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$10.00 September 2006

TM Brilliant Results

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RELATIONSHIPS

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RESOURCES

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RESULTS

September 2006 Vo l . 3 , N o . 9

Global Events Partners ~ Travel Extraordinaire Maritz Incentives ~ Winning Solutions 5 Catalysts of 7 Figure Growth

Chris White CEO Global Events Partners

Tr a v e l & I n c e n t i v e s


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Contents

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Vol. 3, No. 9 14

24

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COVER STORY 8 8 GLOBAL EVENTS PARTNERS ~ TRAVEL EXTRAORDINAIRE

Brilliant Results interviewed Chris White, Founder and CEO of Global Events Partners (GEP) one of the world’s leading DMC partnerships, to discover how you can put the WOW factor in your next meeting, event or travel incentive.

features

NEVER SURRENDER! 30

MARITZ INCENTIVES ~ WINNING SOLUTIONS 14

Maritz Incentives currently operates more than 500 programs worldwide with approximately 135,000 participants from more than 200 clients. Our interview with Rodger Stotz, CCP, CPT, CPIM, and Maritz Incentives’ Vice-President reveals some of the secrets behind their winning incentive programs.

OFF THE CUFF 60 Quotes, Where in the World Trivia

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS 32

ADVERTISING INDEX 62 Get FREE information from this month’s advertisers

CUSTOMER-MADE 36 Find out what major corporations are doing to reap profits from the co-creation trend and the opportunities it represents for your organization. By: Trendwatching

In an Ever-Changing World This guide will show you how to turn present customer-oriented and customer-centric service travel trends into successful marketing efforts. By: Dr. Peter Tarlow

PUBLISHER’S LETTER 6

Read the fascinating story behind this company and review their 3 important guidelines for encouragement and motivation. By: Melissa Giordano & Kerry Connolly Capture both quality and price with branded merchandise RFPs and identify the correct partners among many good options. By: Marsha Londe

DEVELOPING A TOURISM MARKETING PLAN 20

departments

THE LAST WORD 64 Brilliant Results speaks with MDC Group, Inc. CEO, John P Stockhausen Sr., about travel incentives and marketing promotions.

columns IT’S ALL PERSONAL 48

TRADING UP 42 Learn how to get the most out of trade shows whether as an exhibitor or an attendee with insights from trade show experts. By: Nancy A. Shenker.

HOW MUCH ARE CUSTOMER PROMOTIONS & EMPLOYEE INCENTIVES REALLY COSTING YOUR BUSINESS 24

Learn the facts that every business owner should know before rewarding another customer or employee. By: John P. Stockhausen Sr.

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF RUNNING AN EFFECTIVE MARKETING MEETING 46

BOOK REVIEW SPECIAL: THE FIVE CATALYSTS OF SEVEN FIGURE GROWTH 28

Andy Birol’s The Five Catalysts of Seven Figure Growth is a book written for actual business owners who are seeking to understand what they personally need to do and decide in order to grow their businesses to the next level. By: Robert M. Felber, MAS

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There is no shortage of meetings in today’s workplace, but these 10 simple rules could make your meetings productive and pain-free. By: The Creative Group

“It’s all about being personal when you reward people” By: Dave Ribble WHAT WORKS PRESENTED BY THE PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL (PPAI) 50

Successful Case Studies and research for your next powerful promotion.

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Publisher’s Letter MOTIVATION: an incentive, inducement, or motive, especially for an act. Action moves the world and motivation creates action. Everyone wants positive motivation…motivation of self…motivation of staff…motivation of clients… to action. This issue of Brilliant Results is filled with articles on how to achieve it, reward it and efficiently purchase it. Chris White, CEO of Global Events Partners provides insight into the world of Destination Management Companies and how these professionals can put the motivating WOW factor into your next meeting, event or travel program. Rodger Stotz, Maritz Incentives’ Vice-President and a guest educator at the 2006 Chicago Motivation Show explains how to use incentives to improve staff performance. A review of Andy Birol’s book The 5 Catalysts to 7 Figure Growth provides hints about company growth, which will certainly be discussed in his seminars at the PPAI Solutions Summit during the 2006 Chicago Motivation Show. While Nancy A. Shenker shows you how to get the most out of any trade show experience in Trading Up. John P Stockhausen Sr., CEO of MDC Group, Inc., reveals the secrets of successful travel incentives and marketing promotions in our Last Word interview and discusses How Much Are Customer Promotions & Employee Incentives Really Costing Your Business in this article on the subject. Marsha Londe, an expert in the promotional products field, presents a step-by-step approach to capture both quality and price with branded merchandise RFPs in the informative Taking Care of Business. Employing these strategies when writing your next RFP will insure that you are comparing responses that are apples to apples not apples to oranges. As if this weren’t enough, we have also included an article sure to get your creative juices flowing. Customer Made provides stimulating ideas for involving your customers in your products and lets you in on what some of the world’s largest corporations are doing to profit from this new trend. Whether you are picking this issue up at the 2006 Motivation Show or reading it in the comfort of your office, it is sure to get you thinking about ideas to improve your business’s bottom line. So, Get Motivated and remember to… Have A Brilliant Day,

Maureen Berman Publisher maureen@brilliantpublishing.com 541-788-5022

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RELATIONSHIPS | RESOURCES | RESULTS

Brilliant Publishing LLC 9034 Joyce Lane Hummelstown, PA 17036 Ph: 717-571-9233 Fax: 717-566-5431

PUBLISHER / ADVERTISING Maureen Williams-Berman..... maureen@brilliantpublishing.com 541-788-5022

EDITORIAL Editor in Chief MaryAnne Morrill 717-571-9233 Senior Editors Michelle Donofry, Pierce Roberts Style Editor Charity Plata Asst. Editor Mildred Landis

Contributing Writers Kerry Connolly, Robert M. Felber, Melissa Giordano, Marsha Londe, PPAI - What Works Section, Dave Ribble, Nancy A. Shenker, John P. Stockhausen, Sr., Dr. Peter Tarlow, The Creative Group, Trendwatching.com

Circulation For any questions or updates regarding subscriptions, please email: circ@brilliantpublishing.com

PRODUCTION / DESIGN Art Director Percy Zamora Photo credit Simon Oosthuizen for: Global Event Partners Photograph used on Page 9 BRILLIANT RESULTS is published monthly by Brilliant Publishing LLC, 9034 Joyce Lane Hummelstown PA 17036 (717) 608-5869; Fax# (717) 566-5431. Postage paid at Mechanicsburg PA and additional offices. POSTMASTER please send address changes to Brilliant Results, 9034 Joyce Lane, Hummelstown PA 17036. Volume 3. Number 9. Brilliant Results subscription rates: one-year $120; Canadian $160 USD; one-year foreign $225 USD. All subscriptions are non-refundable. Copyright © 2004 – 2006 Brilliant Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. The publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any advertising or editorial material. Advertisers, and/or their agents, assume the responsibility for any claims against the publisher based on the advertisement. Editorial contributors assume responsibility for their published works and assume responsibility for any claims against the publisher based on published work. No part of this publication can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher. All items submitted to Brilliant Results become the sole property of Brilliant Publishing LLC. Editorial content does not reflect the views of the publisher. The imprints, logos, trademarks or trade names (Collectively the “Marks”) displayed on the products featured in Brilliant Results are for illustrative purposes only and are not available for sale. The marks do not represent the implied or actual endorsement by the owners of the Marks of the product on which they appear. All of the Marks are the property of the respective owners and is not the property of either the advertisers using the Marks or Brilliant Results.

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make a date with success! ASI l 95280 W l www.warwickpublishing.com Contact your local Promotional Products Distributor


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Global

Events Partners ~ Travel Extraordinaire

SUPPOSE YOU ARE A CORPORATE MANAGER or event planner at a company based near a major U.S. city. The phone rings and you learn that your CEO has decided to hold the company’s annual incentive trip to reward top sales performers thousands of miles away, in the Far East. The goal is to make the trip unique and memorable, while keeping it priced reasonably to satisfy the company’s budget and procurement policies. While she is there, the CEO will also sign an agreement with a major customer, celebrate the agreement at an event for a few dozen people, and hold some additional meetings besides. The trip is in a market you have never even been to, and the itinerary is complex and fast-paced, involving multiple schedules and several stops at different venues. Your mission: Find the best venues, coordinate the logistics of the trip - make it a “winner” for all involved.

WHERE DO YOU GO FOR HELP? To be fair, not all international itineraries are this complex. Still, unless you have the luxury of having an extensive in-house travel-planning department with contacts around the world, chances are that in a situation like this you will turn to a Destination Management Company (DMC), to serve as a logistics

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and destination management expert. Essentially, a DMC serves as a one-stop resource to manage tasks such as venue selection & coordination, transportation, VIP services, décor & floral arrangements, entertainment and catering, and on-site management. The development of DMCs into an industry of special event and logistics sharpshooters has paralleled the growth and increasing complexity of the meeting planning industry - a trend illustrated most vividly by a glance at the history of the DMC industry’s leading company, Global Events Partners (GEP), whose founder and CEO, Chris White, is on the cover of our magazine this month.

THE BIRTH OF AN INDUSTRY “Destination Management Company” is a relatively new term, but many DMCs have been around for decades. With the advent of explosive growth in the travel and meeting industries in the 1970s and 1980s, transportation companies started to see an increase in the number of clients wishing to rent vehicles such as buses, vans and limousines. Along with the equipment, clients began asking for complimentary transportation services, and the “ground operator” was born. These operators were the harbingers of DMCs in their earliest form. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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Photo by Simon Oosthuizen

In the 1980s, many meeting professionals found themselves working as independent contractors, and recognized that to stay competitive they needed to amass detailed knowledge of every aspect of the destination in which they performed their services. For example, which vendor in a destination has the most reliable buses? What kinds of entertainers are available for a special evening of corporate entertaining? Does the client need a permit to hold a picnic in a city park, and where does one go to get the permit? What is the fastest, most efficient way to greet two dozen executives at the airport, shuttle them to their hotel and then get them onto the golf course for an early tee time? As the corporate travel took off in the late 1980s and 1990s, DMCs provided a valuable service in coordinating all these functions under one roof. The DMC industry was born.

BRINGING TOGETHER THE “BEST OF CLASS” In 1999, travel industry entrepreneur Chris White recognized an opportunity. Having built Krisam Group, the leading national sales organization for independent hotels, over a twenty-five year period, he sensed the time was right to assemble the “best of class” among DMCs

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into a worldwide organization that would set consistent standards of performance and client service in major meeting markets. According to White, “A meeting planner should feel confident knowing that event details will be handled professionally, courteously and cost-effectively, whether the program is in Madrid, Miami or Malaysia.” White set about finding the best DMCs in the business, beginning in North America, and quickly added partner DMC organizations in Europe, Asia and Africa. White’s first thought was a roll-up to bring the best DMCs together into a single company through acquisitions. Lacking the right financing, he created a partnership, whose partners are held together by common sets of standards and operating procedures. Today, Global Events Partners (GEP) is a partnership of the world’s leading DMCs, with approximately 70 partner offices around the world. In other words, eight years after its founding, GEP has made strides in establishing a true brand in what was once a fragmented, “mom and pop” business. Along the way, it has delivered lots of innovative programs to clients – and a lot of comfort to meeting planners and corporate mangers. We spoke with Chris White to learn more about the business, as well as the resources his company offers. Brilliant Results | September 2006 9


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Today, eight years later, we have more than 70 partner DMCs, in major destinations around the world – from “Madrid to Miami to Malaysia,” as I like to say. Krisam is adding hotel members in places as far away as Bali and Iceland. And I’m having more fun than ever.

Krisam Group, the first company founded by Chris White continues to grow and achieve success pictured at its Blue Chip 2006 event, are: JB Miller, Empire Entertainment; Jim Schultenover, Krisam Group; Andrea Pedemonti, Deloitte & Touche; Marcia Gerard, Krisam Group; Michael Cavanaugh; Lynn Ridzon, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Skip Stano, HSBC Bank USA

BR: How did you become involved in the meeting, event and destination management sector? CW: After several years at the luxury end of the hotel industry, mostly at Fairmont, I founded Krisam Group thirty-one years ago. The founding was based on my perception that there was a need for a company that could serve meeting planners who were looking for the best way of finding meeting space to suit at independent hotels their specific needs and requirements. We built Krisam into a preeminent national sales office for independent hotels, which today has more than 220 member properties, and still knows every client on a first-name basis, going the extra mile to cultivate longterm relationships and provide value to both member hotels and planners. In the 1990s I became involved in the Destination Management (DMC) business – first by representing a couple of existing DMC networks, then by cross-marketing DMC services to clients through Krisam. As we learned more about the business, it seemed to me there was an opportunity to create a global brand made up of the best DMC in each market – those DMCs that provided consistently high quality, dependable service to companies or organizations visiting their destinations that might not have the expertise or local knowledge to effectively organize events and logistics. We began putting together the brand, first by attempting to purchase local DMCs, but then – as a result of inadequate capital – by creating a partnership, which quickly grew into Global Events Partners (GEP).

