It’s that time of year, school is already starting up and summer is winding down. Here are the top 5 ways you know the glorious season is summer is halting to a close….
1–All the summer TV shows have ended. I always say, “I don’t watch much television” but I think I’m lying. I’ve been HEAVILY invested in what happens to completely made-up characters and those with their fake lives with reality TV.
2–It’s darker. And not just in my mind. The sun lately has been going to bed a little earlier.
3–The kids are tired of each other. When your kids start fighting about how their siblings are breathing too loud, when they’ve played every level of every video game, and when they’re so bored they watch you fold clothes, summer’s over.
4–No enthusiasm. When you say, “Who wants to go on a picnic?!” and you’re greeted with frosty stares and silence, that’s when you know it’s time to shove the kids back into a school classroom. Plus, they’re already planning their Halloween costumes.
(Halloween costumes at a summer picnic. Not a good sign.)
5–Along with leaves, magazines turn colors. Instead of the “How to Get a Beach Body” article, the cover story is, “How to Make a Halloween Centerpiece.” Nooooo!!!! Shorts and tank tops are stored away as bulky sweaters, jeans and boots get pulled out of closets.
I’m in denial. I’m sure there’s time for one more hike or one more day in the sun (with shorts). I’m like the grasshopper having too much fun to prepare for cold weather. Everywhere I turn, there are back to school backpacks, apple spice air fresheners, and even Halloween costumes.
<Sigh>….so ends another great summer, it’s been a good one! So is the cycle of the seasons!
Every month The HB Group is going to spotlight a client!
This month is Vemma. Vemma is a multi-level marketing company that sells energy drinks, nutritional beverages and weight management products. They are based in Tempe, Arizona.
We did a Q&A with a Recognition Manager. Here is what they had to say about The HB Group!
HB Group: Why did you choose to do business with The HB Group?
Vemma: We needed to developing a fresh, new, innovative approach to recognition.
The HB Group: How was partnering with The HB Group?
Vemma: Our partnership with The HB Group from the very beginning was a collaborative, creative, and a professional journey that resulted in an amazing program. I worked directly with several members of the HBG team through the creative process of a brand new fulfillment website, product packaging, and award manufacturing details. Their IT team developed and successfully integrated with our in-house system to smoothly communicate recognition awards availability and status in real-time. HBG’s manufacturing and printing partnerships allowed Vemma to obtain the highest quality goods at the most economical costs. And to top it off, HBG’s full-service fulfillment process was no-stress/no-worry for Vemma.
The HB Group: Benefits of working with The HB Group?
Vemma: I cannot stress enough the ease at which HB Group is to work with. They get to know you, your company, your brand, and the ultimate goals for the project. They work with you to make it happen on budget, on time, and if/when any hiccups occur, they implement a fix or work-around that makes both parties happy, even at additional cost to themselves. Their main goal is to build strong long-term relationships with companies, through great products and great service, and it shows in everything they do.
According to our website, http://thehbgroup.espwebsite.com/, there are hundreds of thousands of promotional products and apparel items for sale today. There are literally thousands of choices available and some of them are perfect for your business. You should keep the following in mind when making your promotional products and apparel selections:
Does the item fit my company brand? (A car dealership shouldn’t hand out custom flasks.)
How many will I need?
What is my budget for promotional products?
Do they need a case/bag for distributing?
What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)
Are these for employees or customers?
How many will I need?
Do I know what sizes I will need?
Imprint on front and back?
What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)
How We Can Help You Choose Promotional Products and Apparel
The HB Group understands not only how promotional products and apparel can help your business but also which ones will work best. A combination of creativity and a streamlined ordering process will give you peace of mind. You will receive quality products that work within your budget and will have a positive impact with your customers.
Do you ever see a marketing campaign and your first thought is “what in the world were they thinking?” Yes, we’ve all been there. Sometimes these things go viral, and sometimes they just go unnoticed because they were plain crappy.
