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Creating the Perfect Tradeshow Experience for Your Brand

Looking to maximize your brand’s tradeshow experience this year? Keep the following dos, don’ts, and must-haves in mind when formulating your plan for your next expo hall visit.

Aerial View of a Tradeshow Hall

You’ve made the wise choice to attend a tradeshow to highlight your business and increase market penetration. The plan is sound – show up, bring free goodies, talk to the attendees, and you’ll go home with a stack of leads that will surely keep you busy until the end of the year. Right? Well, not exactly.

Many business owners and sales team leads learn the hard way that participating in a tradeshow doesn’t always equate to a successful event. Instead, the before, during, and after segments of the tradeshow experience must be managed in a very deliberate manner in order to net positive results.

Let’s look at some of the ways to create the perfect tradeshow experience for your brand, focusing on three key areas – before, during, and after the show.

Before the Tradeshow

You’d never walk into a sales meeting unprepared, so why do so many of us feel like we can waltz into the expo hall and tradeshow experience without a well-defined plan? Here are four of the key considerations to make prior to attending an exposition or tradeshow:

  1. What is my goal?Before considering the tradeshow route, ask yourself – what is the ultimate goal here? Break down your priorities into the following categories to help plan your strategy:
    1. How many attendees do I want to talk to/attract to my booth during the show?
    2. How many leads do I want to generate from the show/what is an acceptable conversion rate?
    3. Do I want to sell products or services directly to the end-user at the show, and what supplies (contracts, forms, etc.) do I need to bring along?
    4. Am I promoting my business, increasing awareness of my brand, or launching a new product?
    5. How much revenue do I need to generate from the show to net an acceptable ROI?
    6. What is my overall budget for the show and how am I going to pay for it?

     

  2. Is this the right show?The next thing to investigate is which tradeshow most ideally marries with your specific business plan. If you’re looking to net a big boost in short-term sales (i.e., making sales at the actual tradeshow), you may want to consider a smaller show where you won’t have 15 other competitors alongside you. Tradeshow organizers often publish statistics on past attendees, so you can glean whether your target market will actually show up for the event, too.And, if you can’t afford to pay booth fees and the litany of other expenses that pop up during a tradeshow, you may want to preserve your marketing budget and opt for a smaller regional show. Also, consider travel costs when planning which show to attend. This may be a big expense if you’re bringing along several team members.
  3. Who can I trust to help run the show?One of the most important aspects to maximizing the tradeshow experience is positioning your best people in front of potential clients – and this might by you.Before committing to the tradeshow and sending a deposit to reserve your space, ensure you have plenty of support from your sales and marketing groups to help man the booth, interact with attendees, and act as a support system for anything you may need.You’ll want to make sure no key players are on vacation, have travel restrictions, or otherwise cannot attend – you need all your leaders in place.
  4. How do I create awareness early on?It is imperative that you not only create awareness of your involvement in an upcoming tradeshow, but that you also specifically invite members of your industry to visit you on-site.

    You can create an incentive for appointments booked at the show or contracts signed during the event to promote attendance. Provide all the necessary details to make finding you at the show as easy as possible, such as the booth number, dates of attendance, and a map detailing how to find you at the show.

Business Professionals Attend an Exposition

During the Tradeshow

Now that you’ve committed to attending a tradeshow or exposition and have a firm idea of what results you need to see from the event, it is time to discuss how to manage the actual event. Let’s break it down into two key areas: what to bring and what to do.

In terms of what to bring, you’ll have to consider your specific business line. Here are the top 10 basic items you’ll want to have in your tradeshow booth:

  1. TapeDuct tape, masking tape, and Scotch tape. You’ll find a million uses for these during the show.
  2. RefreshmentsKeep your tradeshow booth stocked with water, soda and snacks. Leaving the booth leaves you underprepared for visiting clients and prospects, so tote along snacks and drinks that don’t require refrigeration, aren’t messy to eat, and aren’t too pungent.
  3. PensBring ten times more than you think you need. You’ll need them for signing up attendees for raffles, meetings, and other activities, and 70% of the pens you bring will inadvertently wind up in attendees’ pockets. Invest in company-branded pens to net an immediate marketing boost.
  4. Business CardsThough the standard business card will at some point seem a little quaint, there is still a definite need for something tangible to hand to a client. Another option is to hand them an alternative business card, like a business card magnet, a USB drive business card, or something similar.
  5. Marketing MaterialsMake your brand stand out with customized tablecloths, banners, and other marketing collateral. Take advantage of every flat surface on your creative tradeshow booth design and display your brand on the back wall, tabletop, and even on the entrance mat.
  6. Sealable ContainersYou’re going to gather a lot of client information during the tradeshow, and information security is incredibly important today. Don’t be the business that leads to a leak of confidential information. Seal attendee data, sign-up sheets, and other relevant information in a locking container or secure document holder.
  7. LaptopTradeshow attendees want to be able to access your information electronically, so have at least one laptop computer available to log on to your site. Better yet, a tablet is even more effective because it allows you to interface more freely with a visitor to your tradeshow.
  8. CordsBring all necessary extension cords and charging cables. Most tradeshow booths only come wired with one 110-volt outlet, so bring a power strip, extension cords, and all charging cables. It is incredibly expensive to rent or borrow electrical supplies at tradeshows – so plan ahead on this one.
  9. Wellness ItemsThere are going to be long days, so tote along breath mints, hair care products, cough drops, a nail file/nail clippers, cold medicine, aspirin, bandages, and more. You’ll be prepared for any minor mishaps that may occur. And don’t forget some hand sanitizer and lotion. Hopefully you’ll be shaking a lot of hands, but that certainly reinforces the need for personal care items to keep you and visitors healthy.

