Yes, We Do That

The Allied Group is New England's leading provider of Printing, Kitting, Mailing and Fulfillment services. Our blog authors have backgrounds in Sales, Marketing, IT, Production and Operations and post useful tips, trends, news and opinions in our industry and beyond. We know you'll find something you enjoy. Most of all, be sure to jump into the conversation!

Always Ask for a Raise over Lunch

Being in the right circumstances can make a big difference when asking your boss for a salary increase or presenting a case to a client. In “You’re Judged by the Company You Keep” we briefly discussed research that showed how a person’s positive or negative experience with one thing can rub off on anything associated with it. Thus, weathermen get blamed for storms that ruin vacations and customers condemn companies for mistakes made by their vendors. A New England insurer’s fulfillment partner averaged two client communications errors per week. One can only imagine how that made the company* look to their insureds.

 

Research used by colleges from Oxford University to the University of Utah shows that tasty food stimulates the brain’s pleasure center. We truly enjoy a good meal. Those good feelings can radiate to anyone or anything in close proximity. Since beauty produces a similar effect on the brain, we can easily understand why in one study outlined in the last post, men rated a new car more favorably when its advertising included a beautiful model. But most of us don’t have such a creature available to accompany us when meeting with a client or our boss. But we all have restaurants nearby. These can prove to be important allies in presenting our case.

 

Distinguished Columbia University psychologist Dr. Gregory Razran showed just how powerful good food can be in swaying opinions. In 1940, according to influence expert Robert Cialdini, PhD, Razran published research in which he asked people to indicate whether they approved or disapproved of certain political slogans. Then all were invited to a luncheon. At the luncheon the same statements were presented and then rated by the experiment’s subjects. Razran found that some slogans had increased their approval rating – those presented when people were eating.

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We are fast approaching an election year

If there ever was a need for clarity in communication, it’s now. Yet no matter how specific the question or how many times it’s asked, the candidates from both parties just seem to drone on and on.

Watch the debates, or just pay attention in the next business meeting and you’ll see it’s true—too many people just don’t know how to stop talking. A new book by Mike Staver, coach, professional speaker, and author of Do You Know How to Shut Up? And 51 Other Life Lessons That Will Make You Uncomfortable, teaches you how to know when to speak up and when to zip your lips.

In his book Staver says if you think you don’t suffer from the same problems as the candidates, think again. You probably do—and if you don’t, you know someone who does.

The Allied Group promises to listen to your needs, not tell you what you need when you buy promotional products or are looking for help with corporate marketing communications.

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Start every day shiny

Two situations that came up one week last month required me to change my normal route to work. The new path brought me passed a large local car dealership. Since it was before 7:00 AM each day I did not expect to see any activity as it was before working hours. What I saw really got my attention...and stay tuned for what it caused me to do.

In the lot were three different two-man teams, each with buckets and sprayers attached to garden hoses, washing off the 100 or so cars parked in neat rows across the expansive parking lot. Despite the absence of any trees and falling leaves or any new snow, ice or any other kind of precipitation, I noticed how meticulously each and every car was being cleaned so that when the prospective customers came to the lot that day, each vehicle would look its’ absolute best.

It reminded me again that everything that every organization does is marketing. Either you are making yourself look more attractive, or less attractive, to your customers and prospects. You might have the best marketing communication strategies possible, but if your execution leaves the product unattractive or less ‘shiny’ than it could be, you are creating a disadvantage for yourself and your salespeople - not the marketing and sales support you are looking for.

Marketers and business owners, make sure; the lobby is neat, the rugs are clean, the bathrooms smell good, the light bulbs all work, the marketing messages are clear and they are delivered in a timely fashion. Salespeople, make sure your shoes are shined, your teeth are brushed, your attitude is good, your sales literature is organized and you leave whoever you visit feeling better when you walk out then when you walked in.

Ps. What did the “car washing” cause me to do? Despite having another vehicle all picked out – I gave that dealership a shot and bought one of their ‘shiny’ cars instead.

