4 Ways to Add More Fun (& Productivity) to Your Events

Are attendees excited to attend your company’s events? Or are your events just another stop on the circuit?

Promotional product ideas for meetings & events

Don’t forget the fun! Events shouldn’t be all work and no play.

Recently CCC had the opportunity to attend ASI Orlando, a leading promotional products show, and headed home with marketing ideas galore. Today, we’re going to focus on how to liven up your meetings and events.

 Add some fun with a photo booth (or selfie station)! Whether you’re hosting an evening party or a potentially awkward networking session/ice breaker, a photo booth adds some fun and helps attendees connect with each other. Instead of focusing on differences, visitors will find common ground while making fun memories. The best news? A photo booth doesn’t have to break your budget. Devote a corner, order some fun props (beard fun face, anyone?) and snap away! (Tip: Make sure you have good lighting in whatever area you choose.)

Roll out the red carpet and move registration to the rooms! We’ve all been there — standing in line at a registration booth way too early in order to officially check in to a conference. Why irritate attendees right off the bat? If everyone is staying at the host hotel, move registration to the rooms. Place welcome gifts in each room along with badges and registration materials. Attendees will feel special and be able to swap time standing in line at registration with activities they’d rather be doing, like relaxing, networking or enjoying some fresh air.

Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan

Hold a scavenger hunt or set up an escape room experience. Encourage attendees to work together to resolve a situation while having a good time. Both experiences help improve communication and problem solving in a memorable way. Kick the experience up a notch by tying it into the local area or your line of work. Commemorate the experience by printing the scavenger hunt map on a scarf or t-shirts for a job well done (I escaped the 2017 CCC Expo!).

Need to recharge? Head to the Relaxation Station. Set up a Relaxation Station where attendees can head to recharge their gadgets and themselves. Massages, refreshments, mobile chargers/outlets and WiFi are all welcome amenities to weary travelers. Other options for a relaxing space include a coffee bar, connection cafe or nature room. On a similar note, don’t feel the need to fill every minute with sessions and lectures. Unscheduled networking time can produce amazing connections, solutions and big business.

Remember, it’s OK for attendees to have fun and enjoy your events. They can still learn and be productive at the same time. Make your event an exciting destination rather than just another stop on the show circuit.

Category Archives: Event Planning

Meetings & Events Minutes

How do you add fun to your events?

What’s your favorite promotional product (or branded item) that you’ve given out or received at an event?

What activity or experience did you have at an event that was truly memorable?

p.s. Did you know that CCC offers event planning services? From big ideas to small details, we’d love to help you with your next event!

Cheers to a successful event!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about promotional products, your event planning needs or otherwise):
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Going Live: What Social Platform Suits You?

You’re hearing it everywhere — live streaming is all the rage, and your brand should be doing it. (All the cool ones are, right?)

Going Live: Which Social Platform Suits You?

Broadcasting can provide a boost for your brand, but you should think about what works best for your brand before going live. Here are three things to consider:

To Keep or Not To Keep  

Do you want visitors to have access to your live videos at a later date? If you’re sharing a flash special, probably not. If you’re broadcasting your session at a conference, maybe you do. For videos with a shelf live, Facebook Live is a convenient option. The social media giant does give preference in its news feed to live videos; however, your videos are stored for future reference. Periscope also added a permanent archive option to its app last year. If you don’t want users to access videos later, Live Video on Instagram Stories or Snapchat may be a better fit. (Note that you can delete live videos after broadcast on Facebook and Periscope, or choose the previous 24-hour expiration option by default on Periscope.)

Live Streaming Schedule 

How often will you be sharing live video (realistically)? Maybe you’re planning on going live with a travel tip every Tuesday or sharing a behind-the-scenes office view every Friday. Or will you show an occasional live look at an event or broadcast from your grand opening once? If live streaming will only be a miniscule part of your marketing mix, Instagram or Facebook would be a better fit. These platforms support other media besides live video, so you can be active on them throughout the year. What other content are you planning on sharing? Facebook supports a greater media mix — pictures, video (live or recorded), links, text, product catalogs, etc. while Instagram is purely a visual platform. This may seem basic, but it’s something to think about while creating your social media strategy.

