When it comes to the branding and marketing of your commercial enterprise, one of the oldest strategies in the book is to offer your customers and clients some very creative promotional items with your company logo clearly displayed.  When done correctly, this method of advertising can prove very effective.  But we need to be careful.  Flooding the market with promotional items of extremely poor quality or taste can also have a negative effect on our business.

Offer Quality Items!

It is not enough to simply purchase a few boxes of ballpoint pens with your company name emblazoned on the side.  Cheap, poorly made products will send a signal to your clients that your company lacks professionalism and attention to detail.  Imagine the negative branding image associated with a cheaply made ballpoint pen exploding in someone’s shirt pocket!  When it comes to advertising through promotional products, quality is always a critical factor.

Offer Variety!


Dare to be different.  Be creative and choose products that your clients can actually use on a daily basis.  Thanks to the advancements of digital graphics technology in recent years, a company logo can be artistically displayed on nearly any type of promotional item.  From calendars to post-its, t-shirts to ball caps, and even portable USB hard drives to umbrellas, utilizing promotional items for your marketing strategies has never been easier or less expensive than it is today!  Think outside the box.  You’ll send a positive message about the originality and creativity of your company brand in the process.  We here at Benchmark Displays have decided to try it, so we will keep you posted on how our marketing efforts through promotional products turn out!

Published in Benchmark Blog

I found this article on Promokitchen and thought I would share.. Some ideas we have talked about in previous posts, but worth a mention!


What’s the most important trait in a salesperson?



The following article was written by Steve Pons, vice president – national sales, at Accolade Promotion Group (APG), a division of Golf Town Canada Inc.

We all agree that good people are what differentiate a good business from an exceptional business. Jim Collins’ widely read book Good to Great talks a lot about getting the “right people on the bus” and the “wrong people off the bus.”

But what I find myself often struggling with is accurately identifying who the “right people” truly are.

This is nothing new. Companies spend a ton of time and energy on evaluating talent and determining if potential employees have the proper skills and are the right fit culturally. We all know about candidate filtering methods such as the Zappos’ famous “Offer” that actually pays people to quit before they start. We also know of many companies that ask people to complete a questionnaire to see if their aptitudes and personality traits match the values and personality of the organization. (At APG, we utilize such a tool in combination with getting people to meet several colleagues and managers throughout the business to see if there is a good fit)

Even with employee screening and interesting sociological methods such as “The Offer” companies still say their number one challenge is finding and retaining the right people…the best people.

I used to believe that the only indicator for someone being successful in any business was if they were well organized and if they displayed a confidence in themselves, what they were talking about, what their passion was, etc. I’ve realized however that those are only the traits that appear when someone has a much more important quality: Self-Awareness.

When reading stories about business success involving people such as Isadore SharpTony HeishJeff Bezosand Warren Buffet, all of them in my mind have one consistent trait. They are very self-aware and adapt their business approach to not only their client audience but to those who work with them or for them.

Over the years, I’ve seen a handful of people in the corporate merchandise services business (all of whom I would classify as successful) adapt their style to suit a variety of situations: C-level client conversations, asking team members to work extra hours to meet a deadline and negotiating win-win results with challenging clients or suppliers. In each circumstance the person was not only aware of who they were speaking with and what they were trying to achieve but also how to diffuse tension, instil confidence and make the other party feel comfortable that the salesperson was in control of the situation.

As Matt Dixon speaks of in his book The Challenger Sale, customers respond to confidence and integrity. Salespeople that are confident in sharing what they know (and how that will bring real value to the client’s business) and have the integrity to admit where they are not experts often win over sales reps that unilaterally say “we can do anything!” A self-aware salesperson identifies their shortcomings and proactively seeks out ways to either learn what they feel they should know or to ask others to be a resource for them. They seek to become a greater expert to help teach their clients and provide real insights they may not have considered.

Gone are the days that salespeople could use their greater knowledge of the products, supply chain, partnerships, etc. to demand a higher price. Clients can (and do) all their research often before the sales interaction starts. Virtually every sales rep has already seen this transition in our business over the last 5 years. A self-aware rep has recognized and adapted to this change and has evolved their approach. They seek out guidance and coaching when presented with any challenge but don’t rely on training to be provided by the organization before they take action.

In short, many people may pride themselves on being excellent judges of character and indeed many of you may have had excellent success in hiring and developing talent. But I offer you this test: ask your salespeople to rank their strengths and weaknesses while you independently do the same for them. How do you feel both results would compare? In my experience the reps with the greatest alignment with their manager’s assessment are usually the most successful. (In fact, they are often harder on themselves than their managers are on them!)