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BR: What lead you to establish Global Events Partners and what is the most important service it offers its clients? CW: As in any entrepreneurial undertaking, the market need came first – then, the idea, and finally, the people and resources to pull it together. When we launched as a brand we saw ourselves as analogous to Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons in the DMC business – providing consistently excellent, high-quality service in destinations around the world. No one else had that formula, and after eight years and tremendous growth, the results speak for themselves. Without a doubt, the consistency and quality of service is the most important value we bring to clients. Whether it is organizing an intimate dinner for the Executive Committee of a Public Company at a resort hotel, or a party for five thousand in a civic center, we are evaluated on our ability to stay close to our clients, understand their needs, and provide creative, innovative and cost-effective programs. That’s what keeps us at the top of our game. BR: Is there an easy way for our readers to evaluate the quality of a Destination Management Company and, if so, what is it? CW: You need to check out the DMC’s history, references, length of time in the business, financial wherewithal, reputation among suppliers and others in the local marketplace. And of course, quality of service is critical. So, it takes a bit of research and asking the right questions. On the other hand, all of these are the criteria by which we admit DMCs into our partnership, and allow them to fly the GEP flag. So the easiest way would be to contact GEP or visit www.globaleventspartners.com to make the evaluation easier. BR: In your opinion, what is the most important aspect in planning a memorable meeting or event and how/why does the use of a Destination Management Company (DMC) contribute to that success? CW: Without a doubt, there is nothing more important than “thinking outside the box” – or more directly, good old fashioned creativity, accompanied by excellent execution. For clients who are not familiar with a destination, the right DMC partner will know the best venues, the right suppliers and appropriate sources of entertainment – and will bring them together into a creative program that makes an event not merely successful, but truly unforgettable. If you want to evaluate a DMC for their capability while standing on one foot, ask a simple question: “What’s the most creative and interesting event you’ve organized in the past twelve months?” www.brilliantpublishing.com


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BR Should our readers consider aligning their travel incentive/destination events programs with their brand or corporate culture, and if so, what is the best way to achieve this alignment? CW: It depends on the particular company and the circumstances surrounding the specific event. In certain circumstances, the objective of an event might be to reinforce corporate culture and the success of a business for its employees to build espirt de corps – in other situations, it might be to remove managers as far as possible from the ordinary and the familiar, creating a sense of the exotic and distant and letting their “creative juices” come forth. Again, it comes back to good listening and careful planning – two hallmarks of an effective DMC. BR: What have you found to be the most effective method an organization can utilize to achieve success in the meeting, event and destination management sector? CW: Four general principles: Give event planners as much lead time as possible – the more opportunity a DMC has to plan and execute, the better and more cost-effective a meeting or event will turn out to be (and the happier corporate managers and procurement officers will be as well). Be totally honest and open with your supplier – the more information that is exchanged, up front, on issues such as budget and event preferences, the easier it will be to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations down the road. Look for good chemistry – In this business like few others, you want to find partners you actually like, respect, and can work with on an ongoing basis. There’s nothing worse than trying to plan and execute a complex event with dozens of logistical pieces and requirements, if the person on the end of the phone is someone you don’t feel comfortable with or trust. Plan, plan, plan – The fewer the changes at the last minute of an event, the better. The more seamlessly things proceed, the more the chance of success, for the DMC as well as the client. Of course, there are always last minute exigencies, and a capable DMC can respond to them. But can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if you had people and vehicles on hand to pick up a thousand event participants in one downtown location and were told, in the midst of rush hour, that they were all waiting for pick-up at a new location cross-town? BR: In your opinion, how does a travel incentive or destination meeting/event improve employee performance and enhance an organization’s bottom line? CW: “Motivation” is a concept that is practically built into the travel business, especially when it comes to planning creative events in faraway destinations. From the perspective of an employee in a corporate office in, say, Chicago, the opportunity to earn an all-expense paid trip to someplace like Bora Bora, staying in the finest hotels and getting an insider’s experience, can be a unique and powerful motivator.

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In a way, it’s possible to do a calculus of the costs and benefits of incentive travel. Theoretically you could sit down with a calculator and figure out what your company will gain, in productivity and profitability, by offering a trip to Monte Carlo as opposed to, say, a plasma TV or a gift check award. And conversely, whether the investment is worth the gain. Our view is, naturally, somewhat biased – but we believe that today more than ever, upwardly mobile professionals value unique travel experiences and exotic destinations much more than the cash-equivalent in their pockets. The trick is to provide them with the kind of experiences, end-toend, that they could never get on their own – as in the fivestar trip to Bora Bora. Corporate planners can consider that a “travel incentive premium,” which - coupled with the level of attention and service that can be provided to a group, which an individual could never receive on his own –, provides a pretty powerful motivator to work hard to win that trip. At least, that has been our experience at GEP. BR: How do Global Events Partners and their sister organizations use incentives, promotional merchandise, events and/or direct marketing strategies to increase company brand awareness and market their services? CW: Internally at GEP and Krisam, we have a system of incentives that keeps things fresh and exciting. Each of our companies has an annual Summit meeting that brings together top clients and partners/members in an attractive destination – in 2006, GEP’s Summit meeting took place in Salzburg, and Krisam’s was in Las Vegas -, and our companies’ top producers get to make the trip, “on the house.” We also offer the chance for employees to visit unique destinations around the world, as part of educational trips, fam visits and other special occasions. This allows them to broaden their own horizons, even as they gain knowledge and breadth to serve clients even better. These kinds of opportunities also make them even better and more enthusiastic “ambassadors” for our brand – within the companies and externally. Beyond our companies, each of our brands offers a creative annual slate of trade shows, Summit meetings, fam trips and events, which we make available to our clients and partners. We also do extensive client marketing, via the web, direct mail and quarterly newsletters. BR: Of the campaigns Global Events Partners have developed which one do you feel is the most notable and what was the key(s) to its success? CW: In terms of programs executed by our partner DMCs in local markets, there are literally too many to name. In terms of GEP itself, without a doubt our most successful campaign has been our annual Summit meetings. There is just no way to replicate the experience of bringing together hundreds of top clients, members, partners and producers, in a “hot” destination, to network, exchange ideas, benefit from one another’s knowledge, resources, and perspectives – and of course, have a little fun and do business! www.brilliantpublishing.com


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In fact, our events have become so popular that this year we launched a kind of “GEP Summit on the Road,” which we called “GEP Week.” GEP partners from 30 countries fanned out across the United States visiting 12 cities over several days – these are actual owners of DMC operations, visiting clients in key markets such as New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and more – telling their stories and more important, learning more about the needs of planners in each market. The campaign was so successful that we are considering a second “GEP Week” for later this year – and have already begun planning “GEP Week 2007.” BR: What, in your opinion, makes an incentive or promotional product successful? CW: Obviously I know more about incentives than products, but I think the rules are the same: Make it memorable, and Add value. Anyone can get on a plane and travel to New Orleans, but not everyone gets greeted personally by Chef Paul Proudhomme, enjoys a cocktail reception in one of the oldest homes in the Garden District, and gets to do it all as a shared experience with the best and brightest in their industry. Provide value and experiences that a traveler cannot get on his own, and you have created a memory for a lifetime.

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BR: Do you have any final thoughts or advice for our readers? CW: I guess I would say this: In the words of old Ben Franklin, don’t be “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” If a company is going to invest thousands, maybe tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on an event in a faraway destination, it is well worth the additional cost to employ a qualified, reputable DMC to make the event truly memorable and worthwhile. The cost comes on the margin – but the benefit to the overall success of the event will be incalculable. We are here for your use… so use us!! BR: Do you remember the last incentive or promotional product you received and from what company you received it? CW: We have a new puppy names Mozart . . . As a welcome, the first week we brought him home, he received a direct mailing from a pet company bearing his name – how could we toss it away or not remember who sent it? And there’s a lesson here for anyone in the sales, marketing or motivation businesses: Know your customers, and know what will create a positive, lasting impressions in their mind. All the rest is just execution. For more information about GEP and the Krisam Group visit their websites at www.globaleventspartners.com and www.krisam.com. •

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Maritz Incentives ~ Winning Solutions

Automotive, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, MARITZ INC., WITH OVER 3,600 EMPLOYTechnology and Telecommunications sectors. EES worldwide and 2005 revenues of $1.35 With the foregoing for a company resume, billion, creates, develops and implements the it is easy to understand why Brilliant Results best possible action plans for their clients was delighted to have the opportunity to through a unique combination of Maritz interview Rodger Stotz, CCP, CPT, CPIM, resources—separately or in combination— Maritz Incentives’ Vice President and expert locally or worldwide. As a unit of Maritz Inc., in performance improvement principles, Maritz Incentives has unparalleled insight Rodger Stotz, CCP, CPT, reward system effectiveness, total rewards, into what motivates people to achieve more. Since 1929, Maritz Incentives has helped com- CPIM, Maritz Incentives’ brand alignment and learning. Vice President panies of all sizes be more successful by maximizing the performance of their employees and sales BR: Rodger, how did you become associated with the partners. Today, Maritz Incentives is a leading provider incentive sector of Maritz? of incentive programs. Several major industry leaders, RS: My career started with Maritz as an account manincluding Bank of America, HON, Marriott, AT&T and ager working with our clients establishing incentive Shell Oil Products, have been Maritz Incentives clients programs in the area of sales as well as for employees. for at least 10 years; other clients include such recognized names as HP, Technics, General Motors, Nissan, BR: In your opinion what is the most important servSun Microsystems, Xerox, Nestle Purina PetCare, ice Maritz offers its clients? Caterpillar and Verizon. Maritz Incentives currently RS: First and foremost, it is the peace of mind that operates more than 500 programs worldwide with what we do is going to work. What we use to make approximately 135,000 participants from more than 200 that happen is consultation on the design of systems, clients benefiting from their incentive programs. With a as well as, specific operational support. So not only do client renewal rate of more than 95 percent, Maritz we design incentive plans and recognition plans for Incentives is definitely doing something right. clients, but we also then support them to the degree Maritz Incentives has received numerous awards across that is required to make sure that they operate various industries and categories for their programs, including successfully. And, we provide the appropriate support over 20 Addy and Telly Awards for Creative Communications. through awards, communications and learning, as well While they work with a variety of organizations, Maritz as administration - the key elements of successful Incentives has specialized expertise and resources in the incentive plans.

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BR: Is there an easy way to evaluate the effectiveness of a reward or incentive system and, if so, what is it? RS: There are some, what I would call, less intense and that maybe would classify as easy ways, to evaluate. One is to compare the original objectives with the outcomes. The easiest way we interact with our clients on this issue is to ask, ‘You wanted sales to go up 10%…Did they go up 10%?’ What happens frequently is people are not attuned to the effectiveness issue or are not incorporating that into their design and operation. You may be amazed to learn that at the end of the year some people may lose sight of what the original objective was, or have experienced changes in management and no longer measure effectiveness. So, the easiest way is to compare original objectives with the outcome of the program. For a more rigorous approach, we will work with our clients to measure the program’s ROI. This is more involved and requires planning and data gathering in the design phase, as well as through measurement throughout and at the program’s conclusion. BR: What is the most important aspect in aligning an incentive program with their corporate brand? RS: There are several. One is asking a basic question, “Does this program and do the awards support/align with or are they neutral or actually contrary to our brand?” And that is a question that is not asked often enough. As we look at our brand, if it is one of hi tech do the products or the awards promote or convey hi tech. If we are in a service industry, again, is the program and its various elements supportive and reflective of our brand. BR: You would think that would be the first question anyone would ask. RS: Some of these are simple, but it is the simple ones that can be easily overlooked. BR: What have you found to be the most effective method a company can utilize to achieve performance improvement? RS: One effective approach is to ask what we call the 5 key questions that every performer asks and needs to have answered. By answering those 5 questions we see a methodology and a discipline that ensures that we are providing the performer with what they need to improve their performance. BR: What are those 5 key questions? RS: The first one is, “What is it you want me to do?” Again, it is amazing how many times the answer to that is not easily forthcoming from the organization. The second question is really a critical question that often

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gets missed and that is, “Why do you want me to do it?” In this day and age when people are looking for more than just responding in rote, that question is critical. The third question then goes to, “How do you want me to do it?” In other words are there any proscribed methods, are there particular ways, or do you just want me to do it however it comes to mind. The fourth one is, “How will I know how well I’m doing?” That really goes to the issue which is becoming more and more critical in today’s environment, and that is feedback. “How will I know if I’m progressing…How will I know if I’m accomplishing the goal…How will I know if I’m heading in the right direction before it’s too late?” Then the last one is what most of us spend our time thinking about and it is really the frosting on the cake, “What’s in it for me?” Now that I know what to do and I’m doing it and I know how well I’m doing, “What should I expect?” If we can answer those five questions effectively and from the point of view of the performer, then there is a very high probability that we are going to get the improved performance. We call them the five magic questions. Much of this has been learned over time, because we have been in this business for so long, and we have learned along the way from the opportunities we have had. What we have found is by reducing much of the science and art of this into some fairly simple straightforward approaches we really connect with our clients. It is simple to understand and it resonates, but it is also very effective. Sometimes the simplest questions are the most difficult to answer. BR: In your experience, is there different performance improvement approaches required for success with various target segments (i.e., gender, age, professional level)? RS: The answer is yes and no. There are some general approaches to designing plans that are universal just like the five questions that we discussed earlier. Where the change comes in and where we are seeing different approaches is in how they are applied. For example, different generations – Gen X, Boomers, Traditionalists, etc. ? have different preferences in how information on their performance improvement program is shared with them. Where the Traditionalist, and to some degree the older Boomer, would be more comfortable with hard copy and or email, your Gen-X / Gen-Y would be much more interested in downloading to iPods or instant messaging and types of technological interaction. That would be one issue in terms of communication. When you get to training and we talk about ‘How you want me to do things’, there is again a big difference in individuals based on how comfortable they are with using technology. For example, the biggest growth in E-learning now is gaming. The U.S. Army, as well as www.brilliantpublishing.com


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many corporations, is embedding their learning into games. For the Gen-X / Gen-Y generation that holds their interest and keeps them involved; yet it is not something that some Boomers or Traditionalists would necessarily feel as comfortable with. When you get to feedback and awards, there again we are seeing a shift in terms of generational differences. When we look at feedback, we have the bookends of the extremes. If you look at the Traditionalist, the people who were born prior to 1946, their concept was that ‘No news is good news’…if I don’t hear anything, that means I’m doing okay…you only get attention if you screw-up. Whereas, when you get to the Gen-Y, it’s instant...they want to know how they are doing every minute because they are interested in and have been involved with technology that provides them with real-time, continual feedback. So, in the feedback realm we are seeing some significant changes that go to the heart of how you design and operate performance improvement plans. If you look at the awards, we are also finding some changes …there are some standards…electronics are always good…but there is more of a societal shift occurring that seems to go across generations. Although we still like items, we like them positioned as experiences. For example, instead of offering a tennis racket, tennis shoes or a tennis outfit, it is now positioned as a tennis experience, which could include the tennis racket, the tennis shoes, the tennis outfit and possibly even an option for a tennis lesson. There is a societal shift for more than just items to the desire to be romanced around the total experience. The other societal motivated trend is that recipients really appreciate choice. When offering an award, the degree to which your award connects with the individual is important. One way to increase that connection is to give the recipient a choice. It is a societal type change in that all of us as consumers are seeing our choices significantly increasing and that flows over into our expectations for awards. BR: We have certainly seen that in the area of travel, it is no longer I’m just going to see the… RS: That’s right, it’s eco-travel, it’s adventure travel, it’s specialty travel like bird watching and it is also community service travel where you’re volunteering to participate. Those kinds of societal changes as well as the demographic generational changes have made it even more important to identify the right rewards to motivate employees. BR: How does Maritz use incentives, promotional merchandise and/or direct marketing strategies to increase their brand awareness and market their services? RS: We do use those. In terms of incentives much of what we do, because we have our own direct sales force, is to create incentives for us. We use promotional mer-

