If you haven’t taken a couple of minutes to watch our Good At video series, now’s your chance.
Your mood will thank you for it.
If you’re at Mesh today, please stop by and play a game of RIGHTSLEEVE Road Hockey.
If you haven’t taken a couple of minutes to watch our Good At video series, now’s your chance.
Your mood will thank you for it.
If you’re at Mesh today, please stop by and play a game of RIGHTSLEEVE Road Hockey.
I’d like to say more about this new video series from RIGHTSLEEVE, but really, the video already says it all.
I’m a sucker for infographics. Truck over to the RIGHTSLEEVE Pinterest page and you’ll see there’s a board devoted just to those charming nuggets of graphs and stats.
Naturally I wanted a RIGHTSLEEVE infographic of our very own and set out to rustle one up. I got one, but looking back on my quest, I see parallels to how customers want promo. Oh, and not the good kind of parallels.
I started my quest innocently enough, with a Google search. I found a few pages describing how to go about making a quality infographic. Things like: know what you want to convey, gather your data, take your time to create a custom look.
But, I want my infographic and I want it now!
The articles I found told me I was going to have to slow down and do some work. I didn’t want that. I wanted my graphic. So, I kept searching and found a site called visual.ly that is currently building software that will take the complex elements (like design and number-crunching skills) out of making infographics.
Notice I said “building software.” As in, not available yet.
I was back to having to put effort and resources into our infographic.
The Band-Aid Solution
I kept peeking around on visual.ly (which does look like a really cool tool) and discovered that they could make an infographic for me based on the @RIGHTSLEEVE Twitter stats. And, they’d do it for free.
*Cue victory music*
I synced those bad boys up and got me an infographic.
Victory at Last!
Well, not really.
I have my infographic, but it’s not really worth anything. Sure, it’s cool for me to see the breakdown of our Twitter usage, but that doesn’t really matter to anyone who, well, matters. And, I don’t quite understand why the graphic says we have 1:1 “Follower:Following” ratio when we have over 1000 more followers than we follow.
Even though I have a graphic now, I’m not any further ahead because it doesn’t convey much of value to co-workers, clients, or readers. It doesn’t serve anyone.
I have the shiny new thing, but it’s not worth anything.
This is exactly what a lot of people do with their swag campaigns. They want instant gratification. The cheapest solution. Something that’s not right, but that fills a want.
That’s why my infographic #fails. And why a lot of swag campaigns #fail.
The title of our infographic is “You Are What You Tweet.” I like to think we’re more than that. With swag. And with any future infographics.
We also love to participate and were proud to be on board as a sponsor again this year for Social Media Week Toronto. In addition to being involved in the sponsorship, I trucked out to some events and have been thinking a lot about what I learned from my session, ‘Storyselling: How to use great digital content to help make the sale.’
What I learned might not be what you think.
Sure, Lisa Horvat of Strategic Storytellers used great examples of stories that educated me, made me smile and, made me tear up. But, looking back, I learned a lot by watching what Lisa did with the session, not what she did at it.
Before the event, Lisa sent an event reminder to me, but it was more than your typical calendar reminder. She personalized it, kept true to my company brand by capitalizing RIGHTSLEEVE in her message, thanked us for sponsoring, and opened the door for me to speak to her at the event. Chatting with a friend who also attended the session, Lisa some online sleuthing and also personalized her contact. Eyeballing the full room of attendees at the seminar, I was impressed that Lisa would take the time to reach out to people on such a personal level.
Because she did her homework (see above) Lisa knew a sponsor (me) was in the audience and gave a personal shout-out to RIGHTSLEEVE. She also knew other attendees by name and commented on interaction she’d had with them prior to the event. Such engagement helps to tear down the wall that sometimes exists between presenter and audience and creates a personal connection…something fundamental to story telling.
The Extra Mile
They provided coffee and treats – score! There was also someone greeting me as I entered the room and getting me set-up with a name tag, which was nice when chatting with other attendees. There was good lighting and sound. It might seem like the small things don’t matter for free events, but they do. The small things always matter. Oh, and the bathrooms were clean. I totally judge events based on their bathroom facilities. And now you may judge me based on my bathroom prejudices.
Lisa made herself available. After the event she chatted with attendees. She also pointed out other members of the Digital Storytelling crew so that guests could speak to them. And, because she reached out to me with that personalized event reminder, I felt comfortable emailing her so I could ask for help while I was writing this blog post. An email she replied to within minutes.
I learned a lot from my session, but it went beyond story telling.
