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  • February 17, 2021 7:34 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Your prospects might receive dozens or even hundreds of emails a day. This means that for your prospecting emails to get seen, they need to be good. If your message doesn’t capture attention right away, it will probably get deleted and lost forever.

    While crafting powerful sales emails might seem daunting, you can borrow a few email-writing secrets from Jenny Keohane, a content marketing specialist at Yesware. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Keohane’s six ways to create personalized emails that will almost always get a reply.

    Showcase commonalities. The first tip for connecting with prospects is to show them what you have in common. It’s even better when you can point out something unusual. To look for what unique hobbies or interests you might share, look at the prospect’s social media profiles. If you see something that’s not particularly common, mention it in your email, says Keohane. Saying something in an initial outreach could open the door to future conversations.

    Mention mutual connections. Another way to boost the odds of getting your sales emails read is to mention someone you both know. Keohane points out that we take cues from people we already know and trust. Noting a mutual connection shows that you have done your research and you mean business.

    Time it right. When to send your emails is always a tricky topic. You want to send them at a time that prospects are most likely checking their emails, but when is that? According to a 2020 Yesware study, the best time to send your emails is 1 pm and the next-best time is 11 am. Keohane adds that Monday and Tuesday are the most active time periods when replying to emails, so consider this when planning your communication.

    Address particular pain points. One of the best ways to get a reply to your email, according to Keohane, is to personalize it with the prospect’s specific needs. That’s because pain motivates action even more than pleasure, she says. Scan the company website for press releases and monitor social media pages to see how you might be able to strike a chord with your email.

    Use their name multiple times. You never want your sales emails to come across as generic. By incorporating the prospect’s name more than once, you can make your communication look incredibly personalized. Plus, people love to see their own name. Keohane says you can incorporate people’s names in various ways, from complimenting them on a recent promotion to starting a dialogue about a new offering. Don’t just say, “I’m impressed by you, Chris,” she notes. If you don’t get specific, you risk your email getting deleted.

    Getting your prospects to reply to your sales emails requires the right approach along with testing and measuring. Try some of the tactics above, from spotlighting commonalities to repeating their name, to see which ones get the most responses. When you strive to craft emails your prospects actually want to read, you will be able to start more conversations and have more productive dialogues.

    Used with permission from PPAI Publications

  • February 17, 2021 7:28 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    When a Customer Crosses the Line

    We've all had customers that can be difficult or demanding, but when is enough, enough?

    2/10/2021 | Rosalie Marcus, Promo Biz Coach

    What happens when a customer crosses the line? When their behavior is verbally abusive, rude, inappropriate or threatening? What do you do?

    This blog is in response to a post in a Facebook group for promotional product professionals. A well respected and highly rated supplier shared an incident where a distributor threatened to pull their business and trash his company’s reputation by giving his company a poor rating in industry research systems. All because they misread a quote his company had sent and wanted the company to match a price that was ten times lower than the written quote they received. It was an outrageous request, and one that he certainly could not honor!

    Reading about that incident, brought me back to a situation that happened many years ago in my distributorship. A contract decorator screamed and cursed at me when I questioned, what I believed was a less than acceptable printing job he had done on an order. Was my concern unwarranted? I didn’t think so! But, for sure his response crossed the line! Needless to say, I never did business with his company again!

    We’ve all had customers that can be difficult or even demanding, but when their behavior becomes abusive, I believe you need to have boundaries in place that when crossed you refuse to tolerate.

    Here are some things you can do to try and avoid this type of situation in your own business.

    Train your staff as to what is acceptable behavior, and let them know you stand behind them if a customer crosses the line.

    Put everything in writing. Have a paper trail as to what was communicated.

    Request pre-production digital or product proofs on all first-time orders and have the customer sign off them.

    Try to remain calm at all times, and let the customer vent if need be, but end the conversation when they become abusive, threatening or inappropriate.

    If you’ve made a mistake, and we all do sometimes, own up to it and try and find a solution that is satisfactory to all.

    The bottom line, we’re all in this together. Suppliers and distributors are partners in each other’s success. Civility and respect are paramount in any relationship business or personal. Above all, be willing to walk away from customers that don’t treat you or your staff with respect! There are plenty of good people out there that will!

