Sophwell Receives 2015 Best of Reading Award

Sophwell receives award for marketing
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reading Award Winner Program Honors the Achievement

READING September 3, 2015 — SOPHWELL INC has been selected as the 2015 Best of Reading Award Winner in the Merchandising & Marketing Consultants category by the Reading Award Program.

Each year, the Reading Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Reading area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Reading Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Reading Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Reading Award Program

The Reading Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Reading area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Reading Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Reading Award Program

CONTACT:
Reading Award Program
Email: PublicRelations@local-best.com
URL: http://www.local-best.com

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Posted in Awards, Marketing, Recommendations, Translating ideas into products Tagged with:

The four things you need to do now on LinkedIn

The four things you need to do now on LinkedIn via Sophwell
I started on LinkedIn in 2007, and it has been a great tool to use in my business and career. I’ve taught several classes on using LinkedIn and optimizing profiles at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Harvard Square. In the process, I’ve see many of my connections making mistakes that hurt their profiles.

Here are the four things I encourage everyone to do to improve their profile.

TIP #1: PROOFREAD
When you look through LinkedIn profiles, it’s not unusual to see incomplete sentences and poor grammar, as well as misspelled names(!!), words and titles. LinkedIn is a professional network. Failing to simply check your work makes you look sloppy and unprofessional. If you get nothing else from this post, please follow this tip.

Switch the notify button to off if you don't want to publicize when you make changes to your profile.

Switch this to off if you don’t want to publicize when you make changes to your profile.

SOLUTION: Reach out to others to read your profile and ask for constructive input. However, if you do not want your profile updates shared publicly for coworkers to see, find this setting on your profile page and set it to “Off.”

 

LinkedIn Anonymous Head

Are you a real person?

TIP #2: FIX YOUR PHOTO
LinkedIn is a professional network, so you should have a professional, recognizable head shot of you. No company logos, pets, group photos or vacation snapshots. How would you present yourself when meeting a potential client or employer? That’s what your photo should represent.

SOLUTION: Have a professional photographer or reasonably capable friend take your picture. Avoid selfies. Your profile photo is cropped as a square. Ideally the image should be no smaller than 50×50 pixels, because below that your image shrinks inside the image box on your profile. The largest file size LinkedIn will accept is 500×500 pixels, or 4mb.

TIP #3: MAKE CONNECTIONS
The power of LinkedIn comes from the ability to reach a huge potential network of customers, suppliers and employers. When you add connections, your network grows exponentially. It shows you are connected in your industry and the professional community. Many employers are looking to see how well connected you are when they review your profile, with the idea that you may help attract other good job candidates and potential business opportunities.

To demonstrate the power of this to my LinkedIn students, I use the Advanced Search feature to show how my 1,200+ connections link me to 108 million people in the United States. Then I drill down to show my 100,000 links to people with “Marketing” in their title in the Greater Boston area. Still, I always have one or two students who struggle with this concept. At some point someone will ask, “Why would I want to be connected to all those people? I don’t even know them.” The power of LinkedIn is that it makes your profile available to people who have never heard of you.

SOLUTION: When you meet new people, make it a habit to invite them to be connected. LinkedIn also allows you to connect your email address books and suggest profiles of people who you already know.

TIP #4: HUMANIZE YOUR PROFILE
Many people make the mistake of simply cutting & pasting their resume into their LinkedIn profile. The resulting clipped sentences and staccato language can be rigid and uninteresting. They don’t tell enough about the unique person you were when you worked at those places at that time. LinkedIn frees you from the “Keep your resume short” rule.

Instead, tell your story. Share some of the passion you had for the work you did. Add a little personality. Build interest. You don’t need to do it for every job on your list, but you should try to share more when describing your current and most recent experiences. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but it can be longer than a tweet. If you have more to say, write a LinkedIn post.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Click here to find the next session I am teaching Cambridge. Look under the Business category for “LINK.”

The class is directed toward anyone who wants to use LinkedIn to help their career – whether to build their business network, find potential service partners or look for a job. I mostly see people who are in some phase of a job search. Some are actively looking, while others are feeling uncertainty in their jobs and are preparing for a time when they may need to be looking for new work.

I teach the class as a workshop. People bring their laptops while I look over their shoulders and help them access the multiple features available that they may not find intuitively. My goal is to make them proficient in using the tools while optimizing their profile to help them create a more compelling profile.

I have also been asked to speak to college classes, networking organizations and businesses. Contact me if you are interested in learning more about LinkedIn for your group or organization.

Happy networking!