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chandise with our clients; for example, we have a line of logoed Maritz items that we use to promote Maritz and to build our brand when we work with a client. We also provide promotional or what we might call dimensional type items, whether as a part of an incentive program or as a part of an incentive travel operation. For example, recommending room gifts for a client. In terms of direct marketing, we have done that as well. BR: Can you give our readers some examples of your successful marketing, branding or motivational campaigns and how incentives contributed to their success? RS: There have been a number of them, but one that comes to mind is a financial services company. We had been involved with this organization for some time offering an incentive travel opportunity for their top performing sales people. Through our research and in talking with them, we realized that only the very top performers were being motivated by this award. We suggested and were finally able to convince them that they should include a second level award for “middle” performers ? a segment that typically represents 60% of the sales force. Often, these middle performers feel that they’ll never be able to beat one of the regular top performers to win a big award, so why even bother trying. It was amazing that for all those years this organization had not been taking advantage of motivating and offering an incentive for the entire sales force, rather than just the top 10%. They listened to us and we put the program in place. At the end of the program about 80% of the company’s incremental performance increase came from that middle 60%. Another example of a successful campaign is one we worked on with a major automotive client. We worked with them on a consumer program that involved a coordinated effort, which included both training the sales people in the dealerships and preparing for a weekend sales effort that was coordinated with an advertising campaign that included a gas card. We were able to provide the dealerships support with their communications and education upfront so they were ready to roll when the weekend arrived. We also provided incentives for the sales force, making this a successfully coordinated consumer and sales team incentive program. BR: In your opinion, what was the key to the financial organization’s success? RS: I think there were several keys. Number One is that we were able to design the program in a way that tapped unused potential. We looked at where additional motivation and incentives could really have an impact and were able to tap that. The second thing was our ability to provide an exciting and desirable award process, which in this case was the travel opportunity. In other cases, we have used merchandise successfully. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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BR: What, in your opinion, makes an incentive or promotional product successful? RS: If I am looking at an award or item, it has to be its promote-ability and desirability to the participant. You want something that has huge appeal. When answering that question number five ‘What’s in it for me’…performers always look at what is going to accrue at the end of their effort…we work to try and make that as desirable and as attractive as possible so the individual will take that first step and put in the effort to achieve the performance required to achieve the award. BR: Do you have any final thoughts or advice for our readers? RS: I would leave them with a quote that I developed many years ago and have found to be a fairly consistent aspect of our business… “Incentives are like fire; they can burn you or keep you warm.” The reasoning is that too often incentives are viewed as just the award… and those are critical…but there is more to it then that…you have to have a good selection of awards…you have to know your audience, etc. And you have to design a program appropriate-

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ly so that it doesn’t run off the tracks, where either it is designed such that no one feels they can earn anything so they just forget about it; or, that its designed to be too easily attained and everybody gets it, which again doesn’t really improve performance. Realize that there is an art and a science to this process. BR: Do you remember the last incentive or promotional product you received and from what company you received it? RS: One of the ones that I received at a conference resonated with me because it was unique and also served an immediate purpose. It was from iGO, which is a product series of power solutions. These are power adapters that also work in cars…one item for your computer, mobile phone, iPod, everything. They have two versions; the one I received was the smaller one that powers mobile phones, MP3 players, iPods, cameras, Smartphones/PDAs. Rather than having multiple chargers, it comes in a handy bag and everything is there. • For additional on Maritz Incentives, visit their website at www.maritzincentives.com.

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ANYONE WHO EVEN BRIEFLY watches the news cannot help but be aware that the world is changing rapidly and the tourism and travel industry continues to face numerous challenges. From wars in the Middle East to the rising cost of fuel, from tsunamis in Asia to crime waves in Latin America, tourism officials often find themselves “hostages of current history.” Tourism, and its travel and hospitality related industries, often base their business designs on market share, product improvement, and other non customercentric designs. As tourism becomes an ever more competitive industry, general managers and tourism executives are facing the need to develop new and innovative marketing strategies. These strategies make the customers’ needs the center of tourism marketing. For example a mere ten years ago, few tourism marketers saw the issue of travel security as an integral part of their market-

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ing plans. In today’s world, however, visitor’s worry about how safe they are and may factor in security in their decision to chose or reject a specific location. Societal changes in the family, use of personal free time, and new travel tastes mean that a different set of marketing questions must be asked if new areas for profit are to be sought. Present travel trends would dictate that customer-oriented and customer-centric service go a long way in determining successful marketing efforts. These changes are creating shifts in the tourism and travel executives think. Included in these changes are: customers’ priorities taking precedence over product, management spending more time with guests, and the need to move from purely quantitative analysis to a combination of qualitative and quantitative. Here are several tourism marketing ideas and points to consider. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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DEVELOPING A

TOURISM

MARKETING PLAN IN AN EVER-CHANGING

WORLD

BY: DR. PETER TARLOW • Do not fight yesterday’s competition. Travel and tourism have undergone major shifts in the last ten years, yet often tourism professionals are still fighting old wars. For example, your competition of ten years ago may have been a community that lies a short distance from yours. Due to deregulation and the rise of travel phenomena such as cruises and all inclusive airline packages, your community’s competition may be not the next town, but any place in the world. Your former competitors may become your future allies. • Determine if your current customers are the same as those of yesterday. The world has gone through a number of major sociological shifts in the last decade. For example, business hotels now must deal with the fact that single-parent business people often need to travel with their small children. In that case, the “child” is as much the “customer” as is the parent. In a like manner, time is often now more valuable than money. The shift from “monetary depravation” to “time depravation” means that in many prime tourism attractions customers may no longer bulk at spending more money to avoid long lines or other time-oriented stress-producers, such as down-time at airports. www.brilliantpublishing.com

• Analyze your customers by segmenting them into as many groups as possible. Niche marketing has always been a tourism buzzword. Analyze your customer base from not only the traditional social-statistical categories of: age, gender, and income, but also by looking at behavior models, forms of travel, spending patterns, amounts of time that can be allotted to vacations, and psycho-demographic profiles. Then try to determine what you have to offer and which customers will pay a priority price. For example, many parts of the tourism industry forget that issues of safety are critical. A decision concerning the amount and quality of the security that a hotel or attraction provides must be seen as an integral part of a marketing plan. • Analyze not only which groups may purchase your product, but also which groups may not be interested in what you are selling. By understanding and segmenting your “non-customers” you can determine into which markets your business has its best chance for expansion, and which markets need to be forgotten for the moment. Ask yourself what are your non-customers’ travel priorities. Consider in your list such qualities as: Brilliant Results | September 2006 21


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• Issues of safety • Value and price • Quality of service • Time it takes to deliver your service • Amount of hassle involved in visit • Stress levels • Your product’s prestige level • Shopping opportunities Then determine how your non-customers rank these priorities. How does what you have to offer differ from what these non-customers want? Can you make cost effective modifications that will permit penetration into these new groups without loosing your current customers? • Try to determine and then rank what it is that your customers seek. For example are your customers seeking price over quality-of-product or quality over price? How important is time and speed of delivery-of-service. People’s priorities are very different in an amusement park, a sports center, and a spa. Determine what you can do to become the first choice of the segment that you seek to attract. Ask yourself what your competitors do better than you, and then determine if it is costeffective to compete in that category. • Determine what are the components in your business where you can make the greatest profit. For example, food is often sold at attractions, airports, and hotel vending machines for a higher price than at in-town supermarkets. Analyze these secondary parts of your industry to determine where additional profit can be earned. For example, older travelers will often value service while younger travelers often seek economical prices over good service. • Never forget that when we travel for pleasure we seek memories not nightmares. Too often tourismrelated businesses create stress rather than relieve it. For example, a guest arrives late and his hotel room is still not ready. Any good marketing plan should include an overall assessment of your customer service. Determine your customer services weaknesses (rudeness, poor information, lack of bad weather activities) and fix them before you move onto the next stage of developing a marketing plan. • Go international! The days of marketing to the citizens of only one nation are coming to an end. Make your tourism business fit into the internation-

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al world of travel. Develop multi-lingual services, information brochures, and advertising. Set your hours of operation to the needs of the international traveler. Never translate literally and avoid translation software. Often major faux pas are committed by a literal translation. • Develop a “profit symbol!” Your business plan should add higher value to your tourism product, and at the same time, add higher profits to your bottom line. For example, many tourism businesses have a logo or mascot. Market this logo as a souvenir. If you have a hotel in the mountains, develop a pet animal or plant and then create souvenirs around that theme. By turning your logo into a product, you tourism business becomes a “memory -generator “ rather than merely a “place of memories.” • Determine your present tourism emphasis and then analyze its weaknesses. Do you emphasize good service, beautiful scenery, fun activities, or “edutourism?” Go after those customers that will be willing to pay the most for your product. Never forget that tourism is based on having something unique, so emphasize what makes your hotel, restaurant, or attraction a special experience. • Analyze which services you want to purchase and which services or products you can develop inhouse. If you are a restaurant, develop among the selections you offer for each course, special selections that can become your establishment’s signature meal. In a like manner, resorts, hotels, and attractions can become known for something special. A dude ranch may want to emphasize its extra attention by stating that no one leaves its premises without learning how to ride. There is no tourism business that cannot produce an “inhouse” product. • Develop a flexible business design that is open to rapid change! With almost daily changes in technology and major sociological shifts occurring on a regular basis, business designs that used to be good for ten years may now only be good for five years or less. Compare your current niche marketing with possible future niches; analyze sociological trends such as income levels, family make-up, foreign visitations, and think about the possibility of repeat customers. Work into your business design room for rapid changes in technology. For example, the develop-

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ment of affordable software that can integrate your phone, pager, fax, e-mail etc can have a major impact not only on your personnel and office needs but also on your marketing plans. Travel businesses catering to business travelers should take into account, and provide for, such new possibilities as on-theroad video teleconferencing and portable offices.

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organizes conferences around the world dealing with visitor safety and security issues and with the economic importance of tourism and tourism marketing. He also works with numerous cities, states, and foreign governments to improve their tourism products and to

train their tourism security professionals. For additional information visit www.tourismandmore and request the Tourism Tidbits newsletter. Dr. Tarlow can be reached via email at tourism@bihs.net or by telephone at 979-764-8402.

• Develop marketing relationships. When selling to the short-distance (day traveler or local market) take the time to speak to the advertising departments of your local media outlets. Ask where these specialist in your community see trends going, what colors do they believe will be in vogue over the next five years, to whom and how are other advertisers tailoring their message. No one knows the local market as well as your local media advertising experts. • Create a community-wide marketing discussion group at your chamber of commerce or CVB. Few hotels, restaurants, or attractions are strong enough to ‘capture’ a market. By trading ideas, concepts, and principles, you can create tourism synergy that means that everyone receives a share of an ever-growing tourism pie. From the visitor’s perspective your business is just one component of his or her vacation. By making the parts work together, the entire tourism/travel community benefits. • Dr. Peter Tarlow is a specialist in Tourism Security. Dr. Tarlow is a founder and president of Tourism & More Inc. Dr. Tarlow has appeared on National televised programs such as Dateline: NBC and on CNBC. In 2003, Dr. Tarlow was asked to take on special assignments dealing with iconic security for the US National Park Service and lectures for Homeland Security. Dr. Tarlow

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How Much Are Customer Promotions & Employee Incentives Really Costing Your Business?

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BY: JOHN P. STOCKHAUSEN SR., PRESIDENT OF MDC GROUP, INC

Facts That Every Business Owner Should Know Before Rewarding Another Customer Or Employee YOU’RE PROBABLY WONDERING what this is all about. Well, simply put, it’s about winning in business. Obviously, that’s a broad statement that could lead down a path of many varied topics. However, the purpose of this article is the relationship between your business and its customers and employees.

DOES YOUR COMPANY PROVIDE ENOUGH MOTIVATION TO ACHIEVE THE RESULTS YOU REALLY WANT? Every business typically has three options when creating an employee incentive or customer promotion that motivates the target audience to take action: cash, merchandise or travel. Cash, of course, can be in the form of bonuses, rebates, discounts, “interest free”, cash cards, etc. Merchandise can be catalog programs, buy “X” and get a free IPOD (or whatever), buy one – get one offers and more. Travel includes group travel programs, luxury “Dream Vacations” typically used in sweepstakes programs or individual travel awards. The individual travel awards include such options as free airline tickets, weekend getaways to a specific destination such as Las Vegas or getaways that include choices of destinations for the award winner. www.brilliantpublishing.com

THE PROBLEMS WITH USING CASH TO MOTIVATE YOUR CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES… Let me be the first to say that cash awards work. Whether an employee bonus or cash discount for a customer, cash works. But as I like to say, “Don’t let good be the enemy of best”. Cash does have numerous problems that limit its ability to successfully motivate. The biggest limitation using cash as a motivator is - no leveraging of your investment. Five hundred dollars invested in a discount or bonus equals – five hundred dollars in motivation. It also equals $500 off the bottom line. On the other hand, individual travel awards can cost under $200 or even $100, yet often have a perceived value of $500 or even $800 thereby utilizing the less equals more theory. In other words, getting a much bigger bang for your buck. Looking at the big picture, if you had a $20,000 budget for bonuses you will get $20,000 worth of motivation from your target audience. The high value, lower cost travel awards can turn that into $50,000 or even $100,000 in perceived value and provide as much as $100,000 in motivational value. Brilliant Results | September 2006 25


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THE MAJOR REASONS WHY CASH HAS LIMITED EFFECTIVENESS Customer Promotion: There is no residual value to the customer. If a customer purchases from you because of your cash discount, then the next time they will buy from your competitor if they are offering a bigger discount. Do you remember the 10% off sale that your favorite retail store ran last year, what did you do with the money you saved? Cash discounts can also become a part of the price. Just ask your local auto dealer, “When was the last time somebody actually walked of the lot with $2,500 cash back in their pocket?” It never happens. Several years ago when auto manufactures stopped offering the rebates, business dried up. So back came the rebates and down went the bottom line. Employee Incentives: As for cash bonuses, they often disrupt the compensation plan. Employees come to expect them and feel cheated if a company tries to take it away. Do you remember the last time you got a cash bonus? Can you remember where you spent the money? It typically pays off a credit card and rarely involves another member of the family. Cash bonuses can even cause discontent among workers who may end up feeling under appreciated because of either the amount that was received or another employee getting more than they did.

