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To Freeze or Not To Freeze…

This Blog is from PromoCorner’s Promotional Journal 3/19/19

To Freeze or Not To Freeze……Your Credit Reports

By Harvey Mackler, Banking on Harvey

Worried about identity theft? How about the data breaches? Keeping you up at night? You should be! I hope you have worked hard to protect your credit rating through your payment history. Now is the time to protect it from the “deep dark web.”

Yes, you can pay a monthly fee to some of the services out there. But you can do it yourself for next to nothing, if at all. Just freeze your credit reports with the three main agencies; Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Both freezing and unfreezing your reports should be free.

Once you freeze your reports, no one can retrieve your credit report without you first unfreezing your accounts. And no creditor would approve your application unless they could retrieve your credit report. (Those creditors who have a history with you can get updates. They are not blocked. It is only the new requests that are blocked.) And freezing your reports does not affect your credit score.

For all of the right reasons, I froze my accounts thinking that I would never have to apply for credit again. One of the side benefits was a significant reduction in the “preapproved” unsolicited credit offerings. I no longer had to worry if these mailings were stolen from my mailbox.

OK, you say, but a few things happened along the way. I wanted to trade in my car and I wanted a lease. Dealer needed my credit reports. While sitting in their office, I unfroze my accounts for one day! Boom, the lease was approved.

My bank needed to renew our corporate line of credit. (If you are a loyal reader of my columns, you will understand the necessity of such a line.) I guarantee it personally, so I unfroze the accounts for a few days. The line of credit renewed.

A bigger and totally unexpected issue. I applied for my online Social Security account. (Yes, I am part of the grey power community!) I could not create an online account. I had no idea why, and have you ever tried to get an appointment with Social Security to resolve this apparently simple issue? Well, a light bulb went off.

Yes, even our Social Security Administration relies on the credit reporting agencies to validate or confirm your identity! I unblocked my accounts for a day, applied online answered a lot of questions (same as I answered annually for www.annualcreditreport.com, another tidbit of advice in previous columns), and bada bing, I was approved for an online Social Security account. It unlocks all of my benefits.

How simple is it to freeze your accounts? Just go to the website of each of the reporting agencies, search “freeze” and follow the prompts. Yes, you will have to confirm your identity based on historical credit information, and then you can place the freeze. You will be given some sort of PIN or procedure to gain access in the future.

How simple is it to unfreeze one or more accounts? As you read above, I have done it routinely. Just go back to the sites and follow the prompts with your PIN or procedure.

The freeze stops new accounts from being opened. It will not protect you if someone has an existing card of yours (or just the information from the card), so please remain diligent with your monthly statements. It will not help you if someone has your social security number and files a fake tax return. Hopefully, they cannot create your online account with Social Security, but if they knew all of the answers to those random questions, it is possible but very unlikely.

Yes, you might argue that the few days your reports are unfrozen, you are susceptible to fraud. Highly unlikely.

Stop reading, and go freeze your accounts. You will thank me for it and hopefully sleep better as a result.

A 1975 graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvey enjoyed a 20+ year career in commercial banking, exercising his “golden parachute” in 1996.  In his volunteer life, he is a past chair of the Small Business Banking Unit of the American Bankers Association, Easter Seal Society of New Jersey, the SAAGNY Foundation, PPAF EXPO, and Supplier Committee of PPAI.  He is also a past President of PPAF.  PPAI awarded him the H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award in 2013.

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What’s In The Packaging?

According to the publication “Private Label Buyer,” studies show that packaging of products can increase customer satisfaction, increase visibility and set one product apart from its competition. In addition packaging can dramatically increase the perceived value of the item.  Much like the importance how your meal is plated at a restaurant, your promotional product gifts are seen with greater value when “plated” in an attractive package.

Let’s imaging for a moment that you are attending a trade-show. You stop at a booth,  the vendor greets you discusses how their product might be of interest to you. The product has a higher price than some other vendors exhibiting.  As you are about to move on the vendor hands you promotional pen with the company logo and website. As you walk away you might be thinking to yourself “Wow this vendor wants me to buy their high-priced item and they give me a cheap pen for stopping at their booth.” You come to another booth exhibiting a similar product in the same general price range. The same exchange takes place and you are handed another “gift” for stopping by. However, this gift is in an attractive box with a small ribbon tied around it. Your first though here is likely to be “Wow I wonder what’s in the box.” Behold you open the box and it’s a similar pen in a presentation box with a post it note attached thanking you for stopping at the booth.

This concept isn’t limited to trade-show giveaways. Packaging can take ordinary S.W.A.G. and turn it into a gift that is appreciated, useful and long-lasting.

 For some packaging ideas check our signature packaging catalog.

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Five Smart Marketing Tips For 2019

I received this article from PPAI (Promotional Products Association International). As you approach 2019 these tips will assist you in Planning for Marketing Success.

