Unique, Affordable, Personalized Gifts

Admittedly, most of us are a bit strapped for cash this holiday season.  Instead of going out and buying the nicest, newest or best, many of us are opting for homemade gifts.  Below are 10 unique, affordable and personalized gifts that might be good for anyone of your friends, family or loved ones that you can’t quite figure out what to get them.

1. Family Photo Book – Ofoto and Snapfish are two well known and highly used sites for printing pictures, calendars and photo books, but Blurb and Lulu are two excellent alternatives.

2. Make Your Own Candy - Yes, we’ve all received Aunt Ida’s famous fruitcake for years, but making your own candy is different.  AllRecipes.com has a great collections of easy to make candy recipes that will not only show your friends and family you care but also provide them with a sweet and delicious treat.  Add custom, printable labels from My Own Labels, and you’ve got a gift that will make everyone smile.

3. Personalize a Jelly Bean Mix – For all you Jelly Belly lovers, their new website MyJellyBelly.com allows you to create a personalized Jelly Belly gift, perfect for anyy occasion.

4. Create a Cookbook – A friend of mine got a personalized Tastebook cookbook for her bridal shower, what an amazing gift. Not only does this cookbook have recipes that are meaningful to you, but you can add photos and a custom cover.

5. Personalize a Shirt – I love Cafepress and have used it for several gifts (babyshowers, etc). but Spreadshirt is another great website that allows you to create a one-of-a-kind piece with your own images and text.

6. Develop Your Own Energy Bar or Shake – Do you have a health nut friend who can’t find anything healthy they like at Jamba Juice?  Then YouBar might be a great alternative.  The Build-A-Bar page allows people to design their own product down to the details like High protein, low carb or gluten free.  The site also automatically adds us the nutrition facts as you add ingredients.

7. Create Your Own Calendar - Believe it or not, family members love this gift and now Flickr makes creating a custom calendar extremely easy.

8. Make Your Own Lego Set – Have young kids or even a dorky husband/boyfriend? LEGO has launched a DesignByMe website that offers a way for you to create your own LEGO designs that are professionally manufactured and boxed for a gift.  You can even design the box too!

9. Custom M&M’s - My M&M’s lets you put anything, picture, logo, text on to your personal batch of M&M’s.

10. Create Your Own Brand of Cereal – For all of the cereal and granola junkies in your life, [me]&goji, MixMyGranola, and MojaMix allow you to create you own customized cereal or granola mixes.   And as a bonus, [me]&goji allows you to customize the box too!

Hopefully these gifts have given our Rox readers a unique alternative to the gift card (although those are great! don’t get me wrong), but if you are looking for something a little more personal, try a gift from the list above.  If you do, let us know! We would love to hear about how the process and the end product came out!

New Service Measures Online Ad Effectiveness

Information Resources Inc. (IRI) has introduced a way for marketers to measure the effectiveness of their online advertising against offline sales.  IRI, comScore, Dynamic Logic and [x+1] collaborated on this new platform, which will provide great benefits to the CPG, retail and healthcare industries who want to measure their online advertising campaigns.

Despite previous unsuccessful attempts (Yahoo! and Nielsen) with this type of technology in 2003, IRI believes its product (which does not have a name yet) will be able to provide marketers with the answers to the “how’s and why’s” of particular online or social media campaigns.  The platform currently only works for campaigns with an impression threshold of 50 million, but the IRI consumer network panel is believed to reach 80,000 households by next year and will include services that offer users both pre and post campaign information.

For more about this new technology, go to: http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/direct/e3i7be089acf10901c776f72a1a14ea3fe8?pn=1

Ethnic Insights Now Standard in Ads

Ethnic insights are going mainstream as they increasingly become an integral part of general marketing work.  The days have past where you need a separate multicultural agency to do your ethnic work.  All marketers are now preparing for the shift in the US demographic, which includes a more diverse “general” market.

One of the main reasons for the shift in thinking is generational.  Younger generations are definitely blending faster than their older ethnic counterparts.  State Farm and McDonald’s are two of the big companies that have already started to blend ethnic and traditional advertising to create their new overall message.  Both of these companies understand that the younger generations understand messages from all races and are less likely to prefer specific demographic marketing than the older generations would.  For example, State Farm using LeBron James and his likeness to speak to the younger generation as a whole, not just the African American youth.  McDonald’s knows that 40% of its US business is done with ethnic minorities, with 50% of the business 13 and younger, so they conduct focus groups with all ethnicities present to see what is most appealing, whether it one ethnicity represented or all represented equally.

With the shift from ethnic marketing into a more general “all ethnicity” approach, marketers must be aware enough not to focus or play on stereotypes and risk offending the very people they are trying to reach.  In order to be successful at the new norm in marketing, agencies must find imagery that is appealing to the “white” and “ethnic” markets, without making either one feel as those they are being singled out or left out.

For more on this topic, go to: http://adage.com/article?article_id=140727