Don’t Collect Dust! Invest Wisely in Your Promotional Products

When I first started this company almost ten years ago, I was referred to a conservative CPA firm. The managing partner was “doing me a favor” by talking with me. During the course of our conversation, I asked questions about how they had used branded products in the past and how they use products now. He told me they had coffee mugs they used when clients came into the office.  He soon became frustrated with the discussion, saying, “This is a waste of money!” I asked what made him think that? He leaned up in his chair and told me that he had a closet full of mugs that he has had for years.

This valuable insight into perceptions of branded promotional items has stuck with me. Using branded promotional products and embroidered uniform apparel is an extension of your company image. Your company is perceived as it is consistently seen through your marketing efforts. The quality, type, and usability of these products are extremely important.

A successful marketing program using branded promotional items has these components.

  1. Products are matched to the event and people who will be attending.
  2. One size does not fit all! Would you give a referral source that sends you thousands of dollars of business a year, the same $.33 pen that you pass out in mass giveaways?
  3. Products need to be thought through with retention in mind. If they are valued and usable, they will be kept longer and will generate conversation.
  4. Track your marketing to see what is working.

Probably the most important key to a successful marketing plan using branded products is to work with an expert in the industry who will take the time to learn about your company, its needs and challenges, and work alongside you to match the right product to your marketing plan. Branded promotional products and apparel are a large part of many marketing plans.  Invest in them wisely.


Connections Promotional Products
Your Branded Strategy”


Your Audience Is Outdoors, Your Brand Should Be Too!

May is National Bike Month, and with 48% of Americans likely to do something outdoors this summer, your branded promotional products could reach a wide, active audience. Increase your company’s visibility to potential outdoor customers with a strategy that includes active-use products.

According to a 2016 survey:

  • Young people (6-24) favor running, jogging, trail running, bicycling, skateboarding, surfing, and birdwatching. These are good activities for an aluminum bottle with carabiner carrying your message.
  • The adult sector (25+ years old) favors running and jogging, fishing, bicycling, hiking, and camping. They would welcome a multi-use safety product like this compass, whistle, and thermometer combo.
  • Over the past 3 years, four outdoor activities have seen 20% growth or more: adventure racing, non-traditional/off-road triathlon, stand-up paddling, and kayak fishing. Think of how people would appreciate a water resistant dry bag to hold their phone or other handy items.

Outdoor enthusiasts tend to form exercise habits they can stick to, and their activities account for millions of dollars of practical promotional items, not only in the summer but also in fall and winter months too. So, business owners, pay close attention to not only the activities of your target audience, but also their demographics to make decisions on your marketing plans. Give us a call to bounce off some ideas, 423-364-7343, or email

ROR - Return on relationships

You Know ROI. Now Are You Tracking Your Business’ ROR?

If you’re anything like me, calculating the ROI of a project is an exciting thing. Figures like ROI are comforting to business owners because they draw a direct line to what’s working and help you to shift away from strategies and tactics that are lagging behind. In a world that often lacks definite answers, specific figures like this are incredibly valuable when they are available.

The challenge? They’re not always available or the figures are messy. What do you do when campaigns overlap or when multiple channels contributed to the success of a campaign? The answer isn’t to throw your hands up and stop calculating the return on investment of your marketing expenditures. That would be like a football coach eschewing statistics because he’s not sure exactly what led to touchdowns! However, modern marketing requires a shift of thinking from a direct return on investment to a better encompassing statistic that we like to call “Return on Relationships.”

Regularly, wise business owners should review the key relationships that have led to the progress of their business. These figures will often rely on your wisdom, but we find it valuable to tie monetary figures to how your time, energy, and investments paid off for you. Considering your Return on Relationships figure can do three things for your business:

  1. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
    When you begin to see how others contributed to your success, you’ll gain a better appreciation that you don’t tread the road of success on your own. Being grateful to others doesn’t minimize your efforts or take away from your hard work—it helps you keep a better perspective!
  2. Maximize Valuable Relationships
    When was the last time you took time to say thank you to the people who have made a difference in your life as a leader of your business? The value that can come from a simple (handwritten!) thank you note can be exponential when it comes to letting mentors, clients, and others know what they’ve meant to you.
  3. Encourage the Cultivation of New Relationships
    When you’re in the thick of the day-to-day of running a business, it can become very easy to forget about the forest because of the trees. In other words, you forget to prospect and plan for the future because of the day-to-day stresses. When you pause to consider how previous relationships have been valuable to you, you’ll encourage yourself to get out there and cultivate new ones!

423-364-7343 or

Is Your Business Planning for Success, or Leaving It Up to Chance?

Anyone who has ever sat in an inflatable raft in a swimming pool knows that no one ever simply drifts to where they want to go. When you release control of the raft, the pool’s currents take control and move you without your direction. Leadership expert Michael Hyatt explains strategic planning for business owners in a similar way. Businesses rarely happen upon their dream destinations. Far more often, it takes a dedicated plan with concerted steps to achieve the desired results. If there’s power in a plan for your business, shouldn’t the same principle hold true for your marketing? Taking the time to plan your marketing and promotional budget can have a significant payoff for your business.

