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  • November 19, 2020 6:36 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, will conclude his employment with the Association at the end of March 2021, marking the end of more than 20 years of service.

    “The past 20-plus years have been nothing short of extraordinary,” Bellantone says. “This decision was not easy, but I am confident knowing that our strong staff and dedicated Board of Directors have PPAI in a solid position to move forward to protect, grow and engage the promotional products industry.” Bellantone notified the Board in late October of his intention to conclude his tenure before his next contract extension, which was set to begin on April 1, 2021.

    PPAI Board Chair Ira Neaman, MAS, says, “The Board and countless others in the industry are so grateful for Paul’s many years of leadership and dedication to serve and engage the industry. Under his leadership, PPAI has grown and evolved into one of the most respected associations worldwide. I am truly thankful for all Paul has done for PPAI, including instilling a strong ‘confidence to evolve’ mentality among the PPAI Board, staff and volunteer corps.”

    Executive Vice President Robert (Bob) McLean, Jr., CPA, CAE, CEM, says, “Paul has been an inspirational leader and advocate of the PPAI community and the industry. Due to his tireless leadership and team building, our staff and volunteer leaders are well-positioned for this change and to continue to move the Association forward.”

    Bellantone adds, “It has been a pleasure to serve the Association and I am tremendously appreciative of the opportunities I have been given and for the relationships I have built during my time with PPAI. It is no secret that this has been a challenging year for many, both personally and professionally. But with such challenges come opportunities to evolve and thrive. That’s why I believe this is not only the right time for me, but the best time for PPAI.”

    PPAI’s mission to grow, protect, inform and engage its members and the industry remains foremost. Coupled with a focused and strategic continuity plan, the Board and leadership staff will work closely with Bellantone over the coming months to evaluate internal and external market conditions against the needs of the members, industry and the Association. These efforts will ensure a smooth transition that will drive meaningful value and the long-term success of the Association.

  • November 18, 2020 5:45 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    There’s no question that the pandemic has posed unparalleled challenges to the entire world on both a personal and professional level. Therefore, safety products are absolutely essential items as many parts of the world face a second wave of COVID-19 as well as the start of flu season. It is paramount that companies be able to conduct business and take care of their employees. Face masks, hand sanitizers, tumblers, light-up armbands, lip balms, no-touch tools, pill trays/boxes, lighting, and kitted gift boxes are just some of the safety products available for both the office and working remotely.

    While hand sanitizer is in high demand at Webb Company, Rena Ashfeld notes that the company is seeing sales of kitted gift boxes increasing. “With people working remotely, employers, customers, and partners want to reward them with gift items,” she says. This has resulted is the company’s boxed kits becoming very popular.

    Joshua Pospisil at KTI Promo agrees that work-from-home items are trending because of the pandemic, citing the company’s Ring Light as safely lighting the way for remote employees. “It is also a huge hit as it provides you the perfect lighting for all of your video calls,” he comments, adding that demand for any work from home-related items has been outstanding.

    According to Carrie Lewis at BIC Graphic, people also want safety gear that is effective but not cumbersome. “Lightweight materials and compact items can still be protective without holding people back from doing their work or participating in their favorite activities,” she says. “With more people exercising outside due to gym closures and/or reduced capacity, flashing and light-up armbands for early morning runners and walkers are great options for clients wanting safety promos that don’t directly relate to COVID-19.

    “In a year when being cautious is a priority, there is potential for more products than ever to take on a safety spin,” Lewis continues. The company’s PrevaGuard™ line of products span several categories and have an EPA-registered antimicrobial additive molded directly into the product components. BIC Graphic carries PrevaGuard™ BIC© writing instruments, mouse pads, bags, Koozie© can coolers, and—coming soon—face masks.

    The demand for safety products expanded this year into different sectors and industries than would have traditionally purchased safety promos in the past, Lewis adds, citing healthcare facilities purchasing reflective safety vests for drive-through COVID testing sites as an example.

    As far as safety products go, there are many new and best-selling items to protect employees and customers as the nation navigates the current health crisis. Webb Company’s Ashfeld reports that the company has many new items such as scented hand sanitizer, masks, no-touch tools, and hand sanitizer pen sprayers.

