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Develop A Promotional Plan

Successful promotion campaigns don't happen by chance. To realize goals, promotional products programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained. Ready to plan your next promotion? Use the consultant search engine to locate a PPAI member consultant in your area. You and your consultant will discuss these seven important elements to help you plan the best promotion for reaching your objective: 1. Define a specific objective. Whether the goal is to increase traffic at a tradeshow exhibit or to boost sales with current clients, the first step in any campaign is to clarify the purpose of the program. 2. Determine a workable distribution plan to a targeted audience. Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products. For example, a pre-show mailing to a select audience delivers more tradeshow traffic and qualified leads than simply distributing items to passersby at the show. 3. Create a central theme. Linking a recognizable logo and color to all aspects of a campaign, from promotional products to sales sheets to product packaging, helps create an instantly recognizable image. 4. Develop a message to support the theme. Supporting a campaign's theme with a message helps to solidify a company's name, service or products in the target audience's mind. For instance, to promote its services to small businesses, a bank created the theme "Are you tired of being treated like a small fish?" and sent fish-related products to its prospects along with promotional literature. 5. Select a promotional product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or communications theme. A good example is a company that developed a magic motif for its conference at Disney World. Attendees received magic-related products to tie in with the theme "Experience the magic at Disney®." 6. Don't pick an item based solely on uniqueness, price or perceived value. Don't fall prey to the latest trends or fads. The most effective promotional products are used in a cohesive, well-planned campaign. 7. Use a qualified promotional products consultant. A good promotional products consultant will help you answer all of these questions as well as offer a variety of value-added services, including unique product ideas, creative distribution solutions and insight on the different imprinting methods just to name a few. International Minute Press has qualified consultants on staff to help you implement an effective promotional plan.

Negative Social Media Comments Call For Quick Action 

While an increased online presence opens your brand up to more leads, it also fully exposes the feedback your company receives. While regular complaints are important to deal with, complaints on social media can be extremely damaging to your company image. And unlike traditional complaints, those on social media can be more troublesome. Why? Only 30 percent of customers share positive reviews on social media but 45 percent share negative reviews. International Minute Press would like to shares these tips from our friends over at Promotional Consultant Today for managing negative social media reviews. First, realize that not all complaints on social media will come directly to your profiles. Less than three percent of customers directly mention brands on Twitter but, make no mistake, your customers are having conversations about you. Monitor and search for people talking about your brand, but don't expect all will come through your sites. Respond immediately to show your concern and care for the customer. Failure to respond leads to a 15-percent increase in the churn rate for existing customers. The faster you are able to connect with a customer who has left a negative response, the more likely you are to keep the customer. Quickly fix the problem and apologize. Here are some other ways to manage a negative comment on social media: Acknowledge a negative tweet as soon as possible by directly replying with a message such as, “We’re sorry to hear that and hope we can remedy the issue soon.” If there is a serious problem, say you will Direct Message the customer to discuss the issue further. In the direct message, provide an email address of support personnel. Giving an actual person’s email address, rather than a generic one, shows that a human being will be taking care of the problem quickly and personally. Negative feedback will happen, and when it does, it will be out in the open for the world to see. However, if you respond quickly and solve the problem, you can give customers the satisfaction they are seeking and leave them with a positive experience. Source: Ben Green is the director of operations at Oktopost, but also helps out with marketing as well. Prior to joining the Oktopost team, he built the lead demand activities for Nolio, playing a major role in developing the company’s inside sales department.

