IAEE Awards Spotlight on Feathr: 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Innovation in Business Solutions Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

In 2016, Feathr presented its Event Marketing Cloud business solution for consideration in the IAEE Individual Awards Program. Feathr’s Event Marketing Cloud encompasses marketing strategies addressing: analytics and segmentation; retargeting automation; cross promotion; email mapping; lookalike audiences; referral marketing; and sponsored retargeting.

One innovative quality that stood out about Event Marketing Cloud is the way in which it gathers the various marketing tools available into a single, user-friendly source. Furthermore, the strong presence Feathr has created within the exhibitions and events industry in a relatively short amount of time is impressive. As such, Feathr garnered the IAEE Outstanding Achievement in Innovation in Business Solutions Award for Event Marketing Cloud in 2016.

Co-Founder & CEO of Feathr, Aleksander Levental, shares with IAEE how the idea for Feathr came about, how he and Co-Founder Aidan Augustin approach their marketing solution concepts, and where he sees the future of the exhibitions and events industry moving in terms of technology.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Awards presentation during the Networking Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016 in Anaheim, CA. From left to right: Representing the IAEE Awards Committee, Randy Bauler, CEM; Aleksander Levental; and IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA.

IAEE: As co-founders of Feathr, what inspired you and Aidan Augustin to create your digital marketing solution for the exhibitions and events industry?

ALEKSANDER: Aidan and I found ourselves in the event industry five years ago almost entirely by accident (which seems to be quite common in the industry). The dorm room startup that was Feathr morphed into a company that made mobile apps for events (think: DoubleDutch, Crowd Compass, Guidebook, etc.). And for two years while we tried to build that product and company, we started learning about how events run their business: how attendee acquisition and retention worked; the opportunities sponsors had to engage with attendees; and the sources of revenue that organizers have, etc. What we discovered was that there was an underlying problem causing these concerns inside our customers – and that underlying problem started to sound like an opportunity the more we looked into it.

Attendee acquisition, engagement with sponsors, matchmaking, content suggestion – effective execution of all of those activities – starts with storing and utilizing data. Data captured on the event website, marketing activity, registration process, surveys, mobile app, etc. That realization was the original inspiration for Feathr becoming a “digital marketing solution for the exhibitions and events industry.” But, really, digital marketing is just a piece of what we want to do. Ultimately, what we care about is helping organizers build high-growth, high-satisfaction and competitive events. Digital marketing was the first step.

IAEE: What are the marketing elements that you think all shows – big or small – absolutely cannot go without?

ALEKSANDER: Post-registration, pre-venue engagement. It is without a doubt the most important step of the marketing funnel and, unfortunately, the least developed one. As an industry, we talk about acquisition a lot: attendee acquisition, exhibitor acquisition, etc. While that is all well and good, customer acquisition at the expense of customer retention is ultimately a losing proposition. It’s critically important to take time and build tailored marketing activities designed to increase and maximize engagement with the show after someone has registered.

One of the primary drivers of this wave of tech and software revolution has been the understanding that recurring revenue and low churn can produce very valuable business very quickly. One of the main tools an organization has available to produce high retention, high NPS, satisfied customers, and reliable recurring revenue is personalized post-sale marketing and engagement. In the software world, this is referred to as “Customer Success.” If we spent all of our time and effort only focusing on new customer acquisition, the last two to three years for Feathr would have been much different. Unfortunately, we see our customers wanting to make that gamble all the time. We’re trying to coax ourselves, our customers, and the industry into focusing on post-registration marketing and engagement, so that we can get out of the cycle of having to dig out of an attendee acquisition hole every year.

IAEE: Feathr tailored its digital marketing tools specifically to the needs of event organizers. What feedback do you receive from organizers as being their biggest challenge?

ALEKSANDER: Time, resources, and the anxiety of choice. Across the entire spectrum of our customers – from the largest independent organizers to a small staff association – everyone we deal with is wearing multiple hats with many responsibilities. Combine that with organizational pressures to grow, launch new shows, create and sell new products, and incorporate new technology, and you end up with people (and companies) that are stretched too thin. Instead of investing time into foundational and long-term innovation, companies are forced to run 100 small experiments in parallel and make decisions without the clarity of thoughtful analysis

The most precious gift that an executive can give someone on their team isn’t budget, it’s room to focus.

IAEE: Given the rapid pace of technology, what advice would you offer those who may be intimidated by the task of staying current and/or investing in an effective solution for their needs?

ALEKSANDER: This is going to sound incredibly self-serving but it’s an idea that’s very near and dear to me: Make an organizational change in the philosophy of the business, and find people and partners that will help grow institutional knowledge and value within your organization. The answer isn’t any one specific piece of technology or service, it’s in embracing a process that’s built around growing, learning from mistakes and failures, and starting to be adaptive.

Resisting the urge to view this process as a series of unrelated decisions about software of technology is key. Even in our relatively short time in the industry, we’ve seen it so often. The entire organization gets stressed over the pressure to pick the correct ____ tool. There are months of research and deliberation that build up to what feels like a tremendously significant choice – then the company relaxes and waits for the next fire, only to find themselves in exactly the same position, with the same issues, now just looking to the next piece of software or technology to magically solve their problems.

 IAEE: Being on the cutting edge of technology is your business. What new digital trends do you foresee for the exhibitions and events industry in particular?

ALEKSANDER: Over the next five years? Connecting data to the experience of the event itself. Where you go, what you see, and who you talk to will be driven by the data and analysis that organizers create well before the people show up at the venue. In retail they refer to this as “clienteling,” we’re going to need a clever name for our industry.

Beyond that? Augmented Reality is going to change everything about the world, events won’t be any different.

IAEE is accepting nominations for the 2017 Outstanding Achievement in Business Solutions Award! Click here to learn more about the IAEE Individual Awards and submit your nominations today!

Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle: Attendance Promotion Campaign

The IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s Attendance Promotion Campaign category evaluates a series of pieces used in a marketing campaign to promote attendance at a show (attendance promotion brochure, printed/digital ads, website, mobile app, etc.). Judging criteria includes overall presentation, visual appeal and creativity of the campaign; clarity of information, overall message and content usefulness; how each piece plays into the “big picture” (how it suits its intended role in the campaign); how the campaign relates to the overall “theme” of the event; and how well the campaign met its intended goals.

In today’s IAEE Blog, we highlight the winners of last year’s Attendance Promotion Campaign category:

Under 75,000 nsf
Frank Strategic Marketing
TRANSACT 16

TRANSACT 16 is the event for payments technology. It is produced by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), the world’s largest payments industry trade group. TRANSACT 16 is where attendees make connections, secure partners and funding, and leverage emerging technologies. At TRANSACT 16, there were more than 4,000 attendees including ISOs, VARs, ISVs and Tech Startups that are driving innovation and responding to consumer demand at the POS. TRANSACT focuses on the payments technology industry, and It is where everyone in payments – all the big players and the latest tech companies – come together to meet, partner and drive innovation.

ETA positions the event as one for the leaders, titans, innovators, and the newest players changing the game; it is the one event where its target audience can see and meet everyone they need to in order to make things happen and move their company forward. The goal for TRANSACT 16 was to communicate the idea that this is where the “old/new” and “slow/fast” come together to create mutually beneficial partnerships. The campaign intended to help stalwarts understand that technology is nothing to fear or be intimidated by; and for start-ups/tech community to see that there is value in partnering with those experienced in the field. To that end, the tagline for TRANSACT 16 was “Connecting the Payments Technology World” – as it is the one place where the global payments and transactions ecosystem come together. In more than 60 sessions and five keynote presentations, speakers dug into big topics such as mobile payments, omni-channel commerce, security and fraud prevention and much more.

“This is a tremendous time of growth and change in our industry,” said ETA CEO Jason Oxman. “TRANSACT 16 brought together thousands of payments game-changers from traditional payment leaders and investors to innovators to chart the future of commerce.”

Between 75,001 and 200,000 nsf
Texas Nursery & Landscape Association
2016 Nursery/Landscape EXPO

For more than 60 years, the Nursery/Landscape EXPO has annually been produced by the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA). Over 6,000 participants attend EXPO’s annual B2B trade show covering 150,000 nsf and featuring the latest products the industry has to offer. Participants include buyers representing various segments of the “Green” industry: retail garden centers; landscape and irrigation professionals; growers; arborists; and suppliers, brokers and distributors of nursery and landscape products.

The goal for this campaign was to brand the show throughout the year in order to reach current and new attendees. The western theme of “Saddle Up” encouraged the nursery and landscaping industry to get ready to build their business at EXPO. As the theme evolved and with the city of Houston as the destination, creative inspiration was derived from vintage rodeo imagery, incorporation of industrialism in Houston, the oil boom and skylines.

“Each year, TNLA brainstorms and develops a new theme and marketing campaign to brand EXPO to returning and potential attendees,” said Sarah Riggins, CEM, Director, TNLA & EXPO Marketing/Communications. “We review previous years of data and set benchmarks based on different aspects of the campaign to raise attendee’s EXPO brand awareness. To help further brand EXPO, the team utilizes a variety of marketing vehicles and tracks impressions from email open rates, website content click-throughs, social media ‘likes’ and EXPO’s mobile app downloads. One of the most important things we continue to place high value on throughout the entire marketing process is strong content, making sure that we are providing messaging to answer the question, ‘What is in it for the Attendee?’”

Over 200,001 nsf
Tarsus Group
Labelexpo Europe 2015

Founded in 1980, Labelexpo Europe is one of Tarsus’ flagship shows and a leading exhibition

brand. Held biennially in Brussels, it is widely acknowledged as the label industry’s leading and largest dedicated event. With a global audience, its exhibitors are machinery/material suppliers and visitors label printers who produce labels and packaging for the food, drink and pharmaceutical markets. The show is pretty unusual with its large scale, complex and technical exhibits of live working print machinery and high level buying audience. Dominating a niche market, it has no direct competition within the label sector, but does share a target audience/purchasing opportunities with general print industry shows like Drupa.

Despite many print shows suffering over the past few years, Labelexpo set the following key objectives:

  • Increase visitor numbers
  • Promote creative printing technologies
  • Expand the show by targeting other groups (e.g. flexible packaging)

The theme was intensively drilled down to every possible and conceivable touch point for the show visitor. From marketing collateral to registration, venue signage and ultimately the show floor, every aspect of the show echoed the fairy tale creative. It was because of this attention to detail and the very high quality of the printed materials, that Labelexpo Europe 2015 broke all previous records. Exhibitor, visitor and even press feedback all resonated around the quality of the show and how eye catching and imaginative the campaign and show look had been.

It was hugely influential in 2015’s show being the most successful in its 35-year history:

  • Highest visitor attendance ever: 35,739 (up 12.4% on 2013)
  • Increase in proportion of visitors from the flexible packaging sector (up 9.4%)
  • Highest number of exhibitors ever – 650 (600 in 2013)

“Creative, challenging and engaging, this particular campaign pushed our team to new limits and delivered excellent results,” noted Michael Hatton, Director of Marketing at Labelexpo. “It achieved more than the budget would suggest, because it caught the imagination of the Labelexpo community and wider printing world. It made people smile, talk about it and most importantly attend the show to find out how to improve their own business. We set out to separate our brand from the pack and we succeeded.”

The 2017 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 31 August 2017 to submit your entries! You can also view all of last year’s winners and honorable mentions here.

Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle: Ontario Hospital Association

2016 Best of Show Winner for HealthAchieve

Each year, an overall “Best of Show” winner is selected from the winners of the IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s 15 categories. Last year, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) took this honor with its entry in the Social Media Campaign: Under 75,000 nsf category for its HealthAchieve conference and exhibition held on 2-4 November 2015.

