The Vernon Comapny

5 Reasons to Get Mascot Proud NOW!

Mascot Proud Blog Banner

The smell of sulfur is still lingering in the air from Independence Day fireworks, but before we know it; fall will have college kids all across the country trading their parents’ nests for campuses. There’s no time like the present to get MASCOT PROUD; feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of the prominent exhibition of a favorite school and or team by way of excessive logoed gear.

Here are the top 5 reasons to get MASCOT PROUD NOW!

1. Early bird gets the worm.

If you order now, you’re sure to get the items you want before you need them. Ordering now might be the difference between getting that collapsible and lightweight grill and the bulky one that’s always in stock.

Don’t wait for your favorite promo products to be out of stock, get them now so you get what you want, not what’s left.

2. Be a trendsetter.

Everyone wants to be seen with the newest, hottest trends before everyone else has them.  Promotional products are meant to be unique and stand out. There are endless combinations of products, colors, logo placements, and decorations, so be bold and GET YOUR BRAND ON in a way that hasn’t been done before!

Better to be a trendsetter, than a trend follower.

3. Licensing and design.

Most of our favorite logos and mascots are trademark protected so be sure to allow time for licensing and art approvals. It’s easy to get caught up in an idea and want it now but in reality, it’s best to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to branding. Take the proper steps to ensure that your vision is brought to life using an honorable approach with time to spare!

Start crossing those design Ts and dotting those licensing Is this summer to ensure your products are on point in time for fall!

4. Tailgating is ALWAYS fun.

You don’t have to wait for football season to start tailgating. Pull out your logoed chairs and coolers all summer too! Go ahead and tailgate at a campground, amusement park, baseball game, or water park! Just because it has a college logo, doesn’t mean it has to be used at a college game.

The sooner you order it, the sooner you can enjoy it!

5. Support.

Nothing shows college freshmen support quite like their parents sporting their soon to be mascot and logo before they leave for college. We’ve spent the majority of 18 years wearing dance, little league, soccer, swimming, football, basketball, and even chess club t-shirts all for the love of our children. And just because those children are over 18, doesn’t mean we get to stop representing them, or their schools.  We wear orange and purple shirts and pretend to love tigers and twinkle toes, just to show our support. It’s what we do!

Get those parents (and students) wearing collegiate gear before they even hit the dorms!

Get MASCOT PROUD by getting your (college and university) brand on the products everyone needs for fall but wants now!

Mascot Proud

5 Ways to Grow Your Business This Summer

Summer is finally here; and while our customers are planning family vacations, businesses are feeling the summer slump. Trendy boots have been traded for dollar bin flip flops and 20-pound turkeys have been replaced by $2 hot dogs. The growing season where less is more and life slows down.

A slowdown season in business is the world’s way of giving business owners an opportunity to sit back, reflect, and plant the seeds to grow their businesses in the months to come. Here are 5 ways to grow your business this summer.

1-Evaluate your business.

Most of us have a fiscal quarter or two in the books by now, so it’s a great time to take a look at our plans and goals. What’s working? What’s not working? There’s nothing wrong with changing things up a bit. It’s better to make a positive change mid-stream than to keep doing more of the same, especially if it’s not working or getting you any results.

Pour a glass of lemonade and make a side-by-side list of annual goals vs. results. We’re halfway through 2019 so you should be seeing some ROI by now.

2-Assess your staffing needs.

Take notice of how your employees are benefitting your company. Are there any who are working too hard while some aren’t working hard enough? Are they being compensated fairly? Even if you’re self-employed, or a one-man band, it’s important to assess your workload every now and again. Are you overworking yourself? Could your business grow if you hired an assistant?

Consider a summer intern. There are plenty of college students who are seeking summer internships and plenty of teenagers looking to put a few dollars in their pockets this summer. On the flip side, if an employee takes a week-long vacation this summer, and business continues as usual, it might be time to assess that position’s value.

3-Refresh your website.

