This month, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced revisions to previously announced updates to Proposition 65’s short-form warning labels. The agency has concerns over how informative the short-form warnings are and in December and January proposed new regulations that would reign in their usage. Following pushback from trade organizations and companies, including PPAI, OEHHA latest announcement has softened what the previous proposal would have required.
Background:Under California’s Prop 65, businesses must provide consumers clear, concise warnings regarding significant exposure to chemicals in products that cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. Prop 65 also mandates that the state publish a list of chemicals that have been found to cause such issues. In 2016, OEHHA updated the warning requirements under the legislation that allowed businesses, under certain circumstances, to use a short-form warning. This change was implemented, in part, due to businesses’ concerns that the long-form warning would not fit on smaller products.
OEHHA, however, has harbored concerns regarding the short-form warning. At a Prop 65 conference in 2018, OEHHA General Counsel Carol J. Monahan Cummings expressed concern over the form’s popularity, as the agency’s perception is that companies are over-using the short-form warning, thereby not providing the information to consumers that the Prop 65 regulation mandates.
Amendment Progression:In December, OEHHA proposed amendments to the short-form warning requirements that would:
Mandate the forms identify at least one listed chemical in the item.
Limit short-form usage to products where the total surface area available for the label is 12 square inches or less.
Limit short-form usage to only when the package size or shape cannot accommodate the full-length label.
Require that the warning be printed in a font no smaller than the largest type size used for other consumer information included on the product.
That font size be no smaller than 6-point type.
This month, OEHHA proposed an update that softened or removed some of the new strictures it had put in place on short-form usage following business and stakeholder comments. The requirement revisions would:
Remove label size and package shape limitations governing short-form usage.
Remove requirement that the font size of the warning match the largest type size used in other consumer information on the product.
Expand implementation of the short-form warning amendments from one year to two years after their effective date.
At Present: The ongoing revisions to the short-form label maintain the new requirement that they include at least one listed chemical. OEHHA is accepting public comments on this latest round of revisions. Any written comments to the proposed amendments must be received no later than April 20. Electronic comments can be submitted through OEHHA’s website.
Used with permission from PPAI Media
Whether you’re helping clients build and grow their brands or you’re working on your own marketing, consistency is key. If you don’t show up in the same way, your target audience may get confused. If they’re confused, they’re probably not going to buy from you. Being consistent with your brand can help potential buyers recognize you and get to know what your company is about. This can lead to trust and may eventually lead to more sales.
A recent post on the Mailchimp blog covered the importance of staying consistent with your branding. This means using a matching voice, color palette and visual style to help prospects recognize who you are and what you offer.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we review some pointers from the Mailchimp post on how you can maintain a consistent brand message across your marketing channels.
1. Develop brand standards. Staying consistent with your branding requires a solid foundation. Choose a color palette and think about the tone and voice you want to use with the brand. If you’re working with a client, is the business fun and easygoing, or is it more professional and serious? You should also define how you will display a logo in different formats, the Mailchimp post points out. Some other points to consider include fonts you will use and how often you will communicate with your clients and prospects.
2. Keep all your marketing assets in one place. This makes it much easier to stay consistent across all marketing channels, according to the Mailchimp blog. Organize things like product images, logos and color guides in one place where all team members and stakeholders can access them. Staying organized in this way doesn’t just help with consistency — it can also make collaboration much simpler. When working on different components of a marketing campaign, everyone will have what they need without needing to track down a logo or image.
3. Create a marketing calendar. The Mailchimp post notes that when you use a marketing calendar, you get a clear view of what you have done and what’s coming ahead. This helps you see how everything fits together so you can ensure a consistent message. It takes some time to build a marketing or promotion schedule, but doing so can give you some flexibility to make changes as needed.
4. Maximize your content. Every piece of content you create can be repurposed into something fresh and interesting to your target audience. Repurposing your content allows you to reinforce your message with minimal effort, according to the Mailchimp post. Prospects often need to hear messages many times and repurposing your existing content can help you stay in front of them in different ways. So, what are some ways you can mix things up? Try compiling blog posts into an e-book or updating evergreen blog posts with new images or headlines. You could also turn client presentations into a shareable slide deck.
Your brand is how you differentiate yourself from everyone else. It lets you reveal what you offer, what you value and why prospects should buy from you. Take time to maintain your brand and ensure you’re staying consistent with your messaging, brand colors and logo. When you do, you can help create a memorable, long-lasting brand.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: The Mailchimp blog. Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform and email marketing service.