The signature conference and exhibition of the Ontario Hospital Association for over 90 years, HealthAchieve is an award-winning event that has long been one of the largest and most respected health care events in North America – the preeminent gathering place for health care and business leaders. HealthAchieve continues to inspire ideas and innovation by providing global health care and business leaders with an unparalleled opportunity to learn from each other, share their ideas and evolve their perspectives.

The event targets two distinct audiences: prospective attendees and potential exhibitors. The prospective attendees are made up of international health care and business leaders. The potential exhibitors are made up of medical suppliers and commercial vendors from across the globe. HealthAchieve provides the platform for unlimited networking opportunities between the two distinct audiences, and would not be the distinguished event that it is without ample participation from both.

Here, OHA shares with IAEE some of the marketing strategies it employed in its award-winning social media campaign.

“We continually strive to enhance both the HealthAchieve online and on-site experiences” said Craig Swatuk, Director, Brand Strategy and Marketing, Ontario Hospital Association. “And social media plays a key role in our ability to add more value for delegates, exhibitors and sponsors.”

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

The goal of HealthAchieve’s social media campaign was to increase awareness and registrations pre-event; to encourage dialogue and online interaction during the event; and to keep the inspiration and momentum going post-event. The objective was to deploy various tactics targeting the event’s two target audiences: prospective attendees and potential exhibitors.

Variety is Key

Keeping with HealthAchieve’s theme of inspiring ideas and innovation, OHA maximized social media with diverse offerings across various channels:

  • Delegates were encouraged to share their key takeaways for a chance to win “most notable tweet” contests from different sessions.

  • A content calendar was developed to share inspirational snippets of event information.
  • An online scavenger hunt game for a chance to win encouraged exhibit floor traffic.
  • A ‘best photo of the day’ contest was promoted on Instagram.

  • A social media destination on the exhibit floor was developed that featured a live social media wall for attendees to see their posts on the screen; a photo booth for attendees to instantly upload fun event photos to their social media channels to see live on the screen; and a lounge area with charging stations for mobile devices.

Be Sure to Track Results

The results were quite remarkable:

  • On Twitter, OHA saw a 39% increase in followers.
  • Facebook likes increased by 5%; and Instagram followers increased by 111% from the previous year.
  • The #HealthAchieve hashtag received over 11.2 million impressions – which was a 70% increase from the previous year – and it achieved its first-ever 1st place trending hashtag ranking in Canada on the Monday of the event, and moved between 3rd and 4th place rankings on the Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re very proud of these results and it’s an honor to be recognized by IAEE,” said Mr. Swatuk. “HealthAchieve’s digital engagement has realized terrific growth over the past few years, and we recognize the need to continually evolve our social media practices.”

The 2017 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 31 August 2017 to submit your entries!

IAEE Awards Spotlight on Jenn Ellek, CMP: 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Marketing & Sales Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Jenn Ellek, CMP is Sr. Director of Trade Marketing & Communications for the National Confectioners Association. In 2016, she was recognized for her ability to marry marketing strategy with execution in the face of a very aggressive buyer attendee growth goal for the 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo. She organized her efforts and outreach via a sophisticated series of micro-targeted campaigns to grow her 2016 registration by 10%. This is outstanding considering her previous three-year trends had the show growing by 1% annual CAGR.

Additionally, one of her greatest challenges was growing the show without the availability of significant or substantial resources. Jenn achieved such success through the efficiency of analyzing her event data and showcasing why her hustle, brains and fortitude led to an extremely successful event. Her skill and prowess earned her the 2016 IAEE Outstanding Achievement in Marketing & Sales Award.

Awards presentation during the Networking Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016 in Anaheim, CA. From left to right: Representing the IAEE Awards Committee, Randy Bauler, CEM; Jenn Ellek, CMP; and IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA.

IAEE: You were recognized for growing your show, the Sweets & Snacks Expo, by leaps and bounds through arduous marketing and sales activities. Your nominators noted that you knew from the start the significant challenges you were facing. What is your approach in mentally preparing for projects of this magnitude? Do you have anything in particular you do to help make it seem less daunting?

JENN: The best strategy I have found with facing an overwhelming goal is breaking it down into digestible milestones. Another strategy is to identify what is actually possible and achievable, given your human resources and budget. Then put it into a plan and follow the plan. Look at it every day. Think about it in the shower…

IAEE: One of your challenges was working with limited resources, forcing you to be creative in your approaches. Where/how do you go about finding inspiration for creative solutions?

JENN: How fortunate is it that our industry is sharing and transparent. There are wonderful event marketers I have become good friends through IAEE, who have much bigger budgets than mine. They are happy to share their latest “wins” and from that I can gauge what is doable with our budget. Industry events like the monthly IAEE chapter meetings and the annual Expo! Expo! are invaluable to see who is at the cutting edge and how their tactics are working. I ask a lot of questions and invite folks to lunch – the price of a lunch can give you a whole campaign’s worth of insights! Build your contacts, then use them.

2017-highlights-eeRegistration for Expo! Expo! opens in June!

IAEE: Was there a lesson from this project that really stood out to you? Perhaps something new that you learned or something you would do differently knowing what you know now?

JENN: There are no stand outs that I would “do-over,” but I will say our strategy for success involved our outside partners in our overall goals and their role. I work with nearly 10 outside companies. They are my team, and when we start out the year we review our goal and how we are going to get there. They are laser-focused with us and help us problem solve. Our growth could not have happened without buy-in from Bear Analytics, Experient (registration), TSR (telemarketing) and Freeman (social marketing), along with so many others who work with NCA.

IAEE: What do you find innovative in the marketing world in terms of how it applies to exhibition and event marketing specifically? Is there a concept you think deserves further development that would help exhibitions and events marketers significantly?

JENN: Get personal. Know your audience and speak to them in their voice. If you can pull off a few things very well, it’s much more rewarding and received than doing a lot of initiatives with mediocrity.

IAEE: You delved quite deeply into data analytics in order to develop your marketing plan. What suggestions do you have for marketers who are interested in big data, yet perhaps are intimidated by the process?