Jamie Bradley

Posted in Marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , ,

Smart promotions for outdoor events

Find ideas for outdoor events

It may still feel too cold in New England, but it’s time to start planning your outdoor events. The feel of the warm sun and the fresh smell of a summer barbecue will be here before you know it. Here are some ideas for helping your guests remember their outing in the great outdoors.

Versatile Convertible Cooler Tote

combination cooler tote bagThis innovative cooler easily transforms from a 12-can capacity travel cooler to a flat tote for added versatility and easy storage. Fill it with a towel, water bottle, hat and t-shirt and you have a complete package to help guests remember your event. The best promotional giveaways are the ones that people will find the most useful.  Click here to watch a short video about this product.

sea glass color vintage mason jar with handle

 

Bring a little retro flair to your next outdoor event with sea-glass inspired, trendy mason jar. Fill it with a tasty beverage over ice, and its double-wall insulation keeps your drink cool longer. A great take-home gift for your company softball game or picnic.

Cook off BBQ Gift Set

A marriage of form and function, this sleek BBQ set is made from bamboo and includes the tools your recipient needs to look like a grilling expert. Use it to reward participants in a cooking competition, or to thank volunteers who help prepare food for your event crowd.

promotional sunglasses for outdoor eventsA unique and budget-friendly gift, this trendy product looks like it was carved from solid wood. Also available in a variety of stylish translucent and opaque colors, as well as classic tortoise. If you are planning a summer boating trip or sending your people on a cruise, these sunglasses can be packaged with sunscreen and a hat to protect people from the sun.

The best outdoor events include a variety of activities that everyone can enjoy. Send them away with memorable products they will continue to use long after the event to remind them of the good times you shared.

Posted in Branding ideas, Event Planning, Marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , ,

What I learned about branding from The Daily Show

Numbered pass for  The Daily ShowRecently my wife and I took a quick getaway trip to New York City. The plans were focused on our primary activity – going to a live taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The experience made me appreciate the excellent job The Daily Show has done in building it’s brand. It got me thinking about how they went about that process, and about the characteristics that make it so successful. Here’s what they do that works.

Know your audience
The Daily Show went on the air in 1996, and Jon Stewart took over hosting duties in 1999. That has given them plenty of time to get to know their audience and what they expect from the show. Feedback comes from Nielson ratings, website visits and social media sharing of content. It lets the show know who is watching, and which material resonates with viewers.

Be clear about what you offer
My wife reserved tickets online at their website in December for a late-February taping. The confirmation email told us where to go, where to get discounted parking, when to show up, how the check-in process worked, and what was allowed and not allowed in the studio (absolutely NO photos). We dug a little deeper and found that Yelp reviews gave us really good insight about what to expect.

Scarcity makes the brand more desirable
Because of the show’s popularity and the high demand for tickets, they always overbook seating beyond capacity. They made it clear there was a good chance we could be turned away at the door if we didn’t follow their procedures as directed. There was no way we were going to let that happen. We showed up over an hour early, standing in line on a cold, wintry New York City sidewalk. I think some people who showed exactly “on time” at 2:30 ended up not getting in.

Waiting in line for The Daily ShowMake sure your fans are well cared for
The area near the door where the first attendees wait the longest was covered by an awning. While it didn’t do enough to block the chilly northwest breeze blowing off the Hudson River, it certainly would have protected us had there been rain or snow that day. Every few minutes, as new people arrived, a staff member explained the process to get  show passes and instruct ticket holders to return promptly at 4:30 to go through the security checkpoint (like at the airport) to enter the studio. I think they also use that time to check out the crowd, and would have gladly removed anyone who was creating a problem for the rest of the guests in line.

Any employees that interact with your customers should be helpful and friendly
Every staff member we encountered was courteous and polite. Emptying your pockets, getting bags searched and going through a metal detector is never a fun experience. But this wasn’t like dealing with the TSA employees who always seem either bored, annoyed or drunk with power. The staff smiled. They looked you in the eye in a welcoming way, not with suspicion. They understood that you were there to laugh and have fun, and did what they could to encourage you to enjoy yourself.

Build excitement
Once everyone is seated, a comedian came out to warm up the crowd. He joked with audience members, and coached us on how loud we would need to clap and cheer during the live taping. After about 10 minutes, Jon Stewart came out and took questions from the audience. As it turned out, a group of student from William & Mary College, Jon’s alma mater, had driven up from Maryland for the day to see the show. In Jon’s self-deprecating way, he was able to make a direct connection to their lives. The rest of watched and enjoyed his brilliant comedic talent as he came up with split second funny retorts. Finally, the show was ready to start.

