Quality of design – radar of good design

Today when people are bombarded with multiple messages all day via email, internet, TV, Radio, TV and streaming content, design of your logo is highly important. Prospects and customers make a quick judgment of the quality of your product and service based on many factors. One is logo design and how it make them feel. Look at Apple, the logo is iconic but very simple. It can be duplicated in one color and on many types of surfaces. Logo design is very important to gaining trust of new customers and relating to them what your product is.

The Richmond Trails Foundation logo designed by Darrin Higgins for Storefront’s Design Session services. The Richmond Trails Foundation a nonprofit wanted a simple look, one color that speaks to trails and nature. It is one color so it can be reproduced on many surfaces at low cost and has a “logo bug” component that will help with branding promotional items and signs.

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One thing to be careful of is using too many colors. Sierra Nevada Brewing can get away with it on their labels and some promotional items. The logo stands out and is very well designed. But you must budget for the additional printing cost that comes with a complex logo.

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The Peterson Nutrition screams of low budget. It is very busy and the figure is not compelling. The same with Pro-Tec Steel, it needs some work.

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Businesses that have logos designed more than 20 years ago should look at an update. Since the internet is a great place to showcase your business you need to have first and lasting impression. Proforma works with clients to design logos for print, promotional products and websites. The process takes you through your objectives how you will be using the logo and how many colors. We will supply several iterations to choose from and set up a stationary package of Letterhead, business cards and envelopes. We work with the client to select paper and ink colors. Keep in mind a startup business needs a great identity to get early name and brand recognition.

Web Engagement

85% of adults use the internet to research products and services. The internet is the place to highlight your products and services. But, there are a lot of businesses doing the same thing. It is crowded and confused place for consumers. Getting your message out and engaging prospects to move them along the process from prospects to clients is key. This is where web engagement comes into play. Your website is a place for information about your business. It should have call to action in a way that compels visitors to connect with you. The next part of web engagement is to draw customer in. The goal of web engagement is to engage your clients through multiple online avenues. Social media campaigns and having robust content on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ is a portion of engaging. Targeting the right audience that generated qualified leads will build brand recognition.
Search engine optimization SEO brings prospects to your site. Social media and blogging leads the conversation online with your buyers. It keeps a pulse on what your clients are saying and will influence their buying decisions. Email auto responders allow you to engage immediately with clients and answer their question and sending them to a landing page for more information. Email marketing sends information directly to prospects and leads the conversation about your products and services. Quality vendors will supply reporting of how the engagement is working. Ranking reports and traffic are part of the tools. The web engagement toolbox will allow you to manage and adjust the type and amount of campaigns and how effective they are.
Web engagement is not search engine optimization; SEO is one part of engaging prospects online. Proforma works with clients to understand their marketing needs; assessing the type of products and services and client buying behaviors. Only after the full picture is understood then Proforma will make recommendations.
Proforma GIS works with clients on full service Search Marketing Integration. There is so much to do branding your business on the web. Contact Proforma today to build a comprehensive program that will drive business and you will sit back and relax!

Email Marketing – patients and consistency

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Spam is one word that comes to my mind when I think of Email Marketing. Yes, a lot of emails get sent and go to the junk mail folder and never get read. That is why the message is extremely important. There are many places you can reach your prospects and customers to speak to them about your products and services and email is just one tool. Email marketing is a tool that needs patients and consistency. It is not a rabbit race that wins the email race it is the slow patient tortoise. The first most important is build a list of emails that is your target audience. One way is purchase a list. I don’t recommend that unless you are targeting a narrow audience like bicycle racers. There are plenty of people who are just into bicycles and a target list of enthusiast will give you results. The best way is through prospecting and the hard work of finding and culling the list to your product.
The next step is to use some type of email marketing software. There are several SaaS programs that will work and are very cost effective. I have used Constant Contact and Mailchimp. Both are easy and will work for 90% of the marketing campaigns business currently use.
The most important part of an email marketing campaign is the message and email content. I recommend at least once a month email to a list offers and ideas that would be of value to your customers and prospects. Professional photographs and videos are the visuals that will make the email look professional and not be judged as spam. Proforma GIS can work with customers to craft a campaign and message to drive email opening and send customers to a landing page where a direct call to action is presented to the prospect.
Starting an email campaign is not hard it will just take time and consistency. The best place to start is a list of topics that your customers feel your business brings value to them. Map out the dates and titles. Start writing content of one paragraph with keywords and value statements. Collect the assets of photos and videos, layout the emails and test.