JENN: Start small. Pick one goal and stay focused. We knew we were not going to “boil the ocean” in year one. Many get overwhelmed with the myriad findings from the data. In our case, we had to decide what part of the insights we wanted to focus on. We did and it worked, and now in year two with our “big data” partner, Bear Analytics, we are able to go deeper and boy, what a fun ride it is! I did not think it could get any better.

IAEE is accepting nominations for the 2017 Outstanding Achievement in Marketing & Sales Award! Click here to learn more about the IAEE Individual Awards and submit your nominations today!

8 Answers to the Question ‘Why Use Promotional Products?’

Originally posted by 4imprint

Whether used for branding, lead generation, gifts or fundraising, promotional products get the job done. The vast majority (87 percent) of recipients remember the business their promotional item came from. And, each and every time they use that item, they are reminded of the same business. Here are eight more reasons to use promotional products.

Lasting impressions start with promotional products.

Promotional products leave a lasting impression.Recipients of promotional products from a business have a more positive perception of that business, are more likely to recommend it and are more likely to buy from it.

Promotional products live on and on.

Promotional products live on and on.Sixty-three percent of U.S. consumers give promotional products to someone else when they’re through with them. Seventeen percent save their promotional items. Only 20 percent throw them away.

Promotional products are a form of advertising people love.

Promotional products at the top-rated form of advertising.Promotional products are the most-liked type of advertising. Newspapers, radio, magazines, television, internet and mobile fill slots two through seven, respectively.

Expect positive word association with promotional products.

Promotional products make people happy.When consumers were asked how they feel about organizations that gave them promotional gifts, they most often said: “happy,” “generous,” “awesome,” “grateful,” “great” and “good.”

Usefulness matters when it comes to promotional products.

Usefulness is the No.1 reason people keep promotional products.The No. 1 reason people keep promotional products is because they’re useful. Computer products, health and safety products, and promotional pens, pencils and highlighters are the highest rated for usefulness.

Promotional products take you closer.

One in three carry promotional products with them.Of people who received a promotional gift in the past 12 months, about a third of them carried the product with them. Talk about getting up close and personal with a brand!

Promotional products help you stay in touch.

Promotional products help you stay in touch.Buttons, badges, ribbons, stickers and magnets are most often kept for contact information. Electronics, electronic accessories and computer products also are retained for contact info. Only 35 percent of advertisers use promotional products to share contact information. What an opportunity!

Promotional products are used regularly.

Promotional products get regular use.Almost three-quarters of people who receive promotional products say they use them at least once a week. And, about 45 percent use the product daily. In the end, your brand has numerous opportunities to appear on well-loved and often-used promotional items. With so many choices, you’ll gain business and fans!

Promotional products can be a great way to leave a lasting impression. Give them a try for your business!

SOURCE: 8 Answers to the Question ‘Why Use Promotional Products?’

Your Guide to 2017’s Top Executive Promotional Products

Originally posted by 4imprint

Executive promotional products are a great way to not only look good to execs, but to make them look good as well. To get an idea what corporate giveaways will really win them over this year, keep reading.

For high-tech executive gifts, you can’t miss with Bluetooth® audio.

Wireless audio is a great giveaway for tech-savvy execs. In the first half of 2016, Bluetooth headphones drove more dollars than wired headphones, making it clear that people are taking their music everywhere they go and leaving the wires behind. With many top-end smartphones dropping their corded connections, the perfect personalized executive gift is a set of Mojave Wooden Bluetooth Headphones. They’re just the thing for catching productivity podcasts on the go. Or pump the tunes on the pint-sized yet powerful Addi Bluetooth Speaker.

Travel gear is an always-welcome corporate giveaway.

Outfit executives so they can travel in style.
With an estimated 457 million domestic business trips taken in 2016, busy executives are constantly on the go. Many executive promotional products are designed to make their lives just a little more comfortable. A Kinney Packable Jacket resists wind, rain and cold, yet rolls up into a convenient, compact size, just right for stashing in a travel bag. Speaking of bags, give a personalized executive gift that doubles as an office on the go–a fashion-forward Kenneth Cole Colombian Leather Dowel Laptop Bag or Isaac Mizrahi Sloan Laptop Tote.

Keep executives moving with terrific tech toys.

Portable tech is perfect for executives always on the go.
According to Pew Research, 68 percent of Americans own a smartphone. If the executive you know is always running out of cell phone power, give him or her a sleek yet powerful Dual Power Bank. It carries enough power to charge most cell phones—twice! Or if someone is counting not only calories but also their daily exercise, a Smart Wear Bluetooth Tracker Pedometer may be just what the doctor ordered.

Use personalized executive gifts to be remembered in the office.

Useful, professional items often find a home on an executive’s desk.
Because the average worker spends 35 percent of his or her time behind a desk, keep your name within clear sight every day with executive promotional products just for the office. An Executive Desk Pad exudes a first-class business vibe. To keep an exec’s favorite tech tool nearby—a cell phone—make it stand tall with the Brando Clock Desk Organizer. Or for a sleek and stylish way to get your name in front of everyone, hand your favorite executive a Prestigious Business Card Holder.

Some of the top executive gifts deliver a welcome break from work.

Executive gifts like games can create precious time with family.
Everyone needs to take their mind off their job sometimes, and busy executives are no exception. This is especially important when it comes to people with families. The Pew Research Center® says 39 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads say they don’t spend enough time with their kids. So, grab the 7-in-1 Traditional Game Set and have a family fun night. Or, for some fast-paced sports action, get your competitive juices flowing with an Air Hockey Desktop Game.

If you need to connect with those in leadership roles, executive promotional products can be a great way to leave a great impression that lasts long after the handshake.

 

SOURCE: Your Guide to 2017’s Top Executive Promotional Products

Platform Overload—Choosing the Right Social Media Sites for Business

Originally posted by 4imprint

Choosing the Right Social Media Sites for Business

First came the inaugural class of social media platforms: Facebook®, Twitter® and LinkedIn®. Then came the second wave: Instagram®, Snapchat® and Google+®. Now, there’s an entirely new team of social media players with an ever-evolving list of ways for people to connect, share and promote what matters most to them. From a user perspective, it’s a veritable buffet of delicious options. Choosing is as simple as finding where your friends or professional contacts are or selecting the venues that interest you most.

