Thursday, April 17, 2014

Custom Imprinted Bicycle Lights and Back to School Promo Opportunities

promotional product - bicycle headlight - custom imprint

It get's darker earlier at the same time as back to school

If you have schools as part of your customer list, then you know that back to school time is huge for promotional products.  Everyone from PTAs to Frats, and from sports boosters to private school fund raising campaigns has reasons to give away or sell or raffle off hats, tees, candy, and yes, bicycle items.

Since most schools start up in late August or early September, there is another annual phenomenon that is taking place.  The sun is coming up later and going down earlier.  This means that cyclists need lighting to get to school or get home from after school activities.  Or they may need lighting just to enjoy night rides with friends, including the popular moonlight rides.

If you are active in the public schools, but haven't checked out private schools, this may be the most important blog post you've ever read.  Almost all private schools need to raise huge amounts of money outside of tuition.  Sure, it may seem that $15,000 per year tuition would be enough, but that is generally just what is needed for ongoing expenses and doesn't cover capital expenditure or special needs.  Therefore private schools are constantly putting on fund raising drives, and most commonly they have something to sell or raffle off.

Here is another gem you may not have thought about.  EVERY kid and young adult who rides a bike loves lighting.  There is just something cool about adding a light on your bike.  We sell horns, and for cruisers and some little kids, horns are great.  But lights are just plain desirable!!  Bike 'n Safety offers a line of lights from small bicycle safety lights to sophisticated bike headlights and tail lights.  So we can fit the price point, budget, or demographic perfectly for any school, from k-12 to college.

We bring all of this up in April, because, like everything else in the promo products biz, you need to start knocking on doors and making presentation in April and May to get the business for August and September.  Check out our offerings at  And pay attention to this blog and to our email blasts.  We will be introducing several new items in the next 60 days.

Monday, March 31, 2014

7 Disciplines of Successful Entrepreneurs in Advertising Specialty Products

Entrepreneurs commonly dismiss discipline as tool to success

Notice that the use of the word entrepreneur is carefully chose here.  Not business owner.  I see owners as divided into three distinct categories of business owners. 
  1. Merchants - These are folks who have a gut for what the market wants, where to buy those things, and how to display them online, in catalogs, or in the shop.  For the promo products business, this person gravitates to the product side of the business, and just has a knack for seeing the best items to create great promotions
  2. Managers - Often this type of owner is second generation or bought the business.  They may have started it, but this is not likely.  They know the numbers, how to hire and motivate, and always have plenty of money to get the job done as planned.  
  3. Entrepreneurs - They started this business and probably several others.  They are flighty, energy machines, that can't sit still.  They have a million ideas worth $1, and one of them will be worth millions.  Even the million dollar idea will eventually bore them, and they will be starting something new.  
Merchants and managers usually exhibit discipline, although merchants may only have discipline in the area they love, product.  It is wise for these types to have a partner who can handle either money or people or both.  Managers are wise to have a partner with selling skills.

Entrepreneurs cannot be managed unless you like putting a leash on a cat.  So, if you are one of those, what types of disciplines might help you to actually get to something called success?

First - Define what success means to you.  It may be about money, but likely the money is only a marker.  You're too busy creating to have time to spend.  It is more likely something less tangible which makes it all the more critical to have a bit of self awareness and try to write it down.  Keep in mind that it is okay to change these evidences of success in the future.

Second - Line up your partners. Take the time to carefully select the talent you will need to fill in the places you'll never get to.  This includes a spouse who gets you, and will put up with a bankruptcy, and maybe a huge emotional crash or two.  For sure it includes a financial person who may also be a business manager.  They must be really tough with a thick skin.  Tell them in advance that you will likely run roughshod over their advice at times, but you still want that advice. 

Third - Stay with a new company, product, or division for at least a year after you are bored.  The new product can wait for a year.  Use this year to find a product champion who can take over and manage the future of your great idea. 

Fourth - Rest, recreate, and vacation.  Everyone knows you are capable of working 16 hour days and 31 day months.  But your ideas will stop when you do that.  When you aren't working, turn it off completely.  No phone calls, emails, texts, social media, etc. 

Fifth - Family must get time and attention. If your business is successful or if it fails, your family is going to be with whom you share the fruits or mourn the difficulties.  I have seen many divorces (and experienced one) among entrepreneurs.  They are the most devastated of any group.  On the other hand I know of many who have been disciplined enough to be home, both physically and emotionally, at night, on weekends, and for vacations.  These are the business owners who gain real success.

