Share the Luck of the Irish with Your Clients & Employees

Whatever your background, we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick's Day revelers enjoy the celebration

St. Patrick’s Day by Courtney Collison via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/1QVmT1J

Here’s how to share the spirit of this holiday with your business family:

  • Throw an Irish potluck — Ask employees to bring their favorite Irish-themed foods for a festive event in the office. If you’re throwing a last-minute shindig, order in from your favorite Irish restaurant. Hand out fun promotional items, such as four leaf clover-printed sunglasses, green hats or four leaf clover beads. Remind everyone to wear green and punctuate the event with some fun Irish music (or March Madness)!
  • Enjoy March Madness during a St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour — Invite your employees and/or clients to Happy Hour at your favorite local pub. Cheer on your favorite men’s college basketball teams (or the ones you picked on your bracket) with an ice cold Guinness in hand. If you’re feeling lucky, pick up the first round of drinks along with some hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy the camaraderie as you survive the roller coaster ride of the NCAA Tournament!
  • Hold a Luck of the Irish Contest — Invite your clients to participate in a themed contest celebrating this popular holiday. Anyone who places an order receives a mystery discount or gift. You can hold the contest digitally with a well-designed landing page, email marketing and social media promotion. Take the contest offline with direct mail, scratch off tickets and in-person visits. Don’t forget to create a hashtag and encourage clients to post their winning tickets on social!
  • Bring the Irish Spirit into Your Office — Encourage employees to wear green along with festive accessories. Reward the most festive, creative and other categories of your choice with gift certificates to your local pub, lunch delivered in the office or a day (or afternoon) off. Throughout the day, highlight your festivities on social media so fans can get to know the faces behind the scenes and see your fun culture.

St. Patrick’s Day 2016: How the World Will Celebrate From Dublin to Tokyo

However you decide to celebrate, have fun! May the Luck of the Irish be with you and your business always.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about green beer, holiday marketing or otherwise):
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3 Simple Marketing Tips For Your Next Product Launch

Are you planning a product launch? How is your marketing plan looking? If you’re looking for some tips, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve helped startups launch new products over the years, and today I’m going to share three of the most successful methods I’ve seen.

Deadly Sins (Snowglobes), Pure Products USA by See-Ming Lee via CC BY-SA 2.0

Focus on your core

Just for a second, I want you to think about your general fitness and strength. If you are a little out of shape, what’s the one thing you can do to improve it? Strengthening your core is the perfect start, because it affects nearly every other part of your body.

Now let’s apply that analogy to your business. You have to focus on your core audience when planning your new product launch. Talk to them — and only them — in a way which they can relate. Your target audience(s) will give your product launch the momentum it needs to succeed. After the initial excitement, the rest will come to you easier, and you’ll see more sales.

Organize an event

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a physical product or a service; a launch event can give you the initial boost that you need. Get in touch with your state or city business department and find out if there are any empty premises available.

Look for something striking, perhaps with exposed brickwork or beautiful features. Contact your local steel suppliers to find surplus floor plates for a modern, urban look. They’re good for safety, look fantastic, and can lead people straight into your main sales area. Let the local press know, and invite all your friends, family, and social networks.

Hire a local DJ to set the mood, and a caterer to provide hors d’oeuvres. It’s amazing what a little music and food can do for an event! The bigger buzz you create for your event, the bigger buzz there will be about your product. A launch night is all about adding that extra bit of pizzazz.

Make people an offer they can’t refuse

My final suggestion is to entice people to take action. You should be doing this as early as possible in the process. Advertise your product online, and let people know when they can expect to see it.

Encourage them to sign up by offering them a better deal — 25% off for example — if they give you their email address. Keep in touch with them and offer early access to anyone that wants it. Or you could give away early or exclusive access as a prize to help drum up even more excitement ahead of your launch. Early adopters are always eager to try new products and spread the word to their social circles.

As you get closer to launch day, ramp up their interest with more frequent emails. Don’t overdo it, though. When the big day arrives, relax and enjoy the culmination of your efforts. Best of luck with your new launches, and let us know how your big day goes!

What tip(s) would you add for a successful product launch?

What has been your favorite product launch to date (by you or another brand)?

p.s. Are you planning on launching a new product or service? Let’s discuss a plan to make your big day a success!

