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Get Your Brand Visible By Designing Promotional Products

Marketing and branding shouldn’t have one focus. While getting yourself seen on and creating sales through the internet has increased over the last decade, the physical world should not be ignored. Although the return of investment from print advertising has declined, branding through promotional products is still an effective approach for getting seen. Instead of adding your logo and name to any common product, however, consider the items used to promote your business. The items displaying your logo should be moderately associated with your services or products, or they should be general use products that nearly everyone will need.

Finding the right product depends on your industry, as nearly all items can be transformed through an imprinted logo. If your business sells garments, for example, don’t go with paperweights displaying your name. Instead, consider an industry-relevant product such as, in your case, garment bags for traveling.

General products, however, can also make an impact, too, but the product displaying your logo should be one nearly anyone can use. Tote bags, mugs, and pens, because of this, are some of the more popular promotional products for all businesses.

While being industry-specific or all-around useful helps with getting seen, part of branding involves a recognizable image. When thinking about the logo displayed on all products and the color of the products themselves, choose shades that can be instantly identified with your brand. Creating promotional products is not an occasion to be unique. Instead, you want to create an item that everyone will quickly associate with your company or organization.

A third factor to consider is the consumer. Who are you targeting? While many promotional products go to the public, your employees or customers can also display your product. For the general public, consider promotional products that can be quickly and easily be distributed. For your employees or customers, think about items that will be useful on a daily basis.

Tips for Increasing Your Personal Productivity in the Workplace

Today we are considering some tips for increasing personal productivity in the workplace. Productivity is a measure of your efficiency. It is the relationship between your output and your input of time and other resources. Every serious individual engaged in some form of employment, production, enterprise or activity desires to have higher output. You don’t need your boss or poor business results to compel you to improve your productivity. Every working person should do everything possible to increase his or her productivity. But how do you get this done? What are the critical things that come into focus to increase your personal productivity?

  • Time management is paramount in increasing productivity. You should value your time and use appropriate time management tools. Avoid distractions as much as you can. Identify your most productive hours where your energy levels are high, and do the most important work during such times. Diminishing returns tend to set in at some point. Use your downtime productively by identifying good time-fillers. These are activities that are not part of routine but make use of extra time you have. You may for example use such time for reorganization and learning.
  • You need to distinguish between important and urgent things. Not every urgent thing is important. In fact, when you manage around important things, you tend to have less urgency. This is due to the fact that you will have already taken care of the things that may surface as urgent.
  • Make use of the power of focus. You don’t have to, rather choose to. A focused employee can be very productive through the power of choice. You can manage your time and output through self-management. Don’t you think so?
  • Inculcate the habit of discipline and control. You should eliminate bad habits that waste time. Such habits include unnecessary internet surfing, misuse or excessive use of social networks, misuse of phones, outright laziness etc. Delegate as much as you can. Learn how to manage information overload. Is there any senior employee in today’s working world not facing this challenge?
  • Planning in advance and being organized also help boost your productivity. If you are proactive in your approach you tend to be more efficient. The reactive and crisis approach to issues in the workplace breeds inefficiency.
  • Schedule your priorities by putting first things first. Your failure in this aspect can always earn for you rebukes. If you have ever worked with people who never get this right then you know what I’m meaning, don’t you?
  • What about your workstation? Does it enable you to be more productive? The physical organization and arrangement of your workstation affects your productivity. Additionally, the availability of vital resources such as equipment, reference material, appropriate technology etc can increase your productivity. Haven’t you interfaced with people who always blame the tools? If you don’t have the right tools then start by addressing that problem.
  • If you are action oriented you can increase your productivity. You should avoid deferring issues. It is said that procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. Why not develop your personal execution culture and deploy it always while working?
  • Now, people you work with can also determine your productivity. Build excellent relationships and learn how to deal with people. This boosts your morale and improves your productivity. A word of caution however – avoid toxic people and time wasters. Be assertive and you will eliminate the negative elements. If you fear people you cannot improve your productivity, can you?
  • You can also improve your productivity through balanced living. You should address aspects of health and attitude. Balanced living can awaken the high productivity giant within you. Take care of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of life. You should learn to re-energize through approaches such as relaxation and stress management. These approaches also help avoid job burnout.

Now, if you are not yet making use of all the above tactics then you need to start right away. Don’t you think so? You don’t need to wait any longer.

Pricing Your Products

In our scramble to find a way to offer the lowest prices on the Internet, we often overlook the basic steps that we should be taking BEFORE we even offer a product for sale.

