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Category: Miscellaneous

Valentines for Veterans

Army Man with Pink CarnationsValentine’s Day is a great time for veterans’ organizations to honor the men and women who have served our country.¬† At a loss for how to commemorate this typically “couple” centered activity in your organization’s efforts? I have some great ideas!

While you may not be able to bring in big movie stars and singers to entertain like Bob Hope did on his worldwide USO tours, you can certainly send your veterans their own valentines! Why not send paper valentines through the “Valentines for Veterans” program? This wonderful program allows you to send a valentine to veteran that is homemade or purchased (we can help you order Valentine cards!), so the sky is the limit in terms of creativity and personalization. ¬†The program’s only recommendation is that the cards be sturdy and not include easily breakable materials.

For events and other programming, why not think about Hollywood “valentines” to veterans? With the Academy Awards approaching, it’s a great time to screen award-winning films about the veteran experience. Looking for a recent movie? What about recent WWII-set films like Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line? Or opt for classic films like The Great Escape, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Patton. More romantic award winners that have wartime themes, like Casablanca, From Here to Eternity, or The Best Years of Our Lives, are also excellent choices for any Valentines for Veterans themed events. Many older veterans will fondly remember comedies like Cary Grant’s I Was A Male War Bride and all-star productions like Star-Spangled Rhythm and Stage Door Canteen.

Whatever you chose, you can make Valentine’s Day a wonderful holiday for Veterans, whether you send cards, screen films, or organize other events. Call us at A Creative Touch for help with customizable valentines this year!

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What’s On My Holiday Wish List?

act-woolen-mittensWhat do you dream of this holiday season? In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sings about a few of her favorite things: “raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens,” “brown paper packages tied up with strings”, “bright copper kettles”¬†and even “warm-woolen mittens.” You’ve probably already heard the song on your local holiday radio¬†station this year: since the movie came out in 1965, “My Favorite Things” has become a classic holiday song, recorded by everyone from Andy Williams to The Carpenters.

While Andrews’ character, Maria, likes simple natural things, other famous Christmas wish lists are considerably more glamorous and luxurious. Think of Oprah’s “Favorite Things” lists or the gorgeous Neiman Marcus fantasy catalogs that are much-awaited parts of every holiday season at my house. I confess that my own holiday favorites are considerably less plain and nun-like than sweet Julie Andrews!

My holiday wish list sounds more like Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby.”¬†¬† That’s why I look forward to the Oprah and Neiman Marcus holiday lists every year-it’s amazing to see all the interesting and creative gifts that it is possible to buy your loved ones and yourself.¬†¬† From a souped up sleigh (a 2013 McLaren 12C Spider priced at $354,000) to a walk-on role in a Broadway muscial ($30,000) to his and her watches by Van Cleef & Arpels¬†($1,090,000–the hefty price tag includes a trip to Paris and Geneva, but still!) it’s fun to dream big.¬† My fantasy Christmas gift?¬† A set of heirloom family silver.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to give fantastic¬†gifts with more modest price tags¬† to your employees, volunteers, or clients, ¬†A Creative Touch is here to help.¬† We’ll find quality, creative promotional products that are guaranteed to become some of their favorite things!

It’s Our 11th Anniversary!

 

act-11th-annivesaryThe team at A Creative Touch is getting ready to¬†celebrate our¬†eleventh anniversary. In fact, our anniversary will fall on November 11th! That got us thinking about 11th anniversaries and how to celebrate them. (They often don’t get much attention since 10-year and 15-year anniversaries¬†usually steal the show.)

Did you know that the traditional eleventh-year anniversary gift is steel? In fact, there is a chart for appropriate traditional and modern anniversary gifts.  Eleven-year celebratory gifts can include traditional choices like steel clocks, watches, or kitchen appliances. Modern options might be items like golf equipment, tools, exercise gear, or steel desk accessories.  How can your business or organization celebrate 11 years with promotional products?  Many of these customary 11th anniversary steel gifts make fabulous promotional items.  

act-steel-golfCustomizable pens are very popular giveaways-with an extra 11th anniversary-themed touch of steel.  A more unusual option is a portable toolkit designed for golfers. This is an excellent promotional product if golf enthusiasts are a big part of your clientele.  If you are looking to appeal to busy consumers, a steel travel mug is a practical, much appreciated choice.

