Direct Mail


This is an encore of an article Michael Chusid wrote over 20 years ago. "Productware" is now firmly established, and our attention has turned to identifying new trends that will shape building product marketing in the decades ahead. The future is hard to predict -- this article failed to foresee the internet, for example.

Building product manufacturers must be able to speak the language of the architectural community. With a majority of architectural firms now using computers for everything from code analysis to working drawings, many manufacturers are  rushing to learn the language of automation and its marketing dialect.

To date, the number of manufacturers using computers as a new sales communication medium is still relatively small. But as the computerized customer base reaches a critical density, more manufacturers are  realizing that the medium can be an effective method for reaching targeted markets.

I refer to computerized building product sales tools as "productware." The first productware to be developed has been electronic versions of existing guide specifications and product details. By eliminating the chore of inputting data, manufacturers are hoping their diskettes will find a way into an architect's, library of master specifications and standard details. It is fairly simple to translate a guide specification into the variety of word-processing systems most  commonly used by specifiers. But it remains an expensive proposition for manufacturers to create easy-to-use libraries of CAD details, especially since data cannot be moved directly between some of the most widely used CAD systems.

While diskettes with specifications and details can save an architect valuable time, a more significant use of the computers power lies in the development  proprietary product-selection databases, expert systems, and engineering programs. These programs typically present a user with a menu of product performance parameters. Based on the user's input, the computer then searches a database of the manufacturer's products and systems and offers recommendations about the most appropriate products to use. Some programs can then produce a custom specification or schedule. And if an architect needs assistance in evaluating alternatives, many programs also offer interactive product tutorials. Products for which this type of manufacturer produced software is available range from laminated glass and fire stopping to luminaries and ventilators.

When properly programmed, productware should do more than just sort data. It should help designers and specifiers become better decision makers. The rampant growth in building technologies and changes in product availability can contribute to decision-making anxiety. Productware can help relieve this syndrome by performing data-crunching tasks.

Producing and distributing productware on their own, manufacturers can also place proprietary information in one or more of the product-information systems now available or under development. 'The difference and buying space in a product information system is analogous to the difference between a manufacturer distributing product notebooks and going into Sweet's Catalog File. A product-information system offers features like indexing and expanded product search capabilities but requires the manufacturer to adhere to prescribed formats.

Until the nascent computerized product data systems become more widely subscribed to, they pose a difficult marketing dilemma for manufacturers. When will the time be right to buy "advertising" space in a computer database? Which of the emerging databases will survive the inevitable shakeout to become dominant in the market? Are databases in addition to, or replacements for, traditional product literature? How will the systems affect the role of the sales representatives?

Another preliminary marketing observation is that productware can be used very effectively in direct-mail advertising. Conventional direct mail brochures and letters can be easily overlooked, but few architects can resist the temptation to stick a new diskette into the computer to see what it can do.

One feature of the new product- information systems that has caught the attention of manufacturers is their ability to carry on two-way communications between suppliers and specifiers. Most of the systems under development have provisions to collect feedback about how often a manufacturer's products are called up from the database and on what projects they have been specified. Before these systems achieve widespread acceptance among architects, their publishers will have to assure users that sensitive project and client information will remain confidential. Also, users will want assurances that the systems' lead tracking will not bring an unwanted flood of calls from salesmen, Still, the benefits are significant: The on-line communications capabilities of some systems can be used for electronic order entry and have the potential for data sharing among designer, dealer, manufacturer, contractor, and facility manager.

If productware fulfills its promise of improved access to data, better communication and decision making, and increased efficiency, then architects stand to gain. Architects need to help manufacturers understand the impact computers are having on practices and encourage companies to develop the types of productware that will help us get full benefit from our computers and from their products.

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By Michael Chusid
Originally published in Progressive Architecture, ©1988

Tips for more effective email blasts

One of our clients received a prestigious award recently. As his publicist, we prepared a press release, sent it to the appropriate editors, and posted it on the client's website.