    Custom Chocolate has been thinking outside the box and developed a completely new product for the promotional products industry, with Larry Wilhelm reporting that it is COVID-19 friendly. “It’s a range of molded glycerin soap bars with two unique features,” he explains. “The logo imprint is imbedded inside the bar, so the imprint lasts as long as the bar does, thereby maximizing the number of advertising impressions. Plus, a CDC hand-washing poster is attached to the shrink wrap to help promote good hand washing habits to help protect against germ transmission.” The bars are available in three sizes and price points.

    Bay State’s Josette Bosse notes the company’s H793 pill tray is a top seller, allowing the setup of medication for loved ones for the entire week. The Rainbow Jumbo 24/7 Medicine Tray Organizer features rainbow-color pill boxes. The plastic base holds seven, removable, four-compartment pill boxes with easy-out design and is equipped with convenient, easy-to-use holes for facilitating pill box removal.

    Bay State also offers the M458 and M455 Medical History Organizers, which Bosse explains can contain grab-and-go information for EMTs or just to take to an appointment for a quick reference of important information. The three-fold card insert is pre-printed with space to fill in info regarding: Identification, Emergency/Physician Contacts, Medical History, Allergies, Prescriptions, and Medical Insurance. It also comes in a jumbo size.

    Grethe Adams at Southern Plus points out that the definition of safety can encompass a wide variety of products. “We often take for granted the importance of being seen—day or night—when walking in bad weather conditions!’ she states. “Visual safety is just as important as any other kind of personal safety!” To that end, the company’s SF-48 - Safety Umbrella adds a high-optic, reflective strip around the outside edge of its canopy to ensure optimum visibility day or night. “It can be seen up to one mile away,” she elaborates. “Whether you are a daily commuter or a school crossing guard, you need to be seen to be safe! You can further elevate this promotionally by adding a logo/message in high-optic reflective ink (for a slight upcharge), making it visible from afar!” This midsize "stick" umbrella is ultralight, yet ultra-durable, and comes in black.

    Additionally, the company’s RFO-43 - Optic Umbrella takes its best-selling umbrella and elevates it visually with a high-optic, reflective strip around its canopy, Adams continues. It comes in black, orange, and royal, with reflective ink available, promotionally, upon request (for a slight upcharge). For when weather is at its worst, the AQ103 – Optic Poncho features a reflective hood and shoulders, which Adams says is the safest way to wrap your body.

    BIC Graphic is offering a Fitness Flashing Armband with Bag Tag, a multi-functional promo that is perfect for outdoor retailers, races, fitness centers and travel sports programs, Lewis says. “The bright LED band has varying illumination features and has an attached hanger for clipping on outdoor packs,” she comments.

    Coronavirus has also created a need for instructive signs and floor stickers, Lewis adds. The company’s 11-inch Floor Stickers are available with a variety of directional and social distancing stock backgrounds.

    While the pandemic has companies brainstorming for ways to protect their employees and clients while promoting their businesses, Webb Company’s Ashfeld recommends distributors utilize virtual rendering to show clients your capabilities. “We also sent gift boxes prior to a Leadership Development Workshop Event—which included a Tumbler, Steel Straw, Hand Sanitizer, Lip Balm, and Mints—to all the attending participants.”

    “Safety is a large category and can vary greatly depending on the business and industry,” Lewis at BIC Graphic says. “There is an opportunity for a business of any size to incorporate a safety program because most companies prioritize safe and healthy work environments. Additionally, manufacturing and construction industries often reward teams for safe behaviors so there may be potential for added business via awards and recognition promos.”

    There has never been a better time to show compassion, Pospisil at KTI Promo concludes. “When people are looking for products, understand that they may need them quicker than ever before,” he says, “Also be mindful that budgets may not be as large as they use to be so do the best to work with what you got.”

    Case Study

    Carrie Lewis, BIC Graphic

    A school district was taking extra precautions while reopening during the Coronavirus pandemic. This included holding classes in outdoor spaces and campus buildings that provided room for social distancing. To address safety concerns, the school gave parents a Deluxe I.D. Kit to complete for their kids. Students were encouraged to keep their I.D. Kit in their school planners so important information could be easily accessed by teachers, coaches, and administrators in case of an emergency.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner

  • November 18, 2020 5:44 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    So, you’re launching a product soon…. Well, congratulations!

    Introducing a new product to our world can be an exciting endeavor. It means your company is expanding and offering new ideas to profit from.

