Why receptionists love our desk calendars

Reference desk calendars for reception countersYou know what we love? Seeing our products in action.

And—hands down—the one we see the most is our desk calendars, especially on reception counters or consultant or sales reps desks. If you aren’t familiar with our small logo calendars, here’s why they’re so popular:

Promotional calendars take up a small spot on your desk, but are highly practical reference calendars for your patients or customers.

It really is as simple as that. Whether you’ve just finished your dentist appointment, or are at village hall getting picking up a building permit, the seemingly vintage calendar design suddenly makes a lot of sense.

Not just for receptionists! Here’s why secretaries, sales reps, and consultants also appreciate desk calendars:

Let’s look at a few real-use examples.

The doctor’s office receptionist and appointment scheduler

A patient at your medical office needs space to sign some forms and set up a follow-up appointment. It would be a nuisance having to work around a large counter calendar, or looking down at paperwork, then searching for the ubiquitous—but sometimes hard-to-find—wall calendar. Instead, you tuck a small desk calendar to the side by the pens. Takes up very little space, and is in a practical, easy-to-reference spot.

The busy sales rep

Or perhaps you’re a sales rep who schedules a lot of appointments. A desk calendar with a memo pad by your phone makes scheduling meetings and presentations a lot easier, but doesn’t take up too much valuable desk space.

The insurance agent

An agent is meeting with some new clients, and they are unsure which policies they need. So the agent gives them all the info they need, then references the calendar and asks if an upcoming date will work for them.

A desk calendar might be small, but it fits the space. No matter the setting, no matter the industry, it’s easy to reference whether you’re filling out paperwork or scheduling appointments.

Reference calendar with logo by phone
The 991 Charter Calendar is a small desk calendar with a memo pad large enough to jot down appointments. It’s perfect for receptionist counters and sales reps desks alike.

Who uses desk calendars?

Our desk calendars are largely used by service-oriented businesses and organizations. Here’s a list of where we’ve seen our desk calendars in use, and where our customers have told us they use them:

  • Dentist and doctor’s office reception desk
  • Village hall or government office
  • Bank and credit union teller counters
  • Attorney, accountant, and business advisor desks
  • Purchasing managers
  • Insurance agent desks
  • Library check-out counter
  • Sales reps (keep by their phones for easy scheduling)
  • School and daycare front desks
  • College and university admissions centers

Who gives out these desk calendars?

Anyone who wants to promote their business, service, cause, or event.

For example, the local barber might give calendars to local business owners to display on their desks to stay top of mind. The grocer might do the same, advertising specialty services their store provides. The chamber of commerce might hand them out to all members to use on their work desks or reception counters.

Promotional calendars are not only an extremely effective advertising medium, they are also a highly practical, usable tool for your customers.

How to get desk calendars to advertise your business

If you’re curious about desk calendars, but not sure how to use this reliable advertising giveaway, talk to us. Our promotional products experts will help you choose the right calendar for your business. Call us at (800) 475-2255, send us an email, or browse our calendars at OnTheBallPromotions.com.

What is Branding?

What is branding? Thoughts from On The Ball Promotions Just when you thought you had advertising figured out, along comes marketing. And just when you figured out marketing, along came branding. But what is branding?

In its most basic definition, “brand” refers to a mark designating ownership. Think livestock branding on a large ranch. The animals are branded so that ranchers know who they belong to.

That being said, branding within the realm of marketing is very similar in that it provides an easy-to-identify mark that consumers use to associate your product or service with your company.

But this is marketing we’re talking about, so there is more to it than a mark on your product.

So what is branding?

Branding is the perceived image of your company and its product or service.

Sounds easy, right? Right. But let’s back up a few steps and go over some individual points and ideas that make your brand, well, your brand.

Branding is your logo.

Just like ranchers brand their animals to designate ownership, your logo designates ownership of your product or service. It plays such a significant role in your brand because it’s the thing consumers look for on store shelves, on signs, or online.

The logo might not be your entire brand, but the color, font, and shape of your logo all play a role in defining your brand. Not sure where to start with your logo? Read through these 5 easy logo design tips. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a designer to understand what makes a good logo.

