Category Archives: Marketing Ideas

Upcycling Your Promotional Products

According to Wikipedia, the term “upcycle” was coined in 1994 and is defined as “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality for better environmental value.”   The thought was that instead of taking old products and breaking them down, a more environmentally advantageous thing to do would be to build them up into better products that have more value than their originals.

I think that any company who uses promotional products is, at some point, faced with an overflow of products that they don’t need anymore.  Whether it’s because their logo has changed or the product is out of date (like a calendar) or brands are just looking for something new, there are many reasons why older products don’t get used anymore.  So, instead of throwing them away, why not get a little crafty and make those products into something new?

Larabar had a great example of upcycling old promotional products on their facebook page.

Larabar Upcycles

[image source]

Larabar worked with Western Carolina Sewing Company to turn some of their outdated promotional material, like t-shirts, into totes and pouches.  Not only does this create fun new products, but it promotes an eco-friendly message at the same time.

This idea applies not only to the companies who want to do the upcycling themselves, like Larabar, but also to people who have received promotional products in the past.  I’m a runner.  I can’t tell you how many race t-shirts I’ve received.  And while I don’t want to necessarily throw them away since they hold memories, I don’t always wear all of them either.  This would be the perfect thing to upcycle.  Just a quick Pinterest search led me to all of these great ideas of what I could do with my shirts.

Turn a shirt into a tote bag:

Turn a shirt into a baby bib:


Turn a shirt into a scarf:

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

 Have you ever upcycled any promotional products before?  Let us know what you did with them in the comments!

Marketing Coordinator


Pantone’s Color of the Year – Emerald Green

If you work as as graphic designer or with graphic designers in any capacity, no doubt you are familiar with the Pantone Matching System, which is the standard color matching system across pretty much all industries.

Each year, Pantone chooses a “Color of the Year.” The color is decided upon at a secret Pantone meeting held in a European capital each year. The color is reportedly chosen in conjunction with many of the cultural influences that Pantone believes are relevant in our present lives. The color is meant to capture the spirit of the year.

Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013 is Emerald Green.

Emerald Green

[image source:]
Read more about Emerald Green!

Top 5 Essentials When Attending a Tradeshow

Last week was my first PPAI Expo in Vegas.  I had been to other regional tradeshows, but this is the largest, longest-running tradeshow in our industry.  Every year marketers from all over the country come to see, touch, and feel the newest and most unique promotional products and apparel.  The Mandalay Bay convention center has 2 floors filled with rows and rows of booths with products to see.  I knew I needed a game plan before I stepped on the show floor.  Speaking with co-workers that had been to the Expo before, I was given the 5 Essentials When Attending a Tradeshow.  Bonus, I also figured out 1 additional product we’ll be bringing with us next year!

1) Comfortable Shoes – with so much walking you need comfortable shoes to make it through a full show day.  If you can find a mix of comfort and style that is ideal.  I chose my grey, corduroy TOMS and they proved to be an excellent choice.

2) Tote Bag – You need a tote bag to carry your notebook or padfolio, business cards, phone, and other supplies, preferable with lots of pockets.  Pockets and dividers make finding your things quick and easy when time is of the essence.  Megan and I brought our new Pinnacle tote bags that had 4 separate outside pockets and internal pockets for your phone and business cards.

Megan and me with our new Pinnacle tote bags.

3) WATER – walking and talking can make you thirsty… I recommend you bring a bottle of water because a small soda is $5 at the convention center!

4)  Smartphone/Camera – When you are busy going booth to booth, you’ll want to take lots of pictures of the cool, unique products you find.  Tip: Take a picture of the company sign or business card so you remember where you saw that cool product.  Keep everything digital to avoid having sore arms and shoulders from catalogs and product samples. (Obviously there are some things just too cute not to pick up, hence the tote bag)

5) Hand Sanitizer – shaking hands and touching products that thousands of other people are touching is less than sanitary.  Make sure you bring hand sanitizer or snag a promotional hand sanitizer that someone is giving away.