Now is the perfect time to refresh your website BEFORE the holiday season hits. Give it a new look NOW so your customers will be familiar with navigating through it by fall. Change is always easier to deal with when you’re not feeling the pressure of holiday deadlines.

While you’re relaxing on the deck this summer, take a minute to look at some of your competitor’s websites. How does yours compare? Does it need a facelift or at least a summer glow? As you’re updating your site, make sure to update any marketing materials to match the new look of your site. You should also update the bios and cover photos on your social media profiles. Customers like consistency.

4-Organize a summer social.

There’s no better time than ice cream and watermelon season to host a customer appreciation day barbeque! Everyone thanks their customers during the holiday season with Christmas cards and fruitcakes, but customers actually enjoy a little appreciation in the summer too. Besides, it’s far less expensive to get your brand on t-shirts and visors than jackets and stocking hats!

Get out the sunscreen and plan a baseball outing for your customers or host a summer cook-out. And be sure to provide them with promo koozies to remind them of the great time they had on your dime, each and every time they use it!

5-Create a summer special.

Everyone expects Black Friday specials in November, but an unexpected summer special (not Christmas in July, full of last year’s holiday leftovers) on items that make everyone’s summer season even better would surely be a hit! You want your customers to see the summer special as a special, not a clearance event. Don’t sell them last year’s throws in June. Offer a seasonal product that’s relevant. You could even go one step further and throw in a free promotional item for next season!

Try offering a free collapsible cooler for this fall’s tailgating with the purchase of every full-size summer cooler purchase. Let your customers know that your customer service goes beyond the current season.

Everything happens for a reason, or so they say. We NEED a slow season like summer in order to stop and smell the roses, and take time to really water and nurture our businesses so they can grow and thrive the rest of the year!

Vernon Hires Kelli Denes as Director of Business Development

NEWTON, IA – The Vernon Company is pleased to announce the hiring of Kelli Denes as Director of Business Development.

In this role, Kelli will be actively directing Vernon’s national recruiting efforts in addition to working with the Company’s top salespeople to strategically grow the business with major accounts and helping the Company increase its overall revenues, profits and efficiencies.

Kelli has held various sales roles both within and outside of the promotional products industry. For the last 16 years, she focused on Large Account Sales leader for industry supplier, Raining Rose. Additionally, Kelli is very involved in the industry, recently representing UMAPP in Washington, DC for the Legislation Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). Kelli also serves on the workgroup for PPAI’s Women’s Leadership Conference.

Dave Regan, Vernon Vice President of Sales and Marketing, commented, “After getting to know Kelli as our supplier sales rep, we feel very lucky to add her to our sales leadership team. We know that her industry knowledge, enthusiasm, work ethic and approach to customer service will be tremendous assets to Vernon, our salespeople and our client relationships.”

As a wife and mom of three, in her “free time” Kelli also runs a successful lifestyle blog in which she shares some of her reflections, insights and lessons learned about work and family. Check it out at www.thebalancedworkmom.com or follow @BalancedWorkMom on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“I’m excited for this next chapter in my career,” shares Kelli. “The Vernon Company stands out for their values that are aligned with my own.  I love that they are an Iowa-based, family-owned company and a leader in our industry. I already feel at home here.”

Summer Break Means It’s Time to Gear Up for Fall Registration


School’s out for the summer! But summer is short! Too short! We’ll be enjoying sunshine and baseball games one day and windy football games the next. And as any good teacher (and Benjamin Franklin) would tell you, “Never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.” Such wise words to live by.

It might be summer break, but it’s the perfect time to gear up for fall registration! Get in the SCHOOL CRAZE!
Top 5 reasons to get in a SCHOOL CRAZE NOW!

#1-Top of mind…As teachers, parents, coaches, and organizations are packing up last year’s memories, they’re taking note of what they have an abundance of, what was useful, and what wasn’t. There’s no time like the present to order promotional products for next year! Send them to the promo grocery store while they’re hungry!

