Promotional Food Tips & Trends

If you make your money selling food, should you give it away as a promo product? The connection seems like a natural fit, but the reality is that the food service industry looks first to apparel and hard goods when it comes to their promotional needs.

Still, don’t discount food as a powerful gift, especially as suppliers offer the capability to integrate it into a kitted package. Mosinee, WI-based Maple Ridge Farms (asi/68680) has added logoed mugs, beach bags, towels, tumblers, cheese boards and office accessories to its food baskets from suppliers that distributors already trust. “The great thing for our distributor partners is they get to utilize those same supplier relationships and pair it together with our food gifts,” says Jodie Schillinger, director of customer care for Maple Ridge Farms. “Suppliers are trying to be more agile in competing with e-commerce. We’re competing with insta-click and ship. We need to ask ourselves, what are you doing to disrupt it back?”

As far as food trends, Schillinger says spice-infused foods and candies are popular now, echoing the National Restaurant Association report that saw ethnic spices come in at number 10 on its Top 20 Food Trends list for 2018 and number two on its Condiments and Accouterments forecast. Sea salt is also on-trend, Schillinger says: Maple Ridge Farms’ sea salt chocolate caramels – a “rookie product just a few years ago,” she adds – is now its bestselling chocolate.

Wood is also trending, she says, in the form of crates to hold food and cutting boards inside food-gift baskets.

ANNOUNCING THE PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR 2019 PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral

An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge

Vibrant, yet mellow PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.

In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.

Representing the fusion of modern life, PANTONE Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media.

Pantone Color of the Year 2019, Leatrice Eiseman Quote.

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of color found in nature. In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, PANTONE Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.

About Pantone Color of the Year

For 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product, packaging, and graphic design.

The Color of the Year selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

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.

How Marketing Can Regain Control

Traditionally, marketing has been associated with the four P’s – price, placement, promotion and product. However, if you were to look at a typical business-to-business marketing organization today, this function is being diluted.

For example, marketing doesn’t typically own the product anymore; that’s the responsibility of product strategy or product development teams. And, in some larger companies, there’s typically an entire team that manages pricing as well.

Another area that has shifted is demand generation. With customer relationship management technology, the customer funnel is now controlled by sales. This new structure could mean more dilution of marketing responsibilities and a one-step-removed approach from revenue-generating activity.

What can B2B marketing leaders do to guard against the watering down of their departments?  We share these steps from Debbie Qaqish, a principal partner and chief strategy officer at The Pedowitz Group.

A New Mindset. Your mindset is the collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape your behavior and habits. How do you think about marketing? What do you believe is marketing’s role?

There are two beliefs about marketing that shape today’s successful B2B marketer. First, B2B marketing is a revenue- and growth-driver of the organization. Next, B2B marketing is enabled by technology.

In companies where marketing is a revenue- and growth-driver, marketing isn’t facing dilution. Marketing in these organizations is actually acquiring more responsibilities. This realization is often the most difficult step because not just marketing, but sales, finance and the executive team may have to change as well. In organizations where marketing is diluted, marketing is often viewed as a “pens and mugs” and “activity-based” department. Once the right mindset is established, it can then be supported by the right skill set and the right tool set.

A New Skill Set. More attention is being paid to new technology than training marketers to acquire new skill sets, creating more opportunities for marketing to be diluted.

For example, imagine a large company where the marketing team is not viewed as very technical or analytical. That may have happened because when the marketing ops group was formed, it fell under the IT department. This is often a mistake as marketing ops is not an IT function. Had marketing acquired the right mindset and skill set, it could have owned marketing operations.

A New Tool Set. The concept of marketing automation today is typically not a problem, although some B2B marketers still operate without marketing automation. The issue today is that most marketing teams have too much technology; they don’t know how to optimize the tools they have. Determining what to buy, how to integrate and what to capture becomes a highly technical and analytical role within the company. For this reason, it’s common for marketing to borrow this capability from other parts of the organization — especially around analytics. This is a big mistake. If you want to own all of your potential, you need to have this capability entirely in marketing. Not doing so sets up more potential dilution and eliminates new responsibilities.

The Plus In The Equation. Positively, marketing is now impacting customer engagement. Marketing is beginning to lead the pivot away from product -focused to customer -focused companies by creating optimal customer experiences at every stage of the lifecycle. Customer engagement is an exciting set of new responsibilities for marketing, but marketing teams that are highly diluted will never get the chance to lead and participate. As the role of marketing continues to evolve, marketers must also evolve and become customer-focused change agents, accountable for revenue. As a modern marketer, you must guard against dilution by understanding these changes, challenges and possibilities. Then, take proactive measures to get your mindset, skill set and tool set in alignment.