We also wanted to share the good news with his customers, vendors, and other industry contacts. Our plan was to send an email blast to his list of contacts, using Constant Contact as our e-mail marketing service. The email was brief; a photo of our client, two short paragraphs, his logo, and some boilerplate about his firm. For those wanting more information, we included a link to the press release on his website.

Our client asked, "Shouldn't we include the text of the press release in the email?"

We included the full text of the press release in the emails we sent to editors. The typical editor needs to scan the entire press release, and decide on the spot whether or not to use the information. Asking an editor to open a link would slow down the process and decrease the likelihood of the copy being read.

But in this case, our email blast was for relationship-building. There is an inverse relationship between the quantity of copy in an email and the likelihood that someone will read it. The email had to be friendly in tone and to the point. We crafted the email to get the most important branding messages into a single email screen.

More, the invitation to click-through to the press release creates an opportunity for engagement that brings the reader to a greater level of commitment than would simply reading the email. In Constant Contact, we are able to track who clicks through, a feature that gives us clues as to which prospects have the most interest.

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Fax speed can propel you to competitive edge

This is an encore of an article Michael Chusid wrote more 20 years ago. We can look back at the introduction of fax technology for clues about how best to adopt newer communication technologies.

It seems as if I now send and receive more letters by facsimile than by U.S. mail. How can I make better use of the fax machine in my sales and marketing program? —T.M.J., vice president, sales and marketing

The phenomenally fast spread of fax machines throughout the industry leaves us wondering how we ever got along without them. Time is money; even overnight delivery of orders, sales directives, or product information can be too slow.

When writing a construction specification recently, I called two competing manufacturers for product information. One responded by overnight delivery. Not only did it cost the firm more than $10 for shipping plus the cost of the printed literature, it also cost the firm the chance to be specified. While I was still waiting for that manufacturer’s information, the second manufacturer responded by fax.

In fact, the fax arrived while I was still on the phone with the firm’s salesperson. We were able to clarify immediately which product met my requirements. By the time the competitor’s overnight package arrived, I had completed that section of the specification.
Increasingly inexpensive, fax machines are now ubiquitous in architectural and engineering offices and are becoming more common in jobsite trailers. For overseas work, fax may be the only way to quickly and reliably send written or graphic information. Many firms have more than one fax line to avoid busy signals.

A “shoe shine and a handshake” once epitomized face-to-face selling. Now we routinely buy over the telephone from faceless voices. But the need for graphic information in design and construction limited the use of telemarketing in building product sales. Salespeople and customers still had to meet to exchange drawings and sketches.

Fax machines have turned the telephone into a more useful tool for building product sales. Along with other new technologies, such as online computer communications, fax machines will enable manufacturers to reduce their field sales forces. A salesperson who could visit only five customers a day before can now contact dozens in the same time frame. Telemarketers should have fax machines on their desks so they can send and receive drawings while on the phone with customers.

Make fax a part of your field sales automation program, too. Salespeople should have access to fax machines wherever they work to avoid delays and to cut down on telephone tag. Salespeople who work out of their homes should have fax machines in their home offices. Those on the road can have a fax in their cars thanks to cellular telephones. Traveling salespeople can use a compact fax modem with a laptop computer to send and receive faxes without lugging around a separate fax machine. They may also want to consider an “electronic mailbox” at which to receive fax transmissions. Electronic mailboxes, offered by online information services such as CompuServe, store fax messages until the recipient can download them from a hotel room or even a pay phone along the highway.

Fax machines will change your marketing communications, as well. While “junk fax” should not be encouraged, you can use the fax judiciously to notify customers of special promotions or buying incentives.

An innovative maker of expansion joint covers recognized that most specifiers did not need complete information on each of the firm’s several hundred designs. The manufacturer also felt that as technology and testing status of its fire rated joint covers changed, printed data sheets would rapidly become obsolete. The solution was to distribute a summary catalog with an offer to fax full, updated information on products of interest. The firm offered a toll-free phone number for inquiries.

