Category Archives: Success Stories

Building your Brand – Basic Fundamentals of Turning your Idea into a Business

You’ve done it.  You’ve finally decided to launch your business.  Now to get your name out there so you can have customers.  You have all these skills, but running a successful business requires more than just knowing the service you provide, it requires getting your business brand out there.  ready. Set. Go.  Here’s what you need!

Name

“Keep it simple stupid,” The saying our mom’s have been telling us our whole lives.  A name should be easy for your customers to remember, and even easier to spell.  Anything more and anything less and your customers will either never find you or not remember.

Logo

A lot of money has gone into studies about colors and shapes, but realistically, your logo should reflect your company. The best thing to do is think about all your favorite brands, gather up images of their logo and ask yourself what comes to mind when you look at their logo.  Do you think the person who created this logo wanted you to feel this way?  From there, write down what you like and try to incorporate it into your logo.  Once you have a prototype, think about investing in graphic design help from a professional.  Meet with them, tell them your vision and list out the qualities that inspired your prototype and w3atch them bring your logo to life.  Try to give them as much detail and direction as possible to keep cost down and money in your pocket.

Business Mantra

What solution are you providing? If you’re a lawyer, are you helping win cases?  Of course, you are just like all the other lawyers out there!  So what makes you different?  Is it your pay as you go pricing or your ability to communicate the law to the average Joe?  Think about the solution you provide, how you are going to deliver it and why they should choose you.  Write it down, and more importantly, make sure your business practices this every day, from you the business owner, to every employee who represents you.

Start Small, Build Big

If you are a lawyer, everyone you know and interact with should know you are a lawyer. Going to the grocery store and you strike up a conversation with someone, give them your card.  If you can’t sell your service to the people around you in your daily life, then throwing money at high dollar marketing plans will be risky.  If you say things like, “they won’t buy from me because they know me too well.”  Well then ask yourself, why they don’t trust you and work on yourself to build your brand and gain their trust.  Sometimes convincing the people that know you best will be your toughest test, but overcome those obstacles and you will set yourself up for success.

Do It yourself Marketing vs. Paid Marketing

There’s time to go cheap and there’s times to spend the dough. Knowing when to and when not to can be tough.  But like step 4, start small and test.  Exhaust all your free options and take the lessons learned from them to figure out a solution for paid marketing techniques.  Perhaps contract work out to test again new theories you are not experienced with.  When you find someone or something that works, invest smartly and capitalize.  Many programs these days offer simple, easy to use paid marketing techniques for business owners looking to develop this skill set.  Watch the videos, contact the company and soak up as much knowledge.  Facebook business offers simple solutions but find someone with success using their programs so you can know what you are getting into.

There’s probably a million more things to list and even more to do, but starting with some basics to help you develop a roadmap to success will keep your wallet full and your knowledge growing.  Good luck!

How Premium Gifts can uplift Employees

Premium gifts serve the basic purpose of your standard gifts, to reward good behavior and encourage your employees to strive for more.  Encouraging this type of behavior will make your employees feel respected and appreciated.  It will also help determine who wants to develop their career for the long term. Here are some reasons to give your employees the not just gifts, but Premium Gifts!

Thank you gifts

Numerous studies have often said employees love when their manager tells them “good job!” A thank you gift can go a long way to improving employee morale. It doesn’t have to be over the top or too expensive either.  It just simply has to display how thankful you are to have them on your team.  Consider a pen and journal set with a special thank you message.

Top Performer Gifts

everyone knows the saying of “Show me the money” but sooner or later, your staff will want to be recognized as the top worker bee.  Reward the person, the department or the company who performs the best.  Maybe it’s a special coffee mug, stainless steel water bottle or portfolio for them to show off around the office.

Most Improved Gifts

Keep morale in the office high by showing you notice the people putting in effort, trying to develop their skills and taking on challenges they once hid from.