#2-Organization…If they order now, they’ll be set for fall with one less thing to worry about! It’s imperative to have plenty of inventory in those campus bookstores because college kids love to spend money! And backpack giveaways are far more effective before school starts. Having promo products on hand while parents are present is always a bonus! Kids can’t buy much with their milk money but parents can always, “just write a check”! Back to school is the opportune time to have products available to add to those textbooks and activity cards fees. Order now to have products available for the check-writing season!

#3-Budget…Sometimes, there are funds remaining at the end of a school year that need to be spent. Items like pencils, pens, and notepads are timeless. Regardless of the school year, the school colors and school mascots tend to stay the same. School promotional products never go out of style! Use it (to buy promo) or lose it!

#4-Trendy…Those who order now will be a step ahead of the rest with the hottest trends. It’s best to be a leader, not a follower. If you wait to order back to school stuff at back to school time, it will be too late! If you want to be the first to be seen with the hottest trends, then you need to be the first to order them!

#5-Thoughtful…It’s always righteous to hand out promotional items as welcome back gifts at registration, especially when kids are transitioning to a new school or college. And as a measure of good faith, several businesses provide backpacks and school supplies to students in their local communities every year. If they order now, they can GET THEIR BRAND ON their good gestures!

We might not be in the midst of school days, but we should be promoting the school craze!

Memorial Day Weekend: Time to Get Summer Trendy

 

It’s the weekend where pools all across the Midwest are re-opening and white jeans are once again socially acceptable. A weekend where blueberries and raspberries will be in high demand, as they make the perfect pairing for decorating an all-American cake. And the fake flowers lining the shelves of superstores across America will be replaced with sunscreen and S’mores ingredients within the next few days. If you haven’t thought about it already, the countdown is on to jump on the summer bandwagon!

With Memorial Day weekend being the unofficial kickoff to summer, it’s time to talk about what’s summer trendy. You might be surprised to learn that it’s a good balance of old, new, environmentally friendly, and beautifying.

Let’s start with the old. Some old is actually modish.

We’ve heard the saying a thousand times…”Everything old is new again.” It never disappoints.

Plaid has made a comeback.  And it’s not just for winter flannel anymore either. We’re seeing it on summer swimsuits, umbrellas, and yes…men’s shorts!

Fanny packs. Why not? They were always practical, especially for those summer trips to amusement parks and campgrounds.

Modish promo: socks, towels, fanny packs, umbrellas, hats

It comes as no surprise that what’s new is also contemporary.

We thought the cell phone had replaced the watch, but we were wrong. The watch has replaced the personal trainer. Watches and fitness trackers are super trendy, especially for beach body calorie counting.

Travel gadgets are a summertime must and there are more options than ever before when it comes to tech products and convenience! Portable charges are great for any season, but we’re all a little more unplugged in the summer. With the days being longer and summer activities taking us closer to sunshine, beaches, and baseball games, we’re further away from outlets so we NEED travel gadgets to stay connected.

Contemporary promotional products: activity tracker wristbands, flashlights, wireless chargers, Bluetooth speakers

Environmentally friendly and earthy=chic.

Hopefully, this green state of mind is here to stay and not just a trend. Individuals and companies alike are making an effort to be more earth-conscious and socially responsible. We like to both give and receive items that can save the earth, and we like to be seen doing it too.

Any articles that replace items that might end up in the sea are sure to be a hit this summer! We’ll see more people carrying reusable bottles and tumblers on their hikes and fewer plastic water bottles. Far more suburbanites will be shopping with reusable tote bags at their farmers’ markets and organic grocery stores than ever before. And with cities all over the world banning plastic straws, there’s never been a better time to promote reusable items!

Raw wood items are extremely trendy. Whether it’s cutting boards made from reclaimed barnboards or engraved coasters made from driftwood, homes all over America are trending with raw wood pieces just in time for summer barbeques!

Environmentally chic promo:  reusable straws, water bottles, bags, cutting boards, coasters

Beautifying. Looking good is always à la mode.

A season full of class reunions, swimsuits, and weddings; there’s no denying that summer is the season to look our best.

