Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lakehead Goes to Guatemala

Over a year ago, Festival pledged to send one of our college/university clients to Antigua, Guatemala to build a house in conjuntion with From Houses to Homes. We made this announcement at the 2010 COCA Conference and shortly there after the Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) was chosen as the winner.

I know it has been a long time since that first announcement but the representatives from LUSU have returned and have provided us pictures from their trip!

Pictures from their trip are available on the Festival Facebook Page and a big shout goes out to Mike and Neva on their incredible photography skills!

Everyone at Festival would like to sincerely and humbly thank Mike and Neva for both travelling to Guatemala, building the house and their incredibly kind words upon their return. This was an amazing cooperative venture and definitely something that Festival will do again.

If you'd like to know more about the LUSU trip, Houses to Homes or other examples of Festival's corporate citizenship feel free to email me at scotty@festival.net

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hiring the “new guy"

Although they don’t know it yet, Festival Promotions made the best decision of the year hiring me, and little do they know that this blog has given me the opportunity to brag a little about myself. Known around the office as the “new guy” (hence the correlation between that and my email address), I am extremely appreciative that I have this great opportunity to show them exactly what I am capable of achieving in an ever-changing and fast paced market that Festival Promotions serves today.

As a 4th year business student at the Telfer School of Management, I bring experience along with a creative and fresh mind to a very unique office, one that can be best compared to hit reality TV show The Office. Despite being small in stature, Festival Promotions packs a huge personality to compensate. With a fun, dynamic, and hardworking sales team surrounding my desk, there is never a dull moment during my day.

Now a little background on myself and why I fit so well with Festival and their student market. The last year and a half have become the defining moments in my life. Finally realizing that without being involved, I was not getting the most out of my time as a university student. Thus I decided to make the leap into the involved world – and man did I ever take a leap – more of a jump if you ask me! Let’s just say I didn’t know where to stop. However, all my recent involvement has lead to my hiring at Festival Promotions. Looking for someone who was outgoing and not afraid to work hard, Festival has taken me on board a very dynamic team. My leadership role in the Telfer School of Management community will hopefully be a valuable asset to the Festival team. I possess experiences on three executive boards including roles as President and Vice-President, participation in multiple academic competitions and enormous amounts of philanthropic involvement, has hopefully acted as a differentiator in the very competitive business world. Festival has recognized this and has given me great responsibility, a responsibility I look forward to take on and hopefully I will not disappoint.

All of my involvements make me a great fit for my role as marketing coordinator at Festival Promotions, a company whom I am getting the opportunity to learn and love. In addition to taking marketing by the horns, I will have the opportunity to dabble with Sales, something I really believe I am born to do. I love talking. Having and holding an intelligent conversation is my specialty and whenever I have the opportunity to do so, I am all over it.

So I think that’s enough from me in my first blog post at Festival Promotions; more to come shortly. Next time I will be combining my two favourite passions – Golf and Sales. Feel free to email me at newguy@festival.net if you have any inquiries or would just like to chat. Let’s do business together.

Steve Nyenkamp

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Customer Service Rockstar

I’m a classic rock guy. I like other kinds of music, but my iPod is mostly filled with CCR, the Stones, Beatles, Hendrix, et al. As an entrepreneur I understand customer service. So I thought why not write a blog post combining the two? Sure it’s weird but having had several interesting experiences in customer service this past week I felt the need to share the my most basic principles of business and why not set it to music!

I believe customer service is at the core of business. No matter how cool your product is, if you aren’t taking care of your clients you are missing something…Below are my Customer Service lessons as told by the legends of Rock n Roll music.

1.Stand By Me - Ben E. King
This week we had a complaint come in regarding one of our products wasn’t up to snuff. It wasn’t performing as it should and that didn’t sit well with me. The client had paid their invoice and had already distributed the items across Canada and it had been months since we had originally delivered the products. It would have been easy for us to say, ‘30 day warranty’ or ‘return them for a replacement’ but in this case that wasn’t an option as they had already been distributed across Canada. We didn’t do that though. We’re replacing the products with a different product and one that will hold up to the demands of the client. It is a significant short term pain but will result in a long term gain because clients don’t forget when you go to bat for them.