When was the last time you were surprised by what you learned?
We’re excited to be supporting TwestivalTO again this year. For the uninitiated, Twestival is the world’s largest grassroots social media fundraising initiative. We’re involved in the Toronto event as that’s our home turf.
We will producing 100 limited edition T-shirts for this year’s event on March 24 at The Fifth. If you are one of the lucky first 100 people through the door, you will be the proud owner of one of these shirts.
To make these shirts really special, we need your help. We are asking that you tweet @RIGHTSLEEVE what #TwestivalTO means to you and we’ll take the best and print your handle and tweet on the back of the shirts. You will be part of history
Interested? We need your tweet by March 18 at 10am so we have enough time to design and print the shirts.
Here’s a little video to get you in the mood.
ps. in order to get your hands on one of these limited edition beauties, you actually need to be one of the first 100 people in the door at TwestivalTO (whether you tweeted at us or not).
“If you’re not boring, people will talk about your stuff.”
These are the sage words of advice from Ramon DeLeon, one of the most charismatic SMB’s I have ever met (and definitely the most flamboyant pizza franchise owner out there). I heard Ramon speak at Toronto’s Mesh Marketing conference yesterday and I was struck by how this one man has created a thriving business within an industry that most people would define as commoditized and unexceptional. He has done this by using social media properly.
Ramon is the operating partner of a six store Domino’s franchise in Chicago. He arms himself with a video camera and smart phone so he can stay in touch with his customer base in real time via Twitter, Facebook and Vimeo. He responds to customer issues online and is quick to remedy the problem with a free pizza or an amusing video response. He takes liberties with his various promotions to drive business. He sends video messages to customers on Twitter thanking them for their business. Who does this sort of thing? This ain’t your normal pizza guy.
Ramon is a purple cow, to use a term coined by Seth Godin. Ramon stands out amongst a sea of unexceptional businesses in his industry. When is the last time you went to your local chain pizza shop and really cared about the experience? Sure, there are always exceptions, but I suspect most people would count their relationship with their pizza shop as fairly standard. Ramon’s use of social media is brilliant because he has used the medium to connect on a personal level with his constituents. This drives loyalty, referrals and repeat business (even blog posts like this).
We know a lot about being in an industry (promotional products) that largely competes on price. When starting RIGHTSLEEVE, we viewed this as an opportunity to do something different and borrow from the playbooks of companies like Zappos that placed a premium on customer experience vs competing solely on price. We are inspired by entrepreneurs like Ramon as he’s paving the way for other businesses in competitive, commoditized spaces to stand out using tools that did not exist 5 years ago.
What do you think? What businesses do you know that are making waves using social media today? What do you think of Ramon’s tactics?
ps. next time you’re in Chicago, tweet Ramon and he’ll set you up with a free pizza (tell him I sent you)!
I have been fortunate to give a number of talks on social media and web marketing over the past 2 years. My audiences range from internet peers to business people from private industry to colleagues in the promotional products industry. While most people are pretty receptive to change, I have found that some people are downright hostile/scared about this freight train called the internet (and I might as well use the word “internet” and “change” interchangeably).
This post reviews some of the objections I have come across while presenting about social media, along with my typical responses.
1. Twitter is stupid. Why should I care that someone is in line for their Starbucks coffee?
Point taken. However, my view on Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) is that “you are who you follow”. If you follow people who tweet about stupid and vacuous things, the easiest way to deal with this is to unfollow/unfriend them. Like the internet itself, there is plenty of noise on Twitter, but the magic is finding the gems.
Twitter is full of fascinating tidbits that keep me in the know on a range of topics (a memorable example of this was the Amazon purchase of Zappos). Twitter is full of links to articles that are highly relevant to my interests (again, see point above). Twitter beats any newspaper as a news source as it’s reported in real time vs having to wait for the paper to be delivered to my doorstep in the morning.
From a business perspective, I get all sorts of insights into my customers (who I follow) as well as potential customers (who I spend time cultivating relationships with). To understand what makes your customers tick just makes good business sense. Tapping into the Twitterverse to gain real time insights into your customers’ daily lives has made us a much more nimble organization. Conversely, people who sell me things always get preferential treatment if they can demonstrate they have done their homework and know a thing or two about RIGHTSLEEVE.