While many in the promotional products business feel that growing their salesforce (with a book of business the rep brings with them of course) is their best way to success, I would take an eager self-aware salesperson any day of the week.

Bonus link: Why hasn’t “The Offer” caught on in business?

Published in Benchmark Blog

 An interesting video describing the Universal Principles of Persuasion based on the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University.  He describes six distinct principles in the science of persuasion.

·        Reciprocity (which we’ve talked about before)

·        Scarcity (the idea that people place a higher value on something they get less of)

·        Authority (what makes you credible?)

·        Consistency (getting people to commit)

·        Liking (finding commonalities, similar interests)

       ·        Consensus (Benefits of doing something your way)

Published in Benchmark Blog

I thought this was an interesting take on customer service so decided to share!

Published in Benchmark Blog

“A mediocre person tells.  A good person explains.  A superior person demonstrates.  A great person inspires others to see for themselves.”

-Harvey Mackay

An incentive is by definition something that motivates or encourages one to do something.  In today’s extremely competitive marketplace, making sales can be a challenge.  People are inundated with new products and services, and it is increasingly difficult to stand out.  So what is one way to distinguish yourself from the competition and lead sales?  Incentives!

Did you know that knowledgeable and courteous employees account for approximately 80% of the reasons that consumers feel satisfied and will come back for more?

Fewer than one in four American workers is working at full potential, nearly half surveyed have said that they do only what is directly asked of them, and up to 75% admit that they could be more effective in their jobs.

70% of customers that have had a bad experience with a vendor will abandon them and move on to someone else.

A 5% increase in customer retention can increase lifetime profits from a customer by 75%.  Remember, we’ve talked about this before, it’s about building relationships.

So how can you use incentives successfully in your business?

·       Use them to attract new visitors to your store or web site

·       Use them to encourage repeat business

·       Use them to improve Direct Mail Response

·       Use them to Promote Closeout Inventories

·       Use them for thank you gifts

·       Use them to Upgrade Sales and Purchases


For Employee Incentives

·       Use them to acknowledge Milestones and Achievements

·       Use them as a reward to exceed sales goals

·       Use them to increase employee loyalty

·       Use them to reward employees



Remember, everyone likes to feel appreciated, so why not set the precedent and use incentives to inspire others to greatness!


Published in Benchmark Blog
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 17:06

Building a Better Brand

Let’s face it, we are all brand experts these days.  We have been groomed to recognize and associate with different brands.  One marketing guru uses the word pre-eminence when speaking about brand identity, meaning it moves people to action, and their lives are better because you are in it.  If you’ve done your job, then people can relate to and identify with you, and your product.  There is an emotional connection tied to it.  It’s about being able to articulate, or put into words what you stand for and why it’s better than say, your competition.

Your Brand, Your Reputation

Back in the 1990’s, Harley Davidson began considering ways to expand it’s empire, so the company decided to get into merchandising.  They started selling patches, mugs, jackets, and other biker related paraphernalia.  It proved to be a good move for the company.  So much so, that an over enthusiastic marketing manager decided they should try and expand their market even further, into perfume sales.  That decision backfired in a big way.  They alienated their core audience, bike enthusiasts, (I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many bikers that wear perfume?), even worse, they failed to capture the consumers who like perfume, but don’t ride bikes.  What does this tell us?  Don’t get greedy!  Be loyal to your core audience and stick to the brand values that made you successful in the first place.


Mindset Matters

In a world where people have so many options, and often times the services that we offer aren’t necessarily needs, but wants, we have to set ourselves apart, by clearly identifying what we are all about.  As an example, we here at Benchmark Displays design custom displays for POP retail, as well as merchandisers, awards and promotional pieces.  We are also aware that there are many companies that offer similar services to our own.  Therefore, our emphasis is on being customer centric and building relationships.  A first time client may call because they have a pending project and they need a quote.  They probably have specs for the project, a desired quantity, and most often than not, a deadline to meet.  Beyond that, they rely on us, to not only design an engaging, attractive display, but do so in a way that keeps costs minimal, and is delivered on time.  If we consistently provide a quality, unique product, as expected, then we, as a company, and as a brand will thrive.


When all is said and done, your brand, your identity, takes time to build.  It needs to say something about who you are as a company, connect with your target market, motivate people in some way, and always create a sense of loyalty.

Published in Benchmark Blog

Chambers represent the interests of businesses, and advocate on behalf of the business community. How many recognized members do you have in your chamber? As a small business owner, having begun our journey 30 years ago, we share your passion for promoting the creation and development of local businesses.

Published in Benchmark Blog
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