First, planning your marketing and promotional budget will prevent you from missing important dates on the calendar. As Hyatt frequently tells his audiences, “What gets scheduled, gets done.” Taking the time to pull out your annual calendar and consider when you’ll need certain items will make your events and promotions much smoother and easier to manage.

Second, planning your marketing and promotional budget can enable you to get the best prices. Frequently, we’ve seen clients who are bumping right against a firm deadline and must pay additional rush shipping costs. These costs are almost always avoidable if the order is placed earliest. Rather than waiting until the week before, take the time to plan with your promotions partner to map out of a schedule for what you’ll need, when you should submit designs, and when it should be ordered. Say goodbye to the overnight shipping charges!

Third, planning your marketing and promotional budget will help you make wiser choices with your money. Time is the most valuable resource in the world. As the old saying goes, “Time is the only thing they’re not making any more of!” Allowing yourself time to make the wisest choice will help you be aware of all your options and identify areas where you might be able to maximize your dollars.

At Connections Promotional Products, we place a significant value on investing in a relationship with our clients. We’d be honored to assist you with your yearly planning! Please feel free to reach out online or by calling 423-364-7343, and we’d be happy to map out the entire year with you.

Connections Promotional Products
Your Branded Strategy”

5 Brand Strategies to Make 2019 More Profitable

5 Brand Strategies to Make 2019 More Profitable

Are you looking for strategies to make your year more profitable? Of course you are. All the time. You are reviewing budgets, evaluating revenue streams, forming strategic partnerships, and presenting your brand and company image in a consistent, strategic manner. When looking at your 2019 strategic plan, think about these 5 different brand strategies.

  1. Review last year’s strategies. It is important to evaluate last year’s plan and how it performed in order to move forward. Did you have measurable goals? If you worked on raising awareness last year, maybe this year is the time to shift your focus to conversions.
  2. Clearly define your company and mission. Whether you are planning personal or company strategies, it is virtually impossible to stay on track and reach goals when there is no clear direction.
  3. Clearly define who your market is and how you intend to reach them. You have to know who is buying your product or service so that you can build your marketing strategy to attract them. A good company can easily perceive itself as being useful in one way only to discover their customers are using their products in other ways.
  4. Make sure that your company is clearly and consistently using the brand across all marketing platforms. Well-known product marketing, such as Nike and Coca Cola, are known in part for their consistent message. Because those brands are used consistently through all mediums, the public easily recognizes the logo when seen and often associates a certain image with that logo.
  5. Form strong partnerships with suppliers and vendors. Working with a small pool of suppliers will insure better service and more buying power.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to review the past and plan new brand strategies to increase your profitability. Let’s make time to talk about what you want to achieve this year. Call us at 423-364-7343 or email us at

Six Questions to Help You Evaluate the Success of Your 2018 Promotional Products

We are coming to the end of another year, and your company’s marketing budget may be set already. What place have you given to promotional products? Before you reorder the same promotions you ran this year, we have a few questions to consider.

Some things to think about when looking forward to 2019:

  • Did you buy products in 2018 that stayed in the closet or were they asked for?
  • Did you reach your target audience?
  • Did those products generate discussion and interaction? Were they clever, quality, or best of show?
  • How long were they kept?
  • When ordering, did you worry about receiving a product on time and what it would look like when it got to you?
  • How much money did you spend in employee hours researching products?

Looking back to move forward makes perfect sense. Do you want to make 2019 a more profitable year for your business? Your profit will be in the detail. Schedule a year-end review with us to take place by December 31, 2018, and save an additional 10% on your next order. (Orders will need to be before December 26.)

 423-364-7343 or

End-of-Year Strategy

How Soon Should I Plan My End-of-Year Strategy?

It doesn’t seem real, but it’s time to start preparing for the holidays! Even though most of us still have the air conditioning cranked up, it’s important to remember that the brands that prepare properly are the ones that almost always succeed the most.

For many of our clients, the end of the year presents one of the biggest opportunities for a final push to increase donations or put sales figures into the black. For others, the end of the year is simply an outstanding chance to tell valuable customers how much you appreciate their business over the previous calendar year. Promotional products have proven to be a critical component to this equation, and we’d like to start helping you plan for it now.

At Connections Promotional Products, we take pride in having a consultative approach to providing you with the right products at the right time of the year that will connect with the right people. At the end of the year, you have a powerful opportunity to spur your clients on to give or to buy through small incentives or reminders.

  • A recent study from Bloomerang and Pursuant showed that 50% of nonprofits receive the majority of their donations between October and December. A small reminder of your presence during this critical season can go a long way toward spurring action among your supporters.
  • For businesses seeking to drive sales, providing items that are frequently used during key moments, such as USB drives or a coffee tumbler, can be a perfect reinforcement of your brand message. This can make you both useful and extend your gratitude to them at the same time.

