Archive for the ‘Business Relationships’ Category

Event Swag: What’s the Point

July
Swag - What's the Point

Really?

Can you list five synonyms for swag? No? Well, I’m happy to do it for you

swag

/swag/  Noun : loot, booty, spoil, prey and plunder

 

Shouldn’t the substance of a meeting be the main swag? Generally attendees pay hundreds of dollars to attend a conference with the goal of learning about new products, partners and best practices. So why hand out random “stuff” just because it has your name on it? Unless you are at a winter meeting in Seattle, why give umbrellas? And if your conference isn’t taking place at the beach or around a pool, why give flip flops and Frisbees?

 

So rather than offer a specific list of “swag” suggestions like those in the blog post that became the catalyst for mine, I would encourage readers to be more strategic in their choices by making sure that

  • Decoration and packaging should be expertly executed and reflect a thoughtful, thorough marketing process

Have a marketing dilemma or question? Feel free to call me or speak with any member of our experienced marketing team.

eSignature Solution – Not Just for the Big Guys

June

DocuSign Digital Document Signature

When I was first introduced to DocuSign and the concept of eSignature, I was genuinely intrigued. Almost immediately I began to think about how Trims might use this new service to its advantage. Ultimately, I decided that while DocuSign offered a big leap forward in our desire to achieve a paperless office, it really didn’t make sense for a “small business” like Trims. We don’t have many documents that require legal signatures nor do we process reams and reams of secure paper the way lawyers, real estate agents, and lenders do.   However, when DocuSign became a client and asked me to give their service a try, I was skeptical but hard pressed to say “no.” So with the stroke or two at the key board, Trims signed on and became a DocuSign customer.

You know how they say, “Hindsight is 20/20”?  We are now almost a year into our subscription, and I could not have been more wrong about the service’s relevance. We use it every time a credit card, phone order is placed. We use it with estimates and pro-forma invoices. We’ve even started using it with purchase orders that have so many moving parts, a signed acknowledgement makes sense for everyone involved. All of our DocuSign paperwork is conveniently stored in its entirety on our server, and the fact that documents are legally signed, adds an official stamp to each and every transaction. Though my evidence is anecdotal, I do believe customers and vendors, alike, take their order commitments more seriously when they are asked to sign on the dotted line.  As for me, because I am not the greatest file keeper, a service like this can often be a life saver. A recent case in point is when I was frantically looking for an executed contract: I literally left no stone unturned. Thankfully and serendipitously, while searching through my sent mail, I remembered that the year old document I was looking for was signed using DocuSign. I opened our history, and there it was just waiting to be found. “Sign me up”  is all I can say!

Read more about DocuSign’s eSignature solution from Forbes, Digital Journal, and Business Wire.

Gift “Rap”: Tips For Holiday Gifts 2012

October

Helpful Gifting Tips

2012 Holiday Gift Guide | Trims Unlimited

Gift giving in the corporate world is a tricky business under the best of circumstances. Add the holidays into the mix, and the process becomes even more challenging. Whether you are trying to strengthen an existing relationship, acknowledge a new one or just say thank you, Trims’ suggestion is to use your common sense and remember it is “better to be underdressed than overdressed.” Unless you have a specific request or special knowledge of a recipient’s wish list, understatement will most certainly win the day. But don’t confuse understatement with boring or cheap—it merely means  thoughtful selection and flawless execution should trump optics.

To this end, I offer the following suggestions for those planning to send holiday inspired gifts this season:

Do apply the “Kiss” rule to all gifts—aka “keep it simple, stupid”

  • Restrain yourself when ideas that are too cute, too seasonal or too personal come to mind
  • Try to select gifts that have staying power
  • Think “top of mind.” You want your gift to remain as a reminder of your thoughtfulness for as long as possible (one reason why we  skip gift cards).
  • Personalize items when applicable (initials & names)
  • Avoid gifts that are too personal (perfumes, make-up, grooming items, certain types of apparel)
  • Don’t give anything that requires the recipient to make a purchase to use it (i.e. batteries)
  • Skip the “potent potables” unless you know for a fact it won’t offend
  • If you are giving multiple gifts within a single office or across a company, consider gifts that are
    • Unisex , uniform and of equal value
    • Chosen by gender
    • Mindful of established hierarchies
    • Given to the entire office as a group
  • Remember the “Tiffany Blue Box.” Presentation can be as important as the gift itself
  • Keep your recipient list current (reassignments, promotions in addition to departures)
  • Check company policy regarding gifts in general and possible dollar amount restrictions
  • When giving  overseas, or to foreign companies based in the States, do your homework or hire a company that is well versed in cross cultural gifting

An appropriate gift is usually a welcome one. But when all is said and done, it’s how you conduct yourself throughout the year that really matters. If you are a valued partner, peer, supplier, staff member or service provider, the gift is nothing more than “icing on the cake.”

