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  • January 20, 2021 5:30 AM | Deleted user

    Planning is essential to growth in your personal and professional life. Without creating a roadmap of where you want to go and how you will get there, you will end up getting sidetracked or just meandering through life. Whatever you want to achieve this year, now is the time to plan for it.

    Best-selling author Scott Young says that most people aren’t great planners. Psychologists call it the planning fallacy. According to the planning fallacy, people are typically overly optimistic planners, and their projects take much longer and more effort than anticipated.

    When you learn to plan better, you can create a better future for yourself. Young points out that being able to think long-term and restrain your impulses leads to success in several areas, including health, wealth and education.

    If you want to learn how to become a better planner in 2021, read on. We share Young’s guidance in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    Take it seriously. The best way to become a better planner is to create time for it, says Young. He follows the 10-percent rule, which means he allots about 10 percent of the total time anticipated for a project to plan for the project. If you expect to need 20 hours to work on a new project, for example, you should spend about two hours planning it. Planning time is especially valuable for projects that are new to you, he adds.

    Break everything down. Now it’s time to get into details. Think through every step you must take to keep moving the project forward. Write it down. Get granular. Young gives an example of writing a novel. Instead of saying, “I want to write 500 words a day,” which is a habit, not a plan, you should ask specific questions. Will you self-publish or get an agent? Will you need reviewers or an editor? What is the main plot? What are the character backgrounds? According to Young, many complex projects fail because they are not fully mapped out. Aim to plan more than feels comfortable or necessary.

    Create an itinerary. The next part of better planning is entering steps into your calendar. Young notes that this helps with logistics since you can see what other deadlines or conflicts you have. It also helps make the plan real. When you can see that you only have six months to accomplish something instead of a loose plan, it brings clarity to a vague goal.

    Do the work every day. Whatever goal or achievement you are going after, you have to put in the effort to make it happen. That means making meaningful progress today—not tomorrow or next week. Immediate action is the only kind that gets anything done, says Young.

    Planning requires intention. It’s not enough to merely contemplate what you want to achieve—you must take time to plan for it. Set aside ample planning time and break down the details of all the steps in the process. You can then add these steps to your calendar so you have action steps and deadlines. Then, hold yourself accountable to doing what you set out to do. When you take time to carefully plan and chart your course, you can move confidently toward accomplishing your goals.

    Source: Scott Young is the author of the national bestseller, Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career. Young writes about learning, productivity, career, habits and living well on his blog.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers Used with permission from PPAI

  • January 20, 2021 5:28 AM | Deleted user

    Just the Way You Are

    What could possibly need improvement?

    1/5/2021 | Mike Schenker, MAS, Uncommon Threads

    I admit: I never really understood the whole concept of New Year’s resolutions. What is the arbitrary reason for suddenly changing or improving the way you act, just because the calendar has metaphorically turned the page? I’m reminded of the iconic Calvin and Hobbes panel, where Calvin is berating Hobbes for suggesting that he make resolutions, as he thinks he’s perfect just the way he is. What could possibly need improvement?

    Further to the point of stumbling into 2021: just because 2020 has been gate-checked doesn’t mean that circumstances will improve. The pandemic will continue, politicians will still finger-point, our favorite sports stars and/or celebrities will die, I will continue to whine…

    Yes friends…it’s another upbeat Mike Schenker column.

    All of the things I just mentioned are out of our control (especially the one about me whining). There’s nothing we can do about them, aside from accepting them as part of our lives and moving ahead with or despite them. We can’t fix them, but we can fix us.

    And so, keeping with the “no resolution” theme, here are simply some ideas to consider:

    Accept and adapt to the new normal. As I mentioned above, this ain’t going away anytime soon, so embrace the technology. If my parents can get into virtual meetings with the entire family, so can you. Maybe not with my family, but we’re a very inviting lot so you never know.

    To that end, I saw something earlier today about how, if you’re working from home, you should wear different pajamas than those you wear for sleeping. I am not making this up. Different pajamas??? In the first place, you’re still working. Be a professional. Additionally, let’s call them what they are: “work pajamas” are little more than sweat pants and sweat shirts (insert “t-shirts” if your climate allows for that). Let’s save those for special occasions…like when we’re braving the crowds at Walmart.

    Focus. Harder. Do as I’m doing as I write this: email is turned off, my phone is upside down, and I’m laser-focused on finishing this column. It’s easy to get distracted when working from home, especially with kids or parents or partners or dogs distracting us and demanding our attention. This is why doors have locks.

