Marketing Ideas

ING Marathon and Swag Redemption

NYCING Internet-banking giant ING and their sponsorship of perhaps one of the largest sporting events took a big blow in 2012.

“Superstorm Sandy” landed on the upper east coast starting on October 22 through October 31st, 2012. Hurricane Sandy would become the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history. The ING New York City Marathon, which was scheduled to take place on November 4, went through a painful decision-making process that resulted in the full cancellation of the marathon only two days before the event.

With the cancellation, ING and the New York Road Runners club faced a hailstorm of criticism. Runners were upset the marathon was cancelled. Runners were upset the marathon was not cancelled sooner. Participants took to blogs and social sites to express their feelings. Race organizers faced a daunting PR challenge, but one not completely unique to events of this nature. What to do with all the race swag?

From t-shirts and clappers to the actual finishers medal, race organizers faced a difficult problem. In an effort to create goodwill among racers who couldn’t race and wanting to encourage people to sign-up for next year’s race they made an unprecedented decision. They would take every opportunity to get the gear to the 2012 registrants. When race entrants showed up to the 2013 expo to get their race bibs and promotional items, the 2012 registrants were directed to a location within the Javitz Center to receive the 2012 race shirt and their 2012 finisher’s medal.

Image byRobert Reese

Image by Robert Reese

The icing on the PR cake for ING and the NYRR came in the form of a poncho. In light of the events in Boston last year, race entrants were strongly discouraged from checking a bag at the race start for security reasons. Following the completion of the race, if a runner had not checked a bag they were directed to a special area of the race route. Upon exiting the official race area, runners were given a customized fleece-lined poncho.

The ING Marathon is not the first event to face a swag problem. Each year teams produce promotional items to acknowledge a sporting event that hasn’t happened yet. In the event that your team is playing in the big game, chances are the celebratory shirts and hats have already been printed. When the team loses, what to do with the promotional or marketing materials? Because of licensing agreements, most items are donated overseas.

The ING NYC Marathon organizers were able to heal some old wounds by giving 2012 runners their gear and medals. And, they were able to build good will with the 2013 by rewarding them for choosing the less convenient bag option. In this case, the ponchos went a long way towards swag redemption.

Pinnacle Promotions

Posted by Lee in Brand Identity and Corporate Logos, Cool Promotional Products We Love, Current Events News, Marketing Ideas, Promotional Products Around Town, Sports News and Stadium Giveaways, 0 comments

Pinnacle Promotions Goes Mobile

Buyers Can Now Shop For Branded Merchandise On-The-Go

Pinnacle Promotions, a top 50 ASI distributor of branded merchandise, logo apparel and giveaways, announced the launch of its much-anticipated mobile website today. The launch complements an award-winning website used by some of the most recognizable brands and organizations in the world by enabling its clients to search for products even when not in the office.

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 1.23.24 PM“The way our clients are shopping for promotional products is changing at an exciting and unprecedented rate,” says Mitch Weintraub, founder and CEO of Pinnacle Promotions. “We wanted to be one of the first to support that trend.”

Being at the head of the pack has been a hallmark of Pinnacle Promotions throughout its 20-year history and what has propelled it to the top. Its ecommerce website was the first of its kind. It also pioneered the 24-hour turnaround through its RocketShip 24-Hour Express Service™ and originated the idea-generating service through its IdeaKit™, both of which have been emulated throughout the industry.

More than 30% of promotional product web searches take place on mobile devices. In an industry where customizing apparel, drinkware, gifts and other promotional items is more than a one-step transaction, designing an experience around a small screen was no easy task.

“Our clients come to us because they know we’ll get it right,” says Rob Nelms, Vice President of Marketing. “That kind of thinking permeated every decision we made with regards to how to design our mobile site. With an approval rating that is through the roof, we had a high bar to reach.”

The same, convenient features that set the Pinnacle Promotions website apart from the rest are integrated into its mobile site. Customers can easily find a product they are interested in, request a quote, request a sample or share an item via email or various social media channels.