    Using Instagram for this launch can be one of the most beneficial means to engage your audience and get people pumped for the big day. From using intentional hashtags to styling your products for your Instagram grid, there are several ways to make your announcement with a bang!

    Here are 4 tips on how you can use Instagram to launch your shiny, new product:

    Set a Clear, Reachable Goal

    Planning everything out for your product launch can seem daunting at first. It’s important to have a clear, purposeful direction before you even begin posting.

    Here are some questions to consider: When is the kickoff date? Who are you trying to target? How can I create engaging posts?

    First things first, setting an attainable goal will not only help you stay on track with daily posts leading up to the launch of your product, but it also will help you define a roadmap for a successful social media campaign.  

    Whether you’re trying to generate sales through Instagram or focused on driving traffic to your brand, ponder what your end-goal is and how you can utilize the power of social media to achieve this.

    Create Hype Before the Launch

    Creating excitement around a new product will grab the attention of viewers and have them yearning for more details. According to Later.com, it’s beneficial to set a schedule two months out before the big reveal, so you have enough time to plan out photoshoots and the required graphics.

    Trying to think of pre-launch Instagram posts? One way to create hype before a product launch is including a countdown to deliberately pique people’s interest in what’s coming soon.

    For this idea, create graphics that only offer discrete information:

    “12 more days!”

    “Coming soon!”

    “24 more hours until launch day!”

    Courtesy of Instagram

    You can even create a simple, yet captivating Instagram Story that incorporates the countdown sticker, a timer that reminds your audience when your new product is available for purchase!

    Courtesy of Later

    There are a number of ways to create hype around your launch, but remember to plan ahead so you feel confident in the material you’re posting to your Instagram grid.

    Time to Get Creative!

    Releasing a new item is no easy feat, and your creative direction is what can make or break your success. There are many components to consider such as a color palette, fonts, styling, and beyond. But, have no fear – this process is meant to be fun and unleash your imagination.

    Instagram is such a visual platform, which is why it’s essential to work with a graphic designer or photographer on creative elements that you can add to your launch campaign. But first, it’s a good idea to build a mood board with textures, colors, and other imagery that reflects the look you are leaning towards. For example:

    Courtesy of Amari Creative

    When styling your product, flat lay shots (aka a photograph taken from directly above) is a simple way to layout your product with other elements that set the tone of the image.

    Courtesy of Instagram

    For example, if your launch is around the holidays, you can incorporate pine foliage or ribbon into your image to give it some seasonal cheer.

    Courtesy of Instagram

    Engage With Followers

    Finally, engage… engage… ENGAGE! How will you know what your customers like if you don’t ask questions?

    Let’s say your beauty brand is launching a new lipstick, use the Instagram Story’s question sticker and ask your followers what lipstick shade they hope to see soon? Or right before launch day, you can ask your customers what they are looking forward to the most?

    By asking questions before the launch, you’ll gain insight into how you can improve the product before the big reveal. By asking questions after the launch, you’ll show that you care about followers’ reactions and their honest opinions.

    Instagram is an advantageous platform to use when releasing a new product. You can draw interest with the graphics you post and design a campaign that is engaging and exciting, stopping those Instagram scrollers in their tracks.

    Want to learn about other creative ways to use social media to market your business? Check out this blog here!

    Used with permission from SAGE

  • November 18, 2020 5:44 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Being able to think strategically is an important competency for professionals in any field. By using your strategic thinking skills, you can think critically to solve complex problems and plan for what lies ahead.

    According to Doug Randall, who has lectured at Wharton School and Stanford University on strategy, leaders who think strategically see around corners and spot possibilities and choices where others see problems and constraints. Fortunately, you can cultivate a strategic mindset by following some simple steps and practicing often.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Randall’s thoughts on how to adopt a strategic mindset.

    Look to the future. It’s helpful to learn from the past, but don’t get stuck there. To cultivate a strategic mindset, you should take the long view. According to Randall, this opens up choice and possibility because it is unimpeded by current limitations. Think about how you make decisions with your sales team. Do you look ahead and see abundant potential in the future, or do you begin with a more confined set of options? Strive to take a long-term, future view to plan effectively.

    Start from the context. Randall notes that outside-in thinkers typically look for opportunities and threats in their contextual environment. Before considering what they can control, they look at social, political and technological forces. Remember to control what you can control—and don’t let the other things impact your decision-making.