To make a program like this even more efficient, consider using the new computer-based fax servers. These systems store product data sheets, test reports, article reprints, and other sales collateral on a hard disk and are linked to your customer database. When your salespeople receive an inquiry, they can call up or enter a customer profile, record the nature of the inquiry, and select appropriate product literature from a menu. The materials can be faxed directly from the computer before the conversation is over. Similar fax fulfillment services can be obtained from outside vendors such as McGraw Hill Inc.’s Product Facs program.

Make sure your product literature is readable by fax machine. Background colors or patterns that look good in print can be illegible when faxed.

Direct mail bounce-back cards and magazine reader service cards should be large enough to feed through a fax machine. Include your fax number and those of your reps on your product literature, advertising, stationery, and any form asking customers to submit information.

When shopping for a fax machine, look at those that can store the phone numbers of your sales offices, distributors, and others you communicate with regularly. A machine that can transmit to pre-programmed routing lists is a valuable time-saver when you have to communicate price or policy changes to many salespeople or customers across the country.

Emerging technologies promise to make the fax an even more important sales and marketing tool. Large format machines can transmit drawings as wide as 24 inches. Machines with high-resolution color capabilities give good reproductions of color photographs or images. Pay-for-use 900 numbers enable trade associations and others to automate fax delivery of standards and other documents they normally charge fees for.

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By Michael Chusid
Originally published in Construction Marketing Today, Copyright © 1992

New way to reach prospects.

Concept: Pay your prospects to read your email.

Description: Conventional methods of advertising may have a low response rate and go to many unqualified individuals, Instead, you can identify the prospects that interest you the most, and pay them to read your ad.

Background: A new website,, conducts what they call an "Attention Auction." Their site explains:
If you are a busy person? Receive too many messages? Forced to spend a lot of time reading crap but still lose useful information? Sell your attention at auction.

If you want to contact an important or busy person but never had chances to deserve his or her attention. Buy attention at auction. purports to provide a way to contact celebrities. For example, movie star Jim Carrey will read an email from a fan for $2.50. But for just $1.99, you can also bid to buy the attention of Jim Bonenfant whose profile says, "Designer/Architecture residential design/modern commercial design/Gourmet Kitchens and Baths/Real Estate investment." A manufacturer of gourmet kitchen appliances might find this a cost effective way to communicate with Jim, since the charge only occurs if Jim actually reads the email. is in a beta release and is very crude. For example, there is no way to search for an individual by trade or location. But I can imagine an the concept being developed further to provide deep coverage of the A/E/C field.
  • As the database of participants is enriched to indicate the types of projects and level of professional responsibility, the system could become being very targetable. 
  • By including various response options in the email, such as clicking through to your website, you could measure the effectiveness of various copy.
  • Advertisers could develop algorithms to determine which prospects to contact. If you need to reach a star architect, perhaps you would be willing to pay $50 to assure that Zaha Hadid reads your email. But if goal is to support a new sales rep in Peoria, Il, you could bid for professional specifiers in town for $1.50 each.
With current economic conditions, I suspect many designers and builders would be delighted to supplement their incomes by being paid to read your advertising. If the idea catches on, it would lead to the end of spam email blasts; prospects will start ignoring the junk mail once they realize their time is worth something to other advertisers.

Instead of waiting for to attact a critical mass of construction industry people, some smart publisher will figure out how to do this. (If you are inspired, please contact Chusid Associates to help you roll out this new service.)

Watch for further developments.

Hyperbole vs. Credibility

I received a bit of spam from an individual named Stephen Sands, who made me an offer I could so easily refuse.  His spam began:

“With stronger web placement on the major search engines, your online results could be infinite.” That was all I needed to read to know that I never want to do business with this guy, even if he’s right.   I have a kneejerk reaction to people who toss around promises with the concept “infinite” in them: I figure they’re probably just blowing smoke in the first place.  They’ve got nothing and they’re trying to hype into something, so it’s no worse a lie to hype it into ‘everything.’