Give them what they expect
The Daily Show is on Comedy Central, so you expect to laugh. Political humor poked fun at obstructionist Republicans in Congress and Obama’s murky legal guidelines for using drone strikes. A “Special Report” with regular contributor Jessica Williams ridiculed a small group of Texans who wish to secede from the US because they, “Want a place where everybody can worship freely as Christians.” The guest was journalist Steven Brill, author of the Time Magazine article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Costs are Killing Us.” The show alternates topics that can be funny or serious, and Jon ran this serious discussion beyond the normal time available during the 22 minutes of air time. During the interview he made one of his characteristic jokes about there being Jews in Florida.

Reward your brand’s biggest fans with a little something extra
Contributor Aasif Mandvi was live in the studio for his report, but Jessica Williams report was prerecorded. After the live taping ended, Jessica was in the studio standing not far from my seat, and Jon called her to the front to introduce her to the crowd. Many TV hosts wouldn’t have bothered.

Let your fans know how much you appreciate them
As the show ended, Jon thanked the audience for coming to the taping, and you felt like he really meant it. I think a big part of his appeal is that he can confidently talk to actors or world leaders with complete comfort, and then admit that he’s just a little jewish guy who makes jokes on a comedy network. The respect that he shows to his guests, his audience, and seemingly his staff makes everyone feel at ease. His popularity suggests that the formula is working.

Managing your brand and building a loyal following is no easy task. I’m sure there have been parts of the production and live audience process that The Daily Show has tweaked over the years. The key is to understand what your fans want you to provide, and making sure you deliver.

I welcome your comments.

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , ,

Smart Thinking!

Matching up with local schools can create a great branding opportunity for companies that want to connect with families. One approach is to offer practical items with your company logo for giveaways through the school’s PTO.

Conversely, the PTO can use promotional items as fundraisers by getting local businesses to provide sponsorship in exchange for putting their logo on an item that the PTO can sell to families. Talk to us about items that offer plenty of imprint area that can accommodate logos from multiple companies.

Check out these branded products for back-to-school season!

LUNCH BFF
Igloo Polar Lunch Cooler

This heavy-duty lunch cooler is certified kid-friendly, so it’s a great option for students of all ages. Features top-notch Igloo insulation to keep food safe until lunchtime. This is also an item organizations can use for company picnics and outings.

 

 

SMART PACK
Padded Computer Backpack

This is a serious backpack for the serious student. Jam-packed with features, specialized compartments and organizational tools, this gift means your recipient will carry your logo around on a daily basis.

 

 

PLAYTIME
Mini Football

An affordable giveaway for a variety of audiences, this 6″ molded foam mini football can bring out the kid in just about anyone. It’s also an inexpensive fundraising item for Booster Clubs.

 

 

MIND STRETCH
Brain Splatter Toy

Want to promote the Science Fair?Kids will go nuts for this gooey, squishy toy.  Throw it against the wall and watch it slowly crawl down to the ground. Also great for health and wellness.

 

One caveat: before you jump into providing promotional items for kids, be warned that the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 changed the landscape for providing products for kids. Make sure you talk to us about ensuring the branded items you provide are safe, and that you are complying with all current regulations. The last thing you want is for your brand to be tied to unsafe products or failure to follow the law.

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , ,

Fresh Ideas

Why not get creative with your next campaign? Take a look at these memorable campaign ideas that feature branded merchandise, or just contact us to take advantage of our creative expertise.
DRIVE BOOTH TRAFFIC
Heart Pedometer

Host a “Trade Show Marathon” contest at your next show!  Give away this branded heart pedometer and award prizes for the first person to return to your booth after reaching a certain number of steps. This campaign has two benefits: getting people to your booth multiple times and promoting wellness (which makes it great for the health care industry).

 

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Pocket Journal

Try printing a QR code on a branded product that has a flat surface, like this affordable, full-color journal. The code could link recipients to a landing page with some kind of incentive or coupon that they have to fill out a form to access, which helps you collect customer data. Great for consumer brands.

 

GENERATE EVENT BUZZ
Bright Drawstring Backpack

For an attention-getting event campaign, give recipients something that’s both inexpensive and highly visible (like this brightly colored backpack) that they can wear during the event for a chance to win a prize if they’re spotted wearing it. They’re walking billboards for your brand! Try this for trade shows, concerts, festivals, conferences, etc.


GET MORE REFERRALS
Dyson Air Multiplier

Send an e-mail to your current clients asking for a certain number of referrals to either automatically receive a prize (a great banded giveaway, of course) or be entered to win a higher-end branded gift like this incredibley striking blameless fan. You’ll find new clients AND increase retention of your existing clients because your logo will be on their prize!