    Challenge traditional wisdom. To develop a strategic mindset, you should not limit yourself with the long-established and familiar ideas and routines in your life. According to Randall, conventional wisdom breeds predictability and certainty, and often extreme rigidity. You can break loose by choosing to embrace innovation and disruption.

    Learn to synthesize information from various sources. Chances are, you get an influx of emails and information from multiple people and sources every day. You probably get more insight and data than you could feasibly interpret or act on in week. That’s why it’s important to systematically scan, synthesize and process information from a broad array of inputs, says Randall. This will help you make sense of all that is happening within your team, company and larger community.

    Be intentionally optimistic. Do you tend to focus more on risks, concerns and the threat of loss—or do you look for opportunities, upsides and potential wins? To be a strategic thinker, you must be purposeful in looking on the bright side. According to Randall, positivity and an optimistic outlook create a foundation for a solution orientation, offering a wide spectrum of choices.

    Cultivating a strategic mindset is an ongoing process. Learning how to think strategically is perhaps one of the most important soft skills you can master because it enables you think differently, propose new ideas, and see opportunities that others miss.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Doug Randall is a partner at The Trium Group. He has lectured at the Wharton School, Stanford University and National Defense University on strategy, narratives, leadership and negotiations.

    Used with permission from PPAI 

  • November 18, 2020 5:43 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Life as a sales professional looks different now than it did last year. With the pandemic disrupting traditional ways of doing business, sales reps need the right blend of soft and hard skills to succeed. Have you helped your sales reps adapt their skills to meet the moment? Tess Townsend, a writer for the Salesforce blog, says that now is a great time to refine some important skills.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Townsend’s thoughts on the five skills sales reps should develop now.

    1. Empathy. This skill will take your reps far today and in the future. Train them to see things from the customer’s perspective and to be sensitive to each person’s unique situation. Instead of ending a sales call with an ask, consider closing with an open-ended question. Townsend suggests asking something like, “How is your business adjusting?” or “How has it been working from home for you and your team?” By sharing a little of your experience, you can help build a connection. For example, perhaps both you and your client are working while homeschooling kids. Look for ways to empathize to help authentically connect with the other person.

    2. Data fluency. How often do you and your sales team look at important data, such as industry trends and territory data? While you do not need to be an expert in manipulating data, you should know how to analyze it for your sales team. For example, if you see that your reps are booking meetings in certain industries such as real estate or professional services, you can lean into these fields.

    3. Customer research. According to Townsend, being able to build knowledge about your sales prospects is another key sales skill worth honing right now. She notes that reps in high-performing organizations are more than twice as likely to monitor customer purchase history and customer staffing changes than their underperforming counterparts.

    4. A knack for communicating virtually. In a time when most sales meetings occur over the phone or via a video call, your sales reps should work on developing their virtual presence. Make sure their computer is set up to run video calls, ensure they have proper internet connect, and test the picture to make sure it isn’t blurry. You can look at getting your reps an external mic or webcam, when necessary. Train your reps to keep a light source in front of their face and to keep their camera positioned at eye level, adds Townsend. And to be considerate of your clients’ needs, always ask if they prefer a video call or phone call.

    5. The ability to build relationships. Sales is still all about relationships, even though you may not see your customers face to face. That’s why being able to build relationships, even under changing circumstances, is one of the most critical sales skills today. Seek out ways to connect with your clients, whether that’s hosting a webinar or inviting them to a livestreamed class.

    While selling during a pandemic poses many challenges, the basic objective of meeting buyers’ needs and solving customers’ problems remains unchanged. By training your sales reps to step up with the skills above, you can demonstrate that they are trusted advisors and build meaningful relationships with your clients, even in a difficult market.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Tess Townsend is a freelance journalist who contributes to the Salesforce blog.

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • November 18, 2020 5:42 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The pandemic has accelerated growth in ecommerce as more people are shopping from home, and that tremendous growth has boosted ad spend in the channel as well. Digital research and forecasting agency eMarketer, part of Insider Intelligence, expects marketers to spend $17.37 billion on advertising on ecommerce sites and apps this year, up 38.8 percent from 2019. By the end of 2020, ecommerce channel advertising will represent 12.2 percent of U.S. digital ad spending.