    Boss-people: empower your staff. You’ve hired the best people for all the right reasons, now let them do their jobs. With respect and appreciation. I shouldn’t have to mention that, but will anyway.

    This next idea is subjective, I admit. If you’re satisfied with your lot in life, stay the course. Do your absolute best and be irreplaceable. If, however, you’ve got greater dreams and aspirations, plan a course as to how to achieve them.

    To that end, continue to network. Just because you can’t physically attend professional events doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to grow your network. That new connection just might have the answers you need.

    I just read this one and it makes perfect sense: make your goals public. ”JFK challenged NASA to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s by announcing his vision to the world. Literally. Quite the approach to accountability, don’t you think?”. You’re not doing this so that others can call you out on it. It’s more of a touchstone for you to remind yourself, daily, that you can make things happen.

    Be realistic. Just as you didn’t lose the fifteen pounds you said you would in years past, you’re going to slip up from time to time. Allow for it. Don’t beat yourself up. As Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or learn”. That’s brilliant. Even though it’s really easy, try not to get discouraged.

    Keep swinging. Promote, promote, promote. Be it your business, your idea, your service, and/or especially yourself.

    Considering that you’ve been locked up for so long, this one might seem odd, but hear me out: make time for you. I know of what I write, having worked from home since before it was chic. It’s very easy to finish dinner and then go back to whatever it is you call your home office (sidebar: I have seen some great ideas using little more than a linen closet!). Shut things down and keep them down. Introduce yourself to those people who seem to be occupying the same space. They may be nice. Maybe they’ll feed you.

    By now, I think you know how I feel about resolutions. Just be the best version of you that you can be. Be genuine. I’ll close with one more quote, this time from Judy Garland. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else”. Just do your best.

    Oh…and Happy-ish New Year.

    Mike Schenker, MAS, is “all that” at Mike Schenker, Consulting, where he assists businesses entering the promotional products industry, mentors professionals, and offers association management. He is a promotional industry veteran and member of the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) Hall of Fame. He can be reached at mike@mikeschenker.com.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner

  • December 16, 2020 9:15 AM | Deleted user

    Promo products professionals are no stranger to the power of promotional products, and if you’re in the promo business, you probably already know just how impactful they can be for a company or organization. But unless you’ve been around since the beginning, you might not know all these cool facts!

    1. The first imprinted promotional products were used by George Washington in 1789 as a part of his campaign for president. They didn’t mention that in Hamilton!

    2. 8 in 10 people like receiving promotional products.

    3. …and 7 in 10 people wish they received promotional products more often!

    4. 96% of consumers want to know ahead of time when companies offer promotional products.

    5. Virtually everyone who receives promotional products will keep at least one.

    6. Jasper Meek started using burlap bags to promote small businesses in 1896. He was even dubbed the “Father of Promotional Products”!

    7. Almost 9 out of 10 people can recall the company that gave them branded promotional products.

    8. The top five industries purchasing promo products are the business services, education, healthcare, manufacturing, and financial industries.

    9. The biggest reason consumers decline to keep a promotional product is because they have no use for it. However…

    10. 79% of people pass along promotional products that are no longer valuable to them by regifting, selling, or donating the items. That means they end up in even more hands!

    11. The top 5 promotional products categories in 2019 were wearables, drinkware, travel items, technology, and writing.

    12. Consumers love promotional products! 91% of consumers keep promotional products such as mugs in their kitchens.

    13. When given branded promotional products by their employer, 59% of employees have a more favorable impression of their workplace.

    14. 99% of people say that they’re willing to go out of their way to get a promotional product.

    15. And 9 out of 10 people say that they already have gone out of their way to get a promo product!

    16. In 2019, the promotional products industry did over $24 billion in sales.

    17. 85% of product recipients did business with the advertiser who gave them the item.

    18. Advertisers love promotional products, too. 70% of ad agencies consider promotional products to be effective or highly effective!

    19. When people were asked why they keep the promo products they received, the top three answers were that the items were fun, functional, and trendy.

    20. Nearly 6 out of 10 people say that they would enter sweepstakes, contests, or raffles to win promotional products.

    21. Promotional products that reference pop culture and current trends appeal mainly to Gen Z consumers, while Baby Boomers respond to products that carry an important message more than any other age group.

    22. More than 60% of people who receive promotional products will look the brands up online later.

    23. Almost half of consumers feel more confident doing business with companies that use branded decor or furniture.

    24. Three-quarters of consumers say that promotional products make their experiences more memorable.

    25. 80% of people have an immediate reaction when they receive promotional products from companies they’ve never heard of.

