Category Archives: Marketing Tips

Get ready for Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 26, has been dubbed Small Business Saturday – a day all about supporting YOU. For the second year, US consumers will be encouraged to shop small and support the local businesses who continue to create jobs and boost our economy.

Next weekend marks one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year so make sure you make the most of it. Check out tips on how to promote your business in the days leading up to this event and take advantage of the opportunity to put a lasting message in the hands of the new customers that come through your door. There’s still time to use our Rush service to purchase personalized gifts that ship in just 48 hours.

Our tried and true Contour pen with bright full color designs is both impressive and practical. And it’s Made in the USA!

Our Monthly Patriotic Pocket Planner is a great way to say “thanks for your support” all year long.

However you choose to welcome your customers, we hope that Small Business Saturday is a huge success for you. Kudos to American Express Open for rallying us all to support small businesses nationwide.

How you can make small marketing dollars equal year-round advertising

One of the easiest ways to keep your message around month after month is with a promotional calendar. Calendars don’t get thrown in a drawer, they get coveted wall space, and they are a unique way to display your personalized message. Cost-effective and budget-friendly, calendars are a great way to show your customers and prospects you care. They make great holiday gifts and are the perfect way to generate goodwill and brand awareness at the same time!

We offer a variety of calendars and planners to fit your brand, your budget and your look!

Our most popular option, the Reflections Wall Calendar, offers style and stunning graphics for a fraction of what you would think.

For a touch of fun, choose the Mickey and Friends Wall Calendar with colorful Disney designs.

The Translucent Monthly Pocket Planner comes in vibrant colors and will help keep your ad message in the hands of your customers and prospects all year long!

The Bristol Deluxe Weekly Planner with a FREE pen is sure to impress everyone who receives this elegant planner.


No matter what your budget or your style, there is a calendar out there for keeping your business in view 12 months a year. Tell us what works best for you and your business!

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Proud to be American-made

We recently received the letter below from a happy customer. You may not know that many of our National Pen brand products are 100% Made in the USA. We manufacture top-selling pens like the Contour and the Colorama at our plant in Shelbyville, TN. The benefit to you is that you get American-made quality, factory direct prices and fast delivery. Most of all, you can feel good knowing that when you buy our products, you’re helping to keep dollars and jobs here in the USA.

“Dear Mr. Thompson:

Several weeks ago, I ordered pens from your company. We plan to give them away at the county fair. The pens arrived promptly, and look even better than as displayed on the website. Last week, I brought them to our monthly meeting and everyone was pleased with them.

It is important to our members that we shop for items made in America (the real America, not some off-shore territory). But even if that were not a factor, the price, quality and speed of service would ensure I recommend your company to others.“

For a complete list of promotional products Made in the USA, visit our site.

Guarantee Your Sales!

Have you ever taken a plunge on a new product and realized it just wasn’t what you were hoping for? I know I have, and as a direct result, when I do my online shopping, I look for a guarantee. Though it might seem like a big risk as a small business, guarantees can actually pay you back with more sales, customer loyalty and buyer confidence.

When customers are looking for which product or service to choose, a guarantee might be the deciding factor – offering the risk-free purchase they desire.

Some of the other benefits of offering a guarantee are:

Customer Buying Confidence – offering a guarantee ensures customers they can purchase with you with no need to worry

Increased Sales – If someone is not 100% sure of their purchase, this might give them the final push they needed to complete the sale.

Give you a leg up on the competition – This can be a real differentiating point between you and your competitors – so use it in your advertisements and marketing!

Internal quality control – In order to make sure these guarantees don’t have to be used, this can create a way to ensure the best service and product you offer is consistently being delivered – a sort of check and balances for your internal team.

With a good product or service and a sound guarantee in place, you are sure to see sales skyrocket!

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The Power of Word of Mouth

Word of mouth marketing has been a proven tool in generating interest, traffic, awareness and ultimately – sales. But how has word of mouth marketing changed in the past few years? With the advent of the internet, information is literally at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. Wide searches and reviews can generate foot and internet traffic for retailers and businesses.

However, one of the most important advances has been the use of social media for businesses. Forrester analyst Augie Ray recently wrote Word of Mouth and Social Media: A Tale of Two Burger Joints. This article discusses how two wildly popular restaurants rose to success – one over the course of 10 years, and the other – in just one year. How did this happen, and how can we all learn from this success?

