6 Awesome Promotional Products for Fall Marketing Campaigns

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Well, fall is officially here, and you know what that means: marketing campaigns are about to heat up as people race to the finish line. Make your campaigns extra special by adding promotional products to the mix—products that are as functional as they are eye-catching.

Here are six that get the job done right.
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Customer Service Tips: 5 Things You Should Never Say

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We’ve all been there, dealing with challenging customers. Don’t make the situation any worse. Here are five things you should never say to customers (even if you feel like it).
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How to Set a Marketing Budget

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You probably know how important it is to have a marketing plan. But what about the money that will support that plan? How do you figure that out?

If you find the money part incredibly perplexing, don’t worry (and know that you’re not alone). Here’s how to arrive at the magic money number.
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6 Reasons to Have Regular Employee Reviews

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Have you been wondering whether you should have regular employee reviews? The answer is yes. Here’s why.

1. Regular communication is critical to success. If your employees operate in a vacuum where they have no formal feedback on their performance, how are they going to know what areas they’re doing well in and what areas need improvement? Sure, they’ll likely have some idea, but it’s easy to fall in the trap that no news is good news. Your employee might think she’s doing a perfectly fine job, while you think otherwise.

2. Getting an employee to the next level in her career requires strategic planning. Even stellar employees need goals and things to reach for. Employee reviews provide an opportunity to look back but also plan new goals.

3. Millennials demand it. Even if your organization hasn’t experienced an influx of Millennials yet, it will sometime in the near future. This newest generation of workers is hitting the workforce in droves, and they’re bringing new needs and new ways of doing things. Millennials work best with regular feedback. If you’re thinking of skipping out on employee reviews with this demographic, you’ll find yourself with many unhappy employees.

4. Paper trails matter. They matter when it comes to promotions and raises. They matter when it comes to a wide variety of legal issues (reminder: we’re not lawyers, so don’t take this as legal advice). Having a complete dossier on each employee, one that includes the paperwork a formal review generates, will also help HR, talent management (matching mentors and mentees, for example), and diversity managers.

5. Regular reviews can illuminate organizational challenges. If you’re conducting regular reviews, and you consistently hear employees bringing up the same issue, you know you have to address it at an organizational level. By the way, don’t expect to hear only bad things. Employee reviews can also illuminate stuff you’re doing right. For example, if you’re running a mentoring program, you might hear positive feedback from employees during their reviews.

6. You can inject a fresh dose of motivation into employees’ work life. Let’s face it: even the most ambitious person needs a boost from time to time. Regular reviews can provide that motivation by acknowledging what the employee is doing well and giving her something to reach for.

So how often should you hold employee reviews, and what are some tips for making them successful? Shoot for quarterly reviews. For all of you managers out there groaning at the thought of all the paperwork, hear us out.

First, as we mentioned above, younger workers crave regular feedback. This need is only going to increase as more Millennials come on board.

Second, by conducting quarterly reviews (instead of annual reviews), you can actually decrease the amount of paperwork and the amount of time devoted to these reviews. Why? Because you’ll only be reviewing three months’ worth of performance instead of twelve. These reviews, as a result, become a bit more casual and comfortable, which is good for everyone.

Another way to look at it is like this: it’s much easier for managers to deliver feedback on three months of work and it’s much easier for employees to digest the feedback than it would be for a year’s worth of work. We’re not alone in our thinking on this, either. This article from AOL Small Business emphasizes the importance of quarterly reviews.

As for tips on how to conduct performance reviews, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Forget how performance reviews have been done in the past. News flash: there’s no such thing as The Performance Review Police Force. In other words, there are no laws on how to conduct them, so guess what? YOU get to decide how they should run. Create the type of review process that you would welcome. Think less paperwork, more conversation, and a casual, comfortable atmosphere.
  • Don’t do all the talking. If you want to make these reviews truly productive and comfortable for you and the employee, turn them into conversations. Share your thoughts, but then ask the employee for feedback on your feedback. Listen to what she has to say. Clarify points. Answer questions.
  • Keep notes, of course. Yes, a review is going to generate some paperwork. But don’t feel you must use lengthy forms or spreadsheets. Create a document that works for you and your employees. If you’re meeting quarterly, this probably won’t be longer than two to three pages. Don’t have time to create a document? No problem! We have a variety of performance management forms that you can customize for your needs.