About Pinnacle Promotions, Inc. (
Since 1994, the world’s leading companies and organizations have trusted Pinnacle Promotions to provide them with customized solutions for their marketing and branding needs. The company’s agency approach to promotional marketing makes consumers’ jobs easier and provides them with an unprecedented array of exclusive services. With dedicated Account Teams and innovative technology, Pinnacle Promotions delivers new and unique promotional products quickly, and with the quality expected from an industry leader. Make the Right Impression ™ with Pinnacle Promotions. Please call 800.351.4226 or follow us at for additional information.

Pinnacle Promotions

Posted by Lee in Brand Identity and Corporate Logos, Current Events News, Marketing Ideas, Pinnacle Promotions News, 0 comments

The Rise of the Swag Bag

As an event manager, party planner, or all-around brand genius, we know you have your event planned down to the most obscure points possible. But have you paid as much attention to this year’s swag bag? Sure it’s easy to throw a few pens and a plain journal into a basic  bag and call it a day, but your guests probably won’t bother to read the logo on yet another pen. How do you combat swag bag fatigue?

By learning from your viral predecessors, of course! This year there have been a few swag bags that have gone viral. Let’s look at the top 3 and see what makes so worthy.

1. HBO’s Behind the Candelabra lavishness– The Liberace biopic that HBO aired earlier this year already had a good amount of positive press surrounding it. HBO stepped up their game and took their protagonist’s taste for all things lavish one step further with the swag bags they sent out to the press.  Liberace is quoted as once  saying, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful!”, opulence was a big theme in his life and the film strived to capture that. The same sense of grandness was then applied to the swag bag sent out to the press. It included a bottle of champagne, an iPod, and sparkly jewelry along with a few other items Liberace himself would have been glad to wear. It not only reminded the press to watch and review the film, it provided extra marketing when recipients would write about the swag they had received. While you don’t have to send out bottle of Moët, make sure the promo items you choose serve to enhance your message instead of being a boring side note.

2. VidCon’s Mashup -VidCon is a convention that aims to bring together online video creators. If you’ve ever spent anytime at all on YouTube, you can image what a diverse crowd those video-makers must be. So at first glance, VidCon’s swag bag seems to be a jumble of things that don’t quite tie together: guitar picks, bingo cards and potpourri to name a few. But if you pan back, you’ll see that VidCon strives to include all genres, ages, and skill-level of online video fans. So, naturally, their swag bag would be an extension of that everyone-is-included mashup. If you are hosting or sponsoring an event that’s going to bring in a wide variety of people, choose items that both fit your brand and enhance the event theme. Your recipients will run a gamut of interests, likes, and dislikes, and even a small amount in variety will ensure that everyone goes home with something they enjoy.

3. ComicCon exclusiveness – Sometimes it seems that the brand managers at Comic-Con have a single mantra when it comes to their swag: if you make it exclusive, they will come. The term “swag” stands for “stuff we all get”. Comic-con turns the meaning on its head: not everyone will get it and you may have to pay dearly for it. Most people head to the San Diego Comic-Con fully realizing that they may not make it into the panel event of their choice, and instead choose to wander the convention hall picking up exclusive items you can only get during this time. Knowing that they will have the chance to receive things that other won’t can be a plus in your favor when people are deciding whether or not to attend. Best of all, people love to post to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about all their exclusive new stuff and that amounts to free marketing and potential new customers for you.

We’ve all been to that one event where we received a swag bag of such amazing and relevant items that it set an impossibly high bar for all other promotional products, but what made it extra special for you? Let us know in the comments and keep those same principles in mind when it’s time for your next event!

Posted by Admin in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

5 Tips for Successfully Integrating QR Codes into Your Marketing Strategy

QR codes have been the great divider among marketers and product managers. For every rare instance that you see one successfully integrated into a marketing campaign, you are then bombarded with articles that declare the QR code dead. But when they do work it looks so easy and seamlessly executed that you can’t resist picking up your phone to see what the fuss is all about.

Earlier this week, home-decor site Apartment Therapy, shared how a reader had created a QR code for guests to scan. It took them to a page with the home’s updated Wi-Fi passwords that they could copy and paste to easily connect to the internet with. No more trying to remember a long, complicated password haphazardly scribbled on a sticky note! It’s a brilliant idea if your wi-fi password is long and easy to forget, or if you often change your password (looking at you, hotel and restaurant industries!).

