So has marketing lost its soul?
Everyone used to want to work in marketing. It was the cool department. Those guys had fun, they got to go to places and do things. Not so much now.
The technicolour team has turned civil service brown. Playfulness is out. Analytics are in. If you can’t count it, better not do it.
For too many, creativity equals personal responsibility, and as all greasy-pole-climbers know, personal responsibility is the devil. Armies of once joyous and lively young souls now drool over graphs and tables of real-time stats. Click refresh. Click refresh. Click refresh.
Spreadsheet porn is the modern marketeer’s dirty little secret. They snort columns and rows. They knockback hits and likes. Take a look around, are you sitting in a room full of bean-counter zombies?
So if the marketing department has, in reality, become just an IT-Finance-Admin hybrid, what’s the point of it? If it’s all just statistics and apps, why not just automate the lot? Maybe there’s an HR AI algorithm planning to let you go as we speak!
Stop. Customers are human. Humans are sociable, emotional animals. People buy people. Goodwill is not a cryptocurrency.
It’s a radical thought, but maybe humans appreciate having a bit of fun! You know, like they actually want to be engaged by other humans. It’s the kind of stuff that traditionally passes you by because you’re usually too busy checking your phone! Maybe you need more of a life and fewer stats.
Behind those numbers on your screen lurk personalities, ideas, opinions, and relationships. Underneath the permafrost of big data flows a river of humanity.
So what kind of marketeer are you becoming? Real or synth? Human or droid? Dead-hand or warm-heart?
Has marketing lost its soul? Well, maybe it’s getting that way, and that could make working in marketing much less attractive to individuals with real flare(s).
What is RPET? Well the PET bit means polyethylene terephthalate, a polymer of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. PET is the stuff plastic drink bottles are made of and the ‘R” refers to ‘recycled’.
Put simply, PET starts life as a resin and is, in part, a by-product of oil. PET resin is either spun into fibres to make fabric like materials or injected into moulds to create products like fizzy drinks bottles.
As long ago as 1977 some bright spark worked out how to recycle PET. Now, it’s big business and the number of different types of products you can make from RPET is growing.
So how does the recycling work? Well, you collect the bottles and compact them into bales so they are easier to move about. Then you subject them to a recycling process which typically involves either heat or chemicals. After that, you are left with varying forms of RPET – recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Again as with the creation of the original PET product, RPET can be re-spun or moulded into a new item. PET is very recyclable.
But as with most so-called ‘eco’ materials, there are issues. Firstly, the recycling process is not, in itself, environmentally friendly. Secondly, most PET products have been contaminated with foodstuffs or liquids. Contaminated PET can’t be used for food-related applications again, but food-grade RPET is becoming more widely available. Finally, like most plastics, the use of PET and RPET can create microplastics, tiny particles of plastic which are invisible to the human eye but pollute our oceans and rivers.
So the story is a familiar one. Yes, it is good to recycle waste. And yes, an RPET product is probably ‘better’ than a standard item. We can only hope that continued innovation and increased demand will allow manufacturers to achieve higher levels of sustainability.
Wheat Straw environmentally friendly? ‘Wheat Straw’ aka ‘Corn plastic’ is a bioplastic. Sounds promising, like it’s got ‘bio’ in the word, it must legit.
Ok, so this is how it works. You harvest the wheat to get grain for making stuff like bread. What’s left after harvesting is called straw, the stems that humans generally don’t eat. Around the world, hundreds of millions of tons of straw are created every year. So let’s see, you take a widely available natural material and turn it into a replacement for plastic. Perfect. Well, not quite.
The first problem with bioplastics is that they create methane as they biodegrade – if they ever biodegrade at all. Methane is public enemy number one; a so-called ‘greenhouse’ gas which does its best to screw up our atmosphere. Farting cattle and all that.
Some bioplastics don’t decompose without exposure to UV light or high temperatures. Furthermore, bioplastics can’t be easily recycled into something else.