    Rosalie Marcus, The Promo Biz Coach, is a promotional products business expert, sales coach and top-rated speaker. Combining her skills and years of experience in promotional sales, she helps her clients sell more at higher margins to better clients. Get FREE up-to-the-minute sales tips and a FREE On-Demand Webinar 5 Must-Know Strategies for Selling in the New Normal at her website: www.PromoBizCoach.com Reach her at Rosalie@promobizcoach.com.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner

  • February 17, 2021 7:21 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Did you know that the concept of “spring cleaning” has cultural significance? Many cultures and religions have cleansing rituals that fall in the late winter/early spring, and the practice of spring cleaning that’s prevalent in North America and northern Europe is ritualistic in its own way. There’s no better way to usher winter out the door than with a freshly cleaned home, ready to let in the warmth of spring.

    After a year of spending much more time at home than usual, a good cleaning is going to be essential this season! Here are a few of our favorite promo products for a productive spring cleaning session:

    Scrub Brush

    SAGE #56780

    If you’ve been working from home this past year, you know that the dishes never truly end. Your clients will love having their logos printed on these hardy little scrub brushes, perfect for swiping away leftover food or dried crud on dishes. Their prospects will love how much easier their least favorite chore is going to be with this brush, and they’ll have your clients to thank for it!

    Spray Bottle

    SAGE #51291

    These branded spray bottles make an ideal spring cleaning promotion for customers who are health- and environmentally-conscious. Their recipients can fill these bottles with the homemade, eco-friendly cleaner of their choice and get to work! Add a card printed with a cleaning spray recipe (we’re partial to a diluted white vinegar mixture) for added value with little additional cost.

    Mini Trash Can

    SAGE #60462

    Spring cleaning doesn’t stop with the home – car interiors need attention too! Perfect for body shops, auto dealerships, and car washes looking for a spring cleaning promotion, this little trash can fits snugly into any standard cup holder so that your car doesn’t get filled with old receipts and straw wrappers. With your client’s logo printed on the lid, their customers will know just who’s trying to help them keep their vehicle clean this spring.

    Computer Cleaner

    SAGE #56780

    Likewise, desks need some spring cleaning too. Whether they’ve been working in the office or from home, your customer’s employees have probably got some gunk in their keyboards! These computer cleaners feature a keyboard brush on one side and a screen cleaner on the other, covering all the bases when it comes to dirty laptops. Use the brush to clear any snack crumbs or pet hair out of the keyboard, and then wipe the screen with the cleaner side to get rid of fingerprints and smudges.

    Air Purifier

    SAGE #67545

    Take spring cleaning to the next level with this luxury giveaway. Your customers can brand this cube-shaped air purifier with their logo or design and give them away to their VIPs for a promotion that clears the air – literally! Air purifiers help to remove pollen, mold, bacteria, and more from the air, creating a peaceful environment that’s easy to breathe in.

    Candle

    SAGE #53744

    Everyone knows that the best part of spring cleaning is completing the job. Finish strong with a scented candle to refresh and brighten up any room. Branded scented candles make a great spring cleaning giveaway for housekeeping businesses and realtors – your customers can leave these behind after a job or at a showing for a promotional reminder that looks and smells great.

    Spring cleaning is a great time to open the windows, shake out the rugs, and get back into the swing of things, including promoting a business or organization! Help your customers bring their best to the table this spring with cleaning products that are useful and pack a promotional punch. Happy cleaning!


  • February 17, 2021 7:18 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Last Sunday, Super Bowl LV drew just 96.1 million viewers across all platforms—this includes CBS, ESPN Deportes and streaming on CBS Sports, NFL and Verizon digital and mobile media—a 5.5-percent drop from 2020’s total audience and the lowest viewership the game has received in 14 years. Looking only at the TV audience, viewership was down by eight percent. But while the Super Bowl’s audience numbers may have been relatively lackluster, its advertisers still resonated with viewers.

    This year, the Super Bowl broadcast featured 56 advertisers with 67 spots. Ad measurement and attribution company ispot.tv tracked the digital activity ads promoted on social media—Facebook, Twitter and YouTube—on game day and measured their TV ad impressions, earned online views and social impressions to formulate Digital Share of Voice (DSOV) rating for each spot. Mountain Dew’s “Major Melon Bottle Count” spot took the lead with a DSOV of 21.78 percent, although its built-in social activation—asking viewers to tweet a bottle count—boosted its social impressions. At No. 2 was Amazon Echo’s “Alexa's Body,” at 13.95 percent, and at No. 3, Jeep’s “The Middle” earned 10.64 percent.

