Holiday Gifts for employees and for customers!

How can you show your appreciation for all the hard work your employees put forth all year? Or how much you appreciate your customers for being the integral part of you and your businesses success? Typically, many companies choose the holiday time at the end of the year to show their gratitude . either through holiday parties, company outings, employee gifts, or customer appreciation gifts. But what is the ideal item or gesture? Often times business owners, especially small businesses struggle to find the balance between cost and quality. Budgets are tight, especially this year, and being able to express your gratitude without breaking the bank is a tightrope walk almost every business owner is familiar with. The answer doesn.t have to be a compromise on either side though! With a little thought, many companies will find that they can offer a low-cost AND personal gift for everyone on their list! Personalized products offer the ability to show your customers and employees how much you care . adding that extra touch of class! Mugs, high-value pens, and calendars are the perfect way to give them a gift that will last . and remind them all year that you were thinking of them . so they think of you when it.s needed most! Filling a mug with candy or popcorn is a great way to dress up a simple gift. Putting a quality pen in a small stocking will add a bit of cheer! Calendars are always a great gift this time of year . just as last year.s calendars are running out!

No matter what you choose, it.s always the thought that counts . so make sure your gifts reflect just how much thought you put into your much-appreciated employees and customers. For more holiday ideas, click here.

Summer Events – for fun…for business!

With summer officially upon us, the time for company outings, picnics, BBQs and get-togethers are in full-swing. Though you might think you don’t have the budget or even the staff to host such an event, don’t forget that these occasions don’t just serve as Fun in the Sun, but they also serve as a great way to generate awareness, leads and even sales!

With budgets on everyone’s mind, there are ways your small business can host or participate in an event for you, your customers, and your employees! Join a community fair or outing – often times sponsorships are available at many levels and advertising is offered in return. You could sponsor T-shirts or Bags for the event, or even just volunteer to work a particular booth or food stand. At the very least, you’ll be representing your company and brand name (and you can always leave your business card pen behind)! Participating in local charities is also a very worthwhile (not to mention often tax-deductible) way to help out in your local community! Join a beach clean-up, park upkeep or even a day of building houses or cleaning up a community center.

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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

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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?

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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:

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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?

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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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Get to Know Your Customer Day

According to a few sources, January 20th is .Get to Know Your Customer Day.. Whether you are a small business owner or a sales professional, you have one thing in common . your business IS your customer! While it is great to highlight .getting to know your customer. once a year, this really needs to be a daily effort. This got me thinking . how can we all really get to know our customers?

1. Ask! This might seem straightforward, but simply asking your customers opinion is worth its weight in gold. They can offer you insights such as product requests, service upgrades, and just general suggestions to help you give them exactly what they need . and stay loyal to your 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.

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Happy Holidays!

Keeping it short and simple this week – National Pen would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year!

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