Then there’s the wheat you started with. Was it genetically modified? Was it intensively farmed, with all the issues that come with that?; pollution, soil erosion. A significant proportion of grain production in the U.S. is now grown for biofuel or bioplastic production. Is the production of bioplastics having an impact of grain prices and what does that mean for poorer people?
It’s the usual ‘econundrum’. The law of unintended consequences. Some clever-clogs figures out how to make a replacement for plastic out of a natural material, only to create a new set of problems as a result.
Should we offset some a bioplastic’s drawbacks against the positive message it seeks to convey? Or put another way, is a wheat straw promotional product a bit better than a standard plastic promotional product? Answer: probably.
KeepCup, like all great ideas, seems so obvious in hindsight. Why didn’t I think of that! In what parallel universe did disposable plastic cups seem like a good idea? Short-term thinking, and greed, really are the sins of our fathers.
But sneer not, you were guilty too. Your life is doubtless littered with eco-hypocrisy. But here’s the thing. You can make a contribution, a start.
Sure you like to fly away to sunnier climbs. Ok, you once put the wrong thing in the wrong bin and didn’t go back to make amends. Yes, you drive when you could get off your ass and walk.
KeepCup is one of those simple gateway products. It opens your mind to a new way of thinking. Do I really need to buy that? Do I really want to be left with all this packaging? How do my choices square with being environmentally responsible?
You have to pay more for KeepCup. That’s because much more thought has gone into its design and construction.
We are authorised to sell branded KeepCups to approved clients. Yes, KeepCup actually wants to make sure that their product is associated with the right type of businesses. Pretty cool eh!
You can read more about this great product here.
Promotional stickers are physical social media. They work. But how can this be? How can such a simple, low-cost item be in such demand? Well, it’s all to do with brand loyalty; people want to show that they are an active member of your tribe. Or that they’ve been there, seen it, and got the sticker!
And what better advertising is there than your customers, or followers, publically declaring their support for your brand? When someone sticks your logo on their beloved MacBook Pro, they are feeling your love. When kids spend more time playing with stickers than their games console, something is going on. When grown adults queue at your trade show booth for a sticker, your marketing strategy is operating on a higher astral plane.
How can sticking something to something else feel so good? What is this perverse satisfaction afforded to the sticker or stickers? Is the process of adhesion akin to an ancient ritual? Were stickers available for purchase along the Silk Road? Who knows. Anyway.
Promotional stickers are a testimonial, a vote, a thumbs up. So if you’ve got a loyal user base or growing fan base, get yourself some stickers like now!
With promotional stickers, it’s possible to create any shape, in any colour and any size.
Cork is created by stripping away bark from the Cork Oak; what’s taken, grows back. Chopping the tree down hardly benefits the cork farmer. So if you harvest with care, everyone is a winner! Cork is sustainable.
The introduction of the aluminium screw-top bottle lid really hurt the cork industry. As a result, Cork Oak forests began to be cleared. When a forest is cleared an ecosystem is destroyed. Cork Oak forests are very good at supporting bio-diversity. Animals and insects die and soils are eroded.
Then, if destroying forests wasn’t bad enough, the bauxite needed to make aluminium is open-cast mined. Open-cast mining is hugely damaging to the environment.
Cork is used in the manufacture of automotive products, musical instruments, sports goods and of course promotional merchandise!
Promotional items or parts of promotional items, which are made from cork are a more natural and sustainable option.
Finally, cork just feels really nice. It’s soft and tactile. It’s a natural material.
There are many summer-themed promotional items, available from stock, which will help to spread a little sunshine this year. Summer is, in theory, the time of holidays, long evenings and above all fun! So, if you’re looking to develop a seasonal campaign this year, here are some promotional ideas for you.
Holiday travel accessories
Help take the stress out of travel by giving-away a travel-themed promotional item. Travel adapters are always well received, with both low cost and high-end options available for corporate branding. Travel in comfort with a neck cushion or travel comfort kit. Luggage tags, locks or straps always come in handy. Travel bags offer a great opportunity to heighten brand awareness.
