Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Improve ROI with These Trade Show Marketing Tips

In a world ruled by digital interaction, establishing authentic, face-to-face connections is good for business. Trade shows are great for fostering that one-on-one interaction while providing a host of growth-driving opportunities like generating sales leads, attracting new partners or buyers, and creating and furthering brand awareness. 

If you’re not doing so already, these events should be a central part of your marketing strategy—especially if you’re launching a new product or service.
  • 92% of trade show attendees say their main reason for attending trade shows is to see new products being featured. (CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face)
To be sure that you’re maximizing your trade show effort, consider these tips:

Keep it simple. Attendees should be able to quickly identify your brand and your product/service based on booth signage. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so make your booth simple yet memorable—and inviting: You want to draw people in.

Be consistent. As with any marketing channel, be sure to implement elements in your trade show that are consistent with your brand messaging strategy. A trade show shouldn’t be viewed as a separate event, but rather, as part of your seamless brand marketing effort.

Provide value. Give attendees what they came for—information about a new product or service, an enticing product demo (live or video), suggestions for using your product in a new or different way, etc.

Capture attendee data.
This is the ideal venue for building your database; consider launching a contest or giveaway that requires people to provide their contact info.

Make it interactive. To engage attendees and encourage interaction with your brand (for a lasting impression) feature a prize wheel, an interactive video wall, photo op, VR experience, etc.

Give them a reason to stay. Provide comfy seating, charging stations for phones and laptops, light snacks or beverages, or a compelling video

Offer a quality giveaway. Everyone likes to free swag, but only if its practical. Be thoughtful about what you give away…instead of handing out stacks of product literature, provide a jump drive with your product info pre-loaded   

What brand had the best booth you’ve experienced at a trade show? Chime in on our Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A simple secret to delivering great service

A few years ago, I sat in on a client meeting with one of our sales reps who was meeting with a previous customer to reestablish a connection (and ideally, earn back her business).

While I mostly sat back and listened, I did ask the client this question: Can you give me an example of a supplier partner that does all the right things? And more importantly, what does that look like?

Her response was profoundly simple: “I want a vendor that will do what they say they’re going to do.” That was it. Whether you’re selling marketing solutions or widgets or technology support, her words summarize the ultimate customer service directive for all of us: To create lasting customer relationships we must provide exceptional customer service, which ultimately requires follow-through.

But, what does that mean? What does it look like for you? Sure, you need to ask the right questions to understand what your customers want and also anticipate their needs. But you also need to stop talking—and listen.

When you actually do that, you might be blown away by what you learn.

At Shamrock we employ Ken Blanchard’s “Raving Fans” approach to customer service as part of our culture. In his book, Blanchard identifies three steps to creating Raving Fan customer service:
  1. Decide what you want. What kind of customers are you looking for? What type of relationship do you want to build with them?
  2. Understand what your customers want. In other words, listen!
  3. Deliver plus-one. Whatever it is that you do—perfect that—and then add 1% more: It’s the extra push that will set you apart.  
Use that raving-fan framework as an auditing system, you can track how you meet and exceed client expectations and identify areas where you can improve. At the end of day, you must hold yourself accountable for doing what you said you were going to do.

But if you’re not writing these promises or commitments down, how can you track your progress? How can you hold yourself accountable?

By implementing an actionable business plan that identifies clients (or departments or market segments) and that details specific tasks, you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing yourself.

If you need help getting started on that plan, connect with me at

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Use print to magnify your digital marketing touches

In today’s digital-driven marketing world, we’re learning that print is more relevant than ever. While social media and influencer marketing still have their place, print marketing remains strong because of its perceived value: A tangible printed piece, like direct mail, makes a memorable brand connection with a shelf life that outlasts a typical social media scroll.

Here’s a few recent statistics that underscore the influence of print:
  • 86% of shoppers bought an item after first seeing it in a printed catalog (
  • 76% of households read direct mail ads. (AllianceBusinessServices)
  • 39% have tried a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising (Canada Post)
  • 51% prefer companies use a combination of mail and email when communicating with them. (Canada Post)
When used as part of an integrated media strategy, print can greatly enhance digital campaigns, acting as a multiplier to boost digital efforts. Incorporating both digital channels and tactile touches is essential to marketing success. Here are four ways to put print to work to promote your brand:

Customized content creates unique value—and greater relevance. Personalization used to be a novelty; but today, people expect products and services to be adapted and relevant to them: The more you connect with your audience through personalization, the more resistance is dropped. Making a personalized connection increases customer engagement with your brand.

Print & digital integration. Blending online and offline channels as part of an integrated marketing strategy is the key to driving higher conversion rates and making lasting brand impressions. Use your print media to link your audience back to your blog, a landing page, an exclusive video, website or to one of social media channels.