Whether it’s the small stuff like fake nails and lash extensions or the bigger ticket items like ab machines and shapewear, it is always trendy to look good in the summer! And since we tend to travel lighter in the summer months, small personal care items are the perfect inexpensive giveaway.

À la mode promotional products: fitness wristbands, sunscreen, lip balm, yoga mats, fitness towels

So dust off the flip flops and clean off the koozies because this weekend is all about summer…and remembering our fallen heroes, of course! 

Blog by Sommer Kibbee
Strategic Communications Specialist, Vernon

 

 

 

Five Pillars for PPW Week

 

Promotional Products Work! Week is an industry-wide event dedicated to celebrating the power of promotional products and the value they create. This annual event serves as a cornerstone for recognizing the importance of working with promotional professionals while creating awareness for promotional products as a powerful and effective advertising and marketing medium. -PPAI

We help our customers celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, Nurses Week, and so many more! Now it’s OUR WEEK! Let’s use it to our advantage and reach the top of the promotional products industry by climbing these 5 pillars for PPW Week!

Day One PPAI recommends: host an open house, meet-and-greet or company tour.

Send an email or social media blast to your customers reminding them that it’s PPW week and how beneficial promo products are to the success of their business. Let your customers see the personal and approachable side of you! If you don’t have the space for an open house, consider posting a friendly video on social media or set up a meet and greet at a local coffee shop. This would be the perfect opportunity to have your customers update their contact information and assess their current needs.

Day Two PPAI recommends: advocate for the industry by speaking to colleges, clubs or business groups about promotional products industry careers or the power of promotional products.

Brag about how fun and rewarding it is to sell promotional products. Millennials love the idea of working from home, being their own boss, and making their own schedules. A career in promotional products just might be perfect for them! Throw out phrases like “eco-friendly”, “be the first to see the latest gadgets”, and “free samples” and you’ll be sure to pull someone in!

Definitely, touch on what a career in promotional products represents; we’re helping companies get their brand on, providing advertising, assisting them in building customer relationships, and saving the earth by replacing disposable products with reusable ones. Not to mention the fact that promotional products have been around for a long time and are definitely here to stay. There is job security in this career. With fewer and fewer print ads, companies NEED their promo products to work for them!

Use this week as a platform to educate people on the importance of green and environmentally friendly promotional products. Educate schools and universities on the benefits of providing their students with reusable, personalized water bottles and work with local stores to offer reusable shopping bags.

Day Three PPAI recommends: designate a day of service to support a local charity or cause.

Donate extra samples or misprinted items to your local thrift store, elementary school, or shelter. Advertise that you will donate a portion of every sale to a charity, foundation, or local cause for a specified amount of time. Organize a walk or fundraiser and invite your customers to wear their favorite promo shirt or even better yet, provide some…or provide the reusable, branded water bottles! Be sure to photograph and share your good efforts! You can never get enough positive PR!

Day Four PPAI recommends: share the industry’s impact on the economy with legislators, politicians, and government officials—this day coincides with PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The promotional products industry relies on global supply chains. Although most promotional products are manufactured overseas, once in the U.S., these products are decorated by U.S. workers. They are sold by U.S. workers. They are used to promote U.S. goods and services.

Global value chains operate more broadly than supply chains. Global value chains encompass the full range of activities that firms and workers are involved in to bring a product or service from its conception to its end use and beyond. The shift among many globally competitive companies to focus on core competencies and outsource other activities has led to the creation of global value chains that cross professional and national boundaries.

The promotional products industry contributes significant economic benefit throughout the U.S. economy. In doing so, this industry also contributes to a vibrant and diverse eco-system of international coalitions that serve the United States well.

Write your member of Congress to educate them about the benefits of global value chains.-PPAI
Learn more here: https://www.ppai.org/advocacy/legislative-action-watch/

Day Five PPAI recommends: partner with industry suppliers and regional associations and host a customer appreciation day.