Source: Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer of The Pedowitz Group. She manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years.

How To Plan Now For The Next 10 Years

Business author Rich Allen says that running a successful business requires a clear idea of where you want your business to be 10 years from now. It means having your own North Star that not only inspires you, but inspires your team as well. Essentially, if you want to get somewhere and you want people to follow you there, you have to visualize it first; you can’t be a leader without vision.

While that seems like obvious advice, the problem is, most of us are too busy tackling the everyday challenges to sit back and look at what we’re doing and where we want to be. Buried under the daily pressures of running a business, most small-business owners can barely think six months ahead, let alone 10 years.

Here, we are sharing Allen’s four simple steps to picture your business a decade in the future, and chart the best course to get there.

1. Start with the mountaintop. Imagine your business 10 years from now. Write down all the particulars you can of what your business looks like. There are no right or wrong answers here. The point is to focus on your vision of your business in the future: where you want to go, and what you want it to look like. Don’t worry about whether it will actually turn out this way.

Think about:

  • How many team members you’ll have
  • What locations you’ll have
  • What products and services you offer
  • How your business is structured
  • What your ideal customer or client looks like
  • What kind of volume you’re doing

 

2. Back up five years. Once you have the 10-year vision in writing, back up halfway. In five years, where do you need to be in order to be on track to hit that 10-year point? Cover the same details, and write them down. For instance:

  • How many people are on your team?
  • Do you have half the locations as in 10 years?
  • Are you offering the same products as services as now, or the same as in 10 years?
  • Have you found your ideal customers yet?
  • Are you doing half the volume you’re doing in 10 years?
  • Are you still going into work every day? What’s your own life like in five years?

 

3. Back up two more years. Now that you have your five-year vision, take it back to the three-year version of your business. Ask the same questions, and think about whether or not your three-year vision backs up your five-year vision: are you on the right course? Where do you have to be in here years in order to achieve your five-year goals?

4. Back up to next year. Finally, flip the script entirely: You need to take a sharp look at the next year—and now you have a 10-year perspective to do it in. So ask yourself: where do I need to be next year to be on track to reach my three-year vision? Use the same criteria, and make sure it’s as specific as possible.

By starting at the top and working your way back, you’ve already set up your goalposts. And with a very specific outline of your one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year vision, you can start to create a plan and structure for your business that will get you to each benchmark. The truth is, if you just go on about your daily activities and hope you’ll one day end up where you want to be, changes are, it won’t happen. Instead, plan out where you want to be and use a vision to guide you.

Source: Rich Allen helps create businesses with solid foundations, unique marketplace positions, reputable processes, high-performance team and a visionary leader. Prior to becoming an advisor, he was vice president of human resources for Texas Instruments, then division president/COO with Pella Corporation. His new book is The Ultimate Business Tune Up: A Simple Yet Powerful Business Model That Will Transform the Lives of Small Business Owners.

What Your Employees Really Want To Know About Change

Organizations are organic. They grow, shrink, shift and evolve to stay responsive to customers and the ever-changing business climate. Sometimes change is good and sometimes it’s not. Either way, change can affect people’s jobs and create a sense of uneasiness or fear.

Today, we’re sharing key tips for planning and implementing change from Liz Kislik, a contributor to HBR, who helps guide organizations through change.

Plan more time than you ever thought necessary to prepare the content, delivery and necessary follow-up. When communicating across your organization, you should expect to hold not just one initial “all hands” meeting or videoconference, but also a series of smaller team and individual conversations as follow-ups. Also, coordinate the timing of the announcements so that no one is caught flat-footed if the news is released at different intervals by individual managers and organization-wide outlets. Giving people multiple opportunities to take in and process the announcement is essential for thorough understanding; receiving the information from the right sources in the right sequence is crucial for credibility.

Equip all levels of management to explain the context. Provide training and rehearsal or role-play time to everyone who will need to communicate the message; don’t assume they’ll have the right instincts.

Describe the organizational pain, and how the new solution alleviates it. Instead of just announcing a disruptive change, give the background of what’s not working today and why the new plan is the best way to get to the desired outcome. Focus on how customers have been hurt, how the business is incurring extra expense, the negative brand impact—and how the change will help mitigate those problems.

