Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pick A Winner: The Perfect Tournament Bracket

Who’s in? Who got left out? The excitement of March Madness is here! At this point in the NCAA tournament, we all have perfect brackets—but that will likely change on day one. At least for the majority of us: The odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (or 1 in 9.2 quintillion). Wrap your mind around those odds!

Our friends at Alta Partners host an annual March Madness Bracket Challenge in which they designate funds for a charity. At this time last year, I was working to lead a team for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year Campaign to raise money for cancer research. Alta Partners donated their proceeds to that campaign, which made a huge impact on my team’s campaign—and a life-changing effect on those who are bravely fighting blood cancers.
This year, Alta Partners is at it again: The Malachi House is the charitable recipient of this year’s bracket challenge. If you’re not familiar, Malachi House is a Cleveland-based ministry that serves people who are terminally ill—all genders, races, religions and national origins, and without cost to the resident or family. This Home ministers to individuals who need an available caregiver, who have limited or no financial resources and need special home care in the final stages of their life. Malachi House is a very special place, and one that our Shamrock family has supported for many years.

So, if you’re looking to pick the perfect bracket, you can’t go wrong by jumping in on the Alta Partners challenge, because the residents at Malachi House win, no matter which teams end up in the finals.

ENTRIES ARE DUE BY MARCH 21st. To sign up ($25 entry fee) and fill out your bracket, follow the link below:

Good luck!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Use Promotional Products to Make Brand Impressions

In this digital age, so much of our everyday business is managed online. But as with any other aspect of our lives, balance is essential to success. Promotional products are the ideal source for equilibrium in your marketing program because they make a brand impression offline

Think about it: How many logoed t-shirts do you have in your closet? I’ve got a stack of them—and I’m not alone: Statistics show that, on average, Americans keep t-shirts for 6.3 months, tallying 2,450 impressions. It’s a great example of how a promotional item makes a tangible, lasting brand statement.

These recent statistics from the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) 2017 Consumer Study speak to the resonating power of promotional products in marketing:
  • 89% of consumers received a promotional product in the last six months. Of those consumers,
  • 79% researched the brand, and
  • 83% are more likely to do business with the brand
Are promotional products part of your current marketing program? Consider that promotional products are the most highly regarded form of advertising (Advertising Specialty Institute 2016). Here’s a few additional statistics to consider as you review and refresh your marketing plan for next quarter:

Which premium items will provide you the best return on your investment? 
  • Pens + Impressions = Best Value:
    The cost per impression is less than 1/10th of a cent in the United States
Which items generate the most impressions?
  • Bags generate more impressions in the U.S. than any other promotional item;
    50% of U.S. consumers own promotional bags
Looking to influence opinions about your brand? The top 5 influential products on opinion of
  1. USB drives
  2. Outerwear
  3. Drinkware
  4. Writing instruments
  5. Performance wear
At Shamrock, our value is not merely sourcing highest quality promotional items at the best price—it’s our ability to connect online and offline channels to complement each other and work together to deliver the message in the most powerful and effective way. The result of that integrated marketing effort is a memorable brand impression. 

If you’d like to talk about integrating promotional products as part of your next campaign, email me at

Tim Berry

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Create an Engaging Corporate Culture

Many of us spend the greater part of our waking hours at work. In fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over his/her lifetime. That’s a lot of time invested—so we ought to find ways to make the very most of it.

At Shamrock, we’ve always worked to create an engaging, creative work environment. Ours is a workplace that commits to our local communities, to giving back, to serving our customers, to fostering teamwork, to empowering our employees, to creating relationships—Shamrock is more than a place to work; it’s the opportunity to be part of something much bigger.
That commitment is what has shaped our unique corporate culture: More than 15 years ago, we implemented programs that continue to support—and identify—who we are and how we choose to make success happen for our employees, partners and clients. These programs are based on the management books by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles: Ravings Fans, Gung Ho!, and Fish.
Here’s a snapshot of the guiding principles:

RAVING FANS. The foundation of this customer-service directive is very simple:
  • Decide what you want
  • Discover what the customer wants
  • Deliver plus-one (Go over and above. Always)
GUNG HO! teaches that everybody plays an important role, whether that be selling, assembling or answering the phone. To that end, we must empower our employees, and get out of the way so they can do their jobs. Takeaways from Gung Ho! are:
  • Do worthwhile work
  • Be in charge of achieving goals
  • Celebration – cheering each other on
FISH. An extension of Gung Ho!, Fish promotes a super-positive work environment and is based on key customer-focused ideas:
  • Be Present. Be emotionally invested: Put your phone down, look people in the eye, and really focus on what you are doing and the people you are doing it with.
  • Choose Your Attitude. Take responsibility for how you respond to people. You have the power to consciously choose how you are going to treat others or manage your stress—own it.
  • Make Their Day. Find simple ways to serve and delight people in meaningful and memorable ways.
  • Play. Make what you do at work enjoyable and fun. Take your work seriously, not yourself: The energy you create is truly contagious.