Now let’s talk about what to do. Your activities and behaviors during the expo or tradeshow are the single biggest driver of success, so make sure you:

  • Create One-on-One TimeThe average tradeshow visitor spends 5-15 minutes in a tradeshow booth. You have to make that prospect feel valued and appreciated in very little time, so ensure you have dedicated one-on-one space in the booth to speak privately. Tradeshows are loud, noisy places; create an oasis for your valued visitor and they’ll feel like their potential business is important to you.
  • Monitor Your TeamKeep tabs on the way your team is working the expo booth and the tradeshow, in general. They should be outside the booth as much as possible, interacting with attendees in a polite, inviting, and positive manner. Listen to make sure they are asking leading questions that will drive conversations and engage potential clients. This is their time to turn on the charm and deliver.
  • Create ExcitementOrder promotional gifts that feature your logo, business contact information, or promotional message for pennies on the dollar, because the benefit of spotlighting your brand long after the tradeshow is over is priceless.

Tradeshow Attendees Shaking Hands

After the Tradeshow

Organized individuals often fare better when managing tradeshow results. Here’s the bottom line – you’ll talk to a lot of people during a tradeshow or exposition, and you’ll gather a lot of information about them during the event. By creating an organizational system that funnels attendee data into clearly defined categories, you’ll find follow up is easier and conversion rates will be higher. To create the best possible client experience, make sure you keep the following post-tradeshow activities in mind:

  1. Follow UpMake sure you follow up within days after the event. This timeframe is critical. Make contact via email, social media, written letter, and phone, if need be.
  2. Nurture LeadsAssign leads gathered at the tradeshow to specific individuals who will have the best chance of converting the prospect.
  3. Ask Attendees to Sign-UpKeep the connection alive long after the tradeshow is over by inviting attendees to sign up for your newsletter or emails. You can provide a small incentive for doing so, like a promotional gift or discount on future sales.

Creating the ultimate tradeshow experience isn’t as simple as it sounds, but by planning ahead, involving the right people, investing in appropriate marketing collateral and promotional tradeshow gifts, then executing a strict follow-up plan after the show, you’ll maximize your time spent at the event.

Meditation at Work: Strategies to Make Waves by Drowning Out the Noise

Modern life is noisy and often overwhelming. Is meditation the answer? It’s never been so imperative to brain health and general wellness. But can it be done in the workplace?

Coworkers Meditating at Work

Meditation at work may sound counterintuitive. Most work environments are a hub of activity, constant interruptions, and background noise that can prove to be distracting rather than relaxing; hardly the place for Zen. However, it’s for these reasons that office meditation is all the more necessary.

With hectic paces and cut-it-close deadlines, it can seem like there’s simply no time for meditation in the workplace. But once you know how to quiet your mind and drown out the noise, you’ll find taking meditation breaks will help boost your productivity, improve your focus and mindset, and ultimately, be better for your bottom line. For many, it is a life-changing practice that provides heightened self-awareness and a newfound sense of calm.

Why is Meditation Important?

Meditation has been heralded as one of the best exercises you can do to better your mind, reduce stress, and present an overall calmer presence, all of which is important to have a healthy work life. The value of meditation is in making a conscious effort to do nothing and clear out the clutter that overtakes your brain.

It’s important to “reset” your mind every once in a while to prevent burnout. Just as we take time to care for our bodies through healthy eating and regular exercise, it’s also necessary to give that same care and attention to our mind. Several high-profile, successful business leaders have advocated for meditation at work. Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons, and Arianna Huffington all appreciate the powerful effects of mindfulness.

How Does Meditation at Work Help?

Many work situations can lead to long hours, little sleep, and unhealthy habits like sitting for hours at a time, little to no exercise, and snacking throughout the day instead of having a proper meal away from the desk.

Meditation in the workplace benefits people in countless ways, including improved performance and a better sense of wellness when in the office, which isn’t always easy to achieve. Every day is filled with mini (or major!) obstacles, which require the brain to work overtime to get through the day. Rather than transitioning from task to task without a break, a meaningful slowdown can help the brain operate at a higher level.

In a Washington Post interview, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientist Sara Lazar shared her findings about meditation and its countless benefits, stress relief being a main one. She looked at several studies and concluded meditation can “change the brain.” If a person meditates for 20-30 minutes a day, it can help increase or improve:

  • Communication
  • Productivity
  • Wellness
  • Calmness
  • Engagement
  • Physical and mental health

But what does this mean for the workplace?

Woman Practicing Meditation at Work

Being Present and Having a Purpose

There are several characteristics that can be directly tied to how a person performs at work. Presence has been a buzzword lately mostly due to the popularity of Amy Cuddy, and being present is essential to work.

Amy Cuddy has built a following based on her TED Talk and book covering this topic. She discusses the importance of presence and how to maintain “being present” in everyday life. It’s easy to multi-task and be thinking of a response before someone has even finished talking rather than being present. This often leads to miscommunication, ineffectiveness, and lack of efficiency. This where meditation and presence go hand in hand.

Office meditation can help you listen more efficiently, which can help streamline task, make meetings more meaningful, and instill a sense of purpose behind every part of the project. In short, the practice of meditation in the workplace allows people to work smarter. The Guardian posted an article that indicated 80% of employees don’t take a regular lunch break. Does this mean they’re working harder? Or, should they be working smarter by allowing themselves a break to eat, meditate, and walk around to then tackle their afternoons with full stomachs and better focus?

