Posted: August 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Whether you realize it or not, design affects your decisions every day. No longer considered an artistic endeavor, design has emerged as a fundamental way for organizations to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.

More than that, design plays a key role in making content appealing. Here’s the big insight: great design translates into great content. And when your content really connects with your audience, that’s when enduring experiences happen. These deeper experiences are what create loyalty and ultimately boost revenue.

This isn’t just a nice theory. Companies that employ design as a core competency are literally reaping the rewards. The Design Value Index (DMI) reported that design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over 10 years.

And according to a study from Forrester on how creativity impacts business results, companies that foster creativity enjoy greater market share by a factor of 1.5 when compared to their less creative counterparts, and those companies that embrace creativity achieved revenue growth.

Paul Nicholson, senior vice president of print and broadcast at Showtime, recognizes the need for exceptional, personalized content in driving brand value. “The quality of our print and broadcast promotional content—from interstitials, press kits, consumer advertisements to out-of-home, viral video and interactive web ad units—plays an important role in distinguishing us as a premium network and destination for great original content. Design is at the core of everything we do to create a consistent customer experience, and influence positive brand perception.”

Becoming a design-led company requires a serious dedication to the user experience. This includes a solid understanding of the many ways that customers engage with your brand—from websites and print collateral to wearables. These experiences do more than simply engage audiences. They build and nurture deeply rooted personalized connections.


Creative Marketing Services is a next-generation promotional marketing firm based in Southwest Florida. We design creative, targeted, and cost effective promotional marketing solutions to help our clients build their brand, acquire & retain customers, increase sales & profits and recruit & motivate employees. To  discover how you can make your marketing more effective, visit

You must remember this: You’re really not buying a promotional product. You’re buying the benefits that promotional products can deliver. You’re buying the thrill of sharing your company’s brand, image and stories with your audiences. You’re buying a gift that shares your values and promises with people you want to have a deeper and stronger relationship with.

Let’s face it, promotional products are a commodity. If we cannot attach meaning and emotion to what we have to offer, we cannot fault our clients for buying at the cheapest price possible. We get excited about the ability you have to change behaviors, to generate loyalty, to get people excited (remember the video of Sir Paul McCartney, jumping up and down and waving his arms for an imprinted tee shirt?).

Get to know our medium. It’s much more than stuff. It’s the only advertising media for which people will say “thank you.” It’s the original medium of engagement. It signals the beginning of a relationship. We don’t sell stuff. We sell the stories that our customers can tell with a well-chosen item branded with their messages.

Why do they need you, your product, or your services? Tell your customers your story about how you can make them a hero. Break through the status quo and do it better than anyone else. You have an amazing story to tell and all the right props and supporting elements anyone could want. Get excited. Get enthusiastic.  When you do, you will see the power of promotional marketing.


Creative Marketing Services is a next-generation promotional marketing firm based in Southwest Florida. We design creative, targeted, and cost effective promotional marketing solutions to help our clients build their brand, acquire & retain customers, increase sales & profits and recruit & motivate employees. To  discover how you can make your marketing more effective, visit

Outreach is vital for new business, vital to building awareness about your firm, and an important way to express your interest in your prospect’s industry.

Most companies seem to be making the same mistakes, over and over, when it comes to doing outreach. Here is a quick overview of the five most common mistakes we see, along with a check list, to help you fix your new business program.

Top 5 Mistakes In Outreach:

  1. No Plan:Failure to plan is a plan for failure. And so it goes with outreach, which seems to be a haphazard effort at most firms. Establish a clear plan, roles and responsibilities, and resources for effective outreach. An effective outreach plan must outline target companies, set up a calendar, create a rolling effort that builds awareness and relationships, and tracks the number of leads coming in. It’s our belief that every prospect on your list should be “touched” at least 19 times over the course of a year. If a mailer goes out, call behind it. Twice if you don’t get through the first time. Invite them to an event. Send a holiday card, a note on something your firm did for a benefit. A friendly reminder about an industry conference. And more. Then, most importantly, stick with it!
  2. Too Much Interference:The number one issue we see in most firms is allowing other work to interfere with regular outreach. Outreach is the single most important activity your firm can do to generate leads. And leads drive new business. If you allow day-to-day client work to interrupt your outreach then you have adjust your priorities. It has been our experience that most firms suffer a 33% annual attrition rate in their client base.  Some of these clients leave because of mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, change in management staff or have found another supplier (usually due to inattention).  If you’re not consistently working to bring new customers to the dance, you’ll soon find yourself in disaster planning.  We suggest tapping one person in the organization whose sole responsibility should be new customer acquisition.
  3. No Nudging:It’s worthless to work hard on building awareness and establishing relationships if no one is going to follow up on a regular basis by “nudging.” Nudging is what friends do for friends, sending your warm prospects a regular stream of interesting articles, notes, birthday wishes and more. This is much more impactful than sales calls or mailings, less expensive, and more personal. Does your firm do “nudging?” What impact would this have if a competitor was nudging your clients?
  4. Have an Attitude:Outreach without a good new business attitude is bad business. Most companies have a negative feeling about having to do outreach. They continually tell themselves that “we too smart, too good, to have to stoop to this sort of activity.” Firms who think positively focus on the great things their brand can do for prospects. They have a good new business attitude. Consequently, they feel powerful. They feel optimistic. They rise to challenges. Powerful thoughts make you feel potent and help you act to influence the situation for the better to make new business happen.
  5. Not Picking Up The Phone:Too many firms rely on social media, email, and perhaps an occasional post card dropped in the mail. They never ever pick up the phone and call. And if they do call, they have no idea about what to do, how to leave a message, or what questions to ask should they get someone on the line. So after a few aborted attempts, they just quit. We strongly suggest you reach out behind every touch, and never-ever leave your number, or ask for a call back. That’s sales, and very annoying. Just leave a friendly message, breezy, checking in, no need to call back. Outreach is about building relationships. Know exactly why you’re calling, what you expect to get out of the call, and have a great list of questions – just in case.
What To Check If You Aren’t Getting Enough Leads:
  • Do you have a plan? Is your outreach system set-up?
  • Who is responsible for your outreach program?
  • Do you have a good list of prospects?
  • Are there regular touch points going out?
  • Do you call twice behind every touch?
  • Is your outreach program a priority?
  • Establishing relationships?
  • Are you nudging your prospects?
  • Is your brand clearly established in your outreach program?

Recent research has shown that 83% of the most successful companies at a range of exhibitions (in terms of business generated and leads collected) were the ones that took the trouble to undertake pre trade show marketing such as mailing their prospects and customers before the show. (Source:CEIR – (Center for Exhibition Industry Research)

There are multiple ways to communicate with your target market.  Some methods of communication are much more effective, appropriate and cost efficient than others. Your budget will dictate how many touch points you can have with your target market. Also you should be trying to find ways to drive the right people to your exhibit at the lowest cost per qualified lead.

Remember, you need to let your prospects know where your booth is located on the showroom floor. Use tag lines such as “see us at Booth 1635 at the such and such Trade Show” in news releases and other communications such as direct mail leading up to the show.

Don’t make your customers and prospects hunt you down.

Recent research has shown that 83% of the most successful companies at a range of exhibitions (in terms of business generated and leads collected) were the ones that took the trouble to undertake pre trade show marketing such as mailing their prospects and customers before the show.

You can increase your ROI by integrating various pre trade show marketing tools to direct qualified buyers to your expensive booth. Diversity in your pre trade show marketing strategy will yield greater results and you will record a much higher success rate, with increases in both target visitor attraction and sales lead conversion.

Do not take a one-dimensional approach to your pre trade show marketing.

Trade show promotions are designed to engage your potential customers through a personalized, multi-step marketing strategy that facilitates your ability to reach your trade show objectives.

This includes pre-selling attendees through phone calls, personalized invitations, direct mail or email, to introduce your products and encourage them to visit your booth.

By knowing your target audience, you should target prospective trade show buyers for your products and/or services, prior to the trade show commencing, by creating a positive image and brand awareness.

To maximize your trade show effort tailor your messages to the concerns, needs and interests of your prospects.

Take the time to really determine your target audience!

And, don’t underestimate the power of a pre-trade show marketing campaign. An effective pre-trade show marketing promotion can deliver increases of 50% in conversions to qualified leads.

Always build a portfolio of activity that will drive the lowest cost per qualified lead and map out your timeline so that you give reasonable notice to your prospects.  It’s always a good idea to segment your list for better results and have a contextually relevant and compelling offer.


The number-one advantage of dimensional mailers is that they get noticed. Among the #10 envelopes, postcards and other traditional mail that your prospects receive daily, boxes, cylinders and lumpy oversize envelopes stand out.

 The number-two advantage of dimensional mailers is that they get opened.

Most of us, when we receive a box in the mail, addressed to us, from someone we don’t know, simply have to find out what is inside. But you cannot depend entirely on the odd shape or size of your dimensional mailer to do all your work for you. You must still tease your prospect into opening the box.

One organization that knows how to use lumpy mail to good effect is the city of Memphis, Tennessee.