Company stores

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Promotional product e-store.

What is a promotional products company store? It is an online store where an organization can list the preprinted promotional products for sale and distribution to outlining offices. Why would a business want to set up a company store program? There are several reasons. One is that promotional products are not being properly utilized by the sales staff. The items could be hard to get out to each team member or cutbacks have restricted the process of getting them to the key users. Promotional products are one of the best tools a sales force can use to gain and maintain business. This value added sales approach will open doors to new clients and give thanks to the steady clients. The online order entry takes the administrative task of taking orders, maintaining inventory and shipping. It gives access to the sales staff and their ability to make independent decisions about their customers and sales needs. Also it has an cost accountability trail and budget management.

To set up a company store can be simple. The first step is to identify the budget and promotional product needs. Are promotional products being used properly? Does the sales force understand how to leverage the promotions? Are your brand standards clear? Is your logo design a foundation of your mission and can it be reproduced on all types of mediums. i.e. Embroidery and one color screen printed garments in a cost effective way? The company store site could be a simple ecommerce platform or a vender like Proforma has a robust system with site and warehouse and distribution services.

Items like sales brochures trade show booths can be set up on a company store site. The management of those items might be for use of the trade show both and banners an email is sent to marketing and it is ship from the home office.

The best way to analyze if your business needs a company store is to map out the products that would be stored the usage and how many locations would be requesting these items. Also the costs you currently pay for your marketing collateral, like commercially printed brochures, signs, banners and all the printed promotional items. Catalog them with purchase history and that is your base data for the store. Set up goals and look at your brand will this program add value to growing sales?

Print Management

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Print Management

What is print management? Typically the print management definition is used to talk about in house printing or on line on demand printing. Print management can also be when an organization has several vendors and several items they print on a weekly or monthly basis. There may be several buyers within the organization that may not communicate with the other departments and could be missing out on ways to reduce the cost of acquiring their commercial printing or forms by consolidation into one supplier. Printing has evolved over many years and the use of digital copiers has shifted the cost of printing for marketing collateral to the copier. In some cases that is a good thing. In other it makes more sense to use a print provider to produce those items.

With shorter print runs the items may end up being printed on the printer in house. The things to consider when printing print collateral in house are twofold. Cost – is the run more than 100? It might be better to purchase it from a printer. Is the printed piece used to sell a product or represent your business? It might be better to have a professional printer provider to produce your collateral on a printing offset press where the bindery will be done professionally and make the printed piece have impact it was designed for.
When it comes to using printed items for selling your product or service it is representing what your comply looks like. The client will judge your ability and whether they want to do business with you based on how professional the brochure looks.

If you need someone to help with managing printed items your business needs. Proforma GIS has the background and knowledge to help you make the best decisions. Proforma GIS can also bringing graphic design, illustration, promotional products and packaging in to the mix. That will save you time and money having one trusted resource with many ideas.

Promo for dummies…

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Look to Proforma GIS for promotional product that have impact

Promotional products are a great way to get your brand in the hands of customers and prospects. It is real simple to purchase a pen and pass it out to customers at sales calls and whenever you’re on a service call. That is the most basic way of using a branded product put your logo name website and phone in front of a prospect or a client.

Looking deeper into how you can use promotional branding to stand out. In today’s busy internet and email environment prospects can be hard to reach. Promotional products reach to these prospects in ways that will make your business stand out. One way to stand out is to produce a really nice journal book and pen branded with your company name and logo. Then send it in a printed box with logo and call to action on the box. Then days later follow up with that prospect and as if they would like to meet and talk about your services.

At trade show where clients can be more accessible there are several ways to use promotional products. Yes, you should have the giveaways in the booth. But there are better ways. One is to send an email and postcard campaign in advance of the show highlighting your products and services and tell the recipient to stop by to receive free iPhone cover and a chance to win an iPad. Another way is to pay the hotel to place a promotional product in the room of every attendee. This could be very expensive and needs to be executed correctly. But this tactic will get them into the booth and get them to remember your business.