Businesses are trying to navigate a very noisy world, and getting their marketing messages heard has become increasingly difficult. But there is a fine line between genius and insanity, and while most businesses navigate this line effectively, there are certain ones that seem to ignore it completely.
In fact, they went so far past the line they can’t even see the line!
Anyways, here are 15 of the absolute worst marketing campaigns from 2014. Read about them, learn from them, and above all – don’t copy them!
1. Malaysia Airlines: My Ultimate Bucket List
The first of our worst marketing campaigns for 2014 has to go to Malaysia Airlines, who at the center of 2 tragic lost airlines in 2014, should’ve been more conscious of their marketing.
In a competition, the airline asked their audience to answer the question “What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list, and explain why?” The competition was open to participants in New Zealand and Australia, who would be eligible to win IPads or economy class tickets on the airlines.
But what Malaysia Airlines didn’t take into account was the concept of a “bucket list” and its connection with death. With its recent tragic history, Malaysia Airlines showed a crude lack of empathy and sensitivity towards the situation, and people were quick to call them out. The links to the competition were canceled, and people were asked to describe destinations and activities on their “to-do” list instead.
2. Walmart: Fat Girl Costumes
Leading up to Halloween, Walmart faced a huge public backlash when they released a new shopping category on its website entitled “Fat Girl Costumes.”
People were quick to take to Twitter to call out the superstore for their less-than-appropriate language:
Walmart then issued an apology stating that: “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize. We are working to remove it as soon as possible and ensure this never happens again.”
In another example of cruel insensitivity, Ogilvy India depicted Malala Yousafzai being shot by the Taliban and then bouncing back off a Kurl-On mattress to accept a humanitarian award.
Ogilvy India apologized, saying that:
We deeply regret this incident and want to personally apologize to Malala Yousafzai and her family. We are investigating how our standards were compromised in this case and will take whatever corrective action is necessary. In addition, we have launched a thorough review of our approval and oversight processes across our global network to help ensure that our standards are never compromised again.
But it’s hard to imagine how such a poster could have passed through so many hands unnoticed.
4. Kayak: Stairlift
Kayak, a popular travel aggregator site, produced a commercial featuring an elderly woman that hit a few nerves back in January 2014. In the commercial, a middle-age man has commandeared his elderly mother’s chairlift so that he can continue to work and go upstairs. While on the chairlift, the man passes his weakened, wheezing mother and ignores her suffering to brag about the great deals he’s found online.
Many viewers found the ad’s treatment of senior citizens distasteful, while others found it hilarious. Watching the ad, I can’t help but agree with the former.
5. Levi’s: “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”
Levi’s Jeans decided that it need to broaden its appeal, and to do so launched an ad campaign for its new Curve ID jeans. But what started out as an inclusive marketing concept, somehow lost its way when Levi’s selected “skinny” models to show off the new jeans in their ads, women who didn’t represent the campaign’s target demographic.
Suffice to say that there was a lot of negative response to the campaign, and a huge loss in customer goodwill.
It looks like someone of their marketing campaign needs to take some lessons in creating buyer personas.
6. Victoria’s Secret: The Perfect “Body”
Not alone in their ridiculously off-target marketing campaigns, Victoria Secret joined Levis in making their target demographic angry, frustrated and alienated.
Good job guys!
According to Victoria Secret’s “The Perfect Body” is thin and toned. After widespread backlash, Victoria Secret changed the campaign’s theme to “A Body for Every Body.”
7. U2 & Apple: Forced Download
There’s nothing more cringe-worthy than someone trying to get rid of your product – especially when you’ve given it away for free. This year’s biggest marketing fail campaign has to be from U2 and Apple’s collaboration when it forced U2s new album onto 500 million desktops and iPhones, regardless of whether each user wanted it or not.
The criticism was swift and merciless, and Bono later admitted that they “might have gotten carried away with [themselves]”.
8. McDonalds: #McDStories
McDonald’s is the leading brand in fast food, but after it went through the mill with Fast Food Nation and the mainstream movement of eating local, organic foods, you’d think they’d proceed with caution.