But remember, the most important thing about your logo—and unfortunately all-too-often overlooked—is consistency. Using the same logo across all mediums gives your brand a more professional image, and helps consumers more easily recognize you.

Branding is your tone of voice.

Tone of voice is how you write on your website, blog, social media channels, emails, and in print media.

If you speak to your audience in a relaxed, easy-going tone, that paints a picture that your company is casual. If you speak in a very formal tone, with no playful or colorful expressions, your company will be perceived as structured, formal, and very professional.

Whether it’s the receptionist, the marketing team, or the CEO, make sure everyone understands your brand’s tone of voice—and follows it.

Branding is the imagery you use.

Whether you have an e-commerce jewelry store or a website for your construction company, the images you put online and in print will reflect your company’s image.

If time and budget permit, hire a professional photographer. Have them photograph some products, both studio-style (white background) and contextual (showing the product in use). Those photos will come in very handy for your website, email marketing, print marketing materials, and social media.

Branding on Cardboard Photo Frames
Studio-style photography (left) and contextual product photography (right) can help enforce your brand’s image. Shown: Black Cardboard Frame

If you face budget constraints, read some intro books on photography, watch some videos, or peruse the countless articles online about photography 101. It won’t make you a pro, but you’ll learn enough to make your photos better than the average amateur.

But remember, sometimes a simple snap on your phone is all it takes. A landscaping company can take pictures of their crew installing a new landscape design and post to social media for immediate brand interaction.

Which takes us to the next point:

Branding is how you interact with your customers.

Yes, really. In fact, your interactions—whether they’re in-person, via email, or over the phone—play a huge role in your company’s branding. This is also the point where some businesses lose branding momentum because of lackluster communication or poor customer service.

Let’s look at a scenario where a contractor is going to a potential client’s house.

If you walk into a meeting or go to a bid job and you are prepared and confident, that is a strong reflection on your brand. It shows that you are reliable.

If, however, you arrive and start talking about you were almost late because you had to wait in a long line for lunch, and then had to take a detour because of construction… well, those are just excuses, and they reflect poorly on your brand. Even if you have the best logo design in your industry and a consistent tone of voice, a poor impression with customers or clients is a poor reflection on your brand.

And don’t forget about first impressions. Receptionists might not always get the credit they deserve, but they are the primary contact for customers calling your business. Though their only line might be, “Good morning, Frank’s Auto Supply, how may I direct your call?” it’s amazing the effect that little line can have on a caller. So do yourself a favor and hire a receptionist with a pleasant demeanor, who can handle whatever type of personality calls in. Because the first impression is a lasting impression.

Want to chat with our nice receptionist and easy-going sales team about promotional products? Give us a call at (800) 475-2255.

Branding is your product selection.

This isn’t a quantity vs. quality argument, but rather an idea that what you offer will affect how your customers view your brand. Stay focused with the products or services you offer—and why you’re offering those.

How do I enforce my company’s branding?

Write a brand book! In it, include specific directions for the following brand components:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Proper and improper logo usage – include specifics for social media platforms, if necessary
  • Image use criteria
  • Tone of voice guidelines

Check out this collection of brand books for inspiration.

Branding doesn’t have to be complex. For many small business owners, their branding comes naturally. Others have to really sit and think, and that’s ok. Your brand is how your audience perceives your business, so take the time to create a brand that really reflects how you see your business.

We’re On The Ball Promotions, and we can help you enforce your branding with promotional products. Find the best branded giveaways for your business at OnTheBallPromotions.com.

Why your small business should do business with other small businesses

We’re a small company. Our story might be similar to yours, or perhaps drastically different (you can read it here).

What we do know is that, as a small business owner or employee, you wear many hats, each and every day, and we know what it’s like. It’s exhilarating and frustrating at the same time, right?

Thing is, you’re not alone. There are a lot of small business owners out there; as of the 2012 census, there were roughly 27.9 million small businesses in the US, ranging from 1 employee to 500 employees1. A majority are nonemployers2 or sole proprietors. Others have hundreds of employees.

It’s awesome to see that there are so many motivated Americans running small businesses; they are an integral part in building our economy.

