The Aggressive Sale Doesn’t Sell

Cold calling, and the younger, less effectual brother to it – cold emailing, are undoubtedly a part of selling and building a customer portfolio. They can’t all stop. But what needs to, and needs to maybe twelve emails ago, are the many, many, many phone calls (and subsequent voicemails) and the dozens of “follow-up” emails sent every 24 hours to merely gauge interest in Product X.

It doesn’t work, not for me. It must work sometimes, on someone, but after 3 neglected voicemails, no returned calls, no read-receipts, no replies, I daresay it’s time to consider me lost.

People have different means of finding the products and services they need. I make my team members identify 3 different options from research for every project we have, and we make a choice based on the visible reputation of the brand, quality, price, and user experience. Good recommendations and good previous experiences will 100% get my repeat business.

Where I don’t source new products and services? My inbox.

Email communication is one of those gifts of modern technology that is amazingly convenient, especially for those of us young enough to have bypassed the phone call era (read: calling me doesn’t work), but it comes at a bit of a cost:

  • Overcrowding: my inbox is full. I don’t do folders (my preference), and at any given moment, there are emails coming in, being flagged, being deleted, being sadly forgotten, and your sales email is just one among oh-so-many. Does it stand out? Better hope!
  • Reply All: To put it simply, there are more important emails than yours in my inbox than yours, and I have really got to get back to Megan who emailed me on MONDAY and did I ever reply to that one about that other thing? Hm…
  • Ain’t Nobody Got Time For This: It has been determined that the attention span that can be expected of a person while scrolling is about 6 seconds… for a video. Take the same physical process of scrolling in my all-white, text-based Outlook screen, and you’ve got me for maybe 0.005 seconds. If it’s just another form email with my name pasted in it (and not the first time from you), I’m just going to delete it. I’m sorry.

Emailing or calling more than three times is aggressive. I’m going to call it there. It becomes annoying, desperate, more meaningless with every communication, and just, yeah, aggressive. I’m not interested. Can’t you tell by my complete lack of communication? If I was really in the market for X, wouldn’t I bite?

Turns out I’m not the best candidate to give you advice on what to do instead – I call on one of my peers to take on that challenge, but if you are going to cold call or email me, here are some tips:

  • Be a real human being. Mail campaigns are great marketing materials, I would know, but make your copy convey your company voice accurately as a human – I don’t do business with robots.
  • Be funny or different. It really can’t hurt. A lot of people are playing from the same playbook. That just adds to my likelihood to delete.
  • Send good, relevant samples (not gifts). Samples are harder to throw away than an email, a voicemail, or a paper flyer. If they’re good, I’m likely to keep them to use somehow or even inquire about how to get more. Gifts I’ll keep or share with my team, but if it doesn’t actually represent your product, well, we’re just going to eat the Kringle and go on with our day.
  • Don’t go down the food chain. I’ve been privy to three instances in the last week of someone on one of our teams getting a sales email or call and needing to pass it up the food chain. Now, you’ve not only wasted my time, but that of my teams, too, and my time Aggressive.
  • If your prospective customer gives no signs of life, let them be. Please. Find more fertile waters. Best of luck to you.

Selling is a part of business, it’s a part of my business, but on the receiving end and as a marketing professional, I beg for this inbox harassment to cease!

I’m not buying the aggressive strategy.

Putting Out a Dumpster Fire

A dumpster fire is the perfect visual metaphor for when things go spectacularly wrong. It’s happened to me not a few times in my work life:

  • System outages preventing whole schools of students and educators from being able to do or access anything.
  • A new operating system that doesn’t allow users to operate.
  • A series of unfortunate events causing several essential personnel to be out at the same time.
  • The phones are down.
  • Or, in one case, an actual fire.

These are examples of situations, that when in them, you realize you are living through a dumpster fire.

The most important characteristic of your state of awareness, your view of the problem, is that amongst a lack of solutions, and impending fire, you aren’t panicking.  You are a bit beyond panic.  You realize that there isn’t a whole lot you can do.  It’s a weird feeling.