In order to get some feedback from its customers, McDonald’s started the #McDStories hashtag. It all started innocently enough from McDonald’s official Twitter handle:
MacDonald’s almost made it too easy, and people were quick to use the hashtag to highlight not-so-favorable #McDStories.
While the hashtag was pulled after a few hours, the effects of the campaign have had a long lasting effect.
9. Huggies: “Have Dads Put Huggies to the Test”
In 2014, we can pretty much safely assume that the majority of our target demographic are modern thinkers, and as such, have a more modern view on what a “typical” family looks like. One stereotype in particular that’s been challenged is that it’s the mother who’s the main caregiver for the children of the family, and that the father is simply the “breadwinner”.
Unfortunately, Huggies missed the memo. In the campaign “Have Dads Put Huggies to the Test,” dads were shown as being inattentive to babies with full diapers… but not to worry! Because Huggies diapers can handle anything. Even neglectful fathers.
The backlash against the ad was so severe that a petition was launched called, “We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies” to remove the ads. Huggies eventually removed the ads.
10. Nesquik: “National Bunny Ears Day”
You only ever hear of the marketing campaigns that go really wrong, but what about the ones that were just a flop? Floppy as some bunny ears, maybe? (Sorry. Too easy)
Nesquik’s marketing campaign was centered around #nationalbunnyearsday where people were encouraged to use a mobile app that “bunny-fied” photos by adding in cute bunny ears. Not a bad idea, huh?
Even famous chefs Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay got involved:
So what went wrong?
Maybe it would’ve worked if it was aligned with say… Easter! But the made-up day, the mobile-only and Twitter-intensive campaign meant that the campaign landed on deaf ears. (Gosh, it’s hard to resist punning with this one! Hop along now!)
11. New England Patriots: #1MillionPatriots ‘Thank you’ Campaign
Of course, any campaigns like this should really have a delay on the other end, with a person on hand filtering through the responses so that no repeat-Mountain Dew catastrophes are allowed to take place.
Apparently, they missed that incident, and as the campaign gained traction, the trolls came out to play.
What happened was a seriously inappropriate, incredibly offensive Twitter handle was created (that I won’t re-post here, it was that offensive), which then became plastered across the back of digital version of a Patriots jersey, which was then retweeted by the team.
Of course, the Patriots apologized, but they’ll forever be connected with that awful incident.
12. Sony: Playstation Vita YouTube Ad
Sexist ads are pretty common unfortunately, to the point that most of the backlash doesn’t get much traction. However, that does not mean that you should align yourself with the practice, like Sony did with their Playstation Vita ad.
The ad starts with a female doctor asking her “patients”: “How many times did you do it yesterday?’ she then continues with a variety of other innuendos before it’s revealed that she’s talking Remote Play for the PS Vista.
Sony quickly pulled the ad from its YouTube channel after bloggers and others found it sexist, but they didn’t offer an apology and declined to comment on the situation.
Wait to handle being called-out with dignity, Sony.
13. Subway: Halloween Commercial
Although 2014 was a great year for female empowerment, there’s always 2 sides of the story. Subway decided to tap into the “sexist-commercials-that-we-all-know-and-hate” market with their Halloween costume promotion.
14.General Motors: Cadillac
Imagine you’re sitting in your boardroom, trying to drum up some ideas for your new Cadillac model. What do you say? “Do you know what’s great about Americans? Their consumerist, materialistic culture. Yep. Definitely. Let’s market to that”.
This bizarre ad was more offensive then it was inspiring, with Actor Neal McDonough celebrating the American work ethic as he walks through an expansive home, starting with the backyard pool, ignoring his kids, only giving his wife a passing look, before suggesting that other nations’ work ethic is lacking: “they work, they stroll home, they stop by the café, they take August off.” (Hey, I’m from Ireland and I’ve never gotten August off! What is this magical land??)
Cadillac recently moved its ad business to a new ad agency.
15. Esurance: Cover Your Home In A *****
What did you read first??