From a company perspective, it’s much more complicated. How do you choose the right social media sites for business? Bottom line: if you’re overwhelmed and don’t know which platforms to choose, we can help.

The importance of social media for companies

The truth is, social media for companies isn’t negotiable anymore—it’s almost an expectation and an issue of legitimacy and sustainability. Businesses that don’t have a social media presence are missing opportunities to engage key stakeholders, customers and employees, and are ignoring a potentially powerful pipeline for sales conversions and future success.

But where do you start? And more importantly, where do you draw the line?

Whether you work at a large company, or are seeking social media for small businesses, consider your budget. Resources often require businesses to focus their social media efforts. After all, the only thing worse than having no presence is having poorly-managed social media profiles. The implications can be widespread and potentially damaging to an organization’s reputation.

Managing social media for companies effectively depends on focused efforts on strategically chosen platforms. Don’t worry, we’ve simplified the legwork for you. Read on for your five-step guide to finding the right social media site(s) for you.

Step 1: Determine which social media sites your target market uses most

You already know who you want to reach, right? (If not, it’s time to define your target markets and/or develop your customer personas.) The first step is to figure out where your target audience is spending time on social media—and where they are active. In “Which Social Media Accounts Really Matter and Why” marketing expert Neil Patel explains that it’s important to look past big user numbers on social media platforms. “For example, there are over 1 billion Google®users, but only 35 percent of those users were active in the past month. Twitter, too, has a lot of members with [a] relatively low number of active members … A social media user needs to be active on a social media site in order for them to be of any use to you.”

That’s a key consideration when developing your social media business strategy. You can determine which social media platforms your target market is actively using in a number of ways.

Ask them.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? You can survey your existing customers, clients and contacts by using one of the online free survey sites, or by polling them via your email list. Or, you can simply ask them when they enter your brick-and-mortar business or at checkout online.

Look at the research.

Social media demographics are widely available online, and the data is robust. You’ll want to know the demographics for your current clients and the target markets you wish to reach. Information like age, gender, income and education can be helpful in your decision-making process.

In “Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy,” Michael Patterson says in-depth information is available about market demographics for many of the popular sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest® and Snapchat. Use that data to determine where the majority of users live, their income levels, their gender and much more. From there, you will be able to glean insight into which platforms your target markets are most likely using, and which social media sites for business are right for you.

This offers you a strong starting position, according to Dominique Jackson in “How to Find the Best Social Media Channels for Your Business.”

“For instance, if you’re primarily targeting women over 50 years old, Instagram probably isn’t the best option. You’re better off with Facebook or Pinterest,” Jackson says.

This is just the beginning of your process, but it’s a vital step. Patterson points out that the strategy you develop based on this data shouldn’t be written in stone. Rather, consider it an organic, ever-changing plan. “Smart marketers constantly tinker with their segmentation strategy, working tediously to ensure that the right message is reaching the right people at the right time,” he explains. “With the rise of so many platforms across the vast social media landscape, this has never been more important—or more challenging.”

Find where your content, or similar content, is already being shared.

Even if you aren’t on social media, chances are your name is there. Consider logging on to various sites and searching for your company name, related product lines, competitor accounts or areas of interest among your target audiences. Look for places where that conversation is happening: your target audience has a presence there that you can work with. As a bonus, you may also learn what your audience thinks of your business, what they wish you would consider tweaking, what they love about your products and services, and even how your staff is performing from a customer service standpoint. Jackpot!

But having the demographic data isn’t enough, Jackson says. “In addition to these statistics, you should also do a manual review of the social networks where you’re interested. Look at the content being published, and who are the actual content creators. If content related to your industry seems to resonate well, it’s a good sign.”

Lastly, consider which social media sites are already driving traffic to your business. You can do this with the help of Google Analytics. Jackson suggests checking out the data under Acquisition. Then choose Social and Network Referrals.

Step 2: Define your social media for business capabilities within the resources you have available

You know it. We know it. Everyone knows it. Resources—both time and money—are limited. Obviously, managing both wisely is important, especially when considering your social media strategy. So the question is: what is your team capable of doing within budget and scheduling limitations?

It goes without saying—poorly-used resources could result in a very low return on your efforts. Spread your time and staff too thin and your audience engagement could suffer. A single person with an existing full-time load of responsibilities likely won’t be as responsive as your social media audience would like. And at its core, that’s the point of social media: it’s a conversation, and it’s about building relationships. If it’s a one-sided conversation and customers can’t reach you, you may send the message that your business is not interested in providing excellent customer service. Customers have become accustomed to nearly immediate responses and online customer support with a real person on-demand.

In “6 Social Media Trends That Will Take Over 2016” Jennifer Beese said, “Social media thrives on real-time engagement, but each year the window for response becomes smaller and smaller.” According to Search Engine Watch, 70 percent of Twitter users expect a response and 53 percent want a response in less than an hour. That jumps to 72 percent when they have a complaint.

Allocating the right resources to the right platforms is essential. No one wants to wake up to negative reviews of their company. Make sure you have enough staff to stay on top of issues and address concerns. In 2014, consumers took to social media to complain about brands 879 million times, according to www.sproutsocial.com. Worse, the majority of those messages went unanswered, even after three days. The good news is that there are tools out there that can help. Automation and social listening tools can help you streamline your efforts and provide useful data to hone your strategy. Overall, they can help make the most of the time and money you devote to social media.

The bottom line: by strategically choosing your platforms and taking time to calculate what you can realistically do with your resources, you can maximize your return on investment (ROI) and delight your customers when they engage with you on social media.