Home is Where Your Community Is 

We hear this all the time — “I’m leaving for a conference tomorrow and want to live stream content. What platform should I sign up for?” Creating a loyal, active community on any platform takes time, so don’t try to do it in two days or a week. If you have already built an Instagram community, stick with what already works for you — for now. Making waves on Snapchat? Stay there. If you think another platform might work better for your brand, keep a long-term view. Don’t jump ship and expect your community to follow you from one platform to the next, especially overnight. Keep doing what you’re doing, and work on building a new community on another platform over time.

Keep in mind: Live Streaming Apps: The Future of Broadcasting or Legal Liability?

Thinking about going live? Stop and strategize first. Understand what you’re trying to achieve by broadcasting live, how often you’ll be doing it and where you’ve already built a community. You — and your audience — will be glad you did.

Live Feedback

Which platform do you use for live video?

Why did you decide to use that platform?

What live streaming advice would you share with others?

What brand utilizes live video well?

A face fit for radio, 😉

Jaime

Let’s chat (about live video, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Yes, Small Business Owners, There is a Holiday Season

It’s our favorite time of year at CCC. The holidays bring so much joy and cheer — fun festivities, beautiful decorations and spending time with family and friends. How do you take part while still running your business?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... Are you in the holiday spirit?

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.”

Choose your favorite parts

You can’t do everything, so you have to choose. Which parts of the holidays do you enjoy most? Festive activities? Attend local shows and community events. Decorating in style? Spend time making your home shine. Buying the perfect gifts for loved ones? Dedicate your time to shopping for those you hold dear. Whatever areas you choose, be present. Don’t be worrying about your business or what you’re not doing while enjoying your favorite parts of the holiday season.

For example, I decided not to decorate this year. I’m not a Scrooge; I wanted to focus on taking advantage of all of the fun activities this time of year — ice skating, craft/art shows, tree lightings, parades, etc. — and shopping/baking for others, which I love to do. There’s no wrong answer here. Just make a decision and run with it!

How to Guiltlessly Take Time Off to Enjoy the Best Holiday Season Ever

Be smart about running your business 

Yes, you need to continue to run your business during the holidays, but scale back when possible. Commit to specific projects or tasks and focus on completing them within specified time periods. Don’t try to double your growth or take on herculean tasks — especially at this time of year. It’s OK to focus on outside interests and not obsess about your business once in awhile. You may even find that it will make you a better business owner, boss and person.

I’ve been busy this week finishing tasks and meeting deadlines in addition to handling a normal workload. However, I haven’t started new projects or worried about tackling to-dos that can easily be moved to next week, so I can enjoy the wonders of the season.

Time to set limits: Business owners suffer tech overload

Set boundaries and let others know about them

Are you working limited hours throughout the season or on specific days? Let clients and prospective customers know up front, and work with them to plan accordingly. You may be surprised that others want to enjoy the season too and understand that you’re closing up shop to attend your kids’ concert or preserve your family’s tradition of a special day out together. Remember to update your Facebook page, website or other domains where you list hours of availability.

As a small business owner, you may feel the need to check in, which I understand. You can do that without spending the day glued to your phone or working away in another room while everyone else enjoys the festivities. Don’t spend this magical season watching everyone else reconnect, recharge and have a good time. You’ll enter the new year with a case of the holiday blues instead of relaxed, rested and ready to go.

How do you balance your business and life during the holiday season?
What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Enjoy the magic and wonder of the holiday season!

