Monday, December 31, 2018

Increase The Impact of Your Dollars

Over this past year, we have opened our hearts and offered our resources to many organizations in our  local community.  Helping your neighbor is important, which is why we are proud to partner with several suppliers who do the same.  In this post we will share 3 of our favorite suppliers who have specific “give back” programs in place.

 Aakron Line partners directly with NAEIR through a give back program.  NAEIR, a non-profit group that "empowers generosity." Receiving and re distributing tens of millions of donated products every year from companies across the US. Through the efforts of NAEIR, other non profits that help the segments of our communities needing the most assistance, such as children and those in poor health, to receive help. Aakron has been a supporter of NAEIR for many years, donating over $5.5 million of product donations since 2000.  Aakron stepped up their annual assistance by implementing a one-for-one program that involves you.  By purchasing one of their give back program items, one is donated to NAEIR. 

BCG Creations is one of those companies that always over delivers- in creativity, service and quality. Known for innovation, responsive assistance and quick turn, this family run company is also very Eco-conscience.  This past year they started a give back program, with, which is a non-profit organization focused on global reforestation.   

BCG's program is simple, purchase one of their wooden products and a tree will be planted. This past year, BCG helped plant 523 trees.  We even had two of our clients, Peak Lab Rescue and Relias were able to partner with this environmental cause through their product selections; and received a commemorative pin.  

Lastly, our friends at Hit  Promotions have a program in memory of their founder Bill Schmidt Sr., who’s initials are AWS.  The founder was a big advocate of philanthropy and to honor his legacy, Hit gives back through the AWS collection.  By purchasing items from this collection, 5% of the proceeds give back to charities including the American Cancer Society, Make a Wish Foundation, Shriner's Hospital, JDRF and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

Is your company or organization interested in starting a cause marketing program or would you like to know that your purchases are strengthening our communities?  Our team can craft a campaign that fits your core values. 

In this past year, our company has assisted many local organizations in Southwest Wake County; many of our philanthropic investments relate to children, education, healthcare and community organizations that impact families.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

What's Smart About Giving?

The month of December is filled with movies, novels, songs and even commercials framed around the narrative that it's more "blessed to give than receive". A recent blog post from one of our industry writers caught my attention with the title, "Five Ways To Be A Smart Giver". The post focused on Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and an organizational psychologist who's written a book titled, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.

According to the blog post, the book outlines the benefits of giving, while cautioning when and how much to give in a business setting. His 5 tips include: 
  1. Offering assistance if it takes less than 5 minutes of time from your daily tasks
  2. Determining when & how to leverage your value and when to delegate
  3. Knowing how to work as a team- asking for help and acknowledging contributors on the team
  4. Making sure the time and talent you are giving is reciprocated by others 
  5. Make the most of your network of connections; connect resources and individuals
Over the past 11 years I've been volunteering in the community. What are 5 things I have learned from those opportunities?

  1. Being a good leader means making sure you build a good team- trusted, competent individuals who all bring different talents to the team
  2. As a volunteer, be willing to set boundaries for your time and talents- delegate!
  3. Work with people that are rowing the same direction
  4. Always connect people and resources, it lifts up the business community and makes us all stronger
  5. Observe and learn from the others on your team. Each brings perspectives, talents and resources that will benefit you at some point in your life's journey
As someone that "jumps in with both feet" and tends to run "full throttle" through life, I found this quote a somber reminder that balance is important- "Focus on forms of giving that don't force you to make trade-offs between your job and what other people need." Adam Grant

For 2019 I challenge you to find organizations to insert your time and talents; the experience will reward you with new friends and knowledge to apply another day. "You can sit on the side line and assume you know more than the coach & players, or you can get in the game and advance the ball" Olivia Scott

Where did we volunteer this year and previous years?  
Shopping local is good for your local community- take a look 
Where did our charitable contributions make an impact this year? 

Sources- Blogger Tina Filipski- PC Today-; Adam Grant is the author of Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, as well as an organizational psychologist and a top-rated Wharton professor for seven consecutive years.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Cookie Cutter Ideas

The phrase cookie cutter ideas is more commonly associated with a lack of creativity; however, in this case cookie cutters offer an innovative way to connect with consumers. December the 24th is a day when many American's will be making cookies!

Why cookie cutters? 


Package as singles, with recipe cards, in cello bags, mailer boxes and as gift sets. 

Gallery of images to inspire your imagination:

Ready to create a fresh promotion?