10 Ways to Make Yourself Accountable

Sometimes in organizations it’s not uncommon to find a power struggle going on. Maybe the directors in one department don't think the directors in another department are holding their teammates accountable for their commitments, actions or decisions. This issue can prompt many discussions around what it means to be accountable in an organization. Accountability is one of those often used buzzwords in business. It shows up in mission statements and organizational values. It creeps into dialog when you’re accusing a teammate of missing his or her financial targets or other goals. What does accountability really mean? In business, it’s about taking responsibility for action or lack of action. Simply put, accountability is an expectation of actions. Here are 10 ways to make yourself accountable. 1. Create a personal mission statement. Often, we get so caught up in the mundane details of daily life that we often lose track of why we’re here, what we want and, most importantly, what we value. Manage yourself by finding a way to integrate your values into what you do. Write your own personal mission statement. It does not have to be profound or poetic— it just needs to convey your core values and define why you do what you do each day. (Hint: If you can’t find a mission statement that fits your current career or life, maybe it is time for a change.) 2. Set micro-goals. There are countless benefits to writing down goals of all sizes. Annual, five-, and 10-year goals can help you expand on your mission statement because you know you are working towards a tangible result. But long-term goals are useless unless you have a strategy to achieve them. Manage yourself by setting micro-goals— single action steps that, when accomplished, serve as building blocks to a much larger goal. 3. Use lists wisely. Lists, from simple to-do lists to complex project plans, can be a helpful tool for prioritizing and planning your day. If lists are too big or poorly organized, they can overwhelm you and defeat their purpose. Manage yourself by using lists effectively. Keep a small to-do list of five or fewer items. If it’s not important enough to be on the top five, leave it off. 4. Make yourself accountable. If you are a sales rep, managers want to know how many calls you make and how much business you close. If you are a consultant, managers want to know how many hours you bill. Manage yourself by making yourself accountable for how you spend your time. Some of the most successful people I know review their to-do lists each night and every Friday. They study what they accomplished— and what they did not. Even outside of work, you can do the same. Schedule a time each week to reflect. How were your eating habits this week? Did you exercise? What about your spending? Did you stick to your budget or did you splurge? What can you do better next week? 5. Reward yourself. Great managers know that rewarding employees for a job well done is far more effective than doling out penalties for failure. Rewards range from simple praise to promotions to cash bonuses, but they all achieve the same goal: Rewards make us work harder to get something we want. 6. Do one task at a time. How many job postings include the line “must be able to multi-task”? In today’s wired world, it is impossible not to multi-task most of the time. You can manage yourself by striving to do one thing at a time, and not stop until it is completed. Working on one thing at a time is easier said than done, but the harder you concentrate on completing one task, the faster you will get it done— even if you are interrupted. Get in the habit or checking email only two or three times a day and decide to either respond immediately or delete the message. Close your door, mute your phone or work from home when you need to get through significant projects. 7. Emphasize your strengths, improve your weaknesses. Nobody is born to do everything. We all have natural talents and abilities in some areas, and we all struggle in others. Good managers want to help their employees shine, and also develop their skills. To manage yourself, take every opportunity to show off your strengths, and actively seek out ways to improve in weaker areas. 8. Value your time. Do you know how much an hour of your time is worth? When you divide your salary by all that time spent on things related to work, your hourly rate is probably a lot less than you think. Now, think about your free time— however much of it you may have. What is it worth to you? Manage yourself by learning to maximize your productivity during the hours you are actually working, and by maximizing your personal time by ignoring your cell phone, tablet and laptop, and focusing on the things you enjoy. 9. Seek feedback. Good managers will seek other opinions of employees— opinions from coworkers, friends and customers. Such feedback will provide valuable insight into the employee’s competencies and weaknesses, and will help managers give employees tools to grow and succeed. As your own manager, how you see yourself may be radically different from how others see you. Don’t be afraid to ask others how you’re doing. 10. Review yourself. Going back to holding yourself accountable, every manager provides formal feedback to employees at regular intervals in the form of a performance review. Whether quarterly, semi-annually or annually, make a habit of managing yourself by taking an hour to perform a self-review. Ask yourself: what have I accomplished in the last year? Have I met my goals? Have I met my micro-goals? Have I built upon strengths and improved my weaknesses? Have I grown as a person? Even this simple, infrequent habit can transform your productivity, attitude and success. Source: David Weliver is a nationally cited authority on Millennials and money. His website, Money Under 30, provides approachable, non-judgmental financial advice to more than 500,000 young professionals every month.

Ten Ways To Drive Change, Part 1

How do you get leaders, employees, customers—and even yourself—to change behaviors? Executives can change strategy, products and processes, but real change doesn't take hold until people actually change what they do. Promotional Consultant Today passes along these key approaches to driving change from Harvard Business Review blogger and professor, Morten T. Hansen. 1. Embrace the power of one. When you have many priorities, you have none. Focus on one key change; not many at once. Sequence the change of more than one behavior. 2. Make it sticky. Goal theory has taught us that for goals at the individual level to be effective they need to be concrete and measurable. It’s the same with behaviors. “Listen actively” is vague and not measurable. “Paraphrase what others have said and check for accuracy” is concrete and measurable. 3. Paint a vivid picture. When celebrity chef Jamie Oliver wanted to change the eating habits of kids at a U.S. school, he got their attention with a single, disgusting image: a truckload of pure animal fat. When Oliver taught an obese kid to cook, he showed how cooking can be “cool”—walking with head up, shoulders back and a swagger while preparing food. This gave the boy a positive image he could relate to. Use stories, metaphors, pictures and physical objects to paint an ugly image of “where we are now” and a better vision of a glorious new state. This taps into people’s emotions, a forceful lever for (or against) change. 4. Activate peer pressure. As social comparison theory shows, we look to others in our immediate circle for guidance on what are acceptable behaviors. Peers can set expectations, shame us or provide role models. Ask peers to set expectations and put pressure on one another. 5. Mobilize the crowd. Embracing a new behavior typically follows a diffusion curve—early adopters, safe followers and late-comers. Diffusion theory holds, however, that this is not a random process: Key influencers make it tip. They are often not managers with senior titles but those with the most informal connections and those to whom others look for directions. Get a few early adopters to adopt a behavior, then find and convince the influencers. Source: Morten T. Hansen is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and at INSEAD. He is the author of Collaboration and co-author of Great by Choice. In 2013, he was named one of the top management thinkers in the world by the Thinkers50.