People love great stories, and case studies allow you to tell them. A case study in sales is a narrative showing how your product or service helped a client. Like any good story, a case study should have a beginning, middle and end. Case studies are never about you and your business though—they are about your clients and how they benefitted from working with you.
Want to know how to write more compelling case studies? In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share tips from veteran writer and editor, Michele McGovern.
Highlight your client as the hero. Your case studies should always feature your client as the hero. This allows potential buyers to relate to them. When they see how similar businesses faced a challenge and succeeded, they can better envision themselves doing the same thing.
Be consistent. McGovern says consistency is key when creating case studies. Your sales reps will know what information to gather for every case study, and prospective buyers will have a better experience reading and absorbing the stories. For each case study, try writing a paragraph or two for a problem, solution and result. Then, stick with this same format every time.
Weave in your clients’ words. The best case studies in sales always include clients’ actual quotes, says McGovern. When talking to your clients about their success story, take note of the phrases they use.
Make your case studies readable. No one wants to scroll through a long, drawn-out post that’s difficult to read. McGovern recommends formatting your case studies like a good short story, incorporating space with headers, bullet points and images. This helps draw readers in and allows them to digest the key takeaways.
Add emotion to headlines. Some prospects will only skim your case studies. You can use headlines to stir emotions and tell a succinct version of how you helped your client. For example, you might say for the problem, “Buyer felt disheartened by lack of awareness” and for the solution say, “Buyer impressed by how well logoed magnets increased visibility.”
Dig in with details. McGovern says case studies shouldn’t too long, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the details. She recommends adding specific, colorful information such as explaining what your client does, what issue they faced and how your solution made a difference. Also, when possible, use exact numbers and percentages. For example, doubling donation dollars from $500 to $1,000 is vastly different from going from $5,000 to $10,000. Don’t make your readers guess.
Get extra mileage from your case studies. When you take the time to craft a case study, look for other ways you can use it. This might mean recording a conversation with your case study hero and creating a visual version for a podcast or YouTube video.
Case studies may not make a prospect buy, but they provide real-world validation of what you can do. Whether you are just beginning, or you already have a library full of case studies, use the tips above to tell engaging stories and get prospects closer to buying.
Source: Michele McGovern is a veteran writer and editor who has authored many white papers for upper-level execs and business news posts. She covers topics such as employee morale, customer service, loyalty and sales.
Content marketing can take on many forms, from blogs to videos to podcasts. When you create and publish content your audience finds valuable, you can help show your expertise and stand apart from other businesses. Your content can also help you get found on search engines and generate leads.
Whatever kind of content you create for your business, it helps to stay current on the latest trends. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we’re sharing a few insights from Barbara von der Osten, a writer for Rock Content, on some key trends in content marketing. Read on to learn how you can make the most of your content this year.
1. Include more interactive content. You know those polls and quizzes you see on social media? Aim to include more of these in your content marketing. These allow you to engage your audience, gather useful insight and capture leads. Some other ideas for interactive content include guides as animations or expandable reports, says von der Osten.
2. Focus on empathy. This is the year to refocus on your clients and prospects and ensure you have them at the center of your content marketing. What do they need and want from you? What motivates them to take action? According to von der Osten, when you know these answers, you can create helpful content that evokes relatable emotions in your audience.
3. Embrace video marketing. Video isn’t going anywhere in 2022. In fact, von der Osten points out a HubSpot survey that reveals that 59 percent of marketers already use video in their content marketing and 76 percent say video is their most effective content format. Why is video so helpful? Because it captures attention and creates deeper connections.
4. Think hyper-personalization. Brands like Stitch Fix and Netflix are already using this approach with their content marketing. It requires going beyond using someone’s name to tap into their preferences, wants and needs, says von der Osten. You can embrace hyper-personalization in your content marketing by exploring artificial intelligence or using automation to create unique interactions with individuals.
5. Use more visual content. Written blog posts are the gold standard in content marketing. However, you can elevate your approach by attracting and engaging prospects with visual content like infographics. According to von der Osten, well-designed visual content can increase engagement and help you expand your reach.
6. Mix in more audio. Podcasts aren’t new, but von der Osten says they will continue to trend higher during 2022 and beyond. This kind of audio content lets listeners tune in while they are doing other activities like commuting or exercising.
7. Optimize for voice search. Another key content marketing trend this year is optimizing content for voice queries. Instead of writing for keywords such as “best promotional products for real estate agents,” you should now create content that answers questions like, “Hey Alexa, what are the best promotional products for real estate agents?”