B2B: Are You a Winner or a Quitter?

September

 Lessons Learned in B2B | Trims Unlimited

I believe the principle of “never quitting” is the single most important factor in achieving success—both personally and in business.

Case in point:

Last fall our client asked us to participate in a vendor meeting to help plan for a large scale event the following spring. The stake holder was a publicly traded company and an important client. For two years running Trims had provided all of the amenities, speaker gifts, fulfillment services and conference gear for this 1000+ person meeting. However, with a new coordinator at the helm trying to get up to speed, we were primarily asked to bring examples of past selections and perhaps one or two ideas that would “WOW” the audience. Not knowing the budget or the theme, my team was at a loss as to what to suggest. The Trims’ executive managing the relationship felt that there was little we could offer without additional guidance. Wanting to let my manager manage, I decided not to override her decision though I had doubts about it being the right one. We arrived at the meeting with nothing new other than the hope of receiving direction.

Big mistake! We lost the business but learned a valuable lesson in the process. Rather than accept the status quo, I resolved to correct my error in judgment and get the business back by:

  • Staying in touch
  • Regaining our client’s trust with a willingness to take on any request regardless of size or budget
  • Insuring that my team always offered more information than less
  • Trusting my instincts and stepping in when an executive decision is warranted

Today we are back in our client’s good graces albeit a lot smarter and a much better b2b supplier!

Yammer Away – Business Solutions for our Social World

July

Why is Microsoft spending 1.2 billion dollars on Yammer to ramp up its social media capabilities?

The answer: So businesses can collaborate securely across “departments, geographies, content & business applications.”

What does this mean? The thing that caught our eye is that it would virtually eliminate intra-office email and would keep our small team up-to-speed on active projects without having to utilize a third stand-alone platform.

Yammer claims it works equally well whether a business “spans seven cubicles or seven continents.” We liked hearing this because we are closer to the seven cubicles and are SICK TO DEATH of email chains.

Anything else?  The other feature that we found intriguing is that Yammer allows the subscriber to connect and interact with external networks (vendors, clients and business partners) in a secure environment. We used to use a WIKI and then Google Docs for this. It would be great to find a suitable alternative that rolls intra and inter office communications into one nice, neat little ball.

What do the critics and pros say:

Eighty-five percent of the Fortune 500 is already using it. Inc. calls Yammer “one of the fastest growing enterprise software companies in history.”

With the acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft’s Office Division President, Kurt DelBene, hopes to “provide the most comprehensive and flexible solution for enterprise social networking” to date.

Venture Beat calls it “the smartest deal of the year.”

USA Today thinks the purchase may have “come too late.”

For now, the acquisition won’t have much effect on Yammer users. We guess time will tell if Microsoft missed the boat again or has bought into what will become, what Michael Lewis calls, “the next new, new thing.”  Stay tuned!

It’s All About Relationships

July

Business Relationships, Client RelationshipsRon Burley’s post on Inc.’s Customer Confidential  column got me thinking about the positive outcomes that can occur as a result of a single, fateful interaction.  I had an analogous situation arise in 1995.

Through a  serendipitous introduction, I met a newly minted Oracle executive that was moving to CA to take the helm of a marketing team in Redwood Shores. He was looking for a promotional products partner of a different sort: someone who would act as his point person in the marketplace and manage the creation of custom or fine quality branded items for executive attendees at his conferences. Given my experience on 7th Ave with retail brands, we hit it off right away. Over the next 5 years our two teams collaborated on some amazing bespoke products from marketplace leaders. Many items became exclusive, signature pieces for Oracle: Tumi, Faconnable, Baccarat, Mont Blanc, Moleskine and Sony were just a few of the companies we partnered with on Oracle’s behalf.

When the time came for him to move on, we went with him but also remained at Oracle. As his team began to move on, they also took us with them to companies as varied as Apple, SAP, Ariba, Adobe, BEA and back again to Oracle. This one connection is still paying dividends. Whoever coined the phrase “it’s all about relationships” certainly knew what he/she was talking about!