DIY Advertising. Would you cut your own hair?

DIY home improvement shows are awesome. I especially love the ones that feature some weekend-warrior attempt to build a dream bathroom, only to fi nd him or herself hip deep in a major mess. In business, DIY advertising is worse than a home reno fail. DIY advertising is more like a DIY haircut. It never looks good. It’s embarrassing. It will take a long time to fi x. And, your next trip to the salon will be expensive.

I’ve recently encountered several situations where advertisers were going to take a DIY approach. The most recent example involved a prospective client. After reviewing at least three ad agencies, and having worked with two others in the past, this advertiser informed us that they were taking everything in house. They are actually going to invest in creative staff, design software, new computers, media buyers, media planners, media software, ratings data and market research.The cost will be relatively astronomical. In a real way, this advertiser is starting a new business that is unrelated to its core competency. Investing in new staff, new software, new equipment, etc. could add up to tens of thousands of dollars a year (or more)! And there won’t be any return!

If someone were to propose giving themselves a new haircut, I’d yell “NO!” So, if given the chance, I propose these three questions to people considering a DIY approach to advertising.

Can you afford the learning curve?

Why make the investment?

Don’t you deserve better?

You want someone who knows what they are doing to cut your hair. So why not a professional ad agency?

By M. Gillespie

How Agio Started

There is an article about our CEO in @UNITELGBTMAG

In 2007, Michael Tolassi, the principal of Agio Brand Solutions, LLC, was searching for a personalized gift for a friend and decided that engraving his friend’s logo on the shiny silver case of the most popular MP3 player of the time would be a great idea.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer would only engrave text. Instead of throwing in the towel and accepting the status quo, Tolassi fell back on a key lesson he learned during his years of service in the United States Army: Adapt and Overcome. And so he did.

“Almost immediately my business partner and I decided to rent a 50-square foot kiosk with only one engraving machine.” They specialized in laser etching graphics onto MP3 players. “Soon, customers were asking us to engrave other products, as well as for our advice on custom branded merchandise.”

Seizing the opportunity to branch out, Tolassi morphed the young business into Agio Brand Solutions and began selling promotional items and branded apparel. Soon after launching the company, Tolassi faced another challenge: a declining economy and global recession. Yet again, he remembered to adapt and overcome. And so he did.

Despite the crushing economic environment of recent years, Agio Brand Solutions experienced staggering growth. Tolassi firmly believed, and does to this day, that providing clients with a quality product at a competitive price and superior customer service would be the foundation of the company’s success. Strongly guided by customer-focused principles and the ability to adapt to meet customer needs, allowed the company to grow from servicing small businesses to obtaining Fortune 500 clients.

Today, Agio Brand Solutions customers range from small to large: major universities and top healthcare companies. “The company thrives as a creative boutique for smaller companies while offering large clients the same level of customer service and personal attention not found in larger agencies.”

Agio Brand Solutions is a certified LGBT Business Enterprises, Veteran-Owned Business, and member of the Independence Business Alliance. Tolassi also supports the Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia’s LGBT health care center, the HRC and is a board member with the Center City Proprietors’ Association.

Pennsylvania Considering Ban on All Gifts to Politicians: What Do You Think?

What do you think about the possibility of Pennsylvania banning promotional gifts to politicians?

Pennsylvania Considering Ban on All Gifts to Politicians: What Do You Think?

What do you think? Should Pennsylvania follow the lead of states like Florida and enact a total ban on gifts to politicians? Should allowances be made for gifts under a certain value, as other states have done? Or should there be no ban on gifts at all?

I found the following by Michael Cornnell in Promo Marketing Magazine:

The state of Pennsylvania is currently considering a major political reform bill affecting the value and type of gifts that politicians from the state can receive. The current bill, which affects cash gifts only, has passed the state senate but a larger ban—one that could include physical gifts of any kind—could be possible.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Senate State Government Committee chairman Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R., Lancaster), has “advocated a wide ban on gifts and hospitality.” What a “wide” ban would mean is unknown, but if it mirrors bills that exist in other states, it could mean a total exclusion. This would mean common promotional thank-yous—such as a crystal award from a nonprofit or a commemorative flag from a veteran’s association—would be illegal in Pennsylvania under such a bill.