    Rounding out the DSOV top 10 are Cadillac’s “ScissorHandsFree” at 4.47 percent, State Farm’s “Drake From State Farm” at 3.31 percent, Dorito’s “Flat Matthew” at 2.2 percent, Uber Eats’ “Wayne's World & Cardi B's Shameless Manipulation” at 1.78 percent, Cheetos’ “It Wasn’t Me” at 1.56 percent, Tide’s “The Jason Alexander Hoodie” at 1.27 percent and Verizon’s “Can’t Blame The Lag” at 1.09 percent.

    Reflecting the unprecedented events of the past year, several prominent brands chose to sit out the Super Bowl for 2021. Among them was Budweiser which, for the first time in 37 years, did not advertise during the big game. The brand announced last month that it was redirecting its Super Bowl media investment budget to support the COVID-19 vaccination efforts throughout the year. Other Anheuser-Busch brands, including Bud Light and Michelob ULTRA, did advertise during the game.

    Pepsi and Coca-Cola also held back their usual Super Bowl advertising, with Coca-Cola noting, “This difficult choice was made to ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times.” Pepsi was a sponsor of the half-time show, however.

    These pull-backs may reflect financial challenges some brands are facing. Atlanta, Georgia-based advertising/marketing lawyer Jim Dudukovich, with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, spent nearly 20 years as in-house ad counsel with Coca-Cola. He notes, “Behind the scenes, a lot of companies are struggling financially and are reducing their marketing spend, and that’s what we’re seeing with Super Bowl ads.”

    Used with permission from PPAI Publications

  • February 17, 2021 7:15 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Motivation lags sometimes, even in the most enthusiastic and driven people. When one of your top performers falls into a rut and finds it hard to put in their usual effort, it can mean missed innovation, a lull in productivity and sometimes even a drop in profits.

    You can watch for several signs of an unmotivated employee, according to HR specialist, Kristen DeFazio. Sometimes, employees who typically deliver above-average work may no longer want to exceed expectations. Other times, energetic employees may lose their enthusiasm for interacting with colleagues or clients. You also might notice employees pushing back more and resisting when they are asked to do something.

    When you see the signs of a struggling employee, it’s time to step in and work on a solution together. For example, employees may be having trouble in their personal life and could benefit from adjusted office hours or a lighter workload temporarily. Unless you talk with them, you won’t know how you can help.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share tips from DeFazio on how to help employees rekindle their motivation at work.

    Understand the cause. The first step to helping an unmotivated employee is understanding what’s causing them to lose motivation. The best way to do this, according to DeFazio, is simply to ask. Invite them to a virtual lunch or schedule some time to have a casual conversation to talk about how things are going. You could say something like, “I like that you always share great ideas in meetings, and I noticed you haven’t been speaking up lately. What’s going on?” Keep in mind that employees are most likely to share when they already have a trusting relationship with their boss.

    Talk things through. When you notice an employee struggling to find their motivation, there could be a simple fix. Talk with them about how they feel in their current role or with their current responsibilities. Perhaps they are feeling burned out or they are frustrated when other sales reps are not held accountable. Sometimes, they may feel they have outgrown their role and want to take on more responsibility. DeFazio says that a promotion may sometimes be a proactive measure to avoid dissatisfaction in the first place.

    Get to know your employees better. To improve motivation, you must know what motivates your employees. In your conversations, find out what drives your sales reps. Are they motivated by bonuses and incentives when they hit certain benchmarks? Do they value flexible work hours, or do they want to improve their skills through training and development programs? What’s important and motivating to one employee may look different from someone else, so be sure to custom tailor your approach for each sales rep.

    Offer a challenge. If you can’t offer a promotion or perks to re-inspire your employees, try a challenge, suggests DeFazio. She says if the employee is up for it, giving them the freedom and independence to tackle a problem can refresh their wellspring of innovation. It also gives the employee a chance to learn a new skill or work in a different area that could stretch their talents and give them more visibility.

    Productivity slumps and lack of motivation happen from time to time. However, if you see this becoming a trend on your team, take steps to reignite that lost motivation. Figure out what’s behind the slump and determine what could help turn things around. Whether your employees could benefit from some flexibility or the challenge of taking on a new project, you can help them rediscover their enthusiasm and get them back to performing at their best.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Kristen DeFazio is a human resources specialist at Insperity. With more than 10 years of HR experience, DeFazio is a strategic and contemporary leader, passionate about employee satisfaction and development in relation to overall performance and profitability.

    Used with permission from PPAI Publications

  • January 20, 2021 8:08 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Trying to be everything for everyone isn't realistic or achievable

    Not everyone likes me or what I do.