All this being said, why should you, a small business owner or employee, do business with these other small businesses instead of large corporations?

The answers to that question are simple, personal, and relatable.

You get lots of networking opportunities.

Whether you’re working with a small business owner two blocks down or two hundred miles away, completing a business transaction creates a fantastic networking opportunity. Both parties learn more about the other’s business. If a peer needs a similar service, both small business owners will be more likely to recommend someone they’ve done business with before looking around online.

Not sure where to start when networking? Join your chamber of commerce (as an added bonus, being a member of the chamber of commerce gives customers an added level of trust in your business). Or perhaps there is a local, industry-based organization you can join. And, of course, there are always industry trade shows, conferences, and conventions.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention online networking. LinkedIn is the most generic professional networking site available. Connect with those you’ve done business with, join some groups, and seek out business owners nearby. And although Facebook is not necessarily a professional platform, there are industry-specific professional groups for you to join.

You’ll get empathy from your peers.

Even if you’re working with someone in a different professional field, it’s quite likely you’ve found yourself in similar situations. Like managing business finances and HR issues, or the stress of tax season and audits. We’ve all been there, so we understand what it takes to deal with these situations.

And it’s not only empathy for the hard times, it’s also celebrating the excitement of business growth, the pride of receiving awards and recognition, and commemorating business milestones. It’s laughing over how (or where) your business started, or perhaps an embarrassing mishap with a client.

While empathy from other business owners and employees won’t necessarily increase the bottom line, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that others are facing the same struggles and triumphs that we face every day.

You can help support the local economy.

With nearly every business having their own website, it’s easy to do business with companies across the US—or even globally. However, sometimes you want to do business with a marketing company near you. You don’t have to understand much beyond Economics 101 to know that when you do business with local companies, you’re putting your money back in the pockets of people in your community, from the business owners to their employees.

You’ll get increased referrals from a trusted source.

Granted, this applies to small or large businesses, but sometimes you’ll get increased referrals from fellow small business owners because they empathize with you, you’ve networked with them, and you’ve supported their business efforts. Referrals like this can often mean more to consumers because a lot of people like supporting small businesses over large-scale corporations.

Don’t believe us?

It’s estimated that on Small Business Saturday in 2015, more than 95 million people shopped at small businesses3. Yes, this is a special occasion, a “shopping holiday,” if you will. But those numbers don’t lie. Americans like supporting small businesses. Sometimes they just need a little encouragement, like referrals from you and your professional peers.

We love doing business with small businesses.

Our customers range from sole proprietors to global corporations. We welcome inquiries from any and all business or organizations. As a small business, though, we get where our fellow small business owners and employees are coming from. While we can’t offer discounts because of your business size or professional affiliation, we can offer honest customer service, professional knowledge, and empathy if you need it.

We’re On The Ball Promotions, and we’re promotional products experts. Our personalized promotional items advertise your business in a practical way. Find the best giveaways for your business at OnTheBallPromotions.com.

1 U.S. Small Business Administration, 2012 census numbers

2 A nonemployer refers to a business owner who has no paid employees.

3 American Express Small Business Saturday

Are promotional calendars effective?

Are Promotional Calendars Effective? Thoughts from On The Ball Promotions.Survey says: YES.

But we’re in the business of promotional calendars, so of course we’re going to tell you they’re effective. However, we’re a practical bunch, so if we didn’t think they were effective, we wouldn’t promote them as a tool for growing your business.

Aside from the practicality of having a calendar sitting on their desk or hanging on their wall, that still leaves the big question: why are promotional calendars so effective? Let’s start with what turns some people off of advertising: cost.

Calendars cost just pennies a day to advertise your business.

Let’s say you’re going to order 150 desk calendars that run $3.50 per calendar. Given that customers will most likely hold onto these calendars for the full year, that comes to just under 1¢ per day for each customer. Break that out to all customers who received calendars, and that’s about $1.44 per day.

That’s less than a pay-per-click ad campaign or having a glanced-over banner ad on a website.

$1.44 per day? That’s budget-friendly ad spend right there.

They provide year-round brand visibility.