For the business bottom line, meditation at work delivers a positive return on investment. There’s little to no cost and a minimal time dedication necessary to reap rewards that will prove to be long-lasting.

Implementing Meditation in the Workplace

Once you realize how beneficial office meditation can truly be, the next step is to implement it and make it part of your routine. The best way it’ll get done is if it’s scheduled. Set a timer or a write it in your calendar to prioritize it into your workday. Meditation is exercise for the mind and typically, gets easier with time. For those starting out, it may be difficult to sit quietly for more than a couple of minutes without getting distracted or letting the mind wander. Start small and grow.

If you have five minutes, focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and breathe slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth.

If you have ten minutes, practice visualization. Picture a serene place that instills a sense of calm and happiness or focus on a specific goal (it doesn’t have to be work-related) and hone in on that one thought for the entirety of your meditation.

If you have twenty minutes, shut your office door, go to a quiet space, or head outdoors where you can clear your mind without interruption. To start, download a meditation app or find a meditation on YouTube that will take you through a guided meditation.

People meditate in different spaces and in different ways. Shavasana during yoga is a popular time to meditate and clear clutter from the mind. Others prefer to use apps like Headspace or other programs like Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience. Then, there are those who simply have a mantra they repeat to bring their stillness to do their day. The point is to find what works best for you.

Tabletop Zen Garden for Office Meditation

Making Meditation a Habit

Like your morning coffee or afternoon walk around the block, make meditation a habit. Here are a few tips to meditate at work even if you don’t think you have the time.

  1. Ask yourself why.

    Why do you want to meditate? Is it because it’s being offered as a wellness perk at work? Is it because you’re falling behind on important tasks due to your lack of energy and focus? Or, do you just want to instill more calm into your life? By answering the “why,” it’ll be easier to find a way to stick with a plan.

  2. Stick with a scheduled time.

    Maybe meditation at work is the best way for you to start your day. Maybe it’s the afternoon pick-me-up you need to finish strong. Choose a time that works well for you and stick with it. Mark the time off your calendar and don’t let it be easily pushed aside.

  3. Prep your space.

    There are a few options you have to create a meditation space in the workplace. Go to an unused conference space and play meditation music or soothing sounds. For special meditation breaks, use a singing bowl or light an aromatherapy candle. Turn the lights down low and get in the right physical space so it’s easier for your mind to fall in line.

  4. Keep with it.

    As mentioned before, it can be difficult when first starting out meditation in the workplace. Don’t take on too much too soon. It doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes or fifteen, as you long as you do it consistently.

Customize Your Workplace Habits

By creating daily habits that help make your workdays more pleasant, you might be surprised how much easier it is to breeze through your task list. Set time for yourself with mini treats throughout the day, whether that’s a piece of chocolate, time for meditation at work, a quick walk outdoors, or a coffee break with a co-worker. Drown out the noise and be attentive to your mind and body while at work, even if it’s only for a few moments at a time.

Managing Office Politics: How to Boost Employee Morale & Company Culture

While office politics are seemingly unavoidable, it’s really just a matter of turning negatives into positives and spreading the good vibes and do-good attitudes to boost employee morale. Is this easier said than done?

Group of Coworkers Collaborating

Office politics have the power to potentially put a damper on employee morale and company culture. Correcting them can be challenging, especially if your workplace is highly competitive. If you don’t have your head in the game, you may find that you are being outwitted and possibly out promoted by your colleagues. This can quickly lead to harboring jealous or bad feelings, which you can nip in the bud by changing a few things about your own behavior.

Tips to Boost Employee Morale

Unfortunately, you can’t change the attitudes and actions of others, but you can adapt to more difficult situations to make them more favorable. If you’re wondering how to boost employee morale and better manage office politics, here are a few tips.

  1. Get a Pulse of the Company Culture

    It’s a good idea to have a solid grasp of the different personalities you’re working with. Who makes the decisions? What is valued most at your company? Is there an open-door policy? What is the preferred communication style among execs? By taking time to get a feeling for how the office operates, you’ll know how to better approach situations.

  2. Let Your Achievements Shine

    Make sure you have information to back up your claims and avoid coming off boastful. Also, if you’ve worked with other team members to achieve a shared goal, make sure to give credit where credit’s due. If you show support for your coworkers, there’s a better chance they favor will be returned down the road.

    Employees may think their supervisors will automatically notice good work, which isn’t always the case. One-on-one check-ins and internal reviews are an appropriate time to highlight what you’ve achieved and illustrate your value as an employee. If you constantly go above and beyond your job description, make sure you let that be known. Where to start?

    • List projects or performance you are especially proud of and back up the win with facts or data to support it
    • Review initiatives where you took the lead
    • Discuss a time when you found a solution to a client or internal problem and elaborate on how it helped the team
  3. Ask for Constructive Feedback

    If you aren’t moving up as quickly as you’d like or if you feel like you’re not given opportunities to advance in your career, ask your supervisor what you can do to reach the next step. Try to set a goal date to have the next step completed, as setting deadlines holds you more personally Before requesting a meeting with your boss, speak to a trusted colleague to give you honest feedback about your concerns and the way you’re communicating them. It’s important to bring up problems or concerns, but it’s equally important to be part of the solution as well.
    Work Colleagues High Fiving

  4. Have Thoughtful Reactions

    It’s normal to have emotional reactions in the workplace from time to time. After all, you spend the majority of weekdays with your coworkers. Despite any personal conflicts, you must always remember to remain professional. Even if you feel warranted for flying off the handle, the proper steps are to address the problem privately with the person involved, and if a resolution can’t be found, bring in a neutral third party.