From this, and a few other successful QR code campaigns, I’ve put together  5 easy tips that will help you successfully integrate QR codes into your marketing strategy.

1. Take Users Somewhere Special – There is nothing more frustrating for a user that to take the time to scan a QR code, only to arrive at the company homepage, even worse if it’s not mobile friendly. Help foster a sense of exclusiveness by taking them to a special landing page, and you positively reinforce and reward your customer. Brands that are associated with VIP events and services would benefit the most from making their QR code landing pages extra special, adding to the allure. Consider instead of handing out physical tickets, sending a QR code that users will need to show at the door to get into your event.

2. Be Mobile Friendly – This seems like a very obvious tip until you come across a QR code that leads to a great desktop site that looks terrible on an iPhone. People will be using a smartphone to access your QR code so don’t serve them up a special landing page that hasn’t been configured for popular smartphone sizing. Using a QR code correctly will make your brand seem like it’s on the cutting edge of technology, make sure your mobile site is ready for the challenge!

3. Your QR Code Needs to Be Perfect- Granted if you’re imprinting on an item from Pinnacle, this is a null point. But, regardless, it is important to test your QR code for any imperfections that could mean to a waste of your customer’s time. As I am sure you know by now, you don’t want to be known as a brand that wastes customers’ time.

4. Get Creative  – Emart, a Korean company, needed a way to increase business during lunch hour- usually when their stories would go dead for the afternoon. So they launched a campaign and put up QR code statues around the city and between 12- 1 PM, the shadows of the statue would line up into a perfect QR code that took users to a special offer page. The results were incredible for the company who saw a sustained increase in purchases around lunch time soon after the campaign launched. I’m not suggesting their approach should be copied exactly as is, but creative QR codes entice customers to try it out.

5. Offer Incentives – It’s definitely a good idea to offer an incentive after your customers scan a QR code, but what about enticing them to scan the code in the first place? Consider what Ballatine’s Scotch Whiskey did when they commissioned a Parisian tattoo artist and client into creating the world’s first animated tattoo. The tattoo was done in real time with online users chiming  with suggestions for the artist. The finished tattoo included a QR code that led to a youtube video that animated the tattoo onscreen. Your brand will not need to go to such extremes but make sure to mention the rewards of scanning your QR code.

So what has been the best use of a QR code that you’ve seen or do you think they are just a passing fad that marketers will soon be embarrassed to you?

Posted by Admin in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

5 Tips for Businesses Using Pinterest

Are you looking to take your brand to Pinterest and start pinning with the masses? Here at Pinnacle we are big fans of Pinterest. Whereas with other social media outlets it can be hard to appreciate anything visual, Pinterest is all about aesthetics. Whether you need wardrobe inspiration, a new cooking recipe, or simply wish to fawn over amazing pictures of distant places, there is a good chance someone has created a board for that.

So how does a company stand out on Pinterest for the right reasons or avoid being a company that’s followed but never repined? I’ve put together 5 tips that will help you get started and help you avoid commonly made mistakes.

1. Create a complete profile and and get your account verified. – As a consumer there is nothing worse than finding a pin featuring something you love, tracking it all the way back to a company Pinterest page, and then realizing there is no information about said company anywhere. The more ways you offer your customers to connect with you the better. For our own profile, we have our logo, a quick blurb on the company, where we’re located, a link to our website, and additional links to our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Also, make sure you get your account verified. Pinterest has made the process relatively easy and it’s an extra step in ensuring users that you are a trustworthy source.

2. Don’t make it all about you – It’s hard to gain a following if all your pins are your own products. Get creative about how you present yourself on Pinterest. We like to mostly choose themes that aren’t completely promotional product centric, and create mood boards that incorporate our products. This seems a more honest approach to reach potential customers than attempting to pretend we’re the only company in the world.

When we do have boards that are filled with mostly our own promotional products, they have a distinct and clear purpose. For example, we are currently featuring 6 boards where our Account Managers are pinning their favorite promotional products and we’ve made the fact clear in both the title and description of each board. I think it’s these little touches that add authenticity to what we’re doing on Pinterest.

