YOUR TURN

What has to happen to take you from being a complainer to a campaigner?

How do you keep winning contagious? Do you have secrets you’d like to share?

If you had 3 best practices for letting clients know you were a winner, what would they be?

Right now, I’m campaigning for my new client who’s hopeful of a Grammy® nomination this year – and who believes in world peace, Divine Love, and humanity.

What are you campaigning for? Share your answers below…

 

RSI RainsApril showers bring May flowers — in your yard and sometimes in your business. Showers come unexpectedly and rain dampens the best intentions of a well thought out plan. What’s a small business owner, expert or marketer to do when it rains, or worse downpours on all your hard work?

Plan(t)!

PPrepare for the worst and expect the best. I once had a boss who insisted we bring 40 bricks to an event in case the wind was blowing and we needed to secure sponsor table skirts. It seemed over the top at the time, but the lesson was learned and we saved them for a ‘rainy day’. I know they’ll come in handy for that yellow brick road…

L Listen to your intuition. More than a handful of times, I’ve been swayed to make a decision to ‘save the day’, but the decision was based on someone else’s vision of what the outcome should be. If you’re ‘saving your day’, make your decision based on your inner guidance. Czech in (I’m in Prague, couldn’t resist), be open and surrender to what reveals itself next.

AAsk a mentor. Many of us have been blessed with a mentor, or a group of colleagues that we trust. If you’re in a pickle, and it’s not so sweet, be brave, be vulnerable and ask for help. There’s a certain calm that comes with asking and temporarily stopping the swirl. The answer may not be what you want to hear, but it may be what you need to know.

NNever forget that today too shall pass. When the bottom is falling out, keep the pieces together by staying in focus, working off a list and remembering that in less than 18 hours, you can go to bed and tomorrow will be a new day. A new day and a new dawn, coupled with some sleep, recharge even the weariest souls.

TThink about your role in this snafu. Do you believe that in some way we’re creatures of our own cause and effect? There’s a great lesson to be learned when we reflect upon our own behavior and how it impacts our personal and business bottom line. We typically attract what happens to us and in some of the most bizarre ways, it serves us and mirrors our beliefs.

Rainy days are inevitable, as are storms – in life and in business. It’s your strategy for weathering the storm that makes the difference, and whether you bring your boots on the journey.

YOUR TURN

If it rains on your business for what seems like 10 days, how do you not get soaked?

Are you a believer in ‘if it rains it pours?’ If so, what have you learned from the downpour?

What shift is necessary to turn a downpour into a flood of opportunity?

Please share your answers below.

Do you remember your first visit to NYC? Were you in awe? Overwhelmed? Excited by the buzz?

Last week, I took my 14 year old niece to NYC for some holiday magic and together time. It was our first trip alone — outside of going to our lake house in NH. She had her first massage, her first ride on NYC’s subway system, attended her first Broadway play (Matilda) and we shopped till we dropped. Think of the world’s largest H & M store in Times Square + having Auntie Robin at your side!

Here’s a picture of us as we headed toward the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. On all floors, what a view of the city! Even my cousin, who is an up and coming casting director, had never seen the view from the 70th floor!

Shopping and the Arts aside – both of which I enjoy – the focus I’m writing about is not just about ‘good times’, but first impressions. They’re important to think about as part of your personal and business brand, marketing and PR plan and voice as a professional, small business owner or entrepreneur.

When you meet someone for the first time, do you leave a good impression? When someone visits your website or talks with you after a presentation, what are their first impressions? Are you aware of what you do, or don’t do that attracts them or makes them pass you by?

Here are 5 Thoughts on Making a Good Impression:

  1. Be your charming self, and no one else.
  2. Stay focused on who you’re talking with.
  3. Make people feel comfortable.
  4. Engage your audience with stories and connect on their level.
  5. Keep it simple and warm and real.

YOUR TURN

What do you think is important in making a good impression?

How do you know if your first impression is successful?

If you’ve messed up, do you fess up? Or just move on?

Let me know what works for you — we can all learn from each other.

I’ve never been a techy kind of gal, but appreciate technology and the bells and whistles of innovative products and services, especially ones that make my life (and business) easier!

This week, I’d like to share two websites and platforms that piqued my interest:

The first is www.paper.li. It’s a forum where you can create an online newspaper in minutes, and automatically find and publish articles as well as photos and videos from the web. I’m in the process of test driving it now, and what I love is the collection of information based on what my preferences are. This customized ‘stream’ could be used to reach out to my audience and deliver insightful news, data and stories about PR, visibility, branding, speaking, getting your message out there, and so on. I’m thrilled to have heard about this from Janet Powers at the Women’s Tool Box, of which I’m a supporter.