Custom/unique coupon codes. Using a unique coupon is a smart strategy for not only increasing customer engagement but also in gathering personal data about your target audience. Unique coupon codes generate higher ROI than generic coupon codes because they cannot be shared or reproduced—they are aimed at an individual, which creates a more personal connection and an exclusive feel.

Texture. A study from the University of Iowa found that haptic (touch) memory is the type of memory that has the strongest impact on the human brain. The physical act of holding something makes a stronger connection with the audiences. And so, using print media engages our haptic memory, creating lasting brand awareness. Adding glosses, raised ink, embossing, matte finishes—these create interesting texture for even greater brand connections.

Have any of these print strategies worked well for your brand? Do you have other ideas for incorporating print in your marketing program? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

10 Tips for Building Brand Loyalty

Does your brand have a dedicated following? Whether you sell pizzas or insurance policies, brand loyalty matters; it’s good for business. Attracting and maintaining customers long term ultimately leads to increased profits: According to Adobe, repeat customers buy nearly 30% more items per order than first-time shoppers and are nine times more likely to convert than first-time shoppers.

So, how do you drive brand love when immediate access to your competitors is just a click away? Here’s a few ideas for attracting and keeping customers:

1. Establish your brand identity. Know who you are—and then stick with it, using consistent messaging from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom, as well as across channels.

2. Make it personal. Develop messages that are tailored specifically to your target audience: That personal connection makes your customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, not to the masses.

According to an Infosys study, 86% of consumers surveyed said personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions—and 73% said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

3. Listen to your customers. Find out what they want or need—and then dig deeper: Why? How? Answering these important questions can help you better align your products/services/delivery methods to better meet customer needs and expectations. What’s more, we all like to be heard. Asking for feedback sends a clear message to your customers that their opinions matter.

4. Provide Raving Fan customer service. There’s a lot of competition out there touting better, faster, less expensive products/services, so exceed their expectations with standout customer service. Do the unexpected things that let your customers know you care: Make a follow-up phone call, send a personal email, share an article or video that aligns with their industry or interest, or surprise them with breakfast for their next staff meeting.

5. Prompt ongoing brand experiences. Keep your brand front of mind by making connections with your customers at various times during a transaction or program experience using blogs, emails, social media prompts, and more. In this age of immediate access, out of sight means out of mind, so keep your brand relevant with frequent, strategic touches.

6. Create Community. Engage with your customers and ask them to share photos of themselves at your event or using your products on social media—facebook, Instagram, twitter, Pinterest. Shared posts on these channels will start a conversation about your brand, and will also foster an emotional connection—think happy, exciting, motivating, inspirational, etc.

7. Innovate. Quality counts, as does innovative product/service offerings. By continuing to improve, evolve and introduce new products or solutions, your customers will associate your brand with what’s next.

8. Create a consistent experience. Give your customers the quality and the experience they have come to expect from your brand, every time. Example: I know I’m going to get the same bold cup of coffee from a new Starbucks location as I do when I visit my regular store—that consistency is expected.

9. Be transparent and honest. If there is a customer service issue, a product problem or a mistake, own it. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from you, rather than through another source.

10. Recognize loyal customers. Whether you offer points for transactions, reward service anniversaries, or simply connect with customers who have been with you for a while, it’s important to show existing customers that you appreciate their business. And, a customer loyalty effort is less expensive than spending marketing dollars on new-customer development.

Do you have any tips that you’d add to this list for boosting brand loyalty? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Use Eco-friendly Promos to Build Your Brand

We live in an environmentally- and socially-conscious age where consumer shopping decisions are now closely linked to corporate values. Recent studies show that more consumers—particularly Millennials—are gravitating towards brands that demonstrate good will: 
  • 88% of consumers said they would be more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, and 90% would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, if price and quality were similar. (Cone Communications and Ebiquity)
  • Three out of four consumers are more likely to buy a product if the company is making an effort to be sustainable. (Sense and Sustainability Study, Gibbs & Soell)
The takeaway: Going green is good for business. Nearly 65% of end-buyers surveyed by ASI say they prefer to purchase promos that are eco-friendly. So, if you’re not already incorporating environmentally-responsible and ethically-sourced promotional products into your brand marketing, consider making the change. 

While price had historically been an issue with eco products, that’s no longer the norm. And with the obvious branding advantages associated with a greener promotional product offering, it’s wise to promote your brand using eco-products that make sense for your business or industry. Here are a few ideas:

Reusable drinkware. Whether it’s a glass mug etched with a logo or insulated aluminum drink bottle, these choices eliminate Styrofoam, plastic or paper drinkware, making them a more eco-responsible choice for the office, commute or home.

Cork and wood products are trending. Reusable tote bags made from cork are extremely durable and stylish; and wood lids, handles (on mugs) or cutting boards and coasters can be laser-engraved with a logo (no inks) for a clean, organic feel.