The current cash-banning bill is not yet law, still having to pass the state House and be approved by the governor. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a spokesperson for Governor Corbett said that he would approve the cash ban, but “stopped short of saying the governor would support a complete gift ban.” Others in the Pennsylvania government have also expressed doubt over banning gifts. Said the Inquirer:

“Senate President Joe Scarnati’s chief counsel, Drew Crompton, said he thinks a total gift ban could be unwieldy and difficult to enforce. Would that mean returning or destroying flowers from a constituent? Plaques from civic clubs? Coffee mugs from a local business?”

Got Milk?

How many words should be on a billboard?  I was driving on the highway the other day and almost read a book on a billboard.  Is this recommended for an advertising medium that is read at 60 mph?

Here’s what Paul Suggett has to say:

Billboards surround us. We probably see hundreds of billboard ads every single week, but remember just a handful. With outdoor advertising upping the stakes and becoming increasingly more competitive, it’s important to know how to make your advertising count. Here are six strategies to ensure your billboard has the highest chance of being noticed, and more importantly, remembered.

1: For Billboards, Six Words or Less is Ideal.

Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard. So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.

2: Get Noticed, But Don’t Make Your Billboards a Huge Distraction.

Most of the time, billboards are aimed at drivers, bikers, cyclists or pedestrians (which is why you have just a few seconds to get a message across). This causes an interesting dilemma for the advertiser; you want to get noticed, but you don’t want to be responsible for major, or even minor, accidents.

3: This is Not the Time for Direct Response.

I’ve seen billboards covered in phone numbers and website addresses, knowing without a doubt that 99.9% of the people who actually read the billboard would not have called or logged on. A billboard is a secondary advertising medium, which means that it’s ideal for brand-building and supporting a campaign, but it just cannot do the heavy lifting. If you want a more intimate conversation with your target audience, use print advertising, television, radio, flyers, websites and direct mail. But billboards, they are the wrong medium for anything other than a quick message. However, if your website or phone number IS the headline, and makes sense, then you have an out.

4: Billboards Should Be Smart, But Not Too Clever.

A boring billboard will be ignored. A smart billboard will grab the attention and leave a lasting impression. A billboard that’s trying to be too clever, well, it will get lost on the audience.

5: The More Billboards, The Better.

One billboard is not cheap. But it’s also not very effective either. Billboards are a mass market medium, but they need support. So, you want more than one, and you want as many eyes on them as possible.

6: Don’t Say It, Show It.

Get creative with your billboard ideas. A flat billboard is the standard, but it doesn’t have to be the norm. You can go 3D, have moving parts, have people interacting with it and even have your billboard animate.

5 Ways Promotional Products Can Help Grow Your Business

Promotional products (sometimes called “advertising specialty items”) are one of the most cost-effective marketing choices you can make for your business.

That’s because promotional products significantly increase positive awareness of a company or brand in the people who receive them. They also have one of the best cost per impressions (CPI) of any advertising medium.

For example, the Advertising Specialties Impact and Exposures Study (October 2008) found that promotional bags were used an average of 9.33 times per month and delivered an average 1,038 impressions in that month.

Promotional products are good choices for more than just advertising, however! Here are five more ways advertising specialty items can help grow your business:

(1) Increase Brand Awareness and Name Recognition at Trade Shows

Giving a promotional product to qualified leads at trade shows is a good way to keep your business top of mind with potential new customers and increase their receptiveness to follow-up campaigns.

According to a study by Schreber & Associates, 39% of people who receive a promotional product will recall the advertiser’s name as long as six months after they received it.

(2) Raise Direct Mail Response Rates

A Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) study showed that bulky mail – which is perceived to contain a product rather than simply messaging — increases response rates by up to 50%.

This works for trade shows as well!  Research by the Dallas Marketing Group found that trade show booth traffic can be tripled by sending registered attendees a promotional product in a pre-show mailing.

(3) Make It More Likely Customers Will Make a Purchase

An Advertising Specialty Institute study indicated that 62% of recipients of a promotional product were more likely to make a purchase than those who did not receive an item.

 (4) Get Customers to Buy Again Sooner

Southern Methodist University found customers who received free promotional products along with their purchases re-ordered up to 18% sooner than those customers who received coupons. Plus, promotional produces build awareness and customer loyalty!

 (5) Get More Referrals

In a study by Baylor University, researchers found that Mary Kay consultants who gave promotional or advertising specialty items to their clients were more likely to receive a referral than those who did not.

So from trade shows to retail stores, from direct mail to networking events, promotional items can help your business … win more business!