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Marketing Articles

Marketing is essential for the success of your business. You need to do more than open the door and hope sales come in. You must promote your company, your products, and yourself to current and potential customers. To help you succeed, our industry veterans and marketing experts share their advice for diversifying your product offerings, following consumer trends, optimizing your website, and more.

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With holiday gifts, some people are planners and others, quite frankly, are not. Personalization businesses are familiar with both types. Clearly, most businesses would prefer to create as many personalized gifts as possible—as early as possible—for the early birds who know what they want and are thinking ahead. But businesses can’t afford to turn down last-minute orders, even if it means burning the midnight oil.

It’s always great when a plan comes together.

Nick Blumer got into the personalization business after spending four years in the United States Marine Corps and 16 years in the Air National Guard, as well as performing network security and HIPAA compliance at a nationally recognized healthcare clearinghouse. When the company he was working for was sold and downsized during the pandemic, Blumer built an online company that sold hats, T-shirts, coffee and accessories. One day, his accountant let him know that there was a business for sale in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that might be a great fit for him and his family.

After 35 years in business, I am still as excited as a kid in a candy store when our business gets a new customer. After all, new customers don’t just mean new money. As your relationship grows, new customers can be instrumental in helping you acquire more new customers through their recommendations to family and friends. In turn, those new customers can generate their own new customers.

Weddings are special celebrations. At heart, a wedding is a public demonstration of two people’s commitment to one another. But thanks to thousands of years of storytelling and a few decades’ worth of magazine articles, television shows and social media posts, a couple’s special day can blossom into a festival for family and friends.

Who could forget the classic slogan for Smucker’s: “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good!” I am no expert on jams and jellies, but the Smucker’s brand certainly gives me confidence that I am buying the best.

I often refer to my production equipment as gift-making machines. Every year during the holidays, friends, family and neighbors receive a custom gift from 9th Street Designs. I find making DIY gifts rewarding and certainly less painful than shopping.

Can it really be the fourth quarter already? It seems like yesterday the APA Expo was in Las Vegas, and we were preparing for the busy season, doesn’t it? But before you can blink, the holidays will be here. Ah, the holidays—a time for beloved family traditions. A time for spreading good cheer. A time for gifts—both big and small. And, like it or not, a time for retailers to end the fiscal year on a positive note.

Word of mouth will always be a major aspect of any awards and personalization professional’s marketing toolkit, but if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that getting online is no longer negotiable. Retailers who do not communicate with consumers via social media are missing a huge opportunity to build relationships with new customer groups, capture additional sales, and grow brand recognition. But with everything running a shop requires, adding to it all the Tweets, posts, ads, and more can feel like a full-time job—on top of all the other full-time jobs required to run your business! That’s where social media management tools come in.

This past year, the popular photo sharing social media platform Instagram reached a mighty milestone: There are now more than 1 BILLION people globally using Instagram every day. According to Sprout Social, 63% of U.S. users say they check their Instagram daily, and Instagram users are among the most dedicated (amongst social media platforms) in terms of how frequently they log in.

So you read my article in last month’s issue of Insights, you’ve identified your perfect niche, and you’re excited to make some positive changes to your business and your life. (If you didn’t, pause here, and log in to to read up on Part 1, then rejoin us when you’re inspired and ready!)

Social media offers industry retailers a cost-effective way to win over new customers, build loyalty from clients, and market product diversity. Photos and videos that are posted online are ideal for showcasing gifts, apparel, and signage to spread the word that your business offers so much more than your target audience realizes.

Growing, successful awards and personalization businesses are devoting more time to content marketing: the publishing of articles, videos, images, and more to reinforce brand image. Suppliers and retailers are getting and keeping their customers’ attention by providing their customers with more than simple self-promotion. To get new visitors to come see this content and become customers, it’s more important than ever to ensure that content is search engine optimized.

We all know that networking with current and potential customers can add to your sales volume in a big way. We also know that a lot of networking takes place in organized groups at events held after business hours. And we know that networking should be a part of every retailer’s marketing plan. Problem is, if it were easy, we would all be doing it regularly.

Do you have a laser and sublimation equipment? With inspiration and creativity, there is no limit to what you can create using this substrate. The question to ask is whether you can sell the product you’re creating. I’ll get to that. Here are five ideas.

The best way to gain and keep customers is to provide them with value. It’s really pretty simple: If the customer is happy with what they get in return for their money, they consider it value.

As part of the International Awards & Personalization Expo February 7-10, I will present an education session in which I build a live WordPress website in 3 hours. Here, I'm going to go over some of the basics for getting started with WordPress. Those of you who have solid knowledge of CorelDRAW and Corel PHOTO-PAINT can use them to create and edit graphics for use on websites.

Whether you are attending the Awards and Personalization Association's International Awards & Personalization Expo in Las Vegas this month, sitting in the comfort of your store and browsing through industry suppliers' new catalogs, or enjoying a visit from an industry sales representative, one thing is certain–your excitement level is increasing as you view all of the new products available for 2017.

Clothes make the man, as the saying goes, but clothes can also help make the business, as some awards and personalization retailers have learned.
“Twenty years ago, when we first started selling ADA signs, there were not many options. Today, the ability to offer full color, standoffs, and special shapes is changing the way ADA signs are produced,” said Jim Robert, CRS, owner of Plastic Engraving Inc., in Gulf Breeze, FL. “ADA signage can be a moneymaker.”
The Old Soft-Shoe: “a speech, explanation, sales pitch, or other set of remarks delivered in a restrained or conciliatory manner in order to persuade, distract, or otherwise influence someone.” —
At Champion Awards & Apparel, “we do a lot of stuff to make a living,” summarizes President and CEO Mike Bowen. Champion comprises nine divisions in 40,000 sq ft in Memphis, TN, with $4.5 million in gross sales each year.

Money talks. The question is what your money is saying to you. For most of us, it says, “Use me to grow the business,” or “Invest me for a more secure future.” But sometimes, in spite of your best intentions, it seems that your hard-earned cash is saying, “Bye-bye!” and being spent almost as quickly as it is made. Been there?

For many retailers, the upcoming busy season is a blessing and a curse. It’s an exhausting time, but one that can keep their business in the black for the year. If you don’t have schools as customers, you probably don’t share the bounty of busy season. To do so, you have to offer the right products for the right school level, create and leverage relationships, and overcome obstacles to getting new customers and getting paid.
Adding gift sales to the product lineup at a trophy and awards shop can be a win-win situation for both retailers and clients, with retailers getting a new revenue source and expanded customer base and clients getting more of their needs met by an already trusted source.
In Aaron Wilkinson’s family, selling sports awards is a longtime tradition. As owner of Wilkinsons Trophy & Athletics, a 35-year-old business in Provo, UT, Wilkinson clearly recalls his grandfather saying that trophies are recession-proof—during economic downturns, parents enroll their kids in local sports rather than take pricey vacations.
Your website needs to be something much more than a billboard. Many of you may recall one of Kevin Costner’s better movies, “Field of Dreams.” While walking in his cornfield, novice farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice that whispers, “If you build it, he will come” and he sees a baseball diamond. Let’s substitute your website for the baseball diamond.
Becoming a laser job shop doesn’t just add customers; it benefits your reputation and helps to grow your business. It doesn’t require new skills or equipment because engraving a trophy plate isn’t that different from engraving a barcode on an industrial tool.
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