Do you conduct regular employee reviews? How often do you do them? What are some other do’s and don’ts that you can think of? Share in the comments below.

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10 Employee Retention Strategies That’ll Keep Your People Happy

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If you’re managing a bunch of eager employees, you’ll want to harness that energy, encourage them to succeed, and foster their loyalty to your company. Here are ten strategies for doing all that while keeping them happy to boot.
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Road Race Essentials: 8 Promotional Products for Fall Classics

Fall is a big time for road races for a wide variety of charities and causes. If your business is involved as a sponsor, make sure you extend your visibility by using one (or more) of these promotional product essentials.

1. Sport-Tek® Sleeveless Tee. Whether you’re running a race or working the route, it’s important to be comfortable, especially in warmer weather. This sleeveless tee from Sport-Tek is exactly what you need. The material naturally wicks away moisture, keeping you dry under pressure. Choose from seven vibrant colors and don’t forget to personalize with your company name and logo.

sport-tek sleeveless tee2. Sport-Tek® Sleeveless Tee Ladies. It has all the same great qualities as the Sport-Tek tee we described above, except for the fact this one has been specifically designed to fit a woman’s body.

sport tek sleeveless tee ladies3. Sport-Tek Wind Pants – Adult. Maybe you’re racing in inclement weather. Or maybe you want to stay covered as you’re stretching and warming up. Or maybe you’re cheering from the sidelines or working a water station and you’ve noticed a definite chill in the air. These wind pants are just what you—and your team members—need.

Made from 100% polyester with mesh lining above the knees and poly lining below, these wind pants feature side pockets, a back pocket with hook and loop, and extended leg zippers. We’ll screen print your name and logo just below the flexible elastic waistband on the left hip. And the best part? People will continue wearing this long after the race is done (think trips to the gym, hanging out at weekend football games, or casual weekends away).

sport tek wind pants4. Polysure Refresh Water Bottle 24Oz. Made in the USA, these custom water bottles are the perfect promotional product to support your local road races. The wide-mouth design makes cleaning a breeze (and you can easily add ice cubes to cool down your water even more). Plus, this bottle is leak-resistant with a convenient push-pull lid. Sure, the runners and people working the water station will be grateful for it during the race, but we suspect they’ll continue using it long after the race is over. And that’s a good thing.

polysure refresh water bottle

5. Fitness Bottle 20 Oz. Go even greener, with these fitness bottles, which are constructed from reusable and recyclable (HDPE) material (and yep, they’re BPA-free, too). One happy customer noted, “This product offered a wide array of color combinations which made it easy to match the colors with our theme … plus INCLUDE the event theme name. I was delighted with the functionality and quality for the price!”

fitness bottle

6. H2go Angle Bottle 30 Oz. This isn’t your grandma’s water bottle, that’s for sure. No, this bottle has attitude. It’s sleek, but it still gets the job done: it carries 30 ounces of liquid, and it has a flip-up straw, carrying loop, and silicone grip. Thanks to its modern vibe, your custom imprint will stand out, no doubt.

h2go angle bottle

7. Tritan Stripe Bottle 24 Oz. This water bottle is all about FUN, so make sure you have plenty of it when you choose the fun color combinations for the bottle, stripes, and lid. This bottle doesn’t just look great, either. It’s also BPA-free, made in the USA, and dishwasher safe (something we like to hear, right?).

tritan stripe bottle

8. Fanny Pack. When you’re out and about on race day (or gym day, or grocery shopping day, or…), don’t worry about where you put your keys, your phone, your license, and your cash. Keep it all in one safe, secure place with this fanny pack. And know that wherever your travels take you, your company name will be front and center.

fanny packWhich item is your favorite? Are you—or is your company—participating in any fall classics this year? Share in the comments.

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Business Procrastination BUSTED

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Are you a business owner with a million great ideas that you never implement? Do you have trouble keeping up with your marketing plan? Was there snow on the ground the last time you sent an email newsletter? If you said yes to any (or all) of these, know that you’re not alone. Business procrastination is a real thing, and it can suck the life out of you and your business if you let it.

So let’s do something about it, shall we? Here’s how to bust business procrastination right where it hurts.
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