Monday, December 10, 2018

3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Corporate Wellness Program

10, 9, 8 , 7....2, 1 Happy New Year! A new year brings what, new resolutions! At the top of the list of areas for area of improvement are often fitness goals! Kick off 2019 with a fresh approach to employee goals, related to wellness. Starting simple is a great way to promote the idea to employees. Offering kits to bring healthy choices to work, instead of going out to lunch or raiding the snack bar are a good place to start. One of our favorites from the PCNA family, is NC company Journal Books meal planner.

How do you build some momentum?  

Our friends as PCNA put together this list of 3 simple ways to spread the word, drive participation and increase excitement.

1. Promote!

  • Communication is a critical success factor in any corporate programs. Sounds obvious, but employees won't participate in something they don't understand or even know exists. Perhaps your can lead them out of the cubical with a call to action using shoe laces!
  • Promote your wellness activities from the moment an employee joins the company. Consider putting a water bottle with the program's name in every on-boarding kit for new employees.
  • Incentivize attendance at program info sessions by handing out branded earbuds - only those who attend the session get a pair.

2. Prizes!
  • Human beings are competitive. 
  • Great prizes will push your program's weight-loss challengers and softball tournament players to give it their all. Put your logo on the prizes to get even more exposure. 
  • There are countless prize options and price points you can give awards for every level of achievement.

3. Party!
  • Events celebrating the achievements of your program participants are outstanding for increasing the profile of your campaign efforts. 
  • Invite the entire company or department and communicate all the great things about the company's dedication to health and wellness. 
  • Free food and health/nutrition-themed giveaways like lunch coolers and gym bags will help attendance too! 
  • Even sets to work at home for those that don't like going to the gym.

Need more ideas to jump start your plan for 2019? click here to access your personal copy and planning guide! Set up your time to come into the showroom to develop your wellness campaign.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside

Colder weather and the forecast for snow create the right conditions to discuss outwear! The abundance of choice in the apparel industry for both style and fabric can quickly lead to frustration from the consumer. Stating you want to purchase "one of those jackets that feels like a koozie", a softshell jacket can be a complex decision.

Let's start with the anatomy of a jacket so we are all on the same page for the construction. 

What factors should you consider?

Our friends at sanmar created some educational documents we can share with you to explain the differences in jacket construction, break down the terminology associated with outer wear and compare brands "side by side" for features. Ask us to send you copies when considering what type of jacket will best suit your needs.

Top Considerations:

Fabric-What type of fabric do you want on the outside of the jacket and layered next to your skin?

  • Soft Shell- A fabrication that bonds an outer shell to a warm fleece or knit layer resulting in a breathable, flexible and comfortable jacket. All our soft shells have laminate  for water resistance 

  • Down. The soft, fluffy under feathers of ducks and geese. Serves as an excellent outerwear thermal insulator. 

  • Fill Power. The measure of the loft or “fluffiness” of a down garment that is loosely related to  the insulating value of the down. The higher the fill power, the more trapped air an ounce of the down can trap, and thus the more insulating ability an ounce of the down will have. 

  • Insulation. A jacket designed to hold body heat close and buffer surrounding cold air. Down,   fleece and synthetic fibers are common insulators. Insulation levels help determine warmth ratings.

  • Microfleece. Crafted from ultra-fine yarn, this lightweight, high-density fleece is brushed less   than a regular fleece garment for softness and warmth without bulk.

Breathability- Sanmar describes as, It’s the movement of air from one side of the fabric to the other to keep the wearer  comfortable. The breathability rating is typically expressed in a gram measurement of how much vapor a square meter (G/M2) of fabric will allow to pass in a 24-hour    period (Typically, 1,000G/M2 to 10,000G/M2). Generally, the higher the number,  the more breathable the garment. Basically breath-ability means you can move around in your coat, not feel like a sausage or sweat to death just to stay warm!

Water Resistance -Keeps the wearer dry in moderate wind and rain. Very breathable, allowing air to pass through while keeping moisture at bay. In extreme or extended conditions, waterproofing is a better solution.  Water Proofing-  Keeps outside moisture from penetrating the fabric. The waterproof rating is    typically expressed in milliliters (1,000mm to 10,000mm) based on water pressure  tolerance over a 24-hour period.  Generally, the higher the rating, the higher the waterproof protection.

Why is outwear an outstanding value for your marketing dollars? 