Top-Shelf Tip No. 220:

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”

Roy H. Williams

Five Smart Marketing Tips For 2019Today marked a typical milestone for this marketer: planning for the coming year. Planning involves assessing all that was, or wasn’t, accomplished over the past year, and prioritizing the focus for the coming year, along with the tools and resources needed to reach these goals. It also requires being thoroughly honest about accomplishments and shortcomings—hey, we all have them—and the new strategies in place to resolve them.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we are sharing five key points to consider when developing your 2019 plans, as according to Billee Howard, founder and CEO of BRANDthropologie.

1. Focus on emotion. Successful brands succeed in anticipating what consumers will do. Howard says these brands also succeed in anticipating how their consumers will feel, and how to encourage them to take action. We live in an “emotional economy”—an economy based on people and their relationships with each other and the brands they love—and recent advances in technology have moved the economy even further towards this. Marketers who understand this and learn how to draw value from it will become vital to the success of any organization.

2. Sharing is caring. According to Howard, we also live in a we-conomy, which involves a greater focus on finding solutions to problems rather than mass-producing products. People entrust the opinions of others, as well as reputable sources of information, but are gravitating less to traditional ads. The launch of Uber, Airbnb, Yelp and other highly consumer-driven resources has created an environment for sharing. These companies are structured by new business models that use trust as their foundation. As marketers and storytellers, we must build this trust by creating content that is authentic, reputable and purpose-driven. By doing so, this also leads to content that others will want to share with influencers and advocates.

3. Empathy continues to be important. Howard points out that we also live in a time of purposeful business, which is driven by the desire to make the world a better place. This requires successful leaders to focus on the world they live in as much as their own bottom line. Here are some things that Howard suggests when building a purposeful brand:

  • Clearly articulate your brand’s purpose. Purpose is different from a mission statement or company values.
  • Be aware that purpose is not cause and cause is not purpose.
  • Brands must demonstrate empathy by valuing consumers and demonstrating an understanding of their needs. They must place their managers and employees in the customers’ shoes. Purpose is about what a brand is doing for someone else, not what the brand is doing for itself.
  • Make purpose motivational, because it connects with the heart as well as the head.
  • Use emotion-driven storytelling to bring your brand’s mission to life.

4. View attention as your customer’s most precious resource. In today’s busy world, the most valuable commodity we have is time—and many of us don’t have much of it to spare. Do you treat your customer’s time with high value? A customer experience strategy should translate into the creation of an engaging and memorable experience for your customer. At every interaction or encounter brands must ask: are we seizing the customer’s attention?

5. Finally, invest in digital technology, not just digital marketing. Today’s technology and digital tools can be overwhelming, so it is important to first focus on those areas of the business that will drive growth as direct result of improved consumer relationships. This includes characteristics such as loyalty programs, personalized customer experiences and other types of high-touch opportunities. Then, invest in the technology that supports those experiences while also providing you with the data and insights to continue building on those personalized experiences.

Review these recommendations and allow 2019 to be your most personalized and profitable year yet.

Source: Billee Howard is the founder and CEO of BRANDthropologie, a consultancy firm that harnesses creativity and technology to solve business problems. Howard works with clients to identify their purpose and then creates the content experiences that will help define distinction and positively impact their bottom line.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

 

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Determining Value

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”

 ALBERT EINSTEIN

   There are many ways to determine value. To some value means the highest quality products. Others look at value as superior customer service. Could your definition be trustworthiness?  We all have our own standard for value.

   In the realm of marketing I would suggest that value should be judge on knowledge. Understanding the marketing mix, the 4P’s, is the foundation on which marketing is built. Let’s view the 4 P’s from how they apply to your marketing approach.

  • Product – Does the person you are working with understand the products that will best deliver your message to the target market? Do they understand the product safety issues and the legal requirements to protect you from liability? This product knowledge adds value and differentiates your marketing partner from other sources.
  • Place – Does your marketing partner review your desired ROI to choose the right place to target your customers. For example would you choose a market approach that centered around camping media if your target is business travelers? Knowing the right distribution of your to include in your promotional marketing that gives you the highest ROI from your target market is what brings value.
  • Price – When it comes to price the value comes from working with a marketing partner that assist you in developing a promotion that give the great ROI – bang for the buck.
  • Promotion – Here I feel that the value factor is working with a partner that is not so focused on product that they lose sight of the entire package. What product, packaging, delivery method, and tracking that will get your message to your desired market and allow you to determine its effectiveness.

It all starts with a thorough evaluation of your goals, needs and budget.

Until next time Choose your marketing partner based on the value they bring to the table.

 

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Promotional Products Work!