Reusable straws and silverware. Disposable plastic is out. Reusable straws and cutlery—in bamboo, rubber and metal—are in. The wood and metal pieces can be laser-engraved for a subtle brand touch with everyday functionality.

Hemp or other sturdy reusable bags. Hemp items are popular in the cannabis industry; and because they’re so durable, they’re a great choice if you’re thinking about a sustainable bag promo. Instead of a cheap, flimsy poly bag (that will quickly get tossed) consider a hemp, bamboo or washable cotton bag embroidered with a logo for longer shelf life.

If you’re interested in learning more about these products or other environmentally-responsible promo items, connect with me on Linkedin.

Tim Berry

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Use AR to improve the customer experience & drive engagement

When was the last time you browsed through a catalog and then picked up the phone to place an order? If you’re like most Americans, it’s been awhile: There are 217.1 million online shoppers in the United States—a number that’s projected to reach 224 million this year (Statista). So, how does that impact print marketing for retailers and other brick-and-mortar businesses?

Augmented reality (AR) is one answer. AR can be used to bridge the gap between print and digital, allowing customers to enjoy an immersive experience with your brand.

AR has changed how we interact with brands—and from a marketing standpoint, it has rewritten the rules of engagement. Now, print media can also be interactive. Once-stagnant displays or catalogs can spring to life using AR technology.

Here’s how it works: AR embeds virtual content layered over a real-world object, making a powerful, immediate connection with the user by providing information in a memorable or more convenient way (i.e. clicking on or scrolling over an item in an ad, which triggers the display of the item name and cost on the host website). The revenue-generating potential that AR provides is incredible.

According to a study published by the ISACA, 62% of consumers believe augmented reality has the potential to improve the shopping experience. In addition, AR has reached revenues of about $428 million in 2018, with that number expected to explode in the next few years, with display ad and visual search revenues via AR totaling more than $2.6 billion by 2022.

This case study from Brand United details how an AR-enabled catalog improved the customer experience and boosted retail sales by 3% for automotive brand Quadratec:

According to Statista, the global market for AR is projected to grow to approximately $90 billion in the next two years. In addition, revenue generated by AR is expected to be three times higher than virtual reality (VR).  And that’s because AR is so versatile and accessible for consumers. It can be customized to hit your audience when and where you want: geo-tagged for proximity-based marketing campaigns (think festivals, annual meetings, sporting events, etc.). AR can be used to create engaging customer experiences like taking customers on a virtual tour of a new property or helping customers easily locate your products—all from their smartphones or tablets, all with a couple of clicks.

AR also helps us become better marketers: Because AR interaction is trackable, we use the data from the experience to strategically plan the next step, modify the message, shape future campaigns, and so on. Where do you see AR fitting into your brand marketing?  If you’re interested in learning more, connect with me on LinkedIn.

Tim Connor

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

10 tips for increasing customer engagement

It used to be that the quality of goods or services is what created a happy customer. But that was then. And this is the age of customer engagement: Today, customers want to feel appreciated, engaged and connected with their chosen brands. Here’s proof:
  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker)   
Research is also finding that, even in today’s digital era, customers are seeking more authentic, human-centered interaction—but without constant interruption. This is the challenge that we face as marketers: To connect with customers in ways that are real and relevant, while providing transparency, in a frequency that keeps them engaged.

If you don’t have a customer engagement program in place to create those connections, it’s time to jump on board: Excited and engaged customers bring in 23 percent more profits. (Gallup)

This article in Entrepreneur magazine offers 10 ideas for boosting customer engagement Here’s a quick-read summary of those tips:
  1. Share behind-the-scenes content. Think about sharing employee stories or a tour of your facilities/properties.
  2. Launch a user conference. Bring people together to meet and share their experience with your brand—these trigger emotional connections and lead to better brand attitudes. 
  3. Survey customer to better understand them. And then use that data to align your service or product offerings.
  4. Use personalization. Eighty percent of people say that brands are not tailored to their needs—stand out by making a personal connection with your customers.
  5. Package products in unique ways. Make it memorable.
  6. Create a purposeful brand. Generation X and millennials want to believe companies care about the same causes they do.
  7. Launch a contest. Contests on social media increase online audiences by as much as 34 percent and boost email sign-ups by a similar amount (Hubspot).
  8. Develop a product for an underserved niche. This offers the opportunity to quickly build brand loyalty.
  9. Focus on creating added value. Give customers what they want and need—that’s true value. Be deliberate about communicating that value statement.
  10. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and implement a new campaign element or try a new media channel—changing up your game could be what your brand needs to make breakthrough connections.
What tips do you have for creating engaging connections with your customers? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Ellen Moriarty