Monday, December 21, 2015

The gift is in the giving for Shamrock.

Giving back is one of Shamrock’s core values and a driving force in our culture. At this time of year we pause to reflect on the simple abundance in our lives that is sometimes taken for granted. This holiday season, as is tradition, our employees spread holiday cheer in a multitude of ways. 

Our Westlake and Avon teams worked together to deliver 35 gifts and hundreds of dollars in cash donations to families in need through a community “Adopt-A-Family” program. Shamrock employees in our offices across the country got in the spirit by volunteering time at their local food pantries, generously donating much needed funds to help those in need, and supporting community service efforts to make the season brighter for others.

At Shamrock we understand that by actively engaging in support of the communities in which we work and live we not only make a difference in the lives of others, we enrich our own. In this season of giving, Shamrock’s employees truly shine. Again, the gift is in the giving.

May your holiday be filled with joy & happiness.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tips for successful product packaging

Have you ever purchased a product because you liked the packaging? I’ve grabbed a bottle of wine just because I liked the label. Same is true with cookies. But I’m not alone: One-third of consumer product choices are based on packaging, according to research by The Paper Worker. There is tremendous power in packaging design: It allows you to make an immediate—and ongoing—brand connection with your target audience.

You can maximize that opportunity for brand impact by keeping a few things in mind when designing product or specialty packaging:

Think of packaging as an extension of your brand. It should reflect your brand image, include smart logo placement, meet your graphics standards, etc.

Make packaging engaging. Consider adding QR codes, augmented reality, or embedding videos to encourage interaction with your product beyond the point of purchase. 

Functionality is key. Don’t get so carried away with creativity that
you forget user-friendly appeal—make it easy to use. 

Content counts. The product name or headline should be easy to read, along with the essentials your buyer needs like instructions, nutrition information, etc.

Click below for more: This infographic is a great quick-read list of tips and reminders to help you to refine your product packaging for greater brand appeal.

How Product Packaging Affects Your Buying Decision Infographic

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We’re Honored. Shamrock is named to NorthCoast 99

I’m proud to share that Shamrock has again been named to NorthCoast 99—an annual recognition program that counts us among the 99 greatest workplaces in Northeast Ohio. The Award is presented by the Employers Resource Council (ERC), which is the area’s leading organization dedicated to HR practices, programs and services. It’s an incredible honor for all of us at Shamrock as this year marks the 12th time we’ve earned NC99 recognition.
The cornerstone of our business at Shamrock is our unique culture and our people. We’ve worked to create a workplace environment where our people feel like they can make a difference—not just  here at work, but in the community, as well. 

Shamrock actively supports a lot of charitable organizations. And that effort is driven by our employees: What’s important to them personally is important to us as a company. It’s their drive that puts Shamrock out there, leading by example, and making an impact throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond. 

NC99 is an award that very much belongs to our team at Shamrock: They’ve earned it. And I’m proud to work alongside them.

If you’re interested in learning more about NC99—and reading about some best practices and success stories shared by some of the award winners—click on the link below to download the 2015 Report.

Download the 2015 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report

All The Best,
Tim Connor  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Make mobile part of your holiday retail marketing strategy

Is your business ready for the 2015 holiday shopping season? While many retailers already have their holiday marketing programs in motion, if you’re just jumping in now, it’s not too late: Retail marketing doesn’t need to be elaborate. But it does need to be smart.

If mobile isn’t part of your marketing strategy, it should be: In 2014 mobile traffic accounted for 45% of all online traffic. Start by ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly. It’s important for your audience/customers to be able to seamlessly navigate your site via their smartphones.

A successful retail strategy requires an integrated approach that includes online and offline touches. To make a brand impression you need to make connections beyond the purchase. Once they’ve received your product in the mail or they’ve walked out of your store, you don’t want to lose them. Use mobile to keep the brand conversation going (QR codes, digital coupons, etc.).

Always, while you have customers on your site, engage them. Gather the information that you need from your customers to connect with them on a regular basis with content that is relevant to them.

Making that brand connection and then creating an ongoing relationship with your customers is what will feed sales and fuel success. If you’d like more ideas about retail marketing, click here.

It’s still October—don’t think you can’t make an impact this year. Good luck!