    Also, consider if your reaction is directly related to the matter at hand. Sometimes we allow frustrations to build up over time and explode without notice, whether the situation calls for it or not. Don’t invalidate your feelings, but also don’t direct your anger or frustration at a person not responsible for causing it.

  5. Try to Avoid Office Gossip

    Office gossip is inevitable when it comes to office politics, but it can be a slippery slope. Once you’re involved in it, it’s harder to remove yourself from the situation. Ever heard of the phrase “misery loves company”? That applies to office gossip. If one person is lamenting about a less than ideal situation, it can be all too easy to jump in and share your own personal views. However, words can come back to haunt you, so before taking sides, it might be better to listen and limit your involvement.

  6. Build Good Work Relationships

    When you open the door for good communication among your coworkers, it makes it easier to address problems when they arise. Employee morale can quickly tank due to one person’s negative behavior; it can be contagious. But the same can be said of someone’s positivity.

    Rather than jump on the bandwagon of complaining or be affected by the person bringing down the group, strive to be the one to bring everyone up. It’ll help boost employee morale, but will make you feel better about coming to work as well. When people look forward to coming in to the office and spending time with work friends, company culture starts to thrive. Build up your in-office rapport by:

    • Being friendly without falling into specific work cliques
    • Being an active participant in different aspects of the company, whether that’s helping set up social events or requesting to learn from a different department – become known among your coworkers as a team player
    • Building relationships among your peers, but also among your bosses and executive team when there’s opportunity

    Office with a Close Company Culture

  7. Understand Expectations

    In work situations, it’s important that you’re on the same page as other team members, as well as your boss. If you are working under unclear or opposing expectations, this can cause frustrating situations all around. It never hurts to ask for clarification on a project, goals, or other parts of your job. When working collaboratively, make sure the goal is clear and you know your part of what it will take to get there. Establishing timelines and requested deliverables is helpful to identify at the beginning.

  8. Keep Records

    Unfortunately, you may work with conniving or manipulative people. They may try to take credit for your work or throw you under the bus when a project doesn’t go as planned. The first thing is to feel confident in the value in your work, and the second is to keep digital or physical records of communication with this person and save it to a specific document folder.

    If they try to place blame, you’ll have written, factual correspondence. While your first reaction may be to go into defense mode, this likely will only cause an argument. Cite specific emails or meetings where other people were present to set the record straight.

  9. Assess Your Role in Office Politics

    Office politics vary from place to place. If you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t fit your professional or moral requirements anymore, it could be time to assess your employment. Carefully consider all aspects of the situation, and work toward changing the landscape as much as you can for the position you’re in. Don’t let one situation or person ruin work for you. But if it’s a political climate or company culture you’d rather not be in, it might be time to seek opportunities elsewhere.

  10. Make it Work for You

    When you put several, different personalities all in one place, there is going to be disagreements and differences in opinions. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you find your happy medium to make your way through office politics without compromising your work ethic or personal values in the meantime, stick to what works. You can set the tone for your work days.

There will always be an ebb and flow to any work situation. By understanding how to boost employee morale and manage office politics, you can ride the highs and get through the lows unscathed.

Working From Home Part 2: How to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

How do you keep your remote workers engaged and productive when they’re working from home or out of sight most of the time?

Remote Employee Taking a Business Call from Home

Telecommuting isn’t just reserved for IT professionals and C-level executives anymore. In fact, the remote workplace is becoming so common that driving miles across town to an office, parking in the lot, taking the elevator up to the office level, and then settling in amongst a sea of cubicles seems almost outdated. Conference calls, once the hallmark of office life, are now giving way to WebEx sessions, video chats, and other collaborative meeting options. Technology has made it easier than ever to work remotely – and studies show productivity increases substantially when workers are allowed to work from home or otherwise sign in remotely.

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” – Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group

Ways to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

Now that you’ve created a remote workplace environment for some of your direct reports, keep the following eight essential tips in mind to keep employees working from home engaged:

  1. Touchpoints are Everything

    It’s easy to make small talk with your employee down the hall over a morning cup of coffee or donut in the breakroom, but what about the worker who is logged in from home? In this case, you’ll boost engagement and the personal buy-in of the employee by creating planned touchpoints throughout the workweek. Use these connection points to do more than simply check in on the employee, though – learn more about them on a personal level, ask for feedback and their thoughts on the remote workplace process, and demonstrate that you care about them and their development.

  2. Include Remote Workers Virtually

    Remote employees can easily start feeling like they aren’t truly part of the team when interfacing with the physical office, possibly leading them to resent those who meet onsite. Potlucks, birthday celebrations, company announcements and more can begin to feel like they’re geared toward those in the office – and not all employees at the company. Instead, use live video streams to link up employees working from home with those on location to create one, unified team. Once you eliminate the “us vs. them” mentality that can be common among remote workers, you’ll enhance productivity, reduce turnover and create a more cohesive team.

  3. Encourage Conversations Between Onsite and Remote Employees

    Use available tools like Skype or Google Hangouts to promote casual conversations and “getting-to-know-you” sessions among both on-site and remote workers. Even those who do work at home will likely visit the physical office at least a few times per year, but the lack of daily interaction with peers can quickly alienate even the most independent of employees. To create a collaborative workplace, even when remote workers are part of the equation, encourage employees to chat virtually and discover interesting tidbits about their peers. You can host a bingo game that prompts players to find out unique or exciting things about other employees; then, the first two winners could receive a prize – like lunch or a gift card to a favorite coffee shop. Try to balance the number of work-related conversations and personal chats to drive serious camaraderie and collaboration.