Customers love to feel appreciated.  Whether it’s an email, a Facebook post, or a small gift. A little token of appreciation can go a long way. Let your customers know how much you appreciate their business. After all, your business can’t be successful without the success of their business!

Blog by
Sommer Kibbee
Strategic Communications Specialist, Vernon

 

A Day Without Trees

Arbor Day originated in the Great Plains when J. Sterling Morton (1832-1902) and his wife Caroline Joy French moved in 1854 from Michigan to the newly formed Nebraska Territory, a land devoid of trees. He endeavored to encourage tree-planting to improve the environment and beautify the landscape to attract settlers to the area, which became a state in 1867. He carried out his work through a succession of literary, agricultural, and political positions and activities, initially as editor of Nebraska City News.
In 1872 on April 10, his idea to set aside a day for planting and calling attention to trees became the first Arbor Day, when it is said that Nebraskans planted one million trees. The birthplace of Arbor Day was Nebraska City, where the Mortons lived in their home called Arbor Lodge. In 1885, Nebraska declared J. Sterling Morton’s birthday, April 22, as Arbor Day. Eventually, J. Sterling Morton served as U. S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland from 1893 to 1897.
Today, all 50 states, as well as many countries around the world, recognize Arbor Day in some manner. The day of its observance varies, depending on the best time of year to plant trees in each locale. In Illinois, Arbor Day is the last Friday of April.
Through the Morton family, The Morton Arboretum has a direct link to the origin of Arbor Day. J. Sterling’s son Joy (1855-1934) established The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, in 1922, continuing the family legacy to plant trees.   Source: www.mortonarb.org

  Our 2 cents worth!

With an emphasis on going green these days, we’re all well aware of the fact that we need to recycle paper and cardboard; “Save a Tree”. But recycling isn’t enough, we need to plant more trees. Since the beginning, trees have furnished us with two of life’s essentials; food and oxygen. Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles. Trees contribute more to our daily lives than you might think!

 

 

Environmental Value

Trees contribute to our environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” By maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide, trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect. Trees, shrubs, and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Roots hold soil in place, fight erosion, and store rainwater which reduces runoff and sediment deposit after storms. This helps prevent the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding.

Leaves play an important role too! Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches the soil and many animals eat leaves for nourishment.  And the same fruits and berries that we enjoy, are also loved by many birds and other animals, which helps disperse seeds over great distances. Of course, hundreds of living creatures call trees their home.

Commercial Value

There are obvious products from trees that we use in our daily lives (paper and wood-based) but the number of wood byproducts that we use on a daily basis, just might blow your mind! Did you know that in addition to paper, cardboard, and egg cartons, paper pulp is also used for building insulation, blankets, and diapers?

Could you go a day without deodorant, perfume, plastic, toothpaste, and tape? How about shampoo and shaving cream? All of these items are made from chemicals derived from tree byproducts. Even common drugs such as Aspirin and Taxol (cancer drug) contain tree byproducts.

Cellulose fibers from trees are used to make chewing gum, rubber, rayon clothing, cellophane, adhesives, luggage, and photographic film. Who knew?

Just think of all of the food that comes from trees! Would we even want to live in a world without chocolate or almonds or cashews? How about coffee, tea, or cola? And what would Sunday brunch be without maple syrup or fruit?!?

Fun Facts about Trees

The Oak Tree is our national tree.

Thirty-six countries worldwide participate in Arbor Day.

Buildings surrounded by shade trees can save 20-50% on heating and cooling costs.

A mature tree can add between $1000 and $10,000 of value to a home appraisal.

Office workers with a view of trees report significantly less stress and more satisfaction.

Neighborhoods with more trees have less crime.

More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.

89% of Maine is covered in trees.

Alaska is the state with the most trees.

Trees as old as 5000 years old still stand tall in the California forests.

The largest tree in the world is a giant sequoia named General Sherman in California’s Sequoia National Park. It’s a whopping 52,500 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters).

The National Arbor Foundation (formed in 1972) distributes some 10 million trees each year and works with the National Forest Service to rebuild our forests. The group’s donations have funded the planting of more than 20 million trees since 1990.