Tim Connor

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Six steps to content marketing

If you were anywhere around Cleveland in early September, chances are you were seeing orange. Everywhere. Content Marketing Institute held its 5th annual Content Marketing World conference downtown, drawing more than 3,200 marketing professionals from all over the world. At Shamrock, we value the importance of Content Marketing; in fact, we brought in Institute founder Joe Pulizzi to speak at our annual sales meeting in May. Shamrock’s Kasey Crabtree grabbed a copy of Joe’s new book titled Content, Inc. How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. In this month’s guest blog, Kasey shares some takeaways from the book.  

Recognized as the “godfather” of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi is a brilliant resource for all things content related. While his new book slants toward startups, the principles that Joe outlines are applicable to those of us managing content on our own or on behalf of a larger organization.

Content Inc. demonstrates how to build a successful business by developing and engaging a loyal audience and then providing them with meaningful content. Joe uses real-life examples of successful companies that built their audience base before launching their products, reinforcing how his system works. He provides his blueprint for content marketing implementation, breaking it down into six segments:

  • Discover and define a content area Sweet Spot—the intersection of your competency and your personal passion. This should serve as the base for your outreach
  • Content Tilting: How to “tilt” the sweet spot to where there is little to no competition 
  • Building A Base: How to pick the initial platform foundation for your content (blog, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) that connects with your audience
  • Harvesting Your Audience: How to turn your single-visit readers into subscribers by harnessing the power of social media and SEO
  • Diversification: How to diversify your initial platform to reach and even greater audience
  • Monetization: How to monetize it—get paid for your content generation

Joe does a beautiful job of painting a picture for the reader about how smart content marketing strategy is used. So many people see their mission as simply making more money. But the first step is to focus on the needs of your customer or audience—and then the rest will come.

Joe’s content marketing strategy works—but it’s not a get-rich-quick process. Steady, consistent content strategy is payoff for your brand.  

I think most of us would agree that in this digital media era, we’re inundated with content. Throwing content out there without a solid plan—without a defined and engaged audience and a brand-centric message—is simply ineffective. Content needs to be a part of an integrated marketing effort. That’s where Shamrock comes in: For those companies or individuals who need that big-picture creative framework, we have the knowledge and the experience to implement a comprehensive marketing program that gets results.

If you’re interested in ordering the book, here’s the Amazon link: 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ride On: Corporate support takes fundraising to the next level

This month I’m turning over my blog space to Shamrock’s Tim Berry who recently biked as part of “Team Rover” for The American Cancer Society’s 9th Annual Pan Ohio Hope Ride—a 4-day, 328-mile ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

Tim’s effort is one that Shamrock’s Culture Club embraced by rallying support from our employees. Read on to learn more about Tim’s personal drive behind this special fund raiser.

Like many of us, I support a variety of charities; I’m willing to donate to organizations and people in need. But taking part in the Pan Ohio Hope Ride—for the third time—has helped me to reach beyond my baseline level of support. It was an experience that reinforced for me, in a powerful way, what can be accomplished when you join together as a team.

At the start of the race, I looked out across the sea of cyclists: Here we all were, out there, showing up and joining together to fight for a cause that is so much bigger than all of us. We had put in hundreds of hours of training to prepare; with that shared commitment there was a real sense of camaraderie among the riders. It just felt good, to be doing such good. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  

I rode with Team Rover, a group of my friends (who later became clients); each one of us had our own inspiration for participating. For me it was Jackie Bankston. She was one of my colleagues at Shamrock who lost her battle to cancer at a young age. My personal goal was to raise $4,000 in Jackie’s honor. And then our community involvement committee at Shamrock jumped on board; they helped promote my cause. People who I had never met before pledged money and followed my ride progress. With employee donations and Shamrock’s matching-fund contribution, I collected more than $7,500 for The American Cancer Society.

The experience was incredibly satisfying; beyond riding 328 miles across the state, it was rewarding to contribute to such a successful fundraising effort. Paul Purdy at The American Cancer Society in Cleveland did an amazing job organizing the event—it’s one of the most professional, well-run events I’ve been a part of. Click here to view event photos.

