Building Today to Create Future Success in Promo

As we’ve all seen, world events can take a huge toll on your business. Recently some of the biggest effects have been seen leading from COVID. It’s easy to say, “I’ll wait for all of this to blow over” or “My client will come back with their orders when they’re ready.” But the real question is, “How can I build today to set up for success down the road?” The following are a couple of different ways to help with that, including utilizing PPE and social media.

Have you suddenly been thrown into the new and sometimes complex world of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? Many of us have had to learn to expand our perspectives and sometimes move beyond our comfort zone to offer clients an entirely new category of promo products. For some, who jumped on the bandwagon early or who already had experience selling to hospitals, clinics, and other medical professionals, this wasn’t a huge stretch. For the rest of us, however, we’ve had to rethink not only what we can sell right now, but who we are selling to. And the scary situation that we’re often faced with is, even if we get that order, is it a one-and-done?

One way to keep building your business is to look at those new PPE customers as a potential promo/apparel client with long term potential. After you have given them excellent service and competitive pricing, build on that. Similar to your current clients, you can send them a thank you as a way to show them appreciation for the business, but you can include a unique sample to show them the other side of the business you can help them with, making sure that they’re aware that the branding opportunities you can offer them are endless.

Now that so many businesses have been switching over to work from home and similar models, how do you plan on getting in front of new buyers? One suggestion is to start using social media to your advantage. Many local business groups and even municipalities have started hosting virtual town hall meetings. Joining in on these and then connecting with the attendees on social media (LinkedIn or similar) could be a new way to get in front of those businesses. After connecting with these new leads, you can easily message them and introduce yourself and share what you can do to help them. Beyond virtual meeting connections, use social media platforms as a resource for finding new leads that you think could be beneficial. Building these connections and then posting content to keep in front of the new potential clients can take time, but it is another tool to add to your arsenal to stay in front of clients in a world where emails are quickly overlooked.

Adding PPE clients to your regular business programs along with marketing yourself through social media are just a couple of ways you can continue to build for future success.

Puzzle sales are peaking during COVID-19 quarantine

Originally published at 4/10/20
Written by Kristin Schwab

Have you played a board game in the past couple of weeks? Maybe you’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle? You’re definitely not alone.

Puzzles are selling out fast. Demand for them is surging and many stores can’t keep stock on the shelves. At Ravensburger, the global market leader, sales are up 370%. “We’re pretty much experiencing Christmastime at Easter,” CEO Filip Francke said.

The first puzzles to sell out were cozy scenes in front of the fireplace. Next were ones of dreamy, far-away places. Another popular category is expert-level puzzles that are, for instance, of nothing but bright orange mac and cheese.

“Maybe it’s that satisfaction of completing something in an otherwise kind of messy world around you,” Francke said.

The other reasons they’re popular are not so puzzling. 

“It’s very therapeutic [for a lot of folks] because it’s a simplistic play pattern that’s tech free, it’s screen free,” said James Zahn, senior editor at The Toy Insider.

The sales boom isn’t just good for puzzle makers. As big retailers sell out, it’s also helping small toy shops grab a piece of the puzzle.

Face masks may reduce COVID-19 spread by 85%, WHO-backed study suggests

Reprinted from 6/2/20
Written by Rachel Rettner

Here’s how much face masks, social distancing and eye protection may help with preventing COVID-19 spread.

Social distancing, face masks and eye protection all appear to reduce the spread of COVID-19, in both health care settings and the general community, according to a new review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The review found that keeping a distance of at least 3 feet (1 meter) from other people lowered the chances of coronavirus infection or spread by 82%, and keeping a distance of 6 feet (2 m) could be even more effective.

Wearing face masks and cloth face coverings was also linked with COVID-19 protection for the general public; the same was true for health care workers, but there was a trend suggesting that N95 masks provided greater protection in health care settings than other types of masks. Eye protection, which people perhaps tend to think about less than nose and mouth protection, may also provide additional benefits in both community and health care settings, the authors said.

However, the authors note that the findings on face masks and eye protection are based on limited evidence. And overall, none of the practices examined in the study fully protected against COVID-19.

“Although distancing, face masks and eye protection were each highly protective, none made individuals totally impervious from [COVID-19] infection,” study lead author Dr. Derek Chu, a clinician scientist in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, and the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, said in a statement. For this reason “basic measures such as hand hygiene are also essential to curtail the current COVID-19 pandemic and future waves,” he said.

