Posted by: brandextenders | August 17, 2015

“Kid, You’ll Move Mountains!”

Did you read Dr. Seuss When You Were a Kid?

Did You Laugh at the Creatures Who Oftentimes Hid?

Well the Good Doctor’s back and he’s Hot Yet Again

“What Pet Should I Get” Tops the Charts My Dear Friend

Question: How often does a book hit the #1 spot written by an author who passed away 24 years ago?

Answer: Never.

Seuss & some of his characters

Seuss & some of his characters

In the early days of his career, Theodore Seuss Geisel (Seuss was his mother’s maiden name) received a rejection letter that stated, “Too different from other juvenile books on the market to warrant its selling.” Well odd they were, but 650 million of the quirky Dr. Seuss books have been sold, 450 million of them since his death in 1991 and he is the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.

I’ve always had a fascination for the faux doctor since we share a birthday and I’ve made it a habit to buy at least one Dr. Seuss book as a baby gift for friends. So what is it that makes his books so popular and why? A large part of the allure is his drawings of strange and crazy made-up animals that inhabit the pages of his stories. And while he claimed to never begin writing a book with a moral in mind, a great many of those stories moralized about his views on consumerism, Hitler, racial inequality and the arms race.

I loved reading the books to my boys when they were young and still pick them up from time-to-time for their timeless wisdom and there are four I’m particularly fond of.

Keep Your Word: In “Horton Hatches the Egg” we find the Elephant Horton being conned by the lazy bird Mayzie to sit on her egg while she takes a short break. That short break is permanent as she’s flown the coup to Palm Beach so he sits on the egg often muttering, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, 100%.” In business and all of life it’s important to keep your word; to do as you say and say as you do. That’s how relationships become long term and despite what some may say, sales is all about building positive relationships with your clients.

Thing 1 & Thing 2 at your service

Thing 1 & Thing 2 at your service

Gratitude and Starting Each Day Anew: “The Cat in the Hat” came out in 1957 and is the story of a conniving anthropomorphic cat that entertains a brother and sister on a rainy day in their house. Things go awry, but at the end of the day the cat fixes his messes with a machine and says, “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” Waking up with gratitude in our hearts each day creates a positive attitude that will carry us through the challenges and negativity that are bound to land in our path.

Be Open to New Experiences: I’m quick to say I don’t like something even though I may never have tried it before. But when you think about it, everything is new until you’ve tried it the first time. In “Green Eggs & Ham” Sam-I-Am urges the narrator to try the concoction named in the title and at one point says, “You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may!” At the end, the narrator does try them and proclaims, “I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you Sam-I-Am.” Only by being open to new experiences will we learn our boundaries and those boundaries may be much larger than we ever imagined.

Persistence Shapes Your Destiny: Seuss’s last book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” has an unseen person (“You”) leaving home and facing the obstacles life can throw at all of us. From slumps to wiggled roads and the “waiting place” where everyone is biding their time just waiting for something to happen. But Seuss tells us to be dexterous and deft and if so we’ll succeed, 98 ¾% guaranteed. And while persistence won’t always make one successful you see, the chances are better than not that you’ll wind up ecstatic beyond your wildest dreams.

The Seuss estate is a well-run machine that continues to promote his stories and books throughout the year and is headed by his widow, 94 year-old Audrey Geisel. “Dr. Seuss is a brand and our job is to keep growing it even though he’s been passed away quite a while,” says Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books.

So should you need solace to keep yourself going

Make sure to read Seuss, it’s much better than rowing

There’s Sally, the Lorax, the Grinch and the Fish

You’ll always feel better when you wish for a dish!

Or as Dr. Seuss himself said it much better, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Posted by: brandextenders | June 13, 2015

Friends, Romans, Countrymen and the Rule of Three

Ever pondered why so many things we hear or read come in threes? How about the three little pigs, the Three Stooges or the Three Wise Men? Thomas Jefferson’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our Declaration of Independence, Caesar’s veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) and Shakespeare’s line from Julius Caesar, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.” Movie titles include “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “Sex, Lies and Videotape” and “Tora, Tora, Tora” or in advertising consider Nike’s Just Do It, McDonald’s I’m loving it and KFC’s Finger Licking Good.

