APISource Inc. Founder and Mentor, Charles G. Brown Passes Away

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness and heartfelt sympathy that we inform you of the passing of API’s founder, Mr. Charles G. Brown. Mr. Brown passed away peacefully with family by his side the morning of November 21, 2018.

Charles, or Charlie, as we all know him, opened the doors of Charles G. Brown Inc. in Maryland, 1965. Operating as a sole proprietorship in the formative years of the company, Charlie eventually brought on additional team members, including his son Michael Brown and longtime family friend Leo Boone to help grow the business, which included a name change. Originally focusing on emblematic jewelry, Charlie and the team eventually added additional products and services to the API portfolio, including branded merchandise, screen printing, and embroidery to name only a few. Over the years API has continued to evolve into one of the top Branded Merchandise Companies in the United States, receiving top awards from both clients and respected industry publications. API currently sits at number 31 on the Promo Magazine Top 50 list.

Always quick with a witty retort as well as an intelligent solution to any challenge, Charlie always made an impression on whoever he met. Charlie was a mentor and friend to many and kept an active role behind the scenes over the years for which we are all appreciative and grateful.

Charlie is survived by his loving wife, Mary, six children, Michael Brown and Sherrie (wife of Michael), Robert Brown, David Brown and Cindy (wife of David), Cindy Wendt and Pete (Husband of Cindy), Jennifer Stone and David (Husband of Jennifer), and Julie Brown. Charlie is also survived by his grandchildren, Michael, Lesley, Shelby, Hannah, Claudia, Hunter, Elliot, and Lucas as well as Great Grandchildren on the way.

We will have a celebration of life get together at API which is being planned now. Once plans are finalized, we will be sure to let everyone know, as you will all be welcome to join us for some refreshments and some stories about Charlie. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society in Charlie’s memory. American Cancer Society Donations.

API would not exist if it were not for Charlie. The relationships that we have built with our clients, our suppliers, and our friends on the API team all started with him. For that, we are eternally grateful.

Rest in Peace Charlie.

Obituary: Charles G. Brown, APISource Inc.

APISource Inc. Founder and Mentor Charles G. Brown Passes Away

Will Smith’s Top Video Tips

Video is a great way to market your business. According to Vidyard, 70 percent of marketers say that video creates more conversions than any other type of content. However, as effective as video is at marketing products and services, it is increasingly difficult to be noticed—especially in a world where more content is uploaded to YouTube in 30-days than was created during the first 30 years of television.

Actor Will Smith knows a thing or two about building an audience. When he posts a new video on YouTube, he attracts four million viewers. Smith recently spoke at Advertising Week about strategies marketers could use to build their own video audiences. Today, we’ll share these fun and effective video tips from the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Be flexible. When Smith was making Fresh Prince in the 1980s, the show stuck to a rigid formula. In today’s climate, where reviews of shows and videos are released instantaneously, a rigid plan can do more harm than good. “You have to be paying attention,” he told his audience.

Be deliberate. Focus on quality over quantity. “The quality of the storytelling leads the engagement and then how much you’ll be able to carry people along with you,” Smith said. People are not going to be interested in viewing content that is not captivating, or does not have a message to communicate. But if a company films a commercial that tells the story of a product in a particularly interesting way, it may catch your attention.

Be daring. “I know if I post something on Saturday night with me dancing, it’ll be my biggest post for the week,” Smith said, emphasizing that the biggest wins happen when you venture outside of your conference zone. (But don’t go too overboard, as it may turn off customers.)

Be human. “The question is ‘How do my products, and how do my services, improve lives?'” Smith said. Reading the comments can help to gauge how people are receiving the content. “Staying in touch with people and not in touch with numbers and products has been really helpful for me over the past year.” Humans build relationships; computers do not. Stay in touch with the people in your network, even if the topics of conversation include non-business-related issues.

Be authentic. According to Smith, “Authenticity is going to be at the center of being able to create and succeed with this next generation.”

Source: Krystle Davis is a senior manager for Forbes BrandVoice.

Five Smart Marketing Tips For 2019

Today marked a typical milestone for this marketer: planning for the coming year. Planning involves assessing all that was, or wasn’t, accomplished over the past year, and prioritizing the focus for the coming year, along with the tools and resources needed to reach these goals. It also requires being thoroughly honest about accomplishments and shortcomings—hey, we all have them—and the new strategies in place to resolve them.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we are sharing five key points to consider when developing your 2019 plans, as according to Billee Howard, founder and CEO of BRANDthropologie.

1. Focus on emotion. Successful brands succeed in anticipating what consumers will do. Howard says these brands also succeed in anticipating how their consumers will feel, and how to encourage them to take action. We live in an “emotional economy”—an economy based on people and their relationships with each other and the brands they love—and recent advances in technology have moved the economy even further towards this. Marketers who understand this and learn how to draw value from it will become vital to the success of any organization.