- Twitter and Facebook engagement – get followers and fans and talk to them…it’s a quick, informal and viral way to disseminate information
o Offer prizes for contests such as trivia, scavenger hunts, pop quizzes, and holidays
- Use social media for promotions to drive and retain loyalty
o Offer special deals, sales, or insider information to encourage your customers and
prospects to visit often and enjoy the site
- Create videos on YouTube – product, sales, events…the possibilities are growing every day!
- Focus on time, not money.

Social media requires very little money to be successful, but it does require time. Devote time to creating interesting and compelling tweets and posts, and responding to your interactions. This type of activity fosters some of the most powerful word of mouth success available.

So get out there and be social start with us!

Sizing Up Your Competition

When formulating a marketing and sales plan, one of the best places to start is with your competition – what better way to get a feel for what is working, what you can do better, and how to set yourself apart? As Steve Strauss discusses in his article How to Research Your Competition, using marketing research and competitive analysis is key in understanding the market landscape.

So just how should you research your competition?

1. Start with their website – it should contain history, product or service positioning and other useful information.

2. Do physical research – visit their store, call their customer service or purchase from them…what better way to see how they do business than to become their customer?

3. Speak to their customers – either literally or though their reviews and feedback.

4. Attend industry events – where they might present, attend or share information.

In short, once you do your homework, knowing what the competition does right (and wrong), can help you set your business and strategy apart and give your business the boost it needs.


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Going Green – for your environment, for your business!

Being eco-friendly and saving our resources is not just an environmental issue. It’s also a great way to save dollars in your business, and reach out to your customer and client base. Some obvious benefits of following the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” adage are: saving our environment, reducing waste, and saving money.

But what are the not-so-obvious benefits?

Why not use your ad message in a “green” way – like putting your imprint on a Shopping Tote? Many stores encourage the use of re-usable shopping bags, and some even charge for bags or boxes. What a simple way to keep your name and message in view!


Many offices are also downsizing their disposable supplies – that means no more Styrofoam coffee cups for some. Put your message on their morning coffee mug and encourage business and saving the environment.


Use these simple products to have an additional (and eco-friendly) way to stay in touch with your customers, and show them you care them, AND the environment!


For more tips on green business tips, visit http://www.business.gov/expand/green-business/.


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Trade Show Pay-Offs

In the world of small business, trade shows can be some of the best investments that can be made. They offer an opportunity for live interaction (and in recent years, virtual interaction) with fellow business members, customers, partners and vendors within your specific field. Networking, advertising, learnings and demonstrations are carved out for a customizable experience for each attendee or exhibitor.

How can you make the most of these shows? Joanna Krotz discusses her strategy with Microsoft in her article “9 Steps to Making Trade Shows Pay Off”. She outlines key points, such as creating a strategy, research, having a backup plan and getting noticed. In the strategy of getting noticed at trade shows, there are a few schools of thought, however Krotz suggests a dialed-down, more personalized approach. Rather than overwhelming attendees with flashing lights and massive displays, she suggests using personalized coffee mugs with company information as a give-away with plenty of fresh coffee available at your booth. Also, she recommends collecting business cards to raffle off a single high-value item.

No matter how you decide to use Krotz’s tips, trade shows, if done right, can provide fantastic ROI in the form of leads, sales, relationships and thought leadership.

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Cross-Promotion for Small Businesses

Small business owners are often faced with the challenge of how to most effectively market their business with restricted budgets and resources. An article on bestsyndication.com titled 5 Ways Small Business Can Cross Promote, outlines the top 5 steps for making the most of your marketing dollar through collaboration.

1. Find complimentary business
2. Make an offer
3. Combine Mail-outs
4. Create a combination display
5. Link your site
This is an interesting approach to collaborative marketing. Often times, complimentary businesses or strategic partners pair up at tradeshows and conferences or in advertising campaigns. Perhaps a little ‘out of the box’ thinking can help uncover other uses for this team marketing methodology.

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Online User Reviews – How to Make Them Work for Your Business

A recent Wall Street Journal article “As Online Reviewers Grow, Businesses are Listening” discusses how online reviews, written by everyday customers is on the rise. With sites such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Yahoo Local and CitySearch, users have the ability to review and rate their favorite (and not-so-favorite) businesses. Many consumers use these sites to discover and research their choices online. In fact, the article states that 4 in 10 consumers perform online research to aid in offline purchase decisions.

So how can you harness the power of this user-driven content? Some businesses publish positive reviews on their websites, or print them for viewing in their stores. Sites such as Yelp and CitySearch offer the ability for business owners to publish special promotions for their users. Yelp alone had 29 million unique visitors in September, so the purchasing power behind these users is quite attractive.

So in short, be aware of and listen to your reviews. It’s free market research from your actual users!


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