Thinking BIG,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about product launches, marketing your services or otherwise):
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6 Things All Businesses Should Do Over Christmas

It’s that time! The Holiday selling season is upon us…

Christmas is a stressful time for both businesses and customers. Businesses worry about losing customers during this hectic season, and customers worry about getting everything done on their lengthy to-do lists. Sure, some businesses will pick up customers as everybody is in a mad rush to buy presents. However, others can lose out to companies with better marketing strategies if they’re not on the ball.

Here are things all businesses should do over Christmas:

Offer A Discount

You might not think that offering a discount is a smart move over Christmas. After all, you have the potential to make a lot more money here. However, there’s nothing really stopping a customer from heading to a competitor for their needs. If you offer a discount, you’re giving them an incentive to continue coming to you. You could even offer the discount exclusively to loyal customers to show them you care.

Send Free Gifts

Why not get in the Christmas spirit and send your customers free gifts? You could send them a free thank you gift off your own back, or send them a free gift with their order, whatever you feel most suitable. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas themed gift to be effective. You could even make it a sample version of one of your products, or a voucher to use against a service you offer.

Run Competitions

Run competitions over Christmas to get people interested in your business. You can do this both offline and online, or one or the other. Do it wherever you feel you’ll get the most response. Holding competitions online can really help you to expand your reach and exposure. People love the opportunity to win stuff, so create a fun Christmas competition for them to get involved with.

Send Cards to Customers

Sending cards to your customers both old and new shows them that you value them. It also helps to keep you in the forefront of their minds, so that they don’t completely forget about you at this time of year. The most effective way to do it is to send business ecards. Then you can send a discount along with the card and monitor your efforts too. You’ll be able to see exactly how many people interact with your ecard, and it’s more eco-friendly!

Create Christmas Landing Pages for Your Site

Creating Christmas landing pages on your site shows that you keep it up to date. A page like this will be more engaging to Christmas shoppers. People start Christmas shopping as early as September these days, so don’t waste any time!

Promote on Social Media

Don’t forget to use social media to promote your Christmas offers and engage with shoppers. Don’t shove your offers down their throats, but make sure your online marketing strategy is on point.

All businesses should make sure they do these things over Christmas. If you do, you’ll increase your revenue and be much more successful in retaining your clients (and even adding new ones). Make sure your marketing is in the Christmas spirit, and you’ll have a great start to the New Year!

Holiday Marketing Feedback

Are you looking forward to the Holidays?

How early do you start your Holiday selling (or shopping) season?

Do you prefer printed cards or ecards?

Happy Holiday selling,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Holiday marketing, the magic of Christmas or otherwise):
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How Chipotle Sold Sofritas to a Nation of Meat Lovers

A Sofritas burrito from Chipotle

Who can sell braised tofu to a nation of meat lovers? Chipotle can.

The fast casual Mexican food chain introduced Sofritas last year in select markets but faced a serious problem, at least in the US. Americans eat meat — and a lot of it. Who wants some tasty braised tofu?

So Chipotle got creative and came up with the perfect promotion. The company was so sure that people would love Sofritas that it offered you a free meal if you’d try the strange, new menu item. Come in on Monday, January 26th, order Sofritas and receive a free entree of your choice.

Why was this promotion so genius?

  • Serious sales spike: In order to get your free entree, you had to try Sofritas on January 26th. Not only did the restaurant chain enjoy a serious sales spike, it drove traffic through its doors on a traditionally slow day for restaurants — Monday.
  • Easy (but not too easy) redemption: All you had to do to receive your free entree was bring back your receipt, beginning the next day. Easy enough, but I’m sure a lot of people failed to return to collect their freebie, so Chipotle saved some major change.*
  • Spread out the hit: You could redeem your free entree beginning the next day, January 27th, through February 28th, so you had an entire month to cash in. Also, Chipotle spread out its financial hit over a full month instead of losing massive sales in one day.
  • Target the right audience: Why didn’t Chipotle just offer free Sofritas on one day? For all the reasons mentioned above AND who the company was trying to attract. The restaurant chain wanted loyal customers to try a new menu item, casual customers to find a new favorite — and come more often — and new customers to add Chipotle to their restaurant rotation. In other words, people who would continue to give the company business and more than pay for the free meal — not people simply looking for free food.
  • Strong social sharing: How did I find out about this promotion? The same way most did — through social media. Friends like to notify their friends of new opportunities and good deals, so this promotion spread like crazy. Chipotle enjoyed strong digital sentiment and online community growth.