For those of us who enjoy giving back, I think it’s important to solicit corporate support to add more fuel to your fire. In my case, I was able to well surpass my goal. If you’d like to learn more about ways to get your company behind your next fundraiser, feel free to email me at

Tim Berry  

Pan Ohio Hope Ride 2015: 46 teams I  378 participants I  $810,576.88 raised

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Print vs. electronic: The argument reinforces the value of integrated marketing

The debate has been raging since the rise of digital media: Which is more effective? Print or electronic? If you want people to understand and retain information, studies consistently show that it’s print. Yet on the other side of the aisle, some e-marketers argue that print is dead. The truth is, in this digital age, there’s room for both in your marketing tool chest.

It’s no different than 20 years ago when we began to use new print applications. Today, we have more channels available, both online and offline. The genius is being able to blend the best of both via an integrated marketing effort.

Print and electronic marketing are not mutually exclusive—each channel has its strengths and limitations. And using them together actually strengthens your brand. Having a consistent, impactful message woven together using different channels (social media, direct mail, promotional products, pay-per-click, etc.) you can ensure that your brand is represented consistently while leveraging the impact of the cross-channel reach. 

Using a mix of online and offline channels also allows you to re-connect with your audience throughout a campaign to reinforce your brand message, drive relevancy and prompt action. You might tweet about a new promotion, send an email blast and follow up with a postcard. And because each of these channels can be used to connect with a specific audience segment your message can be tailored just for them. That’s the power of integrated marketing.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine touts the benefits of integrating print and digital touches in your marketing strategy. It notes that print communications can actually leverage your ecommerce site and even strengthen your social media presence. Print engages multiple generations of consumers; can be used to drive social media traffic (via printed calls-to-action on postcards or print ads, for example); and extends your brand reach by sharing your reviews and information offline. 

Click here to read the entire article.

There’s no time like the present to evaluate your marketing effort. Whether you’re operating as a brick-and-mortar business or an online service provider, balance is essential. Print has a tangible, enduring appeal that complements modern digital channels. Using both will get results.

All the Best,
Tim Connor

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Build some muscle in your supply chain

It’s rare to find a company today that does it all. Outsourcing has become a business necessity—and as such, integrating supply chain management into everyday operations is vital to a strong bottom line.

In a mature industry like ours, products have become commoditized.
And I see that as a good thing:

Serving our customers means providing them with the best product, with personal service, and at a competitive price. To deliver, we have to continuously assess, build and strengthen our supply chain--something Shamrock has been doing for more than 30 years. That’s our business model. Building a reliable supply chain is a byproduct of our charge to provide customers with marketing solutions that meet their evolving needs.

Leaning on suppliers and working with them to drive innovation and cost efficiencies, creates additional margins and allows your business to compete by positioning you to deliver the best in quality, turnaround and price. Charging your team with stringent quality audits and benchmarks, challenging them to innovate, streamline and redesign, eliminating unnecessary or redundant tasks: these best practices help strengthen your market position.  

If you’re looking to sharpen your competitive edge, evaluating your suppliers and incorporating a supply-chain audit is a good first step. This graphic outlines seven steps to seamless supply chain integration.

For more information, read the entire article here:

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Augmented reality. Changing the way we view print—with results that amplify marketing dollars

It used to be that when we picked up a magazine or newspaper, we actually had to read content to get the advertiser’s brand message. But that was then. Today, augmented reality (AR) has taken print to a 3D level: By immersing the user in a living, moving virtual world, AR has completely changed how we interact with a brand—and from a marketing standpoint, it has rewritten the rules of engagement.

When you embed virtual content layered over a real-world object and content is displayed, AR becomes a game-changer in that it makes a powerful, immediate connection with the user and provides information in an intriguing and memorable way. The revenue-generating potential is incredible:
•    $50 Million Sales Increase: Mitsubishi Electric launched a new mobile app for its sales reps; the AR application lets customers visualize air conditioning units in various locations within their homes. The Company reported a $50 million increase in sales figures.
•    A 152% Sales Boost: The Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo launched a mobile app that augments penguins into a user’s view, and then guides the user through the city and to the aquarium. Without changing the exhibit, the campaign increased ticket sales by 152%. And more than 90% of users reported that they would recommend the application to friends and family.

At Shamrock, we recently launched a pre-show mailer for Seiko Instruments USA that used AR to show their new printer in action with the intent to drive visitors to their booth.

Click here to view the AR experience.

AR 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.).

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. If you’re interested in learning more, connect with me on Linked In.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Are you using promotional products as part of your marketing program? Make tangible brand connections

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: The latest 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.