Sixth - Decide early what you need for income, and nest egg.  Give the rest away.  That's right.  Is $250,000 per year enough.  $500,000.  You pick the number.  Then don't get caught in the trap of more is better.  Find a comfortable standard of living that makes you and the family happy.  Then give the excess away. 

Seventh - Give back.  More than money, you have ideas, energy, experience, and enthusiasm to help civic and charitable organizations to thrive.  Be disciplined in sharing all of those with worthwhile efforts in the community. 

Do you have other items for this list?  Add them to the comments.  Do you see more than the three types of business owners in my introduction?  Give us your thoughts. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Using Twitter for Promotional Products

Twitter has a great search engine.  See the grey oblong box?

Twitter is really not about engagement, but about broadcast

If you are thrilled with your Twitter effort and getting lots of clients or really great engagement from your effort, stop now.  This post is not for you.  Or, maybe it is.  You see, there are three Twitters out there.

1.  Fan based - If you are Madonna or Sarah Palin, folks care what you Tweet.  You can respond to their Tweets and they might even respond to you.  Unlikely.  If you are not a celebrity, or at least a minor celebrity in your field, very few are waiting for your next Tweet.

2.  Your group - It is possible to get groups of like minded individuals to correspond by Twitter.  Teens do this.  Some clubs do this.  You may be able to get your clients to work with you this way, but there are better ways, like Yahoo groups, Linkedin groups, even Google+ Circles.

3.  Broadcast media

Take a look at your incoming news stream on Twitter.  How much of it looks like it is intending to engage?  Almost none.  Most of it is intending to entice.  The sender is teasing you to go to their more robust online media:  Website, blog, or YouTube video.  They are very likely Tweeting virtually the same Tweet 5 times a day.  Hoping to find you home. 

The really savvy Twitter campaigners have a bigger goal in mind.  They want to be found on Twitter search.  Check it out!  At the top of your Twitter Home page you will see a small gray box.  I have no idea why it isn't more predominant on the page.  But many people use the Twitter search engine instead of Google search or Bing, or in addition to one of those.

Twitter search is going to get you the moving news on a subject, short very direct headlines and teasers, and a very fast overview on any subject.  Go ahead and try it.  Put in custom pens or mugs or bike bells.  Once you enter a subject, you will get a new feed that is either "top" or "all" depending on your choice.  This is where you want to be found.


But the problem with Twitter is time.  For most important keywords that you might search, those Tweets will only be viewable for a half hour or so.  Therefore, if you want to be found, you need to be Tweeting your message about custom bike bells every hour each day.  How in the world do you do that?

By using an automation tool like Hootsuite.  Through the use of Hootsuite, you can pre plan 50 Tweets at a time, then upload them until they run out, then upload them again in about a minute.  We typically have about 48 tweets per day going out from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM.  We don't run the same Tweet all day long, but vary them. 

The use of the automation tool on Hootsuite is a bit complicated, especially for Apple users.  I find the best way is to lay out my Tweets is on a Google Docs Spreadsheet.  (Go to  They work like an Excel spread sheet.  You lay out your Tweets like the following:

Hootsuite auto loader spread sheet on Google Docs

The left column is the date and time.  It must be done exactly as you see it.  Day/month/year space military time.

The second column is your Tweet content.  Use keywords here and narrow the focus so that you are creating a rifle shot.  The person who clicks on this link should be a seriously interested potential buyer.  If you are regional, you might want to include you city, county, or state so that those in other parts of the country or world are not clicking on your link.

The content should also be alluring.  A Tease.  Words like New, Special, Sale, Save, Wow, Shocking, or seasons, holidays, and such.

The third column includes your short URL for the location or media where they can go to get more info.  You can create the short URL by sending out a Tweet on Hootsuite, which will automatically give you a shortened URL (see below), or by using a tool like  You can also place a shortened YouTube URL in that third column.

Once you have created the spread sheet with up to 50 different Tweets, you can download as a comma-separated values (CSV) under the "file" tab.  Once you have this download it is ready to use on the Hootsuite automation tool.

Set up an account at  (Trial month free, then $9.99 a month. I am not an affiliate.)  Now add your Twitter account to your Hootsuite tool. Go to the streams page and you will see the following

Hootsuite Streams Page

Note the compose message area.  This is where you can set up new messages.  Once you add the social network to the box on the right, it will give you a character count, so that you know how many you have left.  Leave at least 9 or 10 so there is room for others to Retweet.  Once you begin to write in the compose message space it will expand and you will see a spot to put in your URL, so that it can be shortened.

When you have completed your Tweet and shortened the URL, copy the resulting Tweet and add to your spread sheet.