These philosophies contribute to Shamrock’s unique culture—and we continue to identify new ways to incorporate these into our everyday operations. Beyond that, I’ve learned that trust goes a long way toward framing corporate culture.  Without it, people tend to operate in silos and find themselves isolated from the group. By working to establish open, honest communication—in dealing with both positive and negative issues—you can foster a greater sense of team and gain credibility with your employees. 

Always, I’m interested in your feedback. Share your corporate culture ideas with me on LinkedIn:
Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Boost Conversion Rates: 8 Email Marketing Tips for 2018

I’m always impressed by a creative email subject line—one that grabs my attention and makes me click and open. In the marketing business, that’s pure gold: The ability to make a brand connection with your audience and prompt the desired response.

Email is a great way to make those connections, while getting the most bang for your marketing buck: Not only do 72% of consumers prefer email as their primary means of communicating with brands, but email offers a $44 ROI for every $1 spent. (Campaign Monitor). When it comes to successful email marketing, there are a few very simple rules that can help boost your click-through rates:
  1. Optimize for mobile. If your email platform isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing the boat. Statistics show that 56% of emails are opened and read on mobile devices—so if your email isn’t formatted for mobile, the reader will likely miss out on important content.
  2. Segment your list. One-size email marketing is out; personalized brand connections are in. By segmenting your distribution list, you can tailor your email message to speak directly to your audience based on region, market, age, gender, etc. The result is a more relevant and personalized brand touch.
  3. Automate your email. Automated or triggered emails deliver an astounding 624% higher conversion rate than everyday business emails (Venture Beat). A few ideas for triggered email content includes: Welcome, Thank you (post sale or post meeting), Upsell opportunity, or Milestone event.
  4. Make your subject line sing. No matter how compelling your email content, you’ve got to get them to open it first: 33% of email recipients open email based on subject lines alone (Convince & Convert). And don’t be afraid to get personal: According to Campaign Monitor data, a personalized email subject line boosts open rates by 26%, and increases click-through rates by 14%.
  5. Add video. We know by now that video helps drive people to your website. But according to eMarketer, video in emails can also increase clicks, shares, and forwards as much as 50%.
  6. Include a call to action (CTA). Your email content needs to be compelling, relevant—and it also needs a strong CTA, even if it is as simple as asking the reader to share on twitter or click through to a landing page. Consider using words such as “now” or “today” or add an incentive to help boost participation.
  7. Time it right. The day of the week and time of day your email is sent effects open rates. Research from GetResponse shows that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails (followed by Thursday and Wednesday); and 10 a.m. is the best time to hit send.
  8. Know your audience. It sounds like an obvious rule of thumb, but too often marketers ignore their loyal base of customers, members or donors because they are too focused on chasing new prospects. Existing customers are one of the biggest untapped resources in marketing: The probability of selling to a customer is 60-70% (compared with 5-20% for new prospects).
Email marketing requires nuances, that when considered, can drastically improve your chances of making solid brand connections. If you’re interested in learning more about smart email marketing, or if you’d like to bounce your best subject line ideas off of me, I’m all ears:

Good luck!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Change Your Life with The 5 Second Rule

When Alabama was down at the half during the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game, Nick Saban made a change. None of us knows how long Saban pondered the thought, but the fact is that the Crimson Tide came out in the second half with a new quarterback—and a new attitude. University of Alabama went on to defeat the University of Georgia in a come-from-behind win.

I gotta be honest: I was really rooting for Georgia. But, I respect that it took guts for Saban to pull his starter and put in a freshman quarterback. It was pure genius. Acting on his thought is what created the change, which ignited the offense, which ultimately won the game and the title. That moment of action is the principle behind one of the best books I read last year: The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

If you haven’t read it, here’s a quick summary: According to Robbins…

Knowing what to do will never be enough.

Knowing why you need to do it will never be enough.

Robbins says it’s not as simple as deciding to do something. “There’s something foundational that has to happen before we can take action, and that is we must learn to conquer our own feelings.

She explains: “Because of the way your brain is wired, when your thoughts and feelings are at war, when there is a discourse between what you know you should be doing and what you feel like doing, your feelings are always going to win.

“What we need is something that’s going to launch us into a state of action.

“If you don’t start doing the things you don’t feel like doing, you will wake up one year from today and be in exactly the same place.”

