The Bizz by AnyPromo.com

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Advertisers Beware: 2013 Is the Worst Year in Traditional TV’s History


The past 12 months have made up the worst year in traditional TV’s history. Advertisers need to be wary of TV as a primary marketing channel, and may need to invest in other marketing channels to reach younger crowds.


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by Fausto Mendez / graph & data by The Atlantic, Quartz (Ritchie King), Moffett Research, Netflix

    If you’re a young person in America, the likelihood that you’ll ever sign up (or continue paying) for a traditional TV subscription, such as Cable, is at an all-time low since TV blew up as a staple in American culture. The total number of cable subscriptions continue to free fall off the charts, and satellite and telecom service providers can’t attract new customers fast enough to counter Cable’s fall. It looks like the trends will only get stronger over time, but your TV shows aren’t in peril.

    Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes will take care of your shows (and even produce new shows and/or episodes) as TV producers, directors, writers and actors take to the Web as a primary, first-rate broadcasting channel. Actually, it’s the TV networks that have a lot to worry about. Their cash cow, the TV commercial, is losing value fast, and other marketing channels are eating up all the left-over profit.

   Suddenly, companies with innovative and incredibly sophisticated targeting techniques, like Google and AdRoll, are moving in on TV’s territory while historically stable marketing channels, like promotional giveaways, trade shows, direct mail/email, and billboards, remain strong.

    Furthermore, mainstream social networks tout massive audiences that dwarf those of even the biggest TV networks, and it’s easier than ever to accurately target your audience on these networks, ensuring that you don’t pay for irrelevant impressions or clicks. Topical blog sites also do a great job of attracting smaller niche audiences of the Web, and many of those sites employ creative advertising teams that partner with businesses to build and serve relevant ads to their audiences.

Ditching Traditional TV in My 20s 

    In my own experience of 27 years on this planet, I ditched cable on my way to college. I was an avid TV fan growing up in my parents’ home with Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, The X-Files and much more. Sadly, I would often construct my daily schedule around my favorite shows and not the other way around. Clearly, that’s not how life should be. TV should adjust to my schedule. 

     As a college student with robust university-grade Wi-Fi, I discovered a beautiful truth. The Web and a-la-carte methods, such as Netflix DVD subscriptions, are more liberating and satisfying ways of watching TV. The best part is that it costs much less than cable or satellite.

    No, scratch that. The best part is I’m no longer forced to sit through long stretches of ads in between cliffhangers of my favorite shows. 

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the occasional commercial as long as it’s relevant to me, but I can’t stand a long stream of irrelevant commercials every seven to ten minutes. Neither can my peers.

    For example, if I was ever in the mood for Saturday morning cartoons during a weekend study session, Cable would force me to sit through tons of relentless ads for too-sugary cereals, poorly-designed action figures, and make-your-own jewelry kits. As a 19-year-old male, these ads would be wasted on me, but no matter what I watch on the Web, the shows either come ad free or only slightly interrupted with very relevant ads.

    As a result, TV’s fatal flaw is that it can’t segments audiences very well, and TV networks are way too greedy, steadily and stealthily increasing total ad-broadcasting time throughout the history of TV. Marketers, be careful of your strategy on TV; depending on your audience, the marketing channel could turn into a huge waste of money for your business. If your goal is to reach folks under 40, your best bet is probably not TV.


    Join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh, non-stop marketing advice, and insightful business analysis - plus: free fonts, easy-lunch recipes and more. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Creative Advertising Gone Wild: Print Ads for Toothpaste


Ads are a dime a dozen, but great ads are rare. This week, we profile a recent print/street campaign for Signal Sensitive Toothpaste.


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by agency Lowe

    Signal’s advertising team is on fire with these fascinating print/street ads. If you’ve ever felt the merciless tooth pain from biting into too-cold cold ice cream, the above ad will certainly speak to you. But I’m sure the brand’s target audience has had much more traumatic experiences with their own tooth pain, hence the hilarious contraptions in the ads.

    The ads pull the oldest trick in the book. They force the viewer to relive an unforgettable emotional experience in their lives, which makes the ads much harder to forget. Emotional experiences themselves are hard to forget, so if you can call up a strong emotional experience as the viewer watches your ad, you have a pretty effective campaign on your hands.