The familiar Geodesic Dome at Disney's Epcot

The familiar Geodesic Dome at Disney’s Epcot

In Latin there was a phrase (guess there still is), “omne trium perfectum” which roughly translates into everything that comes in threes is perfect. In construction the triangle is the strongest shape, able to evenly balance the stress put on it, and is seen in such structures as a geodesic dome, the Eiffel Tower and bridges throughout the world. Even in comedy, the rule of three creates a pleasing rhythm with a surprise ending and is sometimes referred to as boom, boom, bang. Comedian Laura Kightlinger, offers this example; “I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, how you met, or why they’re dead.” Boom, boom, bang!

You may be saying who cares if the pyramids in Egypt are triangular, (a square pyramid?), that location, location, location is still key in real estate or that the third time’s a charm? Because information presented in threes is sticky, meaning it sticks in our brains more readily than lists of four, seven or 10. If you create Power Points or other presentation materials, think three bullet points in legible font, not seven in tiny, tiny, type (alliteration usually comes in threes). Titles of articles or blogs with three words or a boom, boom, bang will tend to draw a higher percentage of readers.

In sales, the Rule of Three or Power of Three is potent. When writing an email to a prospect make three salient, brief points to intrigue them enough to respond back. In a presentation or pitch, ask three open-ended questions that build on each other. For example; how do you use promotional products in your marketing mix? What product(s) have been the most effective? Why? People love hearing their name so strive to use a customer or prospect’s name three times in a conversation. When seeking information, ask three times for additional facts, i.e. why do you prefer using Company A over Company B? Why else? Is there anything else you can think of? The key to this technique though is to let the other person talk and for you to listen, listen, listen.

Present offers in threes like the classic good, better and best. Ask for three referrals, list three things that differentiate you from the competition, follow-up three times after you send someone a quote, separate your list of prospects into cold, warm and hot, reach out to someone at least three times before you give up (in this last case it’s actually been said it takes at least eight try’s before you are likely to get a response).

Like anything, the rule of three isn’t immutable, but given it’s longevity in human history there does seem to be something to it. Consider our Earth is the third rock from the sun, that there are three (more or less) political parties in the U.S., there are three feet in a yard (no comment from you metric users), people run three-legged races at picnics, Freud’s theory of personality is that we all have an Id, an Ego and a Super Ego or that we play rock, paper scissors.

Give the rule of threes a try and let us know below in the comments section what other ways you’ve seen the rule of three used successfully. But remember, if you’re into sex, drugs and rock n’ roll then chances are you may not remember that truth, justice, and the American way are the three causes for which Superman fights. And there’s a reason why Santa Claus says ho, ho, ho and Beanz Meanz Heinz.

Posted by: brandextenders | May 20, 2015

Is Following Your Passion Just B.S.?

There’s a lot of talk these days about following your passion in work. The “they” people say don’t be satisfied doing something you don’t like, only work that stirs your heart and soul. Of course we all want to love our jobs and make more money that we can possibly spend, but are those two things mutually exclusive? Can we all be one of those people who had a dream, followed it through thick and thin, didn’t let anything deter them and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams? If reading will make it so, then choose any of the 1,300 business books about “passion” on Amazon.

Bring passion to whatever work you do

Bring passion to whatever work you do

Mike Rowe, from the TV series “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” has what I believe is a realistic take on following your passion. His series followed everyday people who had jobs most of us would never consider; a man whose company cleans the inside of cement mixer trucks, another who turns uneaten food from Las Vegas casinos and hotels into grub for his pigs, someone who collects roadkill off the highways and byways and, well, you get the idea. Do you think these people are passionate about their work? Does a young child dream of being a chicken sexer when he grows up? Most likely not. Here’s what Rowe says: Like all bad advice, “Follow Your Passion” is routinely dispensed as though its wisdom were both incontrovertible and equally applicable to all. It’s not. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean you will. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a thing you’re passionate about? Of course not. The question is, for how long, and to what end?”

If you’ve ever watched America’s Got Talent, The Voice or American Idol you know there are some truly talented individuals on these shows. But many really suck and no amount of practice or diligence will make them any better. I’d love to have an amazing singing voice, but I don’t. Just ask my neighbor who has to listen to me sing with my ear buds in while I’m working around the yard. A “moose in heat” has been bandied about as a sound similar to my vocal prowess. Sure, I could take vocal lessons, sing anywhere there is an audience and audition my heart out for singing find-your-passiongigs, but chances are I will never be able to make a living at it. And that’s O.K. I love what I do and while it will always be work, I can bring my passion to it and make good money. So perhaps they key to being passionate about your work, even if it’s not your dream job, is to find where your talents can benefit others. Aristotle said it succinctly some 2,500 years ago, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” And that just might be using your God-given talents as a buoy cleaner or a leech trapper.