Summer clothing and accessories
T-shirts are the perfect promotional product. Useful, with large branding area, they are as popular today as they were 100 years ago. Your office might be nice and cool, but the warmer weather can make work harder for those in places where there is no air-conditioning. Maybe your warehouse staff need a Summer uniform? Maybe your drivers need garments that are more appropriate for sitting in traffic on hot summer days? Summer is also a time for sporting events, like charity runs, sports matches and team building days. How about a summer hat or a pair of branded sunglasses?
Beach and pool accessories
The beach and pool are great places to have fun. Why not send your clients off on vacation with a cool beach towel? What about a useful cooler, beach bag, or beach game? Then there’s the barbeque or picnic. Who doesn’t need some bar-b-q tools or an apron? Kids love the pool and beach so what about something for them? A bucket and spade set, a kite or frisbee? What about some ice lolly moulds or water bottle with a fruit infuser?
Summer music festivals and cultural events
Millions of people attend music and cultural festivals every Summer. That represents a huge captive audience for your brand. Each event has its own demographic and culture. Promotional items, especially those which can be used during the event, are always very popular.
From a set of earplugs to a seat cushion or disposable poncho, there are lots of low-cost items which fit the bill. There is even a range of festival survival kits for those who fully immerse themselves in the weekend! And if you would like to create something really bespoke, like branded wellies or tents just contact our sourcing team for more information, although you’d need at least 4-6 weeks lead time.
And remember, as we get closer to the Spring and Summer period, stocks of popular items become more volatile. Don’t leave it too late!
Buying promotional items should be an easy process, but all too often it can become complicated. Here are 10 tips to help you streamline the process and to build a long-term relationship with a supplier.
1. Stop for a second and think about it
What do I want? When do I want it? How many do I need? Before you click send, or make that call just stop for a second to think what the supplier will need to know. Racing to dump a vague brief onto a supplier is a massive false economy. It might feel like you’re saving time by rushing in with half the story, but in fact, you are going to make the whole process more long-winded as a result.
2. Have your artwork ready from the start
Do you have artwork? If you don’t have it, who does? What sort of artwork will the supplier need? Promotional merchandise is all about the artwork; the whole point is to print, engrave, embroider, emboss your logo or design onto things. So, not having artwork is a bit of a problem. We created this page to help our clients: Help With Artwork.
3. You get the quote you deserve
Why does buying promotional merchandise have to be so painful? All these quotes, all these questions and emails. All I wanted was some pens and a few mugs! Well, of course, it’s possible your supplier has made a meal of it, but its more likely that the original brief you gave was not great. Had you actually thought about the product colour versus the colour of the logo? Did you mention you needed shipment to Barcelona in time for that show? Was it clear to the supplier that when you said a 2 colour design you actually meant four versions of a 3 colour design?
4. Take the suppliers advice
Good suppliers occasionally say no. Bad suppliers say yes to everything. A good embroiderer will point out that part of your logo might not reproduce very well because it’s too small. A reliable printer will tell you that the image you sent is too low resolution to print well. A smart supplier will steer you away from potential pitfalls. A good supplier will keep you updated with the latest trends and product developments. There’s nothing wrong with pushing a supplier to innovate, but equally, you need to take the time to listen to their reasons for suggesting an alternative course.
5. Allow enough time
No time, no choice. The principle is simple. More time, yep you guessed it! All too often, promotional items are an after-thought. Couple this with the ‘Amazon’ mindset, which expects instantaneous delivery, and the whole thing becomes a series of compromises. Here’s the thing, Amazon gets stuff to you quickly because it’s all sitting on a shelf ready to go. In other words, Amazon doesn’t make the stuff especially for you. All promotional merchandise is bespoke. You wouldn’t want a product with somebody else’s logo on, would you! A quick tip: Even if you don’t really have a deadline, set one anyway. It’s better for all concerned that they have a date to work to. Think 10 working days and you won’t go far wrong.
6. How to get a quick decision from your boss or team
Oh just go and get some ideas! Great, thanks for that. So you’ve won the prize, with no brief and a whole load of opinions to second guess, you are now the promotional merchandise expert! Then, having spent ages trying to ‘please all the people all the time’ you’ve now discovered that you’re too late to place the order anyway. There is another way.