    Onsite and Remote Workers on a Video Call

  4. “Swag” Up Their Home Office

    As mentioned earlier, remote workers often feel disconnected from the main office, but showing them that they are valued and appreciated will go a long way toward keeping morale in check. One way to do this is by outfitting their home office with company swag and branded goodies to remind them of their teammates. We’re not suggesting they sit at home wearing company-logo apparel from head to toe (though that is certainly an option), but something as simple as company-branded pens, notepads, calendars, and other handy office items will elevate morale, performance and the sense of team among home-based or remote workers.

  5. Think Employees, Not Hired Hands

    One of the greatest things about agreeing to a remote working arrangement with one or more employees is the boost in productivity you’ll likely see. Simply put, remote workers get more done in less time – and that’s all you can ask for as a leader of home-based employees. But this high-efficiency approach to task completion can leave many remote workers feeling like “hired hands” – not full-fledged company employees who have unique aspirations and clearly-defined goals. To overcome this concern, make it a point to meet with your remote workers at least twice per year to conduct focused coaching sessions around their personal and professional development plans. Make sure they are making adequate progress toward their goals. Follow up with a future meeting dates to reevaluate the plan. Keep it about their personal growth and careers, and you’ll instantly solidify the strength of your team.

  6. Create a Culture, Not a Mission Statement

    To foster a culture of engagement and performance among remote workers first requires defining, creating, and supporting a culture at your business or organization. Forget the mission statement – your remote workers must understand what your company stands for, what the ultimate goals are and the metrics used to define them, the overall company vision as created by senior leadership, and how each worker can integrate with the company to support the organization’s defined goals. By more intimately understanding the company culture, remote workers will feel a greater sense of empowerment to make decisions for the good of the company. This reduces the need for managers to micromanage employees, too.

    Man Working Remotely from Home Office

  7. Provide Sufficient Autonomy

    Your remote workers expect some level of autonomy. After all, they operate under a commonly-agreed upon work schedule and must deliver results to keep their jobs. Treat them like the adults they are and afford them as much autonomy as possible. Find the ideal balance between a moderately hands-off approach and accountability to create an engaged remote worker who feels valued and trusted. Though autonomy is a good thing, there will be times when your home-based employee will have to react quickly to company demands – requiring you to come to an agreement as to what constitutes a work emergency or compressed deadline and what doesn’t.

  8. Put Appropriate Systems in Place

    Your remote workers will feel engaged if they are supported by you, their peers, and also a robust technology package that keeps them connected and organized at all times. Virtually all businesses with remote workers opt to use popular project management tools like Basecamp, Trello, Jira, Microsoft Project, Smartsheet, Active Collab and more, to keep employees connected to one another and actively collaborating on projects.

Working remotely doesn’t equate to a holiday from the office. Instead, home-based or remote access workers may outwork and out-produce those who opt to work in a traditional office environment. Statistics prove this assertion, showing remote workers work longer hours, are more productive, take fewer sick days and return to work quicker after medical concerns. If you’re ready to create an engaged and high-performance team who just happens to work from home, keep the eight tips above in mind and you’ll boost your company’s performance in no time.

If you’re an employee interested in remote work, check out Working From Home Part 1 to find tips on how to get your boss to approve working remotely!

Dental Marketing Confidential: How to Impress New Patients

Creating a successful dental marketing campaign is vitally important to your practice. If done effectively, it can alleviate apprehension in prospective new patients. Here’s how marketing for dentists can shine a light on your practice and build trust with new patients.Toothpaste on a Toothbrush

It’s amazing how much thought must go into operating a dental practice. It takes hard work, serious upfront capital, and an acute understanding of dental marketing techniques that work well for the industry. The bottom line when it comes to any business is to welcome guests warmly, keep people happy, and create patients/clients/customers for life.

Patient satisfaction is linked to several key components. When it comes to creating a lasting, positive impression, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my dental practice clean and well-maintained?
  2. Does my staff operate with the same positive tone and engaged manner that I do?
  3. Do I offer all the services my clients expect from a contemporary dental office?
  4. Do I have systems in place to organize and manage my existing dental patients?
  5. Is my decor inviting, and is the office a comfortable place to wait for dental services?
  6. Do I offer promotional dental marketing gifts or items of nominal value to reward loyalty or entice first-time visits?
  7. What makes me unique when compared to the other dental practices in the area?

These questions are a great place to start, but it is crucial to include one overriding theme across your considerations: Few people like getting dental work done, and many have an associated fear of the dentist. This makes it all the more important to do all you can to minimize patient apprehensions and create the best impression possible.

Alleviate Patient Anxiety

Let your guests know you’ve considered their comfort level and have made proactive steps to minimize their stress and anxiety levels. Simple visuals like fresh flowers, fish tanks, serenity fountains, or interesting art displays can help put patients at ease. Try to keep the high-pitched whir of dental tools from permeating the waiting room by playing soft background music, and reduce barriers between front office staff and the waiting room. In fact, the “front-desk window” is considered a stress trigger for many patients. Openness is a good thing to create a more relaxing environment.

Dentist and Happy Dental PAtient

Make Patient Comfort a Priority

Provide small pillows and blankets for patients who are undergoing longer procedures to enhance their comfort level.  If they must stay in the chair for an extended period of time, offer personalized lip balm to minimize chapped lips, common with longer dental procedures. Also, consider the temperature in the room. Patients often report dental offices are too cold.  This is often attributed to lack of patient movement rather than a low ambient temperature. In addition, consider the needs of parents who have arrived with small children. A television and kid-friendly movie can help, as do toys, books, games, and other child-focused items.