 If you wouldn’t want to go a day without washing your hair, using deodorant, brushing your teeth, sitting at a desk, writing on paper, drinking coffee, chewing gum, wearing sneakers, eating fruit, and oh yeah….breathing air…then you should probably plant a tree today!  

Learn more about Arbor Day at www.arborday.org

Blog post by Sommer Kibbee, Strategic Communications Specialist, Vernon

 

 

 

 

 

A Picture is Worth…A Thousand Sales?

A picture is worth a thousand words; but could it also be worth a thousand likes? What about a thousand sales? Not long ago first impressions were made by a friendly phone call or a personal visit complete with a smile and a handshake. But today, first impressions are often left to a social media connection or even worse…no social media connection at all.

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43 percent of employers use social media to check on current employees. And for those of you who are NOT on social media at all, you’re NOT doing yourselves any favors. Studies show that if a person can’t be googled or social media stalked in cyberspace, then they cease to even exist to Millennials.  This is fine if you work in a behind the scenes position that you’re planning to retire from but if you’re career searching or in sales, and you want people to find you approachable, confident, and friendly, then you definitely need to be “social” and you can start with your social media profile picture.

Your profile picture is key to your personal brand and online networking. It has an impact on your job opportunities and ultimately, your career. It should represent you as you would represent yourself in a first interview or business meeting, your first opportunity to make your first impression.

Show YOUR face. Don’t show a cartoon or your favorite dog breed. If you wouldn’t send Betty Boop to your job interview on your behalf, then she shouldn’t represent you in your profile picture. YOU represent YOU. And make eye contact with the camera like you would make eye contact with a client. People want to see if you’re confident and professional, so post YOUR face.

Frame yourself. Make your face front and center. Not too far away, not half of your face, not from ten feet away, and definitely not awkwardly close. You’re not going to be trusted to make well-centered decisions on behalf of your customers if you can’t even center yourself!

Smile. At least a little. If you would smile at an interview, then you should smile in your photo. Looking stern and unapproachable won’t land you any followers, friends, or sales.

Dress the part. If you’re a salesperson, dress like one. Although done correctly, very little of your attire would even make the cut, it’s still important. Unless you’re auditioning for Baywatch, spaghetti straps are a NO! The same goes for too many accessories and too much makeup. If you wouldn’t put a hibiscus flower in your hair for an interview, then it shouldn’t be in your profile photo. And leave the hats to the cowboys and bakers.

Background. Because you ARE being judged by your picture, you probably shouldn’t have a local sports bar in the background. Not that there’s anything wrong with frequenting a sports bar, but do you really want a neon beer sign to represent what you’re about? Choose a simple background that doesn’t steal attention from YOU.

Get your brand on, subtly. Especially if you’re in sales. Wear brand colors or a shirt or tie bar sporting your company logo. Let potential clients know that you stand behind the company you represent. Do not wear clothing with any other writing, logos, or busy patterns. Leave those selfies for weekend posts, not profile pictures.

Consistency. Use the same profile picture for all of your professional social media accounts. This makes you much easier to find, especially if you have a common name. Leave the photo with the grandkids and labradoodle for your personal pages.

Quality. Don’t use a grainy, low-resolution photo. If you won’t take the time to post a quality photo of yourself, then how can customers or employers trust that you will take the time to do quality work for them?

If you want people to take you seriously, then you need to take yourself seriously. Paying a bit of attention to your personal brand (YOU) is worth the time and effort.

 

Diversify Your Business

April is Celebrate Diversity Month, which was started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us. It’s an annual reminder to take a look around and appreciate not just the differences in our skin tones, hair color, and cultures; but in our likes and dislikes, our passions, hobbies, career choices, and more. We make an effort to be open-minded to the diversity around us that we don’t have control over (like terrible background music or your co-worker’s fragrance choice), but what about the diversity that’s within our control, the choices we can make? Sometimes, we need to take a good look at diversifying our own lives and businesses. Just as it’s not healthy to eat the same foods all day every day, it’s not healthy for our business to have all of its eggs in one basket!

