The Bizz by AnyPromo.com

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

Businesses Are Losing the Right to Ask Customers for Zip Codes? Yes, But It Doesn’t Matter.

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By Fausto Mendez

    It’s expected that businesses make some kind of effort to obtain the personal info - including phone and address - of their customers. That’s why I was surprised to hear that it’s becoming illegal for businesses to ask for customer zip codes in the US. It was even more surprising to me when I learned that this has been illegal in California since 2011.

    Now that I think about it, a business hasn’t asked me for my zip code since my college days. That’s because California considers zip codes to be a critical piece of identifying information, and with just your zip code, they can accurately guess your home address and phone number. Whether you like it or not, it seems that as California goes, so does the rest of the nation. Massachusetts is the next state that’s outlawed the collection of zip codes during customer transactions, and there’s no reason to assume this trend will reverse itself anytime soon. Fortunately for marketers (and unfortunately for consumers), this isn’t a big deal. Consumer information is more available than ever.

    The rise of online marketing and social-media marketing makes these laws irrelevant. Let’s put it this way: if a marketer gains access to your Facebook profile, they probably have a lot more on file than just your zip code, phone number and home address. And by connecting with you on Facebook, they have a much faster and more convenient way of communicating with you than annoying junk mail or telemarketers. 

    As a result, these laws are generally perceived as good for the public, but they won’t protect consumers’ info from prying eyes - at least not in this day and age. The new laws may force marketers to rely on the online world even more, and in the digital realm, it’s much easier to get the same info and a lot more. In the end, these laws only coerce businesses to rely on easier and more effective web-based methods. Though that’s great for the marketing industry, consumers are not receiving any effective protection by the passage of these laws

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

(Source: Business Insider)

Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Cinnamon-Roll Cheesecake #RBFM

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By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Cinnamon-Roll Cheesecake (with Cream-Cheese Frosting).

    What happens when you combine two of the most amazing deserts into one concoction? You get something like a cinnamon-roll-cheesecake absurdity. Though it might shave off a few minutes from your lifespan, it’s worth more than its weight in gold (at least to your taste buds). In an nutshell, it’s a cheesecake stuffed with cinnamon rolls. Delicious.

    Now, let’s get to work. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a 9-inch Springform pan to get started. Next, search your house or the local supermarket for the following ingredients.

Step 0 - Gather Your Ingredients

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+ Cinnamon Roll Batter: 2/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup butter (room temp.), 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt

+ Cinnamon Filling: 3tbsp cinnamon, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter (melted)

+ Cheesecake Filling: 16 oz. cream cheese (room temp.), 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 3 eggs, 2 tbsp flour

Step 1 - Start the Cinnamon Roll Batter

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+ Cream together the butter and sugar. 

+ Add the egg, milk and vanilla to the bown. Beat for a minute or so; scrape down the bowl.

+ Mix in some flour. Throw in some baking powder. Toss in a little bit of salt. Mix at a slow speed until thoroughly combined.

Step 2 - Start the Cinnamon Filling

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+ Grab another bowl. Mix together the melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. 

Step 3 - Start the Cheesecake Filling

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+ Grab a third bow. Fill i up with cream cheese and sugar. Beat it for two minutes at medium-high speed.

+ Crack some eggs. Don’t add them all at the same time. Mix in each egg before you add the next one. Scrape down the bowl.

+ Add vanilla and flour. Beat for minute or so.

Step 4 - Bake Your Cinnamon-Roll Cheesecake

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+ Spread half of the cinnamon-roll batter onto the bottom of the Springform pan. Press it down. Make sure you spray your hands with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking to your hands.

+ Next, add all of the cheesecake batter into the Springform pan.

+ Drop spoonfuls of cinnamon filling over the top of the cheesecake batter. When you’re done with the cinnamon filling, drop spoonfuls of the cinnamon-roll batter over everything.

+ Gently swirl your mess of ingredients together. How much you swirl is up to you, but you don’t want to mix it all together. The goal of the swirl is for all of the different batters and fillings to not be so separated but to leave enough separation so you can experience different textures and flavors with each bite.

+ Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let it cool for 20 minutes at room temperature. Move it to the fridge for 4 hours or so. Take it out and let it warm up back to room temperature.

Step 6 - Now, Let’s Make Some Cream-Cheese Frosting

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+ Beat some cream cheese and butter in a bowl for two minutes or so.

+ Add the other ingredients into the bowl; mix it together until you’re satisfied with the consistency of the frosting. If you feel that your frosting is too thick, thin it out with a splash of milk.

+ Pour the frosting over the top of the cake.

Step 7 - Consume

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+ First, thank Culinary Concoctions for posting the original recipe.