    You’re practically a promo fact expert now! Send this article to your customers, prospects, and any promo skeptics you know to show them just how powerful marketing with promotional products can be.


    2019 Consumer Study, PPAI Research

    2019 Sales Volume Study, PPAI Research





    Used with permission from SAGE

  • December 16, 2020 9:15 AM | Deleted user

    As the year begins winding down, many managers are thinking of ways to show gratitude to their team members. While monetary rewards, thoughtful gifts and holiday parties are welcomed and appreciated, there are additional heartfelt ways to show your appreciation.

    According to speaker, consultant and best-selling author, Dr. Cindy McGovern, if you want to show your hard-working and loyal staff that you truly value and appreciate them, you should listen to them. They have ideas, complaints and personal struggles, especially after a year as tumultuous as 2020.

    If you are looking for the best ways to show appreciation to your sales reps, read on. We’ll share Dr. McGovern’s top ways to show gratitude in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    1. Get their ideas. You never know who might be thinking about your company’s next big initiative. As a way of showing you value your sales reps, ask them for their feedback—and then listen. Dr. McGovern says that when former PepsiCo CEO told the corporation’s thousands of employees that they should take ownership of the company, one janitor took it seriously. He suggested dusting Cheetos with chili powder instead of cheese powder and the result—Flamin’ Hot Cheetos—ended up being one of the brand’s top sellers.

    2. Enable your team members to solve problems. What’s something that isn’t working quite right on your team or in your organization? Invite your sales reps to solve the issue. You could sweeten the deal by offering a financial reward to the employees, adds Dr. McGovern. She gives an example of two workers at Audi who noticed ventilation systems continued to run even when no workers were present. They suggested shutting off the ventilators overnight and saved the corporation more than $120,000 a year.

    3. Adjust for personal needs. Each one of your sales reps has different needs. Some may need to adjust their work hours due to family obligations. Others may need to work from home occasionally, while some may need extra time off. As a way of showing your gratitude, find out what your sales reps want and need the most, and then make that happen for them. Dr. McGovern says companies as large as GE and as small as five-person companies offer flex hours to help their employees and to boost their ability to recruit newcomers.

    4. Celebrate their good deeds. According to Dr. McGovern, when you recognize your team members’ good deeds, you encourage more helpful behavior. Consider Hardee’s, which handed over a $1,000 check to a teenage employee simply because the worker offered his arm to an elderly customer who was walking to the car with the aid of a walking cane. If you spot an act of kindness or generosity among your sales reps, recognize it.

    5. Involve your sales reps in service projects. There are many ways to give back—especially this time of year. Involving your employees in charitable activities is a great way to show you value them while also helping the community. Dr. McGovern says that businesses that give back are as popular with their own employees as they are with the recipients of the goodwill.

    Showing your gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Sometimes, the most meaningful ways of showing appreciation come down to listening to your employees. Consider the points above when you are looking for ways to show employee appreciation this holiday season and all year long.

    Source: Dr. Cindy McGovern is a top-rated speaker, consultant and best-selling author of Every Job Is A Sales Job.

    Used with permission from PPAI 

  • December 16, 2020 9:11 AM | Deleted user

    Just like the promo industry, the meeting industry and event planning has taken a pivot or two over the last several months. With the holidays now in full swing, meeting planners are doing exactly what you’re doing: Planning for the new year. Just because large in-person events are not likely to resume in the foreseeable future, there’s no reason the meeting planners on your prospect list shouldn’t hear from you. In fact, it’s probably more important than ever that you reach out to those meeting planners. After all, for a reinvented meeting industry characterized (today anyway) by virtual meetings, when you think inside the box, it’s possible to score some big wins.

    Let’s talk about some big wins, shall we? The folks at Bishop-McCann in Kansas City are absolutely embracing the reinvented meeting industry and getting innovative in the process. The founder and CEO have complimented the Bishop-McCann event planning business by launching Eventure, an online platform designed to create and deliver gift ideas to virtual meeting attendees. "Even though face-to-face meetings were not happening, the need was still there for people to be able to connect — no matter what seat they're in, whether they're sitting in a ballroom or at home," Bishop-McCann CEO Rob Adams told the Kansas City Business Journal.