The ad that says “cover your home with a click” was read by many viewers of Esurance’s ad in a different light. The font allows the “c” and the “l” to kind of mash together… resulting in bouts of laughter on my behalf at my desk (apparently I am that jouvenile, who knew?).
The online insurer quickly pulled down this innocent-seeming billboard over the summer.
While bad marketing campaigns aren’t necessarily the end of your business, it can be a lot of waste money, bad reputation, or a loss of customer loyalty and trust. In order to avoid such catastrophes, it’s best to be as sensitive, understanding and clever with your marketing that you possibly can.
What are some of the worst marketing campaigns that you’ve seen? Please comment and share your stories with us!
You’ve got a tremendous investment, not only in money, but also time and hopefully training in marketing your business at trade shows. Don’t get in the way of your own success!
Here are the 10 mistakes exhibitors make again and again:
1) Underselling your company with bad graphics: All too often I’ve seen companies represent themselves at trade shows with a patchwork of a “display.” I’ve seen vinyl banners wrapped around foam board, dented or dinged up displays, and a variety of hodgepodge displays. Represent your company in the best light possible. A less-than-professional appearance does not give your prospect confidence in you or your products and services. This type of display will send prospects running to the competition.
2) Putting way too much text on your display: You’ve got literally seconds to get someone’s attention as they stroll around the show floor. No one will stop to read a lot of text. Please understand that you cannot tell your entire company story on your tradeshow display.
3) Not promoting your presence at trade shows: So you’ve got a great looking booth and you’re all ready to go. So where is everyone? Why don’t you have any traffic coming into your booth? What have you done to promote your presence at the show? Let your clients and prospects know about your trade show appearances by using an e-newsletter and social media. Plan the launch of a new product/service around a show to create a buzz. Send invites directly to those prospects that you may not have connected with in the past.
4) Not training your booth staff and discussing proper expectations: So your booth staffers are sitting down instead of engaging with prospects. Are they more concerned with playing games, texting, or chatting away while prospects stroll right by your booth? Make sure you set the proper expectations before the show. Don’t make the assumption that because you have professional sales people they will understand the nuances of how to work in a trade show environment. Staff your booth with people who are as good or better than you!
5) Not listening to your prospects needs: Don’t be so excited to get your message across and sell your product that you miss out on important info about your clients needs. Also, be sure to be aware of body language and pick up any visual cues that may help you understand your clients’ needs even better. Take advantage of everything that a face-to-face interaction has to offer.
6) Depending on a fishbowl to bring in qualified leads: Lose the fishbowl! Is this type of giveaway really giving you the qualified leads you are seeking? Be an expert provider of solutions and you don’t necessarily need a generic giveaway contest to drive traffic to your booth.
7) Hauling too much literature to your booth: Most of the literature handed out at trade shows doesn’t make it past the garbage can in your prospects’ hotel room. Instead, write “Show Sample” on a copy of your literature to display at the show, and then get your prospect’s contact info to email or mail the info to them after the show. It will also save you the expense of shipping your heavy literature around. This gives you a great call to action to follow up with your prospect after the show. Explore technology to get information in your prospects hands. QR codes and mobile marketing platforms are great ways to do this.
8) Not planning for trade show success: We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan! In talking to clients who haven’t seen the results they were expecting, this is something that is very prevalent. If you don’t have a good plan in place you won’t be able to show an ROI to justify future shows and all you’ve really done is waste a lot of time and money. Discuss timelines with your trade show marketing consultant, get feedback from industry peers, do your homework.
9) Not informing your exhibit service partner: Make sure that the service/crews handling the logistics of your booth understand what’s going on with your booth. Get them a lists of shows for the year so that your booth gets from one show to the next, deciding which shows you have time to ship to the advanced warehouse and which events you may have to ship direct to the show. Discuss any unique items such as products in the booth, monitors, height limitations, etc.
10) Not following up on leads: Though is seems like a no-brainer, you need to make sure that your leads are called on in a timely fashion. Discuss next steps, quoting, future meetings, and provide any additional information they need. It’s time to deliver on the promises and the expectations that you have set at the show.