+ This next step is arguably the easiest part of the recipe. You’ll need: a plate, a fork, some friends (or a lover), and either some good music or a few episodes of your favorite TV show. Eat.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Finished Work: Promotional Cutting Boards for Milk Bone

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By Fausto Mendez

    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    Milk Bone® reached out to us for a promotional cutting board this week, and we’re honored to be approached by such a high-profile client. The above image previews the final design. This promotional product features full-color digital printing, so you’re not limited to by color and design. Check out the official product page for more details. Below, you can see a finished version of this cutting for another client.

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    Promotional cutting boards are ideal for office lunch rooms. Visit clients and leads, and offer a promotional cutting board as a gift. It’ll serve as a friendly brand reminder, but it’ll also send the message that you really value this client and its business.

    In the end, you’re only limited by your creativity. The effectiveness of your promotional giveaway is dependent on your plan of approach as much as it depends on the product itself. 

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis.

The Best Way to Deal with Difficult or Mean Clients

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By Fausto Mendez

    Business is business - until it gets personal. Actually, when big money and reputations are on the line, it’s almost always personal. It’s really easy for your clients to step on your toes (or the other way around), but no matter who’s at fault, you need to be ready to deal with moody, rude or emotionally unstable customers in a positive and calm way that moves you closer to your business goals without sacrificing top-tier service.

    Law firms are a perfect example of a business atmosphere that is bursting with emotions. When you’re serving a client that’s on the verge of losing his house, business, freedom or a ton of cash, it’s silly not to expect some frustration to surface in ugly ways - not just from the client but perhaps from yourself too. That’s why the Harvard Business Review's Mark Goulston is sharing the lessons he’s learned as a lawyer who’s served some of the rudest and downright meanest clients in his industry. His entire article is worth a read if you have the time, but we break down his advice to some actionable basics below. His tips can apply to any industry, so take notes. 

+ Start out by preparing yourself for the worst. Don’t expect your clients to respect you. This attitude prevents clients from surprising you with outbursts or insults.

+ If your career requires you to deliver really bad news to clients, it’s best to ask your clients how to approach them with bad news. When the time comes, bring up your previous conversation about how to deliver bad news, recap the client’s advice on delivering bad news, and then deliver the bad news in the way the client recommended.

+ In the event that insults come your way, detach yourself from the insults. It’s much easier said than done, especially when you’re caught off guard, but that’s why your start by preparing for the worst. It’s also important to keep in mind that the client doesn’t really know you as a whole person, so insults, in this case, are just a symptom of frustration. 

+ When shit finally goes down, the client may insult you, yell and maybe even threaten to fire you. Your ego won’t want to take it, and you may be tempted to yell back. Don’t. Just take a deep breath. Look them in the eyes, and pause. Though it’s not acceptable behavior, now would be a good time to remember that circumstances can drive anyone to behave this way.

+ When the insults finally come your way, ask a question that forces the client to examine and repeat what he or she just said, “do you really believe what you just said?” Another great question: “What was that all about?” Chances are that they expect you to fight back, so they won’t know how to respond.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

7 Best April Fools 2013 Pranks by Big Brands

By Fausto Mendez

  April Fools has become a big holiday on the Web, and big brands are taking notice. It’s become an easy and effective way to reach out to target audiences with a fun and entertaining message that isn’t always tied back to a real product, but the message’s marketing power is real and effective. Below is our list of the funniest and most effective April Fools pranks of the year. 

    Though April Fools may not directly boost sales for most brands, it certainly increases brand awareness and makes fans out of otherwise oblivious web users. As usual, Google leads the pack with another absurd product launch.

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    This year, Google launched Google Nose Beta, which enables your Android phone to excrete smells the way a speaker broadcasts sounds to the surrounding area. For example, if you find a picture of a lemon on the Web, you would smell it through your phone (without any additional hardware upgrades). It sounds as magical as any other technology that we use today, but it’s far from a real product.

    Though many companies are working on a version of this for TVs and desktop computers, Google’s implementation is absurd because it would require an expensive hardware upgrade. On Google’s end, it also requires a massive database of smells and a way to associate those smells with media on the Web. Perhaps one day, but not today.

    Google-owned YouTube also pulled its own prank this year. Riding on the Web’s frustration with the the recent shut down of some highly-beloved and popular products, such as Labs and Reader, Google announced that it is officially shutting down YouTube. Actually, YouTube was just a massive contest to find the best user-submitted video, and now, the company is ready to select a winner.

    Twitter also joined in the fun with a new tool, though it’s not known for its April shenanigans. The company announced a web-based that allows users to tweet without vowels, enabling them to broadcast significantly longer messages. It’s not much of a prank because it really does work, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter launched an official version of this tool. 