Next on my list to try, is the free app builder at www.AppsBar.com. Although I haven’t had the time yet to create my own app (perhaps over the Thanksgiving holiday I will), my contact Rebecca told me they have 500,000 users already. They’ve also been awarded the People’s Choice Stevie Award in 2013 for the new tech company of the year. I love that there’s a step by step process for non-geeks like me. I laugh knowing – for real – that my teenage nieces could out-app me in record time!

Everyday there’s something to learn. If I can implement a new strategy or share it with someone who can benefit from my findings, I’m happy to share. Isn’t that the point of a collaborative environment.

Fess up! What techy treats are you hiding on your smart phone or other savvy device that will help the small business owner or entrepreneur?

Whether you spill the beans or not, send me a note when you build an app or start an online newspaper geared to your audience. I’ll probably be impressed.

People and ideas generally amaze me. I love that about life.

[contentbox width=”650″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”solid” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”FCFCFC” radius=”0″]PR expert Robin Samora shared advice on how to create a PR map and generate buzz at the inaugural Women in the Pet Industry (WIPIN) on August 23-25 in Portland, Oregon. Joining Samora as her special guests were two extraordinary women who beat out a number of worthy candidates to win a scholarship to attend the event. [/contentbox]

Robin Samora, the principal and founder of Boston-based PR firm Robin Samora Inc., shared her experiences, insights and advice on how to create a PR map and generate buzz at the inaugural Women in the Pet Industry (WIPIN), which was held on August 23-25 in Portland, Oregon.

Samora’s talk, which took place on August 25 at noon, was delivered to an audience of women pet professionals, including renowned CEOs, award-winning entrepreneurs, product manufacturers, vets, sitters, groomers, trainers, artists, writers, boutique store owners and others. Coverage of Samora’s talk included:

  • understanding the real purpose of PR
  • why good PR matters today more than ever before
  • how to create a customized and practical PR visibility plan
  • little-known PR secrets that elevate – or undermine – the best laid plans and strategies
  • the right way to pitch news and how to build valuable relationships with the press

Samora was also tapped by WIPIN organizers to join a panel of PR and Marketing experts to field questions from audience members and provide advice and tips on how to position a business for greater visibility, how to make a positive difference in the pet industry, and more.

In addition, joining Samora at the WIPIN Conference as her special guests were two extraordinary women who beat out a number of worthy candidates to win a Robin Samora Inc.-sponsored scholarship to attend the event:

  • Kathy “Kat” Albrecht, a pet detective, author and trainer who was formerly a police officer, field training officer, police detective, and K9 trainer
  • Beth Larsen, the chief dog bed wrangler of Waggletops, which makes custom-fit covers for dog beds and shelters around the world

All candidates were required to submit an essay describing how they were making a positive difference in the pet industry today, and how they would leverage the scholarship to “pay it forward” in the future.

“I’m thrilled to have sponsored these female entrepreneurs who have a vision to help animals and make a difference,” commented Samora. “My late dog Lucy was my best friend, and also an inspiration. In Lucy’s memory, I’m honored to support these amazing women, and help them make a lasting, positive difference in the lives of pets and people in their communities.”

For additional 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 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.

Learn more at http://www.RobinSamoraInc.com

Leading marketing and social media strategist Mara Glazer’s all-new three day “The Next Big Buzz” event at the Hilton Baltimore Camden Yards in Baltimore from August 2-4, 2013, features a full slate of high-energy interactive presentations and workshops that promise to transform women entrepreneurs into widely known — and highly paid — Buzzworthy Biz Babes.

Leading marketing and social media strategist Mara Glazer

Leading marketing and social media strategist Mara Glazer

Women entrepreneurs who want to become a celebrity in their field, so that they can get widely known – and highly paid – for doing what they do best, can now visit http://thenextbigbuzzevent.com and register for leading marketing and social media strategist Mara Glazer’s all-new “The Next Big Buzz” event in Baltimore from August 2-4, 2013.