For a longer analysis of Twitter, you can refer to My Take on Twitter
2. Why do customers turn to the internet when they need something, versus just contacting their preferred supplier?
This comment was made at a session I gave to a group of promotional products professionals, an industry undergoing massive change as it relates to how buyers research product information. Here was the tweet that prompted the remark:
“Have spent day on phone with vendors. Looking 4unique event ideas 4 female audience – forget cooking and wine tasting. Need smthg different”
This example sparked a lot of discussion, most of it hostile. The prevailing view was that if a distributor was doing its job correctly, then this person would not have had to tweet their request. True, but only to a point.
In this day of instant feedback, it’s in the customer’s best interest to reach out to their network (before social media, you can bet they called around on the phone asking the same question). Posting such a comment online is valuable as it may generate a flood of relevant responses from peers who have gone through the same thing before. In my position as a vendor, I follow this person and was able to reach out with some suggestions relating to the promotion. We got the order.
The question people need to concern themselves with is NOT why people are using the internet to conduct research, but rather HOW to respond to their queries in a way a that is respectful and relevant to the customer. The customer, not the vendor, is now firmly in control.
3. Social media is for anti-social geeks. The web has ruined personal selling.
I half expect this comment to come from an over-the-hill sales curmudgeon straight out of Glengarry Glen Ross. Needless to say, I disagree with this claim.
People who use social media well are among the most social people I have ever met. Sure you have some exceptions, but any “social media type” I have ever met in the offline world, has been incredibly friendly with a penchant to share a lot of information. I personally use social media to engage with a wide range of people, and when the time is appropriate to meet, I have a wealth of information to talk about. The intersection of the online and offline worlds has made business easier, not harder. Personal selling, in many ways, has now become more personal.
I can accurately make this claim given that I had run my business for 7 years prior to the advent of social media, and 5 years since. There is no question that a critical part of my business is still “face to face”, but these in person relationships have only been enhanced via social media. In several instances, I would not have even made it in the door had it not been for social media.
4. Who has time for social media? Do I now need to work 24 hrs a day to keep up?
No. I will draw from personal experience when it comes to how I spend my “selling” time at the office. Think of my day as a pie. In the “old days” before social media, I spent 1/2 of my time on the phone/email and 1/2 my time in front of clients. Now, the distribution of the pie is different, not larger. 1/3 of my time is now spent on the phone/email, 1/3 is in front of clients and 1/3 is using the internet/social media. I made this switch as it was in response to the new market reality. Some customers will now only communicate by Twitter Direct Message!
When email was introduced to the mainstream in the mid 90s, people started emailing more, talking on the phone less and faxing even less. Same pie.
The bottom line?
I understand why there is hostility out there. The internet (and specifically social media) has changed the way we buy, completely disrupting traditional business models. There is a great quote in Ken Auletta’s recent book on Google when the head of Viacom blasts Google’s founders for “fucking with the magic” after learning about their mathematical approach to advertising. The “magic” he refers to is the smoke and mirrors of traditional advertising.
Similarly, social media is impacting traditional business relationships. Relationships that were once forged on the golf course are now being cultivated online and cemented offline. Most people these days don’t have time for a day on the golf course, as their time has now migrated online. Balancing these two worlds is the challenge that the modern business person must rise to.
This blog is only as good as the readers who weigh in. Your comments are, as always, welcome.
Every year, we sit down and think about swag and its applications in the real world. What trends are influencing the ways people are using promotional items? What do users of promotional media gravitate towards in terms of fashion and function?
Well, we have debated these topics tirelessly over the past few weeks and have synthesized the findings into the Top Ten below.
When does a to-go mug go from trash to re-usable?
Current promotional product trends look at re-thinking the way we use everyday objects and making them useful and eco-friendly – especially with the current push of carbon footprint and social responsibility in the media. Adding a bit of creative flair to the design also makes it appealing to those looking to stand out and differentiate their brand identity.
An emotional connection with swag is one way of capturing attention.
It paints a story for the client as they would be familiar with the product from their own experience. It’s also a step back from regular promo gear and allows the receiver to have more fun with it – who doesn’t like a pair of neon sunglasses?
Smart phones, PDA, laptops – whichever piece of technology available out there, someone has got theirs hands on it so why not have your brand in their hands too. By choosing products that relate to the current trend, it gets your message out there and becomes practical.
No more corporate colors – Red, Black, Navy.
A lot of employees are looking for exciting options for their corporate uniforms to wear at work and also for recreational use. With casual dress codes becoming more common in the workplace, the color palette is starting to change and heading more towards the seasonal colors that comes with fashion: orange, green, pink (or salmon), etc.
Patterns, materials and details you would see at a store, are making their way into work wear. It gives the apparel a bit more personality to the person who wears it.
Good things come in small packages!