But what you can do, are these things:

  1. Don’t fan the flames. The worst thing anyone can do in a disastrous work scenario, where all seems to be going wrong, is to complain loudly, get others involved, and place blame. All these actions stoke the hot, hot flames, and that ultimately doesn’t help anyone.
  2. Be chill. Things are out of control, tempers are flaring, and the fire seems like it will never stop. The most helpful and ultimately resolving force in these situations are the individuals that keep calm and carry on, a beacon of rationality accepting the things we cannot control and helping everyone realize the world [probably] isn’t ending.
  3. Take notes. The thing about dumpster fires is you don’t see them coming. You don’t plan for all of the circumstances working against you—maybe one or two predictable worst-case scenarios—but a dumpster fire is something special, especially crappy. Take notes: what worked, what didn’t, what communications methods were best, who helped, who spread the fire, and how can you take this terrible situation and learn for next time?

No business, no industry, no life is safe from a periodic dumpster fire, sorry. So, should you suddenly find yourself having one of those days where it seems like the sky is falling and you are just watching it all numb to pain, (yeah, I had one recently, can you tell?) don’t worry, it’ll be okay if you understand that a dumpster fire is at least a controlled one, and you can be a force for good.

Is Your Team Performing or Storming?

When there’s a lack of harmony on a team, chances are everyone is aware of it on some level, even if it’s just a vague sense of something’s not quite right. It could be really bad, palpable even from a distance – there could be internal turmoil, talking behind colleagues’ backs (which is never as secret as you might think it is), unrest, and open unhappiness. Or maybe communication just isn’t as smooth as it could be. There are hurdles like not being able to or wanting to talk face to face, digital communication dwelling awkwardly in the mystery tone-zone (was that sarcastic? mean? too informal?), or the relationships are professional but not much more than that.

I’m on multiple teams, and right now, not one of them is in the sweet spot. It stinks. It feels discordant, unsafe, and in the case of the team I manage, it feels like failure.

The four stages of team development as explored by my favorite leadership development tool, Officevibe, identifies the journey teams make in the course of change.

The difficulty the teams I’m apart of have had is that change is almost a near constant part of our workflow. We adaptably respond to the company’s needs and alter teams where need be. Just when it looks like we’re getting to “Norming” or if we’re lucky, “Performing” we have a change or a blow that sets us back to “Storming”.

“Storming”, what can be interpreted as dysfunctional teamwork, includes negative attitudes, competition, and breakdowns in communication.

My teams are storming. (Hi, teams, I love you, please trust in me!)

On one team, I can see as clearly as the words on the page the causes of our storms – staffing changes, work-life balance obstacles, and as ever, our ongoing Sysophisian challenge of figuring out how to effectively communicate with one another. Things are getting done, people are doing their own thing, but there isn’t harmony.

On my other stormy team, there’s distrust, competitive leadership, uncertainty, and complex relationships. It’s also, at times, highly effective. It’s the type of stormy team that when the clouds clear, they can accomplish some beautiful things – it can’t rain all the time! But it’s spring in Wisconsin, so, yeah, it rains.

Are you a member or leader of a stormy team? What’s to be done?

  • Know it: I know it. I am a leader of and member of teams that are forming, growing, feeling the pressure, and are sometimes storming. The first step is to accept it.
  • Don’t do nothing: Inaction and compliance are the safe and easy ways to let dysfunction win the day on teams. As a manager, I need to own it and work with my team to get to norming and performing. As a team member, I need to hold my peers accountable and not be complicit in behavior that holds the team back.
  • Get uncomfortable: I’m a highly self-conscious, sensitive, new and inexperienced manager. I’m pretty uncomfortable all the time. But, knowing my team is storming, and in part storming because of my role, I need to put myself out there, hear things that will suck to hear, and adapt to meet the needs of my employees, meet our team’s objectives, and grow as a leader – this is also true in my peer group – one’s got to lead by example!