    This past week I was reminded of that after receiving a text from an individual that I hadn’t had any contact with since last summer. The text was both direct and to the point in stating that my Introspective Candor blog from last week with both “very unoriginal and unprofessional" and that this person will "personally use it as a reminder of what not to do." As you might expect, this unexpected missile caught me off guard, and I began to wonder what I could have written to cause such a visceral reaction. After quickly rereading the blog in question for anything that might be construed as offensive, I realized that I hadn’t written anything wrong at all: this person simply doesn’t like me or what I do – and that’s okay.

    For a good portion of my career – up until about ten years ago – I tried very hard to be everything for everyone. I was a pleaser, said yes to everything, and worked tirelessly to make everyone else happy. As you might predict, the results for me weren’t fabulous: I ended up making very few happy, and I lost sight of who I was in the process.

    I see people – and brands – do this often. In trying to be everything to everyone, they end up alienating their core audience, creating very little in the way of substance, and blending into the crowded competition instead of standing apart.

    Once I realized this, I had to rewire my brain and become comfortable with the fact that I’m not for everyone. Regardless of how hard I might try, there will be a segment of people who dislike the way I go about my business, how I present myself on social media, and, clearly, the manner in which I put digital pen to paper. However, by staying true to myself and embracing that I’m not for everyone, I have found a core group of people who appreciate me and what I do.

    What the person who texted me out of the blue to criticize me and my writing doesn’t understand is this: I don’t write for him; he’s not my audience and likely never will be. Candidly, I’m good with that as I know my writing style doesn’t ring everyone’s bell. Even so, he is just as entitled to his opinion as anyone else. However, based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback I did receive from that same blog, I know I delivered value to the audience I did target.

    Trying to please everyone extends to brands as well – including brandivate. We know we aren’t for everyone and won’t ever aspire to that unattainable goal. Instead, we know the specific things we do well and focus our efforts on the people and organizations that understand the value we provide and realize they can leverage that value to achieve their sales, marketing, and branding goals. Spending valuable time and energy on potential clients that will never understand the value we provide is time wasted.

    When you try to be everything for everyone, you end up being nothing and no one.

    So, who are YOU for?

    Used with permission from Brandivate Marketing

  • January 20, 2021 5:57 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)
    Happy New Year, Fellow SAAC members:
     
    WOW, what a year we just went through! For me, the word of the Year is Pivot.
     
    Under President Tara Villanueva's leadership, that is exactly what we did. She not only guided us through a very challenging year, but she has also set us up for a brighter future.
     
    Some of the ways we pivoted included the following activities:
    • SAAC Lunch and Learn: Thirty minutes meetings where some of the best Supplier members in the industries presented to SAAC Distributor members and others.
    • Wild Wednesday Webinar (WWW)* Industry professionals shared their knowledge about industry-specific issues and leadership.
    • Tuesday Learning Lab* (TLL) Industry and non-industry professionals spoke about various tools that we can all use to improve our business operations.
      * Both WWW & TLL are eligible for CAS/MAS points
    •  Virtual SAAC Gives Back: fundraiser for American Red Cross
    • SAAC Virtual Pop Up
    • SAAC Spooktacular Outdoor Table Top Show
    • Virtual Holiday Party and Bingo Event
    While these activities were made necessary by the pandemic, we learned that some aspects were useful tools to remain engaged and provide value to our members.  Where applicable, you will continue to see education and networking opportunities in a virtual or hybrid format.
     
    We look ahead with excitement to in-person events and none more than the SAAC Expo. We are thrilled to announce that we are moving forward with an in-person SAAC Expo in Anaheim on August 5th and 6th.  On Thursday, August 5th, the show floor will be open only to distributors. Then on Friday, August 6th, for the first time in SAAC history, distributors will be welcome to host your end-buyers at the show.  Stay tuned for more details.
     
    When it is safe to do so, we will again enjoy in-person happy hours, factory tours, and networking activities.
     
    Supporting me this year are the following members of the Board of Directors:
     
    Bob Levitt (D) RJ Hagel (S) Jeff Stevens (MLR) Tara Villanueva (D)
    Vice President Treasurer Secretary Past-President
    Staples  Goldstar WesCo Marketing Geiger
           
    Jim Ristuccia (S) Mike Szymczak (S) Ray Jimenez (S) Daniel Henderson (D)
    A+ Wine Designs OrigAudio The Magnet Group Proforma
           
    Amy Williams (D) Michele Wieckowski (D) Jennifer Bingham  
    AB Unlimited  Apex Advertising Executive Director  
     
    I would like to thank our outgoing board members Rhett Todd who served as President and Tonia Allen Gould, who served two years as a director.
     