Consistent Award Gifts

They show up every day, rain or shine, with the same can-do attitude. They put out the “fires” at work and find ways to still make the office life enjoyable for the people around them.  Need them to work a little late and they have no problem.  They are your consistent performers who you cherish.  Show them why you love to have them in the office.  Deluxe Lunch bags or ice coolers that resemble them grabbing their “lunch pail” and hard hat for a great day of work is a gesture to show how much they are cherished by your organization.

Team Award

Did accounting figure out a way to save on spending?  Customer Service find ways to keep customers coming back for more?  Or maybe sales knocked their quota out the park?  Reward the departments that show the best results and let their team celebrate together. Its important to foster an environment of winning together and rewarding the victories.

4 Easy Ways on how to have a Successful Happy Hour with Clients

We’ve all been there, trying to open a new account, someone you’ve been prospecting for ages but just can’t seem to find the solution to closing the deal.  You call, email, mail and sometimes you even fly across the country but can’t get it done!  Sales are slow and you know if you can just get this one client, all the hard work will have been worth it.  Well, a good sales person knows that if you can’t get in the front – back – side door, well then, change the venue.

In this blog, you’ll find the basics on how to have a successful happy hour to set the setting on closing the deal.

1 – How to ask – It’s simple. Just ask.

For some, asking a client out can be scary, and for others it the perk of the job.  I often go with the basic “Hi XXXXX, I’ll be in town on this date, what’s a good bar or restaurant we can meet for happy hour?  I’m buying!” It’s simple, straight to the point, provides a small sense of urgency with open ended response, plus the client knows he won’t be spending much money to go to his/her favorite watering hole or place they have been wanting to try.

2 – People

Sometimes talking one on one can lead to some downtime or awkward moments as you try to get the client to relax and open up. So ask him if there is a co-worker or manager who might want to come with. The client will fill more comfortable and now you have someone else who you can try to convince in case you get stonewalled by your client.  And perhaps you may even find out better perspective of who the client reports to, what he struggles with in the office or what his manager looks for.  Tip: if they do invite someone, think about inviting one of you coworkers so you’re not out numbered and so if you stumble, you’ll have help to overcome obstacles.  But make sure they add value to the conversation and mood.

3 – Place

As mentioned earlier, try to let the customer decide. If you take them to a place they have wanted to try, it will evoke a positive experience.  Just make sure, it’s a place where you guys can talk so not too loud music, comfortable seats and a not too complex menu for picky eaters.  And have a backup place just in case you can’t get a seat or the place just doesn’t turn out to what you expect.

4 – Perception

Nobody like a Debbie downer. Stay positive, upbeat and remember just because you’re not in office, you’re still working and representing your company and/or business.  Keep the conversations light, ask more about them and listen to what they are saying, or even not saying sometimes.

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.

National Women’s Equality Day | Recognizing 4 Amazing Women of National Pen

Today, the Country honors the anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting Women the “Right to Vote” on August 26, 1920.  

Here at National Pen, we would like to celebrate 4 amazing Women who influence and grow our company in various positive ways.  Each and every one has achieved some exciting accomplishments in their career and have been very gracious to share some insight on how their career has developed from the beginning and a piece of advice for the new generation of Women Leaders.

Melissa NaravalMelissa Naraval – V.P., Ecommerce

5.5 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Manages National Pen’s Web Marketing Efforts

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  My Mom!  From a very young age I saw how hard she worked and it set a great example for me.  It’s something I still hold onto  today.

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  “I was a Hostess at a restaurant, then a Retail associate at Dress Barn and third was Office Intern at an Investment Firm.”

What is the most important lesson you learned from that time you still use today? “Definitely, interaction skills.  Especially when I was a hostess, working with people in various departments and how to communicate with them is something I still utilize today.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “I tell my daughter all the time, to work hard.  The World today offers numerous opportunities and possibilities, SEIZE them!”

Sandy Costanzo.jpgSandy Costanzo – Director Human Resources

8 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Oversee Human Resources support for North America.

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  “I would say there were a few mentor(s) at the start of my current career.  I was offered a great opportunity to start a new career in human resources and the women I worked with taught me so much about the profession I feel have instilled the foundation of what I am today.”

