A custom sign for our partners at Newton’s Fire and Safety.

This week we installed this custom routed HDU (High-Density Urethane) sign for our partners at Newton’s Fire and Safety. HDU is able to be routed to appear like wood while lasting 2-3 times longer than traditional wood signs.


Treat Your Employees and Customers With Holiday Promotional Items


Holiday Gift Ideas from Fun to Fabulous
It’s that time of year again, when businesses both large and small start thinking about how to recognize their staff and prized clients, and integrated marketers try to figure out how to do it affordably while still making an unforgettable impression. Below is our curated list of five buzzworthy gifts that can pull this double duty. Our list runs the gamut from just a few dollars, to items for those looking to splurge a bit.

Fidget Spinner
Aww, the spinner that has taken the world by storm. It turns out that everyone from primary school children to high-powered executives love these little gadgets for refocusing, relaxing and centering themselves! These lightweight, portable toys, originally developed for kids with autism or attention disorders, can be hidden away in a desk or purse, and definitely won’t break the bank—unless you want to shell out about $17,000 for any stressed-out billionaires you know. Cost: from around $.90 to $10.

Bluetooth Speaker
Convenient, portable Bluetooth speakers let you take your music to the park, beach, even into the shower—pretty much anywhere that you would take a portable stereo system. Sound quality varies by size and number of internal speakers, which depends on your budget, but they can usually fit in a pocket or bag for great sound without the hassle of cables and plugs. Designs include ruggedized exteriors, sleek wood casing, and plastic. Cost: from around $6 to money is no object.

Bluetooth Neckband
Earlier this year we noted the popularity of Bluetooth products for tech-savvy recipients. The neckband is a lightweight way to get in-ear Bluetooth sound without wires or concerns about falling off. Featuring retractable wires, and foldable for compact transport, these popular earbuds are ergonomic, great for exercise, and will wow giftees. Cost: from around $11, up to Bose.

Digital Photo Display
This won’t be the first—or last—time that you see this item recommended as a gift to delight both employees and executives. The popularity of camera-enabled mobile phones means we take more photos than ever, so give your customers or employees the opportunity to share some of those cherished images. Digital frames are easier than ever to set up and use and provide a unique and engaging way to exhibit photos. Sizes and features vary—from keychain and ornament to 7” LCD display. Cost: from around $55.

A Bonus Two-fer
For those times when you can’t decide between a Bluetooth speaker and Bluetooth earbuds, but still want to be on-trend with tech, check out these truly wireless earbuds inside a wireless charging station that doubles as a speaker. A bit pricey, but imagine your recipients’ excitement! Cost: from around $90.

Whatever the budget, integrated marketers will find sound advice for holiday gifting in our promotional products archive, including ideas for pets, information on how people save and use their promo products, and strategies for campaigns built around promos.

Is Your Signage Driving People Away?


Maybe it’s time to take a second look at your storefront business sign. Is it really drawing people in? Or keeping them out?

Despite the old adage about not judging a book by its cover, people make snap-judgment decisions every day about businesses they’ve never entered or dealt with, based solely on the first impression conveyed by the signage.

Signage Overlooked In Business Schools

There’s little escape from signage in daily life. But despite the ubiquity of business signs, business students have not stopped to give the topic much thought, according to a research report by marketing professor James J. Kellaris, Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati. Even marketing textbooks “offer scant (or no) coverage of the topic,” he notes.

“On-premise signage is one of the oldest and most important forms of marketing communication,” writes Kellaris. Nevertheless, the benefits of effective signage are not fully understood by marketers, nor are they well-covered in marketing literature.

Integrated marketers and small businesses of all kinds can use signs more effectively by stepping back and understanding the different functions signs perform. In marketing communications, signs perform three roles: “identification, way-finding, and branding,” explains Kellaris. How well are your signs doing each of those jobs?

First Impressions Can Be Lasting

Kellaris conducted a survey of 200 business students about their attitudes toward signage and found that 79 percent agreed they could “infer the quality of a business from its signage.”

A majority (55 percent) of respondents said they would “avoid going into business establishments that have poor quality signage.”

Students agreed with the sign industry adage that “a sign is to a business what a handshake is to a sales call” — in other words, an important first impression and a revealing hint of personality.

The report posited that consumers’ first impressions tend to become frozen over time, even in the face of additional information that might go against their initial conclusion.

Don’t Be Difficult

Effective signage involves more than simply good visibility. Kellaris’ report cites research that suggests “the ease or difficulty with which visual information is processed can influence attitudes toward that information. If an object (word or symbol) is legible but difficult to read, it may be evaluated negatively…”

You can’t always control all the factors of your environment, such as the size and placement of your sign. But above all, you should seek to keep your message and graphics as clear, simple and legible as possible, to reduce any difficulty for your prospective customer. Make sure your message can be read easily and understood even at a distance.

For more tips on creating effective signage, take a look at some previous posts: “Create Signage Your Customers Can’t Ignore,” “How Signage Color Affects Customers” and “Sign of the Times: Typography and the Aging Eye.”

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Networking Events


Whether you love networking at events or it strikes fear into your heart, it is an inevitable component of marketing that allows you to maintain relevance, continue to get your name out, build up your network, and remain competitive. In the past, we’ve looked at some ways that integrated marketers can project self-assurance in networking situations. Now The Event Manager Blog has put together a video and post about five practices to help you get the most out of your networking opportunities.

Go It Alone
While there is always comfort in numbers, sticking with your colleagues or people you already know will not help you to make new connections. Now is the time to explore who else may share your viewpoints or be able to bring you new business. Payscale recommends hanging out near the food or drink areas since everyone will eventually gravitate there, allowing you the opportunity to initiate small talk.

