As an international promotional products manufacturer, I work with distributors in over 24 countries. The 2017 outlook for one country may not be the same for another country, so I’m just going to focus on the outlook for the US.
In a bad economy companies tend to order more low end promotional products and they order fewer of them. That’s definitely been my experience over the past few years. Smaller orders means higher prices for end users. This is especially a problem for small businesses, who want to buy promotional products, but are dealing with a limited budget.
The good news is that small business optimism hit a 12 year high in December, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. According to Insureon, the leading insurance agency for small business, 82% of small businesses are planning growth for 2017. This includes hiring more employees and selling more products.
A well planned promotional product campaign is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your company. A clever, unique, and visible promotional product does more than just advertise your company. They draw attention to your booth at trade shows and keep your brand at the top of customer’s minds.
According to a recent article at ASI Central, “tax breaks could well lead to greater at-hand cash flow for companies across a swath of industries. At minimum, some firms will be keen to invest in marketing and advertising initiatives that help them grow.” As more companies have cash flow, the trend to use the lowest priced products will change. It’s already starting to change.
As a manufacturer, I’m not sure where things will go as far as trade policy. I do know that costs are going up dramatically at my factories in China and Argentina. Manufacturing in the US may actually be an option in the near future and would be much easier than importing and chasing the lowest prices around the world.
Eco-friendly products were a hot item in 2016, and will continue into 2017. According to ASI “42% of people had a more favorable opinion of an advertiser if the promotional product they received was environmentally friendly”.
Tech products, like USB sticks, were also a hot item. They have a high perceived value, and is a product that will be used over and over again. Which means your company logo will be seen over and over again.
If you’ve never used promotional products in your business, now is a good time to start. Integrating them into your marketing plan is one of the best ways to promote your business and get a great return on investment.
Another new year, another set of New Year’s fitness resolutions. This is when all of the weight loss commercials begin. It’s relentless. No matter how many of them I see, it doesn’t phase me. I learned that putting too much pressure on yourself to force big change never seems to work for me. So, instead, I just set small, attainable goals that I know can be kept. Here’s a way to slowly meet those goals during the course of a day and never let yourself down:
- Incorporate walking into your day – I know I have to walk the dog every day, so it’s easy to just add a few blocks of extra walking every time we go out. Dogs are the perfect personal trainer and companion. Find a park near you and start exploring. There are always other people in the park walking their dogs, and it’s a good conversation starter to meet new friends. Double up with other dog owners and commit to walking your dogs together. Having a walking partner holds you accountable. You will always tend to walk longer if you have someone else with you, and it helps to pass the time. Your dog will love you for it.
- Take the stairs – Like dog walking, taking the stairs is a free and easy way in incorporate more exercise into your day. It’s just a matter of becoming aware of how often you take the elevator or escalator. In the course of a day there are numerous opportunities to take the stairs instead. You’ll burn calories three times faster than walking on a flat surface, and it’s a great way to improve your energy. If you have time, find a place where you can go up and down the stairs a few times and keep adding to it to increase your strength and improve cardiovascular.
- Dance – I’m not talking about going to a formal dance class, although that’s great too, but simply dancing for fun during the course of a day. Again, it’s just a matter of becoming aware of doing it and making it a part of your day. Put on some upbeat music you like and dance your heart out. Take the drudgery out of cleaning by using the vacuum cleaner as your dance partner while you crank up the tunes. Yes, it sounds crazy, but who cares? It’ll also put you in a much better mood while you easily burn calories. Dancing for no reason will also put others around you in a good mood. Try it!
If you’ve ever had allergies you know how miserable they can be. And the antihistamines you have to take to keep them under control are just as bad, making you drowsy and loopy. During allergy season I have a cabinet full of every all natural solution I can find. Since I was taking so many pills, I had to drink a lot more water with them.
I noticed that when I drank more water the allergies seemed to get a little better, so I was wondering if there was any kind of connection between dehydration and allergies.
It turns out that when you’re dehydrated, histamine increases, and decreases when you increase your water intake. You also need proper salt intake. Water and salt are two of mother nature’s strongest natural antihistamines. Elevated histamine triggers your thirst response and so does salt.
I had always heard that salt was bad for you, but after I started looking into adrenal and thyroid problems I realized I needed much more salt than I was getting.
Sea salt can help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Salt is also very good for your adrenals, especially if you also have thyroid problems. After increasing my salt intake I’ve noticed a big difference in both.
During the hot summer months it’s even more important to make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated, especially if you are prone to allergies.
If you stay hydrated your body is better able to react to allergens and it won’t have to produce its own histamines because you don’t have enough water to stay hydrated.