Mistakes of course are common and learning from them is the key. What mistakes have you made as an exhibitor or have you seen that can help your peers? Share with us below!
Looking for a way to impress clients and customers? Bet you haven’t seen anything like this!
What is a Vidbök exactly?
Hand your customer a Vidbök and lift the cover. Once the cover is lifted, your video starts playing, and your clients or distributors will be hooked and thoroughly impressed.
With options for to place videos in different language menus, the Vidbök opens up the door for having one device to reach all of your distributors or clients domestically and internationally. The savings and trouble of not having to print as many paper brochures is reason enough to look more into the Vidbök.
No longer do you need to trust that a person will either go to a website, plug in a USB drive, or put in a DVD. All that the recipient needs to do is lift the cover, and the video of your choice will start playing. Multiple videos can be uploaded to the device, if desired, and can be selected from a user friendly menu.
Have the best presentation and handouts at your next tradeshow or expo! Contact The HB Group for more details and pricing for your company!
Every day we come across businesses that are arrogant enough to think that simply because they sell a unique product or because they are the biggest player in the market they do not need to treat their customers with utmost respect. Eventually these companies end up losing precious customers. On the other hand, there are businesses that are genuinely unaware of the ways in which customers are to be treated, which means that they fail to take care of their customers appropriately and hence end up losing business. Businesses which fall in the latter category need to make sure that they put into practice some of the most effective customer services techniques, making sure that their customers are always happy in doing business with them.
Value Your Long Term Customers
A business needs to build up a customer base over several years in order to make the operation successful. In order to build up this base, there needs to be a constant stream of new and loyal customers. There are plenty of ways in which you can show your gratitude to the long term customers. One of the most well-known methods of doing so is by giving them certain rewards for which new customers might not qualify. Additionally, you can provideyour loyal customers with even more rewards for referrals that they provide you with in the future, as this encourages them to continue to spread the word about your company. These rewards make your long-term customers feel welcomed and appreciated, which goes a long way in the business world today.
Respect Your Customers’ Time
No customer wants to waste a substantial amount of time in waiting for anything. Whether it is for a table at a restaurant, their turn with the doctor, or their turn for a fitting room, time is money today. You can avoid unhappy customers if you manage your waitlist and reservations with an automated system. Let your customers know up front what the wait time is but then give them the opportunity to leave and still be notified of their turn in line through the use of the system and their smartphone. This gives customers some leeway with the use of their time while ensuring that they do not patronize one of your competitors.
Interact With Your Customers
No customer likes to do business with a faceless, cold and aloof organization that simply goes about its business with clockwork precision. Even if the service is great, there is alwaysthat little something that seems to be missing. This is the reason why there should be meaningful interaction with the customers in order to make them feel that they are indeed dealing with an organization that cares. The best way to accomplish that these days is by having a strong social media presence by way of which the company can interact with customers in a funny and informal way. There are many ways you can do this including the use of valuable content, videos, and images, each of which portray an important message to your customers. Needless to say, such a step can only lead to happier customers who would only be willing to do more business with the company in question.
Diversify the Customer Services Department
Nowadays, people do not always like to get on the phone when they want to reach someone in the customer service department of a company. In addition, more often than not they prefer non-voice options like chat, text, social media or even e-mail. In order to facilitate that, you should ensure that you have the necessary non-voice options in place so that customers never hesitate to get in touch even for the slightest of issues. Whether you provide easy access to contact you on the internet or you offer a 24-7 voicemail system, a robust customer service department will almost certainly lead to a better customer experience.
Create a User Friendly Website
In today’s world, most customers get their information online before shopping in-store. This means that if you do not have a user friendly website, you could be losing a large amount of potential business. In addition, a properly designed website helps customers easily located contact information that allows them to call you to learn more about your company or even to resolve a problem that they are having with your products or services. Overall, a professionally created website helps customers find your company, learn about it, and have a way to easily contact you.
If an organization values its customers but does not know exactly how to go about making them happy, so that they keep coming back then he should adopt the 5 measures listed here.