Perhaps Stephen Sands actually has a lot to offer, I don’t know; but his opening line made me certain that I’ll never find out.

In an atmosphere of so much competition for communications channels, the temptation to speak ‘louder’ is more intense than ever.  But we also live in an atmosphere of consumerist defensiveness and distrust, where hyperbole often has a negative impact.  That means we need to be both careful and thoughtful about what we claim in ads, sales literature, and other statements about products. 

Careful, because some statements may have legal implications such as an implied warranty. 

Thoughtful, because inflated claims create a credibility problem.

The first job of advertising and sales literature is, certainly, to get attention.  But we all know from grade school that there are both productive and unproductive ways to get attention.  Don’t choose a way that torpedoes the second job, which is to create the foundation for trust.  If the nature of your claims is too good to be true, people won’t believe them.  If the tone you set is over the top, people will  be suspicious.  If the crafting of the message impairs your credibility, it doesn’t matter how good your product is.

If, on the other hand, you can state some significant truths in an interesting manner, readers may trust you long enough to find out more.

Resist the temptation to hype, for truly, it is a fate worse than death.  (Oops!  I mean, resist the temptation to hype because you’ll probably do yourself more harm than good.)

The simplest test is to step back, look at your literature, and ask yourself, “If my competitor were saying this, would I believe it?”

Email Design: Have you seen your email? I haven't.

In a recent episode of the BeanCast, the panel seemed discussed an eMarketer report that found 60% of link forwarding still happens via email. At first they seemed almost surprised by the discovery, but as they discussed it more it came to make sense.

And why not? Email is still the most widespread universal "social" media; universal because even though people are spending more time on social networks now, but while it can be difficult to cross-post something interesting from LinkedIn to Facebook, I can easily send something from my Gmail account to one at AOL, Yahoo, or any custom domain. Which is why good design is crucial to the success of your email campaign.

Today I got an email that does several important things right, but got one major piece wrong. Let's take a look at why:

Identifying information has been blurred to protect the innocent
The major problem is, I hope, apparent: the email didn't show up! The entire thing was produced as a single image or Flash movie, so all I got was a little red X where content was supposed to be.

Now obviously this is because I have my Outlook set to not download pictures, but that is a real consideration nowadays. In fairness, though, let's look at what they did right before talking about how to deal with an increasingly privacy and safety-minded email audience.

Most importantly, the "Click here if you are unable to view" message is located right at the top. The email may not have shown up, but I can retrieve it easily enough. There is also a very clear unsubscribe link. Let me stress: THIS IS ESSENTIAL FOR EVERY MARKETING EMAIL YOU SEND. They also had an enticing subject line, although it would have been helpful to tell me what the "Early Bird Savings" were for. 

When I went to view the actual email online, it looked pretty good. Message was clear, links were easy to find, and there was an embedded video to give a "personal" touch of my contact inviting me to come to the show. As they would say on Top Chef, though, I can only judge the meal by what got put on the plate, not what happened in the kitchen, so let's look at the problems.

The email was sent through a distribution company, so the address was not one I recognized (which is why the pictures did not download), but they did make sure to use the name of someone I know in the "From" section, which is why I opened it. I saw this person's name next to "Early Bird Savings" and had a pretty good idea what this would be. On balance, this point almost evens out. Unfortunately, spammers also like to use the name of someone I know next to a strange email address, so this was risky. 

In fact, without the body of the email, there were only two identifying marks in this email; look how little I had to blur out! The link at the bottom was not an identifier, I just blurred it so no one could unsubscribe me. That leaves my contact's name in the "From" line, and a generic, impersonal "support" email address in the footer. Who is "Support"? Do you have "Support" listed as one of your contacts? I don't. So how can this help me identify your email as coming from you?