WHY USING TRAVEL AWARDS TO MOTIVATE YOUR CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES IS THE BEST CHOICE… Travel programs, if done right, can be very event driven and therefore not something employees tend to become dependent upon. Let me ask you, do you remember the vacation you took last year? Two years ago? If someone else paid for it you would remember that as well, wouldn’t you. Which one will your customer or employee talk to his friends about three or six months from now, cash or travel? Vacations seem to find a way to stand out in the majority of people’s mind. If you were to stop reading this article right now and go ask 10 people to tell you about a vacation they took as a child, 9 out of the 10 would be able to give you amazing details about a trip that happened 10, 15, or maybe even 20 years ago. The best value for your incentive dollar is travel. Why? Survey after survey and study after study show people love travel. When American Express Incentive Services (AEIS)

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polled 1,004 adult Americans at random in 1993, 63% said that their loyalty to their employers would increase if they had an ongoing incentive program that allowed them to choose rewards that were personally relevant. 53% said such a program would increase their loyalty “significantly.” The survey also revealed that employees were willing to work longer hours, take on greater workloads, and increase the speed and intensity of their work - if the payoff is a reward that offers their choice. Shockingly 18% of working and retired Americans said they had never received a performance reward. Respondents to the AEIS survey said the awards they most wanted were: 1. Trip to a destination of their choice (40%) 2. Shopping spree at stores of their choice (23%) 3. Home improvements/home beautification items (19%) 4. Season tickets to their favorite entertainment venue (10%) 5. Electronics (4%) 6. None of the above or don’t know (4%).

GROUP TRAVEL VS. INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL The one thing that people can never get enough of is vacations. Many think of Incentive Travel as group travel. And it is. But that is not where the story ends. Individual travel has become a great supplement to group travel as well as a stand-alone program in many incentive plans. Group travel tends to be used by companies to award the top 5% to 10% percent of their target audience. What I have found that means is it may only motivate the top 10% to 20%. Why? They are the only ones that come close to qualifying year in and year out for that award. Therefore, the other 80% of the target audience is not even remotely motivated that the “President’s Club” (or what ever they call that top 5% or 10%) is going to Maui. So what are you doing to motivate the other 70 – 80 percent? Individual travel can be a great way to take the excitement that a group travel program creates at the top end and move it through your sales force or customer base. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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I learned this 15 years ago when I first became aware of individual travel awards. I was the Membership Director of a local chamber of commerce looking for a way to improve the results of an ever-declining annual membership drive. We gave a trip to the top producer and the top team each year. My problem was the top producer was the same person every year. When we moved to an affordable individual travel award, we had the best results in years. In fact, the results repeated themselves the next year. Why? The people, who had given up trying to win the trip, now had a reasonable goal to earn their own vacation. I have since seen similar results in virtually every industry and application. “This was our most successful promotion to date. As a gift with purchase, it has helped our sales force in over 50 stores take a customer from a $75 sale to over $125 in many cases. Employees love the simplicity of it and customers feel that they are getting a good deal. I recommend the program to national retailers to really give their customers a little something extra.” - Ryan Lanier Individual Travel Awards are family vacations that are deluxe, yet inexpensive, will easily pay for itself, allow you to set reasonable goals, and most importantly reach the other 70% or 80% of your target audience. Individual Travel Awards: • Are Exciting • Are Easy And Fun To Promote • Have Universal Appeal • Produce Long Lasting Memories • Provide Family Involvement • Forms A Stronger Bond Between The Giver And Recipient These flexible awards are usually 3 day/2 night or 4 day/3 night awards that offer multiple destination choices. Depending upon the product and price point, I have seen them range from as few as 15 to as many as 500 destination choices. Some offer hotel accommodations only, while some include amenities and others even include transportation at a higher cost. Individual Travel Awards are in tune with the way people take their vacations. According to studies done by USA Today more than 80% of Americans prefer driving on vacation. That’s 80% of your target audience. Since AAA tells us that today nearly 87% of Americans drive on vacation, why not a “Family Drive Away Getaway?” www.brilliantpublishing.com

This type of award allows the recipient to travel where they want, when they want, and with whom they want.

THE PITFALLS OF USING TRAVEL AWARDS You should be aware that some companies will print you off a colorful piece of paper, call it a certificate, and only charge you $1.00. Others will charge you a one time or even a monthly membership fee and allow you to print off as many vacation certificates as you like. And some will even pay you a commission when one of your customers actually travels.

WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? The answer is very simple. They are in the certificate sales business, not the successful promotions business. Their sole purpose is to move travel certificates in as high a volume as possible. They don’t want your customers to travel. So they create Terms & Conditions for each certificate that make it almost impossible to travel. I have even seen some certificates that don’t provide any way for a person to redeem it. No phone number, no fax number, and not even an address to ship it to. Nine out of ten times your customers or employees will call you and you will be forced into handling traveler questions instead of focusing on what really matters... your business.

HOW TO AVOID COMPANIES THAT SELL WORTHLESS TRAVEL AWARDS The key to avoiding this is to find a company that instead of selling vacations provides successful promotions. If you work with a company that provides true Individual Travel Awards, your business will never have to worry about taking reservation calls or questions from customers about travel. Award recipients have access via toll free phone numbers, Internet, and fax to a full reservations department that handles all their travel requests as well as all questions or concerns the travelers may have. • John P. Stockhausen Sr., President of MDC Group, Inc. has been involved in selling successful promotions and incentive programs for more than 12 years. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and smaller local businesses as well. John has also trained hundreds of people in the incentive and promotion field. John has numerous successful programs in both the recognition side of awards and customer promotions. For additional information you can contact John Stockhausen, Jr. at johnjr@getawayincentives.com or 1-888-851-0466 Ext.701. Brilliant Results | September 2006 27


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Book Review Special: BY: ROBERT M. FELBER, MAS

f

OF THE MORE THAN 1,000 BUSINESS owners interviewed over the last 25 years, every one of them has asked Andy Birol the same question: my business is not like anyone you’ve worked with. How can I grow it to the next level? The Five Catalysts of Seven Figure Growth (CareerPress) provides the answers. In this age of demanding customers, unreasonable suppliers, cut-throat competition and dispassionate employees, Birol cuts right to the core of what owners need to grow their businesses - and how their vendors, staff and advisors can raise their own value by helping them. In the late 1980s, Birol was driving on Martha’s Vineyard listening to the radio. A local resident, James Taylor, was playing a few of his hits and taking questions from listeners. One woman gushed with praise, “Oh James, you sing so well. You have such a beautiful voice. I just love to listen to you.” Deadpan, he responded, “Why, thank you. That’s important in my line of work.” While he nearly ran off the road with laughter, Taylor’s words struck a deep chord that he has seen replayed or misplayed throughout his journey of growing a business and consulting to hundreds of entrepreneurs. Where do some business owners find the conviction to repeatedly double their businesses and focus on making the right moves to generate results while others flounder with indecision and stagnation? Despite losing his talented spouse, Carly Simon, and his hair as well, James Taylor is the consummate example of a business owner with confidence, assurance, and a true sense of purpose. He recognizes the key role his talent plays in his success but continues to promote his craft through creating new music, touring the world, and reinforcing his local base of support. So many business owners do not share James Taylor’s apparent confidence, conviction, and passion for their businesses. It shows. The Small Business

Administration reports that every year some 500,000 businesses fail. And Birol sees an equally high percentage wallow, and very few grow past their current levels. Why? Despite scores of books, courses, manuals, and role models, few entrepreneurs ever find the direction and drive they need to get their basic work of growing their businesses accomplished. Whether it’s surviving startup to create a million dollars of actual customer sales, leveraging the business brand they bought, or overcoming the mistakes their parents made in managing the business by obsolete rules, most business owners simply do not take the aggressive actions they need to take their businesses forward. The Five Catalysts of Seven Figure Growth is a book written for actual business owners who are seeking to understand what they personally need to do and decide in order to grow their businesses to the next level. Unlike Andy Birol

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books which show a business owner what to do, this book focuses on how the business owner’s personal headset actually affects the success of his or her business. By exploring the personal concerns and decisions a business owner has and must make, The Five Catalysts helps owners to understand the role their own fears and motivations play in the future prospects of their firms. It captures the owner’s immediate fancy through knowing humor and ongoing commitment through practical exercises. Unlike most any other profession, where education, licensing, or experience is a prerequisite for success, business ownership forces everyone to exchange risk for reward, regardless of his or her corporate, academic or business background. And few books address the actual decision and changes the owner must personally make along the way. This book will define the key areas of focus each business owner must address to move to the next level. Birol identifies the five fundamentals – what he calls catalysts – that drive profitable growth, showing how they lay the foundation for daily decision making, strategizing, and implementation throughout the life cycle of a business. He discusses each catalyst within the context of specific financial milestones – from start up, to reaching specific sales targets ($1 million, $5 million, $10 million, $25 million and $50 million) and finally, to succession, transition and handoff. Blending canny analysis with workbook exercises and real life anecdotes of successful client and national companies, The Five Catalysts provides a roadmap for systematic growth that is anything but predictable. Birol’s edgy enthusiasm, his ironic take on current pop culture, and unshakable conviction in the strength of business owners and those who serve them will keep you reading – and laughing. The Five Catalysts of Seven Figure Growth appeals to a broad, down-to-earth audience by examining owner motivation and commitment using anecdotes, humor, and examples from popular culture. The Five Catalysts makes the critical connection between a business owner’s lifestyle goals and his or her personal definition of business growth. It examines the central role of the owner at every stage of business growth, from start-ups to $100-million sales www.brilliantpublishing.com

milestones, for those readers whose businesses grow both quantitatively and qualitatively. Whether your company is brand new, established and growing or stuck in the status quo, The Five Catalysts will help you understand where it is, how it got there, and what you must do now to take it to the next level. This book serves as guidebook to help readers find the fortitude to execute the obvious and turn their convictions into action. Using worksheets, pop culture analogies and metaphors, paired with an in-your-face writing style that pulls no punches, Birol tells owners what to do and helps them to see how to decide what must be done. He also shares the story of his own life, and his own passions and convictions. Andy is not your ordinary MBA-business consultant. Starting his own small business was a very personal and direct response to the callous indifference of corporate life. It was while he was with Harris InfoSource that Andy was confronted with the values of corporate culture that led him to embrace the small business universe. Nine years ago, Andy’s daughter Margo was born and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an incurable respiratory disease. An office friend invited Andy and his wife to dinner, encouraging and supporting them. Exactly one week later, this very same friend called Andy into his office. Their mutual boss had told him to fire Andy. He grabbed his coat and walked out of corporate life forever, going directly to the hospital, where Margo was fighting for her life. • That day, Andy did what many new business owners do - he swore that he would never again allow himself to be in the position of depending on someone else for his livelihood. Today, Margo is nine years old, and the family spends their vacations seeing the world. Their home includes a formal board room for meetings and a spa center that helps with Margo’s daily breathing therapies and serves as place where family and real friends gather for work and play. For additional information please contact Robert M. Felber, MAS, President of Felber & Felber Marketing at 330.963.3664 or by Email at RobFelber@felberandfelber.com. Brilliant Results | September 2006 29


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NEVER

SURRENDER! BY: MELISSA GIORDANO & KERRY CONNOLLY

THE IDEA FOR THE NEVER SURRENDER COMPANY was born in the “green room” of a Boston television station where we worked as Morning News Anchor and Associate Director. We found ourselves, day after day, shaking our heads in disbelief over the many tragic stories that continuously made headlines. Sick of all the sadness, we decided it was time to LIFT spirits instead of CRUSH them. We wanted to motivate people to never give up, despite all of life’s challenges. So, we left the news business and created The Never Surrender Company...a line of colorful apparel, mugs, hats, gift buckets and more featuring our company logo, which personifies “Don’t chicken out! Never give up!” We all face daily obstacles, whether in the home, workplace, athletic field, school, etc. and sometimes need a push to conquer them. Our products drive people of all ages and all walks of life to persevere. Being news people, we had no business experience and were forced to learn on the fly. From

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choosing top quality products and suppliers to managing the books, making sales pitches and keeping track of inventory, we had a lot to learn. The one thing we did know was how to handle the media! Our company was launched with a bang in March 2005 thanks to radio interviews, TV appearances, and newspaper and magazine articles. Since then, we’ve been out meeting the public and selling our Never Surrender products all over New England at such events as The Boston Marathon, Hartford Hospital’s Celebrate Life Day and the Pan-Mass Challenge. These outings paired with word of mouth marketing have contributed to the success of our online store (www.TheNeverSurrenderCompany.com) with customers now coming from more than 40 states. The Never Surrender Company’s main goal is encouragement and motivation. We endorse three important guidelines for motivating salespeople.

EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A PART OF A TEAM! Belonging to a team creates strength and unity. Team members know they have individual expectations and responsibilities they must handle in order for everyone to reach a common goal. While it may be a chore for someone working alone, a team member welcomes these challenges because they know they are contributing to the success of the

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SURPRISE YOUR WORKERS WITH REWARDS.

Company gives out “Chicken Wings” gift buckets, which include a variety of Never Surrender items. They’re called Chicken Wings because they are intended to congratulate someone on a job well done and keep him or her “flying high!” They are also given to “lift” someone’s spirit and remind him or her to never give up on a bad day. They are always a hit and subsequently, a great motivator! Motivating employees, loved ones, parents, students, athletes and just about everybody has become a much more fulfilling career than reporting tragic news. In our previous profession, we saw firsthand that when people are bombarded with negativity, their desire to tackle the challenges of the world is lessened. But now, we see that optimism and tenacity can be spread as quickly as wildfire. The match just has to be lit. •

Recognizing members of the team for their diligence, commitment and positive attitude will only intensify their desire to succeed. It doesn’t have to be a plasma TV! Any acknowledgement for a job well done is sure to spark enthusiasm. The Never Surrender

Former Associate Director, Melissa Giordano and former Morning News Anchor, Kerry Connolly are founders of The Never Surrender Company. For more information, please visit www.theneversurrendercompany.com.

whole group. Managers who create a team atmosphere invite camaraderie, high energy and an industrious work environment. For example, one of our customers is a small company who purchased Never Surrender t-shirts for its entire crew, customizing the shirts with their company color and logo. They were starting a new project and the managers felt this gesture would promote teamwork and be a reminder to never give up when approaching hurdles in their upcoming venture.

RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING EACH INDIVIDUAL SALESPERSON, ESPECIALLY ON THE TRYING DAYS. We’ve both worked at companies in the past where negative feedback of employees outweighed the positive...and therefore, overall morale suffered. In turn, low morale equated to low productivity. At The Never Surrender Company, we live by our motto to Never Surrender. Giving up is not an option. Employees need to be reminded of this. Sounds simple, but it’s amazing what these words of encouragement along with a pat on the back can do for an employee’s spirit.

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WOULD YOU FLIP A COIN TO DETERMINE which doctor should operate? Elect your pension plan by heads or tails? Toss a coin to select your CMO? Flip to pick your marketing partner? The goal of an effective Request for Proposal is to identify the correct partners among many good options. When managed correctly, the process provides an even playing field, a chance to meet new players and to compare the strengths of current partners.

BEST INTENTIONS GONE WRONG. A national service company tossed a coin to decide their promotional product supplier. Their Request for Proposal didn’t provide the answers they needed because it didn’t ask the correct questions. Nor had they looked at the best suppliers to meet their criteria. In this true story of coin flipping, the company began with an accepted business practice. Sadly they didn’t understand the worth of merchandise branded with their logo. Viewing it as a commodity, the decision committee focused on cost and neglected value. They flipped a coin that first year. And for three successive years repeated the RFP process. Even more dismaying than the lost years, wasted time, energy, and money is lost opportunity. Marketing programs that use branded merchandise effectively realize return on investment. Finding that savvy partner can contribute to the corporate bottom line.

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Capture both quality and price with branded merchandise RFPs BY: MARSHA LONDE

BUILD A BETTER RFP. Whenever you imprint your logo, you are creating an association between your brand and that item. Marketing dollars are wasted if you simply add logo goods to the budget without planning how they will work for you. Are you looking for price or performance? Some buyers feel “a pen is a pen” with price the only consideration. Would marketing consider paying for empty air time or a blank page? Of course not! To give a client a pen that doesn’t create the right brand impression is worse than using one minus a logo! Branded merchandise is a specialized category and won’t fit into a standard comparison template. A strong RFP can align marketing’s plans with purchasing objectives. But first both departments must clarify needs, expectations, and deliverables. Craft a robust document and you can have it all: branded merchandise with impact, suppliers with innovative approaches, excellent customer service, and definitely the right price. Form a committee of stakeholders with a strong leader. Start the process with an internal assessment. How many suppliers are you currently using?

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What’s the total annual spend across all? Identify the buyers across your organization and confirm their reasons for purchasing. Do their purchases support the brand image? Are you satisfied with current return on investment? Define the purpose of the RFP. Could you streamline and simplify with fewer suppliers? Of course you’re interested in better pricing. But analyze the quality of ideas, service, and technology you are currently receiving. Assess what needs are - and are not - being met. Address a myriad of factors, including supplier reliability, creativity, consistency, flexibility, personnel, warehousing, technology, location, and presentation. Include your needs for Award and Recognition programs and upscale client gifts. Examine existing programs from Years of Service to safety, events, trade shows, and corporate functions. To be effective, the award, reward, gift, invitation or teaser must mean something to the recipient. Consider how, and if, your current programs are successful. Use the results of your assessment to craft questions that address the core qualifications your supplier partner must have. What figure did you determine as your annual spend? How much of that volume is drop

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ship? And what amount is on-line catalog? Does your recognition program need updating? Exactly why are you going through this process? When participants understand your goals, they can match your priorities with their capabilities. A well-prepared RFP will elicit responses that can be compared and evaluated.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Your committee should include a member with industryspecific knowledge to assess responses, especially the complex market basket. Pricing dozens of items won’t guarantee a definitive comparison, just a cumbersome one. Include fewer products but with the right detail for accurate costing. Even the most experienced corporations realize too late that they’ve no way to evaluate because the RFP pricing is apples and oranges. Yes, we could name names! Preliminary research will identify the strongest mix of potential suppliers. Of the 20,000 promotional product distributors, whom will you invite to participate? If you focus on the “big guys”, will you miss a convenient and innovative source in your own neighborhood? Could this be an opportunity for a diversified supplier relationship?

CREATE A REALISTIC TIME-TABLE. You’ve invested weeks of time and energy into preparing this RFP. If you want thoughtful responses that speak to your requests and needs, allow a sufficient interval for the responses. A realistic period is a minimum of two, but preferably three, full work weeks. Avoid deadlines around holidays. Not only is the supplier short staffed, with possible critical decision makers and resources unavailable, but also the factories that provide the base pricing may be closed!

AVOID COMMON SEARCH MISTAKES. To obtain productive answers, state the criteria defined in your needs assessment. Position your customer service and technology requirements. Create an effective market basket. Equally important, know what responses you’re seeking, and build an objective format for evaluation. Will you look to your future partner for creative experience or marketing strategies? Which style best fits your needs…an order taker who responds specifically to direct requests; or an order maker, a tactical thinker who brings recommendations to you? There’s no wrong answer; just a clear focus to source the right match. As part of the RFP process, invite the final contenders to your office for a presentation. Meet your prospective team to ensure connection and chemistry before inking the contract. A return visit to the finalists’ locations provides another layer of insight, a chance to experience their energy, creative and otherwise.

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO MANAGE THE PROCESS? It’s possible to spend hundreds of man-hours over the course of months conducting an RFP. This is all in addi-

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Courtesy of Tango Partners LEFT TO RIGHT: Danon Middleton (green top); Marsha Londe (middle, dark hair); Leigh Canavan (blue top)

tion to normal job duties and responsibilities! Marketing departments already have a full agenda without enough hands or hours to make the many projects happen. Does your team have the time and resources to accomplish a successful RFP? Rarely does a company have in-house staff with industry expertise. Do you now use outside experts for other functions, such as placement? Would outsourcing the RFP process free you to focus on primary business?

CHECK CATEGORY EXPERTISE. Proficiency in RFPs does not translate to experience with promotional products. Interview your outsource companies to learn who on their team is the industry expert. How many RFPs have they conducted for imprinted goods? Do they know which companies to include, and what is their familiarity with the market basket process? Some procurement companies, recognizing their lack of clear-cut industry information, will partner with a promotional product authority for this category. Ensure the success of your process by working with a firm that can deliver expert advice, resources, and evaluation capabilities. Don’t be tempted only by procurement agencies that focus first on their bidding skills. Lowest bid does not equal best value or determine a positive partner. Marketing’s goals are rewarded by the best combination of creativity, product, service, and price.

PRICING VERSUS QUALITY Pricing is a sensitive subject. And an important one. But there are more ways to save money than “cheapest price.” If a pen is just a pen, simply a commodity, bid away! Purchasing by price won’t be a bargain if half the pens don’t write or are pitched because of cut-rate perception. A business can’t recoup that misspent dollar or the lost marketing opportunity. Promotional merchandise should compliment overall marketing strategy. Logo product is the vehicle, like print or media, which conveys your message. Trade magazines, both in print and on-line, bemoan the decline of traditional advertising. National TV watchers have become adept at missing advertising’s www.brilliantpublishing.com


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message. On-line has changed the sophistication level of targeting an audience. But while other advertising forms are struggling, sales of branded merchandise top over $18 billion. For fully integrated marketing opportunities, incorporate logo product with media, print, direct mail, Internet, and targeted programs to reach and influence the recipient. Make your marketing dollars perform! Select your imprinted product by how it supports the brand message and affects the end user. Perhaps a “pen” isn’t even the right choice. A good supplier will have a philosophy similar to creative agencies to evaluate the “who/what/when/where/how much” that’s critical to effective branding and that all-important investment return. Design your RFP to capture the creative contributions and expertise of qualified suppliers who deliver promotional strategies. A collaborator that demonstrates insight into your brand and audience can mean more bang for fewer bucks. Price is a common denominator. Rather than reduce your marketing and your marketing partner - to the lowest common denominator, explore capabilities that separate, areas where this supplier is NOT “common”. You can have it all! Requests for Proposals are instrumental in identifying

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viable supplier consultants that care about your return on investment. Every RFP should and can deliver bottom line cost-savings through effective economies, service, and processes. Choose a partner who can think creatively with you in building and protecting your brand identity. When managed properly, a marketing RFP will generate responses that allow you to have it all – great ideas, cost savings, service, and value.

AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO FLIP A COIN. Tango Partners manages the RFP process and cost reduction for companies that purchase significant quantities of logo merchandise. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Tango was formed by pioneers in the promotional product industry and is led by innovators in the use of branded product. More information is available at the company website, www.tangopartners.net, e-mail solutions@tangopartners.net or at 404-846-1900 • In Marsha Londe’s 25 year industry career, she has earned 23 Pyramid awards for the creative use of product to drive results and was twice named salesperson of the year. Three of her clients were recognized by the industry as “Buyer of the Year”, a reflection of how the effective use of promotional product helped them achieve program goals.

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Custome BY: TRENDWATCHING

While a select number of companies are cautiously experimenting with Customer-Made projects, the opportunities represented by the co-creation trend are becoming more massive every day.

INTRODUCTION Let’s get this out of the way once and for all: trends are not one-off coining affairs. Some trends are worth tracking for years and years, especially if they represent a radically new definition of what constitutes value to consumers. And from a business and innovation angle, we’d like to argue that the Customer-Made trend, co-creating with your customers, is the most important one to watch. Not because everything has to or will be co-created in the future, but because tapping into the collective experiences, skills and ingenuity of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world is a complete departure from the inward looking, producer- versus-consumer innovation model so common to corporations around the world.

DEFINITION AND INSIGHTS Customer-Made: “The phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with experienced and creative consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in (and rewarding them for) what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.”

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WHY ARE CUSTOMERS INTERESTED IN CO-CREATING? CONSIDER ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING: • Status: people love to be seen, love to show off their creative skills and thinking. • Bespoke lifestyle: something consumers have been personally involved in should guarantee goods, services and experiences that are tailored to their needs. • Cold hard cash: getting a well deserved reward or even a profit cut for helping a company develop The Next Big Thing is irresistible. • Employment: in an almost ironic twist, CUSTOMER-MADE is turning out to be a great vehicle for finding employment, as it helps companies recruit their next in-house designer, guerrilla advertising agency or brilliant strategist. • Fun and involvement: there’s pleasure and satisfaction to be derived from making and creating, especially if co-creating with brands one loves, likes or at least feels empathy for?

WHAT IS CUSTOMERMADE NOT? It’s NOT plain feedback without an answer, it’s not Do-It-Yourself, it’s not customization, it’s not even personalization, as all of these actions take place after companies have decided what the basics are, which products and services and experiences they’re willing to hand over to consumers. Case in

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mer Made

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point: consumer-voting campaigns, sure, they’re fun, but at the same time have a hopelessly tired feel to them. Once true Customer-Made becomes the norm, it should be the companies voting for whatever consumers choose to submit!

WHY NOW? For decades, consumers have been saving up their insights and rants about the stuff they consume, simply because they didn’t have adequate means to interact with companies, or with other consumers for that matter. No longer. These fickle, wired, empowered, opinionated and experienced holders of a MC (Master of Consumerism) are getting used to ‘having it their way’, in ANY way imaginable, which includes wanting to have direct influence on what companies develop and produce for them. It certainly helps that these same consumers are also part of Generation C: they’re creative and increasingly have access to professional hardware, software, and online distribution channels to show (and dictate) companies what it is they expect from them, using text, sound, picture and video in ever more powerful ways. Add to GEN C the millions of lead users, early adopters, brilliant business professionals dying to give you a piece of their mind, and you’ll end up with THE GLOBAL BRAIN, waiting for you to tap into its experiences and skills. You probably get the picture: your brand’s Next Great Idea could come from Sao Paulo or Singapore, if you open up your corporate fortress to smart individuals from around the world. If you don’t, someone else surely will. So…Who’s Doing What?

DIY ADVERTISING: Virtually every brand these days seems to be inviting their customers to contribute to their next advertising campaign. If you believe that this is proof that co-creation is in fact an established trend, think again.

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Sure, recent examples like L’Oreal’s You Make The Commercial, FireFox’s Flicks, MasterCard’s Write a Priceless Ad, JetBlue’s Travel Stories and McDonalds’ Global Casting are good fun (if consumers really like your brand, they don’t even need a contest, as illustrated by these cool, unofficial American Apparel ads), but while getting some of your customers involved at a tactical marketing level is better than nothing, it doesn’t touch upon the truly massive opportunities that the Customer-Made trend has to offer when you move beyond advertising: from product development to open-conversation feedback schemes:

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT The easiest way for brands to dip their toes into Customer-Made and tap the global brain is to announce product or service development contests, open to consumers from around the world. Let’s start with some Customer-Made contests that go beyond the usual ‘send-us-your-productidea-and-win-a-voucher-for-a-free-ice-cream and don’t-expect-us-to-actually-do-something-with-it’: The Nokia Concept Lounge took place in summer 2005 (some brands DO get it, and surprisingly it’s often the brands that already have a strong competence in design or product development: but we thought the initiative was too well executed to not mention it. The lounge invited designers in the Benelux to share ideas and design the next new cool phone. Not surprisingly, in a global brain world, entries came from all over, with the winner being a Turkish designer, Tamer Nakisci. His wristband style phone (the ‘Nokia 888’) must have had phone manufacturers from China to Finland drooling. What goes for phones also goes for coffee. Nespresso’s 2005 Design Contest aimed at imagining the future of coffee rituals, yielded gems like the Nespresso InCar coffee machine and the Nespresso Chipcard (which stores coffee preferences for registered individuals, and when inserted into a vending machine, communicates with a central database to brew a personalized cup of coffee). Pictures of the winning concepts can be found at gizmag.co.uk/go/5493/gallery.