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(Source: ibelieveinadv.com)

How to do Better Business: Stellar Graphic Design Caused Massive Boost in Sales of Classic Novel Pride & Prejudice


In marketing, stellar design and great presentation are critical if your goal is to maximize brand awareness and sales, and this point is clearly illustrated with the sales spike in 2009 of the classic, heart-wrenching novel Pride & Prejudice


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by New York

    Design and presentation are often overlooked by too many small businesses because it can be costly (if you don’t know how to manage a graphic designer), and many hard-core, data-driven, business managers don’t believe that good design is worth their time and money. Personal opinions aside, it’s hard to argue with hard data, such as sales numbers. 

    In the above graphic, New York magazine put together an insightful bar graph of total sales of Pride & Prejudice at different points in time. For each point in time, Pride features a unique cover design. As you can see, less-exciting covers, such as the 1993’s text-book-looking Pride failed miserably. 

    However, the recent success of the Twilight novel series prompted Pride’s marketing team to design a cover that features a similar attitude as Twilight's cover. Clearly, Twilight's cover designer has a much better understanding of what moves the genre's target audience. The result was a massive spike in sales after the cover launched in 2009.


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What Scams Should You Watch For When Hiring an SEO Firm?

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By Fausto Mendez

    Finding and hiring a great SEO provider is tough. Some businesses can never find one, and worse, other businesses fall for dirty scams that cheat them out of thousands and thousands of dollars. That’s why you should watch out for the following scams when hiring an SEO firm.

    Our experiences with SEO companies has not been so great. Actually, we’ve never worked with an SEO firm that impressed us with measurable results and a reliable work ethic. As a result, we have enough experience to know what to look for in an SEO company that only offers ineffective services that are only designed to eat up as much of your money as possible.

    Search Engine Journal has a great piece on SEO scams. We summarize SEJ’s list below, and we follow up the list with a few scams that we’ve seen ourselves.

+ Don’t fall for “free” services. There is no such thing as a free SEO service that also works. It’s possible that the company selling you “free” services is stealing your data, your customers’ identities, or learning your trade secrets. In the best case scenario, a free SEO service is just a way for the company to get its foot in your door to sell you more expensive services.

+ Watch out for first-page guarantees. Any company that guarantees first-page rankings is (pardon my French) full of shit. Don’t get me wrong. Getting on the first page is certainly possible, but nobody has the power or skill to achieve first-page rankings so consistently that they can actually guarantee it. Real marketers never make guarantees except to guarantee to do their absolute best.

+ Beware meaningless services attached to big numbers, such as “submitting your site to hundreds or thousands of search engines”. The truth is that there are only a handful of relevant search engines, and it’s not hard to “submit” your site to these search engines. Anyone with a minimal level of skill and knowledge can do it.

+ Don’t believe anyone that says they have connections at Google. I’ve heard this line from every SEO company that we’ve talked to. It’s most likely a lie, and even if it’s true, NDA agreements and fat paychecks prevent Google employees from giving out insider knowledge or favors. 

+ Beware anyone that assumes they know Google’s Search algorithm. No one knows Google’s algorithm very well, not even former employees or even current employees. Google Search is developed and maintained by several sets of teams that specialize in smaller aspects of the engine. There probably is someone in the world that manages these teams and has better insight into the algorithm, but I’m sure that guy is paid far too well to risk getting caught handing over secrets to an SEO company.

+ No one has a secret formula for successful SEO. The information that you need to be a great SEO marketer is freely available to anyone that wants it. Even so, SEO is hard work and requires a lot of daily research. Any company that claims to have a secret formula is playing you for a fool. In SEO, the only secret is that there is no secret. Most successful marketers know what it takes to rank well. The problem is most people don’t want to do the hard work that gets them there. 

    SEJ’s list is great, but it feels somewhat incomplete. Here’s a few scams some companies have tried to sell us before.

+ Never (ever) buy backlinks or use a backlink farm. Google killed this strategy a long time ago, and any website that creates unnatural backlinks in mass is only going to encourage Google to drop the hammer of penalty & pain. 

+ Avoid companies that don’t have experienced and well-trained copywriters on staff. SEO firms that outsource copywriters often outsource really, really bad writers that only write English as a second language. That’s because they don’t have a writer on staff, so there isn’t anyone that recognize great copy. Google is getting much better at recognizing well written (user-friendly) content, and if it finds that you are creating a great user experience for your site visitors, your site should rank better over time. However, bad copywriters may actually hurt your rank.

+ Avoid companies that create tons of low-quality content to help your site rank better. Why? See the above details on bad copywriting. Basically, you don’t want to associate your site with low-quality content.


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WTF, Google? What Does the Search Engine’s Massive “Hummingbird” Update Mean for Me?