    Think about this for a minute, and consider that you can do this very thing — or something similar. Client needs haven’t changed. You’ve sourced items for room drops, gifts, and identity merchandise for in-person events, and the product thinking shouldn’t change now. Your clients wanted an emotional connection to the event back then, and with virtual attention spans shorter than ever now, that magic is even more important. Just how big is your clients’ Zoom mindshare fade? Chances are good that it’s gigantic. In fact, according to recent research from Civicom on what else meeting attendees admitted doing while meetings are going on include:

    Daydreaming (91%)

    Doing other tasks (65%)

    Checking social media or sending emails (63%)

    Eating or making food while on the call (55%)

    Playing video games and shopping online (25% and 21%, respectively)

    And that’s where you and that inside the box thinking can come in. The magic you can bring is adding the integration of active promo items into the meeting. I like that Eventure’s tagline is “think inside the box.” That really captures the idea of what they’re doing. Eventure's “Applause Box” has custom flick sticks with water-soluble confetti, wine tumblers, and Tost branded cranberry- and ginger-flavored sparkling non-alcoholic drinks. They also include a recipe card for making cocktails yourself later. This kind of promo item is perfect for Appreciation Season and but one example of how creative thinking can help make even virtual meetings or events interesting and exciting.

    What’s important not to miss here: Bishop-McCann’s Adams said that they are purposely keeping Eventure as a separate entity so that they can approach third-party meeting planners. If they can convince those third-party folks that they aren’t actually looking to compete with them, that means they’re coming after your lunch, promo distributors, and it’s time to get serious about thinking inside the box your own selves.

    Talking about the launch of Eventure, co-founder Dan Nilsen said, “Meeting planners have worked tirelessly to reinvent the industry and continue providing effective meetings and events on a virtual platform. Our easy-to-use eCommerce system, combined with our exceptional customer service, takes the work out of gift giving. It creates a seamless, customized experience while delivering a flawless, customized product to delight meeting attendees.”

    But how can you compete if you don’t have a sophisticated website? I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t suggest you think about fixing that outdated website and thinking about pivoting more to ecommerce offerings, of course. In the interim, you can still offer a menu of event boxes you’ve already curated right now. You already know where to find the facemasks, hand sanitizer, and basic snacks to fill a box, and adding a whiteboard with markers would be no sweat for you. You did custom branded notebooks for meetings before I’m sure, and maybe there’s a fidget spinner or stress ball still hanging around just waiting for good use. Having clients make suggestions for their own box is not much more trouble.

    So, what are you waiting for? You developed products to move attendees to action at your clients’ in-person events, now it’s time to truly embrace a reinvented meeting industry and think about how you can use inside the box thinking to deliver innovative solutions to your customers. Move that promo connection out of the conference center and into the box you’re packing up for them and don’t let a competitor get there first! Even as we begin to move from virtual, to hybrid events, and on to in-person events someday, the need for this kind of curated boxes is never going away. Just as you’ve seen with the Bishop-McCann example, the folks in the industry who understand how to pivot and embrace a new way of thinking are today’s innovating winners.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner

  • December 16, 2020 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Most incentive travel buyers and suppliers expect the sector to recover within one to two years. Data from the Incentive Research Foundation’s (IRF) 2020 Incentive Travel Industry Index (ITII) survey found that two-thirds of incentive travel buyers and suppliers are projecting that timeframe to be around when post-COVID conditions have been reached. The survey defined post-COVID conditions as those in which travel can occur safe from COVID, such as with widely available vaccine(s) or disease containment.

    “While our industry has witnessed widespread impact due to the pandemic, those professionals have responded not only with structural changes to incentives such as program delays and implementing alternative rewards, but also new investment,” says IRF President Stephanie Harris. “The industry has built important capabilities to position it for future success, such as improved digital marketing and a renewed focus on the motivational power of travel rewards. This shows the continued commitment to and high-perceived value of incentive travel.”

    The desire to travel is the greatest positive factor expected to influence the recovery, with 64 percent citing greater appreciation for travel after being restricted from doing so. Most senior management stakeholders (83 percent) who sponsor incentive travel remain committed to it, although many buyers expect incentive travel will need to fundamentally change to reduce risks. Key impediments to this recovery include company risk aversion to travel and qualifier reluctance to travel post-COVID-19.

    “Once recovered, 77 percent of survey respondents expect incentive travel to be very similar or moderately changed relative to pre-COVID conditions,” says Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP) Executive Director Steve Bova, CAE. “Sanitation and health security will be permanently more important risk management strategies. Within the financial and insurance industry, we see greater optimism about recovery and stronger desire to travel, but this is counter-balanced by greater reluctance among qualifiers to travel and higher company risk aversion. Given the more conservative nature of our sector, it is not surprising to see a significant shift toward participant safety.”