Cell phones/PDA/laptops; these are everyday items that are carried by work professionals as part of their gear. Why not have your brand be visible daily and useful at the same time, instead of sitting in another swag closet never to be seen again? Useful as a mailer as well, with little costs to ship directly to your clients. Even with a small budget, you can still have the biggest impact; it’s all how you present it.
Crossovers – no more one size fits all golf shirts that wear like a dress.
Women have always been the main consumer for households. The same goes for ordering branded apparel in a corporate setting. A lot of them are leaning toward the styles that have crossovers to suit both male/female employees. There is also a push towards more female-oriented products in the market. Patterns, Fit and cut is important and makes it appealing to the female demographic. Choose styles that differentiate between men and women’s apparel.
Eco-friendly products have become more standard with products these days. Not everyone has the budget to spend on organic cotton tees or bamboo woven bags. But that doesn’t mean that you should be left out of the mix. Useful everyday items are getting the eco makeover while helping stick with your bottom line.
Want your self-promo to stand out from the rest? Don’t have the time or quantities needed?
There are new product lines that allow for full customization without the long timeline and higher minimums. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day – but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality of your brand with the same old 1 color/1 location.
Bamboo, coconut, recycled tires, kraft paper, neoprene, jute and poo!
Using non-traditional materials is another differentiating factor in rethinking products: form and function (trend#1). New materials/textiles are making their way into the industry and create interesting stories within the products themselves – promoting organic solutions (bio-energy), why not hand out a journal made from elephant poop?
It will definitely get people talking and take you to the next level with your client.
I just returned from the PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) convention in Las Vegas. I made a presentation to industry colleagues on how RIGHTSLEEVE has used a myriad of web and social media tools to help transform our business .
Please see my presentation here.
I am often asked how we have made social media work in the traditional and commoditized promotional products industry. This segues into a larger question as to how to use technology to your advantage in any traditional industry.
There are several ways that companies in other traditional industries can use social media to their advantage. We have used the following tools to increase our profile amongst our target market:
1. Blog. While time consuming to maintain, our blog has been an important part of how current and prospective clients relate to the company. I have learned a few important rules along the way as to how to maintain a good corporate blog.
a. Do not use your blog as a product advertising tool. Think of your blog like a respected newspaper like the New York Times where editorial interests are separate from the business interests that underwrite the publication. No one would read the Times if the articles were shameless plugs for their advertisers. Readers expect analysis, commentary and a perspective, not a sales pitch.
The content of our blog is focused on positive customer experiences. This is central to how we do business, which is why we focus on this theme on our blog. Many of our entries are irreverant and humorous – and each offers a unique perspective.
b. Have fun. One of our company values is to “have fun”. We have fun when we interact with our clients in person, over the phone and in our online setting. We present our thoughts and philosophies on the blog as we really want our clients to know more about what makes us tick.
2. Online video – we created a comedy sketch on youtube.com which makes fun of our industry. I think that the ability to have fun and have a joke at your expense is a key rapport building exercise between you and your audience.
3. Product Comments and Ratings. We encourage the good, bad and ugly. Not everything is a winner and we want our community to know what works and what doesn’t. There is no point in hiding from something that doesn’t work as a marketing tool – as this client felt in their review. Conversely, when products work, the community is drawn to the winners.
4. Aligning ourselves with web properties that our clients identify with. In our case, we have used:
ii. Flickr as a forum to post office pictures which gives clients an insight into who we are.
iii. You Tube as a forum to post videos on what makes our office tick.
5. Own your content by building your own web site. A number of companies take short cuts by using white label web sites developed by industry associations. Companies will market these sites as their own, but the end consumer is simply presented with the same product offering as everyone else who has tapped into the same standard web product. The only difference is a template change and a company logo on the header. This is a relatively standard practice in the promotional products business. The end result is that you simply don’t stand out. How can you when an average client will receive the identical marketing message from multiple sources?
6. Open up. Visitors to our site can publicly see how many times products have been viewed/purchased. Visitors can also see what clients are actually buying so others can be privy to what’s popular. This is determined all by visitor activity which is a much more democratic way of determining popularity. By opening up this information, we have created a powerful dialogue with our customer base that is next to impossible in a non web based environment.
If your industry is old fashioned, this is your chance to be truly unique. You will find your investment is less capital intensive but will draw significantly on your time and intellectual resources. In the end, you can create a winning model that takes on the bigger players who have a legacy infrastructure to support.
There is no better opportunity to use technology and social media to cement your position as the next generation leader within your industry.