Easier said than done, right? I know it.

We all want happy, healthy, and high functioning teams – if any of those 3 things are off, it’s time to check in and see what you can do as a peer and leader to get your teams from storming to performing.

A Lot Can Happen in a Year

A year ago (tomorrow), was my last day at work before giving birth to my first child. I was planning on working from home the following week leading up to my due date, but I spent all of Memorial Day last year in the throes of contractions knowing I might not make it to that digital meeting Tuesday morning… I didn’t. I hung out in the hospital instead.

You know your life is going to change when you have a baby. I knew that. People tell you things. But it’s also one of those things you just have to experience for yourself, see how it changes you, your routines, your bank account, your work-life balance…

All of the things have changed. But what’s really exciting for me to keep in mind is how my work has changed in the year since I had my bub. Things changed in my day to day, coworkers left, coworkers joined, teams rearranged, responsibilities shifted and there is quite literally no end in sight to that change.

If you know exactly where you and your business will be in a year, do something unexpected. Or, I suppose, just wait for the unexpected to happen to you, soak it all in – the good and the bad – and show up every day ready for new and exciting changes and challenges.

This is a short article. This is a long weekend. Next week is a short week – surprise yourself. Do something out of routine. Shake things up at home or life. And enjoy every moment. It goes fast.


PS: I’ve been reflecting a lot lately, both about REMAN U –  its reach and effectiveness – and my own soon-to-be yearling. Slightly more than a year ago, I wrote my last REMAN U article before my baby-outage: My Last REMAN U (For Now). In that article, I was reflective about why we do REMAN U and why you should, too, (but your version!). This entire month I’ve been taking the time to write something every day – even if just a sentence, to honestly capture how I’m feeling and what’s happening around me. Do your version. And look at it a year from now. Then do it again!

You Are Reading, So Let’s Get Engaged.

So, you are reading. Let’s get engaged! No, not that kind, I’m taken!

Issue 407 will go down as one of my most successful pieces and one of the most engaged posts in REMAN U recent history. Maybe ever. I was highly encouraged, touched, and amused to hear the various ways REMAN U articles are read, appreciated, and shared amongst your friends, colleagues, and industry partners.

Here are a sampling of some of what REMAN U readers shared with me the last week:

“Good stuff, I don’t care you are – a trans guy, a clerk, a drive-thru worker, or a shop owner, manager, a builder, a lawyer… people are watching, show them what you can do…”


“Yes, I do read them and share many of them with my teams… Keep up the great work and thank you for keeping each one interesting!”


“I went to business administration school in the ’70’s and dropped out because they were intent on teaching me how to screw everyone. re: less for them means more for you.  Reading your Reman. U articles is really like going to college to learn the right way to run a business.”


“Still reading, most of the time! I’m not really in sales anymore, but I still like the content, and encourage others to sign up.  I like the small, easy to digest content that you provide.”


“I read the article every week, helps me in dealing with customers and co-workers, just as you all do. So please keep up the good work!”


“I enjoy the news every week. A former small business owner now semi-retired, I still love to hear new ideas on how to improve the way things are done. Your writers use good everyday examples to demonstrate this, too. I look forward to reading them.”

-Steve (AKA my dad. Hi, Dad!)

“Yes, I like the different topics you all talk about. Please keep moving forward I try and take away one thing from each topic and try to apply it each day. It’s hard to make change but it has to start somewhere and from someone why not you or me.”


“I am reading this!  I actually look forward to your weekly email because I usually learn something, it provides a shot of late week encouragement and I almost always share these with the team I work with.”


“Please do not dwell in the lonely place of frustration and defeat.  Be assured that you ARE being read…you ARE being heard…you ARE adding value…you ARE making an impact!”

-Lesa (Thanks, Lesa – you really encouraged me.)