    “Ecommerce channel ads are gaining popularity as brands realize the value of targeting prospects exhibiting purchase intent within the large ecommerce marketplaces,” says Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “The trend has only accelerated during the pandemic as ecommerce accounts for a higher percentage of most brands’ and retailers’ sales. While Amazon has already proven itself as an ad platform, the next wave of ecommerce power players is now making more aggressive moves in the space.”

    Ecommerce channel advertising, sometimes known as retail media advertising, is digital advertising that appears on websites or apps that are primarily engaged in retail ecommerce.

    “This type of advertising has benefited massively from the pandemic-accelerated shift of retail sales to ecommerce, but other disruptive forces in the digital media world are also driving more dollars to Amazon, Walmart and their competitors in the space,” says eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence Nicole Perrin. “As advertisers look to a future where it’s harder to identify and track users, ecommerce properties have the advantages of shopping and intent data on the targeting side, plus closed-loop attribution for measurement and optimization.”

    Amazon is by far the largest platform, reports eMarketer. This year, the company will net $13.18 billion in ecommerce channel ad revenues, up 39.1 percent from 2019. This represents 75.7 percent of overall ecommerce channel ad spending and 90.6 percent of Amazon’s net U.S. digital ad revenues. Amazon is expected to continue to dominate the ecommerce advertising space, reaching nearly 77 percent of the market by 2022.

    eMarketer also expects Walmart to grow its share of the market. In its first-ever forecast of Walmart’s net digital ad revenues, it predicts that Walmart’s ecommerce channel ad revenues will reach $849.4 million this year, thanks to the highest year-over-year growth among any company eMarketer breaks out, at 73.4 percent. Walmart will represent 4.9 percent of total U.S. ecommerce channel ad spending. By 2022, its share will reach nearly seven percent.

    The forecaster also expect two other market leaders to maintain their share over the next few years as the overall market grows rapidly: eBay’s ecommerce channel ad revenues will reach $328.3 million this year, up 30.3 percent year over year, and Etsy’s ecommerce channel ad spending is on track to bring in $133.2 million, up 69.8 percent year over year.

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • October 16, 2020 7:10 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    What have I been doing chasing goals, accomplishments, and recognition?

    10/13/2020 | Sam Kabert, Success with Swag(ger)

    I was on a call with one of my coaches, Kyle Dow, through his program “Soul Path” and he said something that struck me to my core…

    “Goals Postpartum”

    This is me. This is what I’ve been stuck in for the past year and a half. After realizing all the goals I had been chasing weren't making me any happier, I started down a soul-seeking rabbit hole.

    Through a process of healing ceremonies, I woke up and thought, “What the hell have I been doing with my life?”

    What have I been doing chasing goals, accomplishments, and recognition?

    Who is it for?

    Is it for validation?

    Where is this yearning to be seen from?

    Do any of these goals I’m chasing mean anything to me? Or is there a deeper yearning from my higher self that is begging to come through.

    I’m starting to figure it out and piece the puzzle together; slowly but surely.

    Deep Inner Calling

    “Cycling Trivialities” a song by Jose Gonzales says it best…

    “All this time you were chasing dreams

    Without knowing what you wanted them to mean”

    You see I was doing all the things I thought I needed to achieve to make me happy…

    From having a business that runs itself so I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want it, to building my personal brand (ironically through blogs like this, podcasting and writing books), to awards and recognition like making it to the 40 Under 40 list in Silicon Valley, to having a "trophy" girlfriend.

    None of it brought me happiness, but through the deep inner work I’ve been doing I’m finally starting to realize my mission in this current human incarnation...

    I’m a Bridge Builder

    I’m not trying to be something I’m not. In fact, I’m not trying to be anything but me and without getting too existential how could I be anything but me?

    The point is I’m starting to realize what being authentic truly means and how to embody it.

    I want to be the person that bridges the gap between those feeling the call that there’s something more than just “living in the Matrix” and centering their lives around defining who they are by the business they are in.

    My Grandfather said to my Dad and my Father in turn passed it down to me…

    “We work to live, we don’t live to work”.

    I was living to work and now as I sit in this goal postpartum, I’m awakening to my higher calling and letting my soul come out to play.

    So, I’ll leave you with this… if you’re feeling the call that you may be putting too much of an emphasis on work, please reach out (sam@soulseekrz.com). I have an abundance of resources that I can offer.