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    Sony launched Animalia, a new electronics line for pets, including tablets and headphones for dogs/cats and speakers for hamsters.

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    Hulu’s prank should appeal to fans of popular TV shows. The company added a variety of new TV shows to its online offering, but there’s one problem. These shows don’t exist! They only exist within other TV shows. For example, you’ll find Itchy & Scratchy episodes from The Simpsons, Inspector Space Time episodes from Community and Mock Trial with J. Reinhold episodes from Arrested Development.

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    Apparently, the US Army is training cats as soldiers. The caption for the below photo reads, “Gino, military working cat, 947th Police Detachment, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), takes his class photo after graduating from the military working cat program.”

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    Rounding out our list, Virgin Atlantic announced a new glass-bottom airplane. If I could choose any one of these pranks to be a real, I’d choose this one. Sure, it would be a bit scary at first - or during emergencies - but it would be damn fun.

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    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Marketing Case Study: Weight Watchers Leads the Weight-Loss Race

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By Fausto Mendez

We love to break down complex marketing campaigns to uncover the core motives of human behavior that fuel corporate success. This week, we’re analyzing Weight Watchers and the company’s classic marketing techniques. 

    Weight Watchers continues to dominate the weight-loss game with over $1.2 billion revenue each year and 8 million website visitors per month, and it’s closest competitors are about a third of its size. This constant success stems from a solid product that delivers results, but behind every great product is an even greater marketing campaign. Below, we break down the principles that made and continue to make the company’s marketing campaigns so damn successful. .

+ Sell the consequences. The average Weight Watchers customer isn’t interested in the product itself. Actually, the idea of self control is scary or boring, so why are people lining up for a membership? They want the consequences associated with that self control. They want the success, intimate relationships, fitness, appearance, money and whatever else results from losing weight, and they want to eat what they want while getting it. Weight Watchers sells the consequences, not the product.

+ Sell happiness. Weight Watches sells happiness, not a weight loss system. Similar to the previous point, the idea is to focus on the internal (emotional) results, not the actual product. 

+ Offer a test drive. Weight Watchers allows prospective customers to “join” the service for free. Furthermore, Weight Watches doesn’t force prospective customers to hand over a credit card number to do this. This style of free trials produces about a 30% conversion rate, which is not bad at all. 

+ Make it easy. The PointsPlus system makes it easy for customers to track calories without actually tracking calories. Sure, it’s based on basic nutritional science, but the target audience hates learning. PointsPlus is much easier in the short term. 

+ Exclusive products make it hard to leave the proprietary system. Weight Watchers sells (and sometimes gives away) PointsPlus calculators, snack foods, frozen meals, ice creams and other products that make it even easier to track calories. These products actually serve a brilliant marketing purpose because they: 1. boost brand awareness at key locations within supermarkets (where the target audience spends a lot time) and 2. make counting calories the traditional way even more tedious. 

+ Seek out new audiences. Your audience can get stale if you don’t actively court new targets. Weight Watchers recently started marketing to men, but they don’t expect men to show up at the meetings where 90% of the attendants are women. As a result, the company launched online tools and mobile apps that help men diet on their own - since men often prefer to diet alone. 

    As a marketing professional, it’s hard not to get jealous when a company’s marketing campaign is consistently successful, but that’s why we’re here to break it down. Happy hunting! And thanks to  Marketing Profs for the core data

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Finished Work: T-Shirts for El Segundo’s Run For Education

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    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    El Segundo’s Run for Education 1K, 5K & 10K runs just happened over the weekend, and we were honored to be a sponsor of the festival. AnyPromo supplied the staff and runner shirts for the students, parents and teachers involved. Check us out on sponsors list printed at the back of every shirt.

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    This marathon illustrates the power of promotional apparel. When everyone at the event is wearing your shirt, you can’t be missed. Check out the staff shirts below.

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    At a more commercial event, you might also print the biggest sponsor on the front of the shirt to gain more exposure, but this non-profit event was all about the children. So we didn’t do that. In any case, the rear is prime real estate too. Not everyone’s looking at your front, after all.

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    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Why Social-Media Marketing Works: The Psychology of SMM

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By Fausto Mendez

    I’m honored to be a guest contributor at SmartBlogs, one of the most useful digests for marketers, business owners and industry leaders that seek to improve both their own day-to-day performance and the performance of the organizations that they steer.

    This is an excerpt from my latest post on the psychology of social-media marketing at the SmartBrief blogs.

"Today, social-media is one of the most effective marketing channels for any company. Why? Most experts explain away the phenomenon with the how, not the why: "social is an excellent venue for content sharing and a useful tool for subscribing to news of your favorite brands." While that is true, it only scrapes the surface. There must be a better answer, and I’ve found it.