Prep for Your Prospects… and Don’t Forget Social
In addition to being a resource for promoting your organization’s events, social media is a great way to get up-to-date on who you might meet at a networking event. If you see on social media that some attendees you want to connect with have said they’ll be at the networking event, see if you can set up a meet & greet. Make time to set some goals for the event that will help you focus your efforts.

You Have Two Ears and One Mouth
When you’re nervous, do you ramble on about yourself? Try to curb that impulse when networking. Show sincere interest in each person you talk with—maintain eye contact, listen closely, and build a rapport. It’s better to focus on making a few solid connections than making it rain business cards while constantly looking for the next person you can connect with on LinkedIn. Ask questions, including some prepared ones if you need to get the ball rolling.

Be Particular About the Events You Attend
There are enough networking events available to keep you busy every night of the week, but be strategic with your time. Focus on the depth of your interactions, instead of breadth. Select those events that you find comfortable for encouraging conversations with new people, but allow for serendipitous encounters that may turn out to be the most valuable.

Take Your Cue from LinkedIn
Find out if any mutual contacts will be attending the event that can introduce you to coveted potential clients. Or be that key contact for someone else, if you have the connections they need. Warm introductions like these are always more effective than cold contacts. Remember your goals and continue to meet new people as time permits rather than lingering with the first person you engage with meaningfully.

Integrated marketers who put these five tips into practice will be able to substantially up their networking game. In all likelihood, many of the people attending these events have the same reservations and goals, so if everyone is thoughtful, considerate and prepared, networking can actually be beneficial…and maybe even fun!

How Signage Color Affects Customers


Let’s say you have a hot new promotion coming up, and you want to create high-impact signage to promote it.

You work with a creative service professional to hone the most compelling message. You select the right place for your signage to increase visibility. And you even consider your customer demographics when selecting typography.

But you are leaving money on the table if you’re not considering the psychology of color when designing signage.

According to Kiss Metrics, visual cues triggered by color choices can influence shoppers to spend more, recommend your brand, wait for a sale — or even walkway.

  • 93 percent of consumers say visual appeal is a primary purchase-driver, over sound, smell, and texture
  • 85 percent of shoppers say color is one of the main reasons they choose to buy a particular brand
  • Color increases brand recognition by 80 percent

“It doesn’t really matter what your favorite color is, although you’re certainly more likely to be attracted to brand images using the colors you prefer most,” freelance lifestyle, fashion and tech writer Charli Radke blogged at The Huffington Post. “But it’s really the subconscious emotional response and how colors are used in conjunction with one another that determines how visually appealing an image is.”

Marketers who study the psychology of color say that red, orange, black and royal blue trigger impulse shoppers, while navy blue and teal shades target shoppers on a budget. Pale blue and pink attract traditional shoppers, Radke pointed out.

To put these theories into action, work with your creative services professional to make these signage options a part of your integrated marketing strategy:

  • Pop up a red-and-black point-of-purchase display promoting new inventory
  • Hang a navy banner advertising a buy-one-get-one-free deal
  • Dress your storefront window with a pink poster touting value-based product or service benefits

For more inspiration, read our companion post, “Fall for Color: How Pantone Trends Affect Your Brand,” and then ask your signage professional for additional guidance on selecting colors for your next poster, banner or tradeshow display.

Ring in the season and bring in the business with a holiday marketing campaign


Ready or not, Holiday Season 2017 is upon us. If you have a seasonal business (or even if you don’t), the holidays present many unique opportunities to let your business shine.

Our first suggestion: Review this Small Business Trends article sharing 50 thought-provoking (and potentially rewarding) holiday marketing ideas.

Here are nine ideas to get you going, from Small Business Trends, and your friends at MarketingTango:

  1. Decorate your website. Put your holiday spirit on display and surprise customers with stockings, holiday trees, or stacks of gift-wrapped presents. You might also develop a holiday-themed landing page touting seasonal promotions.
  2. Announce a Facebook holiday photo contest. Create a competition around having followers post holiday photos. There could even be an off-line component – print out the finalists and create a poster displaying the best entries.
  3. Cross-promote with coupons. It’s a good idea to include a coupon or special offer with every purchase. This year, attract customers from other local businesses by sending coupons to the business’s customers – and vice versa. Holiday hint: Date the coupon for after the holidays so customers will come back for more in the New Year.
  4. Create a holiday-themed YouTube video. Produce a video that puts your holiday spirit on display. Think outside the holiday gift box with a parody of a favorite holiday song or story.
  5. Host a thank you dinner. Reward special customers by treating them to lunch or dinner during the holidays. (Holiday hint: You might have better luck with this idea if you don’t schedule the meal too close to the actual holiday.)
  6. Be featured in Holiday Gift Guides. Do some of your products make thoughtful gifts? Try connecting with local bloggers and see if they will share your products in a gift guide.
  7. Post a creative holiday hashtag. To boost engagement on Instagram, come up with a holiday hashtag and encourage customers to share how they use your products.
  8. Gift some holiday swag to your people. Much of the client-pleasing swag you give to your customers can double as thoughtful gifts for employees. From inexpensive ear buds and blue tooth speakers to ritzier items such as embroidered jackets, let your imagination (and your budget) be your guide.
  9. Be active – and passive – with your holiday campaign. Some of the ideas above are designed to stimulate business now, which you might call the active part of your marketing. But other ideas – such as a memorable gift your client is likely to use and hold onto, or a holiday blog expressing your company’s appreciation for its customers — are more passive in nature, with a far softer sell. See if you can mix in active and passive aspects for your holiday campaign.

The holiday season can be challenging to small business people trying to promote their products while spending quality time with family and friends. But it’s also brimming over with opportunity for smart, creative integrated marketers. Cheers to a happy and profitable season!