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By Fausto Mendez

    Has Google felt a little bit different lately? On the surface, Google may look like the same, reliable search engine, but under the hood, the company just launched a major overhaul of its search algorithm. And it’s already affecting the way you search.

    Google is constantly updating its search algorithms to better serve the public; most updates barely tweak the search engine’s behavior. However, Google’s latest update - dubbed “Hummingbird” - is a major overhaul, and if you’ve used Google.com this week, you’ve already experienced features of the new change. We summarize the update below, the meatier details courtesy of TechCrunch

Presenting a New Focus on Questions & Answers

    Perhaps the most noticeable change is a new focus on questions and answers. Previously, Google Search focused on keywords, but now, Search takes a more intelligent approach to questions. Asking a question results in Google trying to answer it with the most relevant and reliable answers. 

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    Furthermore, an update to Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is a database that attempts to store and relate (connect) all kinds of data from various sources, has made the search engine much more effective at comparing and “understanding” data. For example, you could ask Google to compare the nutritional characteristics of broccoli and asparagus, and it should bring up relevant comparison charts, diagrams, Google+ pages/posts and, of course, good-ol’-fashioned links.

    In my test of this feature, I didn’t get any fancy charts or diagrams next to my search results, which is what is supposed to happen (sometimes) if Google understood your question. Fortunately, the first link on the search results did feature a fancy chart. So it looks like the update made the search results more relevant and useful at the very least, but if you’re hoping for fancy charts by your search results, Knowledge Graph may need to grow and “learn” a little more about veggies.

Over 90% Of Searches Affected by the Update

    During Google’s presentation of the Hummingbird update, the company remained quiet on how it all works, but they did mention that about 90% of global searches would be affected by the change. That’s a big percentage for an algorithm update, and that number is absolutely frightening to search-engine marketers as they may have to make big changes to the way they operate, the clients they work with, and the employees they hire. I’m search-engine marketers will ponder it over one too many drinks this weekend.


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#DIY Gifts & Giveaways: Origami-Heart Notes

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By Fausto Mendez

    If you’re a fan of #DIY crafts for personalized gifts, promotional giveaways and event supplies, you should consider adding a personal touch to your next gift, giveaway or event with gorgeous origami-heart notes. 

    We’re always looking for innovative ways to say “thanks” to special clients that deserve some extra attention, and promotional giveaways are great for that. But nothing says “thanks” like a #DIY gift from the heart. These special origami-heart notes are relatively easy to build, and the graphic below explains it very clearly (even if the instructions are in Chinese). 

    Though they appear to be envelopes, what you are looking at is actually the notes themselves. Even the heart is apart of the note sheet. You would write or print your note on the inside, of course.

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    You’ll need two separate sheets of paper in a square cut for this project. To maximize the marketing effect of this note, you should use a sheet of paper that features your company logo in a tasteful way. You can also add your logo to promotional mints or candy, and attach the mints or candy as a part of the gift. Thanks to Duitang for posting the image.


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How to Get Everyone to Wear Your Promotional Shirt at the Next Trade Show - #MarketingMonday

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By Fausto Mendez

    Trade show giveaways, such as free shirts, are one of the most effective ways to boost brand awareness within your target audience, but the key is making sure your giveaway is not prematurely chucked into a trash can or hidden in a bag. Achieve this effect by designing a marketing campaign around your promotional giveaway instead of just handing out free stuff. 

    Handing out promotional giveaways at trade shows is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. The goal is to turn fans and potential customers into walking billboards for your brand - and also sell to those same swag-wielding folks - but since everyone at the show is handing out promotional items to everyone else, it’s harder than ever to get attendants to use your giveaway in public. 

Giveaways Are Not Marketing Campaigns

    Most trade-show exhibitors assume their free giveaways are their marketing campaigns, but that’s not how you should craft your presence at the show. The giveaway should only be a small component of a larger marketing machine, not the machine itself. Below, I craft an easy example for a video game publisher, but you may need to adjust the details of the plan to better fit your business and audience.

+ It all starts with a brand that other people want. If no one could ever want your brand, no amount of skillful marketing is going to change that. However, if your brand is worthy, you should see great success from this campaign. If you are confident that your brand would sell if people were introduced to it, you are on the right track. For this example, let’s pretend we run the marketing team for a gaming company.