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You guys are brilliant!

Wow, you guys are brilliant! I can honestly say that I have not heard that statement too many times in my career. Those words were spoken to The Allied Group team by the member of a genomic testing company. I have to be honest; I had to ask my son who is in medical school to explain everything his company did. They were brilliant; we were a company that could supply them with business process outsourcing solutions like supply chain management, marketing solutions, contract packaging and direct mail fulfillment services. 

We entered a dialogue and one by one we were able to help them improve their business processes.  They understood what they do best which is the science and the laboratory to process the blood.  We understood how to market the service, create a package that we could ship their clients and how to bill the client for the service. We became part of their back room operations. 

We have now opened a Life Science Center where we build and ship kits to physicians and the end user in an FDA registered facility.  We understand the logistic supply chain management and are ISO 13485 certified.  We help them with everything from marketing to direct mail.  We are not brilliant; we simply have a unique and well executed set of business process outsourcing solutions that have made their life easier. They are brilliant and we execute well.

We have helped several key genomic test companies improve their back room operations. How can we help your operation?

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I love a productive meeting

As a distributor I deal with both sides of the buying process. I meet with manufacturers and vendors to educate myself on products and get a feel for the suppliers I work with. I then go out to my clients and share my knowledge. It's not always easy to find a good business partner but I had a very pleasant experience yesterday when the BIC rep came in to visit. I hadn't seen a rep in this area for 10 years and I was curious about how the meeting would go. I was pleasantly surprised by her presentation. She gave me a brief history of the company, her experience with BIC and educated me on her product line in under 40 minutes. 

I can't tell you how much I appreciated this meeting. I learned about the product, saw the product and didn't waste a lot of my valuable time. I'm now armed to go out and sell BIC products to The Allied Group clients which include life science marketing groups.

So if you're looking for imprinted promotional products why not start with a BIC pen by contacting The Allied Group? Or myself directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Interesting Fact: The reason that BIC Round Stick has openings in its pen caps is to prevent suffocation if someone happens to swallow the cap while chewing on it...

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Marketing: There Is No Finish Line

Marketing: There Is No Finish Line

I recently had the opportunity to compete in the 13th Annual Reach the Beach Relay. This is a relay race where 12 people get together and run 200 miles as a team over 24 hours. The team was driving overnight in 2 vans following our teammates run from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach in beautiful New Hampshire. It may sound to crazy to the non-runners out there but I assure you it is an awesome event, with lots of camaraderie, teamwork and support. I was in awe that at any time there was always someone from our team running, helping the entire team "reach the beach" at Hampton!

As I was running my legs throughout the 24-hour timeframe, I was seeing the comparison between a running relay and a business marketing plan: There is no downtime!

Whether you are marketing in medical devices, life science marketing or if you are a higher education marketing firm, it is an ongoing effort. Consumers today are inundated with information and it is a necessity to keep the marketing plan always moving. Similar to a relay team, a marketing effort requires a plan for constant action and there needs to be constant motion. Like a strong relay team, there needs to be a chain of activities to keep the momentum going.

There is web design branding; there is promotional imprinted products; there are lead generation agencies; there are many more other marketing tactics that can be used. Whatever you use, it is critical to maintain a plan of regular contact and communication with clients, prospects and "friends" of your company.

Unlike a relay race, there is no finish line in marketing your business!

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Coming Down the Home Stretch

Coming Down the Home Stretch

There are a lot of sayings about this topic. It's not how you run the race, it's that you finish the race (something like that). It's important to get off to a good/quick start. Its important to finish strong. You don't win or lose the World Series in April. You don't win or lose the World Series in September. Winning is everything. Nobody remembers who came in 2nd. It's not winning or losing, it's how you play the game.

Wow. I could go on. So which is it? The Red Sox have proven and will disprove them all in one season. And if my marketing communication strategies are anything like this baseball season, we'd be in for quite a ride. What do you call an integrated marketing communications campaign that stumbles out of the gate, recovers, corrects itself and hits maximum stride only to stumble again and, at the 11th hour, you're not sure if you'll even finish let alone reach your goal? I don't know.