3. Be creative as possible – Pinterest is where people go to get ideas that they would have never thought of on their own. DIY reigns on this site as does humor. A company that is highly praised for their ceativity on Pinterest is General Electric. They have established a presence that is both witty and informative, and always on top of trends. Their “Hey Girl” board put them on the map where they took to a meme that originally started with an actor and catapulted it into hilarious historically-themed stardom. Don’t be afraid to push outside your comfort zone and if you want to  upload as many of your own images as GE has, make sure you work with your  art department to make things looked as polished as possible. (Have we mentioned we love our art department? Really guys, we do.)

4. Keep it current – Make sure that you keep current of the latest Pinterest trends, like what has been named the perfect Pinterest picture or the analytics tool Pinterest rolled out for business. Pin current events or like GE, give your own unique spin on a current meme. We like to do season-centric boards as well, creating boards that capture the chill of winter or the carefree vibe of summer.

5. Have guest pinners – I know it’s scary handing the reigns over to someone else. So many things could go wrong, but when done correctly, having guest pinners can have great results. Social Media Examiner has an informative post about the benefits of contributor boards and how it worked for Etsy. The e-commerce site focused on vintage and handmade items partnered with artist like Lori Langille, and companies like Random House, Whole Foods, and Martha Stewart Living. By partnering with these carefully selected brands Etsy has reinforced their artistic image. So identify users and companies that could help make your brand shine online.

These 5 tips are simple things you can do to make sure your company Pinterest page isn’t lost among millions of pins. While none of the suggestions are particularly revolutionary, they are steps that companies often forget to take and quickly lose followers as a result. As long as you keep these tips in mind and follow basic Pinterest etiquette. If you’d like a more in-depth look at Pinterst, HubSpot published The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest that takes you into the nitty-gritty of Pinterest.

While you’re on Pinterest, make sure to take a look at the boards our Account Managers are currently pinning to: Ashley, Jasmine, Katie, Jessie-Kate, Shelley, and Sarah.


Posted by Admin in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

Add Some Humor to that Promotional Coffee Mug

I recently came across this collection of Brutally Honest Coffee Mugs.

Funny Coffee Mug

[image source: College Humor]

And while I found some funnier than others, it got me thinking about using humor to promote your brand.  Some of the top brands use humor in their advertising and it’s wildly successful.

The first thing that comes to mind is AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” campaign, which features a man asking groups of children questions like, “Which is better, faster or slower?” and their hilarious answers.  AT&T’s message is that their service is simple and easy to use, but these commercials use a round-about way of illustrating that message, focusing on the humorous aspect of the kids’ answers more than anything.  (I researched it a litte bit to see if these ads are scripted.  Apparently they do have a “guided script” but often stray from it because the kids’ off-the-cuff answers are much funnier than anything the script writers have come up with.)

Or what about Atlanta’s own Scoutmob?  The daily deal (but better!) site capitalized on the “cool because it’s ironic” mustache trend and added a mustache-cam to their app.  Having an app that allows you to choose from different types of mustaches and put them on the pictures you take with your phone has nothing to do with daily deals, but it’s funny.

And while I’m taking about Atlanta companies, we can’t forget Mailchimp.  This email marketing service provider uses humor as an integral part of their brand image.  Whether that’s little things on their site that they do (after you send a campaign, one of your options is to “eat a banana”, which takes you to a Chiquita Banana Youtube video or the funny things they show around their office like their life-sized mascot,  Mailchimp understands that while the product may be great, sometimes an extra laugh really drives it home.

So, back to coffee mugs. Coffee mugs are one of our most popular product categories. For good reason too; I mean, what better way to show off your logo than putting it on the vessel for your customers’ daily java habit.

Funny Coffee Mug 3

[image source: College Humor]

While most coffee mugs get the job done, there’s something to be said about having your mug, the one with your logo, being your customers’ favorite mug. And while this might have to do with the quality or size of the mug itself, maybe adding some humor to your mug could make it shoot up on the mug popularity scale. (I rank my coffee mugs in order of favorite to least favorite, don’t you?!)

Funny Coffee Mug

[source: College Humor]

What if you came up with something humorous – it could be generic, it could be related to your industry – and put it on one side of your coffee mug? On the opposite side could be your logo. It’s a great way to get your brand out there while also showing that you have a sense of humor.  And you never know, it might become your customers’ favorite new coffee mug.