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is getting word out to the people who are most likely to become our customers.
In fact, the whole goal of all marketing is to “get the right message to the right person at the right time.” As marketers we also make sure we can do this at the best price possible.
Here are five steps that will help you better identify who YOUR audience is and HOW you can best connect with them.
Step 1: Acknowledge that you have a specific target audience
It’s important to understand that your products and services have a target audience that can be defined. As a marketer, your primary goal is to find ways to identify who these people are so that you can create marketing campaigns that speak to them directly.
This might sound pretty obvious, but too often marketers assume that what they offer the world has universal appeal and that their target audience is “everybody”! As much as we would all like to believe that, it’s never true and can get in the way of creating effective marketing campaigns that do talk to the right people.
Step 2: Determine what criteria you intend to use to identify the consumers you most wish to reach
An audience can be sorted any number of ways based on an almost infinite number of criteria. But your audience is unique to your brands, so you’re going to want to identify the factors that can be used to create a better connection between their potential needs and what your company offers.
For starters, are there some demographic points that you can use such as age, gender or geography to begin to refine who the best recipients are for your products? How about criteria that matches a prospect’s beliefs, opinions, attitudes or intentions with your marketing message?
The goal of this step is to eliminate the people for whom an offer won’t be relevant or important. With these people out of the mix, you can now focus your marketing messages to reach the remaining people who are most apt to be interested and willing to take some sort of action when they come in contact with your marketing message.
Step 3: Identify what your customers and prospects want most from you
One of the challenges that most marketers face is that they are too close to their own brands.
While you certainly want to promote your brands and services in a positive light, you also need to be willing to put yourself in the shoes of your target customers as often as possible. Chances are they don’t know much (if anything) about your brand or understand the benefits you offer nearly as well as you do.
By seeing your brand through new eyes, you can also look for potential weaknesses, areas of potential misuse or misunderstanding, and even things that consumers may object to or find offensive. Taking this step better allows you to create marketing messages and campaigns that fully address possible brand concerns and objections before they occur.
Step 4: Identify the best channels to use to communicate with these people
What’s the best way to reach your target audience? Again, there is no 100 percent right answer on the best channels you can use reach a target audience. For example a local business looking for a local audience isn’t going to need to run a nationwide online search campaign to reach its target audience. Instead, it might rely on an ad in a local directory or even a small local newspaper to get best results.
Start by thinking about how your target audience gets information. What channels do they use? Television? Radio? Newspapers? Webpages? Online search campaigns?
You want to make sure that when your target consumers are learning about the world around them that your messages are part of that information stream.
Step 5: Measure campaign results to determine if you actually did reach the right people!
Defining your target audience is just the first step. Now, you need to determine if you were correct.
It’s not uncommon for marketers to identify an audience they want to reach only to discover once the campaign starts running that a very different group of people respond to the marketing materials. Again, depending on the types of marketing channels you use, the feedback you will receive can tell you some very important stories.
The bottom line is NOT to assume that just because you have identified an audience and then determined the best criteria to select and reach that audience that your work is done. EVERY campaign you’ll run will teach you how to do a better job in the future. However, you need to be open to that feedback and be willing to continually tweak that information to optimize future campaigns resulting in more and more effective results!
Employee Services awards are a way to congratulate your staff for reaching certain milestones or achievements, such as years worked or completing specific goals. Fostering a culture of appreciation with awards and gifts are shown to have a significant impact on overall business and boost employee morale.
Retaining quality employees should always be a priority to any business, and congratulating them with a service award is a great way to let them know that you appreciate their hard work and dedication.
Even in harsher economies, key employees will often have other choices for employment and will most likely have an opportunity to choose between staying with your company or making a change, so satisfaction in the workplace is key to gaining their loyalty. We all know the hiring process can be stressful and time consuming, so maintaining longevity can cut down on this process and avoid the costs of turnover.
Increased employee morale is another benefit of providing service awards. If an employee feels underappreciated, their feelings toward the company can sour and even affect productivity, which is why high turnover companies opt to start an employee service award program. Awards for achievements can motivate employees and give extra incentive to meet certain goals and objectives.