For the new review, published June 1 in the journal The Lancet, Chu and his team examined studies on COVID-19 as well as the related conditions SARS and MERS. Overall, the researchers analyzed information from 44 studies involving more than 25,000 people in 16 countries. (Seven of these studies involved COVID-19, 26 involved SARS and 11 involved MERS.)

The studies examined the effects of social distancing, face masks and eye protection (such as face shields, goggles and glasses) on virus transmission. (The researchers considered these measures separately rather than in combination. They were not able to examine how a person’s duration of potential exposure affected their risk of infection.) 

With social distancing, the chances of infection or transmission of these coronaviruses was about 3% when people kept a distance of at least 3 feet from others, compared with 13% when people kept a distance of less than that. What’s more, for every extra 3 feet (up to 10 feet, or 3 m), the risk of infection or transmission of these coronaviruses was reduced by half.

With face masks, the chance of infection or transmission was 3% with a mask compared with 17% without a mask, a reduction of more than 80%. And for eye protection, the chance of infection or transmission was 6% with protection and 16% without.

“Our findings are the first to synthesize all direct information on COVID-19, SARS and MERS, and provide the currently best available evidence on the optimum use of these common and simple interventions to help ‘flatten the curve,'” study senior author Holger Schünemann, a professor at McMaster University, said in the statement.

Additional analysis in health care settings found that N95 respirators were 96% effective at protecting workers in these settings, while other types of masks (such as surgical masks) were 77% effective.

These findings show that “for health care workers on COVID-19 wards, a [N95] respirator should be the minimum standard of care,” Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute in Australia, and colleagues, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study. 

The review also “supports universal face mask use, because masks were equally effective in both health care and community settings,” the commentary said.

However, the review did not include any randomized control trials — the goal standard of medical research in which people are randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. (There were no randomized control trials on this topic.) Rather, the review looked at observational studies in which researchers observe populations without assigning a treatment. Randomized controlled trials now are needed, particularly those examining the effect of face masks on infection risk; and two such trials for masks are currently underway in Denmark and Canada, the authors said.

Originally published on Live Science.  

Playing golf while social distancing? Here’s what you need to know

Reprinted from; 3/19/20

Written by Randall Mell

So, is it OK to continue to play golf at a country club or public course?

This week the state of Washington, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, issued an emergency proclamation mandating the closures of certain businesses and public spaces. You may be reassured knowing that as difficult as the challenge has been in that state, golf courses were specifically listed among those businesses that are allowed to remain open.

You can’t go to a bowling alley in the state right now. You can’t go to a gym or fitness center, or to any kind of sporting event with more than 50 people gathering, but you can still get a tee time and play.

Wherever you live, though, experts recommend you take precautions if you’re going to play golf.

“Golf courses are shared public spaces, so there is an increased risk of the viral transmission and spread that can compromise your safety and those you interact with,” says Geoff Dreher, a sports medicine physician and assistant professor and team doctor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. “So, you need to be aware of your potential risk, based on age, medical conditions, and of the risk for those you interact with on a regular basis, like family members, friends and co-workers. But, if golf courses are remaining open, as they are, I think it’s realistic that people are going to go and play.

“You just need to be aware of the risks and do your best to reduce those risks.”

And if you’re among those who are at more risk to the virus, you may need to think twice about playing.

“Those who are older than 65, those who have medical conditions, the big ones being heart, lung diseases or diabetes, or if you are immunocompromised at any age, you have to be a little more cognizant of your risks, and think about whether it’s acceptable, to your health,” Dreher said. “Golfing would be on the milder end of sports and risks, but there are still risks with those shared spaces, especially if you are going into locker rooms and dining areas, or where there’s contact with people moving through.”

If you are going to play, Dreher said it’s advisable to disinfect your clubs and any equipment before and after you play.

And when you arrive at the course, if there’s a valet waiting to take your clubs to the staging area, you may want to wave him off and take your clubs yourself.

“You want to do as much as you can to keep that 6 feet of distance between people, so reducing your risks,” Dreher said. “If you’re in a group, that means keeping that distance, covering any coughs, walking the course instead of using carts that may be touched multiple times throughout a week, avoiding locker rooms or dining areas, maybe leave the flag or pin in.”