2. Sharing is caring. According to Howard, we also live in a we-conomy, which involves a greater focus on finding solutions to problems rather than mass-producing products. People entrust the opinions of others, as well as reputable sources of information, but are gravitating less to traditional ads. The launch of Uber, Airbnb, Yelp and other highly consumer-driven resources has created an environment for sharing. These companies are structured by new business models that use trust as their foundation. As marketers and storytellers, we must build this trust by creating content that is authentic, reputable and purpose-driven. By doing so, this also leads to content that others will want to share with influencers and advocates.

3. Empathy continues to be important. Howard points out that we also live in a time of purposeful business, which is driven by the desire to make the world a better place. This requires successful leaders to focus on the world they live in as much as their own bottom line. Here are some things that Howard suggests when building a purposeful brand:

  • Clearly articulate your brand’s purpose. Purpose is different from a mission statement or company values.
  • Be aware that purpose is not cause and cause is not purpose.
  • Brands must demonstrate empathy by valuing consumers and demonstrating an understanding of their needs. They must place their managers and employees in the customers’ shoes. Purpose is about what a brand is doing for someone else, not what the brand is doing for itself.
  • Make purpose motivational, because it connects with the heart as well as the head.
  • Use emotion-driven storytelling to bring your brand’s mission to life.

4. View attention as your customer’s most precious resource. In today’s busy world, the most valuable commodity we have is time—and many of us don’t have much of it to spare. Do you treat your customer’s time with high value? A customer experience strategy should translate into the creation of an engaging and memorable experience for your customer. At every interaction or encounter brands must ask: are we seizing the customer’s attention?

5. Finally, invest in digital technology, not just digital marketing. Today’s technology and digital tools can be overwhelming, so it is important to first focus on those areas of the business that will drive growth as direct result of improved consumer relationships. This includes characteristics such as loyalty programs, personalized customer experiences and other types of high-touch opportunities. Then, invest in the technology that supports those experiences while also providing you with the data and insights to continue building on those personalized experiences.

Review these recommendations and allow 2019 to be your most personalized and profitable year yet.

Source: Billee Howard is the founder and CEO of BRANDthropologie, a consultancy firm that harnesses creativity and technology to solve business problems. Howard works with clients to identify their purpose and then creates the content experiences that will help define distinction and positively impact their bottom line.

Market Efficiently With Segmentation

When launching a new product or service, it may seem very limiting to narrow your market, but it will work in your favor. If your target is too broad, it will be difficult and costly to develop effective promotional messages or reach your more active end users.

Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria. Instead, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific pool of prospective clients that are more likely to buy from you. Think of the brand Huggies, which sells a line of disposable children’s diapers. The people most likely to purchase from Huggies probably have or care for young children. For this reason, it would make more sense to market this product to new families as opposed to single Millennials. Relevance of the product to the consumer is just one of the reasons why target marketing is both an affordable and effective way to reach prospective clients and generatemore revenue.

Here we share three steps developed by Jill Johnson, president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, to help you establish effective target markets for sales results.

1. Clarify Your Market Segments. The first step is to start identifying patterns in the attitudes, desires, concerns, and decision-making criteria of your prospective consumers. By understanding these characteristics, you can tailor your marketing approaches to reach your target audience and influence their purchasing decisions.

A common step in identifying these patterns is to assess the demographics of your consumers base. There are many demographic variables that can be identified and measured in a consumer market, such as age, gender, income and marital status. Business consumers can consider aspects such as number of employees, revenue, or years in operation. Knowing where your consumers live or work is another method of evaluating your target market.

Understanding your consumers’ intentions, buying motivations and interests also provides powerful opportunities to develop messages designed to trigger a buying response.

2. Mine Your Data. The critical step to developing your target markets is to quantify your market size. You can do this by data mining. Data mining involves analytically reviewing your internal consumer and comparing this to external market information. Look for patterns and relationships to help understand your consumers’ buying patterns, which present opportunities to influence them at each stage of their buying decision-making cycle.

Start by reviewing your internal consumers data. Prepare historical summaries reflecting several years of data. Most people only look at one year of data—this is not sufficient to help you determine whether your market has achieved its maximum potential or whether it is declining. What types of consumer profiles can you create about the end users that buy from you? When do they buy? Who is most profitable to you? Start evaluating how effectively your marketing approaches reach them and match their purchasing decision approach. Then, conduct a detailed review of the available external data. Assess how your current consumer profile aligns with the real market opportunity. Do the demographics show a potential for long-term growth? Does the data show anything else that might impact your sales?

3. Tie Your Target Market To Your Promotional Activities. Your promotional activities must be consumer-oriented and align with how, why and when the consumer buys. Where do they look for information to solve their problems or meet their needs? Who or what influences your buyer? It is not only about the product. You will need different marketing messages for those who are at the awareness stage, which consists of gathering information, then those who are ready to make a final purchase.

Help your prospective consumers understand how you will help them solve a problem or meet a need by using your target market insight to customize your promotional messages. Tie your promotions to their decision-making cycle and move them through their purchasing decision-making stages.

Source: Jill J. Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the Compounding Your Confidence.

Johnson helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results.