It’s estimated that at least 80% of the population is in a state of chronic dehydration.
If you are prone to allergies, make sure you are constantly drinking enough water throughout the day. It’s much better to reach for the water bottle than the anti-histamine!
As a runner, walking was always something I resorted to only if I was injured or recovering from an illness. But after giving my joints a good pounding over the years, I was willing to try power walking. It’s not the same as running, but better on your knees.
Speed walking, race walking, or power walking, however you label it, isn’t a gentle stroll. It’s walking at the fastest pace you can, which is typically between 4.5 and 5.5 miles an hour. You hit the ground with less than half of the force that you would if you were running. Studies have shown that at this pace you burn about as many calories as someone who is running at about the same speed.
Power walking may be looked down upon by the hard core runner, but it actually is an Olympic sport and has been since 1906. In Olympic race walking, the front foot must be on the ground when the back foot is raised. And the front leg must straighten when making contact with the ground.
If you’re not headed to the Olympics, but still want to get a good power walk in, you can be less formal about your style. But one thing that’s important is using your arms to give you more power and speed.
Having flexible, but lightweight shoes will help you pick up your pace.
Swing your arms in an arc from your waist to your chest while keeping them close to the body. You’ll also build upper body strength by doing this.
Keep your head held high and your stomach tucked in. This helps support your spine and keeps your posture in line.
If you know your current walking heart rate you can use it as a guide to help you set goals and improve your walking speed.
It may take some getting used to if you are used to running, but it’s a great alternative, and is probably a good idea to try every so often.
Every time I end up with a running injury I’m reminded that I really need to stretch. Not just that perfunctory stretch I pretend to do that probably just makes things worse, but a long, range of motion, stabilize the body type of stretch. I can almost feel the muscle tightness, but never take the time after a run to really get those muscles back in shape.
Though it may be hard for type A runners to slow down long enough to maintain a downward dog, it makes good sense to incorporate yoga into your running routine if you want to improve your running technique.
Here are 3 reasons why runners need yoga:
- Yoga strengthens your core – A stronger core helps keep your body stable while you’re running and decreases your chances of being injured. Yoga is a complete, total body workout that works the outer body and inner body at the same time, protecting your internal organs. It works both the large muscles in the body and the smaller ones, targeting the respiratory, skeletal, and cardiovascular systems. Yoga uses your own body weight to make you stronger. It also stabilizes your back and neck.
- Improves breathing – Runners who do yoga ensure more oxygen is circulating throughout the body. Yoga targets the upper, middle and lower portions of the lungs, something running doesn’t incorporate. Yoga gives you increased lung capacity, which improves both endurance and running performance.
- Increases flexibility – There are several ways runners can increase their flexibility, and yoga is one of those. Yoga is great at increasing your range of motion and helping to prevent injuries. Yoga stretching allows you to extend your muscles through their full range of motion, actually making it easier to run. And what runner doesn’t want that?!
I’ve always resisted yoga as being too slow and boring, but if it can help make my running faster and easier, I’m ready to give it a try. What about you? Are you a runner who swears by yoga?
10. Never needs winding
9. Rum in the left, Coke in the right
8. Won’t sprain your back like that 5 gallon Sparklett’s bottle
7. Safer than kissing Shamu
6. Makes a lovely parting gift
5. Cheaper than gold bracelets
4. It’s better than coal and switches in your stocking
3. More fun than a big gulp
2. Easier than fly fishing
And the number one reason you need swiggies:
1. They’re good, clean fun!
With so many water bottles for runners on the market, how do you decide which one is right for you? I’ve been asking runners of all types, from casual weekend runners to seasoned pros, and they all have something different to say about what kinds of water bottles they carry while running.
In the beginning, when I first came up with the idea for swiggies, wrist water bottles, I was running in the peak summer heat in Texas and ended up passing out from dehydration because I didn’t carry any water with me. I was running with my keys and music, so carrying a water bottle while running wasn’t possible. I knew there had to be a better way.
At the time the only alternative for hands-free water bottles was the old fanny pack. I tried running with one that had a water bottle in it and it bounced around while I was running. The harder I ran, the more it bounced. This is when I came up with the idea to create a water bottle design that was very simple to use and very readily accessible no matter how fast I was running.
It took a while to design a prototype that was light enough and didn’t have too much weight on my wrists, yet held enough water to last for a run under an hour. I also figured out that they could be frozen to lower body temperature while out in the heat. To this day, this is what many professional runners and other athletes use swiggies for when they do smaller training runs.
Since I invented swiggies, other water bottles for runners have come out on the market. It may be that runners need different types of water bottles for different types of activities. I use a Camelbak if I’m going for a long, extended hike. And a sturdy, regular bottle that you carry is fine for activities such as kayaking, where you have a place to store it.