Social media is unlike any other marketing channel because it requires the customer to reach out to the brand before the brand reaches out to the customer with a message that leads to customer action. Normally, it works the other way around, but why is it so effective when the roles are reversed? The explanation boils down to a basic rule about relationships between people.”

    Read the rest of “The Secret Psychology of Effective Social-Media Relationships” at SmartBlogs.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Marketing in the Sun: Promotional Giveaways for Summer Events and Outdoor Venues

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    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    Brands attending events at outdoor venues can really benefit from a smart promotional giveaway campaign, so I highly recommend stocking up on a variety of outdoor giveaways, such as sun glasses, hand sanitizer and SPF-15 chap stick.

    Low-cost giveaways like this often have a big impact at concerts, music festivals, hotels, beach parties, raves and outdoor bars. People tend to be in a good mood - probably a not-so-sober mood - so the products often have a strong emotional impact despite the fact they’re rather low-end products. That’s because a lot of people forget to bring along these basic items, so they really appreciate it when somebody, such as your company, solves this problem for them. Your brand can really benefit from that positive and memorable association.

    Other effective ideas include: water bottles, color-changing cupstumblers and tote bags. AnyPromo is also running a sale on custom beach balls this month, so you can choose from an assortment of outdoor promotional items that can really boost your promotional efforts. By the way, the products in the above picture are brand-spankin’ new, so they’re not on the AnyPromo.com website yet. Call 1-877-368-5678 to order

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis.

Impress Your Leads with Custom Pen Sets by AnyPromo

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By Fausto Mendez

    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    AnyPromo is well known for its laser-engraved pen sets made of maple (pictured above) and rosewood, so I was happily surprised when they presented me with my own set this morning. It’s certainly a memorable gift. We recommend gifting these custom pens to specific leads, so do your homework. We hope that you target individuals that often use pens. If your target isn’t a pen fan (perhaps he or she is often laptop bound), there’s a high-end option for any character.

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    Though my set only features a pen, this promotional pen set can ship with a matching mechanical pencil and a double case, so you’re not limited to only pens. Alternatively, you can order two pens or two pencils in the same case.

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    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Caribou Coffee’s Brilliant and Fresh Marketing Campaign: Life is More than Coffee

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By Fausto Mendez

Apparently, life is more than coffee. I was unaware of this, but this is the message of Caribou Coffee’s new marketing campaign. Well, I’m glad someone finally told me because I’ve been working inside this cubicle, sipping on lattes and green tea all day. The brilliant marketing campaign is a stark contrast from the classic message that coffee is all about focus and office productivity. 

    “Life is more than coffee. That’s why there’s coffee,” says Caribou Coffee via its new marketing campaign. The campaign launched in March with a series of innovative cups that aim to inspire and exercise your creativity with designs that you can draw on, color in or paint yourself.

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     The coffee shop’s napkins also offer similar function with inspirational and time-wasting fun while you sip, sip, sip. 

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    Of course, that part of the campaign is great at marketing to current customers, but what is Caribou doing outside of its shop to attract the attention of the rest of us? Images coupled with messages that promote a love of life beyond the office and coffee shop populate the company’s consumer-facing marketing materials, including billboards. 

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    The message is quite the opposite of the message of the marketing campaign that popularized the term “coffee break”. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, the Pan American Coffee Bureau launched radio, magazine and newspaper campaigns that touted the benefits of coffee, mostly as it relates to work. Prior to this marketing campaign, employers didn’t allow for coffee breaks. The idea of a coffee break was absurd, but people didn’t associate coffee with productivity at the time.

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    The absurdly successful slogan, which took many forms over the years, originally read: “Give yourself a coffee break, and get what coffee gives to you.” And the promotion worked. Employers learned about the benefits of coffee, and they made room for it during work hours. Cigarette companies tried a similar scheme, though it didn’t work as well. 

    Today, Caribou Coffee is taking a different approach, disassociating coffee with the drab office. Why should marketers limit the benefits to work? Now that everyone understands the benefits of coffee, the association to the boring office is actually a downer, not a positive message. After all, coffee can boost any moment, so take a cup with you wherever you go and smile. Marketers and advertisers, take notes.

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    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Finished Work: Custom Glass Beer Mug / Pitcher for Engine 403 Medic Truck

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    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    This promotional glass mug, or pitcher (depends on how thirsty you are), starts production this week. The fire fighters from the City of Fairfax just approved the design, and we’re excited to ship it out with a new design. This mason jar turned promotional drinkware is one of our favorite glass mugs in the AnyPromo catalog, which includes about 40,000 to 50,000 different promotional giveaways, customizable office supplies and personalized gifts!

    New customers, don’t forget to enter promo code “AnyPromo” during checkout for a 10% discount on orders of $250 or more. 

  Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis.

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