Marketing Coordinator

Posted by Lee in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

Promotional Products and Social Media

Recently we’ve received quite a few pictures from our customers of promotional products that we’ve ordered for them in action Whether is was the promotional sound activated wristbands used by a dating app or the custom corn hole board used at a sales conference, we love seeing how a promotional product can go from an idea to it’s in-use execution, and, much like proud parents, we make sure to feature them on our social media sites. This has become one of the newest trends in promotional products, tying them to social media. So for today’s blog post I am breaking down the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the tentative bond that promotional products and social media are forging.

The Good
Between Facebook now asking us what we’re reading/listening/feeling, Instagram’s ability to document each and every meal, and YouTube fostering a new generation of “haul” videos (videos where the host takes the viewer through what all they bought that day), people have never been more willing to talk and share about their favorite brands and items. Promotional products have never had a better stage to shine on.

Ask recipients to tweet you a picture of their promotional product in use, choose a witty hashtag, and you could be well on your way to Twitter fame. Think of Taco Bell’s #doritoslocostacos campaign, they had everything from pictures of the actual tacos to images of those waiting in line or taking their first bite (more of my odd love affair with Taco Bell’s revamped advertising here). Thank them for being part of your community and always make sure to feature content from your users because it’s a good way to let users know that it’s as much about them as it is you.

Which brings me to my next point: have a little fun showing off a little. Take, for example, the custom corn hole boards I mentioned above. Posted on a social media site, this image conveys the message that even when they are trying to sell you something, this vendor still wants you to enjoy yourself. If even General Electric managed to make themselves more than enjoyable on Pinterest, then we have no excuse!

The Bad
And now comes the fine print. Creating content, making connections, building loyalty – these things take work. Personally, I find the challenge a fun one but like the old mottos go, nothing worth having is ever easy. Luckily for you, our sales team can help you find the perfect promotional product, but you have to figure out the QR code or hashtag.

Sure, there will always be internet trolls and naysayers but you can curtail most of those by choosing a promotional product that lasts and quickly addressing any issues that come up via social media instead of deleting or ranting in response. And even if your online campaign gets sidetracked, hopefully it will be as hilarious as when the internet banded together to send popular rapper to a remote part of Alaska. This particular campaign was a winner on all counts: not only did Listerene Fresh Strips get tons of exposure, the rapper PitBull was able to show himself as a personable artist who is true to his word, and the town of Kodiak Alaska got to have a lot fun.

So, as long as you cover all your bases and prove yourself gracious in the face of the unexpected, the bad can end up being good.

The Ugly
Sometimes, things can go from bad to ugly. If customers are very unhappy with a product, they may take to social media to blast away, and if not handled delicately, the whole ordeal can turn into a social media scandal. To avoid reaching “the ugly” stage, make sure your product and campaign doesn’t cross the line of outrageously funny to outrageously offensive.

The Conclusion
While promotional products may be one of the older forms of advertising, social media is still considered the new contender. With a well planned campaign it can be easy to stand out among the crowd and shine with your chosen promotional product. Have you seen any promotional product/social media campaigns that you considered successful or have you seen ones that crashed and burned? Let us know in the comments. Have you considered showing off your promotional products on your social media sites or starting a campaign based on them?  Are you a fan of hashtag campaigns or QR codes?  I lean towards hashtags myself but have heard many a compelling argument fot the QR code.

As always, I love seeing promotional products in action so please send us some pictures or drop a link in the comments section!

Merchandising Assistant


Posted by Admin in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

Time Saving Promotional Products

I’ve become quite fond of the phrase, “Aint nobody got time for that!” (Do a Youtube search if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)  Though I don’t actually use the word “aint” in real life and I like to think of myself as somewhat of a stickler for proper grammar, the phrase is just so useful.  I can think of many scenarios where it has popped into my head as the right thing to say.

So, even though it’s become a viral Youtube sensation, the truth of the matter is that most people are really strapped for time and finding ways to save time really is important.  So, I bring you: time-saving promotional products.

You can find products that will help you save time in pretty much every category.  Here are some that I’ve come up with, but I can assure you, there are others.