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ONGOING DEVELOPMENT All of the examples above are a great way to really get started with CUSTOMER-MADE. But only a few companies have truly integrated this way of thinking into everything they do. One of the leaders in integrating CUSTOMER-MADE into its corporate fabric, P&G, is not slowing down: its Connect + Develop program and other innovation projects now produce more than 35% of the company’s innovations. In fact, R&D productivity at Procter & Gamble has increased by nearly 60%. In the past two years, P&G launched more than 100 new products for which some aspect of development came from outside the company. Among P&G’s most successful connect-and-develop products to hit the market are Olay Regenerist, Swiffer Dusters, the Crest SpinBrush, and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (source: HBR, March 2006). P&G also recently re-branded its Tremor Moms program to Vocalpoint. In their own words: ‘’Vocalpoint is a unique marketing brand powered by the Procter & Gamble Company that helps companies do a better job developing products and services that moms care about and want to talk about. We work with this influential group of moms to help companies in industries that include entertainment, fashion, music, food and beauty. We collect feedback and generate valuable knowledge and insight for our clients through surveys, product sampling and previews of products and services.” P&G as the champion of CUSTOMER-MADE, to the point of selling its co-creation expertise to others… Not bad.

ONGOING CONVERSATIONS Moving past contests and gifts, this is where it gets really interesting: co-creators receiving a cut of whatever gets developed based on their input, suggestions, design or ideas. Let’s not forget CUSTOMER-MADE as an ongoing conversation, in many ways the Holy Grail of marketing. Think companies not just staging contests or asking for themed, detailed suggestions, but really hopping on the Cluetrain Manifesto. The following examples are a start... • From April to October 2005, Itaú, Brazil’s largest bank, launched a campaign titled “O Itaú quer ouvir você”, which means (how refreshing!) “Itaú wants to listen to you”. Through a massive ad campaign, and by using channels such as dedicated 0800 numbers, e-mail, and online chats, employees at their banks, and actual telephones at ATMs, Itaú went far beyond the usual concept www.brilliantpublishing.com

of suggestion boxes. They even promised to get back to participants in five working days, commenting on suggestions made. First results: an average of 7.200 requests, complaints, and suggestions per month. • Equally laudable, Honda UK is sponsoring a new blog network, 2TalkAbout.com, that lets audiences publish their views on well-known brands as well as respond to other people’s views. The motor company is the first brand to associate itself with the network: the site, called 2TalkAboutHonda is aimed at anyone with an interest in Honda cars, especially the newly introduced Honda Civic, and was launched as the new model was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Although the online community will be completely independent from Honda, Honda engineers and associates will regularly log on to contribute to Brilliant Results | September 2006 39


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thousands of conversations about their brand would be a real challenge.) But in a review-driven, transparent world, the alternative to CUSTOMERMADE is finding out about your customers’ feedback, suggestions, and yes, anger, through publicly accessible name-them (and sometimes shamethem) websites.

OPPORTUNITIES

and respond to feedback, giving users direct access to the brand. (Source: Revolution.) Honda of course realizes that it’s better to participate than stand on the sidelines: online discussions on how to improve YOUR brand already are, or will soon be, everywhere. • And to add just one more industry…in the world of hospitality, a similar phenomenon can be found on FlyerTalk.com, a community for avid (and highly profitable!) business travelers. In fact, so many suggestions and complaints for and about major hotel chains were piling up on that site, that Starwood Hotels and Resorts seconded William Sanders, better known as the Starwood Lurker, to keep an eye on the forums, 8 hours a day. Since he openly started participating in November 2002, the Starwood Lurker has posted more than 11,000 replies, (which comes down to an average of more than 5 postings a day!), engaging in conversations with some of Starwood’s most valuable customers. No word on how much money this has made Starwood, but we guess it’s many times more than Mr. Sander’s salary. Now, you could of course decide that all of the above is too much work, or too expensive, and ignore it... (Yes, even multi-billion dollar brands have told us that finding the ‘budget’ for dedicating just one full-time person to personally monitor the

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When condensed into keywords, the CUSTOMERMADE trend is about innovation, which these days is the sole factor determining a company’s fortune or downfall. And as innovation CUSTOMER-MADE style implies the end of traditional producer/consumer relationships, implies letting go of control, and realizing that the entire world could be your advisor, it also implies re-innovating innovation itself. Scary stuff for not-invented-here laggards, but heaven for those obsessed with truly involving smart consumers before they take their talent elsewhere. If this reminds you of your current Innovation Team… What’s stopping you from setting up your own ipodlounge.com, hiltonlobby.com, virgincabin.com, ingcounter.com, saabbackseat.com, or safewayaisles.com, and inviting your customers to engage in CUSTOMER-MADE goods, services and experiences? Are you ready to open up (even as an experiment) one strategy meeting, one design process, one brainstorming session to the millions of consumers who may have an expert opinion, insightful suggestion, new business idea and so on, simply because they’re your avid users, and, in the best case, biggest fans? Oh, and if fear of a deluge of complaints and requests is holding you back: remember the deluge is already happening behind your back, and that if YOU aren’t listening to your smart, able customers, someone else definitely is! Furthermore, one trait that all of our trends have in common is that they seriously alter consumer expectations. Once they become accustomed to CUSTOMER-MADE being an option, consumers will take even less kindly to corporations who don’t communicate, who don’t respond to feedback, who don’t use open source, who don’t act upon suggestions, who keep throwing new stuff over the wall, hoping someone will like it. It’s time to open up! • Information provided by TRENDWATCHING.COM, a trend/new business idea agency, whose newsletter goes out to over 110,000 subscribers in 120 countries worldwide, who use these trends and real-world examples to stay in the know, and to dream up profitable new services, products and ventures. For more information, please visit www.trendwatching.com. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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Trading How to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows

BY: NANCY A. SHENKER, FOUNDER & PRINCIPAL, THEONSWITCH® MARKETING PROFESSIONALS often offer advice on how to get better results from trade shows. We have all heard standard show wisdom like “Have a compelling display, always stand up in your booth and don’t chew gum, and be sure to capture leads.” Here are some less commonly known tips to ensure that those days spent out of the office with sore feet, “booth breath” and no sleep really do pay off for you and your business. Trade shows have four purposes for exhibitors and attendees: Commerce. Shows are the ultimate business “shopping malls.” At the end of the day, commerce is how most business people measure success (e.g., how many “deals” did I do at or right after the show?) Although every marketing activity should be evaluated in terms of payback, some business people will consider a show a failure if it does not deliver immediate financial results. This can be shortsighted, because the true value of trade shows lies in longer-term benefits and the three areas below. Creative Thinking. At shows with conferences or a keynote, thought leaders reveal trends that will affect your industry. New products are frequently launched at shows. Use both these opportunities to re-energize and gather new ideas for your business. Deborah Hilfman, Group Show Manager at George Little Management, recommends that businesses “be open to traveling to shows outside their region – both domestically and internationally.” It can lead to new resources and new opportunities. Community. Trade shows are terrific places to network and re-connect with old contacts. You can pick up industry best practices, recruit new talent, and discuss trends with people who have similar concerns and interests.

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Celebration. After-hours entertainment can lead to new relationships and solidify existing ones. Many companies use shows as an opportunity to spend quality time with their teams, clients, suppliers and prospects – away from office pressures. Before you go to a show, think about how your business, marketing, and sales strategies will support each of those purposes. After you get back, write down all the new things you learned and people you met at the show. If you spent your time wisely, that list will be long and powerful. Publish your notes and recommendations before you get back to the office and e-mail them to your colleagues who were unable to attend.

ATTENTIVE ATTENDANCE Going to a show should be approached much like visiting a new country on vacation. Before you leave, research and plan for how you will spend your time and plot out the roadmap for your on-site travels. Ask yourself: • What am I looking to buy or window shop? • Who do I want to meet? • What do I want to learn? • How much time should I spend doing each of these things? In effect, you’re creating a “mini business plan” for the show; one that you can use to ultimately measure if your time and money were well spent. If you are going primarily to buy products and services, carefully study the exhibitor list (usually available on the show’s website) and note the “must see” companies. Allow some time to simply wander the aisles. If you are pressed for time, look for new www.brilliantpublishing.com


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Up ng product areas and at-show, they can be a great “one-stop shop” and way to save money. Phyllis Cambria, Event Planner and author, suggests that if you’re a small business owner who is planning to place orders at the show, you should attend with a colleague who owns a similar business. “By placing a larger order, you’ll be able to bargain for better pricing.” Be sure to carefully review the conference program. Speakers and panelists may be people you want to meet. Most speakers are willing to stay after their sessions to mingle. (Do not cross that fine line between “networking” and “hounding, however”) Keep in mind too that many of the other conference attendees are potential contacts and prospects. Read nametags and seat yourself next to interesting people. If you get to the session early, you’ll have schmooze time. Trade show registration lines, lunch areas, hotel bars and gyms, shuttles to and from the show, and after-hours receptions are also all great places to mingle and meet. A word of caution for show attendees: Do NOT attempt to sell your services to exhibitors at their booths. They are at the show to sell, not to buy. Be respectful of their time and resources.

EXHIBIT INTELLIGENCE If you are an exhibitor, look way beyond your booth. Your piece of real estate on the show floor and presence in it is just one aspect of your marketing strategy. Pay attention to your base of operation, but spend time and strategic energy on what is happening beyond the booth “walls.” “I didn’t get enough traffic” and “The right people just weren’t there” are the most common comwww.brilliantpublishing.com

plaints among exhibitors. Here are some proactive steps every exhibitor can take to ensure he hones in on the right prospects. 1. Work closely with the show organizer on developing marketing opportunities. Consider sponsorships of events, online marketing, on-site signage and promotion, PR, and other ways to make your business and brand more visible before, during and after the show. Greg Topalian, Group VP at Reed Exhibitions emphasizes, “Most show organizers will customize a package that targets the exact titles of buyers you’re looking to attract, and will help you build a plan to drive them to your booth.” One of Cambria’s recommendations for at-show promotion is the tried and true “heavy-duty fabric tote bag.” “These are practical giveaways that attendees will value…plus they will be moving advertisements for your company” at and after the show. Ask about speaking opportunities too. Most shows do not want speakers who are just going to “hawk product,” but if someone at your company is a thought-leader and can deliver an objective educational session, that can be great exposure. (Of course, at the end of the talk, you can always say, “If you have any other questions for me, please visit me at my company’s booth”) 2. Pre-market: Most shows will make their attendee lists available before the show. Even if you have no plans to do a pre-mailing, that database is valuable! The final list of attendees is often available for rent as well. Brilliant Results | September 2006 43


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Pay careful attention to how you describe your company in the show’s directory. Many attendees use these guides before and after the show to source suppliers. If your writeup is not descriptive, specific, and compelling, you may be overlooked. 3. Review the floor plan: Get a good sense of who else is exhibiting (especially competitors) and which companies are located nearby. You might even consider co-op promotions and lead referrals with complementary exhibitors 4. Be sure you have news. If your booth is identical year after year, it becomes boring to attendees. The media also look for new and hot products at the show. Make sure you’re on the “must see” list. Cambria advises exhibitors “to offer show specials to encourage attendees to place discounted orders immediately or within days of the show.” 5. Look for creative ways to draw traffic to your booth. By attending trade shows in other industries (that have little to do with your own business), you can often pick up creative ideas for driving traffic. Gatherings like the BiZBash Event & Style Show and TS2, because they are focused exclusively on the event industry, can be great places to expand your mind. Engaging the services of professional marketing companies to help with your show concept can also breathe new life into a stale trade show presence. Even simple ideas can be powerful. Creative food and games add warmth and fun to a booth and create opportunities for prospects to “linger” and for you to meet them. Maui Wowi served custom smoothies to attendees at the Legal Tech Show and Amusitronix provides interactive virtual reality games (like hang gliding flight simulators and roller coasters) for exhibitors. Waiting time can also mean relationship-building time for your booth staff. 6. Spend time on building business, not building your booth. Lana Shaken, the Special Events and Facility Manager for Penn Plaza Pavilion Exhibition Hall, stresses that exhibitors can save both time and money by reading and understanding the specific rules and requirements of the venue, to prevent misunderstandings or lastminute orders. 7. Listen, listen, listen…and then listen some more. Marc Sherer, President of Event Management, says, “Too often exhibitors are so intent on getting their message out that they lose sight of the need to create a relationship. Like in a marriage, you need to listen, understand and then (maybe) speak.” Hilfman adds, “Treat everyone who enters the booth with the same level of respect. The old adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is central to a successful business.”

Helpful Resources for Exhibitors/Attendees The Handy Dandy Guide to the Web (pre-order at www.theonswitch.com; to be published in November 2007) • www.bizbash.com • http://www.exhibitoronline.com/ • http://www.tsea.org/ • http://www.tsnn.com/ • http://www.ts2show.com/

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You may consider conducting a survey or holding focus groups during a trade show. Be sure to offer a compelling incentive for responders too. 8. Get out there! Assign at least one person to “work the floor” at all times. If you don’t have adequate internal staffing, engage the services of a publicist or marketing company. Some of your best prospects may be in conference sessions, lunch areas, or some of the “mingling areas” noted above. 9. Hold team meetings to troubleshoot and brainstorm. Of course, your booth staff will be exhausted and drained after standing and selling for hours on end. But try to find a time (like breakfast) when you are refreshed and can all get together to talk about what’s working and what’s not, share ideas, and lay out your game plan for the rest of the show. If you have significant issues, consider engaging the show organizer in your discussion. They will, of course, want you to return next year so if you are experiencing problems; they need to know about them immediately. 10. Hang in there. No matter how burned out you are, never close your booth prior to show’s end, advises Hilfman. “One of our exhibitors got a substantial order from a booth visitor two minutes before the floor closed. That was the start of a long, profitable, relationship. You never know who your last visitor is going to be.”