    Lastly, please know the SAAC Board is here to serve our members and community. We would love to hear from you about how we can improve or simply to learn how you and your business are faring.
     
    Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your 2021 SAAC Board President. I look forward to a wonderful year together.

    Stephen Ropfogel
    2021 SAAC President
  • January 20, 2021 5:33 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Since the first political buttons in the late 1700s to imprinted horse blankets in the 1800s, glass and plastic promo products in the mid-20th century and branded tech accessories in the early 21st century, the promotional marketing industry has continually evolved to meet the growing needs of marketers and their recipients. Over these many decades, three defined eras stand out: 

    Era 1: From the time the Bill of Rights was ratified through circa 1999, this was the golden age of printed catalogs with unconcealed but secret pricing codes. There was a time when distributors had to search by microfiche to source foam stress relievers in the shape of an "@" symbol. Production took three to four weeks and clients asked distributors to grab art from their business cards. 

    Era 2: Around the turn of the 21st century, the industry saw the rise of ecommerce. Access to the internet ballooned, giving buyers access to our industry’s pricing “secrets.” In 2019, 4imprint, the ecommerce juggernaut, sold more than $860 million in branded products. Some distributors went the ecommerce-only path while the majority did not bet solely on ecommerce.

    Era 3: Today, we are witnessing the rise of engagement commerce. Engagement commerce means “marrying the efficiency of ecommerce with strategic and creative direction to solve customers’ problems.” Solving their problems is the holy grail. It commands stronger margins and fortifies value. If you are not striving to be the next ecommerce giant, the most powerful thing you can do in a crowded digital space is to invest in what matters most—relationships. You must change your thinking from “customer acquisition” to “relationship acquisition.” And you must work to understand your clients’ problems. 

    We used to have intimate, in-person relationships with 40 customers; now, the industry is struggling to recreate those close relationships with 4,000 customers. Intimacy through technology is not easy. And while some buyers just want to make Google their first (and possibly only) contact without the help of a trusted source, there are a host of buyers who are craving institutional knowledge about products, edgy decoration techniques, logistics insights, best practices and they are willing to pay a premium for help addressing their problems.

    So, in order to help solve client problems, we must identify what those problems are. And then, we must deliver answers that motivate, not manipulate, them to purchase. Here are some of these problems—ergo opportunities:

    • According to the Society for Human Resource Management, an astonishing 19 percent of employees will work remotely in 2021. This is the new flexible workforce. How can the promotional products industry help unify employees when they cannot be together?
    • HR is updating policies at a blistering pace. How can we help HR departments communicate all the changes?
    • How can we create culture-keeper campaigns to help virtual employees feel connected and cared for? Note: caring is always a brilliant strategic plan.
    • How can we help our customers find new customers as well as reach existing customers now and in the future?
    • How can we help customers plan and execute programs to stay in touch with their clients and help them connect with high-value prospects throughout the year?
    • Marketing’s role is to help the sales team sell more, so how do we help marketers move in that direction?
    • How can we help reduce a client’s investment exposure and minimize inventory risk?
    • We must sell sustainable products that last. Anything less is a liability to our client’s brands.
    • Events have proven to be expensive and time-consuming. So, how do we help clients convert budget into something meaningful in an all-virtual or hybrid event model? If we cannot experience events in person, can we deliver event experiences in a box?

    Value of Time. If we can better understand the value of our client’s client, we can make a strong case for ROI. Example: imagine the lifetime value of a client’s customer is $150,000. If that’s the case, then why are we suggesting 99-cent C-handle mugs with our client’s big, obnoxious logo on them as the gift that is exchanged for spending time with a client whose value is worth $150,000? We must convince our clients that their customer’s time is valuable—and that they must invest in the relationship with the gift of high-quality branded merchandise, perhaps with subtle logo treatment. A handmade $70 sustainable Cotopaxi backpack is likely a better answer than the ceramic mug that will end up in the back of a cabinet or in Aunt Sally’s garage sale. 

    Zoom. We must map the new customer journey. What are the customer’s touchpoints before the Zoom, during the Zoom and after the Zoom? We must help clients meet their customers along the way in an appreciative, memorable and perhaps a fun, gamifying manner. Otherwise, they will be not be paying attention to the message our client is trying to deliver.