BONUS Essential for tradeshows – Energy Bar (no not a protein bar, but that’s not a bad idea either) an Energy Bar or Emergency Mobile Device Battery, as they are being called is a small compact battery device that once charged will recharge your smartphone or other mobile device.  I know my phone died on me every day around 4pm when I still had more pictures to take and people to communicate with.  I will definitely bring something like this with me next year!

Hope you enjoyed my list of essential products when attending a tradeshow.  Many of these products that are valuable at a tradeshow can be imprinted with your logo and are great giveaway items for those attendees that didn’t come prepared (custom bottled water, tote bags, hand sanitizer, etc).  My personal tip would be to have a “recharging station” at one end of your booth with chairs, custom bottled water, and a place to recharge your phone.  While your potential clients are resting their feet and recharging, you can be building relationships and provide marketing collateral or a promotional video for them to watch.

Are there any other products I left out?  Let me know if there are other products you feel are essential when attending a tradeshow in the comments below.



Merchandising Manager

Almost Promotional Products

Our Merchandising Managers are back from the PPAI tradeshow out in Vegas, and they’ve returned with lots of new pictures and stories about what to expect this year. For a sneak peek about all the trends they’ll be blogging about in the near future check out the Facebook album they created here.

So it’s with this spirit of “new-ness” that I’ve decided to take a quick break from my usual blogging style of pointing out items new and old on our website and how they could be applied to different promotional campaigns. I’m taking a cue from our ever awesome Pinterest account and one board in specific, the Not a Promotional Product… Yet board.



Source: via Pinnacle on Pinterest


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NPR Hosts Their First Swag Sale Event

Last weekend NPR hosted their first ever warehouse sale where public media fans lined up to buy NPR swag and meet their favorite personalities. It was deemed a big success as lines formed outside its Washington D.C. building.  They sold everything from your basic t-shirts, coffee mugs, window clings, and beer koozies to bizarre items like Carl Kasell plush dolls and pillows.  They incorporated social media into the event by using the hashtag #NPRswag to tag pictures of you and your NPR merchandise.  Check out NPR’s blog to see a slideshow of fans and their merchandise.

Photo credit

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The IdeaKit, for when you know that you don’t know

Sometimes, say on a Monday morning a week before Christmas, you find yourself completely out of ideas. Suddenly there are too many choices and too many distractions, and you can’t choose between a gift bar or a bar gift. During this holiday season we have often ended our gift guides with the phrase “call us or visit our website for more ideas.”, but visiting our website doesn’t mean trying to track down the perfect item by yourself (unless you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, in which case disregard and return to your happy surfing). Sometimes you have to ask for a little help, at that where our IdeaKit Requests come in.

Just click the Need Ideas link at the top of our website and this lovely popup will appear. Then fill out the IdeaKit Request with some basic information about what you are looking for and send it our way. We will put together an IdeaKit chock full of items that will help out your search. So have no fear, the IdeaKit is here!

Merchandising Assistant

Corporate Holiday Gifts That Last All Year Long

When buying corporate holiday gifts it is ideal for the gift you are giving to have a long lasting impact.  You want your customers or clients to remember your company or organization throughout the year.  Here are some unique ideas to make sure your corporate holiday gifts last all year long.

1. Create your own Candy of the Month Club

Buy an imprinted candy jar and fill it with gourmet treats or candies, like the Visionsteel Apothecary Jar (pictured above).   Include a personalized note and let them know you plan to refill their jar throughout the year.  Mail or drop off new treats for national holidays, bizarre holidays, or anytime!  Some ideas are Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, National Candy Day (Nov 4th), National Gummy Worm Day (July 15th), and of course Halloween.  Don’t show up to your client without candy or a sweet treat in your hand… it’s inexpensive and yet brightens their day!
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Using Promotional Items as Wedding Favors

Though the end of November isn’t your typical “wedding season,” there are probably lots of brides and grooms out there who are planning for their upcoming Spring or Summer 2013 weddings. And as anyone who’s been married before knows, planning a wedding takes a lot of time and there’s no such thing as starting too early!

Wedding image

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Kelly Parker McPherson

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