Archive for October, 2010

Oct 29 2010

Plastic Bags VS Paper Bags – Who solves our Eco Problems better?

When your company gives out giveaways in imprinted promotional bags or promotional bags as giveaways themselves are you really thinking about where the bag may land up, its impact, the profits, the losses etc? Before your brain starts making connections with words like ‘visibility, brand popularity and recall, advertising tools etc’, STOP!What I am really asking is …Do you wonder whether your bag will end up in the stomach of a poor cow, or choke dolphins to death or deprive the world of its old-growth forests and the animals of their habitat? I am referring to much-discussed yet unsolved dilemma of what should eco-friendly bagsbe made of; Plastic, paper or something else? Let’s first dissect the characteristics of plastic and paper bags and then take it forward from thereonDifferences between plastic and paper bags- A compilation of facts found online.

Plastic Bags
Paper Bags
In America, 30 billion plastic bags are used/year.
In America, 10 billion paper bags are used/year.
Plastic bags are manufactured from petroleum. It requires 12 million barrels of oil to make 100 million plastic bags annually.
Paper bags are made from trees. It requires 14 million trees a year to produce 10 billion bags.
Plastic bags are made from virgin petroleum.
Some paper bags are made from virgin forest while others are made from recycled paper.
Though plastics can be recycled, the efficacy of the process remains uncertain. It may take them years to bio-degrade and according to the nonprofit World watch Institute, Americans only recycle 0.6 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags they use annually while the rest become litter or reach landfills.
A forestation is being taken seriously these days and replanting of fast-growing pine trees has been offered as a solution. However the unnatural forests it creates hampers the natural living habitat for animals.
1-3% of plastic bags are recycled.
(Wall Street Journal) 
10 to 15% of paper bags are recycled
(Wall Street Journal) 
Plastic bags do not decompose; they are exposed to nature’s processes, get degraded over time into smaller pieces and become more hazardous if they enter the food chain. Animals mistake them for food and consume them.
Virgin paper creates 35 percent more water pollution than recycled paper. Recycled paper also creates 74 percent less air pollution than virgin paper

America certainly seems to hate its plastic bags with an increasing number of US cities having banned it already. Though the efforts to impose a state-wide ban in California went kaput, the California communities of Fairfax, Malibu, Palo Alto, and San Francisco have struck back and outlawed plastic bags in addition to Bethel, Alaska, Edmonds, Washington, and Westport, Connecticut. Washington, D.C.’s has levied a 5-cent fee for each disposable grocery bag which is being argued. The poor, little, plastic bag- no one wants it now, not even for collecting dead leaves!

Well, there is no clear outcome to the debate but as a responsible corporate citizen you have to make an informed choice. If you ask me, the solution is to use reusable bags. Bags made of natural fiber like canvas or cotton are more durable, yet not detrimental to nature. You can also use custom bags for your grocery, gifting or promotional needs. By using eco-friendly promotional products, you don’t just help your business flourish; you nurture Mother Nature too.

To view a large variety of Eco-Friendly promotional products for business promotion, please visit our website at www.promodirect.com

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Oct 28 2010

Social media – your business blackboard

I couldn’t help but smile when I read about Victoria Ipri’s e-book dilemmas. The CEO of Modello Media, Inc (a Philadelphia-based e-marketing firm) who wrote an eBook Social titled Media for the Clueless was absolutely sure that it would find takers. After all, even today, many businesses are still struggling to find their niche in the social media sphere and are relatively clueless about the four Ws and an H. Ipri had tried to simplify social media by handing out business ideas addressing these what, when, where, why and how dilemmas, but what she hadn’t expected was, the dilemma that would accompany her book’s title!The 500-odd members of the LinkedIn discussion group on the above topic were all slated to receive the book, free but though their interest was evident, they didn’t want to join the LinkedIn discussion. The glitch – Though they may be clueless and curious, no self-respecting businessman/woman would like to openly acknowledge that he/she is ‘clueless about social media’ on a public forum! Such is the power of social media – it can invade your homes, your office, your clients’ and competitor’s mind too! And it is important that your reputation in cyber sphere is as impeccable as it is outside it.But I believe in thinking positive. If social media can crack your reputation, it can create a favorable one too! You can open up your business to your customers; keep them updated about what’s new and make them a part of the planning instead of only the result. Here’s how you can turn your social media presence into an effective marketing strategy.

If you have it, flaunt it!
After creating profiles on social media networks, show that you have arrived. Add social bookmark links on all the important web-pages or company blogs and every time you post something about your business or products, your online community will know about it.

Create your cubby-hole
You already have your target group identified and now identify the communities they are a member of, blogs they are likely to frequent and forums they participate in. Start your own forum/ community group on the same lines on Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace and acquire instant reach. Start commenting on their posts, answering their queries, posting new discussion topics and voila! Your business audience is ready!

A cue for the clueless
If you are at sea about how to draft a business announcement, do not fear for the social media press release is here! All you need to do is download the template, enter your info and send it out to the inboxes of your business world!

