Monday, June 30, 2008

Cookin' With Gas

Who knew chochkes would have such cachet?

Ad specialties are apparently – if not bigger and better than ever before – more popular than ever before.

Welcome to the pre-fireworks edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management
According to The Detroit News:

“The Advertising Specialty Institute, the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, announced…results of its annual advertising specialties sales analysis indicating that industry revenues reached $19.6 billion in 2007 - up 5.4 percent from 2006 and a new record.”

Now check this out:

“Spending on advertising specialties, or promotional products - items and incentives branded with a company logo or marketing message - was 83% greater than radio advertising, 73% greater than Internet display ads and nearly five times larger than outdoor advertising for the same period. Industry increases also outpaced the 2.2% growth rate for the United States GDP.
"In today's climate of increasing economic uncertainty, purchasing decisions for advertising and marketing are being scrutinized closely," said (a company spokesperson). "Advertising specialties are a relatively safe advertising investment and are nearly recession-proof, because they provide a proven high return-on-investment at a low cost and have a lasting impact on target audiences.

"Promotional products offer an opportunity to creatively advertise a company or product," said Carol Constantino, president of Noteworthy Company. "Since the life span of a promotional product extends beyond a conventional ad, savvy marketers recognize value and ultimately extend their advertising dollars to reinforce an ad campaign with the diverse product lines that our industry offers."

Then comes this additional news item from the paper:

“A cafĂ©…is doing it. So is a (local) hotel, a carmaker, an awning seller and a national golf club company. Even the American Red Cross is getting in on today's hottest giveaway gig -- free gasoline.

“With the price of gas shooting up more than 30 percent in the past year and now stuck above $4 a gallon, businesses are turning to the gas card as a way to get consumers' attention and increase sales. Business owners say they know free gas isn't necessarily the deciding factor for patrons looking to buy their wares or services, but they believe it makes people more inclined to stop and take a look.

"It's pushing our hot button activators," said Dave Regan, an advertising instructor at Michigan State University. "We're still looking for that deal -- for that break -- on gas."
Other types of money-saving promotions, such as discounts and rebates, have lost their luster because their novelty has worn off, he said.

"You've seen it, done it and used it. It's old." Gas cards, on the other hand, "stand out as something new," Regan said.

"On top of that, "people hate to spend their money on gas," said Richard Divine, instructor of marketing and hospitality services at Central Michigan University. "Gas cards may be more effective than saying 'I'm going to give you $4 off.' Businesses are putting a value on the savings they're giving you."

Hmmm…ad specialties humming along, and gas cards helping to “drive” them. A “not your usual marketing tip”…or something that may be more mainstream than we all realize? Either way, something to think about putting in your “tank” the next time you consider ways of promoting your services.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another sizzling-hot-for-summer “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.”

Monday, June 2, 2008


The family leaves for Denver this week to attend my son’s graduation ceremony. Graduation, that is, with a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Denver.

Not that this is a vacation, per se, but in part we’ll turn it into one by visiting the sights, maybe even take in the defending National League Champion Colorado Rockies game (though the only thing they seem to be defending this year is last place…)

Welcome to the June edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Travel this time of year in general gets me to thinking about summer vacations. Have you scheduled yours yet? If so, you might want to consider some observations from a column I posted on NYUMT four years ago.

My good buddy Jeff Klein loves to collect brochures from his family vacations around the country. I mean, this guy’s stash could fill practically every slot in a motel’s display rack. He does it because they provide pictorial memories of the good times traveled.

I’d do it because it represents great ideas for marketing my clients.

It’s the unofficial beginning of summer – which to most of us, will mean vacations. Since my business is fundamentally steeped in the written word and visual representation, I’m always drawn to commercials, ads, billboards…and brochures.

So when I vacation by visiting some historical or famous natural site, then stay over at a neighboring motel, I too look for the brochures. But I look for them – and at them – because many times they have some appealing elements that I can perhaps apply to the needs of my clients. (In fact, I’ve got one in mind right now to promote yours truly…)

Maybe it’s the layout of the piece. The number of panels or its unusual configuration. How it folds. Is it a horizontal narrative, or does it read vertically. Maybe it’s the fonts used. Maybe it’s a witty or otherwise compelling turn of phrase in the copy. Maybe it’s the unusual treatment of the photos, or it’s the use of illustration or cartoons. Maybe there’s a uniquely designed map as the centerpiece. Maybe a customized die cut gives it a “personality” found nowhere else.

I was at an art gallery in Charleston not long ago, and I picked up a brochure that had the most extraordinary layout folds I had ever seen…even though it had “:emerged” from a standard (when flat) 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper. It was just a stunning, unusual looking piece practically transcending the contents within it (perhaps not so extraordinary, though, when you realize it represented the creative milieu of different artists and their works).

Now although I’m writing this as it relates to my ongoing personal research, let me suggest that you consider the “hidden treasure” you may yourself discover when you travel this summer. Is there some cool-looking pamphlet or brochure you may come across that can inspire you to emulate it for your own promotional needs?

Frankly, whether you elect to work with me or someone else on your marketing materials, it’s always welcomed when you’ve done a little research on your own and show your marketing guy/girl, “I think this is pretty neat; can we do something like it?”

And, without compromising any copyright laws, chances are we can.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month, for another adventurous edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Joel Kweskin