Automation tool - Note the little blue box with the date on it.  When you click on this you will find a form where you can schedule future Tweets.  You can do this one at a time.  It is tedious.  At the bottom of the form you will see in small letters:  bulk message uploader.  Click on this to reveal the tool.

This is the bulk message uploader (below).  The top space is where you go and locate the CSV file that you downloaded earlier of your Google Doc spread sheet.

The automation tool will be set up with the blue dot mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm selected.  Change to the other one:  dd/mm/yyy hh:mm.  In the third spot, choose the correct social media option (at this point the only choice is probably your Twitter account)

Now push submit.  It takes 30 seconds to a  minute or so to upload.  However, you may get a rebuke instead.  As noted below in the picture, there are several things you cannot due.  The first Tweet must be schuled at least 10 minutes from upload, and all Tweets must be at least 10 minutes apart.  Easy.  I commonly run mine an hour apart.

Next, there can be no duplicates.  This is easy to solve.  Any change will do.  Change a period to an exclamation point.  Change at to @.  Change You to U or Are to R.  Short forms are common on Twitter.

The general set up method I prefer is to have 16 completely different Tweets that I then duplicate three times on a spread sheet.  Then I go to each of the duplicates and make the minor changes.  This gives me 48 unique Tweets. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

What Social Media Is Best for Promo Products Distributors?


No Time to Stay Up with All Social Media? How to Set Priorities

How are you doing on the Vine?  How about Instagram?  The teens are all about SnapChat. Of course, you thought you were modern, because you have a Pinterest page.  Is Facebook old hat?  Left in the dust?  Where does all of this leave blogging, YouTube, Linkedin, Google+, and Twitter?

My position with Bike 'N Safety Promos is that of marketing consultant.  My daily job and that of my staff is to maximize the use of all marketing resources to optimize the spending of time and money for the largest possible ROI.  I don't just do this form Bike 'N Safety Promos, but for many other companies in various industries.

Our knowledge base is limited, like any person or company, but I will give you a snapshot of what we do know, and how I would prioritize my time investment (in order) were I advising you on social media:

YouTube - I would have a minimum of 50 YouTube videos, and I would be adding five per month.  These could demonstrations on specific products that you sell a lot of or want to sell a lot of.  They could be marketing advice that relates to the use of promotional products, specialties, etc.  They could be industry specific how to videos for events, awards, or promotional approaches. 

Time investment is about 10 hours to learn how to create, edit, and upload a video.  Then maybe 2 hours per video.  If you value your time at $30 an hour, that would mean new videos cost around $60.  One new client and you make it back in a huge way.  These videos will be producing results far into the future.

Blogging - Posting two to three times per week.  Add to the possible lists of subjects for videos, detailed graphs, charts, infograms; content from other blogs, news articles, industry information; posting of all the videos you create and others you find that would be valuable to your client, including product videos from manufacturers.

Time investment is about 10 - 20 hours to learn the ropes of blogging.  Average post should be 700 words, so figure about 1 - 2 hours per post.  Like videos, the content stays live on Google search for years into the future.  For many posts, you might just take a picture of the new product, write a brief description of the benefits (or copy from manufacturer's website), suggest a few uses, and you're done.

Linkedin - Of the supposedly interactive social media options available, I believe this is the best, short term and long term.  Corporate leadership is on Linkedin.  They get Linkedin.  And the basics are pretty straight forward.  The opportunities to connect are limitless and getting better all the time.  Any time you create a new video or blog post, you should do an update on Linkedin to inform your connections.

Time investment is about 15 - 20 hours to really get a great profile set up and take advantage of all the potential groups.  You also want others to give you testimonials, so you will need to write some for others.  Then another 40 hours to create 1000 connections.  These you can do while watching TV.  Once you have 1000 connections, your time commitment will be updating three or so times per week, and any involvement in groups.  You can use Linkedin for recruiting and prospecting.  This may be the most powerful aspect.  The time commitment here is unknown, but it is very likely the ROI will be more than you can imagine.

Facebook - We are not big fans of FB, and do not set up or manage FB for our clients.  The only positive use we can see for our clients who use FB is that they can create a community of "fans" who may be more likely to use you in the future.  Ads, prospecting, etc., we can't find a great ROI.

Twitter - As a way to actually connect and communicate, we definitely don't get it.  As a way to tease folks to your blog, YouTube videos, website or other media, it is invaluable.  We typically send out 48 such Tweets per day using HootSuite.  We have no interest in getting followers.  We are merely trying to reach those who use various Twitter search products.  This approach has led to tripling or more the number of visitors to our blogs.  Most of our clients now have 100-200 page views per day.