Posted by: brandextenders | March 7, 2015

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

I was speaking with someone recently in Arizona about scheduling a call the following week and typically it’s a no-brainer. Here’s the fly in the ointment (an odd term I’m going to research): I’m scheduling an appointment on a day that is still in daylight standard time, but the day of the call is after we’ve shifted to Daylight Saving Time (DST) which Arizona doesn’t observe. They’re in Mountain Time (MT) today and will still be in MT in three days, but here in Eastern Time (ET) we’ll have moved ahead an hour. So if they’re two hours behind today, will they be three hours behind next week? I’m assuming so, but need to be sure since this is an important client. I’m beginning to feel as though I should be on the show, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” since I’m having trouble with something seemingly so simple. I started Googling to see if I could find a site that would show the time different between various locations during DST with no luck, but I did learn a lot about this controversial topic.
DST vs. MST vs. EST. Oy vey!

DST vs. MST vs. EST. Oy vey!

I was surprised to learn this is not a universally adopted concept and that half or less of the world’s population makes the shift and those that do aren’t in sync on when it happens. In the U.S. we spring ahead on March 8th and fall back on November 1, but in the European Union they move ahead March 29 and fall back October 25. Those crazy Euros, they always have to be different, don’t they? The concept of adjusting schedules to take advantage of the longer hours of summer daylight goes back to ancient civilizations. In modern times, as the U.S. envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin wrote an anonymous, satirical letter urging Parisians to economize on candles by getting up earlier in the day during the summer months. He suggested taxing shutters, rationing candles and waking cities at sunrise with church bells and cannon blasts, but he never proposed DST as is often cited. In 1905 a well-known English outdoors-man, William Willett, conceived the idea of shifting clocks ahead during the summer, published an article on the subject two years later and lobbied for the change until his death in 1915. Ironically, the tipping point was World War I when German and its allies set their clocks ahead in April of 1916 with other countries following suit the next year and the U.S finally hoping on board in 1918.

A benefit touted early on was more time for outdoor leisure activities. During the war, when it began, it was touted as a way to alleviate hardships from shortages of coal and air raid blackouts. After the war, many countries permanently ended its use, as did the U.S. It wasn’t until 1966 it was finally standardized here although there continue to be detractors and occasional pushes to end it. And what are the benefits? One of the earliest advantages touted was that it saves energy, mostly the use of incandescent lights. In today’s world though, recent studies have shown that higher use of air conditioning around the world tends to negate the savings from using less lighting. Benefits on health, public safety, the economy and reduced crime continue to be debated and chances are unless something substantial changes, our current use of DST will continue.
Part of Arizona along with Hawaii, Midway Atoll, Wake Island and a small region of Alaska don’t observe DST, each for different reasons. In Arizona they say they need another hour of sunlight like they do a whole in the head because of the summer heat. Oh and one final note, count quickly how many S’s there are in the term. Until yesterday I would have said two and I would have been wrong. It’s Daylight Saving Time, no “s” at the end of saving. As the website Daylight Saving Time says, “Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight.” A better name for this would actually be Daylight Shifting Time or even Daylight Time Shifting since we don’t save any daylight.
So now you know more than you ever needed to about Daylight Saving Time. As to my question about Arizona and the time difference between Atlanta and Phoenix, it’s a three-hour difference beginning at 2:00 a.m., Sunday, March 8, 2015. And in case you need to know more, here are a few links to check out:
Posted by: brandextenders | March 2, 2015

Trinkets and Trash or Arts and Treasure?

I’ve been in this business a long time and have heard the products I sell called all sorts of names; some reflect a fondness for promotional products; others disdain. There’s “tchotchkes” (originally a Slavic word for toys), stuff, junk, novelties, trinkets, giveaways, handouts, premiums, incentives and arts and treasures. O.K., the term “arts and treasures” was coined by someone I worked with in this business so there was some bias attached to that one!

Where did this perception that promotional products are simply junk that companies buy for recipients to

Lots of trinkets and maybe some trash?