At A Creative Touch, we carry more than 300 jewelry items among our steel promotional products. Choosing a jewelry item for your business is a neat twist on this act-steel-cufffashionable gift trend. Many of these promotional products can be customized with a personal message for your own 11th anniversary.¬† Consider a customizable steel pendant or a more daring option like a unisex steel cuff in a fashionable black patina which is often called an ‚Äėoil rubbed’ finish–a great promotional product option for both men and women.

Whatever you choose, A Creative Touch can help you celebrate your eleventh anniversary and promote your business in style!¬† With more than 30,000 steel items to choose from, we sure we can help your company ‘steel’ the spotlight on your 11th anniversary!

Tradeshow Trick-or-Treaters

act-halloweenEvery tradeshow has them: trick-or-treaters!  We may think of trick-or-treaters as little kids seeking candy on Halloween, but if your company exhibits regularly at trade shows, public events, or expos, there are plenty of people ringing your doorbell year-round.

Not all of them are interested in your business. Instead, some visitors to your booth at tradeshows and events are potentially just looking for their version of Halloween candy-your promotional products! So, how can you tell the genuine business prospect from the customer in costume?

Here are ACT’s tips for dealing with trick-or-treaters and ensuring that you don’t leave your next trade show feeling like a friendly ghost instead of a frightened one:

 

1. Don’t Leave All Your Candy in That Bucket On the Porch: Resist the urge to set up a table or swag display that makes it easier for trick-or-treaters to ‚Äėring the bell’ and flee without showing interest in your business.
2. Learn to say ‚ÄėBoooo!': Teach your employees and booth operators to discern between actual interest and swag hunting trick-or-treaters.
3. Ask Them to Say Please Before You Hand Out That Candy Corn:¬†¬†Kids aren’t the only ones who¬†sometimes need reminders to be polite. Get potential trick-or-treaters to sign up for your email lists, listen to service presentations, or fill out data surveys before you give away those promotional products.¬† Remember, truly interested customers will be happy to find out more about your business.
4. Go For The Haunted House Approach: Make receiving your promotional products part of a larger journey with the rewards at the end. Ask your customers to complete a task before mailing a customized promotional product, for example. According to a recent article in ASICentral, interactive promotions are a great way of gauging actual customer interest. Barb Barchum described her experience: “Last year, we sent out 1,200 seed packages and said ‘return this empty seed packet to receive one free set-up on your next order,’ Oh my goodness, did we receive empty seed packets – I would imagine we gave away 100 or more set-ups. I would say that self-promotion worked!” Like a Haunted House operator, you might have a smaller, but ultimately more devoted, group of participants with promotions like these.

Whatever your promotional needs, A Creative Touch¬†is here to help you survive the spooky world of trick-or-treat! And, we’re sending you best witches this Halloween!

Spooky Promotional Products

With Halloween just around the corner, you might be looking for scary and spooky promotional products. If you’re trying to bring a little holiday flavor to your next trade show, if you’re sponsoring a local haunted house or fundraising party, or, if you just need something memorable, then give us a call.¬† A Creative Touch has¬†the perfect Halloween promotional products for you. Take a look at just a few of our ghoulishly fun giveaways!

Wait Until Dark
act-glow-stickFor your next spook-tacular event, our customizable glow products can help you light up the dark! If your Halloween event is going to be atmospherically lit, you’ll need something eye-catching and bright to give to your potential clients.¬† Try these glow sticks¬† if you’re looking for something that will make your name stand out even in the gloom.

These 4″ glow sticks come on a lanyard to help with hands-free trick-or-treating, and they are guaranteed to glow for hours. Available in neon red, pink, blue, and green, they aren’t just perfect for Halloween; they can also be used for parties, New Year, Christmas, discos, night events, sports events, and more.

Sweet Treats With a Special Twist
act-halloween-toteWant a promotional product that associates your name with something sweet? Why not try a customizable product bag or container that could be filled with Halloween candy? These eco-friendly, reusable Halloween¬†themed tote bags¬†can be customized with your logo and filled with goodies.¬† Don’t forget to include company brochures and other useful handouts¬†for clients.¬† If many of your customers have children who trick-or-treat, or you know they will be wandering to and fro at a conference venue, a reflective bag might be a nice touch, highlighting that you care about safety.¬† If you want something smaller to fill with mini candies, consider Halloween-themed aluminum tumblers.¬† Featuring a Halloween image on one side and your company logo on the other, they are at once portable and customer-friendly.

For Scaredy Cats
act-halloween-spiderIf Halloween give you nightmares, and spooky stuff stresses you out,  show your clients you have a sense of humor by choosing customizable stress toys in Halloween themes!  Talking about your fear of spiders is a great way to break the ice with potential clients at a trade show or event.

