Category Archives: Holiday Marketing Tips


Small Business Saturday is less than a month away. Are you ready?

It’s been several years now since American Express first promoted their newly-created Small Business Saturday (SBS), and it has now grown into a lucrative promotional opportunity for small business owners everywhere.

Sandwiched comfortably between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this relatively new “holiday” has made a lasting and sizeable impact on the number of individuals who choose to shop at small businesses instead of large retailers over this key shopping weekend.

In fact, according to CNBC, more than $14 billion has been spent each year, for the past few years, at local retailers on Small Business Saturday. To continue our series on preparing for Small Business Saturday, keep the following promotional tips in mind as the holiday nears:

SBS Tip 1: Get Started

It’s possible you haven’t done much yet to prepare for SBS. If not, that’s ok – just hit the ground running right now. Get the word out, talk to customers about the upcoming holiday, and begin talking to other businesses in the area to lock down cross-promotion opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t followed the preparation steps up to this point, just make sure you stay focused on making your business as visible as possible leading up to the holiday. You still have time to create promotional flyers and other local advertisements. You can also order gifts now and still have them in time for some small business marketing materials.

SBS Tip 2: Website Maintenance

Even though the holiday focuses on small businesses, you should still expect customers to view your website and make buying decisions before ever stepping foot in your retail storefront. Ensure your site is up-to-date and provide easy access to the products that will be prominently displayed in your store. Your website will help steer your success this Small Business Saturday, but make sure you have your specials well displayed by signage throughout the store.

SBS Tip 3: Hammer Social Media

Nearly 65% of adults are active on social media, with some age demographics spending several hours per day engaged with one or more social media sites. Ensure that your Facebook page and Instagram profile are up-to-date and there is active dialogue surrounding Small Business Saturday. You could offer a Facebook- or Instagram-only promotion that ties into the day, or simply use your pages to feel out consumer interest. Ask your followers what they’d like to see in the store and what is most important to them this holiday season.

SBS Tip 4: Join the Fun

Just because SBS is tucked between two major shopping days doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, too. Take advantage of the fervor surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday by creating your own Small Business Saturday marketing promotions that start on Friday and run through Monday night. There is no reason why Saturday should be the only day to focus on – instead, create a 4-day extravaganza with in-store giveaways or refreshments that will draw in customers throughout the long weekend.

Small Business Saturday is right around the corner with only 30 days left to go. As you plan your Small Business Saturday promotions, give people a reason to shop locally at your store and see the business results over the big holiday weekend.

5 Best Trade Show Swag Items for Your Brand

5 Best Trade Show Swag Items

If you’ve ever attended a trade show or other large, industry-level event, you know that those little plastic bags the attendees are toting around probably contain more than just pamphlets and flyers. They’re often full of promotional giveaway products and trade show swag items that are handed out by exhibitors in order to provide a memorable link between the tradeshow, the exhibitor, and the attendee.

Consider the following gifts as some of the best trade show swag items to hand out to prospects and clients alike:

Trade Show Swag Item 1: Power Banks

power-bankTalk about effective swag. Power banks are coveted promo items because they can be used by virtually anyone in your industry. Long days on the trade show floor require an easy access solution to keep gadgets fully charged.

Try to keep your branding as minimal as possible, as no one wants a product that overtly shouts the company’s brand message and feels like an advertisement. Keep it simple and classy, and your clients will have a trade show swag item they will appreciate and use daily.

Trade Show Swag Item 2: Promotional Pens

promo-pensThough there is no shortage of pens in the world, you’d be amazed at how effectively you can market your business when you employ a batch of top-quality promo pens.

The trick here is to emphasize quality over quantity. Cheap pens often find their way to the back of the desk drawer or the trash can in no time. You’ll want your company to be synonymous with quality; not with a pen that easily falls apart.

A pen that writes smooth, fits comfortable in the hand and has a nice, sleek design will bring positive value to associate with your brand.  Make sure you check out the Paragon Pen & Stylus Tip, great for writing purchase orders and navigating your tablet as you present your product or service line.

Trade Show Swag Item 3: Lip Balm

lip-balmWhether you live in a cold weather area or a bright, sunny part of the nation, promotional lip balm is a thoughtful and useful gift that is universally applicable to virtually any client.

