When is a mug NOT a mug?

by Larry Triplett

We have more than 100 answers to that question! It’s explained in this video:


Get your copy of the list from our home page.

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New Sunscreen Regulations Capture Marketers’ Attention

Custom branded sunscreen can be a part of any summer promotionby Larry Triplett

Custom labeled sunscreen products have long been popular in marketing and promotion. As summer finally becomes official, we find more and more companies including sunscreen in their summer promotions. Last week, some new regulations were announced by the FDA, requiring more detailed labeling. Our suppliers are on top of the situation. Here’s a quick overview on the changes.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) ratings have been around since the 1960s, and will remain in place. They measure protection from UVB radiation. UVB is responsible for sunburn. The FDA is now much more concerned about UVA, the rays that have now been shown to cause skin cancer. Sunscreens that offer both kinds of protection are known as Broad Spectrum, and that term will start to appear on products soon.

FDA research has shown that most sunscreen products do not last very long. Many of the claims of water-resistance have been found to be overstated. It will become necessary to state on the label how long an application will last. The FDA will be suspicious of any claims of more than 2 hours effectiveness. It’s been suggested that sunscreens should be reapplied after swimming. All of this extra information means that advertising space will be at a premium. We expect that it will lead the way to some creative packaging as these changes take hold.

Broad Spectrum designation will become a highly desired label, and that’s good news for marketers. As public health awareness increases, advertisers will certainly want to be associated with the more effective sunscreens. APTCO is working closely with our suppliers to make sure summer promotions are just as effective.

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Top 5 Tag Lines of All Time

by Larry Triplett

A good tag line adds focus and purpose to a brand. It should be short enough to be easy to remember and repeat. It should avoid industry-specific jargon so it’s easily understood by everyone. It should describe a company’s mission succinctly. The ideal tag line will inspire the company as well as its audience. Here the best ones, ranked by taglineguru.com:

1. Got Milk? (1993,California Milk Processor Board)
2. Don’t leave home without it. (1975, American Express)
3. Just do it. (1988, Nike)
4. Where’s the beef? (1984, Wendy’s)
5. Think different. (1998, Apple Computer)

Once you’ve settled on your tag line, don’t just leave it on your business card. It should be everywhere, and always integrated into your marketing campaigns with promotional products.

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No Need to Panic over Lead in Grocery Bags

Reusable grocery bags can be imprinted safelyby Larry Triplett

Recently, several grocery store chains, including Publix, Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie, Walmart and Target, reported the existence of varying levels of lead in some reusable grocery bags. A firestorm of news coverage, questions, inquiries and concerns followed that announcement.

We did a little research to separate fact from fiction. According to Specialized Technology Resources (STR), a well-respected, CPSC-authorized testing lab, there are no federal regulatory requirements that apply to bags, unless the item is intended to hold food — then applicable FDA requirements would apply. Reusable grocery bags would not fall under the FDA guidelines—generally these bags are intended primarily to hold pre-packaged food items.

The bags in question are not children’s products, therefore they would not be regulated by the CPSIA and no third-party testing would be required. An over-abundance of caution is once again in play, as the manufacturers of those bags are fully compliant with existing Federal regulations.

An investigative series published in the Tampa Tribune claims its independent testing found lead in several reusable grocery bags sold by five different retailers in Florida. The report has led U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to call for a federal investigation to determine the scope of the public health risk. “Federal agencies need to put a ban in place for reusable bags that have lead in them,” Schumer said. “Any situation where lead bags are coming into contact with the food being purchased by Americans needs to be immediately investigated and resolved.”

The bags, sold at Winn-Dixie, Publix, Sweetbay, Wal-Mart and Target, contained levels of lead that fall within current government allowances, but are higher than the soon-to-be-enacted federal standard of 100 parts-per-million in paint and children’s products. Although painted illustrations on the bags contain lead in a form that is not easily leached, lab experts say over time toxins can be released as threads wear down and paint flakes off. Also, if the bags were to be thrown away, the lead levels are elevated enough to cause potential hazards in places like landfills, according to guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Typical of recent product recalls, the issue comes not from the base product but from the way in which it is decorated. Due to the very high quantities used by major chains, the bags are generally produced and decorated in China. Though China does produce many (not all) of the bags we sell at APTCO, in almost every instance we print or embroider them in the US. Our factory partners do random safety inspections regularly, and we make these reports available on request. We understand that product safety is the bedrock upon which our products stand.

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7 Answers to get you started on Direct Mail

by Larry Triplett

Q: How do you get a mail list?Use full color to capture reader attention
List brokers are generally considered the most effective sources for vetted mail lists. “Vetted” is a key operative word. There are lots of garbage lists out there. APTCO works directly with some of the best wholesale list brokers.

Q: What should you avoid in your mailing list?
A: Watch out for too few qualified names, which might not yield a single sale from a list of 5,000. Also make sure the timing is right on who is qualified – if you are targeting customers looking for new cars, a list of new car buyers from even a year ago might be too dusty.

Q: What sort of mailer is most effective?
A: The goal is to get the recipient to stop and take a closer look, and hopefully open the mailer. Two of the best ways to do this are by sending “lumpy” packages or envelopes with some kind of promotional product, or adding creativity and color to the envelope itself.

Q: What kind of offer connects with customers?
A: A simple one. Make it easy to understand and compelling, so the customer will be more likely to move on it after receiving the first mailer. The more personally targeted it can be, the better.

Q: How can the mailer be personalized?
A: In addition to variable data fields, which places the recipient’s name and information on the mailer, personal URLs (or “PURLs”) are a growing tactic in direct mailing. These web addresses are tailored to every individual on the mailing list, putting his or her name in the URL you are directing them to and providing them with a “VIP landing page” that can also be customized with exactly what you want them to see.

Q: How can the recipient be called to action?
A: Be sure to include multiple ways to connect with the advertising company, including e-mail, phone, texting, and business reply card. The aim is to make it as easy and natural for recipients to respond as possible.

Q: What is the average sales rate on direct mail?
A: Opinions vary, but most experts agree that a 1% to 3% rate can be expected, though this can increase when combined with other marketing efforts.

There’s no doubt that it’s easy to waste money on direct mail if you don’t know what you’re doing. Yet smart marketers are achieving success even in a tough economy. We can help put you in the success camp. Let’s talk about how.

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