The one-liner definition of the 5 second rule is this: If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

“The moment you feel yourself hesitate (when you know you should do something) start counting backward 5-4-3-2-1, then GO. The Rule is a proven form of metacognition. When you use it, you shift mental gears, interrupt your habit of overthinking and awaken your pre-frontal cortex – making change easy. The rule acts as a ‘starting ritual’ that breaks bad habits and triggers positive new behavior change.”
Click here to watch

It makes sense, right? Most of us fall into everyday routines. We get comfortable. But sometimes it takes moving beyond that comfort zone and shaking things up to spark change that leads to the action needed to take the first step toward reaching your goal.

The book is a quick read; and Robbins also covers the material in a TED Talk Robbins has given me a new perspective and has prompted me make some quick-fire changes. It’s well worth your time. You’ve got 5 seconds to get on it…

Good luck!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Optimize Your Co-op Marketing Program. We’ll Show You How.

Consistency is important to establishing and maintaining brand integrity. As companies grow and establish new locations or franchises, that brand consistency often becomes increasingly difficult to manage. It’s a struggle that I’ve helped many clients manage.

At Shamrock, we help companies manage their brands—and their marketing budgets—using a smart co-op marketing platform. Whether a company has two locations or 200, this online tool helps protect brand standards while creating efficiencies that reduce administrative time, and ultimately, save money.
Click to View

The genius of this online tool is that it automates everyday co-op marketing program management. Because the platform is modular by design, it allows companies to use only the functions that they need, while implementing and managing those brand-driven touches (think product brochures, email campaigns, approved display ads, promotional items, etc.) directly from their desktops.
This easy-to-implement co-op marketing platform provided big results for one of our clients—a major international heavy equipment manufacturer—helping them grow the promotional segment of their business by 200%. If you’re interested in learning more about this co-op management tool, click the link below to read the full story:

Are you struggling to manage marketing or co-op programs at multiple locations? If you’re interested in learning more about Shamrock’s co-op tool, I’m happy to provide a quick demo. Connect with me at

Kathy Lawlor 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

5 Sales Presentation Tips You Need To Know

Whether your business is selling widgets or creative ideas, you must make sales to drive revenue. And if you’re selling, then you’re also pitching to potential customers. I’ve been in sales for more than 20 years and have learned a few things along the way that are worth sharing:

The most important part of your sales presentation is the pre-meeting discovery call to uncover your prospect’s issues and needs. Your presentation should respond to everything you learned. Very similar to a job interview, ask the customer what they are looking for in a candidate, then spend the interview positioning yourself accordingly.

Next is preparation. For me, the more prepared I am, the more relaxed and genuine I am. It improves my ability to interact without losing concentration or control of the presentation. Don’t confuse this with a memorized speech: Preparation is about aligning the content and key points that I want to communicate.

An article in Entrepreneur magazine offers some tips for the next step: Sitting down with the potential customer. Here’s a summary of 5 tips to help you refine your sales presentation for greater success:

1.Avoid product knowledge mistakes.
There are three common pitfalls to avoid regarding product knowledge:
1. Not knowing your product
2. Sharing too much about your product
3. Not knowing your competition

The article sums it up well: “You can never know too much but you can certainly talk too much. Become an expert with your product and be able to discuss features, advantages, and benefits better than anyone. When comparing products, know how your product is different, know the advantages, and know how to make sense of the purchase.

2. Control your presentation.
Leading with solid preparation, your ultimate goal is to gain complete control while presenting. “The way to gain control is by getting an agreement. Get the buyer’s full attention, get the product away from other products so they aren’t distracted, and present the product while in full control.”

3. Find what the buyer values.
Tell your customer what you’re going to do and get an agreement. Example: What matters most to you when you purchase uniforms for your staff? Are you looking first for quality or lowest cost? Quality? Great, then let’s discuss how our vendor network allows us to provide the best in brand-name quality.

“Be interesting and reassure the customer with any concerns. Break your presentation down into parts. Know where you’re going to start and end. Always get permission to give the presentation, address the time (how long it’ll take), invite any questions they may have, and start in the same place every time you give the presentation. You want stability for yourself.”

4. Avoid making lazy mistakes.
Always do a demonstration. Don’t take the opportunity for granted when you sit down with your customer. With today’s technology, demonstrations need not be time consuming, but rather, engaging and informative exchanges with your potential customer.

5. Anticipate objections.
You’re going to get objections when you try and do a sales presentation—it happens to the best of us.

“I don’t need to see how it operates”

“I know all about it”

“Don’t shortcut the presentation because this is where you build value. Understand that these objections are reactions, not valid objections. To handle these, be committed to your demonstration. You have to know that your demonstration will be of value to your client.”

Access the full article here:

Do you have sales presentation tips that aren’t on this list? I’d like to hear them. Connect with me @

Good luck!
Bob De Garmo