Provide a Gift

To ensure your patients remember you long after they leave the office, provide them with a small dental kit to take home. Most dentists with an eye for marketing opt for a promotional gift that combines real world utility with a manageable unit cost. Often, patients will receive a new toothbrush and toothpaste. Think about including a miniature customized calendar that can be used to track their dental appointments throughout the year. There are dozens of high-performance promotional gifts that can make your dental office stand out.

Growing your dental practice can be made easier by leveraging effective marketing techniques and paying special attention to the new patient experience. Focus on the fundamental considerations above, and you’ll boost patient loyalty and ensure repeat business for your valued practice for years to come.

Church Marketing that Spreads the Word & Grows Your Congregation

Here’s how to boost the excitement around your next service and attract and keep more people through innovative church marketing ideas.

Young Churchgoers in a Prayer Circle

Believe it or not, your church organization has its own “brand.” Just as we associate sleek design features and fast technology with Apple or sporty aesthetics and high performance with BMW, your church says something, too. How you define and communicate that message are fundamentals in building your church’s identity. By spreading that message, you’ll better engage your current congregation and continue attracting new members to your community.

Church Marketing Ideas

If you’re unsure about what kind of growth strategies can help your faith community, these five tips will help put you on the right path for starting your church marketing plan:

  1. Create Custom Church ProductsReligious Organization Journals

    People can sometimes be shy about reaching out to people they don’t know. By giving church members tools that enable them to easily create conversations, you’ll drive more people to your house of worship. Have them give away customized notepads or other inexpensive, yet effective promotional church products that invite others to come to your church with ease. A research study performed by Church Central discovered that 9 out of 10 unchurched people would go to church if simply invited. Choose giveaways that will find their way onto people’s desks and refrigerators, like promo magnets, pens, or other small, useful items.

  2. Maximize Social Media

    Use the largest and most accessible marketing channels to tout the benefits of your church by taking to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to connect with the community. Publish a new blog post each week for your website, then link to it via your social media accounts. This will help keep members informed on updates and inspired to continue attendance – especially if they’re new to your congregation. Make sure you favor quality over quantity when it comes to social media.

  3. Order Printed Religious CalendarsJourney of Faith Religious Wall Calendar

    Design customized stick-up calendars that can be sent to prospective church goers in the area. Calendars are perfect for tracking church events, special services, religious holidays, and more. Sending these religious calendars to your existing congregation can improve the percentage of members who turn out each week. Additionally, by targeting non-members, you can also increase the odds of more members of the community finding out about your church, while also providing them something of value.

  4. Sponsor Educational Classes

    Use your existing space to support ongoing classes, which can range from financial literacy to parenting classes. Donate meeting space to community groups to increase awareness of your community. A solid church growth strategy should, in part, focus on driving prospective members to the church via events that bring together diverse groups with shared interests, like food festivals, musical concert series and seasonal celebrations.

  5. Show Your Funny Side

    You’ll attract positive attention when you lighten up the mood with a funny or lighthearted video that can be posted on your website or social media. It doesn’t have to be silly or cartoonish, but it must be memorable. Show people your church is relatable and inviting. This can help reinforce the unique identity of your faith community. Seek out volunteers from those who are interested or might have experience filming and video editing.

Getting the message out about your church doesn’t have to be a chore. By using a good mix of the church marketing ideas listed here you’ll put more members in the pews each Sunday without breaking a sweat. Need fresh ideas to help your church growth and marketing efforts? Contact National Pen today!

7 Real Estate Agent Tips for Real Estate Marketing

Now that we’re well into 2017, it’s a good time to get going on the New Year’s resolutions you made at the beginning of the month if you haven’t started yet. These realtor tips should get your resolutions in full swing.

Real Estate Agent and Couple Looking at Homes

Setting goals and making resolutions is a great practice in theory, but in order to make any real improvements, they must be followed by action. Due to the hectic nature of the real estate world, it can be easy to sweep work resolutions under the rug and carry on with your normal practices and habits. But, staying organized and better managing your real estate business will help you to become more in control, which can only lead to good things this year.

Realtor Tips for Success

In an effort to help you maximize productivity, we’ve compiled seven real estate agent tips that will help you get a grip on any disorganization and chaos in your everyday life and make you a top agent in 2017.

  1. Make the Most of Your Open Houses

    Holding open houses is key for real estate agents to attract possible buyers for their clients. Open houses require a lot of preparation such as multiple client meetings, scheduling, real estate marketing, making sure the house is ready to show, creating and printing copies of brochures, etc. Once this hard work is done, make the most of your scheduled open house with a featured giveaway. This giveaway should include a product the viewers will value, like a customized reusable bag, which will also accomplish promotion of your brand.

  2. Send Memorable Mailing Campaigns

    Real estate is a competitive game. Any seasoned real estate agent knows clients will not simply come to you without any effort on your behalf. With so many buyer options, you must distinguish yourself in every way possible to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. In order for your real estate agency to stand out, it’s important to reach clients through a variety of outlets.

    Some have discounted mail as an obsolete form of communication, but it is still an influential way to efficiently reach a vast number of potential clients. Offer a product potential future clients will utilize, while keeping your brand front of mind. Your mail campaign should include unique, customizable home-shaped magnets, which deliver a personalized message and is an inexpensive option for tight real estate marketing budgets. Unlike a business card, these magnets will not be overlooked and thrown out with the rest of the promotional mail. Instead, potential customers can easily affix them on the fridge and automatically serve as a reminder when they need a real estate agent option.

