Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Avoid Problems With Quick Turn Orders

This time of year, the goal is to stay off the “naughty list”.  In fact, many of you are working to strength and acknowledge your relationships by giving gifts to all the people on your “nice list”. 

Where to begin the search? How to maximize your time?
·         Avoid assumptions– an e– store like the one on our website is great for reference, but pricing may not be accurate as suppliers are responsible for loading data. In fact, all of the products we offer are not on the website! 

·         Call! Often instead of calling or e-mailing your needs we will hear, “well I was looking on your website, but I can’t find” …..” I did not want to bother you till I knew more about what I wanted”.
Contact us, that’s what we are here for, it’s not a bother! 

The perk of working with our company is the human collaboration. We make orders go smoothly like elves at the pole. Once you say go our team researches all the products, suppliers and choices available to make your order arrive on time, as expected to your destination!

What are some of the variables we consider?

·         Packaging– Do you need items kitted together prior to arriving? Do you need individual orders drop shipped to your destination? Would you like to insert cards or letters? Do you need gift boxes or wrapping? These are options with our fulfillment programs, just ask.  The less you have to “touch” the project at a busy time the more time for your hands to do other things, perhaps sampling cookies from the office cookie exchange? 

·         Will you be re- packing to ship or hand deliver? Have you allotted time? Even the best suppliers and shippers can have issues beyond our control. At the holidays lead times increase as production levels. Suppliers are processing more like 1,500- 2,000 orders a day rather than 1,000 orders a day. Mistakes can happen. We strongly suggest you build in time to processing your order; especially if you are the one packing the kits for hand distribution once they arrive. 

·         Shipping on your own? Make sure you follow the guidelines for the carrier. Often there is a max on the amount of information that can be put on a shipping label, no PO boxes, double check addresses as accurate no to receive back your shipment. Shipping food, you may have to upgrade the method, package differently or insert cooling packs. Our suppliers are accustom to shipping all over the country; even overseas. Ask us about drop shipments to your destinations.

·         Delivery- ground with UPS, FedX or even a trucking company is up to 5:00 pm for business. Routes are longer at the holidays with more stops and more packages on the route. Weather can be a factor in some areas of the country so take these factors into account when planning. 

·         Turn around time– Is this a rush project? Let us know the deadline from the start, along with your budget to receive accurate information. If a project is a rush, there are options, but that might limit your ability to purchase at a “special” or “discount” price. In a rush? We like to check stock for color and other variables that can slow the process down later, adding unwanted surprises.

·         Art– Thank heavens for graphic design- we can design your art in house if you don't have vectored files or need more extensive add on materials; such as a special tag from Santa! Keep in mind that even with your vectored files or re-orders, even the smallest change like an updated number or changing your tagline requires a new plate, screen - aka a set up fee. 

What does happen behind the scenes to make orders "happen"? 

Like a team of elves, we work together to write up or key in your order for the supplier. We sent electronic files for the art you want produced on your products and then the follow up. We call suppliers to check to make sure they receive our fax and emails. We look for order confirmations and proofs to check with you. Once those arrive, we compare against order details for discrepancies before sharing proofs with you. 

 A quick turn order can often take 15 to 30 minutes to process from the time you say “GO” and often requires adhering to firm submission windows of time on the end of our supplier. For example, some supplier require rush project in by 12:00 pm each day, or have a completely different submission process for a quick turn project. We look for partners in suppliers that make it easy to avoid potential issues with a rush as well as suppliers that know how to "fix" the occasional error without a fuss. 

Communication is how we keep our clients from being disappointed, we want to stay on your nice list and make magic happen all year long when you need a quick delivery.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Do You Measure Success?

As part of PPAI, Promotional Products Association International, access to tips, training an inspiration are provided to distributors. Here is a blog post from Cassandra Johnson, writer for Promotional Consultant Today.

If you own your business, do you consider yourself to be a successful entrepreneur? How do you measure this success? Promotional Consultant Today shares these key metrics for success as defined by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

  1. Cash on Hand. Cash is the life-blood of any startup, and you should always have a pulse on how much of it you have left and how long it’s going to last. It is incredibly easy to let this slip by the wayside. – James Simpson, GoldFire Studios
  2. Lifetime Customer Value. While everything having to do with your income and expenses is important for any entrepreneur to understand and monitor, the most important number to know by heart at any given time is your LTV: Lifetime Customer Value. How much do you earn per customer? Per lead? If you know that, you will know how much you can spend to find them. – Cody McKibben, Thrilling Heroics
  3. ROI Per Marketing Channel. It’s crucial to keep a handle on ROI per marketing channel in order to optimize marketing spending. It’s not enough to check this every quarter. You should check it monthly or weekly. – Josh Weiss, Bluegala
  4. Renewal Rates. If you’re selling anything, understanding renewal rates is absolutely critical. If, for some reason, you’re not getting repeat customers, that’s a major problem and you need to spend as much of your time on it as possible. – Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas
  5. Gross Margin. It is crucial for entrepreneurs to understand their costs of goods and services. Keeping track of gross margin assures you know the value of each additional sale. Keeping track of gross margin by product offering will help you determine what balance of products and services will be best for your business. – Doreen Bloch, Poshly, Inc.
  6. Profitability Date. Knowing when you expect to be profitable will influence every other business decision you make. You need to know when your company will start making money to know how to manage the money you have in the bank. This impacts every decision related to your business, from hiring more staff to expanding product offerings to investing in marketing. – Ben Rubenstein, Yodle
  7. Burn Rate. This is the rate at which a company uses up its capital to finance overhead before generating positive cash flow from operations. As a measurement of negative cash flow, the burn rate is what you need to compare all your forecasts to so you don’t run out of money prematurely, and by lowering operating costs appropriately. – Phil Chen, Systems Watch
  8. Income to Expenses Ratio. All other metrics eventually lead back to this one. Are you earning more than you spend? All other decisions hinge on whether or not you’re in the black or in the red. – Colin Wright, Asymmetrical Press

Source: Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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Compiled by Cassandra Johnson


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stand Out All Year Long

There will be many celebrations in the coming month, but now is a great time to tuck away ideas for standing out, creating goodwill and adding some spice to your marketing efforts in 2015. When asked about company events, most respondents will say a little fun in the office builds friendship, improves office culture and improves team building. Events for your client base are held for similar reasons. Besides demonstrating new products or services, fun events or promotions help develop relationships and shows off your personality!  