One other problem with the email: it's not mobile friendly. I read at least half my email through my phone now, and even if the graphic had downloaded (which it wouldn't) or I had clicked on the link, the page it took me to would not have fit on the mobile's screen at a readable size. 

Let's look at how to avoid the main problem now. It is not reasonable to expect people to follow the link in order to read the email. The online version exists as a courtesy and as a safety net, so that if I am interested, or having HTML issues,  I can still get it. But you must act as if anyone that cannot read the email will not read the online version. 

My recommendation, and what we do with our newsletter (By the way, are you a subscriber yet?), is similar to what I would recommend for good web design: the main thrust of your email must be conveyed by plain, lightly formatted (if at all) text. Look at your email. Now look at it again with all graphics and formatting (including color and line breaks) removed. Does it still convey your message? If not, consider a redesign. If you must use graphics be sure to include captions or alt text

In general, think of graphics as the toppings on the sundae of your email; they can add flavor and texture, but without the ice cream it's just nuts!

If You Want to Sell Internationally, Look International

Here’s a tip for any US business seeking to sell on an international scale: revise your phone number.

At World of Concrete, I offered my client’s press kit to an Australian journalist.  He said, “Oh, I saw that on the table, but I didn’t bother because they’re not international.” 

I asked how he figured that out (since my client was adamant that he would sell anywhere in the world).  The journalist pointed to the telephone contact number at the bottom of every page of the press kit.  “They only have an 800-number.  Those don't work internationally.  If this company ever got or wanted international customers, they’d show the international calling code.”

An 800-number is great for your North American customers, prospects, etc., However, if it’s your only contact number, it’s a quick tip-off that you don’t have foreign customers and don't have experience doing business overseas.  An international caller to the US would expect the international calling prefix “1” to dial North America, sometimes referred to as a “plus code.” 

Thus, the international-friendly number for Chusid Associates would be shown as +1 818 774 0003. 

Go over your sales literature, press materials, website, letterhead, etc, and see if you’re projecting the international image you desire.

Good Grammer "are" Important

Sales literature for the XYZ Skylight Company boosts that the firm offers "consistent quality" and their structural drawings are "professionally reviewed."  Unfortunately, their sales corresponsdence and literature demonstrates neither of these attributes.

A recent cover letter introducing the company contains numerous grammar and spelling errors. For example, the letter's first paragraph states:
"XYZ is a manufacturer of commercial heavy-duty skylights; who delivers and installs."
Maybe they mean that they, "also deliver and install their product," but who knows?
"Our skylight systems is designed based on the principals of pressure equalization, more commonly known as the rain screen principal."
As my junior high school English teacher drilled into me, the, "The principle is that the principal is your pal."

There are similar errors in the company's brochure, too.

Recommendation: Don't rely on your computer's spell checker alone. Have your sales correspondence and literature copy edited by someone with the talent for catching errors. If you don't, your customers will. (Specifiers are especially keen on spotting mistakes of this kind.)

5 Uses for QR Codes in Construction

QR code for
I am giving a presentation today on QR Codes for the local AAF chapter. The question I get most, besides "What are QR Codes?", is "How can I use these in my industry?" With that in mind, we brainstormed a list of five ways QR codes could become useful in construction.

First, a word of explanation. QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that are readable using smartphones or webcams. The essentially operate as a hyperlink that connects printed media to the digital world; scanning a QR code does the same thing as clicking on a link, and can provide most of the same functionality.