  3. Never Miss an Appointment

    Between the many forms of communication today and the variety of obligations real estate agents inevitably deal with daily, time management and scheduling can be tricky. Staying organized and on top of your meetings is imperative to continuing good relationships, retaining clientele, and being seen as a professional and knowledgeable real estate agent.

    While most everyone has forgotten to follow up or has been late to an important appointment in the midst of a busy schedule, doing so will no doubt lead to negative associations for you and your brand. This type of behavior can damage your clients’ trust in your competence as their realtor.

    This can sound a little intimidating, but all you need to stay organized and composed while on the job is a calendar. Note all your appointments, follow ups, and reminders on a desk calendar. You’ll be able to juggle the never-ending to-do list much better when it’s all organized in one spot.Office Setup with Laptop and Mug

  4. Always be Prepared

    No real estate agent ever has their smartphone far from their reach. How did anyone ever live without these magical handheld computers that seem to be involved, in some way or another, in our entire lives? A main part of the real estate business is talking on the phone – whether you’re calling potential homebuyers, communicating with sellers, or everyone else in between.

    Ever since the smartphone surfaced and dominated the communication industry, we use our phones even more than calling. We use them for everything from checking emails to setting reminders. Because of this dependency, never allow your phone battery to reach that dreaded one percent. Keep a portable phone charger handy and avoid the stress of missing that next important sale.

  5. Stand Out with Events

    Promotional events are a great way to attract homebuyers for your clients, as well as networking with potential future clientele. To ensure you make the most of your efforts of putting together and marketing a promotional event, make the best impression possible with everyone you encounter.

    Use promotional products, such as banners and signs, to stand out and encourage attendance. It gives you a chance to highlight your brand in a positive way, while also catching the attention of those in attendance and others passing by.

  6. Keep in Touch

    Ongoing communication helps to build positive relationships and increase referrals and repeat business. To help manage your time spent connecting with clients, prioritize the people in your database who have proven to be most valuable to your business. Send your bests clients a luxury tumbler set to express your appreciation for their ongoing business with you. Treating your best clients to special treatment is a great way to reinforce and even strengthen those profitable relationships.

  7. Cover All the Bases

    Real estate transactions are notorious for their complexity, which is why your knowledge and services are needed by so many. Closing a deal involves large sums of money and a complicated process. Once you have seamlessly executed each step for your clients including negotiations, inspections, etc. – you have finally reached the closing process.

    These involve contracts that need thorough review. Don’t drop the ball once you’ve reached the home stretch, and always come prepared with extra promotional pens on hand for clients to use when signing their closing documents. It may seem minor, but it helps those final steps to the finish line go as smoothly as possible.

These seven real estate agent tips will show your clients how prepared and professional you are. They will help you stay on top of your realtor game in 2017, while also providing real estate marketing value to you at the same time. That seems like a win-win to us.

5 Simple Tips to Give Your Logo Love

Place your logo on products that are both functional and meaningful to help with brand placement that will get the word out about your business and help your audience fall in love!

Hand Drawn Logo with Love Theme

A brand’s logo placement is a key consideration when crafting the ultimate promotional marketing campaign. Just ask Starbucks. They had to repaint many of their delivery vans because its corporate branding changed from “Starbucks” to “Sucks” when the sliding door was open – making for the infamous Starbucks Sliding Door Van Fail. This is a popular example of a good logo placement gone wrong, which then changes how the public associates this messaging with their brand. Determining your logo placement requires a good amount of thought and TLC for a successful campaign that will have your customers falling head over heels in love with your company.

Logo Tips for Placement Dos and Don’ts

You can’t just put your logo on anything and everything without considering a few factors and logo tips. When you’re planning your upcoming promotional campaign for brand placement, ensure your logo is prominently displayed for all to see. Aim for a location that makes sense, and on products that pair with your brand’s overarching mission.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to make sure your brand placement is highlighted appropriately:

  1. Do:

    Take advantage of promotional gifts like calendars and day planners, as they can be customized to showcase your logo on a part of the product that isn’t affected when someone turns the page or flips to a new month. Make sure the logo placement or brand information is positioned where it will deliver maximum exposure.

  2. Don’t:

    Pay for advertising space without considering how appropriate that space is for your brand placement. Billboards and larger advertising initiatives can quickly eat up a tight budget. Consider the cost benefits before putting your brand on display.

  3. Do:

    Place your logo on items that can serve as alternative business cards. For example, a small, inexpensive flash drive makes a powerful promotional giveaway item because you can store your catalog or other relevant company data on it, saving paper and printing costs. Your customers and prospects will see your logo prominently displayed on the drive each time they access your company information.

  4. Don’t:

    Sacrifice quality for quantity. It may seem like an easy solution to put your logo on anything and everything possible, but make sure you’re attaching it to well-made promotional items that will readily associate your brand with something that has tangible value.

  5. Do:

    Align your logo with trends. When creating a promotional marketing campaign, keep in mind that tactile gifts are becoming increasingly popular these days. Stress balls are especially fun as a small but simple gift that can help raise brand awareness, while helping other decrease their stress.

When you’re ready to create greater visibility for your brand, keep in mind you not only have to create a great logo, you always have to place it in the right spot. By following these logo tips, your audience is sure to grow to love your brand even more than before. For more information about promotional marketing gifts, browse our catalog of customizable items and see where your brand logo placement will make the most impact.

Working From Home Part 1: How to Get Your Boss to Approve Remote Work

Telecommuting, or work from home, opportunities are becoming increasingly popular.

Work from Home Setting with Laptop and Mug
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 24% of employed people performed part or all of their work from home in 2015. For many who take advantage of the benefit, telecommuting provides a needed change in environment, a chance to focus without the constant distraction of office noise, and the flexibility to change work habits to more closely align with everyday life – all while still delivering quality performance.

