Big Problem That No One Ever Talks About

by Patrick McHargue on August 29, 2014

in Originals

It’s 12:23 AM and I cannot sleep.

It wasn’t bad Chinese food or too much coffee. It was a conversation I had this evening. A conversation with a good friend that riled me up to the point that I’m still obsessing over it 5 hours later.

It was something that everyone in our business has experienced before.

The topic of work came up at our local trivia night. We usually focus on the competition and vexing questions like: Who was the first president to throw a first pitch? However, I love working and I love talking shop. So, I gave my abridged elevator pitch and left it at that.

The response from my friend was like a kick in the teeth. “You don’t sell trinkets and trash, do you?”

Hell yes, I do.

I didn’t really know how to feel about her response. I guess I still don’t. Left me with a bit of an empty feeling and a lot of questions.

How did our business get such a bad rap?

I imagine that no one really knows where the “trinkets and trash” perspective originated from. It really doesn’t matter where or when it took form. It’s out there and we see it everyday.

The only thing that really matters is what we do about it…

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Don’t Be a Promo Mercenary…

by Patrick McHargue on August 26, 2014

in Ramblings

Selling promotional products is an individual sport.

It’s the business equivalent of baseball. We’re all on a team (our company) but, our individual performance (our sales) is what defines us. At the end of the day, our batting average and home run numbers decide who gets paid the most. And it’s due to our natural competitiveness that we often get overly focused on our own numbers.   It’s very easy for an office to turn into a collection of strangers all doing their own thing.

I would never, EVER suggest that you spend your 8-10 hours at the office working on projects for your co-workers. However, I do suggest spending 20 minutes a day checking in with your teammates. Have a quick chat and find out what’s going on in their life. This little bit of effort and openness is critical to the creation of an office culture.

Selling is our job and it’s what we get paid to do, but it’s important to take a few laps around the office each day.

Here are some of the benefits to developing relationships at work:

  • Learn from the experience of others
  • Discover the perfect supplier for that tricky project you’re stuck on
  • To become a leader in our field, you need to be a leader in your office
  • No one likes eating lunch alone!
  • HAVE FUN!

We all have an idea of where we want our income to be and (hopefully) a plan of action to get it there. But, don’t overlook the importance of building an enjoyable work place. Loving where you work and caring about the people you work with is truly priceless.

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Foolproof Method for Writing Sales Emails

by Patrick McHargue on August 22, 2014

in Copywriting

My sales emails regularly get an open rate of over 20%. These are emails to complete strangers. They don’t know me, but they open my email.

Why? Why don’t they just click delete like they do to your emails?

I always follow a formula that’s been around since the 1920s. It couldn’t be simpler, but it’s made fortunes for people who can make regular use of it.

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Attention – Grab your readers attention with an gripping headline.

Interest – Share interesting facts, figures, or research with them.

Desire – Make them imagine themselves benefiting from your product or service

Action – Give them step-by-step (idiot-proof) directions of what you want them to do next.  Tell them exactly how to take action!

 

Below is an email made using the AIDA formula that achieved a 22% open rate.

 

Subject: Have You Heard About The Big Problem with the New _______ (customer name) Logo?

Embroidery is the most popular method for decorating the polo shirts that your associates wear.  However, the new logo CANNOT BE EMBROIDERED.  The logo is simply too detailed for thread to do it justice. The result is a blocky, unappealing look.

The attached PowerPoint document includes the eight alternative design techniques that our industry leading Chicago-based design firm came up with.  These designs were highly influenced by what is happening in the retail world and the current trends in uniform design.  This is the kind of apparel that your young teams want to wear.

Select your favorite shirt option (numbered 1-7 based on what slide they are on).  Respond to this email right now with your preferred style and shirt size.  I’ll send out a sample for you to review right away.  You pay no shipping or sample fee.  Simply, reply to this email and enjoy your new shirt!

 

Parting tip: Whatever you do, make the email about what you can do for them! No one cares about you, they only care about themselves and what you can do for them!