“Sometimes the content seems silly. Like really? That’s just good common sense…why did they feel the need to write this?  But, I have learned that there are a whole lot of people in this world that lack this gene, so I get it.”

-Patty (No kidding, Patty)

“I always say, ‘If I can make an impact in one person’s life by doing a good deed, it was worth my time and effort’.”

Dios, don’t I know it. When I was studying to become a teacher, it was a lesson we learned – you’ll make a difference, if only in the life of one child. At the time I found that deeply discouraging (and I suppose I haven’t changed that much in a decade after all!), but it was true then and it’s true now.

It seems we make a difference each and every week. Thank you – all of you. To the dozens who sent out that email, you were a lifeline for this writer, editor, and publisher of REMAN U, and you’ve fueled me to keep on keeping on.

But it wouldn’t be a REMAN U article, or a blog for that matter, without ye ole call to action: engage.

Many of you stated how frequently you read, how you share them with your friends and coworkers, how they help you in your every day no matter what industry you’re in. Keep doing that. But, also, talk with us, to us, and to each other.

Comment, send an email, share. It helps us know what our readers are thinking, heck, we just like talking to you, and it also helps others get encouraged to participate and learn more about our topics. We are here for you—you proved that. So, let’s get engaged.


Are You Reading This?

Hi! You are reading this. How meta.

My name is Andee, The Rhythm of Reman, and I’ve been authoring, editing, and publishing for REMAN U for two and a half years now. We (read: I) send out an article every week, mostly on Thursdays. Our authors are all our own – people I work with every day, and people I bug at what must seem to them a near-constant clip for their articles so that I can, in fact, get those articles out to YOU.

But why? I know why REMAN U exists. Captain Reman has told me… and you. ETE REMAN, the company that runs REMAN U, is a really special place that has attracted some great minds – it’s a cool part of my job to share the business, customer service, sales, and attitude advice that many of us live by every day – so, we’re not selling you anything (unless you want a transmission)!

But are you there? Is our altruism truly that? Or just a platform for us to pontificate out to the great unknown? Or are we just writing to ourselves? Once upon a time in REMAN U land, long before my time, the articles got a lot of responses, engagement, even criticisms. But those times have come and gone. Every Thursday (mostly), I race the clock to harass a coworker for a completed article, get it up on the blog, format pictures and graphics, get it into email form, create more graphics, and hit send out to a solid and impressive list of subscribers… you… but do you get it? Do you read it? Does it mean anything?

Do you care? You might, but I don’t know that. I can see the percent of opens, the percent of clicks. It isn’t great. It isn’t commensurate with the amount of effort my team puts in every week to get it out to you and 6000 of your fellow subscribers. But watching the clock on my time before I have to get REMAN U out again this week, I can’t help but feel like I should give up. Would anyone notice?

As with all thankless tasks, most of the time I’m happy to comply and send out our great content, but every once in a while, like now, I feel frustrated and like this is a waste of my time. Maybe this is a personal failing. A defeat. It’s definitely a cry for help.

The “call to action” is a hallmark of the blog movement of the 2000’s, a time that maybe, somehow, has slipped away from us – it’s going to be 2020 next year after all. I’m going to try regardless:

  • Are you reading this?
  • Do we provide value?
  • Do you reflect, grow, improve your business as a result of reading our weekly thoughts?

If you do, please, use your [digital] voice and tell me so that I can keep on going… tide me over ‘til issue 500 at least.

Do you want different content? More relevant content to your work, your role? Let me know. I’m wrestling with these authors each week – they love when I give them topics. Let’s do this.

You’re A Poet: A Leadership Exercise

This morning at an off-site leadership training session, Captain Reman challenged his office managers and your loyal REMAN U writers to write a poem… about leadership… inspired by our natural surroundings at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Society.

In a fashion consistent with his character, he didn’t tell us why we were doing this activity, just that we should try and do it. In pairs, we walked the grounds thinking about words that resound with leadership, taking in the senses, and letting our setting inspire us.