Step 3: Decide what kind of content you will share

So far, you’ve considered how much of your staff and financial resources you can dedicate to your social media strategy. But don’t stop there. It’s vital to consider your strengths. Each social media platform has a unique set of capabilities, and some will be more applicable to your business than others. For example, if you run a professional photography school or an art studio, photo sharing sites like Instagram would provide a great platform to showcase the visual aspects of your business. If you provide drone videography services, you may find sites like YouTube® work better. Look at each channel and consider how they will work with your business. 

In “How to Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business,” author and online marketing expert Scott Levy suggests, “When it comes to choosing which social media platforms you’ll utilize, select those that offer the best potential for reaching your ideal audience and broadcast the type of media you’ve decided is best suited for your company.” When it comes to selecting social media sites for businesses that are large, or social media for small business, most companies don’t have the resources to be successful on every platform. So, instead of having lackluster representation in a lot of places, be amazing on a few of them.

Here are some popular platforms and the type of content they work best with, according to Levy. 

Pinterest

This online bulletin board is great for content sharing because it allows users to save items for future reference—pinning—and share them. Pins are image-driven, so strong visuals are important. Users can comment on pins, and click on pins to access external webpages. Says Levy, “If you focus on wedding planning, travel destinations, interior decorating, fashion or foods, you can say a great deal about your products and services through your stunning photos or videos.” 

LinkedIn

According to Levy, LinkedIn is great for connecting people, engaging in group discussions about specific interests and showcasing your expertise. LinkedIn is also a popular publishing platform. It is a great option to get exposure for your original content, and to position yourself as an expert in your industry. 

YouTube

YouTube is a great sharing site for videos. The key, says Levy, is to make your video engaging, as no one will watch a boring video. But that doesn’t necessarily call for high-end production. What makes a video good? Levy explains, “It’s a good idea to watch a number of YouTube videos and see which ones generated hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of hits. Videos that show people how to do something, demonstrate your product or service, or introduce a new or unusual (visual) product can help you benefit from YouTube.” 

Twitter

This platform provides a continuous real-time conversation in short, text message-like posts. It’s ideal for companies that want real-time engagement with their audience and are willing to put in the effort to maintain it. “If you have breaking news, updates, questions for your followers, or if you want opinions now or even need to announce a recall, Twitter is the way to reach out to people,” Levy said.

Facebook

Facebook has extensive reach and power. Its worldwide user-base is enormous. While there is some sense of immediacy, Facebook doesn’t have the same rapid-fire vibe that Twitter does. It’s more about building a relationship with the audience. “Almost any business can benefit from having a Facebook page,” says Levy. “But Facebook isn’t about selling. Your goal in using Facebook for business is to let customers get to know the people behind the logo … If done correctly, your fans become loyal followers and Facebook can be a very significant lead generator.”

As you can see, the type of content you want to share has a big role in choosing the right social media platforms.

Step 4: Consider large, medium, small and niche platforms

The temptation for many businesses is to focus on the largest social media platforms, like these:

Big Social Networks’ Monthly Active UsersFigure 1: Big social networks’ monthly active users

Depending on the size and scope of your business, going for the most popular platforms could be a valid choice. But social media is about more than the number of users. It’s important to remember that the bigger the site, the more competition you face. A social media campaign that could easily get lost on a popular site could gain real traction on a niche site. So when you’re considering platforms, dig deep. It may require a little legwork, but you could see a huge payoff in market saturation. Here’s how to go about it according to Patel.

  • Consider joining what Patel calls the big four: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Patel says Google+ is a social media game changer. “When you combine Google authorship with the world’s dominant search engine, and create a social media platform that integrates them, it’s no wonder that Google+ is turning up as a dominant form of online social interaction.”
  • Consider what Patel calls the lesser three: Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. You may also want to consider location-based sites, such as Foursquare® and Yelp®, particularly if you have a brick-and-mortar presence.
  • Consider even smaller sites. Patel clarifies that these sites are still massive, but they appeal to people who have shared interests. These sites include Tumblr®, StumbleUpon® and Reddit®.
  • Lastly, explore niche sites. A social network that is specifically created for your target market may provide more return on your investment of time and energy. How do you find the right niche social site? Patel recommends simply putting your keywords, along with the words “social network,” in a search engine to see what’s out there. Niche sites won’t have the big user numbers that Facebook has, but you’ll get a more accurate sample of your target market when you find the right group.

Step 5: Research future social media platform capabilities and rise to meet them

Remember how we said your social media strategy shouldn’t be set in stone? In “The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends Dominating 2016,” author Jason DeMers says it’s helpful to look at the trends that are taking center stage in social media right now. This information allows you to tweak or even overhaul your social media strategy to capitalize on current conditions. Here’s what’s trending:

  1. Hyper-relevant content rules. Users are beginning to prefer in-the-moment content, and most platforms sort posts by relevance. That means better posts get better play.
  2. Live streaming is gaining momentum. Video has been increasingly popular on social media, but these days, users want more. With the advent of Facebook Live, chances are, demand for live-streaming content will only increase.
  3. Social interaction is changing. New types of interaction are emerging, including one-sided conversations on Snapchat and applications like Messenger for Business on Facebook, aimed at customer service. The range of options is constantly growing and new capabilities are emerging. Staying on top of this can put your business on the cusp of the next big thing.
  4. A more personalized experience. As we mentioned, users want content that is relevant. Social media platforms have heard the demands for customization, and they’re doing their best to meet those demands.
  5. Social media apps are trying to keep people in-app for as long as possible by offering greater functionality. Experts say this trend will increase as it relates directly to app revenue. “Some of these functions include in-app search functions, embedded content, and in Facebook’s case, even a personal digital assistant,” DeMers says. Savvy marketers don’t have to adopt all of them, he says, but will want to recognize that broader app functionality is a trend that will likely shape the future of social media marketing.

So, there you have it: five steps to finding the right social media sites for business. Once selected, you’re well on your way to discovering success in user engagement, sales conversions and brand loyalty. Remember, you don’t have to do all platforms well; the key is to select the platforms that work best for your business. Focus on communicating effectively. In time, armed with a thoughtfully-developed strategy, your business can experience measurable ROI, improved customer relationships, and business growth through the power of social media.