Lots of trinkets and maybe some trash?

throw away come from? My best guess is the many companies that buy branded items to hand out do so without much forethought and spend as little money as possible. One day the person in charge of trade shows remembers he needs 1,000 of something to hand out next week so he calls his promo rep and orders something cheap and completely unrelated to the event. Many companies at trade shows put a big basket of cheap pens, candy, buttons or something else at the front of their booth and as a result people grab handfuls as they walk by. Businesses I’ve worked with over the years are more likely to buy a lot of something cheap vs. a lesser quantity of a quality, useful item.

But here’s the rub: promotional products are one of the most favored forms of advertising available today. According to a study on trade shows by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), 76% of attendees have a favorable attitude toward a company that gives them a branded item and almost 72% remember the name of the company that gave them that product. Put yourself in the position of a trade show attendee: if given a useful promotional product with a perceived value of $5.00 (it may have only cost the exhibitor half that) or a pen worth a quarter, which company would you most likely have a more favorable attitude toward? That’s not to say pens aren’t a worthwhile investment since they account for almost 9% of total promotional products sales, but how many pens can one person use?

Another key to the success of promotional products is their longevity. How often are you going to use a TV commercial? That’s ridiculous you say, you watch it a few times on TV and it’s gone. And that’s the point! You can’t play with a TV spot at your desk, you can’t wear it or use it at home and you certainly can’t take it to the gym with you every day. But a promotional product you can and studies have shown the average promo product is kept between 10 months and a year. If a gym bag is used three times a week over the course of a year (that’s 156 times) and the cost was $7.00, your cost per impression of the recipient seeing your brand is about a nickel. Not a bad return on investment for a tchotchke.

It’s much easier to track the cost per impression (CPI) of traditional media (TV, radio, newspaper) and even much of the online advertising venues, but that doesn’t make it a better form of advertising. You wouldn’t buy a TV or radio campaign without making sure the station or stations you were using met your target demographics, had a good CPI and the spots were creative and informative. It’s easy to wait until the last-minute to purchase your promotional products, spend as little as possible and then gripe about it being a waste of money. In doing that you are feeding the myth that promotional products are in fact trinkets and trash.

Next time you need some branded products for a trade show, customer gift, new product introduction, gift with purchase, sales leave behind or thank you, take a moment to answer these basic questions:

  • Who is my target audience? Young, old, men, women, what’s their income bracket, what do they do for a living, are they prospects or customers, qualified buyers or tire kickers.
  • How are we using the product? Is it at a trade show where you have a combination of customers and prospects? Is it to motivate people to do something? Is it to introduce a new product, new logo or new tag line? Do you want the item to be used in the office or in the home?
  • How are we giving them out? Will you be giving them individually to customers, prospects, employees? Are you using them in a direct mail piece? Is it for the masses or for a targeted group of people
  • What’s your budget? Most of the time promotional products are the last thing anyone thinks about which is why they are typically bought at the last-minute and need to be cheap because the budget is gone. By making them a more integral part of any campaign with proper planning, I would almost guarantee that you’d be pleasantly surprised with results that will help you see the power of promotional products.

Buying branded products for your company without thought or planning will perpetuate the myth of trinkets and trash and be a waste of money better used elsewhere. But taking time to plan ahead and invest some thought into the questions above will not only bring you better results, but make the branded products you buy truly arts and treasures, at least in the minds of your recipients.

Posted by: brandextenders | February 10, 2015

Did You Have One of These?

Let’s face it, I suck when it comes to being handy around the house, repairing cars or building stuff. Always have been. So why as a kid was I drawn into Radio Shack stores with all their neat rows of diodes, capacitors, early computers, circuit boards and batteries? The batteries were really the only product in the store I had a clue what to do with and I proudly carried my Battery of the Month Club card with which I could get my choice of a D, C, AA or 9-volt battery once a month. A savings of up to $4.68 if I dutifully picked up my battery each month and a fond memory from the salad days of Radio Shack, which filed for Chapter 11 recently.

A free battery every month

A free battery every month

Founded in 1921 by two brothers, it was originally a place for ham radio operators to obtain equipment and parts through the mail. Their name came from the wooden shacks on a boat used to house a ship’s radio equipment. By the early 60’s though the company was faltering and was purchased by Charles Tandy who owned a leather goods company, but saw potential with the electronics chain.

In 1977 they introduced the TRS-80, one of the first personal computers mass-produced, which was a huge hit. In the mid-90’s they started selling wireless phones and other mainstream retail products in a bid to get out of selling smaller electronic components, and ran head on into companies like Wal-Mart, Circuit City and Best Buy. Rebranded “The Shack” in 2009, they moved more heavily into selling wireless products and their demise was written on the wall.