Happy Hanukkah * Merry Christmas * Happy Boxing Day * Happy Kwanzaa

CCC’s Head Elf,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your holiday traditions, marketing needs or otherwise):
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5 Cool Gift Ideas for Creative Professionals

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! While some people stress over gift-giving, we enjoy the process of finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. (It even sharpens our marketing skills!)

Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0

Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/2gWkJS8

If you’re buying for a creative professional, check out our ideas for the mad men or women in your life.

Moleskine Notebooks
Creatives love notebooks, and these are the cream of the crop. Of course you don’t have to buy Moleskine, but they do offer special, themed and creativity styles along with personalization. Looking to splurge? Consider the Smart Writing Set.

Starbucks (or enter favorite coffee shop here) Gift Card
Coffee shops are a second home or office for creatives. There’s just something about the atmosphere that gets the juices flowing. A Starbucks gift card is a charger for a creative and may lead to a breakthrough that changes your recipient’s life. Remember to take some credit if that happens!

Cool Travel Mug / Coffee Mug 
Notice that we said cool. Creative types are typically coffee fans, so they need a cool travel mug when they’re on the go and a traditional mug at home or in the office. Think about your recipient’s tastes — favorite shows, authors, teams, movies — and don’t forget about the aforementioned coffee shop. Pick up some cool swag from your recipient’s favorite coffee shop and include a gift card. Win-win!

Active Lifestyle Accessories 
Maybe it’s the constant brain activity or coffee consumption, but creative types are usually active people. Whether it’s bicycling, running, hiking or globe-trotting, your recipient probably has a favorite active or outdoor activity. Whatever it is, there’s plenty of equipment and accessories that fit in a variety of budgets.

Bring the Juice
If coffee shops are chargers for creatives, then they’ll need plenty of battery power for their electronics. Mobile chargers are a must for creative professionals, because they’re always on the move and take their gadgets with them. Keep their specific needs and tastes in mind (along with your budget), and find the item that’s perfect for the creative guy or gal in your life.

Bonus: Vacation
If you really want to splurge, every creative professional we know would love a vacation! It doesn’t have to be grand; book a night at a nice hotel or a quick weekend getaway. Give a break from the routine with an experience your recipient will always remember — a spa day, sky diving adventure, swimming with sharks expedition or a trip to your recipient’s favorite author’s museum or hometown.

What ideas would you add?

Do you enjoy the gift-giving process or does it stress you out?

p.s. If you’re still stuck on what to buy the creative person in your life, let us know. We’d be happy to help you out with some suggestions — no strings attached!

p.s.s. Is your creative professional overwhelmed with work? Perhaps our marketing, writing or social media services would help. We do offer gift certificates!

CCC’s CCO (Chief Creative Officer),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about gifts for creatives, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Inbound & Down: Certified to Help Clients Achieve Success

What a week! Between working the polls and planning a conference, we managed to renew our Inbound marketing certification for another year. As an Inbound Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.

Inbound Certified_CCC_Jaime Shine

What’s Inbound marketing? We’re glad you asked. Check out the blog post we wrote last year showcasing this new way of thinking in action, how it works and how it can help your brand. The basics are the same, but new ideas and research continue to come along. That’s why we wanted to make sure we’re up-to-date and can offer your business the best ways to succeed in our crowded, fast-paced world.

If you’re struggling to reach your target audience, let’s talk about your buyer personas. Who are they? Do you know their pain points and biggest challenges? What stage are they at in the Buyer’s Journey?

We would love to help you attract visitors, convert them into leads, close sales with customers and delight them into promoters. Learn more about how inbound marketing works, and then contact us so we can help you achieve success.

Cheers!

p.s. Interested in becoming Inbound Certified? Learn more about the course, certification and who it can help.

Still officially certified,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Inbound, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Does Your Small Business Have a Contingency Plan?

In preparation of the 2016 election, I recently attended my second year of Precinct Election Official (PEO) training by the local Board of Elections (BOE). In addition to keeping up with new developments, it’s helpful to review the massive amounts of information prior to each election.