Content marketing is always evolving. Whether you refresh your strategy to incorporate some of the trends above oryou double down on what works well, the main components are still the same. You should know who you want to reach with your efforts and what you want to accomplish with your content.
Source: Barbara von der Osten is a writer for Rock Content.
Congress Moves To Stem Cyberattacks’ Impact
During an uncommon Friday legislative session, the U.S. Senate passed legislation aimed at mitigating any adverse effects of future cyberattacks on American companies. S. 3600, the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022, is a mini-omnibus bill that combines three pieces of legislation previously introduced in the Senate. Of the three, the Cyber Incident Reporting Act (CIRA) is the bill that is likely to have the largest impact on the promotional products industry. CIRA requires certain entities that encounter a cyber incident to report the incident to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 hours, and alert that same agency about ransomware payments within 24 hours. Covered entities include organizations identified as existing within one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors. The Commercial Facilities Sector is of particular concern to the promotional products industry because it includes office buildings.
The Senate passed S. 3600 via unanimous consent, which is indicative of broad bipartisan support for the policy. The bill is widely expected to pass the House of Representatives as well, considering the House already passed similar legislation in 2021. After passage by the House, the bill would have to be signed by the president before being enacted into law. PPAI staff is also tracking efforts by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Gary Peters, to include this new cybersecurity legislation in the huge omnibus federal spending bill that must be passed in Congress this week to avoid a federal government shutdown. Although CIRA is atypically prescriptive, the reporting requirements created by the bill would be developed through the normal regulatory progress by the CISA director, consisting of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking listed in the Federal Register, a public commenting period, and the issuance of a final rule to clarify the details relating to compliance with the bill’s mandates.
PPAI, Public Affairs Manager
For most, the idea of starting their college or trade school journey is daunting and yet also very exciting. The Foundation for SAAC developed a scholarship program to assist industry college students with their continued education in 2011 and awarded its first scholarship recipients in 2012.
We want YOU to be one of the awardees of our 10th annual scholarship fund!
The scholarship is open to children of individuals in the promotional products industry who are members of SAAC. The SAAC Presidential Education Scholarship Program recognizes and encourages academic performance, intellect and achievement as well as personal growth through participation in extracurricular activities within the civic and academic communities.
The application window for 2022 scholarships will open on March 18, 2022 and will close on May 20th, 2022.
Please see the application requirements below and start completing your first step toward consideration for this very special scholarship season.
2022 Presidential Education Scholarship Program Requirements:
-child of any current SAAC member
-household income of $99,000 or less (a Pell Grant is $60,000)
-a system of questions
Every company wants to recruit the best talent. One way they can find this talent is through job descriptions. This strategy can work, but only if you update your job descriptions to capture the attention of diverse candidates. Many companies simply recycle the same old job descriptions. Though their company culture may have changed over the years, their job descriptions may not reflect this. As a result, companies may miss out on recruiting diverse talent.
The language you use can either attract or repel job candidates. This is why crafting inclusive job descriptions is critical to your hiring strategy, says Victoria Hortman, the global people operations manager at Mogul.
If you’re hoping to attract the best and brightest to your team, keep reading. We’re sharing Hortman’s best practices for writing more inclusive job descriptions in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.
Stay neutral. This means steering clear of gendered words and cultural slang. Hortman recommends using “you” instead of “he” or “she” to speak directly to all candidates. It’s also wise to avoid any cultural slang like “guru” or “wizard,” which may not resonate with diverse applicants. Instead, be clear with your titles and use terms like “sales manager” or “sales rep.”
Be flexible. You can attract more diverse job candidates by staying flexible with your requirements. For example, if your sales reps don’t necessarily need a college degree, don’t list it as a requirement. You can still prefer that candidates have a degree, but don’t include it in the written listing. If your job description includes a laundry list of requirements, you may scare away top candidates with untraditional backgrounds, Hortman notes.
Emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). A job description is an ideal place to point out that your company values DEI. Whether you have an equal-pay policy, a mentorship program for underrepresented groups or other offerings, include details in your job description. This can help attract a more diverse pool of applicants.
Stay mindful of age and ability. Hortman points out that 35 percent of workers were born before the internet existed. These experienced job candidates may not be interested in roles that mention “digital natives” or “young talent.” Hortman says the same is true for candidates with different abilities. If you need your employees to help with trade show set up and teardown, don’t include phrases like, “must walk, stand, and lift 50 pounds.” Instead, try more inclusive phrasing such as “must move, be upright and hold up to 50 pounds.”