    Direct Mail. As you are reading this, the meteoric rebirth of direct mail is happening. It’s proof that what’s old is new again. In an Epsilon survey, 60 percent said going to the mailbox and receiving a piece of mail provides an emotional boost. Mail is personal, tangible, interactive, relevant and, if done right, can be highly targeted to individuals’ specific interests. Like promotional products, direct mail stimulates all five senses. Digital channels only affect three. In the future, direct mail will deliver better targeting, automation, more personalization, right-timing and scale, and more analytics and ROI resulting in less junk mail and lower environmental impact. 

    Marketing In-Person. It’s tough but how about merging digital activation with in-person brand experiences? Create memorable brand experiences associated with social media. Marketing is about participation, not promotion. 

     Design Beyond the Logo. Put yourselves in your client’s shoes. Do they really want a mug with a massive logo of a brand they have never engaged with? Or, do they want a beautiful design or message with a more subtle logo treatment on what will become their favorite mug? The future will include more designers, artisans and creatives in our space. Creativity and impactful design are what clients crave. In the future, it’s likely more executives will wear t-shirts and flip flops as well as sport tattoos, colored hair and nose rings at work. Creative entrants in our space will evolve the entire industry.  

    Ungettable Gets. I think customers are craving what I call “ungettable gets.” For example, an artist friend reached out and asked me how we could work together. She crafts in mosaics and I work in plastic things from China. Why can’t we create designs connected to brands in mosaic patterns as gifts? We can! Let’s partner with artisans. Getting—or making—original art versus producing the same thing for everyone is not only extra special, but it allows us to do what I call “kidulting”—to bring out the kid in each of us. That is memorable.

    Choice. The future is going to be driven by giving customers a choice of what they want versus what you think they want. Giving every customer the same thing in the future will be a fail.  

     Hyper-Customization. Love the brand or hate it, Nike gets it. Check out the “Nike For You” online store at nike.com/nike-by-you, where the customer can choose from many of the shoe styles, upload their own design on the shoe panels and get the order delivered in two to five weeks. I believe the promotional products industry is well positioned for this type of brand experience. 

    Trends Analysis. We must get out ahead of trends. Ice hockey star Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Imagine if you were the company that bought a web address such as "WorkFromHomeKits.com" in early March 2020? Other trends today include exercise, wellness, on-demand, smart offices and workspaces, remote work, social media influencing fashion, home as the new domain, learning and crowd-pleasing, and a focus on employee happiness.

      Artificial Intelligence. With access to AI, we will know exactly what products a certain demographic will favorably respond to. Once we have that data, could suppliers, distributors, clients and search engines work together to cull it down into meaningful information? Imagine a new search revolution where we search beyond product and price. What if we could conceivably search for products that 30- to 35-year-olds who work in accounting in California would really appreciate to the degree that they will give you their time, information and possibly business? AI can help the industry tackle the challenges that come with gifting. In the future, there will be personal experience and gifting platforms in our space. This is quality at scale versus quantity at scale. Again, the same thing for everyone will go the way of the dodo bird

     Product Life Expectancy. Imagine a future where products have a “life expectancy” statistic associated with them. Envision a time when distributors could tell clients that one mug is $9 and lasts for a year and another mug is $35 but lasts for 10 years. I know where I would invest my budget. 

    Sustainability. Long-lasting quality matters to our customers, their employees and it better matter to you. Sustainability is the future of our industry because it equals less landfill and a higher regard for our products. 

    Fresh Terminology. The words “specialties” and “promotional” are already becoming outdated and will be replaced in the future. Maybe our medium will be called “tangible media” or “product media.” 

    Bài bài la (bye bye) China. Most everything we have learned about our industry’s relationship with China may be wrong for the evolution of our industry. The reliance. The quality (or lack thereof). The knockoffs that drive us to focus on price. The tariff wars. We will source smarter and differently in the future.


    The Maker Revolution. Crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter are where we can pull in more exciting entrants and products into the industry. Etsy, a marketplace of 2.5 million makers, artisans and creators, is another answer. New products have always reinforced our industry’s security. But how are distributors going to source or create in the future? In coming years, the lines will blur as distributors bring products to life and create alliances with suppliers or spin off ideas into retail. I believe the magic is on the edges of the industry, with niche suppliers like HHPLIFT, Redwood Classics Apparel, Love Bottle and others.

    Location Marketing. Parents are giving permission for apps to access and track their children’s information—their location, for example. That is scary. In the future, businesses will get even more locational visibility for commerce. Why not let a restaurant know where you are so they can reach out with a drink or dessert special? Buyers will agree to give up very personal data and receive advertising if they get something in exchange. Is this insane? This is already happening. Hello Facebook and Snapchat/Snapmaps are examples. In a way, this is permission-based marketing. How does that translate in our space? Just consider the possibilities within future events, for example. 


