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Advantages University - The Skinny on Self Promotion
By Tonia Cook Kimbrough
January 2009

Fatten up your profits this year while slimming down the cold calls. This month’s university serves up some smart recipes for self promotion

Magnetic Magic

You can draw prospects to you by positioning yourself as an expert. Here are five magnetic methods for generating appeal:

1. Public speaking gives you authority. Contact your local chamber of commerce, business associations or industry trade show promoters and offer to present an informative seminar at an upcoming meeting or event.

2. Up your expertise credentials by being published in industry trade journals or association newsletters. Present yourself to the media for interviews or background information.

3. Build a presence on social/professional networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. This not only increases your contacts with other people, it puts your name out there more frequently on the Internet – very "Google" friendly.

4. Blog. Create a space on your Web page to post regular musings about promotional trends, new products and successful campaign tactics. Make it entertaining and useful to draw an audience and ultimately create customers. A great example is

5. Apply for awards and recognition – such as an ASI Spirit Award for Best Distributor Self Promotion – that you can then use to promote yourself as the best at what you do.

Beef Up On Business Cards

Make your business card a more effective self-promotional tool by giving recipients something they can really "sink their teeth" into.

• Print a coupon on the back of your business card: "Good for 10% discount on your first order."
• Write a personal note on a business card before handing it over to someone. Make the information helpful and of interest to the specific person to whom you’re giving the card.
• Give out more than one business card at a time. Ask recipients to pass the extras along to a colleague or acquaintance who might use your services as well. A referral incentive program makes this all the more effective.
• Turn a useful product into your card. There are many promotional items that become excellent business cards – nail files, pens, USB drives, magnets, etc.

Self-Promotion Event Whets Buyers’ Appetites

Every year, Exclusively Yours (asi/190830) hosts an Annual Preview Party during the holidays, promoted as an "exclusive" gathering for preferred customers. The event "hook" is homemade food. Regional fare – from tamales to barbeque – is prepped by employees and strategically positioned on tables by each of the suppliers that were invited to showcase promotional products. "Food is a big part of who we are so it is a natural extension to our clients. Serving good food to our friends is a very Southern tradition," says DeAnn Wells, president.

When she calls to make sure clients attend, her opening line is always something like, "I made your favorite pie. What time are you coming so that I can hide it until you arrive?" Fun invitations also go out with party details. "We have done puzzles, fold-up flyers, key lights, and, of course, gingerbread and cookies," Wells says.

As clients arrive, they are welcomed with goodie bags with samples from exhibitors and menus, then sent off to sample tasty treats and supplier presentations. Each vendor has a clipboard with a quote sheet on it to be completed with the client’s name, company and product of interest so that Exclusively Yours can follow up after the event. "About 10% of our annual business is placed to the vendors at the show in the two weeks following the party. About 25% of our total business comes the month after the party." Now that’s self promotion you can sink your teeth into!

"Do As I Say and As I Do!"

Use your self-promotional campaign to demonstrate just how effective imprinted products can be. For inspiration, go to to review the successful campaigns of past ASI Spirit Awards for Best Self Promotions. In 2008, Target Graphics Ltd. (asi/90549) won by using what it does best – an imprinted T-shirt – as the centerpiece of a trade show traffic-building self promotion. "I wanted a shirt to be remembered and worn on the show floor," says owner Tom Vann. And what better way to get people to wear it than by offering up a $100 cash prize?

The shirt featured the Target logo printed on the front of a plain black T-shirt to highlight the company’s new "leather ink" process, and a huge four-color-process $100 bill on the back, with text that read, "If we printed on paper, we’d be counterfeiters." Pre-show publicity and mailings teased, "Come to Target’s booth to get a shirt, wear the shirt during the show and be entered for a chance to win $100." The result: trade show leads more than doubled for Target over the previous year.

Other great ideas from past winners: an orange, brain-shaped stress reliever presented in a juice can as part of a "Creative Juice" self promotion by PromoShop (asi/300446); tying into something distinctive about a company identity, as Brand Fuel (asi/145025) has done with its annual Rocket Day events.

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