Personalize both the impact and the resolution. If you don’t, employees may not understand which specifics apply to them, or even how the company is providing support or services to help them cope. For example, in the small group or individual meetings, be prepared with all the necessary details to answer personal questions immediately. Without this, you’ll create even more anxiety and aggravation as people wait for someone to work out the specifics you didn’t research in advance.

Give the affected people as many options and as much participation as you can. When they have choices—and the necessary information or support to make them—employees feel more respected and maintain more pride and autonomy. The closer people are to the work, the more likely it is that they’ll generate practical ideas. Kislik gives the example of one organization that was having financial difficulties and provided a series of meetings about cost-cutting measures that asked everyone to look for ways to help—even though they were adversely affected by some of the very measures they proposed.

Demonstrate humility and responsibility, not just authority. Many leaders mistakenly believe that they’ll be given a pass for shaking up people’s lives if they say they’re suffering over the decision or the disruption themselves. Even treating the problem as a shared responsibility can backfire and feel manipulative to employees. Instead, say, “I’m sorry I didn’t anticipate …” or, “I was too enthusiastic about x…” This shows that you take seriously the impact of the situation on others. You can’t prepare for every curveball, so if you don’t have the answer to a question, say something like, “Wow, that’s a question we didn’t think about, but it’s a good one. We’ll get back to everyone with an answer early next week.”

Whether announcing cost-saving measures, a company restructure or an acquisition, by carefully planning your communication and providing the right level of detail at the right time, you can support your employees through the process with transparency and authenticity.

Source: Liz Kislik helps organizations from the Fortune 500 to national nonprofits and family-run businesses solve their thorniest problems. She has taught at NYU and Hofstra University, and recently spoke at TEDxBaylorSchool. Request her free guide,

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts in the Workplace, on her website.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Retrain Workers Now For Your Future Business

Look around your organization. Do your employees possess the skills needed to lead your business into the future? Mostly likely there are a few but the tendency is to hire new employees who bring the needed skills. In fact, 62 percent of executives believe they will need to replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2030 due to automation and digitization. However, “upskilling,” or teaching new skills to your existing employees, can be a better and more affordable option, while building engagement and longevity with them.

Upskilling programs can’t be one-size-fits-all. Each employee has a different learning style, a different schedule and, potentially, a large amount of information to learn. Herey, we’ll share suggestions for developing employee retraining programs from Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group.

The Best Retraining Programs Engage and Teach. Studies have shown that the most effective training programs combine engaging elements with specialized training modules. These modules should have online options as well as in-person instruction that focuses on completing skilled tasks. This training should also include digital and physical simulations for real-world, hands-on education. Digitizing the process and using technology like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can achieve effective results with lower cost to the company.

Personalized Learning For All. On top of engaging learning programs, technology can make it possible to tailor programs to the needs of specific individuals. Part of the capabilities of machine learning happens in the back-end where voice recognition and patterns live. As employees are going through the training program, it recognizes who is using the program and adapts to their specific needs. Employees can experience personalized learning that continues to adapt to their specific learning styles. They can also get real-time feedback based on their performance. This personalized learning fills those gaps on an individual level, boosting confidence and morale. This kind of tool replaces those boring modules that are a pain to implement.

Pattern Building For Retention. Learning is only the first step. After all, have you truly learned anything if you have no ability to recall that information and put it into practice? This is where training reinforcement through pattern building is essential. Most companies struggle with this, seldom reinforcing the information given to a new employee after the initial training.

To be effective, employees must practice these skills they have learned in order to retain and use them. Intelligent applications can be used to improve retention by helping employees to produce patterns throughout their daily work. Once a pattern is established, new techniques can be implemented without confusion and strain. It is all about retraining without huge effort on your end and a new possibility thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Measure ROI Through Learning Success. Using technology for reskilling and retraining allows organizations to gather data on both the employees and the training effectiveness. This data also allows the organization to determine the ROI per employee for retraining. This will help you tailor your program to meet the unique needs of your business while remaining productive, efficient and cost-effective.

Planning For The Future. As AI is permeating many aspects of our lives and businesses, digital transformation is taking hold and we must do everything in our power to keep up. Our employees are the future of our business and must be skilled in these areas of technology to keep us competitive. By starting now, you are ensuring your employees are receiving the education through retraining programs they require to be successful for themselves and for your business.

Source: Daniel Newman is CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, a principal analyst at Futurum and author of Futureproof.

Trust Your Notes, Not Your Memory

When it comes time for your annual review or to ask for a raise or promotion, you’ll need to back up your request with examples of your good work. If you’re in sales, it’s comparatively easy to track how you are doing. But, if you are in customer service, for example, charting those accomplishments requires more attention. And, with the fast pace of daily work, it’s hard to find the time to stop and document achievements when you’re constantly in motion.