Whether Halloween brings out the kid in you or¬†your the type who¬†loathes candy corn, A Creative Touch¬†can help you pick out the perfect promotional item for America’s scariest holiday. Come trick-or-treat with us!

Embroidery vs. Screenprinting

Sewing backgroundWhen you buy customized promotional products or apparel, how do you know you’re getting the best value for your money? If you are planning on buying polos, t-shirts, or other items with logos for your business, it’s worthwhile to investigate the differences between the two main types of design application on promotional products: embroidery and screenprinting.¬†

 

Embroidery is the more complex form of decoration. It involves stitching a three-dimensional design onto another type of fabric, usually with multicolor thread. With the advent of digital technology, creating custom embroidery designs is easier than ever. Embroidery can be used on a variety of promotional products, including:

  • Hats & caps
  • T-shirts
  • Tote bags
  • Jackets

As a three-dimensional form of decoration, embroidery is more durable than other types of customization available to you. A centuries-old form of embellishment, embroidery is a classic way of customizing your promotional products. However, the texture that makes embroidery so rich and attractive also renders small text more difficult to read. Embroidery is also more expensive than its nearest competitor, screenprinting.

Also known as silk screening, this process involves printed designs in ink, rather than thread. As a more modern technology, screenprinting is best for larger and more intricate graphic images on your promotional products. Screenprinting involves placing the colored layers of a graphic image onto fabric. Each color requires its own layer, so that a multicolored image requires one layer per color. While screenprinting is less expensive than embroidery and is visually better for some text-based designs, a more complicated screenprinted logo image will increase printing costs for your promotional products. Yet, screenprinting has several benefits:

  • More economical overall
  • Better for large quantities
  • Can be used for detailed or large designs
  • Also better for small text

Unlike embroidery, screenprinting is less hardy over the long term, as the applied designs can crack and wear with age. However, screenprinting’s versatility makes it a competitive choice for promotional products. Depending on your product needs, budget, and design desires, A Creative Touch¬†can help you decide which method is most appropriate for your promotional products.

Puppy-Inspired Promotional Products

America loves puppies!¬†¬†With¬†46 million dog owners, pet products are a great promotional products idea.¬† At A Creative Touch, we have hundreds of fun, customizable pet products in a range of styles and colors.¬† Give your clients, employees or volunteers one of these great items for their pampered pooches, and they’ll be sure to howl with delight:

act-pet-collar-led1. LED Collars: As Dorothy once said, there’s no place like home!¬† Ensure that your Toto doesn’t get lost with these cheerful LED collars! Choose from several Technicolor shades that light up with the touch of button and can be customized with a company logo. Combined with a fun puppy-themed print, these collars with keep your pet on the Yellow Brick Road to home.

act-scoop-it-bowl2. The Scoop-It Bowl: The contemporary style and utility of our Scoop-It bowl is perfect for your next trip to see the Wizard. Ideal for small dogs and cats, this Scoop-It Bowl is perfect for pet travel, performing double duty as both a food bowl and a scoop.  Made of a light, shatterproof material, it is available in a wide variety of  colors.

act-pet-bed3. The Snuggle Pet Bed: This luxe bed is perfect for small dogs who like to sleep in total comfort. Designed as a cozy nook for your pet, the base and top are lined in a soft, snuggly material. With it’s whimsical, rainbow design, it looks like it came straight of Munckinland! ¬†And this pet bed is¬†lightweight, so you can take it with you anywhere. Your Toto will want to ditch that old basket forever!

act-pet-dog-tag4. Modern Aluminum ID Tag: Pair these contemporary anodized aluminum ID tags with our LED collar for stylish pet security and peace of mind. Unlike traditional pet ID tags, these have a sleek modern shape and are available in an array of sophisticated colors like copper, purple, and silver. They can be inscribed with your pet’s name, your address, or phone number, up to 500 characters.

act-pet-stuffing-free-dog-toy5. Crazy Critters: These stuffing free toys are perfect for pet owners tired of indoor “snow.” No more toy stuffing strung all over your living room!

Let A Creative Touch help you find pet toys and fun products that are sure to send your dog over the rainbow!