What does that mean? Here are five examples:
  1. Link to Technical Information: This is the use I am most excited about. Imagine you are on a job site, trying to figure out how to install some new product. Spotting a QR code, you pull out your phone, scan it, and - BOOM! - the installation instructions and data sheets pop up. Contractors may not have internet access on job sites, but most carry a phone with a camera. Inspections could make use of this, comparing the actual site to the plans. Architects looking at the product sample sitting on their shelf can use it to get the guide specs in a single click.
  2. Jobsite Signage: Many manufacturers have trouble figuring out how to display their company name and contact information on the job site. Complicating the matter, interested prospects may forget your name and phone number before they have a chance to call. Include a QR code on your signs, and they can instantly add your contact information to their phone book, open your website, or email a rep.
  3. Emergency Contact Information: QR codes can auto-dial phone numbers, open webpages, or send pre-written fill-in-the-blanks emails. This could earn them a place on HSW sheets, making it easier to quickly reach poison control or emergency services. Or maybe they are directed to someone in your company, so you are informed of the situation and can respond appropriately. For that matter, they could even link to video first aid guides.
  4. Project Information in Photos: Put a QR code on the page next to project photos, and readers can quickly access online information about the project. This could be a case study, real-time energy savings, or even a map with driving directions.
  5. Sales Literature and Business Cards: This last one is not construction-specific, but it is important. Like with job signs, putting a QR code on your printed sales collateral and business cards makes it much easier for people to contact you, and therefore more likely to actually call you instead of just dropping your card in the trash.

QR codes are huge in Japan, and are just now reaching critical density in the US. Relatively new organizations like encourage readers to "Hyperlink your world!" As adoption spreads, I anticipate many innovative uses within our industry.

How would you use QR codes in construction? Tell us in the comments.

Email List Servers for Building Product Marketing

Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing medium. This is also true in the online world; there are many places where the issues of your market segment are being discussed and where people are sharing their experience with or opinions about building products and manufacturers.

While new platforms such as Facebook and Twitter get more notice these days, the "automated mail list server," a concept first developed in the 1980s, is still an important medium. Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are types of list servers, and they exist in many other formats as well. When an email is addressed to a list serve mailing list, the email is automatically sent to everyone on the list. The result is similar to a newsgroup or forum, except that messages are transmitted as emails and are therefore available only to individuals on the list. The owner of the particular list server can determine whether inclusion in the list is open to anyone that subscribes or to only a controlled list.

EXAMPLE: I have subscribed to the ArtConcrete list server for many years.
Most of the subscribers are artists or artisans that use concrete in their work: sculptures, landscape installations, furnishings, and even jewelry. The moderator of the group, Andrew Goss, is the author of the seminal book, Concrete Handbook for Artists, making him an important figure at the nexus of art and concrete.

I joined because several of my clients make products for decorative concrete. While the total amount of material actually purchased by concrete artists is minuscule compared to the tonnage consumed in building or civil engineering construction, monitoring the group has provided valuable information and opportunities. I have:
  • Identified prospects for my clients.
  • Gotten early market intelligence about new products.
  • Learned about technologies and products not used in the US.
  • Heard concerns and about experiments that have stimulated new products, market niches, and distribution channels for my clients.
  • Discovered new uses for existing products.
  • Corrected misrepresentations about my clients' products, and provided an alternative perspective about competitors.
  • Found examples of "artistic" uses of my clients products that provided unique case studies and illustrations for our clients' sales collateral.
  • Gotten my clients' brands discussed by a global audience of "early adopters" and innovators.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Monitoring sites like this is an increasingly important part of an overall social media marketing strategy. I recommend you identify and monitor list servers that relate to your market sectors. Postings come right to your email box, so they are easily accessible. Depending on the amount of traffic on the list server, it may take only a few minutes a day to follow; if necessary, assign the task to someone on your team or to a marketing consultant.

List servers, generally, are not the place to be overtly commercial -- for example, don't post press releases here. Etiquette calls for peer-to-peer sharing. Within this guideline, however, I can join discussions about my clients' products, suggest solutions, refer people to information that is posted on my clients' websites.

I can also post requests for feedback, for example: "My company makes [is considering] a new product. We think it has X, Y, and Z benefits, but we don't have much experience in this regard. If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear from you, either via the list server or directly at my email."