Here are the results:

I hear you talking
I feel the words as if they are mine
The tools you speak of are slowly walking…
towards you closer because I hear
Your need for structure
The structure is – near

-The Duchess of Drivetrain and The King of Catalog


Once there was a boy
who could fill a room with joy
but when he was bad
nothing could stop the little lad.

Even though he drove his parents crazy
he could never be defined as lazy.
He was strong-willed
no matter how many times that fort wouldn’t build.

The boy is now a teen
and to all his friends they may lean.
Captain of the team, he’s leading the pack.
Never lets a small defeat put him on his back.
Determined to win, but never alone,
gives credit when it’s due, even though he’s the reason they grew.

So the boy is no longer a boy, but a man.
Looking back on all the struggles,
all the scolding for coloring outside the lines,
this man is doing just fine.

Grown from a stubborn child
the leader inside him was determine to develop.
Never once could he be described as mild.
Empathy, strength, fairness, and poise
Separates the leader from the boys. |

-The Siren of Support and The Sales Soignuer


The comfort that comes from a well-loved smell, that’s how I know I’m being led well.
A leader always gives the impression they know how to respond, not unlike the swimming duck upon the pond.
The importance of interests and motivation are important to find, a good leader acts with open ears and open mind.
Staying connected matters so much, a great leader makes efforts to stay in touch.
A leader who acts with abundant grace, acceptance and taste is always followed with noteworthy haste.

-ET-D2 and The Trans Detective


We did it ourselves
work completed they will say
leaders are best unseen
work complete the team will say
we did it ourselves.

-The Duchess of Drivetrain and The King of Catalog


Hello, worm
Breaking through spring’s chill to
face the challenge
Feeding the earth around you
Climbing up to regenerate

Hello, turkey
Crossing our path on your way
to hunt budding ideas
Reflecting in the water of
the Teal Pond

Hello, children
Being taught and teaching with
wonder and curiosity
Togetherness toward a
brighter day

-The Market McGuyver and The Rhythm of Reman


You can do it from the front
You can do it from the back
But you have to do it.

No, it will not be done to you,
Or for you, with or without you,

It won’t happen on its own
If not you, then who?

You have to do it.

You won’t sleep at night

Like the others.
You won’t rest when they do.
You won’t let things slide.
You won’t be thanked, likely not recognized,
You might not be paid,
You will be scrutinized.

But you’ll have done something big,
You’ll do it all the time,
When you choose to lead,
You’ll have done a great deed
For those who choose to follow.

-Captain Reman


Cheesy? Yes. Uncomfortable? Totally. Without merit? Not at all. The lesson here was to get uncomfortable, get creative, and make original and inspired observations about leadership. It’s an activity anyone can do, and they aren’t bad, huh?


Keep Your Customer Service Hot

A couple of weeks ago, my furnace kicked off sometime in the middle of the night. In the morning, it was cold. Really cold. And I have a baby. We solicited the advice of friends and family, tried those little tricks you should try, and then began the calls to see how soon someone could get to our house to help a stressed family out.

This story has a happy ending. I have heat. It’s nice – I’m grateful. But it took a lot of phone calls, several different companies and visits, and far too long for a furnace to once again warm our home.

I repeat: I have a baby. The baby in question had just turned 9 months old – still very much in infant status, and while lots about being a new parent is hard, getting good service as a result of it is not usually one of those things. When there’s a baby in the home, a baby stranded, a baby sick, you make it work, you stay late, you speed out, you do all the things you need to do for the most vulnerable. Maybe it’s an unspoken rule, but I speak it!

I speak it because I brought a cold baby to work with me that morning while waiting for our furnace to be fixed or replaced. I was disheveled and stressed but warm. So was he. He stayed for the first half of the day until our furnace was once again working.

The first company we called with a stellar reputation and high reviews on Google couldn’t make it work that morning. Nope.

The next company had come out right away to help us – they were old family business friends and came recommended from a source made of pure gold.