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5 Ways That Promo Pros Are Like Entrepreneurs

by Patrick McHargue on August 19, 2014

in Ramblings

5 Ways That Promo Pros Are Like Enterpreneurs 5 Ways That Promo Pros Are Like Enterpreneurs

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How to Make Our Mark in the World of Social Media

by Patrick McHargue on August 12, 2014

in Ramblings

I love social media. I feel that it is both our present and our future. There are promotional product professionals (sales reps, distributors, suppliers, supplier reps, designers, printers and industry associations) doing good work on social media. However, there are a lot of people who really suck at it and badly need to 1) Learn how to make better use of this great opportunity or 2) Stop altogether because they are wasting their time and diluting the message of our industry.

Social media for B2C industries is super easy! If you can’t gain a following for your cupcake shop on Twitter or Instagram you’re an idiot.

Social media for B2B industries is not easy. However, it can be done.

  1. You have to find where you customer base hangs out, listen, learn, and engage with them in a way that’s native to that social platform. An example of this would be for a supplier rep to monitor promotional product LinkedIn groups and discussions happening on CommonSKU. If you sell stress balls you have to pounce on that opportunity. If people are talking about your product anywhere and you aren’t there to engage in that conversation, you are failing.
  1. Let’s get this out of the way. It may be painful to hear. No one cares about your product. Literally, no one cares. Very few of the people who are following you on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest give a crap that your acrylic tumbler is stronger or that your pricing 3% lower than the other guy’s. Yes we do have an amazing array of products in this industry. What people do care about is the moment that our products create. Show them the company picnic that was 100 times more fun because of the custom washer sets that you did for them. Show them the charity run where your shirts were worn. Show them the break room battle royal that breaks out when your food gifts arrive. People want to see emotions, results, and moment. They couldn’t care less about specs, imprint area, and SKUs.

Here’s CustomInk.com’s new commercial. It’s airing all over the place. They get it!

HootSuite Certified Professional

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When Promotional Products Attack!

by Patrick McHargue on August 7, 2014

in Originals

You always have the best of intentions when ordering promotional products. You want everything to turn out awesome, but somewhere in the proofing process things take a wrong turn. Here are some epic examples of promotional product fails!

1) My favorite example is the nightmare that was Mariano Rivera Bobblehead Night at Yankee Stadium. Rivera, the greatest closing pitcher in Yankee history, was in the midst of his final season. Yankees fan were pumped to celebrate the career of their closer.  Crowds grew outside of the stadium in anticipation. Only one problem, the bobbleheads had not arrived. The truck bringing in the bobbleheads had broke down in New Jersey. After hours in lines and missing most of that night’s game, 18,000 fans did receive their plastic figurines.

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LESSON: Make sure that you deliveries will arrive in plenty of time. Build buffer time into your schedule.

2) Here’s another baseball centered failure. This season the Colorado Rockies hosted a t-shirt giveaway night for their star player, Troy TulowiTzki. I’ve capitalized the second “t” for a reason. The Rockies omitted it on all 15,000 shirts that they gave out that night. After news of the typo hit Twitter, the Rockies had to apologize and re-run the promotion later in the season. Please spell your best player’s name correctly!

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LESSON: Proofread!!! Then proofread it again. Then have a co-worker/boss proofread it again!

 3) Urban Outfitters recently gave away promotional pens shaped like hypodermic needles with the imprint “I love Harroin”. Harroin is a hair salon in New York City. Everyone gets haircuts and everyone buys clothes. However, the heroin reference is where this promo went terribly wrong. It got a lot of media coverage (probably the chief goal), but it wasn’t positive attention by any means.

Read my thoughts on their promotion here

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LESSON: Edgy promotions are fun and can garner a lot of publicity. Offensive promotions don’t get you the attention that you want and can often backfire.

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Baltimore’s Preeminent Drug Dealer On Branding

by Patrick McHargue on August 4, 2014

in Originals

If you’ve never seen HBO’s “The Wire”, this post will change your life. Stop what you are doing and watch all 5 seasons. DO IT NOW! It’s an amazing show, many critics think that it’s better than “The Soprano’s”.