Well I guess no matter how pretty or ugly it is, getting to the finish line and achieving your goal is what you strive for. After all, if you do win it all, no one will remember the stumbles at any part of the process. And as any top baseball franchise, or top direct marketing agency for that matter, will tell you, you're only as good as your last success.

So we're 2 up with 8 to go. What's your bet?

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You're Judged by the Company You Keep

I first learned what “the company you keep” can do to a business from a phone call I received from my contact at a New England insurer. It was regarding a shipment of material we had printed and stored for them at The Allied Group, a full service fulfillment company that also provides marketing and sales support. Everything looked great. The shipment was delivered on time to the right location. But the common carrier truck driver had exchanged angry words in the parking lot with a company Vice President. “We know it’s not your fault,” my contact told me. “But if you ever send that trucker here again, I know there’s going to be trouble.” 

 

Because of the bad conduct of their driver, not only would the trucking company lose business, but I was scrambling to maintain my own good relationship with a major client. Even when people intellectually know a problem has nothing to do with you or your firm, the bad feelings generated by such a situation can stick to everyone connected to it. Organizations truly are judged by the company they keep.

 

Marketers and advertisers have long recognized the power of association to shape opinions. Communications psychology expert Robert Cialdini, PhD outlined a classic marketing study that compared men’s impressions of a new car based on two versions of a print ad. One ad showed a seductive model with the automobile, the other just displayed the vehicle. Men who viewed the ad with the beautiful woman rated the car as faster, more appealing, more expensive-looking and better designed than those who saw the ad without the model. When surveyed after the study, these men refused to believe that the woman’s presence had anything to do with their assessment. 

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Using Supply Chain Management Strategies in the back country, part 2

In my previous blog I discussed some of the supply chain management principles used in both 3PL providers as well as for trips to the back country. It is useful to consider some guiding principles for Supply Chain Management Strategies. They act as a reminder so that the proper effort is exerted. They are the checks and balances of Logistic Supply Chain Management. Every decision, change, or idea should be judged against these principles to ensure that the criteria of the principles are met. For those with an extensive familiarity with Supply Chain Management Strategies, these principles become second nature. For those who are still developing that level of experience, I advise thinking in terms of the following:

Planning:   Planning is the most critical aspect of any logistical event. Complete plans must be made to cover all likely courses of events. Furthermore, contingency plans should be made for the most likely problems, such as inclement weather or a participants health issues. Planning effort should be given to what-if scenarios. What if we can’t cover the distance due to inclement weather, do we have time on the back end to make up for a lost day? Finally, planning should include numerous decision points that act as balances against possible drift. This keeps the trip streamlined, promotes momentum, and ensures good anticipation.

Efficiency:  Every resource and the way it is used must produce the maximum positive impact possible. Resources that are used infrequently, such as luxuries, will burden the expedition and make logistical management slow and unresponsive.

Effective: There has to be a reason for every logistics effort, and this reason has to promote the success of the trip or enable an objective or goal that will promote overall success. There is no point in pushing many resources at an effort that will have negligible positive impact on the expedition. Every resource and the way it is used must have an effective impact on the progression of the expedition towards its conclusion.

Simplicity: In times of stress or difficult conditions, a simple logistics plan is more likely to survive than a complex one. In project management terms, this simplicity can be achieved by identifying a critical path with as few links as possible. Effort should be made to achieve this critical path.

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How to Run a Successful Golf Tournament - Tip 3

Offer Great Prizes!

Be sure to include contests and prizes at your golf tournament.  Participants want to have something to shoot for.  Reward a "closest to pin" or "longest drive" with a trophy or give-away. This makes the players want to stay around for the end of your event. This will make sure your get your message across to attendees. Golf related items like golf bags or drivers make great awards!

If you're looking for unique ideas for your tournament prizes contact us! Let me help you buy promotional products that will make your golf tournament a success! 

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