 A while back, the nice folks down at the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau realized that they needed to attract more meetings and conventions to the city. So they sent a promotional mailer to meeting and convention planners across the United States.

The mailer consisted of a small box wrapped in wrinkled brown paper. Handwritten on the top of the box was this message: “We found your wallet in Memphis.” Inside was a wallet, and this message: “Next time, why not come with it?”

The wallet contained faux credit cards for accommodations and dining, with Memphis hotels and restaurants listed on the back of each card. Along with the wallet was a sales letter explaining why Memphis was the most cost-effective place to host the prospect’s next meeting or convention.

You’ll agree that this mailer works for a number of reasons. The packaging, complete with wrinkled paper, is unique. The teaser copy on the box is irresistible. And the message inside, along with the wallet, is light-hearted and sure to put a smile on a prospect’s face.

The box alone was probably not enough to tease a prospect into opening it. It might have been mistaken for a home-made bomb. But the line about having found the prospect’s wallet in Memphis was inspired, and sure to make the recipient reach for the scissors and cut open the package.

As you can see, the goal with dimensional mail is three-fold.

You must get noticed. You must get opened. And you must get read. Naturally, you also want your prospects to respond. But if you’ve managed to get them to open your package and start reading your sales pitch, your toughest challenge is behind you.

Increase the odds that prospects will read and remember your marketing message. Research shows that including a promotional product with a sales letter can increase response by as much as 75 percent.

Direct mail stands out from mailbox clutter if it’s mailed in a nonstandard envelope or packaged in a box or tube. Items such as jigsaw puzzles or phone cards involve recipients and let them interact with your direct mail piece — isn’t that your goal?

All of these reasons I’ve mentioned make direct mail a very powerful marketing medium that, if done right, can have a very high return on your marketing dollar.


Why use Promotional Products??

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Promotion

A successful manufacturer once said that he sold 1 million quarter-inch drill bits to people who didn’t want drill bits at all. What they wanted were quarter-inch holes.

Advertisers spend $15.6 billion annually on promotional products (source: The Counselor, 2003 State of the Industry report). Compare that to the $6 billion spent on Internet advertising (source: TNS Media Intelligence/CMR). Businesses spend these billions of dollars on promotional products every year, but they are not looking for promotional products at all. What they want are results.

Those promotional products were the drill bits that gave them the increased revenue, store traffic, booth traffic, motivated employees, raised funds, sales leads, better shelf space, better customer relations, etc., – that’s what they were looking for. Promotional products make up an industry you probably didn’t know existed, yet have been surrounded with most, if not, all of your life. Look over your desk – see anything with a logo on it anywhere? Check out those pens. Your calendar? Your coffee cup?

Chances are you’ll find more than one item you’ve been given with a logo or slogan on it. At home you will likely have more than one T-shirt, key-tag or refrigerator magnet reminding you of someone’s business. All of these things are promotional products. Specialty advertising is the only form of marketing known to create a feeling of gratitude. It allows you to imprint a useful item of merchandise with a promotional, motivational or advertising message and then give the item to your customers, prospects or other specified market free of charge.

Because promotional products are tangible, appreciated and useful items, recipients keep and use them long after the campaign is over. This means repeat exposure of your message for no extra cost.

 Ten Ways to Use Promotional Products

  1.  Client Acknowledgement  – Use promotional items to remind your customer that your relationship you share with them is important.
  2.  Employee Recognition – Express appreciation for your employees by using promotional items and awards as an incentive for those within the organization to reach higher levels of achievement.
  3.  Competitive Advantage – Promotional products give you a high impact marketing tool that creates interest and excitement for your company. Also, VERY cost effective.
  4.  New Product Announcements – You can capture your audience’s attention and innovatively announce your new offering using promotional products.
  5.  Special Events  – Your event becomes even more special when you give guests a promotional gift. It reminds them of both you and your event.
  6.  Trade Show Support  – A unique and useful product will be remembered long after the show.
  7.  Product Development – Use a promotional product when you are dealing with a corporate sponsor for immediate recognition and brand awareness.
  8.  New Market Focus – Let a clever product help you leave an everlasting impression and create interest.
  9.  Image Development – Promotional items can be used to emphasize themes of value, service, commitment, quality, and performance.
  10.  Increase Visibility – Your company name on an everyday product creates visibility and serves to remind clients of your product/service. Promotional products also allow clients to equate your business with practicality and easy accessibility.


It’s no secret: There is an endless array of promotional products available to businesses today. So how do you know that you’re choosing the best product to give away at the next big trade show?

Well … it takes some work. You don’t want people to throw items away or shove them in a junk drawer—you want people to use them and to think of your brand when they do. To get this kind of response, much thought should be put into choosing promotional products.