+ You’ll need a low-cost promotional shirt or hat to give away at the trade show. Of course, you’ll add your logo, URL and/or message to the shirt, which is a service provided by a company like AnyPromo.com. You’ll need a lot of shirts, which is why they shouldn’t be expensive, but you don’t want to go so cheap as to encourage folks to prematurely trash your giveaway. If the shirt is of decent quality, fans will wear it long after trade show. For this example, let’s pretend we ordered 2,500 Hanes tees for less than $2.00 each from AnyPromo.com. These shirts brandish our brand logo, game logo, store URL and fashionable artwork.

+ Before you arrive at the trade show, craft a plan that encourages others to actually wear the shirts on the show floor. It is not good enough to simply give the shirts away. One of my favorite ideas is a contest that awards random shirt-wearing attendants at random times throughout the show.

A video-game publisher would bring along a few extra employees to covertly search for shirt-wearing attendants all over the show floor in order to offer them free copies of games. Coupons, gift cards and actual money are also great prizes. The goal of the campaign is the buzz it can produce as fans, potential customers and competitors will certainly discuss the masses of shirt-wearing fans, and once word spreads, you may even find a line at your booth for free shirts. A long line is also one of the best marketing tools your brand can have at a trade show.

+ For the next trade show, you may switch out the shirts for tote bags or another promotional giveaway that appeals to your audience. You don’t want to repeat the same campaign at every show as its effect will wear out if it’s used too often. However, you may decide to pull the same stunt at the same show every year. It could be a fun and memorable tradition that your fans anticipate.   


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Add a 3D Version of Your Logo to Colored Headphones - #NewProducts

By Fausto Mendez

    Your fans are walking billboards; they are your greatest brand ambassadors. Equip them with gear that’ll make everyone around them focus on your company. 

    These custom colored headphones just arrived at our headquarters in Southern California. They feature a 3D version of your logo on the end of the bud, which makes them the perfect advertising tool for your brand. Hand these out to loyal fans to spread awareness of your brand amongst their peers.

    This product is so fresh, it’s not even in our online store as of the time of this writing, but if you are interested in placing an order, just call 877-368-5678 and ask for item #715290. Another option is to send this page’s URL to one of our customer care reps by email, sales@anypromo.com. 

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Finished Work: Custom Rally Towels for Achievers Realty Group

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By Fausto Mendez

    AnyPromo’s design and production teams love to show off their #finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    We proudly salute the Achievers Realty Group with a sizable box of promotional rally towels, screenprinted with an unbeatable red paint that will last as long as the towel itself. We’re happy to serve another fantastic customer, actually a fellow Californian neighbor out of Burlingame.

    We customized these ourselves in Southern California, thanks to our experienced and growing production team. We just updated our warehouse with a variety of new machinery, including “The Spider”, an extra-large screen printing machine that automates for big orders. We just shipped in this bad boy - along with a couple of amazing embroidery machines - to help us meet the increased demand for custom apparel. 

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Southern Comfort’s New Ad Hypnotizes with Bad Karate

By Fausto Mendez

    This liquor brand isn’t known for conforming to traditional advertising techniques, and Southern Comfort’s new TV commercial continues that tradition in same, beautiful, head-scratching fashion. Watch as this faux karate master partakes in “whatever’s comfortable” as he waits for his hair dye to set in at a small hair salon.

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Finished Work: Business Card Display for Time Warner Cable

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By Fausto Mendez

     AnyPromo’s graphic and production teams love to show off their #finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    The production team just finished these beautiful, sleek business-card holders for Time Warner Cable. They shipped out earlier this month to some very happy customers. 

    We engraved these promotional business-card displays in our warehouse in Southern California with extremely precise lasers that even our biggest competitors don’t have (it pays to have exclusive connections to laser manufacturers). In fact, our lasers are so advanced, we can actually engrave letters small enough that they’re unreadable to the naked eye. 

    As you can see, we etched an inspiring message and the customer’s art directly onto the product, and the final result is rather stunning.

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Thank you, Evening Entertainment Group!

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By Fausto Mendez

    AnyPromo customers love to share stories of their shopping experiences with the company and its massive catalog of over 40,000 promotional products, marketing giveaways and event supplies.

    Stephanie Lowe of the Evening Entertainment Group reached out to us in search of high-quality promotional hats that they would like to give away to customers that win online tournaments. We embroidered their logo onto a beautiful baseball cap, and Lowe and her co-workers loved it.

"We love the hats we ordered from you guys. We use them as promotional giveaways for online tournaments, and will also be wearing them when some of the staff goes to the WSOP finals in vegas."

- Stephanie Lowe, The Evening Entertainment Group

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