 


EMPLOYEE WELLNESS
Parafoil Kite

Give employees this kite as a wellness initiative for summer. Not only is it a unique and memorable gift, it encourages employees to get outside and be active, and it’s especially fun for employees with kids. This product would also be great for outdoor events.

 


SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE
Bamboo Pen

Even filling out paperwork can be an opportunity for branding. For example, a real estate company could give a client this elegant branded pen at closing as a commemorative gift to celebrate their new home. For even more impact, pair it with a branded folder for the client to store their paperwork.

 

Interested in seeing samples of any of these items? Get in touch by calling or emailing jamie@sophwell.com.

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Choose American Made Products this Summer!

When you provide branded items with your logo, the promotional products you select make a statement about your organization. While people may love imported french wine or swiss chocolate, it’s harder to get them excited about cheap plastic tchotchkes from China.

If you want to offer higher quality products, consider using items made in America. You get products made by a highly skilled workforce, with easy access to large inventories from companies that adhere to US safety standards and environmental guidelines. You are also helping our economy, and the job you save could belong to your neighbor.

Here’s a few ideas just in time for Independence Day.

 

Metallic Plastic Sport Bottle

Get more bang for your buck with this BPA-free sport bottle.  The metallic look gives this bottle a high perceived value and makes your logo look great. Great for company picnics or local road race giveaways.

 

 

Old School Tee

Rather than hand out another cheapo t-shirt, upgrade your event with this V-neck style.  It’s made of a unique trebled material that gives it a vintage look and soft feel that will appeal to a younger, active audience. They won’t want to be a walking billboard, so keep the logo small.

 

 

 

Titleist Golf Ball 3-Pack

This “made in Massachusetts” name-brand gift will make any golf event more memorable.  Includes three genuine Titleist DT SoLo golf balls imprinted with your logo. Perfect fit for tournament sponsors.

 

 

MoMA Magnetic Clock

A striking addition to any office, this unique clock uses a traveling magnetic ball to show the time.  Features high-torque, precision quartz movement with your logo on the face. A great giveaway for placement in high traffic locations like retail stores and restaurants.

 

We are always on the lookout for interesting and unusual products and try to order from local manufacturers. We can help you showcase your “Made in USA” and “Buy Local” message with the right products. Just drop us a note at jamie@sophwell.com.

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Marketing, product for marketing, Recommendations, Sustainability Tagged with: , , , ,

Your Brand. Every Day.

When weighing promotional products as part of your marketing strategy, it makes sense to compare them to other types of media. According to a 2010 worldwide research study completed by the Ad Specialty Institute (ASI), here’s how they compare.
Comparison of cost per impression of different marketing media
Promotional products differ from other media in another important aspect. Rather than broadcast out without a personal interaction, they are typically given directly to the recipient either at a sales meeting, trade show or via a dimensional mail piece, making receipt of these items connected to a personal experience. Items that fills a useful purpose also have the highest perceived value.

Good quality and attractive calendar products are among the best at achieving a low cost per impression and high perceived value among all categories of promotional products. While some marketers may dismiss using calendars in the smart phone digital age, your would be hard-pressed to find clients that have no form of physical calendar in their environment. With extensive customization options available, calendars offer daily reminders of your brand and your message. Here are a few possibilities.

DESK ELEGANCE
Velvet Touch Desk Weekly
This high-end weekly planner is perfect for financial services or insurance companies to offer busy clients or sales teams. This planner features a classy presentation that packs a powerful punch. Blue and gray printed pages on ultra bright white paper are easy on the eye. The weekly format allows for functional planning. Features a velvety soft spine and back cover, extensive reference section, perforated page corners, removable address book and ribbon marker.

EVERYDAY DEALS
Custom Coupon Calendars
Retailers rely on repeat business. This 12-month appointment calendar allows you to offer tear-off coupons at the bottom of each month for a lasting impact. Based on a stapled 12-month appointment calendar; memo-style grid with perforated coupons on the bottom on each month. With a fold-over cover, printed with a four-color photo. Create a one-of-a-kind, custom calendar, the possibilities are endless!
MAXIMUM MESSAGE
Daily Cube Calendar
Looking to capture the attention of your clients and their coworkers in their cubicle or at their desk? Want a budget-conscious giveaway with huge branding potential? This page-a-day cube allows you to imprint on all four sides to maximize your return. This cube combines a reminder note with a page per day calendar. On this 2013 calendar, you can also include up to four ads imprinted on the edges to maximize your message.

 

The ad specialty industry was founded over 100 years ago with custom branded calendars, and they continue to be popular today because of their proven success. These are just a few of the options. New printing technologies allow you to create affordable one-to-one marketing with the recipients name printed on each page of the calendar.