Office items have become commonplace whether you work in an office or not.  Untangling the many USB cords that you have or unplugging something from your computer so you can plug something else in: Aint nobody got time for that.  Fortunately, there are products out there (on our site!) that can help you keep your cords untangled and allow you to plug in many USB devices into your computer.

Gumbite Clippi

Tangle Hub 2.0

What about drinkware?  Pouring yourself a cup of coffee and drinking it at home before you rush off to the office: aint nobody got time for that!  A sturdy, spill proof travel mug is your answer.

Color Touch Stainless Promotional Travel Mug

Finding your pen, stylus and highlighter at a moment’s notice?  Aint nobody got time for that!  How about a 3-in one writing instrument that can make searching in your bag for a highlighter when all you can come up with is a pen (and an old piece of gum) a thing of the past?

Triple Play Stylus Pen Highlighter

And then you have the ultimate time saver: our RocketShip 24-Hour Express Service.  Your order will be processed in as little as one business day after artwork confirmation.

RocketShip 24 Hour Express Service

I could keep going on and on about time-saving products in all sorts of different categories, but aint nobody got time for that.

Marketing Coordinator

Posted by Lee in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

Stress Relieving Promotional Products

I’m subscribed to a daily email from  The emails focus on health related topics like exercise and healthy food and just healthy living in general.  Today’s email stuck out to me though because it was Entitled 23 Ways to Reduce Stress.  (I realize, upon writing this, that this blog post could be about the effectiveness of an email subject line, but alas, it’s about stress relief.  But a good idea for another post, no?)

There were 23 suggestions and as I read them, my promotional product mind kicked in and I thought to myself that there were definitely promotional products out there that could help with some of their suggestions.  Click on the pictures to see the products on our website.

• Yoga

On-the-Go Yoga Mat

• Aromatherapy

Mediation Wax Scented Candle

• Music


• Tea

Tea Strain-It

• Your pets

Natural dog treats in a tube

I could go on, but I don’t want to stress you out.  However, I encourage you to read the original article for some great tips.

Life can be stressful to us all, giving your customers or clients products to help them reduce that stress is something that will also be appreciated.

Marketing Coordinator


Posted by Lee in Marketing Ideas, 0 comments

Company Earth Day Events & Celebrations

Earth Day is approaching…  Earth Day is on April 22, 2013 so just about a month away.  Does your company or organization do anything to celebrate this holiday?

Many companies celebrate this holiday by hosting on-site events, creating “green teams”, recognizing and rewarding achievements, and coordinating community service efforts.  As many recognize, Earth Day efforts go beyond just one day but Earth Day or Earth Week can be a great way to recognize your sustainability efforts throughout the year. It is an opportunity to highlight, engage, and drive future involvement in sustainability projects throughout the year.

At Pinnacle we have cleaned up our local parks, signed pledges to live a greener lifestyle, as well as participated in Earth Hour.  Earth Hour this year is March 23rd from 8:30-9:30pm where you switch off your lights for an hour to show your support and concern for the environment.  This event has grown into a full global community of millions of people in 7,001 cities and towns across 152 countries… pretty amazing!

If you are preparing for upcoming Earth Day events or just getting started, I have put together an inspiration board of promotional products that can be incorporated in your events or celebrations.  Check out our EarthSmart pinboard too

The Earth Day Seed Paper Mini-Gift Pack is a 100% recycled info card and letterpress printed plantable seed paper globe, packaged together in a corn-based cello bag. This is an inexpensive way to present a gift at your event or even mail to clients since it’s lightweight and flat.

The Pietra Recycled Stone Paper Notepad is the perfect eco-friendly item to show your company’s commitment to the environment. It features ecological paper that is made from stones, so its manufacturing process does not involve tree cutting.

Priced under $1, Recycled Flyers are a great giveaway item for an outdoor Earth Day event.

Laminated 100% Recycled Grocery Tote is a common product that is associated with being “green” but because it’s so useful (especially with some states plastics bag bans) it is still very popular!  This bag is made from 100% PET recycled fabric and comes in 8 bold colors with stock designs.


Let us know what fun and unique things you’re doing to celebrate Earth Day this year…  we’re always looking for fun ways to celebrate Mother Earth!



Merchandising Manager

Posted by Admin in Marketing Ideas, Seasonal Marketing Ideas, 0 comments