Under bankruptcy protection the chain will close nearly half their 4,000 stores and sell up to 2,400 locations to Sprint where the Radio Shack brand will be sold within the Sprint stores.

Interestingly, there is talk Amazon may snatch up some of the RS locations and start a brick and mortar operation to showcase its brands and act as a returns/pick-up point. Plus, these could be the locations where Amazon expands its delivery of goods to local customers as they’ve been experimenting with at a Manhattan location. Apple stores were an afterthought, but now have the highest retail sales per square foot and Amazon may be realizing there is a limit to selling in the virtual world only and now is the time to jump into the physical world of brick and mortar.

Perhaps though like the circle of life in the Lion King, there is a circle of life in the business world and for every company that goes under, one or two are born. In this case a co-branding deal with Sprint and maybe an Amazon retail presence inhabiting the shells of the former RS stores.

If only they ‘d shifted from the Battery of the Month Club to a Gigabyte of Memory a Month Club they might have survived. We could certainly all use more memory!

Posted by: brandextenders | February 4, 2015

Do You Fall for Sneaky Sales Tactics?

As I walked the Stairway to Nowhere (aka the Stairmaster at the gym) one recent morning I was shocked to see a news story on TV entitled, “Sneaky Sales Tactics.” I watched, mouth agape, as they listed the most nefarious methods marketers and retailers use to separate you from your money. They included:

  • Sales
  • Discounts
  • Free freight
  • Buy one get one free (aka BOGO)
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Music conducive to shopping (and you spending your money)

When I got home I quickly did a Google search of sneaky sales tactics and came up with even more devious techniques including upselling, banner ads and psychological pricing; you know, where you’ll pay $19.99, but not $20.00.

Ancient BOGO hieroglyphic sign

Ancient BOGO hieroglyphic sign

Brands conduct research, hold focus groups and try various marketing techniques to get you to buy their products. And while today’s marketing is savvier and more research driven, the same need to sell products and services has been going on since the first “for sale” hieroglyphic was painted on a stone sign. Do modern-day marketers manipulate us as some, including Vance Packard in his 1957 tome “The Hidden Persuaders” suggest? Probably, but it’s their job to find out what gets us to buy, be it words, pictures, gimmicks, contests or simply the cheapest price.

Should Congress step in and regulate how brands advertise? Perhaps limit the discounts, control the banner ads and only allow prices in whole dollars, none of this psychological pricing BS? Balderdash. It’s an aberration to use the words Congress and free-market in the same sentence since nothing is free when Congress gets involved.

I’ve got an idea. How about people take responsibility for themselves and not blame music in the store or a coupon for blowing their budget. No one is forcing consumers to buy and it could be argued that sales, discounts and BOGO’s help people spend less if they simply purchase what they need in moderation. Are there people out to scam us? Of course there are, but it’s not likely they’ll use a BOGO to do it.

I know this post may sound snarky (love that word!), but it’s not meant to be. What it boils down to for me is ethicscartoon308 and honesty. Brands want to sell you their products and services and if done in an ethical and honest manner it’s a win-win for everyone. As a consumer, do your research, have a budget and stick to brands you trust. The old saying is still true, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Posted by: brandextenders | January 27, 2015

What do a Whoopee Cushion and a Brain Have in Common?

The fact is there are a lot of terrible promotional products you can buy. Something like 900,000 products can be imprinted with your company’s brand, but how many would you really feel comfortable putting you logo on? What about a custom whoopee cushion or a stress brain?

What makes a good promotional product? Does cost factor into your decision on what to buy? Usefulness, size or quality? And if your hope is for the end-user to actually keep the product and use it, how does that play into what you ultimately choose? There are many reasons for buying a particular product and from my 25 years in this business, here are the four I see most often.

  1. Oh boy, another promotional pen!

    Oh boy, another promotional pen!

    Useful & Practical: Statistics show people will keep and use a promotional item they receive if they find it useful. Are pens useful/practical? Sure they are, but who needs another pen? Finding a product that ties in with your brand and is useful may take some time, but is well worth the search. I believe it’s better to spend more per item and buy fewer than to have a bunch of cheap items that no one wants. That’s not to say there aren’t inexpensive items that are useful so put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and ask, “Is this something I would keep and use?”