SAVINGS TIP: Everybody prints calendars in the last 45 days of the year. If you plan ahead now for 2013, you can save up to 15% off production costs from the manufacturer. Email us or call 781-281-1430 to let us know your thoughts.

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Marketing, product for marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Defender of the Budget

Part of the challenge of marketing is directing the budget to where you can get the best ROI. While I am not a fan of buying something that doesn’t represent your brand just because it’s cheap, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy strategically.  These sale, clearance and budget branded products will help your marketing dollars go further.

COVER UP
Express Event Shelter
If you’re planning an outdoor event or need a portable trade show shelter, grab this limited-time markdown on a lightweight, portable and reliable pop up.  Its’ cross truss design gives the shelter added strength and support for multiple uses. Show off your wares to your customers beneath the shade that attracts attention and shades you, too. On sale through 5/31/2012.

RETRO COOL
Surge Tumbler
This double-wall acrylic tumbler is a great all-purpose product.  From welcoming a new employee to making a summer event even better, this tumbler’s subtle soda fountain look makes it memorable.  The product features an acrylic straw with stopper and  ergonomic design on base for easy gripping. Product ships with matching color straw unless otherwise specified. BPA Free.  On sale through 6/16/2012.

SMART PAPER
Credit Card Web Key
A great buy any time of the year, this full-color giveaway makes printed promotional materials interactive. The device is punched out and plugged into a USB port where it directs web browsers to your website or  landing page. Full color printing inside and out. Excellent for pharmaceuticals, the automotive industry, schools, travel, corporate, real estate, retail or any use requiring printed information and a website link. On sale through May 31, 2012.

ROCKPACK
Tunes Sling Bag
Get ’em while they last!  This unique sling backpack features integrated stereo speakers to turn any situation into a party.  Compatible with almost any mobile device.  Great for students!  Zippered and padded main compartment with interior pocket, front zippered pocket with battery pack, MP3 hook-up and 2 accessory pouches, stereo speakers, carry handle and 37″ padded adjustable shoulder strap. (3 x AAA batteries not included) Clearance item, based on availability.

We keep close tabs on what our suppliers are promoting and discounting. Send me an email with some details about what you need and we’ll find a way to make your marketing budget go further.

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Marketing, product for marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , , ,

Two Brands are Better Than One

Do you have a favorite brand? A company whose products you love? Good news: you can put your corporate logo on retail quality products from Brookstone, Ralph Lauren, Cross, Cutter & Buck, Apple Adidas and more.

Brand name products have a higher perceived value and are perfect for conveying generosity, thoughtfulness, appreciation and gratitude. Studies have shown that business improves when employees and customers are rewarded. Adding your logo to a name-brand product will only add to the positive effect.

Brookstone retail quality great for a sales incentive promotion
Brookstone
If you are looking to make some noise with your promotion, this wireless Bluetooth speaker is always a huge hit. It features a built-in rechargeable battery with approximately 4 hours of playing time on a single charge, and is compatible with Bluetooth-enabled devices including iPod®, iPhone® and iPad® as well as Android™, BlackBerry®, laptops and more. Great for a sales team incentive or client gift.

Nike Golf
Upgrade your golf tournament with this brand-name polo, featuring Dri-FIT moisture management technology for a more comfortable day on the golf course. This is a shirt your recipient will wear again and again. The contrast Swoosh design trademark is embroidered on the right chest, so we recommend your logo go on the sleeve on on the back just below the collar. Made of 5.6-ounce, 100% polyester Dri-FIT fabric. Golfers will wear this over and over again.


Igloo
Featuring an innovative, travel-friendly design, this deluxe Igloo cooler is built to last. It collapses into a disc when not in use, so there’s no reason not to take it with you.

* Collapsible for easy storage when not in use
* Leak resistant, heat-sealed antimicrobial liner
* Igloo metal bottle opener attached to bag
* Dual zippered storage pockets
* 36 can capacity

This is a great item for corporate outings,  sponsored sporting events and the company softball team.

Callaway Golf
Why leave just a business card when you can make a much bigger first impression with this golf ball kit? Includes two Callaway golf balls in a linen box with a slot for your business card. Includes 2 logoed Callaway(R) Golf balls contained in this high quality linen box.  This is the ultimate method of handing out your business card to an important client or to reinforce your golf tournament sponsorship.

There are lots of other options from well know retailers that could give a high-profile lift to your marketing efforts. Let us help you find the products that will boost your program. Call us today at 781-281-1430, or email branded@sophwell.com.

 

Posted in Branding, Branding ideas, Marketing, product for marketing, Recommendations Tagged with: , ,