The 3-day event, which will be held at the Hilton Baltimore Camden Yards, features a full slate of high-energy interactive presentations and workshops that promise to transform attendees into “Buzzworthy Biz Babes.” Key topics that Mara Glazer and her team of hand-picked presenters will focus upon include:

  • How to create more buzz in a business by thinking like a celebrity.
  • How to finally demystify online marketing, the web and social media channels to explode a business and capture more leads.
  • How to create a business that supports a desirable and healthy work-life balance – while still bringing in serious income.

In addition, attendees will have ample opportunity throughout the event to network with over 200 successful entrepreneurs in order to find new clients, create joint venture partnerships, and get to know some extremely influential connections.

“This event is for women entrepreneurs who want to get known — and get paid! – for doing what they do best,” commented Mara Glazer, who will also reveal the secrets that enabled her to generate and translate an enormous amount of buzz into multiple 6-figure businesses in less than a year. “It’s also perfect for those who have reached a point where they seriously need to cut the crap when it comes to small business marketing, and get real about what it takes to succeed as a Buzzworthy entrepreneur.”

“Lots of experts only talk about becoming successful – but Mara shows you how,” noted Robin Samora, the principal of Boston-based PR firm Robin Samora Inc., who is an event sponsor and presenter. “She’s all about implementation, action and results. She tells people what they need to know — not just what they want to know. And just as importantly, she’s incredibly fun and inspiring.”

Speaking of her reputation for being fun and inspiring, Miss Glazer also had some comforting words for those who dread so-called professional development events that are little more than boring lectures from talking heads: “Make no mistake: this isn’t three days of being glued to a chair! This event is going to be a party. Yes, we’ll be giving out amazing content, but those fortunate enough to attend will also get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to network, let their hair down, and definitely shake their booty!”

Women entrepreneurs who aspire to be Buzzworthy Biz Babes and reap the rewards of living amazing and successful lives — both professionally and personally — can register for Mara Glazer’s The Next Big Buzz at: http://thenextbigbuzzevent.com/. The registration fee is $697.

For more information or media inquiries, contact Paul Valleau, Executive Assistant to Mara Glazer, at 866-430-4680 or Paul(at)maraglazer(dot)com.

About Mara Glazer

Leading marketing and social media strategist Mara Glazer helps entrepreneurs build amazing businesses that allow them to live amazing lives. She blends online and offline marketing strategies to help business owners create global buzz, and translate that into money in the bank.

Learn more at http://maraglazer.com/.

As I write this, I am smiling knowing what’s behind the curtain. You may not notice it in my new photo taken by my friend and celebrity photographer Nikki Incandela, www.nikkiincandela.com, but it’s there. And, when I saw it, I started to wonder.

How many things don’t we see, that actually are there? Is it that we’re focused on something else or simply too busy? What don’t we see in our relationships with others, or scary enough, in ourselves?

Sometimes what we don’t see, or pay attention to is what’s begging for us to take notice. A business  opportunity that’s shouts our name, an important conversation with a loved one, an overdue phone call connecting to a colleague who’s been MIA for a while.  And the list goes on.

Why is it that we see what we see, and not always what others do?

As a photographer with a keen eye, Nikki saw Lucy, my sweet and elderly Sheltie behind the curtain. She never said much, but presented me one day with triptych images of Lucy’s face – which made me love them both, all the more.

In this case, what was behind the curtain delighted me.

We see what we need to see, for what we need to learn. I asked Nikki to photograph me so I could have a special memory of where I was in my life, to honor the space and place. These images will always be cherished as it was not only a new me she was capturing, but included a glimpse of Lucy at nearly 14 years old. I’ll always remember Lucy in the cool spot of the wood floor near the window, in a cottage that will forever remain dear to my heart.

What’s behind the curtain just is.  It’s what we think of it that holds power.

Happy almost December, let the twinkling begin,

I’ll be with my promotions team on Saturday, December 1, managing the Amazing Race TV auditions for WBZ-TV in Boston.  If you’d like to try out in person at one of two Massachusetts locations, click here (should we shorten this?? ) http://boston.cbslocal.com/contests/amazing-race-casting-call-at-bernie-phyls for details and an application.

Visit me too at the Massachusetts Conference For Women, on Thursday, December 6th.  Partner Promotions /Let’s Make You Shine will have a booth there, and we’ll be making appointments for Free PR Exams.   Here’s the link to the Expo http://www.maconferenceforwomen.org/ We’re at Booth #730 across from the Blogging Lounge.  Check out the amazing line up of speakers like Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Charlotte Beers, Brene Brown, Kristin Chenoweth, Tory Johnson and the many workshops and Small Business Boot Camp!  Hope to see you there!