  2. Smartphone cradle can be branded

    Smartphone cradle can be branded

    Unique: The best way to ensure someone keeps your product is to combine #1 and #2. Useful and unique is a surefire way to spread your brand’s message via a promotional product. I found this Silicone smartphone holder recently and absolutely love it. How many times have you had to plug your phone in and leave it on the ground or if the cord is too short it has to hang there and you hope it doesn’t fall? For less than $2.00 you can give a product that most everyone can use and is still unique enough for people to say “wow, that’s cool.”

  3. Two brains are better than one

    Two brains are better than one

    Tie-ins: I work with a lot of clients to find products that will tie in with a theme, a branding campaign or a contest. The College of Business at a university client wanted something to give to students during finals week to help, even in a small way, reduce their stress. They chose a stress brain in their school color (orange) with a clever tagline that was an instant hit. Another university hosting a 75th Gone With the Wind exhibit reproduced old telegrams they owned from the stars of the movie on reusable cups that were given out on the opening night of the event. Here’s a link to more case histories that might give you some ideas for your next project.

  4. Quirky: Remember whoopee cushions, the things you fill with air and when someone sits on them they sound
    Shrek whoopee cushion

    Shrek whoopee cushion

    like a fart? Shrek the Musical created a custom whoopee cushion in green with two “ears” that tied in perfectly with the fact Shrek likes to fart. Or the tote bag for a nail-biting medicine printed full color with a face and when you put your fingers through the hand hole, it looks like a mouth is biting your nails. Quirky gets attention and a custom quirky promotional product can bring your brand long-term exposure.

 

A selfie-stick can be branded

A selfie-stick can be branded

Promotional products help cut through the clutter of traditional advertising and studies show people like receiving them. Traditional advertising like TV or radio ads, billboards, magazines, newspapers and even digital advertising are here and gone. But a useful, well thought out promotional product can keep your message and brand in front of customers and prospects for months on end. And what could tie in better with today’s hottest fad than a selfie-taker, a device that holds your smartphone and allows you to be self-indulgent all day long. Say cheese!

Posted by: brandextenders | January 21, 2015

You Want Me to do What for 30 Days?

Try Googling “how long to form a habit” and you’ll be amazed at the answers you see. 21 days, 30 days, 12 weeks, a year, a lifetime. The idea that habits are formed after 21 days has been around for years, but where did it come from?

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, an American cosmetic surgeon and author of Psycho-Cybernetics published in 1960, is often credited with this concept. In that book he stated, “It usually requires a minimum of about 21 days to effect any perceptible change in a mental image. Following plastic surgery it takes about 21 days for the average patient to get used to his new face. When an arm or leg is amputated the “phantom limb” persists for about 21 days. People must live in a new house for about three weeks before it begins to “seem like home”. These and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” This quote from his best-selling book was taken as gospel and the 21-day myth was born.

Commit to 30 days of change

Commit to 30 days of change

The point of this article is not to determine how long it takes to form new habits, but to issue a challenge that if successful can only help in making our lives better. Think about a few positive changes you’d like to make in your life this year. It could be to stop smoking, eat healthier, start an exercise program, read more, learn to play an instrument, make more sales calls every day, meditate regularly, spend more time with your children and on and on ad infinitum. Pick your top three and then chose the one that is most important to you.

Now that you’ve decided, commit to spending the next 30 days doing whatever it is you’ve chosen. If it’s eating healthier, commit to cooking a different meal every day that is healthy for the next 30 days. If you want to get better at golf, commit to hitting balls at a range on a regular schedule for the next 30 days. More sales calls might mean making five additional calls each work day for the next four weeks. Whatever it is, commit to spending the next 30 days doing whatever that first change is you want to make.

It might be easy the first few days with the excitement of making this positive change, but inevitably your enthusiasm will wane and it may take more effort to continue. Commitment is the key word here. Stick with it for 30 days and at the end you may decide eating healthier, reading more, learning to draw, making more calls or upping your tennis game just isn’t worth the effort. Or you might love this new skill or habit and decide to continue with the effort to make it a part of your life.

Either way, make the decision to continue or the decision to quit and don’t beat yourself up over either choice. Go back to your list and choose the next change you’d like to make and commit to doing that for the next 30 days. Do this every 30 days for the next three to six months and at the end, no matter the changes you’ve made or haven’t made, you’re bound to be in a better place.