Customized Promotional Items

In an era dominated by digital marketing, the tangible sales promotion bearing your brand and contact info is still a valuable marketing tool. I was reminded of this today when I was struggling to remember the name of a vendor I met at a trade show a few years ago. I drew a blank... until I remembered I had one of their give-aways sitting on the shelf behind my desk.

The following examples may give you ideas for your next promotion:

It has been said that the most effective promotion is something that all your prospects want, but doesn't attract non-customers that would dilute your effort. With that in mind, construction product marketeer have lots of opportunities to give their prospects items that they will interact with as part of their business.
Pocket Protectors were essential to the uniform of many working people in the days of fountain pens and graphite pencils. They still have a place among the service technician or craftsman that has to carry a variety of implements in his or her shirt pocket.

This Pencil Holder attachment is more secure than sticking the pencil behind one's ear, and delivers your branding message to fellow workers.

Measuring Tools are always appreciated, like the crack width gage above, or the drawing scales below (shown in desktop and pocket sizes).
While the cast metal concrete mixer is pure testosterone, the pocket-sized level is more useful to many craftspeople.
Mason's Line Blocks are used to hold the string masons use to help them keep each course of masonry units level.

Drawing Carriers like the one above simplify the transport of large roles of drawings. The one below has and additional promotional benefit; made of Tyvek, it demonstrates the strength and tactile qualities of the product.

As the Tyvek bag above demonstrates, there are many creative ways to give a prospect a sample of your product:

Coasters are not as fashionable as they once were, thanks in part to table tops that are not damaged by moisture, but they are still viable. Clockwise from upper left: Dow Woodstalk wheat fiber board coaster demonstrates the millability of the (now discontinued) product. Cork, enjoying a renaissance as a "natural" material. Sunburst demonstrates the precision of a vendor's waterjet cutting. Porcelain enamel coaster exemplifies the graphic capabilities of the medium.

Insulated Can Cozy is made from a foil-faced bubble-wrap wall insulation, effectively communicating the material's thermal resistance.

Bottle Opener is cleverly crafted into a piece of Accuride's ball-bearing drawer slide mechanism. Handling it imparts the smooth operation of the device. Now, can anyone find a beverage can that still needs a church key?

Paperweights are still important in the digital age. This one, from National Gypsum, is part of an promotion tauting the wonders of their raw material. Inside the box is a small brochure and a chunk of raw gypsum with a felt bottom and a label.

Customized Name Plate has been retained for over 25 years, through many moves, and even a change in preferred names. I still remember it was a gift from Acme Brick, making it worth every dollar they spent to produce it.

Of course, there is also a place for more conventional promotional items:

Beginning in 2010, the Greenbuild trade show requires exhibitors to audit the environmental footprint of their booths, and discourages the use of excessive handouts and tradeshow "swag". It is a reminder that most promotional items quickly find their way into the waste stream. With more designers and builders insisting on green building products, even your marketing has to come under environmental scrutiny.

This minature recycling dumpster reminds us that even your promotional items have to be produced and recycled with inteligience.


I have gotten great service from Betty Blaskievich, a top-notch sales premium specialist. You can reach her at 780 242-1754.

How NOT to Advertise a Green Product

How NOT to Advertise a "green" building product.

1. Use a jumbo size envelope to mail two pieces of paper:

2. Enclude a fullsize piece of paper for a cover letter so dull that not even a specifier will read it (no offense meant towards specifiers):

3. And then tell your prospect how GREEN your product is:

4. For good measure, make sure it is printed with bleeds (requiring the paper to be trimmed to generate waste), varnished (more chemicals), and without using paper and printing certified by an environmental rating group such as FSC.

In advertising, the medium must fit the message. If your message is about the environmental benefits of your product, make sure the advertising "talks the walk."

This unsolicited direct mail would have been greener (and possibly more effective) if it was sent in a standard #10 business envelope, the cover letter was more to the point and printed on a half sized sheet, and greater sensitivity used to the production values of the flyer.

P.S. - Less cluttered graphic design would help, too.