Now it seems the front water bottles for runners, vests with pockets for water bottles in the front are coming onto the market. Again, a different type of water bottle to give runners more choices.
I have read through running forums and asked runners which they prefer. The answers are all over the map. But the bottom line is that you have to have enough water while running, especially in the heat. I learned this lesson the hard way.
Every year Americans drink about 29 billion bottles of bottled water. Even though bottled water can cost thousands of times more than tap water, we seem to be addicted to it. In fact Americans spend about 11 billion dollars a year on bottled water. Sometimes it makes sense to use single use water bottles, like in disaster relief or for outdoor events, but most of the time we can help to cut down on the use of single use water bottles by carrying our own reusable water bottles.
The recycling rate for the single use plastic water bottles is quite low. Over 2 million tons of single use plastic water bottles will end up in the landfill. That’s about four out of five single use water bottles that will end up in landfills. And the plastic single use water bottles can take up to 1,000 years to completely decompose.
The water bottles that are recycled will be turned into new products such as playground equipment, carpeting, fleece clothing, and new containers and bottles. So, if you do use the single use bottles, recycle them and put them to good use.
Many parks and events are now providing filling stations for people who bring their own reusable water bottles to fill up. This will definitely save you plenty of money as single use water bottles at events, vending machines and parks can become quite costly.
There are also many restaurants that have stopped serving bottled water and instead have opted for filtered tap water.
Since Earth Day is coming up this week it’s time for us to be reminded again that we can all make a small difference by using reusable water bottles. If you don’t want to do it for the planet, then at least do it for your wallet. Think about the amount of money you’ll be saving by using reusable water bottles.
You’ve seen the typical souvenir postcard that says “Wish you were here”. A unique souvenir from a place we’ve traveled helps us relive the journey over and over again.
The U.S. gift, novelty, and souvenir industry has a combined annual revenue of about $18 billion. Souvenirs (French for remembrance or memory), are an important part of tourism, especially local tourism. Tourists want unique souvenirs to take home to remind them of them of an experience they had or to give a gift to someone who wasn’t able to have that experience.
In Japan they have a strong custom of giving gifts of omiyage. In English that means souvenir, but it’s a little different than in the U.S. The person who is traveling will buy themselves unique souvenirs, but they buy omiyage for the people who weren’t able to make the trip. Non-food items are usually bought by the traveler for themselves, but omiyage is usually a food product that can be shared with others on their arrival back home. This is quite often given to friends and co-workers.
Souvenirs can be bought in a gift shop and could be something mass produced like a T-shirt, ashtray, magnet, water bottle, postcards, bowls or mugs. Or unique souvenirs could also be a local artisan craft product or something that represents the local culture of the area. Sometimes souvenirs can be a natural item such as sand or a seashell from a beach.
Memorabilia is a type of souvenir which is connected to an event. This could be a sporting event, historical event, concert or festival. These souvenirs are usually posters or clothing. Memorabilia can become quite valuable over time, depending on the event and the item.
Just like any other industry, the souvenir industry needs to keep evolving and bringing in new, unique souvenirs to entice tourists to buy. Not only is it good for the local economies, but advertises the region to people who have yet to travel there.
Running is one sport that is almost entirely free to participate in for most people. We take for granted that a pair of running shoes can be bought for less than $50, depending on where you buy them.
But for some people in the world even that amount isn’t possible. Shoes for Africa was started after Mike Sandrock, a sports journalist, came back from a coaching and racing trip to Cameroon, West Africa. He noticed that a lot of the runners ran barefoot. And still beat him, by the way.
The Shoes for Africa project started with a group of runners in Boulder, Colorado, who began shipping new and nearly new running shoes to runners to needy children and athletes around the world.
The non profit has since become One World Running and continues to grow. They’ve also added tee shirts and running shorts to their packages. The group is now a 100% volunteer organization that has begun expanding globally to continue the mission Sandrock set out to accomplish years ago.
In 2001 the organization started putting on races to raise money for the charity. They continue to add more races every year with the money going to One World Running charities. They’ve also recently added soccer cleats and baseball equipment.
Most of the shoes come from donations from individuals and from running clubs and organizations such as the Girl Scouts. Many people have shoe drives to collect new and nearly new shoes for One World. Most of the shoes are in usable condition, and those are the ones shipped to Africa. But even the running shoes that are not in good condition can still be recycled. Those are shipped to NIKE to be ground up and made into running tracks and playgrounds. This is done through Boulder’s Eco-Cycle program and the Reuse-a-Shoe program.