Time investment.  It will take you two hours to figure out Hootsuite.  Then it will take 2-3 hours to set up a spread sheet with 50 tweets to upload into the automator.  Then every few days you will need to refresh the system, which takes only 5 minutes or so.

Pinterest - We spent about two years trying to get Pinterest results.  Our conclusion is that it is necessary to run contests, promotions, and sales to actually get a return on the effort.  Pinterest can be a huge time suck without these additional efforts.  We continue to believe that Pinterest could be a good resource, maybe even a great one, but currently the time investment was too large and the ROI too tentative compared to other proven approaches.

Google+ - Currently it our thinking that you need to be on Google+, if only to broadcast to the Public that you have a new blog post, change in your website, event coming up, new Video, Vine, or other new content.  It is also fun to create Meme's with creative sayings or even sales content.  Investment might be 20 minutes a week.  No serious expectations for ROI right now.

SnapChat - We have clients who are successfully using Instagram.  Mostly to feed pictures to other media.  We are not using Vine, but do believe there is potential in using very short visual media for some opportunities in other media, like Google+ and Twitter.  We can't imagine any use for SnapChat, yet.

We would love to hear from you about your thoughts on all of these.  Have you had a major success that others could learn from?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NEW! Online Catalog of Custom Imprint Bicycle Products for Promo Products Buyers

Need a Bicycle Item for Your Event, Promotion, or Advertising? 

Bicycles are now more of an adult item.  Kids still ride bikes, but the big market is men, ages 25 - 55 followed by women in the same age group.  If you are planning an event for kids or for adults in that prime demographic, bicycle items may make the perfect advertising specialty item for you to give away in a goody bag, as a premium, or to generate traffic.

Many bicycle items work well as advertising vehicles after they are given out.  Because many of them attach to the bicycle, the product and the message are going to be seen whenever the bicycle is seen, whether while being ridden or even parked.  

Bike 'N Safety Promos has been supplying lights, horns, bells, and other great imprinted bike accessories for these types of promotions and events for many years.  Now they have created a user friendly catalog that can help you decide which items might work best for your specific use.  Here is an example page.

Nothing could be easier than acquiring the entire catalog.  You merely click on this link and you have it.  

If you are not involved in Bicycle Month or any of the activities in Bicycle Month, including Bike to Work Day or Bike to School Day, you may want to visit some of the other blog posts and pages on this blog to learn more about who buys promotional products for bicycle month, how to put on a bike month promotion and more.  

Monday, March 3, 2014


Great Planning Guide for Bike Month Events

Whether you are helping to put on a bike month event or providing promotional products for such an event, the event managers may not have seen this elaborate brochure that has been produced by The League of American Bicyclists.  You can get it for free by simply clicking on this link and downloading it to your computer.  Simple as that:

We have offered many other resources on this blog.  Please see the menu items at the top or check out some of our recent posts.  Remember, Bike Month starts May 1, and Bike to Work day is May 6.  Time is short.  Now is the time to see local organizers and see how you may be able to help them with various promotional ideas. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bike Safety Month Offers Something for Everybody at Every Age