The University College London researched and experimented with the 21 day myth and learned how long changes take vary by individual. For one it took 18 days to form a new habit while another took 254 with the average being 66 days. 30 days of working on a new habit may not embed it completely into your life, but it should help you decide if it’s something you really want to continue doing. Be strong, be persistent and be happy you’ve committed to making changes and developing habits in your life that will make you a better person and perhaps more self-confident and energized.

I like this quote from Mahatma Gandhi on where good habits (or bad ones) lead: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

My first 30 day commitment is to read for at least a half-hour a day be it business or pleasure. How about you?

Posted by: brandextenders | January 14, 2015

Mind If I Tape My Business Card To Your Wall?

Imagine going into a prospect or customer’s office and taping your business card to their wall or perhaps the corner of their desk? Chances are you’d find yourself being escorted out of their office by security with a firm invitation not to come back…ever!

Please tape my business card to your wall!

Please tape my business card to your wall!

Now imagine your customer voluntarily putting your contact information on their wall and referring to it on a daily basis. Sound far-fetched? If your contact information is printed on a calendar; be it a wall, desk, pocket or magnetic calendar, chances are your customer will find a place to give it a home The reality is that even though we use the electronic calendars on our computers and phones, the paper calendar is still one of the most cost-effective promotional products you can purchase.

Here are a few statistics that may surprise you:

  • 98% of all homes and virtually 100% of all businesses have at least one calendar.
  • The typical person has 2.5 calendars in their working area and/or home (not sure why they would put up half a calendar!!).
  • 87% of householders and 94% of business recipients recall the advertising message displayed on their calendar.
  • Recipients say if they weren’t given a calendar they would purchase one from a retail outlet.
  • You can choose from hundreds of stock calendars with themes and pictures such as food, sports cars, big rigs, medical, Americana, lighthouses, airplanes, homes, beaches, Norman Rockwell, Native Americans, motorcycles, wildlife and the list goes on and on. Stock calendars have several areas you can customize with your company’s information.

Better yet, for reasonable minimum quantities, you can create a custom calendar using your own look and design, photographs you choose and copy throughout to tell your company’s story. Use your imagination and think of a custom calendar as a blank slate. Here are a few ways to make your calendar more useful depending on who your audience is:

  1. Add 12 coupons that can be used, one per month, over the course of the year. These give customers, be they retail or corporate, a reason to do business with you each month. 10% off on their next purchase, buy one get one free or discounts on seasonal items. Chick fil-A, a national restaurant chain puts out an amazing calendar each year, charges $5 for it and includes coupons worth 10 times that much in discounts and free food items.
  2. People will rarely throw something out with their name on it and with variable printing, you can now literally personalize each page of a custom calendar with a client’s name. Create a mailing to your data base with personalized calendars or have the account executives deliver them personally to their customers. How cool is that?
  3. If this is being given to workers or customers where safety is important, add relevant safety tips each month. Workplace safety is a huge concern given insurance and medical costs and reinforcing safety with monthly or even daily safety reminders is smart.
  4. Use the calendar as a way to get employees involved. Have a contest for the best recipes, most creative photography or best suggestions to improve their areas and include those on each month’s page.
  5. Pick a format that fits the people you’ll be giving them to. For those who sit in cubicles, pick a functional desk calendar that doesn’t take up a lot of space. For warehouses or home use a wall calendar might be your best choice. There are calendar cards, one-sheet 12 month calendars, desk calendars, magnetic calendars and pocket calendars. Work with your calendar professional to choose the right format for your business.

If you’re looking for inspiration go to your local book store and browse through the rows of retail calendars and see what’s selling. Also notice the retail price on those calendars; from $10 to $25. Keep in mind if you produce 5,000 custom calendars for your company chances are you’ll be able to get them for less than $5.00. Let’s say your client refers to that calendar you give them once a day every day for the next year (most likely they’ll look at it multiple times each day), your cost per exposure is a little more than a penny per view. Not to mention the long-term exposure your message gets which tends to build trust with your customer in a non-invasive way.

Calendars are a wonderful way to advertise your message in places you couldn’t pay for no matter how deep your pockets. Even in this world of technology they continue to be a great advertising investment and now is the best time to start working on your 2015 calendar. There are typically discounts given if you order before the end of April and most companies will hold the calendars you purchase now until the fall when you are ready to hand them out.

I’m not sure anyone will let you tape your business card to their wall, but most people will gladly put a calendar up with your advertising, especially if it is creative and informative. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case keep your name in front of those important to you.

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