We’re living in a fast-paced society where clients expect instant gratification and relevance is oftentimes determined by technology. Ten years ago, a career in print advertising seemed to be as secure as any, but today, that print ad has more than likely been replaced by a social media post. And cell phones are replacing cameras in the same way the video killed the radio star in the ’80s. We need to diversify our markets, clients, products, and services before everything we’re comfortable with becomes uncomfortably irrelevant.

Diversify your market:

If the majority of your current marketing is geared towards the agricultural industry, and that industry gets hit with centennial flooding, there’s a good chance that budgets for promotional co-op pens and caps might come to a screeching halt. You might want to mix it up a little bit and market to industries outside of your comfort zone. What’s trending and relevant? Try marketing to “green” companies or techies. Or companies that deliver boxes of beautifully packaged products to doorsteps of busy Americans on the regular.

Diversify your clients:

Not only is it important to diversify your clients by industry, but also by geography and size. It’s not uncommon for an entire community to suffer the effects of a natural disaster or the closing of one large company. Don’t keep all of your business in one zip code, there’s a whole world out there! It’s equally important to have clients at both big and small businesses. Big businesses might have big orders but if that big business has bad publicity, it could easily translate to big losses. Keep a good balance of large and small businesses on your books. Those small business owners are known to share business cards with other consumers, and they just might become a big business one day!

Diversify your products:

Always being aware of the “next best thing” is crucial. Don’t keep selling more of the same just because it’s easier. Research can shut a product down with one press release. What’s safe to drink out of one day, might be deemed hazardous to our health the next. It’s okay to continue selling products that your customers like and want, but always have new and fresh ideas in your back pocket that you can present to them as needed, and be educated on those products.

Diversify your services:

We must be open-minded to changing our services as our customers change their wants and needs. You might look forward to quarterly phone calls and hand delivering that seasonal catalog to your best customers every spring, but you also need to be open to the idea of online shopping, email campaigns, and social media blasts. Traditional (old school) selling is very personal, it’s also what was expected and made sales for many decades, but don’t be so old school that you seem dated to your clients. Let it be known that you are also internet savvy and capable of diversifying your methods of service to fit their needs.

Let all of those cute springtime baskets of pastel eggs be a friendly reminder to be open to change, expand your horizon, and diversify!

Blog post by Sommer Kibbee
Strategic Communications Specialist, The Vernon Company

It’s Time to Spring Clean Your Business

As tax season comes to a close, and the snow melts to reveal signs of life, we tend to get spring fever. We start planning to deep clean the house, fertilize the lawn, and move our sweaters to the basement to make way for shorts and swimsuits. If we spend the spring season cleaning our homes and tidying our lawns, we’ll have more time for summer barbeques and pool parties. Wouldn’t it feel good to start the summer months with a clean desk and laptop too? If we set aside some time for cleaning our businesses each spring, then we just might set ourselves up for a guilt-free summer of extended lunches, working from our backyards, and leaving the office early to catch summer baseball games. Here are 10 ways to spring clean your business now so you have more time to enjoy summer later.

1.SURVEY

Start the season by surveying your customers and/or employees. Of course, you have to be open to receiving constructive criticism, but you can’t fix yourself or your business if you don’t know it’s broken. Keep the surveys simple so the answers lead towards organizational solutions. For example, ask your clients if they prefer your email blasts or your monthly mailings. You might be able to eliminate one or the other, cleaning up your schedule. Ask your employees if they see any room for organizational improvement. They might all agree that a community wipe board would be helpful for organizing duties in place of the never-ending group email thread. Besides, when people feel like their opinions matter, they feel valuable to you.

  1. DEEP CLEAN YOUR BOOKS

If tax time gave you a headache, then maybe it’s time to give your accounting practices a good cleaning! Set yourself and your business up for success by taking a look at which folders and files are still relevant, which ones need to be sub-divided, and which can be combined or eliminated. Make folders ahead of time for the entire year and set aside a couple of hours a month to sort that enormous stack of invoices, receipts, and bank statements.