The “Dirty” Secret Behind Promotional Products

Printer | Antique Design IllustrationsIn recent blog posts, I’ve talked about one of the hottest promotional products on the market today, reusable tote bags.¬† But did you know that the “American father of promotional products” launched today’s multi-billion dollar industry with a reusable tote bag?¬†

In 1886, a newspaper owner in Coshocton, Ohio named Jasper Freemont Meek observed a young schoolboy as he dropped his books in the dirt on Main Street.¬† This sparked an idea.¬† Mr. Meek approached a fellow business owner and friend, Mr. Cantwell of Cantwell Shoes.¬† Meek pitched the idea of imprinting a burlap book bag with a simple, but direct advertising message:¬† “Buy Cantwell Shoes.”¬† Cantwell would give every child who came into his shoe store a free bag. The children would carry the bag as they walked to and from school so Cantwell’s name would be seen all over town. ¬†¬†Meek explained that this simple advertising promotion would build store traffic, increase name recognition and spike sales in Cantwell’s store.

Mr. Meek manufactured the book bag, imprinted the advertising slogan on his printing press, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Those dirty schoolbooks sparked the birth of the promotional products industry as we know it today.

After launching another successful promotional product (imprinted horse blankets, seen on virtually every horse in town), Meek realized that he could easily supplement his newspaper revenues by using his printing press to print a variety of promotional products in between weekly newspaper editions.  Meek officially started his own successful promotional products company, the Tuscarora Advertising Co., organizing a sales force that sold promotional items with practically no competition until 1889.

A rival local newspaperman became Meek’s first competitor.¬† Henry D. Beach followed Meek’s lead and soon the two were in stiff competition to be the first to create new promotional products by printing advertisements on anything that could be run through a printing press: cloth caps, aprons, hats for horses, Cobb pipes, marble bags, fly swatters, buggy whips, card cases, wooden rulers, calendars and fans, all imprinted with the messages of local merchants.¬† Both men then turned to printing on metal signs, opening up a new product line for metal advertising trays (like the now iconic collector’s items created for Coca-Cola and beer companies).¬† Soon the two companies would become world leaders in promotional products, attracting artists and skilled workers the U.S. and from Europe, all traveling to Coshocton, Ohio to gain work in illustration and other advertising mediums.

So what are the “dirty” little secrets Mr. Jasper Freemont Meek ¬†and his competitor Henry Beach taught us?¬†¬† The most effective advertising messages are the ones printed on useful, everyday items.¬†It’s easiest to capture your customers’ attention with promotional giveaways and novelty items.¬† And it’s smart to incorporate promotional products that correlate to your company’s core business-painter’s caps for a paint store, marble bags for a toy store, and reusable tote bags for a shoe store that makes its best profits selling a new pair of shoes to growing schoolchildren each year!

Remembering Your
Reusable Tote Bags

act-reusable-grocery-bag-in-useIn my last blog post, I talked about why eco-friendly reusable grocery bags, promotional totes, and trade-show bags are one of the hottest (and greenest!) promotional products available today.  As governments and businesses seek ways to reduce plastic bag consumption, companies and organizations are looking to get reusable tote bags into the hands of their clients and prospects.

Not only are reusable promotional tote bags environmentally friendly, they are also marketing friendly.¬† With a custom printed tote bag, you gain loads of exposure from the residual effect by the bag’s reuse.¬† When people find a promotional product useful they will use it often, extending the advertising potential of the product indefinitely. Your logo or message on a reusable tote bag acts as a miniature walking billboard, providing multiple marketing impressions every time it’s used.

Because reusable promotional tote bags are useful and durable, and because they are an item that can be used in everyday activities like shopping, they are a great value in terms of cost per advertising impression.  But how do you make sure your prospects, customers, employees, and volunteers regularly use those bags?  Teach them how.  Here are some of the best ways to make sure your promotional tote bag product gets used at least 700 times (the average reusable bag has the lifespan of more than 700 disposable plastic bags):

Stock Up: There is strength in numbers.  Stock up on reusable tote bags and store them all together (inside one bag, for example).

Store Them in Smart Places:¬† Hang your reusable tote bags on the door knob so you’ll see them on the way out, or store them in the car. Keep reusable bags in the same place you store plastic bags (as a reminder to use reusable bags instead!). Keep a reusable bag inside your suitcase.¬† Fold up a reusable tote bag and put in your purse.¬† Even better, put your car keys inside a reusable bag-you’ll have to grab the bag to get to your keys!

Shop at Rewarding Stores:¬† CVS, Target, IKEA, and Whole Foods are just a few of the national retailers who reward customers who use reusable totes (rebates) and/or “punish” those who don’t (bag purchase required).¬† You’ll be more inclined to remember to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) if you shop in locations where you’ll save money for reusing your tote!