SOURCE: Platform Overload—Choosing the Right Social Media Sites for Business

Edible Giveaways

Originally published by 4imprint

Whether you’re planning a tradeshow booth, wedding reception or employee appreciation event, attendees appreciate a snack. Edible logo’d giveaways are more diverse than ever with new flavors and options to feature your logo on the packaging or the food item itself. Here are just a few ideas:

Chocolate-covered Sunflower Seeds

Our Candy Coated Sunflower Seeds are the perfect combination of sweet and salty, these edible delights come in a variety of colors, making it easy to complement the theme of your event or giveaway.

Candy Coated Sunflower Seeds - Promotional Product 297397 from 4imprint

Choose from small, individually portioned gifts pictured above, or a larger-sized Goody Bag – Chocolate Sunflower Seeds for sharing with friends.

Goody Bag Chocolate Sunflower Seeds - Promotional Product 408872 from 4imprint

Want to leave a more lasting impression on your customers and guests? Fill our longer-lasting Snack Attack Jars – Salt Water Taffy.

Snack Attack Jar - Saltwater Taffy - Promotional Product 409022 from 4imprint

When your customers put this candy jar on their desks, your logo and message remain within reach day after day.

And, while logo’d candy jars are a classic giveaway, quick-peel snack cups provide a newer way to share your story. The Snack Cup – Skittles® is one example. (These popular promotional products are available in a wide variety of flavors, including Treat Cups – Peanuts, Treat Cups – Pastel Mints, Treat Cups – Goldfish® Crackers, Treat Cups – Corn Nuts, Treat Cups – Gum Bites, Treat Cups – Mini Jaw Breakers and more.)

Snack Cup - Skittles - Promotioanl Product 438418 from 4imprint

Pre-packaged candy in a plastic serving cup makes a convenient, affordable giveaway for team events, holiday stocking stuffers or party favors. Give everyone attending your team’s end-of-season banquet a snack cup as a thank you for great teamwork. Or, stack the snack cups at an annual meeting or company picnic and you’ll see customers or employees grab and go.

For the ultimate way to put your message in your customers’ hands, add your logo to the candy itself. Edible ink imprints ensure your message won’t be missed.

Personalized Chewy Sprees - 1 LB Bag - Promotional Product 438311 from 4imprint

Select the perfect size for your edible giveaway from the Personalized Chewy Sprees – 1 LB. Bag, the convenient grab-and-go giveaway package like the Personalized Candy – 1 oz. – Chewy Sprees or the Personalized Candy Treat Cups – Chewy Sprees for the ultimate edible giveaway.

Personalized Treat Cup - Chewy Sprees - Promotional Product 438589 from 4imprint

If you prefer chocolate for your personalized candy, check out the Personalized Candy Treat Cups – Chocolate Mints. They’re the perfect giveaway for any chocolate lover. Best of all, they’re available in individually wrapped or bulk sizes, giving you the flexibility to hand out pre-packaged items, package your own or create mass displays that make a statement on their own.

-Suzanne

 

SOURCE: Edible Giveaways

How to Choose the Right Apparel to Promote Your Business

Originally posted by 4imprint 27 September 2016

You want to promote your business, organization or agency. It’s a job promotional apparel is meant to do!

If you’re worried button-down oxfords with an embroidered logo or screen-printed t-shirts aren’t quite right for you… we’re excited for you to meet the new generation of logo’d apparel. Yes, promotional dress shirts are still around. And, logo’d t-shirts are too. But, today’s promotional apparel includes hoodies, flannels, scarves, vests, visors, pants and more! Maybe that’s why so many people say they own logowear.

Bags, caps and outerwear account for 3 of the 5 most effective promotional products

 

A recent survey finds 58 percent of American consumers own a promotional shirt. Forty-one percent own a promotional cap. And 50 percent own comfy promotional outerwear or fleece. With over 116 million households in the U.S, we’re talking tens of millions of people wearing branded apparel.

What’s more, people wear branded apparel at the office and in real life. This means logo’d clothing is constantly building brand awareness. In fact, the same survey shows when it comes to impressions created per item, three of the top five promotional products in the U.S. are apparel: caps (more than 3,100 impressions per item), outerwear (more than 2,600) and shirts (more than 2,400).

The 5 Ts of Promotional Apparel

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your logo wear, choose styles your customers or employees will wear again and again. Here’s how to do just that!

The 5 T’s of promotional apparel include: target, timing, tailored, types and trends.

Target

First, you need to know who will be wearing the clothing. Men? Women? Children? Is it for people within your organization or outside? Do they prefer dressy, corporate apparel or something sportier? Knowing who will be rocking your logo’d threads it is the first step in determining the branded apparel to choose.

Timing

The time of year matters. Where will your message be seen? For example, during cooler weather, sweaters, knit caps or insulated jackets help keep your name and message on the outside instead of hidden under layers of clothing.

Tailored to your audience

Whatever promotional apparel you choose, choose a style recipients will snap up. High-quality items will stand the test of time, be worn again and again and reflect well on your brand.

Types of apparel

Once you know your target, choose what branded apparel is appropriate. Among the most popular options:

T-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, outerwear and headwear are the most popular promotional apparel items.

  • Logo’d T-shirts: These are the most versatile products available, including everything from fashion T-shirts to performance athletic tees. And they’re worn absolutely With an almost infinite combination of styles, fabrics, sizes and colors to choose from, branded T-shirts are a cost-effective way of building brand awareness.
  • Promotional polo shirts: Half-dressy and half-casual, a promotional polo shirt is the go-to item for corporate apparel, from the office to the golf course and everywhere in between. For a high-quality look, embroider a small logo or message on the left.
  • Imprinted Sweatshirts: Nothing says comfort and relaxation like fleece, especially the fashionable—yet practical—classic hoodie. Along with other outerwear, fleece is also the most influential promotional product for ages 18–44.
  • Branded Outerwear: Branded jackets and vestsavailable in many different weights and styles, perfect for keeping your logo visible in any type of weather. And if they’re well-made and look good, they’re kept more often than other promotional clothing.
  • Personalized Headwear: People hang onto hats for two reasons: They’re eye-catching and incredibly useful. They’re worn year-round and always put your brand front and center. Popular items include promotional baseball caps and visors.