Whether you put just your logo on a mini sticky calendar or go full-color on a large Daily Date calendar, your company’s name is right there for your customer to see all year long, on the desk, wall, or dashboard.

Your phone number and website are always right there. Your logo becomes a more and more familiar symbol. They don’t forget your name. The calendar is a business card that sits on their desk, hangs on their wall, or sticks on their dashboard all year long.

All of this is part of your brand. So put your logo on a calendar, get 365 days of brand advertising.

You’re marketing to a targeted audience.

You want to advertise your service or product to a specific audience, for example, your current customers. So you hand them out to your current customers. No money is lost on mass mailings to an entire community. What percentage of those mass mail recipients actually need your services? What percentage of your audience needs your services?

Let’s take a small HVAC business, run by just one man (let’s call him Joe). Joe wants to grow his customer base by reaching out to homeowners in his area. So he tries to think of the most practical place to reach new customers.

The answer? The annual home and garden show. Attendees are either already homeowners or are interested in owning a home, so it’s the right crowd for Joe’s outreach plan. So Joe sets up a table and hands out sticky calendars as a giveaway, telling them to stick the mini calendars on their furnace so they can reach him when they need him.

So did he fulfill his goal? Joe wanted to reach out to a new audience within his market, and he did. Yay, Joe!

And the moral of the story is…

A year-long advertisement + inexpensive promotional product + advertising directly to your audience = Marketing WIN.

Promotional calendars work. If they didn’t , we wouldn’t sell them. They’re not throwaway advertising kitsch; they’re practical giveaways that your customers will actually use all year long.

Interested in promotional calendars for your business? We can help. Head on over to OnTheBallPromotions.com to start your promotion.

How to Deal with an Unhappy Customer in 3 Easy Steps

How to Deal with an Unhappy Customer | Tips from On The Ball Promotions

Our customer service team talks to a wide variety of people each day—on the phone, on our live chat, or over email—and sometimes there are customers that don’t see eye-to-eye with us on an issue.

And let’s face it. Sometimes we make mistakes. At On The Ball Promotions, we guarantee we’ll fix our mistakes. Whether we ship new product or give you a refund, we stand behind our product and service.

But there is always that sticky situation when you know you’re in the right, but they won’t budge. What then?

Here are some methods our customer service team use to defuse what could otherwise be an ugly situation.

1. Ask them to explain… from the beginning.

Yes, this might take a little time. But here’s how you can ultimately take charge of the story: ask questions. Small, simple questions just to clarify what they’re saying. When they’re done telling their story, repeat back what you’ve heard. This process of clarification often causes people to reconsider their stance—if only just a little, but it’s a good, neutral way to start the conversation. You’re not questioning their logic, just making sure you know their side of the story.

2. Show empathy.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, empathy is showing that you feel what they’re feeling. It’s saying things like “I understand why you’re upset about this,” or “I’d be confused, too.” Now, do you have to truly feel what you say? Not necessarily, but at the same time, you don’t want to lie.

While you might not see things from their point of view, you can at least empathize with the fact that they’re upset because they had expectations that were not met—even if you know they’re in the wrong.

By showing the customer that you’re able to see things from their perspective makes them more open to seeing things from your perspective.

If things still have not cooled down yet, or the customer is still making unreasonable demands, there is one last-ditch effort that might smooth things out for a lasting relationship.

3. If all else fails, give them stuff.

This one might hurt a little, but sometimes you have to throw the dog a bone. Perhaps you refund their shipping costs, or give them a percentage off their order or work receipt. By giving them something—anything—you’re showing that you’re willing to work with them.

This last option might be enough to re-build the trust with your customer, leading to a lasting working relationship and potentially some referrals because of your willingness to work with them.

What now?

We think it’s time to rethink the worn-out phrase “The customer is always right,” and change it to something a bit more fitting, something a bit more accurate. Something that doesn’t make you grit your teeth when saying it. How about this:

The customer might not always be right. But they’re your business’ lifeblood, so do what it takes to keep them happy.

Or, a more succinct version:

Do your business a favor and keep the customer happy.

