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Must Reads: Top 5 Stories Of 2016

top-stories-2016Every month, we have a goal: Help buyers like you make better-informed and more strategic decisions about your promotional products purchases. With that end in mind, we publish a number of posts on promotional marketing and branded merchandise as well as relevant research findings and business marketing and branding articles.

Since we’re promotional products people, we naturally have posts dedicated specifically to SMART Swag: Special, Memorable, Affordable, Relevant and Targeted branded merchandise that gets results. We’ve put all of our fave products for 2016 in this post.

But there’s much more the Corporate Specialties than simply products. We love doing a deeper dive into topics that matter most to marketers—from developing strong brand loyalty with customers to strengthening internal bonds with employee and everything in between.

As we look back at all the amazing content from 2016, five articles really stand out—from getting the most reads and positive customer feedback to the most important messages of the year. Here they are (in chronological order):

1. Millennial Marketing

2016 started off strong with the article What Millennials Want From Your Next Event, an important topic because there has been so much chatter about how to market to this demographic in the past year. So much discussion, in fact, the we wrote a follow up article with seven key things marketers must know about engaging millennials.

We tapped into research from experiential marketing software firm Splash, which revealed that 47% of millennials say the main reason they attend a brand event is because of the free swag. Wow!

“The savviest marketers understand the crucial link between events and brand loyalty—particularly when it comes to millennials,” says Ben Hindman, co-founder, CEO of Splash. “If you’re not creating experiences and memories, you’re not building anything.” Get the entire story here.

2. Promotional Products’ Sophistication

There’s a myth that sophisticated brands aren’t using promotional products. That swag doesn’t have enough swagger for upscale companies and their customers with discriminating taste. But in the article Myth Busted: Promotional Products Aren’t For Sophisticated Brands, we show why that’s flat out false. FALSE!

Part of problem is the well-intentioned marketer heading over to Google to product search. Sure, search results are full of “promotional products.” But what the results may not deliver are promotional products that are right for your specific brand and target audience. Google understands content, not context.

Unfortunately, these marketers walk away from their googling thinking that there’s just nothing special. Nothing new, even though there is a sea of products being offered. Nothing that’s just right for them.

Upscale brands need more than simply choosing a product out of a catalog at the last minute, and this is where a professional promotional consultant comes in. This article shows you how.

3. Employee Onboarding

In 2016, another hot topic was employee engagement. Rightfully so. Employees are historically dissatisfied in the workplace, and this impacts the overall profitability and organizational success.

One way to help combat the unhappiness and get employees more engaged is by Creating An Employee Onboarding Program That New Hires With Love.

For onboarding to be successful, you must have a long-term focus. It goes beyond filling out the appropriate paperwork on day one. Or meeting coworkers and being trained on computer systems in week one. Onboarding encompasses the entire experience of getting employees comfortable, confident and competent in their new role—whether it is a week, a month or a year in the making.

“If you want employees to contribute, you’ll need direct communication,” says George Bradt, author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan. “If you want them to commit to the cause, you must make an emotional connection with them. This is particularly true at important moments of truth, starting with how you onboard them. So, take onboarding personally and make it personal.”

Find out how you can create an onboarding program that’s meaningful by reading the entire article here.

4. Outreach Marketing

In the past, business was always done in person. But in today’s digital world, it’s easy to hide behind the screen. In virtual anonymity.

Between email, texts and tweets, it’s almost to a point that we rely so heavily on technology and digital communication that we’ve forgotten how to simply talk to people about what we do. But as people, we crave authentic connections.

Outreach marketing is all about making contact. Face-to-face. With cold calling becoming less and less effective, marketers need a new way to get the word out about their products and services.

Outreach marketing gives marketers a way to connect—and using promotional products is a tool that helps get the conversation started. Get the step-by-step guide to putting outreach marketing to work for you in the article Reaching Out: 3 Ways To Add Swag To Outreach Marketing Programs.

5. Swag For Everyone

Celebrity Or Average Joe: Swag Is For Everyone. This article sums up many of our thoughts on the role branded merchandise, advertising specialties, promotional products or swag can play in a progressive company’s marketing strategy.

We believe that customer connections can be strengthened with swag, and you don’t have to break the bank to spread your message. And the article gives four foolproof ways to create swag that make people swoon.

But the best part of this article was that it was published in The Huffington Post. We’re pretty proud of that. And it’s the perfect accomplishment to close out 2016.


Was your favorite article on the list? Share your thoughts in the comments. And if you’d like to put SMART Swag to work in your 2017 promotional marketing campaigns, book an appointment by clicking here or call us at 248-538-4700. Mention the blog, we’ll send you some SMART Swag as a thanks for reading!


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