What are the massive amounts of information? In addition to job duties and how machines work — contingency plans. The BOE has contingency plans for nearly any situation. Does your small business have contingency plans?

Does your small business have a contingency plan?

Why does your small business need a contingency plan?

  • You lose your largest client. Will you be able to stay afloat while you work to bring in new customers? Or is your business spread out enough to absorb such a hit?
  • Your niche market runs dry. Some markets are more volatile than others, but this could happen to nearly any industry or vertical market. (For example, look at how hard the Great Recession hit the construction industry.) It’s always a good idea to diversify your clientele enough to withstand market fluctuations.
  • You experience a medical emergency or illness. Nearly 80% of small businesses are self-employed individuals. (NASE) Will your small business be able to run without you? For how long? Do you have an exit plan?
  • Your area is hit with a natural disaster or extended power outage. Would you be able to continue to serve your clients? Is your business included in your emergency preparedness kit/plans?
  • You see an unexpected opportunity in the marketplace. How quickly can you add a product or service? Perhaps you’re seeing a decrease in demand for one of your key products or services. Can you switch your focus while still staying true to your brand? Agility is a valuable asset in the small business world.

Related Reading: 4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

You need to be prepared to handle unexpected obstacles in your business, from marketplace changes to health issues. While none of us can be prepared for everything, having a contingency plan for your small business will ensure a smoother ride when you encounter a future roadblock — or  a black hole.

Your Turn

What other situations should your small business be prepared for?

Have you switched the focus of your small business or changed businesses?

What other advice would you give to small business owners regarding contingency plans?

Still a scout at heart,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about contingency plans, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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2016 Olympic Marketing Game Winners

So many athletes won big at this year’s Olympics, delivering their best performances on the world’s biggest stage. Who won the 2016 Olympic Marketing Games?

Gold

Under Armour, Rule Yourself 

This popular brand has done the best job of taking advantage of changes to Rule 40. It submitted a marketing plan in accordance with the (slightly) relaxed restrictions and advertised its sponsorship of Michael Phelps and other athletes without ever using Olympic intellectual property (IP), which isn’t allowed by non-sponsors. This video alone is nearing 11,000,000 views, has been shared over 68,000 times and has an average watch duration of 1:21 (for a 1:31 video). The best part? Under Armour’s Olympic marketing efforts are part of a larger overall campaign, so the brand receives an A+ for cohesiveness.

Olympic Marketing: A Balancing Act for Brands

Silver

Visa, The Swim

While The Carpool to Rio was an impressive spot, Visa grabbed our attention with its nod to refugee Yusra Mardini’s incredible journey to becoming an Olympian. As an official sponsor, the company has a heavy presence leading up to and during the Games, and this year was no different. This video alone racked up nearly 5,000,000 views, 715 shares and an average view duration of 29 seconds for a 30-second spot.

Super Bowl 50: Winners & Losers on the Big Stage

Bronze

Mini USA, Defy Labels

This spot initially caught our eye on TV, and we love the message behind it. We’ve all been labeled in our lives, oftentimes unfairly or based on stereotypes. It also fits in with the company’s product line, which defies expectations based on its size. Mini USA is an official Olympic sponsor, so the company can use Olympic IP throughout its campaign. The TV spot had a 98.12% average view rate (top 5 overall), and this video (one of a series) has captured nearly 18,500 views and 847 shares.

Now that we’ve handed out our medals, let us know your Olympic Marketing Champions. Which ads or overall campaigns caught your attention?

An Olympics (& marketing) fan,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about the Olympics, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Olympic Marketing: A Balancing Act for Brands

The Olympics are an opportunity of a lifetime, not only for athletes but for marketers too. Unfortunately, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare for brands who aren’t official Olympic sponsors.

How Startups and Small Businesses Can Achieve Olympic Glory

In 2012, we talked about the limitations of companies who weren’t official sponsors (rumored to cost upward of $25 million) to benefit from the Olympics in any capacity.

