CAMEX: Products I loved

I recently attended CAMEX, the campus market expo, where college bookstore managers come to learn about products and services for their bookstores (we were there promotion open educational resources).

I was very impressed by the expo and with the products & services I saw, as well as the creative booth designs. A friend of mine asked me to keep an eye out for new vendors/products that might be good for her high school stores, so below is a combination of ideas for her as well as other products that were unique and exciting.

ResquMe had keychains that had a seat belt cutter and a glass hammer in one. I was so impressed I bought 2. They also had infrared pepper spray so police can identify attackers up to 4 days after the attack.
ResquMe had keychains that had a seat belt cutter and a glass hammer in one. I was so impressed I bought 2. They also had infrared pepper spray so police can identify attackers up to 4 days after the attack.
A package of team twists, that look like multi-colored braids when put in hair
Team Twists provide an easy way to add team colors to long hair
A set of cute portable keychain phone charges, such as a pig, a pineapple, and a slice of cake
Portable phone chargers in all shapes are really popular. These ones from BUQU are really cute and have a lifetime warranty.
A set of coolers with a wrap around them with a team's logo on them.
Custom logo coolers would be very expensive, so how about a foam wrap (like a koozie) for your cooler? Victory Corps offers this economical solution in various sizes.
The Diva Cup menstrual cups are a wonderful product for women.
The Diva Cup menstrual cups are a wonderful product for women.
A display of clear bags and purses where you can see all of the contents in the bags.
With schools and many professional sports requiring women to carry clean bags only into the stadium, the retailers have responded with a wide array of options.
A display of individual packets of mug cake mix to make in a coffee mug
Ah, the modern version of the Easy Bake Oven: Mug Cakes! Molly & Drew make it easy to make one with these individual packets. I sampled the cake and it was wonderful. Their beer bread mixes are also excellent.
A series of necklaces covered in two colors of Swarovski crystals, including 3-D designs of a football and basketball.
DreamTime Creations specializes in reasonably-priced designs made with Swarovski crystals in your school colors.
A display of fair trade products, including necklaces, earrings, etc.
Minga Fair Trade Imports had a wide variety of socially and ecologically conscious options, including notebooks of paper made from elephant dung.
A display of composition books that decompose, so they are called decomposition books
One of my personal favorites, the bookstore managers I spoke with said Decomposition Books are top sellers at their stores.
I often worry about the next generation growing up with minimal financial skills, so I was excited to see a board game, Bulls & Bears, to teach them the basics of finance and budgeting.
I often worry about the next generation growing up with minimal financial skills, so I was excited to see a board game, Bulls & Bears, to teach them the basics of finance and budgeting.
A display of various collegiate headbands with the school name or logo in sparkles.
Bling is big, which shows in these sparkly and big headbands from GlamFans.

Attributing costs in marketing is essential

A calculator, a cost sheet, and a hand and pen writing on it
From Flickr: Dave Dugdale

More than once, I’ve been accused of being too strict in how I attribute marketing costs to projects. I am very strict, but for good reasons:

Reason 1: Attributing costs allows for leadership and owners to understand and budget for costs

A couple of years ago, I began working on a project. The leadership for the organization I was working for looked at what was spent on the project in years past and gave us that amount to work with. The issue? It was less than 1/5 the actual cost of the project. Why so? Because people weren’t attributing the costs they incurred back to the project. Instead, they were absorbing them into their own budget.

This might seem like an OK thing to do, but it really isn’t. First, it “hid” the actual cost of the project so the organization’s leadership weren’t able to critically assess the project using actual cost numbers. At the cost they thought was correct, the project was a great deal. At the actual cost, the project became questionable. Second, it created a lot of difficulties for our committee because, since the other departments had their budgets cut and could no longer afford to absorb the costs of the project, we had to back to our leadership, ask for money, and justify why we needed it.

Reason 2: Critical business decisions are made based on costs and budgets

One department I worked with once said that their department was losing sales because of a reduction we’d made in their marketing budget. I decided to do an analysis to see if that was true by looking at a variety of variables and looking for correlations. I could not find a correlation between the drop in their sales and marketing expenditures no matter how I ran the numbers. But, I found that the particular division was down to making a profit of  $15,000 per year. The problem? Because their marketing budget was being charged back to my account, their profit and loss statement didn’t include their marketing costs ($25,000). With all their costs accounted for, the department was losing $10,000 per year. Critical business decisions about this department we being made based on incorrect numbers because not all costs were accounted for.

Reason 3: Shareholder/taxpayer accountability

Working for community colleges for the past nine years has made me very cognizant of being very transparent with all projects and their costs. The taxpayers should be able to ask and receive a correct answer about any project they so choose. So should shareholders. Assigning costs to the correct project is essential, and ethically necessary, for public and shareholder accountability.

So call me too strict if you will, but I think it’s absolutely critical to attribute costs correctly.

What do you think? How do you feel marketing dollars should be attributed