Generally speaking, the right product will forge a connection with the recipient—either enticing them to visit your business’s booth or sparking conversation while at the booth. What’s more, the right product is one that will keep your message top of mind, even after the trade show ends, and provides a segue to follow up with recipients at a later date.

A few things to consider when making this decision and a few ideas for success:

Before the trade show

  • Include promotional items in pre-trade show mailers to let attendees know that your business will be there and where attendees can find your booth. This tactic is also a great way to create excitement or provide incentive for attendees to stop by. Use glue dots to affix a Business Card Magnet to a cost-effective postcard.  Send one piece of a Writing Set to attendees and encourage them to stop by your booth to receive the other part.
  • Make contact with particularly meaningful leads by reaching out to the entire office. Rather than sending a pre-show promotional item to one representative, send items to the whole office to build buzz. Try Fortune Cookies, or really wow them with T-shirts.

During the trade show

  • Select multiple promotional items to stock your booth with that appeal to your different audience segments. For example, provide different products for your vendors, your customers, media representatives or industry leaders that best reflect their relationship with your business.
  • Consider the time of year and the season of the trade show and let that be a guide to choosing the best promotional topic. Summer time offers the possibility of branded Flip Flops or Sunblock Pocket Packs, while fall is great for Beanies or Mugs.
  • Don’t forget the aspects of a trade show that take place outside of the trade show showroom—like meet ‘n greets, cocktail hours or lunches. Throw a few small branded items in your pocket or your purse to give away with your business card, like USB drives or branded paperclips that can be attached directly to your business card.

After the trade show

  • Bring the trade show experience full-circle by sending promotional items as a lead follow-up. Stronger leads receive more impressive items, or items that reflect your conversation with them during the trade show, while long-shots receive a little something that says “Thank you.”
  • Send a personalized thank-you note to follow up and offer an additional promotional product if they call and schedule an informational meeting with you or your colleagues.

As you may have noticed, the best way to guarantee that a promotional product is the best fit for the next trade show revolves around thoughtful consideration and creativity. Take a few minutes to find the products that make sense, are fun and are memorable instead of arbitrarily choosing an item. There’s a lot out there, get imaginative and be choosy!

Key accounts, or strategic accounts, are different from the ordinary, and require more sophisticated skills and strategies. Here, Promotional Consultant Today shares four fundamentals for effectively penetrating key accounts.

1. Recognize that key accounts are different. Key accounts are larger, but that’s only the beginning. Their decision-making processes will be much more complex, and in some cases, highly structured. A product that may, in a smaller account, only need one person’s approval to purchase can require dozens of people to sign off on it in a key account.

2. Approach the organization of your time within a key account like you would your entire territory. When you look at your territory, you see lots of independent units we call accounts. You understand that each has a unique set of needs, budgets and personal dynamics, and that each offers its own set of opportunities.

When you approach a key account, think of it as a territory on its own, with lots of units that act like accounts. These units can be departments, branches, plants or whatever organization exists within that account. Each one of them may conceivably have the ability to purchase or move forward the purchase of your products and services. Each unit, whatever it may be, has its own unique set of needs, budgets and personal dynamics. And, in many cases, the purchasing power of one of those units can far outstrip the purchasing power of one of your smaller accounts. Just as you would take six months or a year to come to know the accounts in your territory, expect that it will take a similar period of time to identify and come to know all of the units within your key accounts.

3. Understand that you gain traction in key accounts through relationships, leverage and organization. If you are going to have influence in a key account, you must have relationships with the influential people. Because of the size of a key account and the natural movement of people within it, coming to know the influential people is not an event which has an ending, but is rather a constant process that never ends. Make a list of the people who you should know, and update it after every sales call.

Not only do you need to proactively expand your relationships deep into the organization, but you also need to focus upward and come to know those people who oversee combinations of units, and the C-level people in the corner suites.

Recognize the difference, plan your time as if each were a sales territory on its own and apply the weapons of relationship, leverage and organization to the task. You’ll be well on your way.



Creative Marketing Services is a next-generation promotional marketing firm based in Southwest Florida. We design creative, targeted, and cost effective promotional marketing solutions to help our clients build their brand, acquire & retain customers, increase sales & profits and recruit & motivate employees. To  discover how you can make your marketing more effective, visit

Despite the last few years’ challenging fundraising environment, we’ve been helping nonprofits meet their donation targets by boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of their fundraising campaigns with personalized URLs (PURLs) and dynamic landing pages.