Share salary ranges. Another way to be more inclusive in your job descriptions is to be upfront with the salary range. If you don’t list this critical information, you may miss out on highly qualified talent. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by completing an interview and then finding out the candidate needs $20,000 more than you have in your budget, Hortman says. Plus, listing a salary range can help you stand out from other employers. Only about half of companies mention salary, she adds.
This month, consider revisiting your job descriptions. Do they use outdated language or make people guess at salary ranges? You may be inadvertently turning off some candidates. By using more neutral words, emphasizing your company’s commitment to DEI, and being open about your budget, you can expand your talent pool and attract more diverse candidates.
Source: Victoria Hortman is the global people operations manager at Mogul, a talent acquisition platform.
While the hiring process can be agonizing, it’s the only way an organization can grow, stay true to its soul, and remain consistently successful.
“We have great people here – but you have a different level on your team. Everyone truly cares about our success.”
This was said to me recently with respect to the team we have built at PromoCorner and, to be candid, it was one of the most meaningful compliments I’ve received. It’s especially significant when the process of finding talented team members is almost as stressful as trying to figure out what to order off the massive menu at The Cheesecake Factory before the waiter comes back for a fifth time….almost.
Hiring is one of the most difficult aspects of management and almost every single executive I know loathes the process: the uninspired resumes, the unqualified applicants, the lackluster interviews that end before they’ve really begun, and the clearly canned answers to interview questions are just a few that come to mind. It’s a process that is painful at best and, at worst, can cripple an organization for years – both financially and culturally.
It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.
Just like in any industry, the competition to hire the most talented, capable, and forward-thinking people is onerous in the world of promotional products and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The people who work in day-to-day customer-facing positions have far more impact on whether an organization succeeds than any new product or decoration method.
In the team sport of consistently creating surprise and delight for clients, each team member must possess five core emotional skills:
1. Integrity – this is the foundation of any successful employee/employer relationship and where the intrinsic inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and exceptional judgement must be present
2. Optimistic Compassion – does the candidate display genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full?
3. Curiosity – this is far different than simple intelligence and where the candidate demonstrates an insatiable desire to learn for the sake of learning.
4. Work Ethic – will the candidate consistently complete assignments as well as it can possibly be done and embrace the grind that goes along with it?
5. Empathy – candidates must be aware of what the clients experience, but also how one’s own behavior in the office impacts others.
Why is it important to focus on the emotional skills of every applicant rather than the technical skills of doing the actual job? When you look at the five core emotional skills necessary to create an outstanding team, the overarching theme is, “care.” Over time, almost every technical aspect of a job can be taught: how to write an order, correctly using the CRM, how the decoration is applied to a product, etc. Care, however, can’t be taught: people either do or they don’t.
Building an exceptional team – one that has the core emotional skills that enables them to engage clients in ways that establish trust and loyalty – is critical to the long-term success of any organization. The true key is creating that team where the client base can identify a sense of cohesion in the way they feel and experience their overall purchasing journey with your business. The only way to accomplish this is to focus on the emotional skills of applicants, not the technical ones.
Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, immediate past president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), vice president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at bill@PromoCorner.com.
As a leader, you want your team members to continue honing their strengths and learning new skills. When you invest in your staff, you not only help them do their jobs better, but you also help them reach their full potential. Professional development may sound like a costly undertaking, but there are many ways you can help your employees grow without the deep pockets of a major corporation, according to Bonnie Monych, a performance specialist for Insperity.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some of Monych’s best practices that will help your team learn and grow — and without requiring a huge budget.
Launch or refresh a company mentoring program. Mentoring allows you to tap into your team’s biggest strengths. Monych suggests pairing employees who are experts in a certain area with others who need to improve in that area. And remember that successful mentorships can go up or down the organizational ladder, she says. Different generations have useful insight to share with each other.
Explore industry offerings. PPAI offers more than 200 new education sessions annually. You can also read industry publications and blogs. Much of it is free or easily accessible, Monych says. This can help your team stay current on relevant topics within the industry.
Create a book club. Choose a business book and invite your team to read it and discuss it together. Monych says this is a fun way for employees to share ideas and feedback while getting to know their colleagues a bit better. Think about the topics that would most benefit your team, whether it’s learning more about emotional intelligence or how to better manage their time.
Recruit an outside expert. Is someone in your professional network an expert at negotiating? Or maybe you know someone who is especially skilled at project management. Invite these professionals to speak to your team. Monych says it’s a win-win because you flatter your professional contact and your team members learn something new.
