Categories for The Economy

Cutting Promotional Products: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

June 4, 2015 7:59 am Published by

79635_pennywise_lgIt’s an old expression that’s a perfect fit for what happens when companies set about cutting expenses without thinking about the harm they do to themselves in the process.
The first place cost cutters turn when looking to cut expenses is marketing, rooting around for savings by eliminating products that on the surface can be judged frivolous. Give aways, magnets, pens, mugs are all easy targets — giving anything away (imprinted or not) when money is tight seems wrong. Yet these hardworking items have a lower cost per impression than other ways of getting your message out. Things like newspapers, TV and radio spots.
Many companies, schools and non profits know how effective promotional products are. Politicians know it too, though they sometimes (most recently in Oklahoma) pretend they don’t. Whenever you hear such foolish talk, think about this. If promotional products were not affordable and effective ways to build awareness, to get a message out, would politicians be using these items themselves to win elections? Probably not.

Spring Brings Good News For Small Business

April 4, 2012 3:18 pm Published by

Falling nicely in line with the arrival of spring sunshine, fine weather and blooming flowers… some welcome economic news. An announcement that small business confidence rose in the first quarter of 2012 to 105.1 from 98.8 at the end of 2011. Not a big leap mind you, but the sort of thing that gets people talking… and hoping.
Highlights of the survey of small business chief executives, (more…)

Back To School Promos More Valuable Than Ever

August 15, 2011 1:51 pm Published by

Hard to imagine it’s already ‘back to school” time, but the summer days keep on slipping by faster than we’d like, leaving us no choice but to submit to the inevitable. Another school year. Summer, it seems, always goes too fast.
We’ve all heard what a huge selling season back to school time is, second only to the holidays for retailers. With the economy wobbling along, The National Retail Federation is forecasting an increase in sales of 2.5% over last year, but spending per family is expected to go down. Many are making due with that backpack (or lunchbox) from last year, 43.7% saying they are spending less in general because of the economy.
No surprise there.

Open Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown

February 28, 2011 5:46 pm Published by


Dear Governor Brown,

Last week, in an attempt to ease California’s budget deficit, you ordered state agencies to stop using promotional products to as a means to market their programs and services.  I was born in California and lived there for 25 years – I certainly understand the mess the state is in.  What I don’t understand is why you chose to ban one form of marketing but not others.  I don’t understand why you specifically went after promotional products:


Call Them What You Will, Promotional Products Work

February 25, 2011 3:51 pm Published by

According to multiple reports including a recent Technorati piece, California Governor Jerry Brown referred to promotional products as “doodads and plastic gewgaws” and has forbidden state agencies from buying them, expecting to save his cash-strapped state somewhere between $7-$8 million over the next three years. He wants no more state money spent on items that make people feel good but in the end are probably unnecessary and likely to end up in landfills anyway.
Never mind that these items have successfully built awareness of public initiatives and environmental issues as well as to promote health and wellness. Forget too that promo products are far less likely to end up in a landfill than the brochures, posters and other printed pieces used as advertising by the state.
At least the Governor first invoked a hiring freeze on state jobs, cut back on cell phones for bureaucrats and halted the purchase of new vehicles for the state, so promo products fans can’t feel totally slighted.

Looking Ahead To 2010

December 28, 2009 11:34 am Published by

As we approach the final days of 2009, lists get lots of attention. Whether our own list of resolutions for the new year, or the “best of 09”, everyone seems to love making, and reading, those lists. I admit to a favorite from AdWeek2009’s Most Effective Ads. It’s no surprise that predictions for the year ahead also get lots of attention now, though I’m not sure how often anyone goes back to see if any of them panned out.
There are encouraging 2010 marketing predictions coming from Marketing magazine’s Matt Granfield, who seems to be the only one out there willing to check back on his predictions for last year before making some for 2010. His record was as good, or better, than anyone’s. My particular favorites from his latest crop of predictions include the death of the term “social media”, the continuing pressure to show the world what you’re doing to help the environment and how mobile technology is sure to be bigger than its ever been.

Truths About Marketing During A Recession

June 17, 2009 2:26 pm Published by

There are some things we just want to believe… weight loss can come without effort or willpower… politicians will keep election year promises… professional athletes play fair… money isn’t everything. Sure a part of us knows the truth… but the lie is just so… tempting. It could be true… we want it to be true.
So it’s probably no surprise that marketers have their own version of an oft-repeated “truth”, one that is readily accepted at face value and regularly repeated by experts. In a smart and intriguing online piece by Philadelphia-based marketer Christian Shea, the research-backed truth is given in it’s entirety…

“All the research shows that companies that spend on marketing during a recession come out ahead of the competition as the economy rebounds.”

Sounds good, right? Combine this statement with the stories of both Proctor & Gamble and Chevrolet during the Great Depression and you’ve got many business owners wondering about the wisdom of cutting those marketing budgets.
Only Shea won’t let us accept this statement so readily… using the online piece to (more…)

More On The Unique Strengths Of A Family Business

April 3, 2009 8:39 am Published by

Early last fall we ran a piece in this blog about why it’s good to be a family business. As the backbone of the American economy, family owned businesses enjoy some unique competitive advantages. A sense of quality and wholesome values… things that are solid, lasting, a name and reputation behind what they do, this is what the family owned business offers to customers and prospective ones.
Some examples of successful family owned businesses who hold onto their family roots include SC Johnson, E & J Gallo Wines and Columbia Sportswear.
An article by Cindy Krischer Goodman in the Miami Herald this week took an in-depth look at how family owned businesses are managing during these tough economic times. (more…)

What Business Can Expect In 2009

January 20, 2009 2:03 pm Published by


Only a few days into 2009 and business owners are facing the gloomy prospect of some pretty tough economic hurdles — slowed sales, tightened credit, rising costs of healthcare and other resources are just some of the challenges you’ll have to deal with this year. What to do? As a source of financial market and business news, CNN Money has come up with predictions on key issues that you’ll want to keep an eye on over the next twelve months.
Here’s a snapshot… if you don’t have time to go through the whole CNNMoney piece… (more…)

Black Friday's Not So Black Numbers

December 5, 2008 1:28 pm Published by


ONE MORE THING, this from online The Motley Fool, on what consumers did on Friday… and some insight into why. And one remarkably insightful quote:
Consumers simply decided that in the words of Brian Rogers, T. Rowe’s Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, “Statistically speaking, the world does not end that often.”
These guys are thinking it’s a good time to look for value.
UPATE 12/02: According to a fantastic piece on, The National Retail Federation (NRF) survey data says the number of shoppers either in stores or accessing online retailers, from Black Friday through Sunday, was up 17% (172 million shoppers) versus last year (147 million shoppers). The average amount spent was $372.57, up 7.2%. Clothes and electronics were big.
Retail sales during the holiday season account for 30% of a retailers business throughout the year — hence the name for the shopping day known as Black Friday. 
Sales on this year’s Black Friday, November 28, were up 3% nationally, to $10.6 billion, according to early figures released by ShopperTrak RCT Corp. The research firm tracks sales and traffic at over 50,000 stores and shopping centers.
UP? How can that be?
Lest we get too hopeful, ShopperTrack continues to forecast a “flat” November and December. (more…)