The lesson: Stand by your clients. There are tons of companies that give you the ‘too-bad-so-sad’ reply when dealing with product issues. It will hurt financially in the short run but it’s so rare these days for someone to truly stand behind their products. Your client will remember that and likely tell a lot of people.

2.Get Back – The Beatles
This one is simple…’Get Back’ to your clients. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent an email to a supplier or vendor only to have no response for days. Yes, in the end they are working on it, but I had no idea when I would have answers or even confirmation that they had received the email! Not every client question can be answered in a matter of minutes but you have no idea how powerful the following line can be:

“Hi (Client), I’ve received your email and will have an answer/response/proof/etc to you by (specific time).

The few times that a supplier has done for me, I LOVE them for it. It allows me to be precise with my client. It allows me to put a reminder in my calendar that I’ll have an answer at this specific time.

The lesson: Get back to clients and give specific times for when things will be done. If you want to make them feel unimportant though, skip that step and get back to them whenever you have the answer and let them sweat.

3.Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
Alright so you don’t need to be flirty and suggestive with your clients but you can give them good vibes in many other ways. Have you ever been so happy with a company or service that just went over and above to give you a little extra? It’s a marginal thing for the company to go ‘the extra mile’ yet so many companies seem to overlook it. If you aren’t getting emails from your clients saying ‘YOU’RE THE BEST’ and ‘THANK YOU SO MUCH’ (caps intended) you’re probably not blowing them away as much as you might think you are. Giving clients good vibes can be as simple as sending them an interesting link that you know they would be interested in, or in our case, throwing in a unique garment with their company logo on it, just for them. The best example of ‘Good Vibes’ comes from our web company, NetGen. We contracted them to re-design our website and they did a fantastic job. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. But the real happiness came when Fred, the web designer went and customized our blog to match our website. This was never part of the original contract and although it probably didn’t take Fred that long to do, it gave us at Festival a big case of the ’warm and fuzzies.’

The Lesson: Small, Marginal augmentations to your customer’s experience can pay off exponentially. Find a way to give your clients good vibes because your competitors probably aren’t.

4.I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash
This is probably one of the more obvious tips, but ‘walk the line.’ If you say you are going to do something do it. If you are looking for an easy example of what not to do, just take a page out of the Cell Phone companies book. They all claim to have great service and if you are purchasing a phone or plan you can get right through to a live person. If you have a problem though, you’ll wait a long time only to speak to an insincere and careless Customer Service Rep who really doesn’t give a crap about your issues. (Yes I know it’s not ALWAYS the case with the mobile carriers, but I’ve heard enough complaints about all of them to accurately make this generalization) If you say you have good customer service do it. If you say you are going to get back to someone do it. If you say you stand behind your product stand behind it.

The Lesson: In an age of limited warranties, fine print, asterisks, terms and conditions etc. too little emphasis is put on your word. Do what you say.

5.Who Are You – The Who
This maybe more of a marketing tip, but it serves just as well in customer service. Who Are you? Tell people, be open, let them know who you are! One of the biggest problems with corporate customer service is that we have no idea who the person on the other end of the phone is. By letting people know who you are either by social media, your website, and your interactions you create a different playing field when it comes to customer service. Clients will be easier to deal with because they know and trust you. Think about how effective transparency is. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George does the opposite of his every intuition? Now picture that in a customer service scenario when you’re calling a Call Centre and the agent starts “Hi, I’m Chuck. I’m 24, working my way through school, I like basketball, and secretly know the words to any Lady Gaga that comes on.” Too much information? Maybe, but you know the guy now and you’re already in a much more collaborative state of mind to take care of your customer service issues.

The Lesson: Let people know who you are. With all things being equal people work with people they like and when it comes to customer service you want to be working WITH your customers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Festival: A Year in Review

2010 has been a big year at Festival Promotions! The founder Jay Flesher sold the company to Lee Boyd and Scott McLaren in early 2010 but has remained on as an integral part of the team. It may seem like a bit of an unusual situation, but then again Festival is an unusual company itself, so it all works out!

The year was marked with some awesome projects with clients and some really neat philanthropic endeavors. Check them out below.