Shamrock’s value is the ability to connect online and offline channels to complement each other and work together to perpetuate the message in the most powerful and effective way. The result of that integrated and balanced marketing effort is a memorable brand impression. We see the big picture.

The ASI fASIlitate Conference just wrapped up in Las Vegas earlier this month. With so many new, innovative products on the market and the phenomenal reach that we are seeing with brand awareness, it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry. 

Which premium items will provide you the best return on your investment?  Click on this link to learn more and see some the newly-released statistics.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The shape of things to come. 3-D technology is changing the way we define printing.

When people think printing, they think Shamrock. Because Shamrock is an industrial printing resource, among our extensive marketing service offerings, some people make the assumption that we’ve got 3-D printers in our warehouses. But there is a misnomer about 3-D printing: It is a new (and expensive) technology that’s used for special applications. 3-D printers use additive manufacturing (AM) technology which creates an object layer by layer. Because it’s controlled and directed by computer software, the printer adds each new layer as a perfect cross-section of that final object. And it builds, or prints, using layers of substrates such as metal, plastic, fabric, foam, etc. It’s an amazing process to watch.
Some industry insiders hype 3-D printing as the technology that will spur the next industrial revolution. That may very well be true. The technology in 3-D printers is being used to create everything from edible chocolate bars at Hershey, to prosthetic human body parts at the University of Tokyo. Consider using a printer to create a human ear: It sounds space-age. But clearly, that reality is not far off.  

Roll back the clock—in the 80’s most of us had never heard of the World Wide Web. 3-D printing technology is revolutionary in much the same way: Our generation will see the growth and development of this technology that will eventually change the way we do business—and the way we live. It’s already taken off: Estimates show that the 3-D printing market will reach $6.9 billion in sales by 2018, up from $3.2 billion this past year.

A friend of mine owns Thogus Products, which is a plastic injection molding company. They have diversified their operations and started RP&M, a 3-D printing company that uses multi-layer 3-D printing to make parts. They’ve invested in machines that handle multiple substrates from plastics to ceramics to metals. They’re seeing more application growth in aerospace, dental and even in the fashion industry. From a budget standpoint, it does make sense to use 3-D to produce one-off pieces instead of creating a mold or other form for single-unit fabrication.

As with most consumable technology, 3-D will continue to evolve and become more cost-efficient. Based on what we are experiencing today, in the future, we’ll all likely have one of these printers in our businesses, and even in our homes.

Where I do see Shamrock incorporating 3-D printing in the future is in helping customers develop prototypes: For applications that would otherwise be cumbersome and time-consuming, 3-D technology could be used to develop packaging and promotional items quickly and more efficiently. Shamrock will continue to connect our customers with emerging technology that is relevant to their businesses. Stay tuned—change is taking shape.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Out with the old, in with the new... Changing your daily habits is the ultimate deep cleanse for your business

We’re already at the end of January: So, how are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions?   I’m still hearing people talk about reorganizing, streamlining, detoxing. But just how do you get there—how do you make those self-promises (or goals) stick?

I contend that this year, I’m “making healthy a habit.”  And that goes beyond the obvious healthy habits of eating clean, exercising and keeping up with regular checkups.  For me, making healthy a habit means making conscious choices/changes in my daily routine that will exhibit a positive change in my everyday life. Think about that concept—it’s a simple incentive that I’ve incorporated into various area of my life.

Making healthy a habit in your business starts with a look in the mirror—or an honest self-assessment. You might want to consider these questions to help lose the flab and shape up your business:

--Have I communicated my vision and goals for 2015 with my employees? Do they feel a part of that effort? Are they inspired?

--How often have I randomly reached out to current clients? When was the last time I picked up the phone and asked them how we’re doing? (the same goes for suppliers)

--Are my compliance standards up to date? Could my team benefit from additional training?

--What areas of my business performed below expectations in 2014? What changes can I implement today to change that course for the year ahead?

--What areas of my business performed well this past year? Celebrate those victories—and then identify ways to replicate that success in other departments, territories, with new product lines, etc.

Again, making healthy a habit is a deliberate choice: It’s a change in mindset that offers great dividends. One resource about changing habits that I go back to time and again is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I wrote a blog about the book a few months back; and you’ll also find more about it at

You might consider tossing your new-year’s pledges, and instead, work toward starting a revolution with your habits. It’s never too late to start.