We’re On The Ball Promotions, and we pride ourselves in keeping our customers happy. Our personalized promotional items advertise your business in a practical way. Find the best giveaways for your business at OnTheBallPromotions.com.

10 Practical, Everyday Marketing Ideas for your HVAC Business

10 Practical, Everyday HVAC Marketing IdeasYou’re out and about, all over town every day. That doesn’t leave you a lot of extra time to promote your business—or even think about promoting your business. Or maybe you’re asking yourself, How do I market my HVAC business? 

We understand.

So we’ve compiled a list of simple tips to help kick-start your marketing campaign to grow your current customer base. Most of these easy HVAC marketing ideas are free, and can easily be implemented into your daily routine.

Ready? Here we go.

1. Wear your company shirt to the grocery store on the weekends.

You’re going to see a lot of local homeowners there, so go ahead, wear your company shirt with pride while perusing the produce section.

2. Post homeowner tips on Facebook.

We know, we know. Everyone has been saying it for years. And yet, we’re here to say it again: social media can help increase awareness of your company, services, and expertise. Post small tidbits of information, like when to replace the air filter in their furnace. Pepper your Facebook page with issues to look out for so they know when to call you.

3. Send off-season reminders—and coupons.

Send a Christmas card with a coupon for early bird AC checkup. Just be sure to include an expiration date! 

4. Work the concession stand at high school games.

Talk to someone on the athletic booster club committee to see if you help keep those fans fed and hydrated. By working the concession stand, you’ll get to meet a lot of local homeowners—and business owners. Offer to help out the booster club at a few home football or basketball games. Just be sure to wear your business shirt or hat.

5. Get in with Google

There is a fantastic FREE service called Google My Business. Just enter your business name, website, phone, and hours to appear on Google search results pages and on Google Maps. You can even add pictures, plus customers can review your business (you can respond to those reviews).

6. Park your truck or van in the driveway instead of the garage.

We see this everywhere around us, in the suburbs and the small towns; small, one-man HVAC businesses where the owner just parks their van or truck in the drive. Even if they’re really parking outside in the elements because their garage is packed, it’s still simple, easy, local advertising.

7. Small talk can really pay off.

If you played football for the local high school and see the homeowner’s son also plays football for your alma mater, talk about it. If they have a rowdy Border Collie, and you have one too, talk about it.

The quality of your work is the most important aspect in building trust, but it’s those small, personal connections that help build rapport with homeowners. It’s that trust and rapport that can lead to word-of-mouth referrals.

8. Join your local Chamber of Commerce

This is not a direct marketing campaign to your customers, but it adds value to your business’ name and garners trust. After you join, announce your membership on your website, your Facebook page, put it on your giveaway calendars; put it everywhere. Consumers are more likely to trust a business that is a chamber of commerce member than one who is not, because it shows loyalty to the community.

9. Leave a small giveaway at every visit.

One of the easiest things you can do is leave a small giveaway with customers at each visit. Fixing a furnace? Place a small mini sticky calendar on the furnace so they know who to call if problems arise. That mini calendar acts just like a business card, but since it’s stuck in place, it won’t get lost.

10. Smile when you say hello.

Ok, so this one is more a reminder of professional etiquette, but it really does have to do with your business’ image. And it has to do with trust.

The homeowner opens the door to a cheerful “hello!” and already you’ve set a nice, friendly image for yourself. If, however, they open the door and you say, “Hi, I’m Bill. Where’s the furnace?… well, you might get the job done as well as the friendly hello guy, but you’ve set a different tone for the customer.

First impressions can really help give you a boost. A friendly first impression puts the homeowner at ease, and a friendly HVAC professional is likely to get more referrals from happy homeowners.

So there you have it. Ten really simple, budget-friendly HVAC marketing ideas that you can easily implement into your everyday routine. Some of them take very little time and effort, but can have a great impact on how you are perceived by your customers.

Remember, your marketing is what you make of it.

Need some help getting your promotion started?

We can help. We’re promotional products experts, and we work with small business owners like you every day. We can help fulfill your logo giveaway needs. Call us at (800) 475-2255 or send us an email.

Don’t forget to check out OnTheBallPromotions.com for all your promo product needs.