Nuts About Cancer:
In almost fated way, Brian from Nuts About Cancer got in touch with Scott at Festival Promotions. Arlene Dickinson of Dragon's Den fame had made a call to her twitter followers to tweet out a Random Act of Kindness. Being in the promo products business, Scott thought what better way to help than to donate some Tshirts for a smaller charity that probably doesn't have the budget to do their own promo items. Brian got in touch with us after Arlene Re-Tweeted my offer and the Nuts About Cancer Shirts were born! Brian is now working on the 'Everyman Grand-Slam' and where he will complete the big 5 Marathons, the last three of which occur in a span of about 6 weeks!! 3

The Hanne Howard Foundation:
Again, in a way that only Festival can, we found ourselves working with a seemingly random assortment of organizations to help fund education in Africa. Merkburn Holdings had come across 125,000 pencils, without an idea of how best to use them. The pencils were mentioned to two people, Ted Horton of Sports Experts and the Hanne Howard Foundation. Ted had the idea to have a doantion box at the Sports Experts store locations where people could 'take a pencil, leave a donation' With that in mind, Festival got to work and developed a clear acrylic donation box, with a cardboard pencil holder. The end product grabs the attention of shoppers, and makes sure that it doesn't take up too much counter space at the cash. But the work wasn't done there, we still had distribution concerns! And that's where the Scouts Canada came in. The scouts helped us prep the pencils and pack them for delivery to each of the Sports Experts locations. And to top it all off we had a pizza part with Hanne of the foundation herself! For more information please check out the foundation at www.hannehowardfund.org.

No one got more excited about Movember than Festival Partner, Scott McLaren. Weeks before the 1st of November, Scott had formed a team and the donations had begun. In an effort to raise money, Festival donated 50 tshirts to be sold with 100% of the proceeds going to Movember The tshirts can be seen here: We also had a lot of fun working with our clients on some fun Movember fundraising initiatives. The favourite had to be these awesome Mo-Flasks done for the Communications Students Association at the University of Ottawa. Scott also produced a heart-wrenching farewell to his Mo as the month closed: Goodbye my Mo - When all the dust settled the Festival Movember Team had raised just over $1,600!

From Houses to Homes
And of course our flagship project, The Guatemala House in conjunction with From Houses to Homes. This year Jay and Scott decided to formalize our international development projects and give one of our college and university clients a house built in their name in the mayan projects outside Antigua Guatemala. We also are covering the flights for two representatives from that school to go down and actually do the build! To see who won go here: You can also follow the progress of the home build and additional fundraising efforts on the Festival Facebook Page:

2010 has been a great year and we have a lot planned for 2011 as well so stay connected with us, and watch what 'the original social medium' can do!


Monday, November 15, 2010

COCA Guatemala.m4v

The Guatemala House Winner!

After a long wait, we finally finished the video and confirmed with the winning school and awarded the Guatemala House Prize! And the winning school is LAKEHEAD UNIVERSITY STUDENT UNION!

For those of you that forget, Festival set out this year to make a difference in the world and our first mission was to donate the building of a house for a poor family in Guatemala through http://www.fromhousestohomes.org/ - a charity very near to Festival owner, Scott McLaren.

The winning team will have the house Materials paid for by Festival and 2 flights for representatives of Lakehead to fly down to actually build the house. A build team is usually 5-6 people, and Festival will work together with Lakehead to help send the additional 3-4 people down to help with the build.

Be sure to follow this blog or like us on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ottawa-ON/Festival-Promotions/398092695147 to follow the progress of the trip or to lend some support to this awesome group of students that will be heading down.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nuts About Cancer

Hi Folks,
It's been awhile since our last post, but I thought this might be interesting! A few weeks go Arlene Dickinson put forth a challenge via twitter for people to do randon acts of kindness.
Festival offered to make 24 free Tshirts for a charity that needed some attention and Brian from 'Nuts About Cancer' was the first to respond.

Working with Brian was awesome. He's a cool dude with a great sense of humour and being able to design this Tshirt for him was a pleasure. It's always a lot of fun, when you can go outside the box a bit, and make a shirt that will grab attention, and hopefully give people a chuckle.
The shirts should be due out this week, at which time I'll pass them over to Brian. (with one for myself of course). But hopefully you'll take some time to check out his website www.nutsaboutcancer.com and support him in anyway you can!