We’re strong proponents of the old adage, “An ounce of planning is worth a pound of results.” This year don’t wait until the holidays to begin making your year-end plans. We’d be happy to help you plan ahead so that you can be at your best! Contact us at or 423-364-7343.

Connections Promotional Products
Your Branded Strategy 

fall sports teams

Is My Company Making the Most of Fall Sporting Events?

In our last blog, we saw how fall sporting events can increase visibility and profitability.  But how do you translate that knowledge into product application?  Here are some thoughts.

  • What sporting events do you have a connection with? From your children’s school events to sports that you love to attend, chances are that those people you see every week don’t know what you do for a living.  Donate branded products to those sporting events to not only help your team, but to increase visibility among people that you already know!
  • Match your product not only to the event, but to the market you would like to reach. Many times this doesn’t mean increasing your budget—rather just being aware of different options.
  • Select a product that will be kept, such as this sports towel. Your advertising budget does no good if what you are giving away is thrown away immediately.

Do you want to stand out during the fall sports season? We will be happy to talk with you about the latest products and trends that will match your fall marketing plan. Contact us at or 423-364-7343.

Connections Promotional Products
Your Branded Strategy  

Marketing at Sporting Events — A Home Run for Your Business!

It’s hard to believe it if you’re looking at the thermostat, but the school year is just around the corner! The beginning of the school year means a lot of things to different people, from shopping for new school supplies to seeing old friends and making new ones. For many of us though, the beginning of the school calendar means one thing – high school and college sports are starting! The smell of the tailgate, the anticipation of your favorite team hitting the field, and the thrill of victory clashing with the agony of defeat. There’s simply few activities that convey the level of emotion that local sports teams can churn up in the hearts and minds of Americans.

Attention and emotion like that is invaluable for business owners and marketers. Sporting events offer strategic opportunities to reach captivated audiences and convey the personality and values of your company to an incredibly targeted audience. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you “step up to the plate” and promote your brand at sports events.

  1. Am I reaching the right people?

Keep in mind that you’re not simply promoting your brand in this space because of your personal allegiance; you’re doing this for your company. Take into account the geographical targets your brand is trying to reach, what they value, and what types of events your target market enjoys. For example, keep in mind that according to Gallup, Americans enjoy watching football more than any other sport by 26%. However, smaller sports can present opportunities to appeal to smaller, more concentrated audiences.

  1. What are the indirect benefits?

For many, sponsoring or supporting high school or college athletics is more than simply looking at the Return on Investment. It can also be about the Return on Influence. Consider the lives that you’d like to impact in your community. By sponsoring the right team, you have the opportunity to make the impact of your dollars mean even more than just direct sales at your business!

  1. How will I make the most of this sponsorship?

The most successful high school and college sports sponsorships that we’ve seen have gone far beyond simply writing a check for a banner. The company sponsor ensures that they regularly attend the event and seek to make their sponsorship stand out through promotional materials, like like co-branded tote bags or apparel. We are happy to consult with you to make the right choice for your sponsorship opportunity. Keep in mind that your goal isn’t to steal the spotlight from the team, but to help the spotlight that is on the team shine a little bit brighter!

If you’re interested in a promotional products strategy, I’m more than happy to have a conversation with you!

Connections Promotional Products
“Your Branded Strategy”

The 6 Most Expensive Words in Business

The 6 Most Expensive Words in Business

How might these words be costing your business?

Over the years I have worked with many companies and many executives who have given that response when presented with a new idea. Often times they feel they just don’t have the time to implement those new ideas and that it would cost too much to change what they have done in the past. Could this be costing them money and ultimately their customers?

Here are three things to think about when you hear these words.

  1. We are living in a fast-paced, technology-driven society. Our boards of directors, CEOs, and everyday customers are people who have grown up with technology. This is a second language for them. How can we as business owners communicate and reach this audience if we conduct business “the way we’ve always done it”? When looking at your marketing plan, are you using tools that are reaching your desired demographic?
  2. Are companies looking at the actual cost to keep this system in place? One of the points businesses probably miss quite often is the amount of money spent on employees maintaining an outdated system. Recently I had a discussion with a very conservative engineering firm. They have a wonderful staff of seasoned assistants and office professionals. Their office staff has been there 25–30 years and are being paid very well. At $30+ per hour, how much would it cost them in employee hours to try to keep the system the same? When looking at your marketing plan, are you partnering with an industry professional to accomplish your goals or paying your employees to maintain the way you’ve always done it?
  3. “If you are not growing, you are dying.” Growth is essential to be able to keep up with a market that is ever changing.  If we can’t move from doing business the way we have always done it, then there is a good chance that our market will pass us by.

When hearing the words “we’ve always done it that way,” whether internally or when working with other companies, we have to look a little deeper. How can we move from this to being a company that is competitive in your market? To better target your market, give us a call.

Connections Promotional Products

“Your Branded Strategy”