“Athletes were barred from tweeting about non-official sponsors, and non-sponsors were not allowed to feature Olympic athletes that they had sponsorship deals with in ads.”  –Adweek

Heading into the 2016 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made changes to Rule 40, which the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) adopted. These revisions allow non-official sponsors to endorse Olympic athletes and run ad campaigns featuring them while also allowing athletes to tweet about non-official sponsors.

There are rules to these more relaxed revisions, of course. Brands and athletes had to submit waivers to the USOC by January 27, 2016, to have their marketing and social media campaigns approved, and ads had to begin running before March 27, 2016. Also, non-sponsor brands and athletes promoting them are not allowed to use Olympic intellectual property (IP), which includes the Olympic rings and terms such as Olympics, Rio 2016 and gold.

How the Olympics’ New Advertising Rules Will Impact Athletes and Brands in Rio

How can your small business or startup achieve Olympic glory?

  • Throw an Olympic watch party that ties in your products or services. Invite clients, customers, prospects and employees to join in the fun (and share their good times on social).
  • Reference the Olympic spirit or other aspects of the games in your social media content without using Olympic IP, which includes official hashtags. (Under Armour has done a great job in this area!)
  • Announce a customer loyalty program to capitalize on the excitement of the games and create momentum for a strong second half.
  • Hold internal competitions for employees, physical and/or job-related, complete with decorations, cool prizes and food. Competitors have to eat, right? 🙂

Olympic Feedback

What are your thoughts on Rule 40: too strict, too relaxed or just right?

Should brands who are not official sponsors be able to use Olympic IP, including hashtags?

Will these restrictions impact future Olympic sponsorship deals?

What other ways can small businesses and startups get in on the Olympic spirit?

An Olympics fan,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about the Olympics, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Things That Social Media Can’t (or Shouldn’t) Do

The power of social media is impressive, but it can’t (or shouldn’t) do everything for your company or brand. Other areas need to carry their own weight too.

4 Things That Social Media Can't (or Shouldn't) Do

Here are four things that social media can’t do for your brand:

  • Fix a bad product — Product is king, at least in the sense that any advertising or marketing can’t fix a faulty product. Social media makes it even more important to provide quality products and services. Now customers have a forum to provide real-time feedback on their purchase, which potential customers around your community and the world can see. If you’re consistently receiving negative feedback on your social media channels, don’t try to cover it up. Fix the problem (i.e. the faulty product or service), and your social media conversations will be a lot more pleasant.
  • Replace a website — Social media helps level the playing field and opens up a world of opportunity to startups and small businesses. That doesn’t mean that it should be your only digital presence. A user-friendly, mobile-optimized website should be your first priority. Think of your online presence as a wheel. Your website should be the center with your social presences branching out from it. Your website is owned space whereas you’re renting your Facebook Page and other social spaces.

Related Reading: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Provide all of your website traffic — A well-built, easy-to-navigate website optimized for search engines is a win-win situation for your business. It draws traffic through search, even when you’re not working, and provides a welcoming place for prospects and customers to learn more about you online. While social is a great way to drive traffic, it can’t be expected to make up for a poorly performing website.
  • Be your entire marketing mix — Social media is a type of marketing, but it shouldn’t comprise your entire marketing mix. Depending on what you do, there are a number of excellent marketing opportunities, including on a limited budget. While so many people are on social media today, you’ll still miss potential customers by limiting yourself to social media marketing only. Know where your target audience spends its time to understand where you should be spending your marketing dollars.

Related Reading: 4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

We love social media and encourage brands to utilize this powerful tool. However, there’s a whole world out there, so don’t miss out on opportunities because you’re only getting social on social — and not anywhere else.

What else shouldn’t you expect social media to do for your brand or company?

What are your favorite marketing mediums besides social media?

Getting social online and off,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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