Words are not all that you have
A picture is worth 1000 words so imagine the worth of a series of moving pictures. Your press release need not be read, it can be seen too. Advertise your new product by recording a video of a demonstration on its usage, or create a video that doesn’t blatantly advertise, but talks about issues, trends, controversies concerning the business.

Get the fun in
Who said marketing can’t be fun? Introduce contests on your social media networks and encourage your community to participate. These contests can be anything from letting them be a guest blogger on your blog, a ‘why I love your product’ contest. The winners or even the participants can get free promotional giveaways that can be a sample of your latest product or small items like imprinted promotional pens, folios etc. This way you introduce your brand to new clients as well as bring your existing clients closer.

Still don’t understand why I have devoted over 592 words to this topic till now? Here’s why.

If Forrester Research figures are to be believed, US web users apparently generate 500 billion impressions when they discuss products and services on social media sites, in blogs, discussion forums and on review pages. This is apparently more than 1/4th the number of impressions that promotional advertising makes! And according to the Peer Influence Analysis (a new model of analysis developed by Forrester to quantify reach/connect of marketers to masses) 16% of the online consumers generate 80% of these impressions.

Whoa! Now, am sure you are not surprised that many were hesitant to discuss their cluelessness about social media on Ipri’s LinkedIn forum.

To view a large variety of promotional products for business promotion, please visit our website at www.promodirect.com

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Oct 22 2010

Ten Commandments of writing a business bio on social networks

I: Make thy bio site-specificDifferent social networks have different space provisions and making a standard bio may not work. For example in LinkedIn you get all the space you want but sites like Twitter give you a meager 160 characters to describe yourself in entirety. The smart way to deal with this would be to create site-specific bios. Write a concise introduction about yourself for sites that don’t permit you to say more and a more detailed one for others that want you to say more.II: Show thy face

Even though it’s a business bio, it is necessary to establish a personal connection. A profile picture helps you do that and it shows the user two things; a) you are what you claim to be b) you take this social media business seriously. (A picture-less profile, photos of cartoons, celebrities, objects instead of actual photos etc are seen as frivolous, especially in a business bio.)

III: Introduce thyself

Use your full name instead of abbreviations or nick names while creating a profile on your social network. You may be making ‘friends’ on Facebook or ‘followers’ on Twitter but remember that you are creating a business bio to make official contacts, even though it is on a casual platform.

IV: Thou shan’t bore

Your business bio should only be a window to your world with concise information which will entice other members on the social network to follow you or add you on. Excess information about every teeny-tiny aspect of your life, may bore members and drive them away instead of leading them to you.

V: Thou shan’t brag

Please remember that it is a business bio that will reflect your personality. Give information that will portray you as successful yet modest. Writing about your love for cars in the ‘interests’ section is fine, but adding that you have three cars and are in the process of buying a latest model may give you the ‘he is so pompous’ tag.

VI: Thou shalt be casual

There are no hard and fast rules in social networking but writing in a casual style usually works. Incorporate a touch of friendly humor (nothing offensive, mind you), write in a conversational style and your profile will portray you as a genial person who will make an interesting addition to a friends/followers list.

VII: Thou shalt converse

Describe those aspects of yourself that are likely to stimulate conversation. For example, even though you are the CEO of a company, you obviously will have your favorite activities outside work. List your favorite movies, cuisine, favorite television shows, etc. Shared interests can eventually lead to networking. Give the link to your blog and encourage them to comment on your posts.

VIII: Keywords are thy key to quick visibility

Writing a bio for a social network is tricky because a user will reach your page, either because he knows your profile name or maybe because the website has recommended your profile to him on the basis of certain parameters. However, if neither of the above is possible then you stand to lose out. Including relevant keywords will draw traffic to your blog once your target searches for them.

IX: Thou shalt compare

Other profiles can be a great source of insight about what does and doesn’t work in an online bio. Keep a tab on your competitor’s bios on social networking sites and evaluate yourself. The day your followers, friends or profile visits exceed his, you know you have hit the jackpot.

X: Thou shalt complete thy profile

An incomplete profile is very irritating to users who want to know you better. Ensure all the basic information fields are filled and you can keep updating specific data gradually. Give e-mail ids or other contact details for your target to contact you, if he wishes to. A user is likely to add you to his friends list or follow you once he is convinced about you and your motives. A complete profile facilitates that.

Incorporate these commandments into your business ideas or marketing strategies and become the richest profile with maximum ‘likes’, ‘followers’, ‘recommendations’ and so on.

Follow us on Twitter: @PromoDirect

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Oct 21 2010

Ready to go red? – Celebrate the Red Ribbon Week –(Oct 23 to 31)

Over the past few months I have been bombarded with news reports about Lindsay Lohan’s substance abuse-prison-rehab escapades. What happened to the freckled-face kid who played the role of twins in the movie Parent Trap and just when did this haggard looking starlet take her place?Lohan’s list of addictions is eerily long, from cocaine, alcohol to e-mail and Twitterand I cannot help but wryly commend her decision to opt for rehab. (Yes, I know its being seen as a gimmick to evade jail-time!) But to give the girl some credit, she got a chance at de-addiction and she grabbed it, whatever may be the reason. I don’t think every addict is as fortunate, well, latest research on substance abuse in USA certainly doesn’t indicate so.According to statistics provided by Healthy People 2010, a US Department of Health and Human Services initiative, about 100,000 deaths in the United States are related to alcohol consumption while another 12,000 deaths are related to illicit drug abuse and resultant AIDS.