Go for unique patterns and imprints, but shy away from scents or flavors that are too strong, as they might be off-putting to some. Try simple flavors that appeal to the masses, like mint, lemon, vanilla, and raspberry.

Trade Show Swag Item 4: Reusable Water Bottles

water-bottleLogo water bottles are highly effective as trade show swag, as they are inherently useful and promote a sense of responsibility. Your customers will love minimizing their environmental footprint, while also enjoying a convenient way to stay hydrated at all times. You can brand your agency’s name on the side of each bottle, where it will dutifully advertise your business with each sip.

Trade Show Swag Item 5: LED Flashlights

lakFlashlights offer plenty of power and terrific battery life, and are quite inexpensive, especially when purchased in high volume quantities. Consider some of the flatter variants on the market today that takes up little room and delivers super bright light. In particular, keychain flashlights are hot trade show swag items.

The ever popular LED Flashlight Key Chain contains a shiny metal barrel with laser engraved finish.  Bring high value and functionality to your promotional items ensuring your customers will use these promotional items daily.

The five promotional items listed above are highly effective and can make your swag bag as appealing as possible during an upcoming trade show or marketing campaign. When looking for the best trade show swag for your next event, consider the value of the gifts you’re providing, no matter how big or small!

60 Days For Small Business Saturday Marketing

If you’ve already worked through the initial planning stages for a successful Small Business Saturday, here’s what you’ll want to accomplish over the next 60 days leading up to the event!

Small Business Saturday (SBS) is one of the most important marketing events for you to leverage over the next few months. After all, you likely already have marketing plans in place for the fall season, winter holidays, and into the new year, but by taking advantage of this retail-driven holiday, you can bring awareness to your brand that simply may not have been there before. More and more people are in the mindset to shop local, so make sure your business is ready with a successful Small Business Saturday marketing plan.

Create Memorable Touchpoints

With any marketing event comes an opportunity for you to flex your creative muscles and engage with your clients in a meaningful and memorable way. If you operate a physical location or retail storefront, create countdown calendars that can be hung in the store and deliver a new message each day. Include small discounts, promotions, or giveaways tied to the countdown. Anything you can do to keep the SBS holiday and your related promotional offerings in mind will pay off down the road. A simple solution is to add some brand swag – a pen, button, or personalized candy wrappers – to their checkout bag.

Use Direct Mail Marketing

To generate buzz and excitement for the upcoming Small Business Saturday holiday, consider creating a direct mail campaign that will target either those in your geographic area and/or those who have a high likelihood to buy. Add a sales incentive to the mailers, create high-quality images that deliver a professional tone, and include coupons or discounts good for SBS. Use whatever asset you design as a flyer, as well, to hang in your window and where allowed on community bulletin boards.

Leverage Social Media

One way to shine a light on the upcoming holiday is by linking SBS to your social media profile and related posts. Start by creating new blogs that tout the value of Small Business Saturday or demonstrate the importance of small businesses to the economy. Twitter and Facebook can also be used to effectively market your business, and you can embed links that will route back to your landing page or promotional site.

Add Value with Cross-Promotion

Now is the time to focus on the cross-promotion part of the equation. Whether that means you’re driving foot traffic into a location near you, or you’re directing clients to a partner’s website or store front, the tighter the networking web the better off you’ll be. A fun idea is to design themed bags with your company’s logo, tagline, or affiliation with what it means to “shop local.” Also, consider hosting an in-store SBS party with other vendors/businesses offering customers home-baked treats and favors for stopping by.

Get Excited

This is your time to shine, so plan events, activities, and promotions that will draw others to your business. Show how excited you are, and don’t be bashful when explaining how your small business helps the local community. You’d be amazed at how much goodwill you can generate when you put a local spin on something. For example, by simply designating 5% of the profits from SBS to a local school or worthy cause, you may drive in significantly greater numbers of shoppers than you ever thought possible. Not to mention getting into the holiday spirit of giving back to the community.

November 26, 2016 represents an incredible opportunity to grow your business and increase awareness of the importance of small business in America. Get creative in your Small Business Saturday marketing approach, leverage social media and traditional media options, offer customized promotional marketing gifts to reward client interest and loyalty, partner with others, and put a plan in place today that you will benefit from later.