    User Feedback. Imagine an app called “PromoTinder” that distributors and end buyers would use when shopping or creating their own versions of products. It would operate like the hook-up app, Tinder. But instead of swiping potential partner profiles left or right to indicate interest, distributors and end buyers would actually swipe images of products to get a sense of what they might buy so suppliers could make better inventory purchasing decisions. 

    Corporate Social Responsibility. We must show clients how to take care of employees during a crisis, how to look out for the environment, how to take care of community and how to help them tell their brand’s story with honesty. Buyers are watching and commenting through peer-to-peer reviews. And they care and will vote with their dollars. So, know this: PR stunts often don’t last. Instead, bake corporate social responsibility into your strategic plan and invite your team and customers along for the ride. (For more insight, check out www.promocares.org.) 

    What is our industry’s role in the world view? How can we better address diversity, equity and inclusion, unifying voices, pride and activism? Purpose is the fifth "P" of marketing. Companies must embrace a values-based approach in their marketing strategies. Today’s young, socially progressive customers have shown little hesitation in boycotting brands that they perceive to be ethically questionable. Authenticity and trust, in particular, are proving harder to come by—so we must invest in meaningful relationships. We must reassess our industry’s value if we are to remain relevant.

    Continuing Education. We need to invest in a deep understanding of our clients and our client’s customers. We need to invest in our curiosity through educational courses offered by PPAI, PromoKitchen and others. 


    Human Connection. We must invest in personal relationships—especially in the face of rising digital competition and disruption—in order to not only survive, but to thrive. 


    Now is the time to be a part of paving a pathway to a fruitful future. To create. To source smarter. To open the industry’s doors to exciting new entrants. To focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. To offer choice and reduce risk. To get ahead of trends and offer brilliant design beyond the boring logo. To double-down on direct mail. To marry digital marketing with physical marketing, aka “phygital marketing.” To better show that we value a person’s data, time and their business. To embrace tech but balance it with a human focus and intimacy. 

    The future is a verb; giddy up.  

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    Danny Rosin, CAS, is co-president of distributor Brand Fuel, Inc. in Morrisville, North Carolina. He is also co-founder of Band Together NC, board member for the Triangle Area American Marketing Association and The Table Raleigh, co-founder of PromoKitchen and PromoCares, and this month is wrapping up a four-year term on the PPAI Board of Directors. 


  • January 20, 2021 5:32 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The best sales professionals know their long-term success depends not just on their sales ability, but on their ability to network and expand their professional circle. Sales requires making connections and establishing relationships. The more people you meet and get to know, the more opportunities you will create.

    Eric Porat, an entrepreneur and digital marketer, says that if you are not actively making new connections and widening your reach, you are selling yourself short. If you could use some quick pointers on how to upgrade your networking prowess, read on. We share Porat’s top tips on how to improve your networking skills this year in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    1. Network across multiple platforms. Remember that not everyone uses the same social media platforms and not everyone likes to communicate in the same way. To network effectively, become an expert at all forms of communications, from collaborating on Zoom to sending emails and texts to chatting on Instagram.

    2. Listen actively. Another way to improve your networking skills is to learn to listen actively. This means not just thinking of what you want to say next but responding to other people in a way that shows you understand what they are saying. This shows that you are thoughtful, empathetic and invested in others, which is crucial to successful networking, says Porat.

    3. Exude optimism. When you are upbeat and friendly, you help make yourself more likeable and memorable. This, in turn, makes others more confident in your business endeavors. Porat says one way you can boost your optimism is by learning how to respond to negative circumstances with an upbeat outlook.

    4. Use humor. You don’t have to be the funniest person in the office to use humor to your advantage. Anyone can work on developing their sense of humor in order to improve their networking. Porat says having a good sense of humor goes hand in hand with showing optimism. Humor makes you more human and helps you unite with others on a common ground. Just be sure to keep your humor clean and relatable, he adds.

    5. Attend networking events. To improve your networking skills, attend networking events, including virtual ones. Online trade shows, conferences and workshops allow you to practice your skills in a non-stress setting, says Porat. Remember to keep your focus on building genuine connections with people and keep things as organic as possible.

    6. Interview people. If you contribute to your company blog or you are conducting industry research, you can make new connections through interviews. Almost everyone is open to an interview if you pitch it well, says Porat. By interviewing someone, you get a chance to get to know them better and demonstrate your optimism and humor. If you do it well, your subjects will remember you.