Price is a factor too! Name brands do cost more, but those brands often deliver on additional features. for example Eddie Bauer's Weather Edge 

Our showroom features samples from a variety of brands and price points allowing you to easily compare the choices, selecting the right product for your team!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

U.S., China G-20 Agreement Postpones Planned January 1 Tariff Escalation

One of our industry associations, PPAI ( Promotional Products Association International) posted this press information earlier today:

The pace of escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China have slowed following a bilateral meeting last week at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between President Trump and President Xi Jinping. The U.S. will push back plans by 90 days to raise tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on approximately $250 billion in Chinese imports, while the Chinese government agreed to buy a substantial amount of U.S. agricultural, energy and industrial products. The 25 percent tariff was expected to go into effect on January 1 on a large number of products. See the detailed list, organized by HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) code, here.

The agreement gives the U.S. and China a window to come to an agreement over disputes regarding the trade imbalance between the two countries and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Section 301 into Beijing’s intellectual property practices and theft of trade of secrets. If no agreement is reached during the 90-day pause, the U.S.’ proposed 25-percent tariff on Chinese goods will go into effect.
Charles Boustany, former congressman and spokesman for Tariffs Hurt The Heartland—a nationwide campaign against tariffs supported by the coalitions Farmers For Free Trade and Americans For Free Trade, of which PPAI is a member—says, “Agreeing not to raise tariffs on American businesses, farmers and consumers is an encouraging first step. These tariffs are taxes that Americans pay, and avoiding a massive tax increase on January 1 is welcome news that must be followed up by rolling back the tariffs currently in place. Tonight’s announcement makes clear that the Administration has heard the stories of economic hardship from Americans who have been hurt by tariffs. Our campaign will continue to tell their stories as the Administration enters into this important negotiation period.”
Industry companies, still reeling over the impact the tariffs will cause on their businesses, are now rethinking how to best manage the delay.

filed under December 2018 | tariffs
* Source PPAI- PPB Newslink 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

3 Ways to Grow Business in 2019 With Promotional Calendars

When I was a kid, every January the local drug store had a huge box of calendars ready for patrons to pick up when they purchased items in the store. My mom made sure we picked up our free 12-month calendar; she appreciated the useful gift and we enjoyed scrolling through the monthly pages on the way home to see what images would be feature. As an adult I look forward to the free calendars our suppliers send us since our industry "counts days"; daily. We must project ahead for production, so it's critical that we have access to a calendar at our finger tips.

For 2018 we distributed National Calendar Dates to our clients, which was a HUGE hit; clients loved the fun of seeing what fun or quirky day of celebration was featured 365 days a year. While we are living in a digital word, we keep track of dates for a variety of reasons and access to information quickly keeps us productive. Looking up or down with our eyes to a quick reference to dates is still easier that clicking some buttons to pull up a screen. There is also a lot of research to suggest that physically recording information with hand to pen increases retention of information. There is also a lot of research related to who is using calendars, look at this ASI Study from 2016.

Our friend's at Warwick Publishing came up with 3 compelling reasons to use calendars in 2019. 

1. Inspire a New Year’s Resolution – Think about how your clients’ services or products can fit into a new year’s resolution. How can their business improve life for their end-user customers? Can they help them decrease stress in 2019? Become more organized, or live a healthier lifestyle? Can they help them reach their business goals? What about improving family life or personal relationships?
Chances are, there’s a great way to position your client’s business in a way that will inspire their end-user customers to take action in 2019. Focus on the problems they help solve for their target audience. Mail a custom value stick calendar, desk calendar, or trifold calendar with a special, timely offer for a free trial, discount, or consultation to be redeemed by January 31st, with some creative ad copy about how the business wants to help them make 2019 a great year.

2. Track ROI with a special promo code or URL. We often hear how hard it is to track the ROI of promo, especially with printed items like calendars. However, with a little digital strategy, this doesn’t have to be the case! Talk to your social media specialist or web admin about creating a special landing page, promo code, or social media contest to tie in with a printed calendar. Print the unique URL on the calendar with a clear call to action you want your customers to take. We recommend using to shorten a customizable, trackable link for simplicity.

Maybe you use the calendar to direct recipients to comment on a Facebook or Instagram post with a goal they have for 2019 in order to win a $50 gift card to your business. Perhaps you encourage calendar recipients to visit a special landing page to submit a form for an exclusive coupon. (Bonus: this can help you capture emails for your email marketing list, too) If you have Google Analytics set up (it’s free!) You can track all of your website traffic, and add some real ROI to any promotion.

3. Encourage Monthly Repeat Business in Store. Hand out value stick calendars printed with a promo code good for 10% off a customer’s next order when they bring in last month’s calendar page! Encourage repeat traffic in store for restaurants and cafes, retail shops, salons, and beyond. This idea also works with our premiere Desk Calendars, which have tear-off monthly pages and 3 imprint areas included, with NO setup charges.