Firstly, filter the obvious stuff at the start; how much budget do I have, what is the deadline, do we have artwork ready? Then, once you’ve got options in from the supplier, go back and present a limited choice coupled with decision deadlines. For example, ‘you can have red or white but unless you make a decision by Monday we might be the only exhibitor without giveaways’. Don’t be shy, strip out the niceties and set out the facts.
7. Don’t delay proof approval
Ok, so you’ve placed an order. All systems go. The supplier has just sent the proof and needs it signed off so they can proceed with production. Here’s the thing, you need to understand that factories see ‘proof approval’ as the starting gun for lead time. The lead time is not calculated from when you placed the order. So if you delay approving the proof you are delaying delivery, it’s that simple. Sure, the proof may be wrong, in which case you need to feedback why as soon as possible. Either way, time is of the essence.
8. Check the goods when they are delivered
Is the stuff the right stuff? Is everything ok? don’t assume! If there’s a problem, make the supplier aware immediately. Good suppliers are responsive and will get to work to resolve the issue. A quick tip: take a photo of the problem and email it to the supplier, that will date stamp the issue and allow all concerned to understand exactly what’s wrong.
9. Make sure the supplier gets paid
Who cares if the supplier gets paid! Well, you should. Good suppliers don’t deal with just anyone. They especially don’t deal with people who make them wait for months to get paid. If the supplier needs a Purchase Order to get paid, make sure they get one. If they need to send their invoice to a specific email address, make sure they have the address. Otherwise, they and your accounts department are going to be on your case. Avoid hassle, clarify the payment process upfront.
10. Meet your supplier
Suppliers are people. Real people. Not avatars or bots. Not LinkedIn profiles or imaginary beings from your inbox. It’s amazing how much easier it is to work with people that you’ve actually met. You will probably change jobs many times in your career, and if you decide to stay in marketing, you will doubtless need the same type of supplier from time to time. Having someone you know, someone you’ve met, someone who understands how you like to work, forms part of your offer to potential employers. Everyone in business needs good suppliers, take yours with you.
Promotional products; 10 effective uses to help you get more value.
1. Increase brand awareness
When your customers seek ‘X type of product’ what brand do they think of first and why? Making sure the right people think of your product or service, at exactly the right moment, is what brand awareness is all about. Your product or service may be technically superior, it may be cheaper, it may be a whole long list of wonderful things but if people don’t know your brand, or even worse, are confused by what it stands for, your sales team will have a mountain to climb. Promotional products help to raise brand awareness and spread the message. Get known by more people for less, with promotional products.
2. Improve customer loyalty with promotional products
70% of companies say it’s more cost-effective to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Earning and retaining customer loyalty is paramount. People ‘buy people’, so give ‘your people’ the tools to spread goodwill. Promotional products offer a cost-effective medium for increasing customer loyalty. Maybe your audience is very traditional, they want the printed calendar for their desk or a simple pen? Maybe your clients will be enthused by something more sophisticated like a wireless charger. Make sure your brand name is right there, front and centre, just when it needs to be!
3. Promote a specific product, message or event
Use promotional products to highlight the attributes of a particular product or service. Connectivity, integration, speed, efficiency; all of these concepts can be communicated by the right promotional product. Add a strap-line or event title to your branding to tie-in with your campaign. Continue the main theme of your campaign through your promotional give-aways; match shapes, colours, and functionality.
4. Recognise employees
Good people are hard to find. Great people are hard to keep. Making sure that colleagues, of all levels, are properly recognised is key to your organisation’s success. A staff umbrella for the winter, a ‘new starter’ pack or gym bag to encourage a healthy lifestyle can all form part of a programme of recognition and reward. We all like to feel valued. Promotional products can help to add the value that staff retention relies upon.