    Networking is a vital skill in sales. You can practice and refine your networking skills in several ways, from incorporating humor into your conversations to attending virtual networking events and asking to interview interesting people. Just like with anything else, the more you practice networking, the better you will get at it. Use the tips above to polish your networking skills in the year ahead.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers and used with permission from PPAI

    Source: Eric Porat is a successful online entrepreneur, investor and digital marketer with over 15 years of experience in buying and selling websites.

  • January 20, 2021 5:31 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Modern Approach to Living Your Dream Life
    Do you really want what you are chasing?
    1/12/2021 | Sam Kabert, Success with Swag(ger)

    I love goals and it’s been a passion of mine ever since I got past my childhood trauma of goal-setting.

    All jokes aside, I actually really do love goal-setting and I do have some memories from elementary school that set the stage for me to dislike goal-setting from a young age. Here’s the thing… I grew up with “S.M.A.R.T.” goals and if you’re not familiar with this acronym, here’s what it stands for…

    S: Specific

    M: Measurable

    A: Attainable

    R: Relatable

    T: Time-Bound

    Back to my days in elementary school and my PTSD around goal-setting. I remember the classroom setting quite clearly and I also remember most of us in the class getting goals “wrong” (or so we were led to believe).

    Papers bleeding with red marker for all the mistakes of how we wrote out our goals because the goals didn’t carry every letter of the acronym. While, I get this in theory; I don’t believe this is the way to educate our youth. This aside though, in this post my intention is to teach you a thing or two about goal-setting…

    A GOAL IS A GOAL IF IT IS RELATABLE TO YOU

    No need to stress about if your goal is a “SMART” goal or not, there’s no test. The only objective is to act on your goals and I’ve talked with far too many professionals that are resistant to goal-setting so they simply don’t write out their goals.

    The reason I bring up the story of my days in elementary school goal-setting is because when I talk with other professionals about goal-setting and get to the root of their resistance it’s often because the “SMART” strategy doesn’t align with them. Why does it not align with them? Because they were “scarred” from their youth.

    The most important thing about goal-setting is to write down your goal. If you understand your goal, then that’s all that matters. No one other than you needs to know what to do to achieve your goal.

    GOAL-SETTING STATS

    According to a Harvard MBA Business School Study… only 3% of people write down their goals. Furthermore, the 3% that actually write down their goals (with a plan) make 10 times as much as the other 97%.

    So, I ask you why would you not write down your goals?

    GOAL-SETTING MADE EASY

    Did you know that I wrote a book a couple years ago called “The Written Goal”?

    As you might have guessed from the title the book is about the importance of writing down your goals and the mindset that follows by reading your goals daily.

    The book is in truth more of a workbook than your classical narrative and if you would like to check it out, it’s on sale for just $8.88 (I make next to nothing on this book. I wrote this book because I’m truly passionate about helping others). Click here to read more about “The Written Goal”.

    Here’s another, much easier route to take… I recently went through all the worksheets in my book, “The Written Goal'' and condensed them to an actionable (and editable) Goal-Setting Guide. You can snag this guide for FREE by clicking here :)

    GETTING STARTED

    The key to any successful venture is to just get started. I have suffered from impostor syndrome, procrastination and lack of motivation. I truly understand the hurdles to even get started. But, take it from me… someone who was named to Silicon Valley’s 40 Under 40 List and PPB’s Rising Stars… the key to success is to get started. You can tweak and repeat as needed, but you’ll never get to where you want to go if you don’t get started.

    WHAT THEY DON’T WARN YOU ABOUT GOAL-SETTING

    The final thing I’ll leave you with is that you had better be sure you want what you’re chasing. There’s no worse feeling than accomplishing your goal and feeling empty. Trust me, this is a common experience for many high achievers. The more I’ve explored my own spirituality and what truly drives me, the more I’ve realized that most of what I’ve been chasing in the professional world was what I thought I was supposed to strive for; rather than going down the path that truly calls to me.

    If you can relate to any questioning of your motives, then be sure to check out the pilot podcast episode of SOUL SEEKR (a podcast I started last fall) - click here to listen.

    To Getting Started,

    Sam

    Sam Kabert is the creative director of SwagWorx and the creator and co-host of the podcast “WhatUp Silicon Valley!” A risk taker who embraces permanent beta, Sam is leading the transformation of his family-run office supplies business into a promotional products powerhouse. Sam can be reached at Sam@SwagWorx.com.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner


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