90 Days Until Small Business Saturday – Get Marketing!

This small business-focused holiday can be just the thing to kick-start your company’s sales – what marketing do you have planned?

Whether you’re a fan of Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, small business owners everywhere should tip their collective hats to the latter card issuer, as AMEX created a “holiday” six years ago strictly focused on boosting awareness and engagement with small businesses across the nation. Today, small businesses can now utilize Small Business Saturday marketing to boost foot traffic and sales.

Small Business Saturday (SBS) takes place between Black Friday and Cyber Monday each year, and the goal is simple – let the big box retailers have the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the online sites have the Monday after Turkey Day, but then persuade shoppers to choose local small businesses for their Saturday-after-Thanksgiving shopping needs.

If you own or operate a small business, consider this day as a holiday devoted just to you. To maximize it, you’ll want to keep the following key marketing concepts in mind when November 26th rolls around this year:

1.  Plan Your Small Business Saturday Marketing

Don't Get Caught Without a Plan - Start Today!

Don’t Get Caught Without a Plan – Start Today!

With 90 days to prepare for the holiday, decide how you want to promote your business in conjunction with the holiday. It is important to realize that not all people know about Small Business Saturday, so use the time leading up to the day as an opportunity to fill them in.

Remind your customers of the day by creating flyers and handing out Small Business Saturday promotional items such as pens that can be handed out quickly and easily. A custom batch of postcards, for instance, can (inexpensively) serve this purpose and will remind the customer of your business far beyond November 26th.

Now is the time to start seeing which promotional products you want to use and order in advance for Small Business Saturday.

2.  Cross Promote Your Business

This buzzy-sounding phrase is actually perfectly suited for your Small Business Saturday marketing plan. Find complementary businesses in your area and find a way to boost awareness of both companies by promoting each other!


Picture Provided by Crown Marketers (

For example, if you run an automotive repair business, consider partnering with the car wash down the street to offer discounted washes with each oil change at your shop. You’ll both benefit, and the customers will have an opportunity to learn about both of your businesses.

3.  Prepare Your Social Marketing

Image provided by

Image provided by

Clients today are as smart as ever – especially when it comes to using social media tools to add value to their shopping experience. Well in advance of the Small Business Saturday holiday, create Facebook posts or Tweets that encourage others to share information about this special day.

Keep in mind that the Small Business Saturday Facebook page alone has more than 3 million followers. Linking to this site or using hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday or #SmallBizSaturday is a great idea to boost your marketing efforts.

4.  Build upon Small Business Saturday

If you’ve already participated in Small Business Saturday in previous years, make sure you promote it this year to create a snowball effect of new business. Or, if you’re already a vocal supporter of small businesses in your area, use this time to communicate the importance of shopping locally-owned companies by showing the correlation between these businesses and the local economy. Use the holiday as a means to continually remind your local area why “grass roots” is the way to go.

Small Business Saturday is 90 days away, and now is the perfect time to gear up your Small Business Saturday marketing, plan accordingly, and start creating awareness of the importance of shopping locally.

3 Easy Steps on the Art of Writing Love Letters This Valentine’s Day 2015

People have been writing love letters for centuries. The time and effort needed to express your valentines dayfeelings and emotions poetically through words are almost more romantic than the words themselves. But in a new world of texting, have we lost the art of writing love letters? Limited by character count and time, we are in a time where “I <3 u” and ILY. need to convey the same message of love.  It seems as though something as real and complex as “passion” has been reduced to a few simple letters.

If you are looking for a simple and thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift follow these simple easy to do steps:

1. Disconnect to Connect:

What’s that mean?  Put down your phone and close your laptop. Remove distractions.  Whether it’s “work work work work work,” social media overload or simply just grumpy cat memes, set aside 10 productive minutes dedicated and focus to your loved one.  So, remove all distractions.

2. Grab your favorite pen …and paper too!

Like the good ole’ saying goes, “Look  good, feel good, do good.”  Grab a pen, preferably an awesome “National Pen” Contour Pen with a rubber grip and exclusive SmoothWrite® Ink, then get some paper.  Because nobody wants a love letter on the back of a receipt.  While you’re at it, maybe a few sheets since your first couple drafts will probably end up in the trash as you try to bring to life the right combination of magical words.