KEEP THE SHOW ALIVE, 365 Both attendees and exhibitors meet this same challenge — you get back to your office and have 100’s of e-mails (at least) to deal with. Papers, meetings, and messages have accumulated. You have to return to your “real job.” Do not let those few valuable trade show days fade into distant memories. Resolve to build on the leads you generated, the ideas you collected, and the people you met. Keep the show directory in a prominent place on your bookshelf as a reminder. Register early for the next year’s show (or, if you decide not to return, research alternative shows). Provide feedback to the show organizers, so they know what needs improvement. Set an hour each week for “trade show follow-up” and don’t sacrifice it for other business priorities. Whether you attend one or 100 shows a year, these time-tested strategies will ensure there’s “no business like show business.” Nancy A. Shenker, Founder and Principal of theONswitch (www.theonswitch.com) is a marketing professional who has spent most of her 30-year career involved in some aspect of events and trade shows – as an exhibitor, attendee, and in show management. theONswitch provides creative strategies and services (marketing plans, PR, events, websites, and more) to a wide range of companies and industries. Nancy was Senior VP of Marketing at Reed Exhibitions and has also held executive positions at Citigroup and MasterCard and in the publishing industry. • She is the author of “Your Handy Dandy Guide to the Web” and “Your Handy Dandy Guide to Trade Shows” (November 2006). She lectures on marketing topics at NYU, Trump University, and professional conferences. Reach her at nancys@theonswitch.com. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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BY THE CREATIVE GROUP

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THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF MEETINGS in today’s workplace. In fact, advertising and marketing executives polled by The Creative Group said they attend 11 meetings a week on average — the majority of which last one to two hours! To make this time as productive and pain-free as possible for your staff, follow these simple rules: 1. Thou shalt avoid over-inviting. Most professionals have found themselves in meetings with one vexing question in mind: Why am I here? When calling a meeting, your first step is to determine which colleagues or clients absolutely must attend. If someone has no expertise on the subject or won’t be affected by the discussion, be respectful and leave him or her off the invite list. 2. Thou shalt provide invitations and agendas at least one day in advance. Distribute meeting invitations that include the “five Ws”: who, what, when, where and why. Provide as much advance notice as possible while offering details about the meeting’s purpose and what each attendee should do to prepare. Giving marketing professionals an hour’s notice to develop concepts for a new branding initiative, for example, is inadequate. 3. Thou shalt start promptly. Begin your meetings at the designated time. Delaying the start by even 15 minutes to wait for late-comers is unfair and disrespectful to those who arrived on time. Starting late also can lead to rushed discussions and rash decisions, in addition to throwing off your time-crunched attendees’ daily schedules.

6. Thou shalt allow actual brainstorming to occur during ‘brainstorming meetings.’ Some of the best marketing and design ideas come from those that might seem preposterous at first. If you start a brainstorming session by stating, “No idea is a bad idea,” follow through on this promise. An undeveloped thought, which may sound silly or odd at first, can often transform into a workable solution if your team has time to mold it. Also, don’t zero in on the first good idea you hear; let every attendee offer his or her two cents. 7. Thou shalt offer comfort breaks and fuel during long meetings. If you’re hosting a lengthy meeting, schedule breaks to cut down on interruptions from people walking in and out of the room. Also, consider providing food and refreshments to keep your group energized. 8. Thou shalt turn off technical gadgets. How many times have you been in the middle of an important conversation only to be sidetracked by the alarming chirp of a coworker’s cell phone? Put your phone on vibrate mode and politely request that everyone else do the same. In addition, ask people not to peck on their laptops or Blackberrys. 9. Thou shalt ask people to identify themselves during conference calls. When you have multiple people in multiple locations patched in for a conference call, it can be difficult to determine who’s talking. Request that attendees state their names before speaking. For example, “Hi, this is Chris, marketing manager for our central region.”

4. Thou shalt check presentation equipment. When using visual aids, test all equipment before the meeting. Nothing is as unnerving as having a roomful of people stare at you while you scramble to fix a projector or tame a temperamental PowerPoint file.

10. Thou shalt end on time. Allowing a meeting to run long is just as problematic as starting late. If it becomes apparent that there’s too much to cover, set aside the last few minutes to schedule a follow-up discussion. •

5. Thou shalt keep the discussion on track. Put simply, tangents kill productivity. It’s your role to keep your team focused. If the discussion meanders off-track, steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms on a project basis. For more information, visit www.creativegroup.com.

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It’s ALL Personal

Dave Ribble

Industry expert Gaye Kruger says that what some companies miss is that what they give out is a direct reflection on goodwill.

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SO, YOU SCORED AWESOME TICKETS to see your favorite comedian. You’re front-row center. His routine includes bringing someone up on stage to poke fun at them and you are a willing subject. You make constant eye contact. You have the energy and you really feel tonight is YOUR night to be up there. Your palms are sweaty and you’re hoping your dream will come true. It happens. You are chosen. The crowd applauds you onto the stage and, as you turn toward the lights, the intenseness is palpable. You’re introduced. Your mouth won’t work and you fumble with where to put your hands. The comic is fired up, looking for comedy. You are trying to keep up but, in all honesty, your deer-in-the-headlights look is funny enough by itself. Your heart is pounding, the crowd applauds and, about the time you finally calm down from the excitement…it’s over. You have to squint to find the steps leading you back to your seat, praying to not trip while trying to smile and half-wave to the cheers. Wasn’t that fun? Great experience. But, what will you have to show for it tomorrow or a year from now? They didn’t even give you a video! I liken the above scenario to what it is really like when someone is rewarded with CASH instead of Binoculars they can use on vacation or a Digital Camera to take those keepsake photos. The fun of getting CASH lasts for about as long as it takes to spend the money, and after the money is spent there is rarely anything left to show for it. Our industry studies this stuff. Year in and year out, CASH ends up way down the list of the rewards in incentive programs that are requested, desired and remembered later on. Industry expert Gaye Kruger says that what some companies miss is that what they give out is a direct reflection on goodwill. “If you want to have lasting Goodwill, give them something that continues to speak to how you feel about them. Let them choose items from a catalog of items or, at the very least, reward them with something that is useful, handy, super-cool, whatever it needs to be that shows you really do value them.” When you want to reward someone for hitting goals, increasing sales volume, working without stubbing the toe or going for an extended period of time without having someone complain about customer service, give them choices of items they will keep, enjoy and show their friends. Otherwise, you’re just giving them what amounts to a couple of minutes on stage, soon to be forgotten. Is this being Personal about what you do to reward people? You bet. It’s ALL Personal. Dave Ribble is President of The Company Image, Inc./Geiger, award-winning promotional products specialists. For more information on Incentive Programs or anything else you may need, please contact Dave directly at dr@geiger.com or www.tci4me.com or 818-906-9894.

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P R O M O T I O N A L

P R O D U C T S

A S S O C I A T I O N

I N T E R N A T I O N A L

It’s addictive. Promotional products—the only advertising medium that puts your message in the hands of the people over and over again. Think about it. By the time they’ve had that sixth cup of coffee, your slogan has become their morning mantra. All they need is a reason to get hooked.

Make plans to attend PPAI’s Solutions Summit, held in conjunction with The Motivation Show, September 26-28, 2006, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL, and learn about the power of promotional products. To learn more, visit www.ppa.org/solutionssummit.


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Learn to engage your audience at Advertising Week New York City is usually the place to be at any time

The 90-minute workshop is designed primarily for

of the year, but you definitely want to be there the

college-level advertising and marketing students and

last week of September for the third annual

their professors, and will demonstrate how promotional

Advertising Week. The five-day event recognizes and

products can be key components of internal and

celebrates the economic and social impact of advertising

external brand building. Speaker Paul Kiewiet, MAS,

with a series of events, seminars, galas and keynotes

vice president of Incentive Marketing, a Corplogoware

scheduled for September 25-29, 2006.

affiliate, one of the country’s fastest-growing promotional agencies, will also share current research that

Last year’s event attracted more than 50,000 advertising

shows how powerful memories can be created

and marketing professionals, corporate decision

through the use of promotional products as commu-

makers, media practitioners, communications students

nications tools. The workshop will be held Monday,

and professors from more than 70 countries.

September 25, from 4 – 5:30 pm in the auditorium at the McGraw-Hill Building in New York (1221

This year’s event promises to be an even bigger and better

Avenue of the Americas at 49th Street). It’s free, and

educational experience for all attendees by featuring

attendees will get prizes—register at

dozens of keynotes, panels, workshops, lectures, exhibits

http://www.advertisingweek.com/eventDetail.php?id=243.

and spectacular special events designed to expose attendees to all facets of advertising and its uses. Along

Just steps away from the auditorium, you’ll also be

with traditional media, promotional products will once

able to view “The Best of the Best,” a collection of

again be part of the line-up as Promotional Products

award-winning promotional campaigns and product

Association International (a member of the Advertising

ideas presented by PPAI.

Week Organizing Committee) presents a free workshop titled “Engaging People To Build Brand Experiences: The

For more information about Advertising Week 2006,

Unique Power Of Promotional Products.”

including a full list of the events and activities, visit www.advertisingweek.com.

Presented By:

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Find a promotional consultant at www.buildapromotion.com

INDUSTRY: Medical—Advanced Medical Resources, Inc.

CHALLENGE: Set a goal within reason, and you’re more likely to reach it. That’s the strategy medical staffing firm Advanced Medical Resources used to overcome a projected $300,000 loss for the year. It declared a goal of making at least one dollar in profit. Not $100,000 or even $10,000—just one buck. How did the company motivate staff to move past the gloomy forecast and produce revenue?

SOLUTION: Working with promotional consultant Tim Sheridan of AIA/Bartell Creative Concepts in Glenview, Illinois, President Mark Gallagher developed a program to rally his sales staff to make more sales at higher margins. Aptly named “Just One Dollar,” the yearlong program began in January with a themed memo holder presented to the sales team and support staff at the monthly company-wide meeting. With each meeting, employees were treated to new promotional items: basketball stress relievers, transparent piggy banks, word search puzzles and wooden pyramid-shaped puzzles. Each item had a double meaning. For example, the basketball stress reliever given in March—in time for the NCAA’s March Madness—featured copy that read, “Margin Madness—Just One Dollar.” The wooden puzzle fit in with the overall program goals because not only was it shaped like the client’s logo, but it also emphasized teamwork. With employees working together to assemble the puzzle, they learned that by sharing knowledge, they can achieve results more rapidly than by working alone. As the year drew to a close and Gallagher and Sheridan evaluated the program’s results, they decided to give one final gift to celebrate a job well done. In December, employees received stemmed champagne glasses to toast a successful new year.

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RESULT: Advanced Medical Resources far surpassed its goal, making a total profit of $569,000 for the year. So much for ending up $300,000 in the red—the end result was a 99,214-percent return on the total cost of the program. “The net effect of the promotional program was phenomenal,” says Gallagher. “The inventive games and promotional items enabled me to enhance the focus for the business at each of my monthly meetings.”

TIP: Did you know that October 8-14 is National Emergency Nurses Week? Call attention to the emergency nurses within your healthcare clients with products such as hand-sanitizing solution, enamel pins, imprinted thermometers and pillshaped magnets.

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INDUSTRY: Bottled Water—Abita Springs Water Company, Inc.

CHALLENGE:

distributed to their customers eye-catching, full-color brochures describing the program and featuring an entry form for referrals and gift selections on the back,” says McAtee.

Abita Springs Water Company wanted to add 500 new customers to its home delivery program. What better way to do this than to offer its 5,000 targeted current customers incentives for qualified referrals? The challenge was finding incentive prizes attractive enough to prompt customers to recommend the company to friends and family and, at the same time, promote Abita Springs Water.

Upon confirmation of a referral signing up for the home delivery program, the salesperson presented the selected gift set on the next scheduled water delivery date to the referring customer.

SOLUTION:

RESULT:

Promotional consultant Christine McAtee, CAS, of AIA/Insignia Marketing in The Woodlands, Texas, knew Troy Cox, marketing manager for Abita Springs Water Company, wanted drinking-water-related, aqua and blue logoed prizes. She recommended a choice of four gift sets: the Patio Refreshment Set with an acrylic pitcher and four double-wall thermal insulated tumblers; Playground Pal with an insulated sports bottle and a portable folding chair with a cooler compartment; Easy Picnic Pak with a squeeze sports bottle and an insulated soft cooler with a food compartment; and Commuter Survival Kit with two coffee mugs, squeeze bottle and no-spill acrylic travel mug. “On their normal routes, the delivery salespeople

Cox reports the company surpassed its overall objective of increasing sales by 500 new home or office customers through referrals. Actual new clients numbered 552 during the promotion’s first year.

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FACT: In a PPAI study involving a food delivery service, customers who received promotional products averaged up to 18 percent more orders than those receiving coupons and 13 percent more than those who received nothing. www.brilliantpublishing.com


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Find a promotional consultant at www.buildapromotion.com

INDUSTRY: Technology—Ardesta, LLC

CHALLENGE: Ardesta, LLC, a venture capital company, was making big things happen in the world of small technology. When it came to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microsytems and nanotechnology, Ardesta was a leader in the global marketplace. As it marked its one year anniversary as an accelerator in the small tech industry, it wanted to attract media attention. How could it get on the radar of local and national reporters?

SOLUTION: Wanting Ardesta to be known as the industry’s go-to company, Colleen Robar, vice president, corporate communications, called promotional consultant Peter Moceri of Creative Specialties in Madison Heights, Michigan, for help. They decided to go small scale with the promotion, adopting a theme of “The World’s Smallest Press Release.” A small, child-sized microscope bearing the Ardesta logo was mailed to 75 reporters in a custom press-kit box. Since there was a microscope, there must be a slide to examine, right? Robar and Moceri didn’t miss a beat and included a customprinted microscope slide bearing the company’s message in print so small, it could only be read beneath a microscope. Hence, the world’s smallest press release. Recipients were pleased with the delivery because it differed greatly from ordinary releases. The fact it required assembly created a sense of curiosity and added fun to the mundane task of opening mail.

RESULT: “All total, I received 32 phone calls and e-mails from reporters who received ‘The World’s Smallest Press Release’ and microscope. That’s a 42-percent response rate,” Robar says. She continues to receive positive feedback, even from reporters who had not shown interest in the past.

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The imaginative microscope campaign was successful in generating media attention. “For a new company, it is critical to break through the clutter that lives on a technology reporter’s desk. ‘The World’s Smallest Press Release’ did that for us,” Robar says.

TIP: What comes first, the product or the packaging? Although the product is important, the packaging may be what your recipient remembers most. Think through your packaging options and be creative to make the best first impression.

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INDUSTRY: Software—Macromedia

CHALLENGE: Software developer Macromedia selected 200 CEO-level executives as the audience to target with information about its Macromedia Breeze, a high-end software package that helps companies save time and money by simplifying training and communications. The challenge was designing a three-part mailing with products shipping three days apart. The promotional products needed to suggest a breezy, tropical, stressfree atmosphere— allowing management more time to take vacations and relax.

SOLUTION: Macromedia Channel Marketing Manager Hope Garbo asked promotional consultant Nicole DeMattei, MAS, of Focus 4 in Sonoma, California, to help select the promotional items and create copy to tie them in with the product. The first mailing was a zippered coconut in a box filled with shredded wood and a “Take Time” insert that read, “No more late nights and lost weekends. With Macromedia Breeze, you can simplify your organization’s training and communications, work more efficiently—and have time to get a tan.” The second mailing was a desk fan packaged with a logoed bellyband in wood shred with a “Keep Cool” insert. The copy read, “No more getting hot and bothered. With Macromedia Breeze, you can train and educate your sales force, channel partners or employees—without breaking a sweat.” Mailing three was a folding beach chair, tagged with a “Sit Here” insert with the message, “No more running around trying to solve all your training and presentation challenges . . . There’s no new software to learn, so anyone can create and deliver multimedia presentations in minutes—not months. . . Trust me, you will be on the edge of your seat.”