  1. SPIFF UP YOUR WEBSITE

If you surveyed your customers, and the majority agreed that your website would be more user-friendly if you re-categorized it, then take some time to actually re-categorize it. Everyone will appreciate that you took their advice to make the change and in most cases, a well-designed, user-friendly website has more traffic which means more sales.

  1. MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR SALES OPPORTUNITIES

Make a calendar with all of the year’s holidays and observances. And don’t forget the all-important National Nurses Day and National Pizza Pie Day! Those days might not mean much to you, but if they start landing you sales at the local hospital and pizzeria, then they just might! In order to be everyone’s holiday hero, you’ll need to be proactive. Approach the businesses far in advance, to give them plenty of time to order promotional products in time to honor and celebrate their quirky observances. Since most people don’t think to recognize these days until they hear them on the radio the day of, you’ll be their Superstar Salesperson who’s always ahead of the game, and looking out for their best interest.

  1. GET RID OF ALL THAT PAPER

Tax time is a perfect time to purge since most of us have already taken the information on all that paper and put it into some sort of spreadsheet for Uncle Sam. So unless it’s a certified copy, scan it, toss it, or both!  Do you really need to keep last May’s phone bill? If your phone’s still ringing, then they’ve probably received the payment. Recycle that phone bill into paper straws and save some seals already!

  1. CLEAN OUT YOUR EMAIL AND CONTACT LISTS

Categorize your emails by contacts, subjects, or even dates. It will be far less stressful to start the day off looking at 20 emails instead of 988! And while you’re sorting emails, sort and clean out your contacts. You don’t necessarily need to delete contacts, but you do need to keep them organized and up to date. It’s so simple to drag and drop and sync and delete these days.  Don’t procrastinate. Clean it up! You’ll be glad you did when you’re trying to do business from your boat this summer and the contact you need is actually available in your phone or laptop and not on a piece of paper on your desk.

  1. UNSUBSCRIBE

If you’re absolutely bombarded with junk emails about subscriptions and deals of the day, then take 10 minutes to unsubscribe!  That will save at least 5 minutes a day of deleting them. It will also eliminate the annoying little alert chimes that you receive on your phone all day long, and in the middle of the night too!

  1. FRESHEN UP DOCUMENTS

Take a look at the documents you use most frequently and get them updated, then keep them updated! Make it a monthly goal to update documents. And while you’re at it, does the same outdated document live on your desktop as well as multiple files? Update one, include the date in the file name and save it one location that makes sense. Delete the rest! Whether you’re old school and keeping paper copies in a filing cabinet, or tech savvy and keeping everything on a cloud or a hard drive, clean it up!

  1. REVIEW EXPENSES

If you’re spending money on a landline that you don’t even know the phone number to, and you’re paying for magazine subscriptions that land in the recycling bin before they land on your desk, then it’s time to eliminate those monthly expenses. Are you paying for cable at the office to keep informed of national news that you end up watching on your laptop? Are your utility bills out of control because you’re paying to heat and cool office furniture when you’re not there?  Maybe it’s time to invest in a programmable thermostat. This small investment could save you hundreds of dollars in unnecessary utility bills over just a couple of years.

10. ORGANIZE THOSE PASSWORDS

If you have literally 10 post-it notes staring at you right now that are covered in password chicken scratch, then it’s time to give your passwords some attention. Whether you purchase a password book, put them in your phone, or start an excel spreadsheet, it will save you time to have them all together and organized in one central location. After all, you just might need those usernames and logins when you’re working poolside this July!

Just as we allocate time to keep our houses maintained between spring cleanings, it’s important to keep our businesses organized between tax filings. Sticky notes were designed to be temporary. If we have passwords, contacts, and reminders blanketing our desks, it’s time to take them down! Blanket season is over people! It’s time to spring clean

blog post by Sommer Kibbee-Strategic Communications Specialist, Vernon