Scary, isn’t it! Even as the thoughts of keeping my kids away from drugs and booze ran through my head, I realized even though we may not be able to save the Lindsays of the world from substance abuse, each one of us can make a difference where it matters. Just like Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique Camarena did.

In 1985 Camarena, a young, upright DEA agent working undercover in Mexico for investigating an illegal drug cartel was murdered by drug lords. A few years earlier, when his mother had dissuaded him from joining the DEA he had reportedly told her, “I am only one person, but I want to make a difference.” After his death, he became a motivation for many coalition groups crusading against alcohol and drug abuse who wore red badges of satin as an ode to him. The movement is now known as the Red Ribbon Week which is commemorated from October 23 to 31 every year.

Are you a responsible American who wants a drug and alcohol free home, school, office, neighborhood, community etc? Then spread the message of healthy, drug and alcohol-free living, this Red Ribbon Week.

Spread the Red ribbon cheer
Hand out Red Ribbon items as personalized gifts. Flexible key-tags, awareness car magnets, awareness bracelets, all imprinted with ‘Break away from booze – no more drug abuse’ messages will bind your near and dear ones to the cause.

Ensure that the cheer resonates beyond a week
Make the week so memorable that the Red Ribbon cause gets entrenched as a moral value. For example custom calendars which speak about substance abuse, effects and remedies on every page won’t leave your employees’ desks, and the message won’t leave their minds either.

Do your bit as a humanitarian -
Visit your nearest alcohol or drug rehab center and carry along gifts like promotional calendars with motivational quotes, promotional t-shirts with Red Ribbon Week slogans imprinted on them. After all substance abuse can be cured only with medication, it needs a regular dosage of care and acceptance as well.

Over a month back Lindsay Lohan tweeted…

“Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn’t go away over night. I am working hard to overcome it and am taking positive steps.”

It is time we took positive steps too; to be the change we want.

To view a large variety of awareness products for business promotion, please visit our website at www.promodirect.com

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Oct 15 2010

Be a Brand Rock Star!

Published by under Business & Marketing

All you Prince fans out there, prepare to lay down the red carpet for the royal rock star who will soon be in your part of town for the series of ‘Welcome 2 America’ concerts in December. Royalty comes with entourage now, doesn’t it? The tour will undoubtedly be a feast for the ears (literally) with his favorites like Maceo Parker, Mind Condition, Cassandra Wilson and his Janelle Monáe performing too!

*Drumroll*


It’s interesting how a rocker can stimulate food for marketing thought and even help you nurture your business in the process! For starters, let’s draw a simple comparison.

Memorabilia is available for every Prince fan at prices that suit his pocket. Tickets and backstage passes of his earliest concerts are dirt cheap, while autographs and autographed pictures cost slightly more and signed early LP albums being a collector’s item are understandably high priced.

Similarly, there are promotional products made for every purse too. Again, there are products that merely promote and there are products that can make your brand a rage and generate fervor just like how Prince does among his fans. Would you ever throw away a T-shirt signed by your favorite rock star however old or faded it gets, or shred the ticket of the first ever rock concert you ever attended, because it is just ‘a yellow piece of paper’? (Nooo? Your shudder conveyed it all!)

Make your corporate gifts so unique that they become collector’s items that your client will never want to part with. For example, wouldn’t you rather hold on to an Antique Tractors calendar or a The Saturday Evening Post calendar as compared to a dreary yearly planner? Yes, because these promotional calendars become more than mere utility items or business gifts, they become collectibles with an emotional flavor.

If you followed the TV grabs of Prince’s press conference you will realize how he implemented one of the simple tools of modern marketing by allying his concert with propaganda for the soon-to-release documentary on public education ‘Waiting for Superman’ and a charity.

Supporting a cause serves to heighten your brand’s popularity because of something that I will call as ‘the empathy factor. Psychologically your clients feel that if you have an empathetic streak in you, you are a befitting corporate citizen to do business with.

Finally, of course you know that Prince has sold 80 million albums worldwide and Purple Rain alone sold 13 million copies in the USA. He is a movement and this movement, with millions of fans is landing at your doorstep. A perfect setting to market your brand with promotional giveaways that are lapped up during concerts! From plain white t-shirts to get the rock star’s autograph to drawstring bags that fans can use to stash their Prince merchandise, use your promotional products to be a part of the craze and help your brand come alive!

So what are you waiting for…In the words of the rock star himself…

Its time we all reach out for something new…That means u too!

To view a large variety of imprinted promotional products for brand promotion, please visit our website at www.promodirect.com

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