3. pink CTRReady… Set… Write!

Start by jotting down some adjectives that come to mind when you think about your loved one.  Then list out how she/he makes you feel?  The journey and goals you share in life and how they contributed to where you are today.  Convey these ideas into sentences. Did you get those extra pieces of paper?  Like I said, you may need to re-write it a few times until you get the flow just right.  Shakespear didn’t build Rome in a day?  Wait, is that right?  Don’t try to be perfect or anyone other than yourself.  Having if sound like you and reflect who you are as a person is part of the charm.


Write it on nice paper, maybe a notebook or journal you can reuse for future exchanges between you and your loved one.  Then sign your name with love, and if using paper, seal it in a nice envelope.  The suspense will make your love one cherish the experience of wondering what you wrote on the inside.  Clip it in our Heart Shaped Clip and hang it on the fridge for your loved one to find on Valentine’s Day.  You will have given one of the most thoughtful and romantic gifts of all time.

Also, consider that Valentine’s Day doesn’t stop with your loved one.  If you’re in business marketing, you can help your customers and employees enjoy the Valentine’s Day spirit with pens and other giveaway items in red or pink.  Everyone loves a gift from the heart!

A Cold Beverage Warms the Heart

beverage holdersBaseball games, the Fourth of July, late night bonfires, summer soirs, can you feel the essence of summer? The common theme in all of these events is the cold libations. However, there.s no summer killer like warm beer. While ice coolers are great to initially chill the beverage, there aren’t many options once the can has been cracked or the bottle has been opened. A cold beverage is such an essential aspect of any summer event and people rarely obtain these beverage cooling items on their own. Don’t you want to be responsible for keeping the summer festivities alive?

Summer is the perfect time to transition your promotional items to the beverage cooling category. Your clients and employees will appreciate that your company went that extra effort to provide the chill and keep the party going.

Not only will your company name be viewed by the recipient, but everyone who attends the summer event will know that you provided possibly the best contribution. The Handy Hugger koozie is perfect for keeping cans chilled. Using bottles? No problem! The Bottle Buddy is a long necked bottle insulator that is equipped with a zipper closure to accommodate standard 12oz bottles. For cooling larger bottles such as wine, the Flexi Bottle Chiller is the best option.

To make sure that all of your client’s beverage cooling needs are met, order a combination of all three. All of these products can be branded with your company logo, contact information or message. What a perfect, season appropriate, way to promote your business!

Get a Free CD or Personalized Pen With Your Holiday Card Order!

Holiday Card with CDHoliday Cards Deliver a Powerful Marketing Message

The holidays are a time of year in which we reflect on the good things in life. For those who operate in the business world, it is a time to show appreciation for the mutually beneficial clients who help drive your bottom line . as well as the industry prospects who may become lucrative business affiliates down the road. While delivering lavish gifts and a flood of promotional items isn.t always a possibility for every group, few can argue that the upfront cost of a pack of customized holiday cards isn.t worth the investment. In fact, holiday cards are a tremendously affordable way of showing your clients and industry connections that you care deeply about your working relationship, so take the time to recognize this fact during the holiday season.

Free CD or personalized pen with each holiday card

A holiday card is a thoughtful way of telling your clients how much they mean to you. Now, you can help put them in the holiday spirit by sending a complimentary holiday-themed CD or personalized pen along with their card. Each holiday card through National Pen comes with either a customized 12-song holiday CD or a high quality personalized pen. Pens are some of the best promotional giveaway items and the ability to include a custom pen with your holiday greeting card is a real benefit. The holiday CD is loaded with seasonal classics, like:

  • Here We Come A-Caroling,
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas,
  • Joy To The World
  • Hark The Herald Angels
  • The Holly And The Ivy
  • We Three Kings
  • Silent Night
  • Deck The Halls
  • Hallelujah Chorus
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
  • Little Town of Bethlehem

Think about the marketing power of a thoughtful holiday card combined with a CD of holiday music that your customer or prospect can enjoy with their loved ones. This spreads positive correlative feelings towards your business and will help endear your company to those at all levels. Add in an elegant foil-lined mailing envelope and you have a truly classy and effective way of showing your clients that you really care.