By the time I got the baby home toward the end of reasonable lunch hours and was ready to go back to work, the furnace was once again not working. It was Wednesday. When we called back, the gentlemen said to relax and cook a frozen pizza in the meantime – they’d be back on Friday.

I don’t love being the person on the phone. I’m pretty easy to deal with (read: manipulated) and tend to hang up thinking I received good service when I hadn’t. This time I called, emphasized the fact that it was unacceptable for my baby to live in a home without heat for a full day, and asked kindly, firmly, sternly, when they could actually come back. He said he’d see what he could do. We had the start of a contract, a quote we weren’t comfortable with, and an unknown timeframe.

We called someone else. We called a guy, Chris, who came recommended to us by a colleague of mine via text that morning – just Chris – no company. When we spoke to Chris on the phone, he immediately walked back the amount we had been planning on spending and said he’d be there with a new unit that night.

He came, he stayed late, our dogs barked at him, our baby sat in the crispy waves of a space heater, and eventually, heat. He even came back in the morning to make sure things were just right.

This isn’t a lesson about calling the right company or individual the first time. All 3 could have done a great job for us. This isn’t about asking for special treatment because we have a baby. Whether it’s a vehicle owner without a transmission or a family without heat, it’s a crisis, and being empathetic, timely, and if you can’t be timely, communicative (and not condescending – a frozen pizza, really?), that makes the difference between a bad experience, a bad review, and what will always be a comeback. Like transmissions, I hope my furnace will last a long time, but if something happens with it next year, you can bet I’ll call Chris again.

What do you to do keep a customer?


Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire

“Slow to hire, quick to fire” is one of the countless philosophies on how to staff a business.  As much as we have an official hiring policy here, it’s at the very least to hire slowly. Every candidate goes through a series of interviews with a variety of staff members, tours the office space, and is evaluated from not only a technical, position-related perspective, but many put their heads together to determine if an individual is, as importantly, a culture-fit. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months for the right candidate to find us, walk through our doors, meet our people, and then woo and be wooed by us.

We should all go into new hires like a young relationship: there should be optimism, excitement, and a little bit of professional infatuation. If you aren’t head over heels for your candidate, why hire them?

A new hire is an investment. Not only do they cost actual money to pay and insure, but there is an investment in time in the hiring process, training, and a potential loss of productivity during this onboarding period. If the hire doesn’t work out, that money and time is a bust investment. And then you have to start over. Hence, if you are going to go through the effort of hiring and it turns out not to be a good fit, better to lick your wounds and recover fast so it doesn’t cost you and your business more time and money for a hire that you think you might replace eventually.

Every hire is a gamble. And much like most gambling outcomes I’ve observed from afar, when you win, it’s awesome. But you sure can lose a lot.

I just lost.

Firing fast is a harsh reality. I care about the people I take onto my team. And because we hire slow, I’ve already invested a lot of time into choosing a person, training them, and believing they are the best for the role and that it’s going to work out. But then it doesn’t.

It takes some people a lifetime to learn they’re in a bad or toxic relationship. I am not one of those people. Hiring is a feeling. And when the feeling turns sour, it very rarely recovers. Why spend more time, more of your prime years in a relationship that doesn’t feel good? All relationships start sweet – that doesn’t mean they stay that way.

Fire fast because:

  • The “damage” has been done. I can’t divorce the emotional and financial impact that has been dealt already. How much more should I take?
  • I have a bad feeling. And once that seed is planted and takes root, I find myself watering it on a daily basis with every task, every interaction. It’s an unhappy plant.
  • We’ll be okay. I got along before that person was hired, I’ll find a way, and you know what? So will they. If it wasn’t a good fit, it wasn’t leading to the best possible place for that hire either.

Sometimes I haven’t fired fast. Sometimes I’ve really waited, trained, given chances, retrained, and exhausted myself and everyone else in the hopes that it would work out, that it would become a good fit, that the feeling would recover. In that scenario, the feeling was bad for far longer, I continued to invest time and money in the hire, and the productivity wasn’t there. I don’t see how that benefitted anyone in the [work] relationship.