    Let's all find a way to play a bit more and not be so serious in a world consumed by fear.

    Much Love,

    Sam

    Used with permission from Promo Corner https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Goals-Postpartum?i=4537


  • October 16, 2020 7:09 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Customer testimonials are a powerful way to drive conversions and land more sales. They are often so effective because they showcase real people who have worked with you or benefitted from your products. Rather than coming off as a strong sales pitch, a testimonial allows you to spotlight your value from an unbiased voice: your client.

    Video testimonials are especially effective because they enable prospects to hear directly from others who have worked with you. So, how do you get your video testimonials right? According to Clint Fontanella, manager of the HubSpot Service Blog, you can follow some important best practices to make the most of your testimonials.

    Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Fontanella’s five tips for getting your great customer testimonials seen.

    1. Clearly indicate your testimonials are from your real clients. Many people are skeptical of testimonials—and for good reason. Companies sometimes pay actors to give glowing reviews. That’s why Fontanella says it is critical that you mention upfront that your video is from your real clients—and that you have not paid them to say positive things. He recommends that instead of praising your product or service, you should encourage your clients to share their success stories. What did they achieve with your help? This will help potential clients envision what you could do for them, as well.

    2. Share your videos across various platforms. When you get a fantastic customer testimonial video, make sure your prospects can easily see it. That means sharing it across multiple communication platforms. According to Fontanella, you can substantially broaden your reach and make your content more accessible when you employ a combined media strategy.

    3. Feature a link to your website. A primary goal of customer testimonial videos is to land new business. When prospects see your previous and current clients talking about their experience working with you, you should make it easy for them to contact you by including a link in the video. Alternately, you could include a link in the copy shared with the testimonial.

    4. Leverage all available data. Remember that data is important when sharing your testimonials because it tells you how many people are watching your content. Consider metrics such as average play length to see if viewers watch the whole testimonial or leave before it’s over, says Fontanella. You can also track video metrics such as total plays and total subscribers through your social media platforms or CMS tools.

    5. Consider your buyer persona. To get the most out of your customer testimonial videos, Fontanella recommends focusing on the channels that appeal to your buyer persona. When you want to reach a B2B audience, for example, you may want to prioritize sharing your videos on your website over social media channels such as Instagram. Fontanella says that the more you can anticipate your customers’ viewing habits, the easier it will be to put content in front of them.

    When you have a collection of strong customer testimonial videos, you have several valuable marketing tools at your disposal. To maximize these testimonials, be sure to share them strategically and watch the data to see how viewers respond to them. When you succeed at sharing at your customer testimonial videos, you set the stage to build connections and drive conversions.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Clint Fontanella manages the HubSpot Service Blog.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media https://pubs.ppai.org/pc-today/five-tips-for-sharing-customer-testimonial-videos/

  • October 16, 2020 7:05 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Amid the pandemic, many conferences, trade shows, sales meetings and other large events have been transformed into virtual events—including The PPAI Expo 2021. While you exhibit at a virtual trade show from the comfort of your home or office, you should approach it with the same focus and enthusiasm as you would an in-person event.

    Barbara Pavesi, the senior trade show planner for Cvent, has helped manage hundreds of virtual trade shows. Her main takeaway? Virtual trade shows are still trade shows. Even though they may look different than what you are accustomed to, they are still important and valuable.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share five tips from Pavesi on how to make the most of exhibiting at your next virtual trade show.

    Invest in your virtual booth. A perk of attending a virtual trade show is that you do not have to ship and unpack any materials at the venue. Pavesi says you should use this opportunity to carefully curate content for your booth visitors. You could create tracks for different buyer personas or schedule events at your booth, such as product demos or theme-based meet-ups. Make your virtual booth a fun and engaging online experience and be sure to post your booth events on your social media channels.

    Book virtual meetings in advance. Pavesi recommends identifying your most promising leads and pre-scheduling meetings with them. It’s easy to do this via meeting-scheduling tools or promoting your meeting sign-up link on social channels. By booking meetings in advance, you can capture more leads and staff the virtual trade show more efficiently, says Pavesi.

    Send the right staff to the show. Just like with in-person events, you must be strategic and thoughtful on which reps you send to virtual trade shows. While it’s always important to send sales reps with product knowledge and relationship-building skills, you should also ensure your reps have a good grasp on digital communication. They should know how to use communicate well via email and text, and they should feel comfortable using video conferencing, notes Pavesi.