There is a certain level of trust and confidence employers must have in an employee to allow a work from home situation, but there are ways to make the remote work transition be handled in a way that makes both parties comfortable.

  1. Be Reliable

    It’s not likely that an employer will offer a remote working situation right off the bat, unless previously agreed upon during the hiring process – especially if other employees are expected to be in the office.

    One way to show your boss that working from home will not decrease productivity is to demonstrate your reliability when in the office. Are you able to meet deadlines? Have you achieved your outlined work goals? Are you prompt to meetings, have good attendance at work?

    Your boss needs to feel you can be relied upon to get the job done wherever you are. If you struggle with meeting the expectations while in a more traditional working environment, making the case for working remotely becomes more difficult.

  2. Consider Your Position

    Remote work situations aren’t for everyone, and won’t be as successful across all industries. Consider how much time you’re required to be in client meetings, team huddles, and other facets of the job where your physical presence is required.

    For example, those who work in sales may spend the majority of time on the phone or emailing leads, while also attending conferences or traveling to meet clients at their own offices. This type of work can likely be done virtually anywhere, making an in-office presence less necessary.

  3. Take Advantage of Technology

    With the advancements in technology, it’s far easier to stay connected during work hours. Platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts, and other voice and video conferencing systems can keep the lines of communication open, which is essential when maintaining a positive working relationship among team members.

  4. Schedule In-Person Visits

    While technology allows us to have more flexible work scenarios, it’s still important to touch base in person every now and then as well. Whether it’s to work for a week in the office or to make a visit to be part of a team building activity, people you work with should feel like you are (and want to be) part of the team.

The Shift to Telecommuting

People check their work emails on the weekend. They may take a conference call or two outside of regular business hours. Or, they catch up on deadlines as to not be bombarded first thing on Monday morning. When employees carry over office activity into their home life, there is already the transition of a remote working situation.

According to a Forbes article, there are certain predictions that forecast 50% of the workforce will be working remotely in just three years. Telecommuting was once a special scenario reserved only for the most unique of circumstances, but now is considered more of the norm. It’s up to you to convince your boss that your value at home is just as credible as when you are in the office.

If you are an employer wondering how to keep remote employees engaged, check out Working From Home Part 2, where we discuss bridging the gap between home and office!

5 Tips for Eco-Friendly Office Supplies and Company Culture

Sustainability is a buzzword, which is quickly becoming a best practice used in several industries.

Office Space with Eco-Friendly Office Supplies
Companies are leaning toward ways to incorporate more environmentally-conscious processes and eco-friendly office supplies. According to a 2015 global case study, 91% of consumers reported that they expect companies to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. Additionally, 84% seek out responsible products whenever possible; all the more reason to become more earth-conscious.

Setting up your office for eco-friendly success doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul from what you’re currently doing, but rather the implementation of small changes that will have a greater impact over time.

Eco-Friendly Office Tips

Ready to help your team and customers limit their carbon footprint? Here are 5 easy ways to get started and go green today.

  1. Create Opportunities

    This broad categorization can be broken down into smaller steps based on your company’s available resources and dedication to a greener initiative. For starters, supply personal recycling bins or a few central larger bins that are meant solely for recyclable waste in your working space. Reach out to your building manager to ensure you have the right supplies necessary to carry out these initiatives as easily as possible.

    Also, simply shutting off lights not in use can cut down on energy waste. Reorganize your space to maximize daylight and help make artificial light less in demand. This helps reduce electricity costs, but can also help improve productivity and health in the workplace.

  2. Pack a Lunch

    Lunch bags aren’t typically considered an office supply, but by providing each employee a customized reusable lunch bag, you may cut down on considerable waste. It encourages others to bring reusable containers and silverware from home rather than relying on plastic utensils and dishes meant for one-time use.

    Tip: Reusable bags are also unique promotional gifts that can help set your company apart from all the bags, pens, and notepads handed out at trade show events or open houses this year.

  3. Provide Education

    Make eco-friendly behavior part of your company’s overall messaging. Whether you include tips about conservation in your internal newsletter or include best practices for green living in your email campaigns to clients, there’s always room to share best practices for how to help protect the environment.

    Take it a step further, and let others know you’re going digital with documents to prevent waste. Brochures, newsletters, and other marketing materials can all be created online and still have a meaningful impact on your audience.

  4. Say No to Plastic Bags

    Reusable bags aren’t reserved only for farmers markets anymore. In fact, many cities are encouraging the use of them for grocery shopping or other smaller day-to-day errands. Based on numbers from the Wall Street Journal, Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year.

    While this number has hopefully declined in recent years as sustainability has increased, the stats are still alarming enough for every business to consider using reusable bags for their business.

    As one of the most eco-friendly office supplies, reusable shopping bags help the environment, while also providing a big boost to brands through customization.

  5. Take Inventory

    Employ your office manager or marketing coordinator to take regular inventory of the office supplies you already have. Too often, in preparation for events or meetings, companies will order additional supplies rather than checking on current surplus.A regular habit of tracking inventory will give you a more accurate tally of what’s needed, which helps save on waste and company costs.

Planning for the Future

Companies and consumers are becoming more mindful about the way they treat the planet and understand that many actionable items take little effort at all. As you make plans for an eco-friendly future, start small by swapping out certain office supplies for those made of recycled materials or items that promote sustainable living.

Encourage conservation of utilities whenever possible. And, make sure you’re also providing earth-conscious options for customers who wish to buy from companies that care about the environment.