Three Ways to Avoid Giving Bad Holiday Gifts to Your Clients

Even between grownups, holiday gift-giving is one of the most fun activities of the year. For businesses, it’s a great opportunity to creatively tell your clients that they’re appreciated and valued by your business. It’s that “creative” part that is often the biggest challenge. A recent survey from Incentive Magazine noted that 77.4% of all businesses give gifts as part of their incentive programs, so standing out from the crowd is more difficult than it ever has been. Gifts take valuable time and money, so it’s important to ensure that a company chooses wisely and not allow their gifts to simply blend into other gifts that might be received.

Because we believe corporate gift-giving is such an important component of a company’s overall customer relationship strategy, this will be the first in a two-part series to assist companies in the process of choosing effective gifts for clients and business relationships. To begin, here are three key things to AVOID when giving gifts.

  • DON’T…. wait until the last minute to come up with an idea. The goal of gift-giving is to show sincere appreciation for the contribution the other party has made toward your business. Waiting until the last-minute limits your options for what you can give and often leads to haphazard gifts. This tends to present itself in two polar ways: Either the gift is seen as cheap and was just “laying around,” or the gift is too expensive and could have been more thoughtful at a smaller cost. Allow yourself plenty of time to select, obtain, and deliver gifts instead of scrambling.
  • DON’T… let cost be the controlling factor. Frequently, we’ve seen that companies create a budget for their holiday gifts and simply look at items that are close to that mark, assuming the option that is most expensive within the budget will be best. This is far from true! Some of the most appreciated gifts we’ve seen are relatively inexpensive, but they suited to client’s tastes and/or needs perfectly. For example, many of the portable cell phone battery packs are less than $10 per unit, yet people have told us they are a big hit when given out as gifts! Don’t assume that your clients will equate cost with quality. It truly is the thought that counts!
  • DON’T… give it the week of Christmas. While this might seem counterintuitive, keep in mind that your clients will likely be receiving gifts from people in various areas of their lives during this time span. Your gift will likely fail to stand out from the crowd, particularly during this busy time of year. Also, keep in mind that many people’s schedules during the final weeks of the calendar year can be hectic, meaning they might not even receive the gift! Stand out from the crowd by giving it a bit earlier than most, and make sure that the holidays aren’t the only time that your client is told that they are valued.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we cover the top 3 things to DO when giving holiday gifts!

Contact us at or 423-364-7343.

Connections Promotional Products
Your Branded Strategy 

seeds on the wind

Sowing Seeds with Corporate Gift Giving

The business benefits from corporate gift-giving are multifaceted, spreading like seeds on the wind:

  • Increased productivity
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Longevity in customer relationships.

You can divide corporate gifts into two categories – external gifts to clients and customers and internal gifts to individuals or your own staff. Internal gifts for employee appreciation often encourage your staff and can help build comradery. External corporate gift giving can be equally as effective with existing and prospective customers.

There are two key advantages to gifting externally:

  1. You can attract new clients and strengthen your brand image
  2. You can also build better relationships with your existing clients.

One gift does not fit all. There are several different levels of gift giving. The first of which is the “leave behind”. These gifts are typically items that are not as expensive but that are very functional and useful. This type of gift may stay around the office or on the desk for months, reminding your prospective customer of who you are, giving you increase visibility, brand recognition and an advantage over those that do not have a quality leave behind.

A couple of ideas that may work in the corporate world are notebooks with sticky notes and flags or perhaps Bluetooth earbuds. Whether large or small, you always increase the odds of being remembered by leaving a customized “leave behind” with potential customers.

We can help you match product to any situation. Contact us at 423-364-7343.

Connections Promotional Products
Your Branded Strategy 

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 

Think Marketing Differently

How familiar are you with last-minute promotional product orders or rushed marketing decisions? Have you or your team taken time to consider new options for promoting your company only to fall back on what you have done before because it feels less risky?

A new marketing plan will not be an automatic win, but neither will sticking with the old one. After all, insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.

How can you make sure you approach your company’s marketing differently to avoid the possible or actual mistakes of the past?

  • Know the value of your time. Let an industry expert help you with your next project and free up your time so that you can focus on your business.
  • Don’t wait too long to get started. Waiting until the last minute to select products for your events can decrease your selection and your ROI as well. Partner with an industry specialist to not only brainstorm the best product for your upcoming events but also help with managing your event schedule so that last minute purchases will not be necessary.
  • Know your target market. Is going to multiple events with different audiences and using the same product giveaways a good use of your advertising dollars? Consider what product is right for each event and your promotional wares will help you reach those who will be interested in your business.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten,” education professional Jessie Potter said. So let’s think marketing differently and see what new results we can get.