Here are some tips for planning your next event:
1.   When planning an event, build excitement. - invitations, references on social media, photos behind the scenes for what to expect; approach promotions the same way. Incorporate a theme for the event, tease attendees with images, videos or clues about what to expect for the upcoming promotion. 

2.   Record the memory– take photos during your event to share on social media as well as to print and frame for employees or clients.

3.   Make events interactive to allow for team building. For example if you are hosting an ice cream party, have a variety of bowls, spoons, toppings and flavors to allow attendees to be creative and “judge” the best presentations, the most unique toppings, etc. 

4.   Plan for a “take away” from the event that ties into the theme, but promotes your brand or your message after the event is over. 

Quirky Dates for Fun in 2015- Ask us for ideas for every month! 

Jan 15– National Hat Day– Give out a custom cap to business partners. Maybe beanies or ear wraps for employees or clients who are into fitness, or make it crazy hat day at work with donations to a favored charity for those that want to wear a hat for the day. 

The 5th of April is Tweed Day– best office “Tweed Twins” could be a winner, or offer a discount to customers that come into the business in tweed that day. 

Go Fishing on the 18 of June for new sales with an internal fishing contest among the sales team. Post fishing results on a white board to track the most caught and the largest catch.  

Did you know the 13th of July is Embrace your Geekness Day? Post and share stories of employee or clients geeky side; capture photos in frames to remember long after the day for office morale or as part of a morning office open house with your best clients. 

November 17– take a hike day– a great way to promote fitness, at work or invite customers out for an evening event; tie the hike into a fundraiser for a local charity. 

Dec 13– ice cream day or Dec 28 is playing card day– custom playing cards can be educational and fun with custom faces showcasing images of your companies history or products. 

It's never too early to jump start your plan of interaction and brand building for 2015! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Order Accuracy

How can you help with order accuracy? Reviewing documents carefully and understanding what you are viewing.

While many consider a virtual, a mockup and a proof the same– they are actually very different. 

When your company supplies us a vectored form of your logo, we can provide a virtual image. 
 Supplier virtual images can be very realistic, some suppliers utilize technology that will show an object etched or embroidered. Virtual images, however, can be inaccurate. The virtual may be larger or placed slightly “off” from the actual imprint area; don’t rely on a virtual only as final proof.  

By sharing your EPS file prior to an actual order, we are able to provide a summary of the details for  review. 

When client's don't have an EPS or vectored file, we have to create one- that's when spelling errors or inverted numbers can come into play as the new file needed to be reviewed carefully for content. 

We provide a “mock up” for how the logo is to be imprinted prior to ordering. If it’s white imprint on a black object your mock up will show black because we are denoting imprint size, the summary will say– using white imprint.  Sized mock ups are to scale, the PDF you review will show your logo or additional content such as a website, taglines or phone number sized to the imprint area; scaled to the correct size. This “proofing process” allows for the “back and forth” of maximizing the content and placement of information prior to placing the order, which keeps the approval process with the supplier quick.  

The supplier, given time within the production time line, will send us a template or schematic version of the logo showing the exact placement on the promotional piece which is scaled to size for that imprint area and called a proof. We in turn share proofs on standard production orders to add a final layer of  approval to the order process. 

The summary  process is provided to reduce errors and questions, which we are happy to report 99% accuracy on orders each year!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are USA made products important to consumers?

How important is purchasing USA made products to consumers? 

According to Perception Research Services International, 4 out of 5 consumers noticed Made in USA labels on packaging. Seeing the USA made label reports an impressive response, making consumers three   quarters more likely to purchase that product over a non USA made product. Additionally, 78% of those making purchases for USA made goods will still make the purchase even if the products cost as much as 10% more.  

How do these statistics cross over into the promotional realm? 

As a distributor, unfortunately price often becomes more important than USA made goods. 

How can consumers help to change promotional marketing? Ask for USA made products. Acknowledge and purchase from businesses that maintain a  consistent pledge to purchase USA made goods.   

How can USA made products help grow business? Educate your customer base that your products are USA made and incorporate your company’s commitment to USA made products into your marketing collateral. 

What are 5 reasons to buy American?

1- Production time– Rapid delivery for custom development is not an issue. 

2- Representing core values of your customer base– Brand association for industries and organizations operating in areas such as political, governmental, automotive, military, union, university or privately held company’s seeking to increase value in those partnerships. 

3- Strict safety standards

4- Reliable and available inventory

5- Fair treatment & compensation of labor

What does the label really mean? 

Did you know that imported products must identify the country where products were manufactured? Increasingly point of origin branding is on the actual products, rather than packaging. Products entirely made in the USA must denote made in USA. Many products use the certified Made in USA emblem registered trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. In 2008 USA Certification Inc became he leading independent source for Made in USA certification. Companies with the USA-C seal have adhered to a rigorous supply chain.