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  Specialized Toys Retail Sales, then Administrative Assistant and third, a Corporate Accountant.

What is the most important lesson you learned from that time you still use today?  “Work hard and be a good listener!”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?   “Be the one to make a change, only you can make a difference.”

 

kellie jonasKellie Jonas – Director of Customer Retention – North America

21 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Growing National Pens customer base through direct mail and e-mail strategy

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  “Amazingly enough, Bonnie Shimrat!  When I walked through the doors here, I saw she was V.P. of Retail at the time.  I knew then, there would be an opportunity for growth here so I tried to model myself after her based on her strong work ethic, positive energy, and daily professionalism.”

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  “I joke I’ve been doing direct mailing my whole career but yes, kind of.  I delivered flyers for Sunny Crest Dairy in Orange County as a kid while on my roller skates.  After that, I worked at a Fast Food restaurant called 3 brothers and third as a Gas Station attendant at Texico.”

Any lessons learned from that time you still use today?  “Show up no matter what and integrity matters.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.”

 

Bonnie ShimratBonnie Shimrat – Executive V.P. – Retail

35 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Responsible for Retail Sales Growth and Development

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  Actually, it was both my parents.  My Mom was ‘one of a kind’ for her generation as she was a private pilot in the 60’s.  She really showed me how to grab life by the horns every day.  After she passed away, my Dad continued to encourage me that I could do anything.  It gave me the ability to never see gender as an obstacle I couldn’t overcome.

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  I started early at the age of 13 when I became a waitress at a fish fry restaurant.  I eventually moved on to waitress, and be a helping hand, at the Local Swim Club.  After, I always loved to cheer and became a cheer instructor at the local YMCA helping the community’s youth.

Any lessons learned from that time you still use today?  “When I became a cheer instructor, it was the first time I experienced an ‘Entrepreneurship lifestyle’. Getting people to sign up, encouraging retention and making it a positive experience for everyone, from the kid’s participating, to the YMCA that let me teach there. I definitely learned the basic fundamentals of Sales and cultivating relationships to create “win-win” opportunities for key stakeholders.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “Get clarity of your goals so you can know what you want.  After that, work hard towards your goals every day.  And finally, understand that there will be times you will need help, so surround yourself with a strong team and know how to work with them in order for everyone to ‘Win with You.”

National Pen continues to celebrate the successes and hard work of all the women who continue to promote our core values, every day at every level in our company globally.

3 Products to Help Keep New Year’s Resolutions

While 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only a mere 8% follow through and completenew years resolutions their goals. By early February, even by mid-January, the appeal of a new year and a new beginning has already diminished as we slip back into the mundane routine of everyday life, the exact routine you resolved to break.

While it is unclear what differentiates the 8% successful participants from the 92% failures, we like to think that you have to set yourself proactively up for success and prepare yourself to succeed.

Did you know that increased exercising, being more organized, and drinking more water are among some of the top resolutions?   And fortunately for you, they are some of the easiest resolutions to prepare yourself for!

1.  Increase Excercise:

Having the right equipment is key. With our Exercise Kit, you will be making use of resistance bands and a step meter in no time. With your progress tracked in the step meter, you’ll be motivated to keep going!

2.  Looking for some organization help?

No problem! Our Non Woven 5. x 7. Endeavor Portfolio is equipped with a writing pad, elastic pen loop, a front pocket, an interior pocket, and seven card holders. Is organization your new middle name? It should be!

3.  Drinking more water is easy… when you love your water bottle.

Our 18 oz Water Jug is made from durable Tritan material, is BPA free, FDA approved, and able to hold liquids with temperatures from freezing to boiling. Available in nine fun colors, you.ll be looking for reasons to fill it up!

While we can’t promise that our News Year.s resolution products will land you in that 8% success rate, we can say that or products may be exactly what you, and your clients or employees need to stay motivated and keep strong!

Is Handwriting Good for the Brain? Why Pens are Like the New Keyboard

Penmanship lessons have been replaced by typing classes. High schools and colleges now permit laptops in almost all classrooms. Those attending business meetings are hidden by the backs of their screens. While typing may appear to be more efficient and useful, studies show that traditional pen and paper writing is well worth the extra effort.