The result? A huge success! The promotion drew so many takers that some restaurants ran out of Sofritas, which did generate a small amount of negative social reaction. (Remember, a ‘good problem’ to have is still a problem.) However, the majority of people who ventured out and tried Sofritas actually liked them. Imagine that!

When you face the daunting challenge of introducing a new product or concept to your audience, remember how Chipotle sold vegan fare to a nation of meat lovers — and they loved it.

Chime In on Chipotle, Tofu, Promotions & More

Did you try Sofritas on January 26, 2015?

If so, did you return to redeem your free entree?

Have you had Sofritas again?

How have you encouraged a skeptical audience to try a new product or service?

*Only 6.6% of on-receipt coupons were redeemed in 2012, per Inmar 2014 Coupon Trends.

An almost pescatarian,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on successful promotions, a new project or otherwise):
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3 Ways To Embrace the March Madness Spirit For Your Business

Two games in, and my bracket’s already busted. Oh hey, welcome to the CCC blog. I’m trying to sneak in some work today around the NCAA Men’s Tournament games. Sound familiar?

March Madness brings excitement!

Fans storm the court as Kent State beats rival Akron for the MAC East crown.

March Madness. As a basketball fan, sports junkie or gambler, you love it. As a business owner or manager, you may hate it. How do you make the most of this productivity black hole?

  1. Embrace the excitement. Approximately 40 million Americans will fill out more than 70 million brackets in 2015.* If you try to keep it out of the office, you’re missing out on the excitement it creates. Have an office pool, and encourage employees to display their brackets with pride. Have a “Tip-Off” party to commemorate the start of the tournament, complete with a basketball day luncheon of hot dogs or coneys, chips, nachos, other finger foods and all the trimmings.
  2. Bring the competition into your business. Hold contests for your various departments (most sales, most billings processed, highest amount of collections, etc.), and utilize the bracket format. Who’s going to #SurviveandAdvance to the next round? Recognize round winners, underdogs succeeding, MVPs, and of course, overall winners. Give meaningful prizes, such as a day off, lunch at a nice restaurant or coveted branded swag.
  3. Create a winning atmosphere. Beyond just displaying their brackets, encourage employees (or departments) to decorate their workspaces. Team paraphernalia, #1 foam hands and motivational sayings are all great ways to get in the spirit. If possible, allow employees to dress the part with their favorite team apparel. Allowing dress down days during a fun event doesn’t cost you anything but is appreciated by employees. Take your efforts one step farther by handing out basketball-themed promotional items complete with your brand. Branded water bottles, basketball stress relievers and rally towels are fun items that recipients can continue to use long after March Madness is gone. Offer higher end items, such as a tone-on-tone embroidered pullover, to contest winners.

Embracing the spirit of March Madness is a win-win. Your employees are happy yet still productive, and you end up on the right end of the final score.

Related reading: Sports & Leisure: Scoring Points & Creating Fans

Fan Feedback

How has your company embraced March Madness?

Who do you have cutting down the nets on your bracket?

Who’s your favorite college basketball team?

p.s. If you need any marketing, writing or social media help while you’re enjoying March Madness, we’ll be your biggest fan!

*Statistics courtesy of the American Gaming Association and GfK Custom Research North America

CCC’s head coach,
Jaime

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Wristbands: Carrying Your Message for Miles (and Years)

When the Livestrong Foundation (formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation) launched the iconic yellow silicone wristband in 2004 as a fundraising initiative, I hoped it would raise some money for a worthy cause. I had no idea that it would catch on across the country — and around the world — as one of the hottest promotional products around. To date, over 80 million Livestrong bands have been sold, inspiring countless other charitable organizations, companies and brands to share their message in this popular manner.

silicone wristbands

Silicone wristbands are so popular even Elvis has his eye on them.

 Like so many others, I thought this trend would never last. Who would want to wear these promotional wristbands? Nearly everyone, it turns out. From young to old and red to blue, people of all ages, nationalities, genders, political beliefs and lifestyles want to rock a wristband. That’s one of many reasons the silicone wristband is here to stay. Ten years later, this staple promotional product is produced in a plethora of colors promoting metro parks to marathons and everything in between.

If you’re interested in promoting your company or brand with a reminder around the wrist, keep the following variables in mind:

  • decoration method
  • imprint location
  • imprint colors
  • band sizes
  • band colors
  • packaging options
  • quantity
  • in-hands date

All of these factors can affect your pricing, and different options make sense for different objectives.