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Click on the link below and start at about the 30 second mark. Wear headphones as it’s NSFW.  It contains a ton of swear words, but we’re all adults and it perfectly illustrates a critical point:

1. Protect your brand!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCaBYEEFTKE

Marlo knows that his “name is his name”. What he’s really saying is that you only get one reputation. Once it’s tarnished it will never be pristine again. The internet gives us all the memory of an elephant.  If your company screws up, all it takes is a Google search for everyone to relive it.

Our clients depend on us to protect their brand.  It’s a serious responsibility.  After all your brand is your brand.

 

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The Big Problem With Company T-Shirts

by Patrick McHargue on July 31, 2014

in Originals

I monitor Twitter (Hootsuite, I think I love you) for various phrases related to the promotional product business. Hands down the most discussed topic is “company t-shirt”. I like to see people who just got a shirt and are excited or who needs a company shirt and maybe I can help.

I find and reply to all the positive posts, but the feed is usually filled to the brim with people complaining about, mocking or otherwise hating their company t-shirt. Seeing this was such a bummer. T-shirts are the most widely sold piece of apparel in our business and the people receiving them hate them. Company t-shirts should make you feel official, part of the team, and part of something important.

What’s going wrong?

I believe that the problem is that the shirts that we make for our customers are super (read: SUPER) boring! How can you feel like a part of a special team (your company) when you and millions of others have the same Gildan 2000 with a one-color screen print on the left chest?!?! These may be the shirts that your customers want, but they suck, are lame, and the recipients loath them.

Don’t we want people to love the shirts we make? Well, they don’t. So we need to change.

The only answer is to give your customer better (read: more creative) options. It will take you time to brainstorm a new concept and whip up a design, but it’s worth it. Anyone can provide the customer with what they think they want (hint: our customers, the buyers, rarely know that people hate their company shirts). Only a promo professional can show their customer something that they want, but didn’t know was possible.

That’s how you really surprise and delight your customers.

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It’s Time For A Change

by Patrick McHargue on July 21, 2014

in Originals

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More and more, I’m committing time, thought, and effort here. I love this blog. However, it represents a very small portion of my interests. In order to write with all of the passion inside of me, I need to make a change.

Moving forward this website will no longer focus fully on promotional products. It will expand to encompass all of my interests.

What’s in store?

The look of this site with change. The logo and branding of it will evolve.  New topics and themes will appear.  Social Media. Advertising. Branding. Business in general. A little bit of copy writing.

I’m very, very excited for this change.  It will take time, but I know it will be a positive one.

Please join me.

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Stop with all the the “Thank you’s”!

I’m a very polite, affable, friendly guy.  I give blood.  I hold the door open for strangers when I’m running errands.  I help my less tech savvy (much less) co-workers save pictures of their grand kids to their desktop.  I like helping people and am grateful when they return the favor.

Despite my happy-go-lucky nature, I recently made the decision to stop thanking people.  I (like a ton of people) have had the generic “Thank you!” line above my email since I began my professional career in 2007.  The chief reason that I made this small, but critical change is because of people’s subconscious perception of value.

When you have a message of gratitude in your email signature what are you really saying?

You’re saying one of the following things:

  • Thanks for reading my email
  • Thanks for your response
  • Thanks for recognizing me

All of these sentiments greatly reduce the value of your brand, product, or service. You are degrading yourself for no good reason!

People should want to read your emails because you should write emails that people want to read. Recipients should respond because you should give them a compelling reason to. If you are providing a valuable and worthy service or product to your consumers that should be enough.  You don’t need to bow down or genuflect in order to be recognized.  You need to give the consumer so much value that they view you on the exact same level as they are.  Be a partner, not a peasant.

OK.  End of rant.

Gratitude has its place in business.  It should be deserved and not tossed around during every single interaction.  Your “Thank you” in your email is about as insincere and empty as any gesture can get.  Want to thank a long time customer for a big order?  Call them, ask about how they are doing and THANK THEM!  More social than that?  Leave an awesome review on their LinkedIn page. Between old technology and new technology, there are so many ways to give a genuine thank you that putting a generic “Thanks” in your email signature is the height of lameness.

Your strategy on saying “Thank you” is completely up to you.  Be sure to consider what you are really saying and what your customer is really hearing.

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