    In addition to new risk management strategies, future destination selections and program characteristics and activities are also anticipated to shift as a result of the pandemic.

    “Regarding destination selection, the survey confirms what we’ve been hearing anecdotally for some time: in the short to mid-term, domestic and close-by destinations will replace transcontinental and international destinations. However, there’s also a decisive shift away from buzzy urban locations to quiet countryside retreats and a definite preference for ‘the road less traveled,’” says Pádraic Gilligan, chief marketing officer for the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE). “Not surprisingly, destinations with a low incidence of COVID-19, or those perceived to have dealt effectively with it, rank very high—even if they’re long haul—with the Caribbean, Abu Dhabi / Dubai, Canada and Southeast Asia coming in the top five for UK buyers.”

    In the post-COVID world, incentive travel buyers also anticipate “soft power” benefits such as improved engagement, enhanced customer satisfaction and better relationship-building between employees and management, and among fellow employees to be among the greatest benefits of incentive travel. The IRF notes that this is a shift from 2019, when company sales and profits were top-ranked benefits. A renewed focus on experiences that will delight the individual traveler, with fewer corporate obligations such as group dining and team building, was seen in post-COVID incentive program activities.

    For more findings from the 2020 ITII survey, click here

    Used with permission from PPAI. 

  • December 16, 2020 8:59 AM | Deleted user

    The St Regis Group (PPAI 230188, S6) has acquired the Journal Division of The Book Company (PPAI 218850, S5), a Delray Beach, Florida-headquartered supplier of published books and journals. The news was first announced today in a PPB Newslink Breaking News alert.

    “Developing our journal line has been fun and rewarding and has opened so many doors for us,” says Roni Wright, MAS, vice president of The Book Company. “My team and I are excited to now focus our full energies on our original passion, books and other products from the world’s top publishers.”

    The Book Company's journal division represented half of the company's business, with the other 50 percent accounted for by books and other published products including, puzzles, games, stationery, and gift items Wright tells PPB Newslink, "We’ve been promoting books in the industry for 20-plus years and then, eight years ago, our team refocused its efforts to designing and selling journals as well. When the pandemic hit, we experienced a tremendous spike in orders for published books and other published products. With meetings and conferences shut down, journals took a back seat. Rather than wait out a ‘return to normal,’ St Regis Group offered us the perfect way forward. The Book Company could focus 100 percent of our efforts on our original passion—books—and St Regis’s larger network of distributors in both the U.S. and Canada will take our journal line to heights beyond what we could have ever achieved on our own."

    Guy Malk, St Regis chief marketing officer, tells PPB Newslink, “As a premier go-to supplier, St Regis is constantly looking for ways to strengthen our position as an industry leader. With the recent addition of Hugo Boss-branded portfolios and agendas, the new Eccolo and Shinola Detroit Journals will be a perfect complement to this ever-expanding category. The new range of journals also gives us the ability to offer endless new combinations of journal and pen gift sets. The opportunities for growing this line are tremendous and with the resources and technology at our disposal, we see great potential for St Regis to become an essential supplier in the journal category.”

    Starting today, promotional products distributors can source The Book Company’s complete journal line, including Eccolo and American-made Shinola-branded journals, from the St Regis Group. The Book Company’s Missy Kilpatrick, vice president of business development, has joined St Regis and will continue to manage and expand the journal line with her new team. She says, “We couldn’t have found a better home for our incredible journal line. My new team at St Regis is committed to continuing our retail-inspired focus and expanding the journal line in new and exciting ways.”

    Richard Firkser, president and CEO of the St Regis Group, adds, “Missy and the team at The Book Company have done an incredible job for over two decades in building and promoting their premium range of journals. The addition of these premium journal brands to our ever-expanding line of pens and stationary products will cement St Regis as a leader in this exciting category.”

    Over the past eight years, the Itasca, Illinois-based supplier has been growing steadily through acquisitions. In 2012, St Regis acquired industry awards supplier R.S. Owens, Inc. and in 2013, it announced an alliance with supplier Ritter Pen to provide infrastructure, production and logistical resources. In 2016, the company merged with supplier K&R New York.

    Used with permission from PPAI

  • November 19, 2020 6:36 AM | Deleted user

    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 | Deleted user

    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 | Deleted user

    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

Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) 
6442 Platt Ave.  # 2001
West Hills, CA. 91307

p:818-600-1340  e: info@saac.net

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