In addition to exposure, silicone wristbands are also helpful at events. Hand them out to attendees at concerts, conferences and sporting events to easily identify who should be admitted and who shouldn’t. They’re durable, easily spotted and can be kept long after the event for continued exposure and as a keepsake.

Whatever your message is, it’ll go far on a silicone wristband.

Weigh In

What silicone wristbands are in your collection?

Are you surprised at this product’s staying power or did you think it would be a hit?

When did you get your first silicone wristband?

Have you promoted your brand, company, cause, organization or event with one?

Rockin’ the wristband,
Jaime

We don’t have wristbands, but we do have social networks. Connect with CCC!
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Special Offers: Are You Engaging Customers or Just Irritating Them?

It’s that time of year! During the Holiday shopping season, companies love to entice deal-hungry consumers with special offers to grab their share of the pie.

Facebook page offers. Mobile discount codes. Coupons, special discounts or gift cards with purchases.

These promotions can be a great way to interact with fans and create ambassadors for your brand. Or you can turn off regular customers, who will instead share their negative experiences. It all depends on implementation.

Implementation? Unfortunately, this extremely important part of the marketing process often doesn’t come up in the marketing department while great ideas are being kicked around. How will your customers redeem your special offer? Will you make it easy or painful? Implementation can be the difference between your customers returning or moving on to your competitors.

Facebook Offers

Has your company experimented with Facebook offers? Have you claimed any?

Case Study 1     (Created Friction)

For example, a major retailer offered a $10 gift card if you spent $50 in the store during a 3-day span via its Facebook page. What a fun idea! Engage your customers on social media and encourage them to purchase now. Upon redeeming the offer on Facebook, I received an email to show the cashier in the store. When I checked out, I noticed that the offer didn’t automatically ring up once I eclipsed the amount needed as it has with past promotions. While showing the cashier the offer email (which she was not aware of at all), we noted that no bar code or special code was included.

The cashier had no idea how to ring up the gift card in the system and actually mentioned the email might be spam. Once I assured her that it was a valid offer from the company’s Facebook page, she directed me to the customer service desk. The two ladies there were actually aware of the offer but neither knew how to ring it up either. Finally, they offered to refund me $10 from my purchase, which I appreciated.


Case Study 2     (Created Friction)

Another leading retailer came up with the novel concept of distributing small Holiday-themed pins in its stores. Customers could pick up these pins at checkout or even stop in to pick some up without a purchase. They had fun designs, and some people really enjoy collecting little keepsakes  (or giving them to others). Each pin had a code on the back, which you had to enter at a website to see what you had won. Prizes ranged, but many were small gift certificates in the $5 – 10 range. After unveiling what you had won, your prizes (i.e. gift certificates) were emailed to you. There was fine print, of course, including that the certificates could not be combined on one order.

Of course, some people ended up collecting several pins and amassing a number of small gift certificates. When they came to the store to shop, they wanted to use all of their certificates, of course. In order to do that, many people had to pay for most of their items as separate orders. Picture this: a retail establishment already busy with the Holiday shopping crowd further slowed with customers checking out 5, 10 or even 20 times a piece.

While I love the pin idea, did anyone think through implementation? Maybe they did and didn’t think the long lines and slow checkout process would deter customers. But of course there were several impatient (and unhappy) customers around, some who would undoubtedly share their experience with friends, family and social networks. Add to this scenario a mobile code discount that the associates weren’t aware of how to ring up, and I’m sure you can picture the scene.


Case Study 3
     (Nice & Easy)

This fall, Starbucks offered a LivingSocial deal to purchase a $10 e-card for only $5. Being an avid espresso fan, I bought. Not only did I receive a deal, I was also introduced to Starbucks’ e-gift cards (yes, I’m a little behind on these things). How convenient to just scan my phone when paying and having the amount automatically updated. After registering the card, I receive rewards on my purchases using it and can easily reload with two clicks (or set up automatic reloading).

This offer was easy to redeem, saves Starbucks money (no physical gift cards to print) and saves me the hassle of remembering where I put the gift card. I’ve now downloaded the Starbucks app and regularly reload my card in order to earn rewards. All from a harmless little LivingSocial deal…

Takeaway

I highlighted these three situations because they are fresh and relevant. The first two companies eventually made good on their offers, so I’m not looking to badmouth either of them (hence no company names). The point is that implementation is a key part of any marketing offer, special promotion or customer engagement strategy and can be the difference in success or failure.

The more friction that you create at customer touch points, the more you encourage them to take their business elsewhere.