    Equip your reps with captivating content. If you want to get noticed at virtual events, you have to be compelling with your messaging. Pavesi suggests creating incentives for attendees to respond to your reps’ messages or gamifying the interactions with prizes. Instead of sharing the usual pleasantries, you could share fun facts or zingers that are unique to your brand and company.

    Capture leads consistently. When attending a virtual trade show, you should always aim to have reps capture leads in a consistent format and that all leads flow into a centralized location, says Pavesi. Fortunately, it is typically easy to accurately collect the information you need by clicking on an attendee’s profile. You can see their name, job title and email, which is a good start.

    Get post-show feedback. Remember that virtual trade shows do not end when sales reps sign off. Leads still need to be input and post-show regroups still need to happen. Pavesi suggests touching base with your sales team and getting their input on what worked well and what did not. You can use this feedback as you refine your virtual trade show playbook.

    Virtual trade shows allow you and your sales team to safely connect with prospects and key business partners during the pandemic. By approaching virtual events with the same thoughtfulness and creativity as you would in-person events, you can have a productive and successful online trade show experience.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Barbara Pavesi is the senior trade show planner for Cvent. She has more than 10 years of trade show planning and event marketing experience from various industries.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media https://pubs.ppai.org/pc-today/how-to-be-successful-at-virtual-trade-shows/


  • October 16, 2020 7:02 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Be an Investment, Not an Expense

    Businesses are reconsidering every dollar they spend. What's that mean for you?

    10/13/2020 | Roger Burnett, CAS, The Burn

    I recently conducted an impromptu person-to-person poll.

    The topic? How business-leaders are approaching budgeting for 2021.

    We’re officially in budget-setting season, where businesses turn their attention to next year's expectations with respect to revenue, expenses, capital expenditures, profit-sharing payments, etc.

    While the answers I heard were the most inconsistent I have ever accumulated, one clear theme occurred over and over again. No one is excited to devote any significant resources to growing market share, with the exception being hyper-inflated markets like real estate and mortgage-origination.

    Everyone else is devoting whatever resources they have to reimagining their workflow. What used to be done by a person might now be outsourced to a virtual assistant or done by artificial intelligence. The role from which you were furloughed just might get filled by someone with a better-developed skill set, or a willingness to take less money and/or reduced benefits just for the sake of having a job. Any remaining resources are being ear-marked for talent-acquisition and paying for those newly-outsourced activities.

    The negative implications for those of us tasked with sales is pretty significant given this reaction, but there may be a sliver of hope in all of this uncertainty, if you can successfully execute on a narrow but focused strategy.

    Be seen as an investment, not an expense.

    What do I mean by that?

    If you’ve traditionally been invited to work with your customers at the tail end of whatever sales-cycle they typically use to arrive at a transaction with you, the likelihood of you being able to add value to the effort is effectively nullified. With no additional value, your participation in the deal is merely to ensure they get what they asked for. You, by association with only the financials of the transaction, are seen as an extension of the cost of the product.

    You’re a part of the expense that will be recorded against the budget the project is billed against, no matter how well you deliver on those minimal expectations.

    Here’s where the strategy part comes in. You have to spend time, energy, resources and attention on the people you get money from. The kind of time that makes them feel like when they give you money, they perceive themselves as making an investment in you and your company’s success.

    How many customers of yours would say that today? How would you even be able to accomplish that task? It’s in those two questions that the seeds of a plan can be planted, a plan that might be the difference maker in this time of frightened spending.

    If you’re not spending time creating self-serve opportunities for potential investors to evaluate you as a prospective place for their investment, you’re firmly planting yourself on the expense line. Businesses are reconsidering every dollar they spend these days, with a heavy emphasis placed on an intimate understanding of the story behind those businesses with which they’re spending money. If you can prove that dollars spent with you can confidently be defended as not being a waste of resources, if you can show how the world is made better when you’re the vendor of choice, you create opportunities to transform what was otherwise written-off as needless expenses into places people can be proud to invest.

    Ask around in your own business community. Take the same temperature check of the businesses you most often work with and make a decision based on the responses. If you find yourself faced with a similar possibility as mine, these might be timely words as you consider your own 2021 goals.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner Original article located at https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Be-an-Investment-Not-an-Expense?i=4536



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