Set Your Sights On Style:  Everybody loves to carry a well-designed, stylish bag that carries a creative message.  At A Creative Touch, our promotional products selection includes nearly 1800 reusable tote bags that come in many styles, shapes, colors, and price points.

Send Yourself a Reminder:¬† Make sure “Bring Reusable Tote Bags” is the first item on top of every shopping list.¬† If you use a smart phone for your shopping lists, you can set this as an automatic reminder.¬† Hang a “Got Bags?” reminder on your front door.¬† Or, put a sticky note on your car dashboard to prompt you to bring your reusable bags inside.

Stick With It:¬† If you get to the store and realize you have forgotten your bags, go back to the car to get them.¬† After a few extra trips (which make for great exercise), you’ll be more likely to remember.¬† Finally, make it a habit to put your reusable tote bags back in the car as soon as you unload them.

Share these helpful hints when you distribute your next reusuable bag at a trade show, conference, or event and you’ll be sure to see a return on your promotional products purchase!

Recycle, Reuse, and Reap
the Rewards of Reusable Tote Bags

act-reusable-grocery-bagWith the increased focus on protecting our environment, reusable tote bags have replaced t-shirts as the most popular promotional give-away. Reusable bags come in all sorts of stylish shapes and prints, making them a fun and functional collectible item. Not only do they make shopping trips a little more fun, they make the user feel like a responsible citizen.

Consider these frightening facts about paper and plastic shopping bags and you will see why:

The United States cuts down 14 million trees per year simply to supply the demand for paper shopping bags. Chemically processed at high temperatures, paper bag production releases toxins into the atmosphere at the same rate as plastic production, yet paper bags weigh nearly ten times more than their plastic counterparts, requiring more fuel to ship them to stores. And, despite being highly recyclable, only 20% of paper bags actually get recycled.

When it comes to plastic bags, the statistics are even more dire:

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, close to 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year, costing retailers around $4 billion annually.
  • The average person uses 350-500 plastic bags per year. And we are not alone. It is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion non-degradable plastic bags are used worldwide each year.
  • It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce approximately 100 billion new plastic bags.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that only 1% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide. The cost to recycle plastic bags so outweighs their value that most recycling facilities will not take them.
  • The other 99% of plastic bags are sent to landfills where it can take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose. Yet because they are so lightweight, plastic bags are the debris most likely to fly away, settling instead in trees, storm drains, beaches, and the ocean.
  • Plastic is the largest source of ocean litter, with plastic bags making up over 10% of washed-up debris polluting the US coastline. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, each year an estimated one million sea birds and 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals die of starvation after ingesting discarded plastic bags which block their digestive tracks.

That’s why, in some places, government is stepping in. In the recent years, more than a dozen countries have banned or put a tax on disposable bags. In 2002, Ireland was the first European country to impose a tax on plastic bags. At that time, it is estimated that nearly 1.2 billion free plastic bags were being distributed by retailers per year. Since the tax, Ireland has decreased plastic shopping bag consumption by 90%, reducing overall plastic bag usage by 1.08 billion.

In 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban conventional plastic grocery bags. In 2010, Los Angeles County followed suit: shoppers can either bring their own reusable bags or pay 25 cents for a paper or biodegradable bag. Nationwide, some retailers haven taken initiative, offering discounts as an incentive to customers who bring their own! CVS Pharmacy and Target began offering incentives to their customers to switch to using reusable shopping bags. CVS gives loyalty card shoppers a $1 reward for every four times they leave the store without taking a plastic bag. Target’s program offers shoppers a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag. Whole Foods gives cusomters a 10-cent discount for each reusable bag.¬† IKEA stores charge 5 cents per plastic bag. Proceeds go to American Forests, the nation’s oldest non-profit citizen’s conservation organization. Even Wal-Mart has introduced a pilot program in Northern California that require shoppers to either bring their own bags or pay 15 cents for a reusable bag at checkout, or $.50 for a plus-size bag.

Not only are reusable tote bags a necessary tool for all future shoppers, they are also a great advertising vehicle. In addition to creating brand awareness for your company or organization, they relay a message that you are part of a growing global ecological movement. After all, reusable bags save trees, water, gas and oil, while helping to reduce air and ocean pollution.

In fact, the average reusable bag has the lifespan of over seven hundred disposable plastic bags. Over a lifetime, just one person using reusable tote bags saves over 22,000 plastic bags! If your company or organization hasn’t created a custom-branded tote bag, it’s time to call the Queen of Promotional Products now!

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