Trends

Whenever you’re giving promotional clothing to an employee or customer, make it useful, attractive and modern. Doing so gives people more reasons to wear your branded apparel.

Building Brand Awareness through Promotional Apparel

With new styles of logowear being added all the time, it’s easier than ever to find a style that fits your organization. Follow the 5 T’s when choosing corporate apparel and you’ll be sure people will love wearing your brand again and again.

A Helpful Trade Show Checklist for Sure-Fire Success

Originally published by 4imprint

If your company is exhibiting at a trade show, don’t leave home without this helpful trade show checklist. Trade shows can be a great place to interact face-to-face with current and potential customers, giving you the opportunity to build solid leads. But it’s important to have a carefully thought-out plan, from pre-show planning to post-show follow-up. This handy trade show checklist will help you make every trade show appearance a successful one.

Strategize 6 to 12 months before the show as part of your trade show planning.

6–12 Months Before: Set Your Trade Show Strategy

Start your trade show planning by creating your trade show strategy. Doing this first will make everything else easier and more focused.

  • Set goals. What objectives do you want to achieve at the trade show?
  • Set a budget.
  • Identify your target audience.
  • Develop a marketing plan for before, during and after the show.
  • Choose a trade show that fits your customer’s profile, and book a space.
  • Design your exhibit, including graphics, displays and layout. Keep in mind what you want to communicate to the customer, and consider your technology and presentation needs.

 

Trade show planning begins 3 to 6 months before the show.

3–6 Months Before: Start the Trade Show Planning Process

With your strategy as a guide, determine how you’re going to communicate your message most effectively. And start marketing: Building buzz early can reap great rewards later.

  • Book a block of hotel rooms, even if you don’t know who will attend. It’s easier to change attendees than to hunt for rooms at fully-booked hotels.
  • Determine what literature and marketing materials you’ll need and prepare them.
  • Order promotional giveaways. The best pieces provide value to your customer and will make your brand more memorable.
  • Start pre-show marketing: Send information to attendees with your booth contact information. Send out press releases. Promote your presence through social media.

 

Finalize your trade show planning 1 to 3 months before the show.

1–3 Months Before: Finalize Event Plans

Continue building momentum. Get your customers and booth staff excited about the trade show.

  • Prepare follow-up materials. If these are ready before the show, they’ll be ready to send out immediately afterward when conversations are still fresh in prospects’ minds.
  • Make travel arrangements.
  • Train booth staff.
  • Contact the event sponsor for any last-minute details.
  • Schedule meetings with prospects and other customers. They have busy agendas, so make sure they have time set aside to meet with you.
  • Finalize production of all marketing materials and booth displays.
  • Order promotional apparel for your team to give them a polished, professional look in the booth.

A trade show checklist can help you prepare for the show.

1–4 Weeks Before: Prep and Pack for the Trade Show

Finalize all the details. The more fine-tuning you do, the smoother and more effective your trade show presence will be.

  • Prep and package booth equipment and confirm shipping arrival dates.
  • Prepare a competitor trade show checklist to see how your brand messaging and strategy compare.
  • Give your team a master contacts list in case things don’t arrive on time. Include cell numbers for team members, tracking numbers, vendor information and trade show details.
  • Put together a two-bin supply kit. Place office supplies in one and team resources (cold and allergy medication, lint rollers, stain pens and mints) in the other.
  • Make cheat sheets for booth setup and quick reminders for the team, including lists of conversation starters.
  • Role-play meeting with leads. This prepares your staff for interacting with visitors.

 

See your trade show planning pay off the day of the show.

At the Show: Go For It!

The hard work is over. It’s time to have some fun! Be as professional as possible and make notes for every interaction. Even the smallest observation can go a long way in making a connection.

  • Smile and greet visitors. (Follow a ‘no phones’ on duty rule with your teammates to maximize interactions.)
  • Trade badge scans or business cards for promotional products. (These little workhorses are a great way to introduce yourself and put your brand in front of your prospect even after they go home.)
  • While scanning badges or collecting business cards, talk with prospects about their needs.
  • Make notes about post-show follow-up you’ll complete to turn prospects into customers.

 

Follow up after the show to ensure your trade show planning pays off.

Afterward: Follow Up

This is the most important part, next to the strategy. A detailed analysis of prospects, customers and the event itself will set you up for future trade show success.

  • Organize leads and follow up right away. Be sure to give 2–3 methods of response, such as a demo request, white paper download, or newsletter subscription.
  • Evaluate the show. What worked? What didn’t? What can we do better next time? And do we want to participate next year?
  • Review the budget and determine ROI.
  • Continue follow-ups throughout the year, including social media and blog posts.

We hope this trade show checklist has been useful. With a solid trade show strategy, planning and preparation, and post-show efforts, sure-fire success is in your future.

Source: A Helpful Trade Show Checklist for Sure-Fire Success

Sources

“4imprint Blue Papers: Trade show displays: Trends for exhibitors—Part 2.” 4imprint.com. info.4imprint.com, 03 August 2015. <http://info.4imprint.com/blue-paper/trending-trade-show-displays-part-2/>

Esposito, Emily. “Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Trade Show.” Smartsheet.com. Smartsheet.com, 12 March 2015. <https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/everything-you-need-know-about-planning-trade-show>

Gleeson, Brent. “7 Tricks For Tradeshow Domination.” Forbes.com. Forbes.com, 04 September 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2013/09/04/7-tricks-for-tradeshow-domination/#7fd3869f4a1e>

Ostomel, Dana. “10 Lessons From A First-Time Tradeshow.” Forbes.com. Forbes.com, 14 August, 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/08/14/10-lessons-from-a-first-time-tradeshow/#7a2cb2fa5be2>