When used in conjunction with traditional direct marketing channels such as personalized email or direct mail, personalized URLs lure donors back and help recruit new donors, as well. Our nonprofit marketers use personalized URLs and dynamic landing pages along with our advanced database-profiling system, which utilizes variables such as donation amounts and frequency, to drive highly targeted marketing communications. This ensures that your appeal reaches the right donors at the right time with the right message, increasing your chances of fundraising success.

Using Personalized URLs (PURLs) and Dynamic Landing Pages for Nonprofits

So how exactly are nonprofits getting results?

By printing a Personalized URL (PURL) on any communication (postcards, brochures, thank-you notes, and more), marketers can lead new or returning donors to personalized, dynamic landing pages whose web addresses feature the names of both your recipient and your organization. By making prospective and returning donors feel as if they are being addressed directly, nonprofit marketers can hold effective 1:1 conversations — and drive repeat donations.

The Call to Donate: Landing Pages for Fundraising Campaigns

Each custom PURL or QR code in your fundraising campaign brings potential and repeat donors to dynamic landing pages that act as customized “donor portals.” This PURL-landing page combination maximizes your chances of successfully recruiting donors by cultivating a sense of loyalty.

For example, messaging can be customized based on the recency and magnitude of the donor‘s past giving. Major donors could consider higher donation ranges for impact, while minor or infrequent donors may be asked more often for smaller donations.

Plus, the outcomes of your multi-channel PURL campaign are available in real-time from a unified reports dashboard, allowing you to keep a close eye on giving trends down to the level of the individual so that you can get a complete view of your results — adjust your fundraising efforts accordingly.

Permanent PURLS and Marketing Automation for Nonprofits

Nonprofits can also elect the option of “permanent” PURLs — personalized URLs that last for the lifetime of a client or donor. When used in conjunction with marketing automation in the nonprofit sector, permanent PURLs can work marketing miracles for your nonprofit organization.

For example, nonprofits can use the reports dashboard that presents a lifelong view of an individual’s giving trends. But, what if, in the course of a few clicks, you could program your nonprofit-marketing activities to intuitively respond to twists and turns in donor activity?

By utilizing our marketing automation and establishing set communication outcomes to predetermined triggers (such as logging into the PURL portal, reading an email, or making a donation of a set amount), nonprofits can create highly targeted donor communications, maximizing marketing efficiency and achieving more potent donor-recruitment results.


Creative Marketing Services is a next-generation promotional marketing firm based in Southwest Florida. We design creative, targeted, and cost effective promotional marketing solutions to help our clients build their brand, acquire & retain customers, increase sales & profits and recruit & motivate employees. To  discover how you can make your marketing more effective, visit

Do you have a color strategy? Today we explore the world of color and share our insight from a branding perspective.

I was having a cup of java in a restaurant last week and noticed that the sugar dispenser had pink, blue, yellow, and for the first time ever – green sweetener packets. Well, I know that the pink is Sweet N ‘Low, the blue is Equal, the yellow is Splenda, but what was the green? Turns out it is Equal with stevia.

Clearly, then, Equal has a color coding strategy. In fact, we determine color in less than three seconds and we often remember the color before the brand name. I’ve heard many consumers tell me that they take a blue or orange pill or that they buy the blue oatmeal, but don’t remember the flavor name. So, how can you brand by color?

 1. Deploy consistently. Don’t change your logo, your envelope color or even your signature wardrobe color willly nilly. If your colors are red and black, stick with it! Even though the Starbucks logo has morphed, it has kept the forest green color. It’s brilliant the way publicity photos of author Sachi Parker are in pink–just like the cover of her new tell-all book on her mom, Shirley MacLaine.

 2. Be bold. Golf-club maker TaylorMade credits painting its R11 drivers white as the key to boosting its market share to eight percent. What can you do?

3. Look at the psychology of color. Color communicates emotion. Red and orange are high energy, frenetic colors which is why they adorn virtually every fast feeder from Taco Bell to Wendy’s to McDonald’s. If you’re looking to instill a calming feeling, head over to the soothing world of blue. By the way, red and brown houses are the least likely to sell.

 4. Consider utility. Although brown is not my fave color, it works for the UPS folks who are schlepping packages. White shirts certainly wouldn’t work.

5. Review your competitors. If all of the competitors in your space are projecting the same colors, it’s time to shake up the market and stand out. When it comes to bottled water, for example, it’s an ocean of blue from Dasani to Aquafina. But, then there’s Evian–a dose of pink and it stands out!

Creative Marketing Services is a next-generation promotional marketing agency based in Southwest Florida. We design creative, targeted, and cost effective promotional marketing solutions to help our clients build their brand, acquire & retain customers, increase sales & profits and recruit & motivate employees. To  discover how you can make your marketing more effective, visit