Ten Ways To Drive Change, Part 2

Change is hard. Some leaders excel at change management and others simply don't. Change can require complex dynamics, which is why many business gurus from Michael Porter to Peter Drucker have written numerous business articles about change management. Last month we shared five key strategies to driving change, from Harvard Business Review blogger Morten T. Hansen. Today, we share five more. 1. Tweak the situation. How do you get employees to eat more healthful food in the company cafeteria? You could educate them about healthful food. Or, you could alter the physical flow. Google did just that. Using the cue that people tend to grab what they see first, they stationed the salad bar in front of the room. This and similar techniques are based on the red-hot area of behavioral decision theory, which holds that behavioral change can come about by tweaking the situation around the person. You nudge people, not by telling them directly (eat salad!), but indirectly, by shaping their choices. 2. Subtract, not just add. Change behaviors by removing enablers, triggers and barriers. Managers are so obsessed with what new things to add that they forget the obvious: subtract the old things. 3. Dare to link to carrots and sticks (and follow through). This list would not be complete without the traditional HR lever—incentives—in the form of pay, bonuses and promotions. Tie incentives to both performance and desired behaviors. But keep in mind, as Dan Pink highlights in Drive, such extrinsic rewards and punishments only work for non-creative behaviors and much less for “outside the box” employees. 4. Teach and coach well. Many behaviors have a skill dimension: Be a good teacher or coach (or, be a good learner if you’re trying to change your own behaviors). This involves practicing the behavior, which is difficult especially for behaviors with a high tacit component (e.g., how to listen well). 5. Hire and fire based on behaviors. The list so far is about changing the person. But there is also selection: Change the composition of the team. Get people who embody the desired behaviors and get rid of those that clearly do not. Match strengths to what the job requires. If you want to drive change in an effective manner, incorporate these key characteristics to change. Source: Morten T. Hansen is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and at INSEAD. He is the author of Collaboration and co-author of Great by Choice. In 2013, he was named one of the top management thinkers in the world by the Thinkers50.

Managing Business Metrics

If you operate your small business based on gut instinct or you make assumptions on how your business is performing without knowing the facts, you can run into problems quickly. By monitoring a few key business metrics, you can quickly gain a handle on your business and start on the path to improving your profitability. In today’s increasingly flooded marketplace, the mantra must be: “You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it.” Companies that monitor metrics can spot threats and opportunities faster than companies that don’t. Your metrics will give you keen insights into what’s happening within the four walls of your business as well as overall trends in your industry, as we explain in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today. Here is a simple eight-step process to get you started in measuring your business: 1. Define your goals. Make a list of business goals. Goals might include sales objectives, target profit margins or signing up new customers. 2. Define the metrics. For each business goal on your list, write down a metric that will help you track your progress to success. For example, if your goal is signing up new customers, your metric might involve stating the number of meetings you will have per week with perspective customers. 3. Benchmark current status. Now that you have established your metrics, you need to measure them. You must determine exactly how your business is doing, even if the truth is hard to swallow. By establishing the current value of each metric, you will be able to track your improvements in the future. 4. Put systems in place to monitor and report metrics. You may need to add new business processes that will help you calculate and report your metrics. For example, if you want to know the number of customers who view your customer service as being “excellent,” then you may want to survey your customers every month and ask them how you are doing. 5. Communicate metrics with employees. Once you’ve defined the key metrics that are important to your business, be sure to let your staff know. Then everyone can make decisions that help improve the metrics. 6. Review the metrics and make decisions. With your metrics in place, you have greater insight into which strategies work and which don’t. Review the metrics and take steps to improve your results. 7. Promote successes. When your metrics improve, let your staff know and reward everybody that helped make things better. 8. Reevaluate. Periodically reevaluate your metrics. Your business priorities change over time, and your metrics will need to be modified accordingly. Business metrics ensure your business is in good health and on the right track. Collect appropriate metrics on your business, summarize and make them useful, and you will have a powerful new tool for managing your business. Source: Michael Alter is president of SurePayroll. His payroll outsourcing firm processes and remits payroll taxes for small businesses across the country. He is a contributor to The Payroll Blog and Inc.com’s Trade Secrets.