Firing is a miserable management responsibility. Having recently fired fast, I spent the rest of the day and night, and next day… in a tailspin. Was it right? What does this mean for me and my workload? Are they okay? What will they do financially because of this? It’s a bad feeling. But so was working with this person. So, ultimately, I know this policy of hiring slow and firing fast is the way to make the best choices for my team and my company, but none of it is easy.

What’s your hiring – and firing – policy?

If You Like It Put Your Brand On It

Our name is on a lot of stuff: stickers, hats, shirts, lanyards, and of course, pens. It’s also on some pretty niche stuff: Klement’s beef snack sticks (“Nice to Meat You”), VIN decoding mousepads, beer mugs, bobbleheads… and we come up with new, interesting stuff to brand all the time, partly because our favorite customers, vendors, and even our own employees really like cool, new stuff. Who doesn’t?

Sometimes I send my weight in swag equaling hundreds of pieces and thousands of dollars to shows and customers. As our trade show crew is out exhibiting the rest of this month, I consider the items we give away to attendees and customers: is it worth it?

  • Is it useful? (No, really.) USB drives, laser pointers, stress balls, grocery bags – you have them, I have them, and like me, you’ve probably thrown most of them away. While categorically useful in nature, not all promotional items end up being actually used… ever.
  • Is it relevant? USB drives, laser pointers, stress balls, grocery bags: all these things have something in common: they have absolutely no relevance to any industry. Sure, you can look at and store data and files on a USB, you can point your laser, and we all experience stress in remembering to bring our branded grocery bags to the store, but they are in their very nature generic and meant to be easy items that “everyone will like”. That’s not likely and, unfortunately, categorizes stuff as junk.
  • Is it a keeper? Do I keep it, wash it, use it again? Do I go looking for it at the next event? Do I ask the vendor to send me another? Do I refer to that thing, not as the object but as the BRAND NAME HERE item? That’s how you know something is special. While, yes, these items are sometimes the pricier of promotional options, they are legitimately worth their weight.

Promotional branding is an adaptive industry – the classics remain while new items, new technologies, and new trends allow for fresh stuff to arrive on the trade show floor, in your mail, or in your shop every day. To decide what to brand, I make sure it addresses two main concerns: Would I or my customer use it every day? Is it special?

What are some of my go-tos?

  • Pens: our shipment of pens was once about 12 hours late to a trade show event. We thought, it’ll be okay, everyone has pens, we have other stuff. Faulty logic. Everyone has pens because everyone should – pens are taken in our booth to be used. I bet you used a branded pen this week. Not only do they linger in pen cups across the country, they are quite simply used and are therefore effective.
  • Beverage Containers: cups, mugs, travel cups and mugs, even shot glasses – the worst possible version of these items still get used. I’ve probably lost a dozen to-go mugs in my life and that pain is a little less if it’s branded, because, we had a good run, me and that Brandmakers water bottle, and I got good use out of it. I’ll get another someday… The ones I really love that are good looking and functional? I’ll fight you for it.
  • Weird stuff: socks, tools, really good clothing items. People who don’t even really know what REMAN U is find us at trade shows for one of our super soft REMAN U shirts. They ask for other sizes for their husbands and wives. They’ll say to their colleagues, “I sleep in this all the time!” Can they have one, too? Of course. High quality and novelty value set this stuff and your brand apart. You can’t realistically give a branded pair of socks to everyone you meet, but for customers who need a boost, a new friend, or an employee who deserves recognition? Make their day.

As I go forward into a new year of events and customer needs, I think, yes some of our stuff is cool, some of it is used, and some of it, admittedly, is filler. What will our shop owners, installers, vendors use every day to remind them not only how cool we are, but how useful we are to their business, too?

What are some of your favorite promotional give-aways?