We also overlook something even more important: you don’t HAVE to have the lowest price in order to make great sales. Following are some things I do before and after determining my bottom line. I sell by having products drop-shipped for my sites, which works VERY well, but these steps should be covered no matter your distribution method.

Should you be selling this item now?

Snowboards don’t sell well in the summertime. You may have a hard time moving a pair of roller blades in January. Don’t waste your time and your site space marketing products out of season. Ask your supplier for a little historical information regarding the best time to sell their products. Believe me, to everything, there IS a season. They have the figures. If they don’t want to share this info with you, find another supplier.

Identify your costs

Profit isn’t just the difference between wholesale and retail. You have other costs to consider. Think about every penny you spend in order to get that product to the customer’s door, and plan accordingly. For example, your merchant account probably costs you about 2.2% plus 30 cents per transaction. On an item you’ll sell for $20, that’s 74 cents. Don’t forget that calculation when pricing the item. Are you warehousing the item? How much is that space costing you per item per month? Did you spend money stocking up on shipping materials? How much per unit? What about advertising? Monthly hosting costs? You may need to project some estimated sales in order to arrive at some of these figures.

This may seem very complicated, but it’s really not. Just take the figures one at a time, and you’ll arrive at a wholesale cost plus an amount that, when added together, becomes your initial ESTIMATE of “cost of goods sold”. Identifying all your costs is critical if you want to price your products properly.

Check out the competition

Search on the item you plan to sell. Check out the competitors’ prices. But DON’T get caught up trying to beat the wrong competitor. You need to stay within your “venue”.

My stores are built in Yahoo Shopping. 90% of my traffic comes from there. When I seek out my competitors, I look for other businesses like mine ONLY in Yahoo Shopping. Then I compare.

If I’m thinking about selling a product, and I get 1,500 hits in 400 stores on that item in Yahoo Shopping, forget it. If I get a hundred hits in 20 to 40 stores, I’ll look into it further.

So check out the competition, narrow down your product list, make a note of the five lowest prices you find, and then ask yourself another question:

Is anybody going to buy this thing?

This doesn’t have much to do with pricing, but it should be said.

When considering products, there’s unique, and then there’s too unique. Yak Cheese may sound like something that nobody else has for sale on the ‘Net. There’s a reason for that. If you sell more than 3 boxes a year, I’ll EAT some.

Unique is Rain Barrels made in Maine. It’s Exotic Cheeses imported from Italy. Silk Parisian Lingerie. Things you don’t see every day, but would be proud to give as a gift.

Then there’s “common”. Everybody and their grandmothers are selling Alabaster Figurines on the Internet. Do they sell? Sure, in a limited fashion. Do you want to sell them? Not if you want to make any real money.

In my experience, unique products, like Rain Barrels and Parisian Lingerie, DO sell. So do Coleman Sleeping Bags, and Conair Hair Dryers. BRAND NAMES sell. Look at your potential product, and ask yourself honestly if YOU would buy it on the ‘Net.

Set your price

Take the five lowest prices you collected on a product in your list that has survived the above. Calculate your estimated cost, then subtract that from the lowest price. If you don’t see at LEAST 15% profit, don’t bother.

If you do, there are a couple of ways to proceed. You can undercut the lowest price in your “venue” by a bit, and hope to “kick off” the product and get yourself noticed. Chances are, though, that the following week you’ll find that someone has undercut YOUR price by just a bit. That becomes a losing game.

I generally set up a couple of “loss leaders”. These are desirable items (in my general product line) that I sell dirt cheap just to bring in customers. Then I price the rest of my products at the second or third lowest price in my venue. The customers come in for the loss leaders, and then I can market everything else to them via email. I spend a lot of time making my site look better and easier to navigate, and pay a great deal of attention to my customers.

That makes me more reputable in the eyes of the customer. You’ll find that people don’t mind paying just a little more if they feel comfortable in your store. They don’t like to worry that they’re buying from a “hack” who may not deliver. Nothing says “hack” like a cluttered, confusing storefront.

Follow up

After you’ve sold an item for a month or two, revise that “cost of goods sold”. Measuring past performance is just as important as setting the correct price to begin with. If sales drop, recheck your competition. If that’s not it, drop the product, or shelve it until the “season” comes back around. Don’t get sentimental about your products, and NEVER just let your store sit there in limbo once it starts to make money. This is a dynamic business; stay on top of it!

A last word (or three)

Retail pricing on the Internet is so fraught with permutations that it would be impossible to cover everything here, even if I KNEW everything. The steps above are just the basics of a process that works for me. Hopefully something here will strike a chord and work for you as well. Patience and persistence are the keys to a successful Internet business, so hang in there, and don’t quit the day job for at least a couple of weeks. ;o)

I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.