You Can Make Money and Help Your Community During Bike Safety Month

Don't let this opportunity to promote your business pass you by!  The bicycle business has boomed over the last several years, and this is the one area you will be able to promote your business and feel good about the safety you are helping to spread to everyone around you.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided a wonderful list of ideas you can use to promote National Bike Safety Month.        
  1. Organize a bike helmet discount or giveaway for younger kids, youth and parents. Make sure to teach proper fit and use.
  2. Hold a helmet-use challenge at school, between schools, or between competing groups in the community.
  3. Work with law enforcement agencies to encourage enforcement of bicycle traffic laws.
  4. Conduct helmet-use observation studies and report your findings.
  5. Organize a bike ride for your school or community. Include a discussion and safety education materials on rules for safe riding before the ride.
  6. Encourage local bike retailers to promote helmet use for everyone.
  7. Recruit bicycle crash survivors or motorists involved in a bicycle crash to speak at school assemblies, community or faith-based events, etc.
  8. Organize a bike path clean-up day. Use this opportunity to reinforce safe riding and safe driving around bicyclists using existing resources.
  9. Work with local pediatricians, family practice centers or clinics to counsel families to use bicycle helmets every ride.
  10. Sponsor bicycle day, week, or month to get your community out riding bicycles for fun or to encourage replacing short car trips with a bike trip. The more bicyclists seen on a routine basis, the more motorists will expect to look for, and see bicycle riders. Replacing short trips by bike can impact traffic congestion and have an environmental impact. Encourage everyone to be a role model for safe behaviors as bicyclists and as motorists around bicyclists. Promote helmet use, shared courtesy and the rules of the road for bicyclists and drivers.
  11. Sponsor or organize community training for identified groups on how to properly fit a bicycle helmet, i.e. employees of bicycle shops or where bicycles are sold, students and adults in after school programs or summer camps, youth and leaders of clubs like boy scouts, 4H, school bike clubs, etc.
  12. Develop a “Share the Road” campaign to educate the community on what it means and what behavior is expected between bicyclists and motorists.
  13. Start a community bicycle recycling program. Teach youth to repair or rebuild donated bicycles. Work with local law enforcement to rebuild stolen bicycles and donate them to families or youth in need.
  14. Create a bicycle club for children, youth, adults, and/or families in the community, schools, after school programs or faith based settings.
  15. Conduct a helmet use and bicycle attitudinal study. Ask community members of all ages what they think about bicycling conditions, helmet use, and other bicycle safety-related issues. Use the information you collect to build your bicycle safety program.
  16. Work with youth and adult sports league team members to promote bicycle helmet use.
  17. Sponsor a bike safety night at a community baseball or soccer game.
  18. Seek opportunities to reach adults on adopting safe behaviors when riding.
  19. Seek opportunities to reach adults on driving safely around those bicycling.
  20. Initiate a school or community helmet incentive program for kids or youth providing rewards for wearing helmets. Think of how this should be varied based on programs for elementary or middle-high school ages. Don’t forget the behaviors of children need to be reinforced by what they see parents and adults doing.
  21. Design a poster featuring local athletes promoting bike helmets.
  22. Sponsor a bicycle safety essay contest for varying ages. Publish winners in newsletters or local papers.        
  23. Solicit free billboard space and post bicycle safety messages.
  24. Encourage health and/or car insurance companies and local medical facilities to offer bicycle helmets to clients at no or low cost along with bicycle safety information for bicyclists and motorists.
  25. Sponsor a community bike-a-thon; use proceeds to provide bike helmets to riders who can’t afford them.                                                        
  26. Hold a bicycle safety checkpoint at bike paths, recreation areas, or schools. Checkpoints can be used to pull over bicyclists whose helmets are being worn incorrectly and correct the fit, to offer education on the importance of helmet use and the safety rules of the road, or to entice community awareness, involvement and respect for sharing the road with motorists and bicyclists.                
  27. Pass a bicycle helmet use policy in the school system, local government, and businesses.                                                         
  28. Assess your community needs for bicycle safety Complete a Bikeability Checklist,
  29. Sponsor a bicycle safety poster contest.
  30. Produce a bicycle safety video or public service announcement through a local TV or radio station. Reach out to bicyclists, motorists or both to help keep the roadway safe for all road users, including bicyclists.
  31. Conduct a bicycle education program or Cycling Skills Clinic,
  32. Develop a bicycle safety project with youth groups (e.g. Scout badges, 4-H programs, etc.)                                                        
  33. Work with local retailers to include bicycle safety messages in their stores and as part of their advertisements.                                                 
  34. Place bicycle safety displays in health clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, banks, cafeterias, shopping malls, bus stops, libraries and other gathering places in the community.                                                
  35. Provide bicycle safety lesson ideas or activities for educators to utilize.
  36. Sponsor bicycle maintenance clinics for all riders.
  37. Work with fast food restaurants to place bicycle safety messages on tray liners.
  38. Provide or sponsor bicycle safety training for those who work with youth and who could reinforce bicycle safety principles, e.g., youth group leaders, recreation department staff, and law enforcement officers, etc.
  39. Hold a media event simulating an actual bike crash or near miss to emphasize the importance of how to behave safely as a bicyclist and a motorist around bicyclists.
  40. Work with helmet distributors or local retailers to offer helmet discounts or coupons for discounts on helmets for your school or community.
  41. Distribute bicycle safety tips through PTA’s, PTO’s, childcare centers, after- school programs, parent organizations, civic organization or in your local papers.
  42. Be a sponsor for a bicycle helmet giveaway program. Provide financial support for bicycle safety equipment giveaways including helmets, retro-reflective gear, or bicycle lights.                                                        
  43. Educate adults about the importance of being good role models; encourage them to set the example for safe behavior as a bicyclist and as a motorist.

At BikeNSafety Promos, our goal is to provide safety to every bicycle rider out there.  Which is why we have developed the BugEyez blinking lights - the perfect giveaway for any event.  Imagine your company name imprinted on our LED Safety Light, being passed out at an event whose main goal is not only to promote safety education, but in a fun way!