Host a lunch-and-learn. Treat your employees to lunch and an interesting lesson on a topic that’s relevant to your team’s needs. Lunch-and-learns can work in person or remotely. Employees tend to enjoy these offerings because they’re short and help them make smart use of their time.
Forgo formal learning. Remember that you can boost your team’s skills in bite-size pieces. You don’t need to hire a professional speaker for a full-day event. On YouTube, you can watch TED Talks on nearly any topics. You can also send your team members a link to recommended podcasts.
The days of all-day seminars and sleepy PowerPoint slides are gone, Monych says. Instead, look for easily accessible ways to teach your team new skills or introduce them to new ideas. From book clubs to lunch-and-learns, professional development can take all kinds of forms. Follow some of the best practices above and you can help your team grow in an affordable, effective way.
Source: Bonnie Monych is a performance specialist for Insperity. She has more than 25 years of experience in leadership development, coaching and mentoring.
Are you and your job in the promotional products industry going through a tough time? Maybe you’ve contemplated switching companies or joining the Great Resignation, but something’s still valuable to you right where you are.
Or maybe you’ve considered changing industries completely—but you know you’d miss the branded merchandise field.
How can you fall back in love with your work again so you can create the career and life you want? What can you do to get unstuck and start feeling in control once more, no matter what’s happening in your business or in the world?
Here are three strategies you can use today to reclaim control of your work life. Try them out and begin to reset, revise, and even rescue your career in promo—right where you are, just as you are.
Strategy 1: Get Clear About What Your Work Is—And Isn’t
Has your job expanded in ways that are no longer working for you? Now, two years after the start of the pandemic, many of my private coaching clients are finding that their ways of working during the initial days of crisis have now solidified, adding more time and effort into their day.
It’s a perfect time to take an inventory of all the things you do each day and week at work. Document it all, even the items that seem small or easy. Chances are the list may surprise you.
It’s not uncommon for responsibilities and expectations to sneak into your day-to-day to-dos, whether intentionally or not. Getting clear on what your job has become can help you get clearer on how to make small but powerful changes that make it better, faster.
Strategy 2: Drop Some Balls.
Take a hard look at your inventory of work from Strategy 1 above. Which elements don’t use your best skills or talents? What may have been relevant during the early days of the pandemic, but aren’t as essential now? What work feels like a waste of time, energy, or resources? Which do you consistently procrastinate and struggle through?
Right now, you’re juggling all of those balls. Consider dropping one—or many.
Yes, this feels counterintuitive to many of us who feel like we’re never juggling our work and life as well as we could be. But human beings are not computers. We can’t add bandwidth to create more capacity. In fact, by rightsizing our bandwidth and dropping work that no longer matters, we actually become more focused, productive, and valuable—as well as less burnt-out and unhappy.
How can you drop any of the balls you’ve been so carefully managing? Start experimenting with one small item that you dread doing. Maybe it’s a meeting you attend, report you prepare, or other routine process. For the next two weeks, drop it. Don’t tell anyone and wait to see if anyone notices—or cares. If they do, propose an experiment where the work gets done differently. In my work with my coaching clients, we’ve often found 20-30% of their day-to-day tasks can be streamlined or eliminated completely, with no or low consequences.
Strategy 3:Find Your TA-DAs.
When we’re not feeling great about work, we often overlook all the good we’re doing and all of the success we’re actually having. We clearly see all the things that are undone or imperfect.
But that’s exactly the time when you need to find your TA-DAs.
You’ve seen a TA-DA. It’s that move where we toss up our arms in a celebratory V, throw back our shoulders and pause, for a moment, basking in the energy of what we’ve just accomplished. TA-DAs are typically the sole province of Olympians, circus folk and toddlers proudly waddling, arms up, toward their parents. Those brave souls don’t have to be perfect to have their TA-DA—why should you?
Ask yourself: What do I do well? What do I appreciate about myself? What good things do my clients, customers and colleagues say about me? What am I doing that’s making a difference to someone, somewhere? Remember that the products you deliver, whether you’re at a supplier or working as a distributor, could be really meaningful to their end user.
Throw your hands up, sing out TA-DA, and take a bow. If you’re ready to fall back in love with your job, your TA-DAs can remind you’re doing more good work than you think, and are more successful than you know.
Darcy Eikenberg is a career coach for leaders and speaker on leadership and career success. Her latest book, Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job, goes deeper into how we can take back control in our lives at work and prepare for the future with courage and confidence. Download a free chapter and get other career-enhancing tools at RedCapeRevolution.com.
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