There is also a lot of versatility when creating an employee service award program; you don’t always have to go with typical plaques or trophies, often times companies will create a catalog of company branded items that an employee can choose from or even give the employee freedom to find their own gift. This option lets employee receive a gift that they will get enjoyment from since it’s tailored to their interests.
Let The HB Group help you out, browse our store for endless ideas! http://thehbgroup.espwebsite.com/
Get to know Henri Bonan, the Founder of The HB Group!
What were you doing prior to starting The HB Group?
I attended Brigham Young University and received a Bachelors Degree in Communications. I dreamed of buying TV stations, I worked on air and radio sales. While at BYU, I was moving from Provo to Salt Lake City, I blew a disc out of my back by lifting a 100 lb Pioneer amp. After I had surgery one day I was laying there, and it hit me that I wasn’t interested in being the top in radio anymore. I was head hunted for a job with a local employee recognition company and started working there in the early 80’s. I had a piece of garbage car. I would park blocks away so it would’t affect my chances at work. They were very high brow, and probably wouldn’t appreciate a 65 old cutlass convertible, with no top and all rusted out..the perfect college car!
What Made You Want to Start a Career in the Import/Export Business?
I was dropping by some businesses in 1985. I had been thinking about how to be more competitive. Buying domestically didn’t set me apart. I saw a cotton bag on the floor at a company, he threw it at me and I saw a made in China tag, my mind started to turn. The president asked if I could get 7500-10000 bags every 2 months and asked if I could get them for a certain price point. I then contacted another local company and they asked the same if I could get them jogging suits at half the price. If so, they would cut me a check for half the order. In the Fall of ’85, no one ever went to China back then. I was one of the first. Every business I looked at were short Chinese. I was very intimidated even though I towered over everyone. I had no idea of what I was doing. Once I purchased my first order for my first company, it opened many doors. The HB Group was then born. It was an interesting experience. I called the Chinese consulate in SF first, and they reached out and made appointments. I flew to China blind not knowing what to expect. Everything began to move quickly after that first visit.
Biggest ups and downs
At the time of 9/11 there was a game change. We lost millions in with the Olympics business since there was extreme security risk with terrorism. Everyone we shipped to shipped back. They were worried there would be no games and no way to sell their merchandise. This was after we shipped and billed based on our PO’s from them.
Biggest ups is selling to a new company. Every time a new company trusts us to do their programs, it reminds me of why I started. I love helping people reach their goals and provide excellent products at good prices and great service..it rejuvenates me!
What advice do you give to anyone wanting to venture in the import/export field and also in starting their own business?
Just know what you’re doing and do your homework prior. In venturing in the import/export business, your company hangs on the economy of the world. Some countries dislike each other like China importing to Japan. Know your facts before setting up shop. But be passionate..that’s what pushes you. Even if you make mistakes, push forward and have a great attitude. You can make it. It also doesn’t hurt to have a great relationship with a good freight forwarder!
Little known unique facts about yourself – hobbies, what you like to do in spare time
I was born and lived in Sweden. Moved to California, then Utah. I can’t play golf anymore unfortunately due to multiple surgeries. I’m a closet rock star! I was the lead singer in a rock band for 7 years. I own another company, a music entertainment company, Airus Music Group where I manage Swedish bands. With my second venture now that I’m older, I can live vicariously through them!
Favorite trip you have been on
Best trip was this last Fall of 2014 with my wife to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia. It was an amazing experience. So many story book scenes. It was like being in a Disney movie everywhere you looked. Truly a trip of a lifetime.
Your Personal Life
My wife told me she would give me sons, strong and tall , however five daughters later, I wouldn’t trade a thing. They are wonderful girls and I have loved every minute watching them grow and going to all their activities. I’ll admit there were times with all the estrogen, I had to go watch a man’s movie just to get my head straight! But it’s been so fun. Now they have given me wonderful grandchildren, makes it all worth it! Life is truly a journey.