So, it’s not advisable to give your buddy’s new driver a try.

“More information is coming out that the COVID-19 virus can stay on objects for several days,” Dreher said.

And it’s not advisable to high five or shake hands before, during or after a round.

“Bring hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands as much as you can,” Dreher said.

And what about grabbing lunch at the turn, or after the round?

“Avoiding as many people possible handling food is beneficial, and so is avoiding sitting in the dining area,” he said. “If you are going to eat there, get it as takeout, just to limit your time in those confined spaces, or shared contact areas.”

And what about paying? Should you use a credit card or money?

“I can’t confirm this, but I would assume [germs] stay on credit cards longer than money, but there’s a higher risk with money, because it’s more likely to change hands among multiple people, where your credit card is more likely to only be handled by you,” Dreher said.

So, if you’re wondering whether to keep playing, yes, there’s risk, but the experts say it’s manageable in golf’s large, open spaces.

Coronavirus: Chinese school gives pupils a hat tip to teach them how to keep their distance

Reprinted from the South China Morning Post

Written by Holly Chik

  • Pupils given headwear modeled on a style worn by officials a thousand years ago to reinforce the message that they must stay a meter away from each other
  • One legend says the hats were given long extensions to stop courtiers whispering among themselves when meeting the emperor

An ancient Chinese hat has joined face masks and hand sanitizers as one of the weapons in the fight against Covid-19.

A primary school in Hangzhou in the east of the country took inspiration from the headgear worn by officials in the Song dynasty, which ruled China between 960 and 1279, to reinforce lessons on social distancing.

Pupils at the school wore their own handmade versions of the hats, which have long extensions, or wings, to keep them at least a metre (3ft) apart when they returned to school on Monday, state news agency Xinhua reported.

One legend says that the first Song emperor ordered his ministers to wear hats with two long wings on the sides so that they could not chitchat in court assemblies without being overheard, according to Tsui Lik-hang, a historian at City University of Hong Kong.

Pupils at a school in Hangzhou made their own versions of the hats. Photo: Weibo

Pupils at a school in Hangzhou made their own versions of the hats. Photo: Weibo

However, he warned that this story came from a much later source, adding: “The Song emperors, in fact, were also depicted to have worn this kind of headwear with wing-like flaps.”

The World Health Organisation recommends that people stay at least a metre apart to curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

“If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the Covid-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease,” the global health body advises.

An early childhood education specialist said the hats were a good way to explain the concept of social distancing to young children, who find it difficult to understand abstract concepts.

The pupil’s head gear is designed to drive home the social distancing message. Photo: Weibo

The pupil’s headgear is designed to drive home the social distancing message. Photo: Weibo

“As children can see and feel these hats, and when the ‘wings’ hit one another, they may be more able to understand the expectations and remember to keep their physical distance,” said Ian Lam Chun-bun, associate head of the department of early childhood education at The Education University of Hong Kong.

How to Build Now for the Future

For anyone, especially those of us in sales, these last three months have been very unique and challenging. What you do right now will have an effect on what is going to happen in 3, 6, 9, or even 12 months from now. Ask yourself this: What are you doing today, this moment, in the next 10 mins, next week, and next month to set yourself up for the future? There are vital actions that one can do to make sure you have a successful future. Some actions are things that you have not done in a while and some might involve things you have never done, but nevertheless action is required to ensure success.

Here are some proactive ideas for you to consider to help grow your business:

  • Cold Calling
  • Networking
  • Reviewing the last 5 years of sales data (at a minimum)
  • Revisiting old clients who haven’t purchased from you in awhile
  • Calling and checking in on your clients and prospects
  • Reviewing vertical market opportunities
  • Calling on companies who have co-op marketing funds they may need to use
  • Seek out companies that have their fiscal year ending soon
  • Turn any PPE-only customers to lasting relationships

I am not saying any of this is foolproof, but these are definitely tactics you can start implementing today to keep your pipeline full. The worst thing you can do is just sit and wait for a deal to jump out and say here I am. Since that’s unlikely to happen, now is the time to work harder and smarter than ever. All too often, it’s easy to say that you’re having a bad year and chalk it up to the pandemic, but would that be true? No matter what happens, there will be normalcy again. It’s up to you to take advantage now by implementing some new sales strategies and putting in the work to be successful long into the future.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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