Writing by hand in children

People invest in baby Einstein and other programs to help their children.s learning process begin at such an early age. People care about the success of their children. But a simple pen and paper could be doing more than all of these computerized learning programs. Children who write by hand have better letter recognition which is the strongest predictor of reading ability.

Writing by hand in adolescence

As children reach the email, instant messaging, and social media age, they become much more comfortable with typing as opposed to writing. But studies show that students who actually wrote out their notes were able to better answer conceptual questions on the material than those who typed their notes.

Writing by hand in adults

As individuals progress out of college and into the full-time work life, desk jobs and meetings are full of computers. But have you ever found that you struggle with your ability to craft sentences or write really compelling work? Research shows adults are better at writing prose (both typing and hand written) when they are faster at handwriting.

All in all, it.s in your children.s best interest to encourage handwritten notes once in a while as they are also learning to type. As adults, stretch your brain a little and try hand-written notes or journaling. To give yourself or your child an extra push to reach for that writing instrument, try a personalized pencil or pen!

Also, did you know your handwriting can possibly tell you a little bit about yourself? Check out our infographic, What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Test Your Business!

When developing a marketing and sales strategy for your business, there are many avenues, ideas and programs to follow. It.s overwhelming at times . Do I focus on message? Do I need a new design? Is my website performing? It.s enough to make your head spin! However, one of the key pieces of advice any consultant, marketing guru or successful businessperson can give is to test, Test, TEST!

Justin Premick published an article about his case study regarding his email efforts and how effective they were. The focus of the case study was comparing text links to html buttons in an email. He was trying to discover which type of presentation drove more sales and conversion. Not surprising, his initial results were that the colorful button drove more people to click. Rather than stopping there, Premick continued to test this in over 40 emails. His results showed that over time, these results were not true . in fact, the final results were that using .buttons. rather than tests was not the best long-run tactic to take.

So, why is this important? Premick stated it best:

  • What works today may not work tomorrow.
  • What works for someone else may not work for you.
Running a successful business takes testing and analysis to see what works for you and your business . so come up with a hypothesis and test it! Once you see what works for you, you can use those learnings to continue to refine your marketing strategy and get the most bang for your marketing dollar and time!

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Customers for Life

Identifying and reaching out to customers is a challenge that businesses face on a regular basis. But what about retaining customers — for life? Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, in Missouri, uses a “front of the line” program for their regular customers – meaning that in the dead of winter, if your pipes freeze, you won’t have to wonder how long it will take for the plumber to come out.

In a recent article on MSN’s Business on Main page, Keeping Customers for Life, companies like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are used as a model for how to grow and retain your long-term customer base.
Here are some key steps used by companies such as Southwest Airlines, ED Foods and Crucial Technology:
– Deliver what you say you’re going to do
– Expect the best
– From there, go beyond the usual
– Watch your customer, not your bottom line
– Nurture lifelong employees
– Make customers want to stick around
– Be picky about your lifelong customers
Customers truly are the heart of any business – we simply wouldn’t exist without them, so remember: treat them well and your company will be treated well in return!
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Spend A Little, Make A Lot

We all know the adage, .you gotta spend money to make money. So why do companies pretend they don.t need to advertise to get customers?

Margie Christman is the owner, designer, and creator of a purse company called “Texas Bag Lady.” She serves as a great example as to why advertising a little can help your company a lot. When Margie started out, she promoted her business by including a pen displaying her company name with each purchase.  Her husband discouraged her from ordering the pens, saying she couldn’t afford to spend money when she was just starting out.

Within no time, a customer called, proving the husband wrong. The woman told Margie that people kept asking where she got her purse. Though the customer forgot the phone number, she had it on the pen and shared it with everyone she spoke to.

That purse paired with an inexpensive advertising item, helped Margie sell eight more purses.

What could you do with a small increase in your marketing budget? It just might mean the difference between growing slowly or quickly!

Photo Courtesy of Texas Bag Lady