What’s your take? 

Is a specific experience redeeming a special offer memorable to you (either good or bad)?

Do you take advantage of these types of offers? Why or why not?

Are there any specific types of offers that are more enticing to you?

Finally, what successful promotions have your company run? What are some tips that you’ve learned along the way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, so we can further discuss the role that implementation plays in special offers. Thanks for stopping by!

Image credit: Entrepreneur
Stay warm! (If you live in a warm weather year ’round locale, then bah humbug. Ha!)

Jaime

Technology: It’s Not Just For Trekkies Anymore

Trekkies!

The Original Series Trekkies at BayCon 2003
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Technology has permeated all aspects of society from the workplace to how we order pizza. (If you’re still phoning in your orders for the popular pies, get with the program.) You probably utilize technology throughout your daily routine and don’t even realize it. Why? Because it works. You don’t have to understand why it works or how it works as long as it does. You may not realize just how plugged in you are until there’s an interruption (like last weekend’s storms / power outages).

The uninterrupted access provided by technology offers us increased flexibility – in how we work and how we live. You’re no longer tied to an office to get work done; smart phones, laptops and wireless technology allow us to log in from virtually anywhere.

Because of this virtual landscape, technology items cross over from work to play effortlessly, resulting in increased usage and visibility.

When you promote your business with a branded technology item, it will be seen – again and again – lowering the cost per impression (CPI) to a miniscule amount. When recipients use – and like – the item you gave them, they recommend it to others and associate your company with that good feeling. Who should I go to when I need a service? Oh, there’s XYZ company on my USB drive.

Also driving exposure and CPI is technology’s lengthy shelf life, so to speak. Yes, it’s constantly evolving, but items don’t quickly become obsolete.

Remember when everyone thought we would be driving flying cars by now?

New features are introduced and items are redesigned, but at the end of the day, it’s still a digital photo frame. It’s still practical, stylish and occupies prime desktop real estate.

Think technology is out of reach on your budget? With the continued evolution, prices become more and more competitive.

Remember IBM’s first USB drives debuting at $50 for 8MB of storage? Your dollar will go a little further these days.

And don’t discount accessories. The technology arena has expanded to include embellishments that make your life even easier, protect your gadgets or just make them look cool.

The important thing to remember about technology is that it’s ingrained in every aspect of life for most of us. So when you delve into this popular category, you extend your reach into places your company could boldly never go before.

Cheers,
Jaime

Sports & Leisure: Scoring Points and Creating Fans

sports fans

Fun times at the Kentucky Derby!

It’s no surprise that fan is the root of fanatic. People are passionate about their sports teams, so why not make your brand an integral part? From game day giveaways to local team tie-ins, you can elicit as much passion about your company as the home team.

Becoming a part of game day is a great way to get involved with the local community. Brand popular giveaways, such as noisemakers, signs, stadium cups or lanyards, to hand out at the gate or pre-game tailgating events. Help fans become the 12th man by giving away branded rally towels or shirts to create a ‘black-out’ effect – a sea of black across the stands (or use any team color). Shoot t-shirts with your company’s message into the stands during stops in the action to keep the passion and energy high.

Not going to the game? Bring the excitement into the office. Make your employees the MVPs of a celebration honoring the local sports team or a season kickoff, complete with branded giveaways and merchandise. Pair this special day with a cook-off or potluck to foster team spirit and company pride within your organization. Reward winners or all participants with prizes to acknowledge their efforts. Giving branded merchandise to employees that they’ll use outside of work is an unobtrusive way to spread your message and potentially generate new business.

Don’t limit creating fans of your company to the field or the office. Branching out into leisure time activities is an easy way to build rapport with potential customers, who are everywhere – shopping at stores, strolling parks, attending community festivals, etc. Sponsor teams or leagues, donate branded giveaways for fairs or partner with fellow local companies to create programs that will benefit the community and generate goodwill about your company at the same time. For example, a casual healthy eating restaurant could partner with a fitness center to promote healthy living. Both companies promote the program (and each other) by offering discounted products and services (15% off a fitness center registration with a receipt from the restaurant), helpful information (healthy living tips) and rewards to encourage participation (a free ‘healthy eating set’ after working out at the fitness center 10 times). Not only does partnering with other companies help promote your organization, it can also help with advertising costs. Split the cost of co-branded merchandise, so it’s a winning situation for both companies and the community.

Don’t forget the face paint…

Jaime