5. Increase footfall to your trade show booth
Catch the eye. Giveaways are a great, low-cost method of attracting interest and spreading goodwill. Why not turn each visitor into a mobile advertising platform by giving them a free bag? Have a low-cost, high volume giveaway like sweets or stickers to giveaway en masse. Then take something more sophisticated to give to your key contacts after that important scheduled meeting. And remember, merchandise is made to order so the more time you allow for production the better the product will be – don’t leave it to the last minute!
6. Kit your staff in uniform
Teams wear team kits. Armies wear a uniform. It’s simple stuff. Put everyone in some form of uniform and subconsciously they start to work together. Uniform, even if it’s just an embroidered shirt for wearing at a trade show, will help make your staff more visible and feel more valued. Uniform projects a professional image to existing and potential clients. Think about it, who do you feel more confident buying from? The smartly dressed person decked in company colours or the non-descript guy loitering around at the back of the trade-show booth? And what sort of image do you want your delivery drivers to portray? As the old maxim goes, ‘you never get a second chance to create a good first impression’. We offer a wide range of clothing and headwear.
7. Say thank you to a VIP
Decision-makers are hard to get to and even harder to satisfy. It’s never been tougher to maintain a personal relationship now that we all operate in a digital world. And yet, people still ‘buy people’. The big decisions are still almost always sealed with a face to face meeting or a level of personal trust built over many years. So say thank you, at that opportune moment, to the person who has placed their trust in your product or service. What’s an appropriate gift for your key contacts? Do women want the same as men? Is there a price point, too low and the item may seem insulting, too high and you stray into the minefield of inappropriateness. Check with the people who manage the relationship.
8. Tie-in promotional products with an event or season
Four seasons and numerous religious, cultural and sporting events combine to create a busy calendar of potential themes for your next promotional campaign. But be careful, make sure you aren’t about to offend someone or infringe copyright! People are individuals with individual attitudes and beliefs. The title of a major sporting event is often copyrighted and many images and terms associated with major events are protected too. So yes, it’s cool and often really effective to tie your promotional campaign in with a moment in time, but before you do make sure you’ve done your homework.
9. Add value with a premium gift
Ever wondered why you got a freebie inside a box of breakfast cereal? Did you know McDonalds Restaurants is the largest toy retailer in the world? Multi-nationals follow the tried and tested approach of ‘premium’ marketing; add a low-cost extra to your core product to alter the overall perception of value. Could you do something similar? Buy our plumbing products and get a free tape measure!
10. Promote cost-effectively, sustainably and responsibly
As digital advertising costs spiral and social media marketing flatters to deceive, traditional marketing methods have begun to regain ground. Promotional products offer a low-cost channel for generating brand awareness and promoting goodwill. And now you can go green with promotional products!
What is Jute?
Is Jute environmentally friendly? Jute fibre is made from the outer stem and skin of the Jute plant.
India, Bangladesh and China are big growers of Jute. On a smaller scale, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan and Nepal also grow jute.
Jute reaches maturity in less than 6 months and offers a good yield. This growth means less land is required compared to other crops. This reduces the need to destroy natural habitats. Jute can be grown without the need to use pesticide or fertiliser. If chemicals are used during jute production, it is on a much smaller scale compared to other crops such as cotton.
Jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate much higher than most trees. Biodegradable, compostable and recyclable Jute ticks a lot of boxes.
Single-use plastic bags are about as bad as it gets! Most are not biodegradable, so litter and pollute. Worse still, they and other single-use plastic products are killing wildlife on an almost apocalyptic scale. According to Greenpeace, UK supermarkets are generating one million tonnes of plastic annually, which contributes to the estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans each year.
In a survey of more than 5,000 UK consumers by Kantar Worldpanel, 24.6% expressed ‘extreme concern’ about plastic packaging in grocery. 42% believed food and drink manufacturers should make their packaging recyclable. 80% claimed to use ‘bags for life’.
Don’t risk it!
When it comes to promotional shopper bags, Jute is probably your safest option. The bottom line is, single-use plastic bags pose a risk to your brand. We offer a wide range of Jute and Organic Cotton bags, all of which delivered to you within 10-14 working days.