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RESULT: All prospects were contacted immediately after receipt of the third mailing. “The program’s internal tracking indicates there was an 80-percent recipient recognition when they were contacted by the Breeze product account managers,” says DeMattei. “Of those 80 percent, the account managers anticipate gaining approximately 40 percent as clients.” An immediate result of the campaign was that a new customer purchased 50 Breeze licenses to manage the training programs at its 748 international hotel and resort locations.

FACT: Promotional products help solve marketing challenges. According to PPAI research, the top four programs benefiting from their use are tradeshows, customer retention and appreciation, goodwill and image building, and employee recognition.

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Find a promotional consultant at www.buildapromotion.com

INDUSTRY: Promotional Products—Image Builders

CHALLENGE: When Image Builders, a promotional products distributor in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, wanted to promote its creative abilities, it knew it needed a sharp campaign. After all, it was in the promotion business. How could it illustrate its award-winning style of using promotional items in a campaign so that it made a 100-percent return on investment?

SOLUTION: Promotional consultant Michael Fanslau, MAS, immediately honed in on his target audience of 60 businesses and organizations as top prospects for using promotional items in their marketing campaigns. “We mailed four pyramid-shaped boxes to each of the recipients. All the boxes were imprinted with the message ‘What’s the point?’” Fanslau says. Inside each box was the second half of the question, with a corresponding promotional item. Box one kicked off the promotion, asking, “What’s the point…If your promotions aren’t unique?” Inside the box were 15 cards listing the top uses of promotional advertising. Box two’s question was, “What’s the point…If you don’t give them the shirt off your back?” It was packed with an imprinted t-shirt compressed into a pyramid shape.

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Box three asked, “What’s the point…If your advertising doesn’t draw new business?” The supporting item was an Etch-A-Sketch®, suggesting Image Builders could show the customer “oodles of doodles to draw in new customers.” When recipients opened the fourth box, they found a Swiss Army pocketknife, a brochure, Rolodex card and handwritten note asking, “What’s the point…If no one pockets your message?” Did recipients get the point? Just ask Fanslau, who says, “In a year that a lot of distributors’ business was down 20-30 percent, we maintained our business and saw no drop in sales.”

RESULT: Far exceeding the financial goal, the program received rave reviews from recipients and generated $60,000 in new sales. “The synergy created by tying all the promotional pieces together with the matching brochures and packaging truly demonstrated the kind of promotional pieces we could put together,” says Fanslau.

FACT: The imprinted t-shirt was first introduced as a promotional product in 1970. It was referred to by some as a “walking billboard.” Dozens of other apparel items followed in the years afterwards. Today, apparel comprises almost 30 percent of total promotional products sales. Brilliant Results

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INDUSTRY: Not-For-Profit—Rotary International

CHALLENGE: Because all Rotary clubs are part of Rotary International, they are committed to raising money for the Rotary Polio Eradication Campaign. The challenge for the Australian-based clubs was to find an innovative and original fundraising product within budget and with mass appeal and brand synergy that could be supplied internationally. Una Hobday, past president for the Launceston Rotary Club in Tasmania, Australia, wanted a fundraiser to tie in with its “Sow the Seeds of Love” theme—a program that would make the campaign fun with an easy-tosell and profitable product.

SOLUTION: Promotional consultant Jason Bradbury of Wompro in West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, immediately thought of matchbook-style packaging, which has 10 tear-off

TIP: When developing promotions for a media audience (editors, reporters), keep in mind that most of them work within guidelines that limit the cost of gifts they are able to accept. Products with a value of more than a few dollars could be considered a bribe! matches in a pack. Each match has five to eight seeds attached to biodegradable sticks. “We selected Nigella seeds because the plant, commonly known as “love in a mist,” is very colorful and easy to grow in most climates,” says Bradbury. “This is a totally interactive product that appeals to the young and old and to urban, suburban and rural communities. The novelty value is huge, not to mention the return on investment—approximately 110-percent profit on each seed package sold.”

RESULT: Initially launched in Australia, the U.S. and Canada, the promotion soon expanded to the UK, Europe and Asia because of the overwhelming feedback. Hobday says, “I recognised the potential behind this unique fundraising tool straight away but was still surprised to raise five times more than I expected. I sold 2,500 Love Seed packs at a craft fair in two afternoons and raised more than $3,000 for the Polio Eradication Campaign. This is a fantastic product, and I will definitely use it in all future fundraising attempts— sow easy!”

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Find a promotional consultant at www.buildapromotion.com

INDUSTRY RESEARCH: The Power Of Promotional Products

P R O M OT I O N A L P R O O F Goodwill: it is a key ingredient for keeping current

When developing your marketing plans, talk to your

customers and attracting new ones. If you establish

promotional consultant about the ways promotional

goodwill with existing clients, they will keep coming

products can be used to establish and strengthen

back and refer their friends. It’s a two-for-one deal.

goodwill with current and prospective customers. Together you can build programs that not only keep

But how do you create the positive attitudes and

clients returning for your products and services but

feelings that constitute goodwill? Incorporating

also boost referrals and increase return on investment.

promotional products into your marketing mix is a good start, as proved by a study* designed to aid a

Now that’s the power of promotional products.

textbook publisher foster goodwill. The target market included 4,000 educators who received either a pocket calculator plus a letter, a lower-priced highlighter pen plus a letter or a letter only.

Feeling Of Goodwill Toward Company And Sales Reps

The study found: • Customers who received a promotional product expressed more goodwill toward the company and its salespeople than those who did not receive an item. • The attitudes of those who received the calculator were consistently more positive than for those who received the less expensive highlighter pen. • Customers who received the pocket calculator or the highlighter pen rated the proficiency and ability of the sales representatives as 34-percent and 16-percent higher respectively than those who received only the thank-you letter. On questions relating to the customers’ personal feelings toward the company and its sales representatives, customers who received the calculator scored 52-percent higher than the letter-only group.

PPAI—the promotional products industry’s only international not-for-profit trade association—offers education, mentoring, public relations, publications, technology, tradeshows and legislative support to its 7,500 global member companies.

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*Build Customer Goodwill With Promotional Products © 2006 Promotional Products Association International

PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL 3125 Skyway Circle North Irving, TX 75038 888-I-AM-PPAI (426-7724) www.ppa.org

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Off The Cuff

Quote “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller (1891 – 1980) American writer

“The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore... unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible... it is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors... to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown.” Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521) Portuguese explorer led the first successful attempt to sail around the world dying in route

“I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) Pulitzer Prize (4) American poet

Trivia WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ___? Ouagadougou Cairo Pretoria Oslo Ulaan Baatar Kabul Bern Damascus Quito Harare Ankara Beijing Taipei Mogadishu Funafuti Montevideo Ashgabat Khartoum Canberra Muscat Pyongyang Reykjavik Islamabad Paris Kingston

a. Afghanistan b. Australia c. Burkina Faso d. China e. Ecuador f. Egypt g. France h. Iceland i. Jamaica j. Mongolia k. North Korea l. Norway m. Oman n. Pakistan o. Somalia p. South Africa q. Sudan r. Switzerland s. Syria t. Taiwan u. Turkey v. Turkmenistan w. Tuvalu x. Uruguay y. Zimbabwe

Trivia ~ Answers: 1 c; 2 f; 3 p; 4 l; 5 j; 6 a; 7 r; 8 s; 9 e; 10 y; 11 u; 12 d; 13 t; 14 o; 15 w; 16 x; 17 v; 18 q; 19 b; 20 m; 21 k; 22 h; 23 n; 24 g; 25 i.

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TheLast Word

THE MDC GROUP, INC. of Clearwater FL currently has 70 independent promotional consultants around the US that help businesses create successful promotions to increase sales and bottom line profits by creating more leads, getting more appointments, closing more deals, providing a referral program, and employee awards thru an incentive award that has a cost to value ratio from 3 to 1 all the way up to 12 to 1 – individual travel.

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Most businesses that use cash or discounting as their primary incentives are not even aware that individual travel awards offer a much higher perceived value than cash or even merchandise; for the same or even lower cost to them. A business can offer a 3Day / 2Night family vacation with a retail value as much as $560 for as little as $9.00 or a 5Day / 4Night family vacation to St. Thomas or Hawaii for only $95.00.

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TheLast Word

and providing awards from a variety of The MDC Group always takes extra suppliers rather than working for one. care to ensure successful promotions by This expanded our ability to meet the researching the company, the industry, needs of the client rather than just the and the target market involved. Then they needs of the supplier. create a specific, turnkey, and exclusive promotion for each business with a formula designed to maximize and optimize a BR: In your opinion, what is the most company’s earning potential by creating a important service the MDC Group brings point of difference in the marketplace. to the travel incentive market sector? To help businesses make the best John P Stockhausen Sr., JS: Our focus is to sell successful decision possible the MDC Group offers a CEO, The MDC Group, Inc. promotions, not just travel awards. We FREE evaluation of a business’s promoinclude marketing and advertising tional history, which allows us to take a brief look at assistance for our clients to help insure the success all aspects of a promotion, from the marketing to of the incentive program or customer promotion. the fulfillment. We at Brilliant Results believe a Including innovative technology such as “branded business this devoted to making travel incentive email” that not only turns ordinary emails into a promotional campaigns successful merits attention. look of the customers brand, but can include video So, we were delighted to have the opportunity to and flash presentation and web page links to turn ask CEO, John P Stockhausen Sr., about travel the email into a sales and promotional tool. incentives and marketing promotions. BR: How do you use promotional/incentive prodBR: How did you become involved with the MDC ucts and direct marketing to grow the MDC Group’s bottom line? Group, Inc.? JS: To prospect for new clients we will use direct JS: I began the incentive travel industry as a client utilizing the awards to motivate our mail pieces the offer calls to action that include volunteers to bring in more new members. The valuable information through a free report and a results were phenomenal. Many volunteers who vacation. We will vary from letter campaigns to post would typically feel good about bringing in 1 or 2 cards. The key is repetition. We are looking for new members continued to work to achieve the prospects who “raise their hands” by saying I want minimum level of 5 required to earn a trip. Many more information. I would rather call on a prospect achieved that goal, but even those who did not, that has said I’m interested in what you do as brought in 3 instead of one - doing more than opposed to cold calling new prospects. ever before. I later went to work with one of the We also will offer our clients free additional vacacompanies I had purchased individual travel tions for orders of higher quantity. For example, from and became an Account Manager in order 500 3-day/2-night vacations for your promotion National Accounts. and receive 10 cruise awards. We constantly preach One of my accounts actually became a reseller of to our clients not to use cash so it would be hypocritical our products and MDC Group originally became a to offer cash discounts for volume purchases. We’re training company to train their independent sales flexible to meet our clients’ needs. We may use force on selling successful promotions…as opposed different awards such as restaurant or shopping to just selling awards. After our training began, vouchers or perhaps hotel stays with theme park sales grew through that client ten fold! MDC tickets. We even will use spa awards when dealing Group later moved into working with clients directly with say a predominantly female audience.

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“We encourage our clients to run a “complete” promotion, meaning look at awarding every behavior your trying to influence.” BR: In your opinion, how should an organization go about incorporating travel incentives/promotional merchandise into their marketing, branding and motivational campaigns to insure maximum success? JS: We encourage our clients to run a “complete” promotion, meaning look at awarding every behavior your trying to influence. One example would be an auto dealer. I would offer a low cost 3-day/2-night vacation award to every potential customer who takes a test drive of any new or used vehicle. Then I would offer to upgrade that to a 5-day/4-night award to those customers who purchase during the promotion period. If a potential buyer wants to shop around, offer them the opportunity to a 5-day/4-night vacation by coming back and giving the dealership the last opportunity to meet or beat the best deal the shopper found. Dealers spend tens of thousands on advertising every month to get people on the lot and what we do is show them how for around $100 per car sold we can significantly increase traffic, sales and “be backs”. This type of program can be used in almost any industry. If a company has an in home sales process, such as home improvement, the same process works…the 3-day vacation for an appointment and the 5-day for a sale. For in-home sales, a prospect often wants to get 2 or 3 bids before deciding. The vacation can be used to get the last chance to meet or beat the lowest bid. Of course to ensure the success of the promotion, colorful promotional materials with vacation pictures to help put the prospect in the mood to get away. In addition, the company should include an internal promotion providing their sales team a chance to earn vacations as well. Every external promotion should be accompanied by an internal promotion to maximize the effectiveness. It is usually a very small additional expense with a big benefit. BR: Of the marketing campaigns you and your team have developed which do you feel is the most notable and what was the key(s) to its success? JS: The campaign that I personally have the most notable was a program with a region of a

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national auto parts retail/wholesale company. It created an almost irresistible promotion for the target audience, which was their wholesale customers: auto repair shops. They focused on customers that had been good clients, but were buying the bulk of their parts from other sources. The goal was to capture the business for a 60-day period using the high value of vacation awards. For every $500 of specified (high profit margin) parts ordered, the client received a 3-day/2-night vacation award. It created a tremendous lift for their business. The company is looking to do it again, but with a tiered approach to offer higher end awards for larger volume customers. BR: What is the most important consideration in making a promotional/incentive product successful? JS: I would have to say two points are essential; as universal appeal as possible considering your target audience…for instance, I once new a bank that offered a PDA for opening new accounts. That’s ok if you aren’t trying to attract seniors. In addition, the higher the perceived value the better, remember you are trying to change behavior, so the higher the target audience values the award, the more likely they are to take the action you want. In addition, any promotional/incentive product does not stand-alone. It may sound redundant, but you have to promote a promotion. Communication is vital…creative and repetitive communication to your target audience. And make it fun. With travel awards it is easy to be fun. BR: Do you remember the last promotional product or travel incentive you received and from what organization you received it? JS: I actually received a trip to Europe with other top rep’s from one of our vendors. It was a fabulous and fun trip with many good memories attached. I can’t wait to go back again. • For additional information about the MDC Group’s travel incentive programs visit their website at www.getawayincentives.com.

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