Today, we’re sharing these tips from blogger and personal finance writer Alicia Adamczyk on how to save and document great work throughout the year.

Take Contemporaneous Notes. Make notes in Google docs or the OneNote app, or write them in a journal book documenting each time you have a major “win” at work and when you routinely do tasks above your pay grade. You don’t need to make a record of every accolade but do catalog times when you’re singled out in a staff-wide email, for example, or you help a coworker with a big project.

Be certain your notes include dates, and if you are including an email or message from someone else, make sure the source is identifiable.

If you want to go further for your own reflection, use these steps from Idealist Careers to examine your accomplishments:

Think of a challenge that needed to be resolved.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to resolve it?

List the steps you took to resolve the challenge one by one.

What happened as a result of your actions?

You might also document additional wins such as:

Difficult situations with co-workers that you successfully worked through and how you did it.

Tasks and projects that were completed on time, and how you did it: Track all projects and tasks, even ones you think are small.

The times you overcame pressure and still succeeded in meeting your goals.

Track those situations when you know you exceeded expectations and explain why.

Take Screenshots of Everything. If your boss compliments you in an email or Slack conversation, take a screenshot and include a copy of it where you keep your notes.

Go Through Your Calendar. If you keep meetings and project due dates in a calendar, go back through it to jog your memory. You can also make note of accomplishments on your calendar, and be sure to set calendar reminders for occasional mini-reviews with yourself.

Make a Spreadsheet. If a journal app or accomplishments box aren’t your thing, try logging everything into a spreadsheet, which is easily sortable and can be customized however you like.

When it comes time to sit down with your boss for that review or raise, refresh yourself on what’s in your notes, and come with a page or two detailing your best metrics and biggest contributions. Then, write a follow-up email laying out your achievements (with dates and supporting evidence as needed). These extra steps will take you a long way to a top review and future promotion.

Source: Alicia Adamcyk is a personal finance writer and lifehacker.

Simple Ways To Recognize Greatness

How hard do your employees work for you? When your employees produce excellent work, do you take the time to thank and reward them? Not only does recognition make employees feel good, your praise incentivizes them to excel and helps retain them. Cultivating an atmosphere of continued achievement begins with giving credit where credit is due.

Research from Bersin & Associates reveals that 80 percent of surveyed employees feel more motivated to work when they believe they are appreciated. Another 71 percent say they’re motivated by the competition when peers are recognized for their work at least monthly. Proper recognition can do wonders for engaging your employees, even if they aren’t the ones being recognized.

Today, we share five simple and effective ways to recognize outstanding work from employees.

1. Buy a gift. The best employees give a lot of time and effort to their job, and you can return the favor with a gift. Put some thought into what you give. Generic gifts, such as gift cards, are appreciated, but they hardly show how much you truly value your employee. Instead, consider the needs and wants of your employees and don’t be afraid to spend a little cash to make them feel appreciated.

2. Create a personalized plaque. When an employee produces particularly good work, they deserve recognition beyond a simple gift. Give them something to forever commemorate the occasion, such as a glass plaque or award that can be displayed publicly on a shelf or mantel, and becomes a long-term keepsake for the recipient. Within the promotional products industry, the options are almost limitless. Opportunities to recognize good work can include special designations such as Employee of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, or other top-performer recognition awards. You might also reward employees for sales, leadership, milestones, customer service, safety, partnership or special categories.

3. Designate an Employee of the Month. If you’re in an informal setting and a banquet or award plaque seems too formal, consider developing an Employee of the Month program. It might seem like a simple way to recognize great employees, but it’s effective, and engenders productive competition and helps boost morale.

4. Invest in professional development. When you have high-performing employees who are eager to learn and advance their skills, reward them by providing professional development opportunities. You might pay for them to attend an industry conference (bonus points if it’s located somewhere tropical) or education program that provides training in their area of specialty, or pay the tuition for college classes related to their current work or career goals.

By investing in an employee’s education, you’re sending the message that they’re truly valuable. In addition, it motivates the employee to do a better job. It’s an investment in the employee and your company.

5. Donate to a nonprofit. Do some good while showing your top-performing employees you care. Allow your best employee to select a charity, and then donate a high-dollar amount to that organization. Studies show that when employees are enabled to provide service or donations to those in need, even vicariously, they tend to be happier and more motivated in their careers.

Source: Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer in Renton, Washington, who is interested in travel, nature and parenting.