So spread some holiday cheer, and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, with custom holiday cards from National Pen.

Don’t Get Lost In The Dark!

With Daylight Savings coming up on November 4, make sure that you aren.t afraid of the dark! Our LED Flashlight Key Chains are convenient, simple to use, and can help brighten any situation. They are great promotional gifts, and will help illuminate your marketing efforts!

  • Simple, efficient source of light
  • Fits conveniently on any key chain
  • Power to illuminate any dark place
  • Promotional value that lights up any relationship!

Stay Positive!

October is Positivity Month.  Looking for some ways to stay on top and be more efficient?  Here are some ideas to manage energy and promote positivity:

The Power of a Good Night Sleep:

While days generally consist of long hours of work followed by trying to complete tasks afterward, many people underestimate just how important sleep plays in the energy that we have. According to the American Psychological Association, 40% of adults suffer from daytime sleepiness a few days a month, and another 20% suffer a few days a week as a result of their sleep habits. This reduces energy, well-being, and ultimately causes daily activities to hinder as a result. By aiming to average at least 8 hours of sleep a night, you will begin to feel better on a daily basis and operate at a higher level.

Develop Daily Plans.

Take time on a daily basis to map out what you need to accomplish. By staying organized, you will begin to develop efficiency and identify tasks that are necessary for the utilization of your energy. Think about the hours at work and home that are dedicated to tasks other than those that are necessary (surfing the web, telephone, social media, etc.). Though we all want a little .me. time here and there, this leads to unproductive habits and drains our energy by not staying on task. By keeping an organizer, schedule, or list, you can accomplish tasks quicker, save energy, and create more time for yourself to do things you want!

Create Time For You.

Half the battle with staying energetic and positive is that there seems to not be enough .me. time. Whether work feels overwhelming or life becomes hectic, making sure that you set aside time for yourself is one of the most important aspects towards maintaining health and happiness. On a weekly basis, find time in which you can perform something brings yourself happiness. Whether it is catching a football game on television, going to the movies, meeting up with friends or family, and/or performing your favorite activity, find time for such. By doing so, you will feel more relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on tasks and goals ahead.

Go For It.  Don’t be afraid and have a “can-do” attitude!

One major obstacle to obtaining positivity is the fear of failure. Set goals that you see yourself being able to reach and go for them. By holding back, you are only promoting negativity and the possibility of failure. Whether win, lose, or draw; knowing that you gave it your all will allow you to gain satisfaction, bring about positive energy, and affirm your actions as being successful endeavors.

Surround Yourself With Positive Energy.

Whether it is being around good people, extending a helping hand, or becoming more involved (activities, organizations, etc.), surrounding yourself with positive energy will help promote health, wealth, and happiness. Positivity and energy are transferable sources that when shared create mutual satisfaction and happiness. Immersing yourself into actions that promote personal and communal positivity will lead to greater satisfaction and success within your daily lives.

Creative holiday gifts with a personal touch

Looking for an easy and memorable holiday gift? Here’s a unique way to say “thank you” without breaking the bank.

Give your customers a personalized mug, a small plastic bag of hot chocolate mix, and a card with the recipe to make more hot chocolate mix.

Here’s a great recipe to try:

6 Quarts Instant Dry Mix
1 Small Bottle (11oz.) Powdered Coffee Creamer
1 Pound Nestle Quick
8 oz. Powered Sugar

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Fill mug half-full with hot chocolate mix and add hot water. Stir to mix thoroughly. If desired top with Marshmallows or Whipped Cream. Enjoy.

Mugs are a great promotional product that will be used for years. It’s like buying advertising space in the homes and offices of your customers and clients, and they’ll see it every day!

Adding a personal touch to your holiday gift will help you stand out. Just get creative with fun ideas like these:
– Put your favorite holiday songs on a USB Flash drive.
– Fill a simple gift bag with your favorite holiday treat and attach a luggage tag with your personal message.
– Handwrite your favorite inspirational quote on the first page of a journal or planner.

Take an extra moment now and your thoughtfulness will be remembered well into the New Year!