These are just a few ways to make your promotional spend get results. I recommend connecting with a supplier that will listen to your needs and has had success with helping customers grow their business and implement their ideas well and cost effectively.

Under Armour

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One way to stand out in a crowded world is being different. How do you become different? You could pay an employee to stand on the coroner with billboard or dressed in a tutu. That might get you noticed, but is it professional? Not sure I would do that. But the story any publicity is good publicity leaves with people forget the bad quickly as they remember how good you are. That is where good is a great way to may your brand and business stand out. Picking a great brand to connect with is a tactic and when connected with promotional products it has a lasting connection.

A few weeks ago I talked about brands. I mentioned serval brands including Under Armour. Under Armour in the promotional product industry is selling to a select few distributors and Proforma is one. What that means is there is not every business wearing the same polo to the next convention. Corporate gifts will have meaning since it is not the same mug your competitor just dropped off. And if you want employee gifts that have impact, Under Armour is great way to say thank you and keep morale up.

Brand name promotional items make sense

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Brand name promotional items make sense

Today there is power behind many brands. Name recognition is very important. Major brands spend millions on marketing their brand. With this power name recognition and identity aligning your brand with name brand products place your client’s view of your business much higher. It is simple, but anyone receiving a promotional product produced by a known brand will be held onto and used more often.

Apparel is one of the best products to connect your band with a major brand. There are high end brands like Nike, North Face and Under Armour that have items that are exclusive to the promotional trade. Here are some examples of stylish wearables:

Nike Golf Ladies’ Dri-Fit Pebble Texture Polo

Men’s Puma GT Crossfade Powercool Polo

Eddie Bauer (R) Ladies’ Rugged Ripstop Soft Shell Jacket

Sports/Outdoors items connect when you have a golf outing or retreat. Board retreats or team building are great times to say thank you with a memorable gift.

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Titleist (R) NXT (R) Tour S Golf Ball

OGIO (R) Apex Rucksack

Drinkware is a great way to have you name stay in front of key prospects or a thank you gift for the key client.

Tervis Tumbler

Thermos(R) Backpack Bottle – 16 Oz

Camelbak Chute Stainless Vacuum

Office & Technology promotional products have lasting presences. Picking usable top quality items will be there in front of your best customers’ for years to come.

Cutter & Buck (R) Leather Writing Pad

Victorinox Architecture Geneva Collection Lombard Mini Laptop Messenger

Brookstone (R) Helix Bluetooth (R) Speaker

These are just a few brand name items Proforma GIS can recommend. Proforma preferred suppliers like Leeds and Bic have many items that would fit a campaign or promotion. Not to mention employee appreciation and team building events.

Keep brand name products in mind when thinking of promotional products. The quality will pay off with lasting items that will present your image stronger.

Why pay for someone to build your website

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What is your time worth? There are options out there to build a site for free or close to free. If you need to get you name up on the web and are not looking to drive business to your site a free site might be a good choice. If you are looking to gain customers or educate them a professionally built site is a much better option. The web is maturing so are the consumers. They can quickly recognize a site that is inexpensive. When you walk into a store or a restaurant if it is dirty or unorganized you will most likely leave pretty quick. Your website needs to be inviting and draw you to browse.

Hiring a professional to build your website will be the same as hiring an architect to build your building. It will be designed to meet your needs. The designer will ask questions and understand what you would like to get from the site. They will get into if you need shopping carts or membership systems or special programing to meet your customer’s need. The professional will set the site so that Google and all the search engines will rank the site. SEO is not a buzz word; your site needs to be programed to meet Googles need. You will also need to make it mobile readable. 60% of all web searches are via mobile devices. A responsive site will rank better for searches.

How to go about assessing you needs for a website? Ask a few questions how will my customers find me? Do I need a steady stream of new clients? Websites for consumer to consumer business are a key tool for driving sales. Web engagement is one way to build that name and reputation. Consider 60% of the World Wide Web is spam. If you want to quickly differentiate your business from others a well-designed site that is optimized is the best way to go.



Greg Rollins is the owner of Proforma GIS for the last 20 years; working with his clients to implement their marketing with ideas, resources and results.

What I do

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I have been at implementing print, promotional and marketing of all types for clients for the last 20 years. I found a few things out over time. First cheap is relative. Low cost is real. Fast can happen.

Greg