Promotional products have the highest advertising impact over television, print and online advertising.
73% of people use a promotional product at least once a week.
45% use a promotional product at least once a day.
58% will keep a promotional product for one to four years.

82% recall
Promotional products are logoed or imprinted items that educate, recruit, highlight safety awareness, urge organ donations and encourage healthy living and lifestyle choices. Promotional products recognize and reward employee achievements and inspire action. Promotional products are used to celebrate milestones, sign legislation and reinforce critical messages.

Viral, mobile, highly targeted and inexpensive, promotional products are the only advertising medium capable of engaging all five senses. Adding a message to a tangible product turns an ordinary message into a marketing experience the audience can see, touch, hear, smell and even taste.

Business Gifts

Promotional products are the most cost-effective method for smaller businesses to market their products and services. These products are often used to reinforce personal relationships with customers, clients and prospects. In this period of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to provide a personal connection.

We help your organization gain and retain: Customers, Staff, Volunteers, Donors.

Until next time Have a Blessed Day

Dave Slater, TAS CIG

 

 

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Promotional Products Work April 24 – 28

Why Promotional Products Work

(Hint: They’re More Than Just Products)
If you, like millions of others, watched this year’s Super Bowl for more than the game, you know the power of advertising backed by money and research; companies pitch brands and slogans that attempt to leave a lasting effect on the consumer. Many like to believe those messages don’t have much impact, but evidence overwhelmingly points to the power of persuasion.
It may be subtle, but persuasion by advertisers shows levels of success that prove television, radio, mobile and digital can—and do—draw consumers to their brands. They must compete not only with each other across traditional and digital media for the hearts, minds and dollars of the consumer, but they must compete with outside stimuli once the consumer walks away from the television, shuts down the computer or drives past a billboard. What does leave a lasting impression is the promotional product. A $20+ billion industry, promotional products are designed for staying power, and industry research has proven their power as an effective advertising medium.
A Promotional Products Association International – PPAI study conducted among travelers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport revealed new insights into promotional products’ value and effectiveness. Of the travelers surveyed who could recall receiving a promotional product in the previous 12 months, 88 percent could recall the name of the advertiser and 85 percent have done business with an advertiser as a result of receiving an item.
Imagine being able to craft a message one time, and see that message spread to an audience of hundreds, thousands and even millions. Now imagine that message being delivered by a t-shirt, a pen or a beverage cup. Promotional products professionals work with Fortune 500 companies and top ad agencies to create experiences people love through a product they can actually use.
The same study by PPAI reports that 82 percent of respondents possess at least one and as many as 10 promotional items, with 81 percent keeping them because they are useful. What’s more, 53 percent said they use these products at least once a week and even more—47 percent—said they keep promotional products for more than a year.
Powerhouse advertisers aren’t the only ones who earn a mighty piece of the advertising pie; from mom-and-pop to mid-sized companies, promotional products professionals apply research-based technical expertise to deliver the hottest products and production techniques to their clients’ campaigns, improving their reach and boosting their bottom lines as well.
What comes to mind when you think of the color PINK? How about a red lapel ribbon? Or a yellow wristband? Promotional products work because they leave a lasting impression in the hearts, minds and hands of recipients. The messages live on because the products are memorable, unique and personal. They are the only sensory medium that gives the consumer a tangible memory of a relationship to the brand. Promotional products are shown to build communities of like-minded consumers with a shared sense of brand loyalty.
Equally important along with choosing the right promotional product to deliver the message is the plan for executing the delivery of the product. Who’s the target audience, what is your goal, what is your budget, what is your expected ROI. This is where working with a Professional Promotional Products Consultant is important.
We help your organization gain and retain customers, staff, volunteers, and/or donors.
Until next time – Dave Slater TAS – Promoting Your Biz.
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Getting To Know You

Recently I attended a webinar focused on Customer Loyalty. Several key points were shared which I will be sharing with you over the next few blogs. Today I want to focus on “Getting to Know You.” The key to any customer loyalty program is learn as much as you can about your customer. Sometimes the challenge is getting that information.

Some of the vital information, of course, is:

  • Name (First & Last). Include the primary business owner, the gatekeeper, and anyone else that you deal with.
  • Address (both mailing and actual location),
  • Phone number(s). Does your customer have a cell and are they willing to shar4e that number with you?
  • Significant Dates. Birthday, Anniversary if married, Date the business was started,
  • Personal interests. Hobbies, favorite sports, etc. Remember religion and politics don’t mix with business. So use caution.
  • Add to this list other pertinent information you feel will help you “get to know” your customer better.

Now with this information stored in your database you’re ready to build your loyalty program. That’s where working with a professional promotional consultant makes your job easier. When you’re ready give me a call to set up an appointment.

April 24 through April 28 is Promotional Products Work Week. Check out our Facebook page for more details.

Dave Slater, CIG, TAS