We will be happy to talk with you about the products and trends that will fit your company and marketing goals. 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”

Don’t Let Summer Sales Opportunities Pass You By!

Did you attend any community fireworks displays and concerts last week? Did you notice the branded products and think your company could have taken advantage of an event like that? In that moment of realization, make a note to take time to look ahead for similar events scheduled later this year or next. But don’t stop there. What other community events (5k runs, cultural festivals, public concerts, farmer’s markets) are coming up that could be an equally good fit for promoting your company’s services?

As business owners we are faced with many different jobs and responsibilities. When opportunities present themselves, we are often covered up with our everyday responsibilities and our existing customers. If we can make a little room for these moments of opportunity, we can potentially grow our business with only a little extra effort.

Here are some points to remember:

  1. Plan ahead. Look at key events that are happening in your area a minimum of 1 – 2 months ahead and evaluate if that is your target market.
  2. Manage your time. Make sure to include time in your schedule once a month to look ahead.
  3. Make use of interns or other employees for research.
  4. Take something with you. Does your presence at the event include a matching product to enhance your marketing plan?
  5. Call a professional. We don’t have to be an expert at everything! Find a reputable promotional products company to help guide you.
  6. Stop making excuses! Yes, we are all busy, but when we have an effective growth plan in place and follow it, our business will consistently grow.

Don’t miss out on your next opportunity! Give us call today.

Connections Promotional Products
“Your Branded Strategy”

ROI of Promotional Products

What Is the ROI of Promotional Products?

As a business owner, you’ve got to keep a steady eye on the return on investment of every dollar you spend. Being a wise steward of how your company spends its money, whether on operations or marketing, is incredibly important. Inefficient spending can lead to cash flow crunches, missed opportunities, and other challenges that could ultimately leave your business on tenuous ground. Wise business owners exercise this mentality on all of their expenses, no matter the size.

So, is it worth it to spend the additional dollars on branded items? Numerous studies say an emphatic YES! Here are three reasons why there is a high ROI when small businesses invest in branded promotional products.

  1. Brand Recall

One of the biggest challenges businesses have in a crowded market is simply being remembered by clients. Many times there are hundreds of other options for your target market to choose instead of you, particularly because of the Internet. However, getting a promotional product in their hands can change the game. According to a recent study, 85% of people could identify the advertiser on the promotional products they carry around. This level of recall is significant and is far higher than television or other marketing investments.

  1. Low Cost-Per-Impression

When you’re looking at how to spend your money in marketing, impressions are a key metric to examine. Not only do you want as many impressions in your target market as possible, you want them to be as efficient as possible too. With promotional products, items as simple as reusable bags produce an average of 5,772 impressions per item. This isn’t just pennies on the dollar—it’s fractions of pennies on the dollar!

  1. Proves Your Usefulness

When clients ask me what products would be best for them, I always make sure to ask about what would be useful to their customers. It might seem like a simple question, but it has profound consequences. Did you know that 69% of people say they’d pick up a promotional product simply because it was useful to them? Now let’s connect the dots. If the product is useful to them and promotional products help name recognition, don’t you think your customers will connect your company name with the usefulness of the product? It really is that simple!

If you’re interested in a promotional products strategy, I’m more than happy to have a conversation with you. I think you’ll find that the ROI of promotional products is incredibly high.

Connections Promotional Products
“Your Branded Strategy”

Marathon runners and audience

Summer Is a GREAT Time to Reach New Audiences

Do you enjoy going outdoors during the summer? Many people do. Last year, over 48% of Americans participated in at least one outdoor activity. That’s over 144 million people, which is two million more than the previous year. The percentage of those enjoying the outdoors at least twice a week is 21%.

That’s good not only for people’s health but also for businesses wanting to reach active people. Here are some thoughts.

  • Young people (ages 6–24) favor running, jogging, trail running, bicycling, skateboarding, surfing, and birdwatching.
  • The adult sector (25+ years old) favors running (by the far the most popular), fishing, bicycling, hiking, and camping.
  • Over the past 3 years, four outdoor activities have had at least a 20% growth, including adventure racing, non-traditional or off-road triathlon, stand-up paddling, and kayak fishing.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts find it easier to stick with their exercise habit outdoors.
  • Outdoor activities account for millions of dollars of promotional items that have a practical application.

So, business owners, pay close attention to not only the activities but also the demographics to know how to prepare a marketing plan for your target audience.

Increase your visibility with fans of the great outdoors with items geared to the great outdoors.

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”