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HAIL TO THE PAYROLL GODDESS

Who knew blinky badges could light up a convention center? Symmetry Software brightened the American Payroll Association's annual trade show when it distributed"Payroll Goddess" light-up badges, as part of a campaign to recognize and thank the unheralded payroll manager. The blinky badges proved to be a runaway hit at the APA Congress convention and sparked an expanded and ongoing merchandising campaign to celebrate the unsung heroes, or more typically, heroines, of the payroll department.

“Payroll managers are the least appreciated employees with the most important position in the company," says Jon Bohnert, executive vice president of Symmetry, a specialized software company focusing on payroll applications, taxation and accounting applications targeted to the payroll industry. The typical payroll manager is female, and highly skilled. They're usually overlooked until something goes wrong with an employee's paycheck, he says.

Every May, Symmetry's flagship website, PaycheckCity, has a booth at the APA Congress."Everyone knows PaycheckCity and our booth, and payroll managers frequently stop by to say they love our products and how easy they are to use," he says. The Payroll Goddess promotions recognize their efforts and"elevate their payroll status," says Bohnert.

Prior to the Payroll Goddess campaign, the company distributed items that Bohnert refers to as"yawners." After the convention where they first gave out the badges, Symmetry started getting calls from newly minted Payroll Goddesses requesting badges for their entire payroll departments. The pins are a significant draw to PaycheckCity's booth. According to Bohnert,"It's all about name recognition and a whimsical approach to what is, frankly, a dull industry sector."

After numerous requests, the company created a Payroll Goddess website and store, and ultimately added"Payroll Titans" to also recognize male payroll managers. The branded merchandise selection has grown to include a wide variety of accessories, such as phone cases, T-shirts, jewelry and even doggie tees, to name a few. The site also features items with other payroll manager humor, including"Married with Dependents," "Show Me the Money" and"I Used to Be Exempt."

“Each year we get a huge spike in interest after our industry convention. We only give the light-up badges away at the APA Congress, and those are still the most popular pieces of swag," says Elizabeth Oviedo, Symmetry marketing manager. Sales of Goddess merchandise also spike at the holidays and during National Payroll Week, which occurs around Labor Day.

 “We've found this creative marketing promotion to be so successful at drawing attention to our brand that we trademarked ‘Payroll Goddess' and its logo," says Oviedo. "We've seen increased brand recognition for PaycheckCity, positioning us as the leader in paycheck management tools."

PaycheckCity has an active social media presence, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and its website gets nearly 5 million visitors per month.

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