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  • April 16, 2023 7:25 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    There’s a regulatory issue on the horizon that practically every company operating in the promotional merchandise market is going to have to deal with. And that horizon isn’t evenly distributed. For some, they’ve already reached it, and for others it’s in the short- or medium-term distance. But it’s coming, and most of us are going to have to contend with it, one way or another.

    There are more than 9,000 perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS) in use today in myriad products. Due to the strength of their carbon-fluorine bonds, they are persistent, bio-accumulative “forever chemicals,” and some have been shown to have multiple, adverse effects on human health. Governments at the state and federal level, and around the world, are enacting regulations controlling or prohibiting their use.

    These rules apply to different product categories, follow different schedules, require different testing and mandate different responses. In short, it’s very confusing.

    “This subject is really for the chemists,” says Rick Brenner, MAS+, president and CEO of Product Safety Advisors. “But all of our industry is going to have to deal with it at an administrative level. What test do I need to tell me it’s OK? That sort of thing. Nobody’s going to become an expert in it, but we need to understand what it means for our businesses.”

    The PFAS Origin Story

    First discovered in the 1930s, PFAS chemistry has been appearing in consumer and industrial products since the 1940s. The substances have been incorporated in a broad range of goods to provide water- and stain-resistant properties, nonstick surfaces, flexibility and durability, and other capabilities. Think Teflon and Scotchgard.

    Common consumer products that contain PFAS include grease-resistant paper, fast food containers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes and candy wrappers. PFAS can also be found in:

    • Nonstick cookware.
    • Stain-resistant coatings used in upholstery and fabrics.
    • Water-resistant clothing.
    • Cleaning products.
    • Personal care products like shampoo and dental floss.
    • Cosmetics like nail polish and eye makeup.
    • Paints, varnishes and sealants.

    The first clues that PFAS may have adverse health effects came in the 1970s, when studies found the chemicals in the blood of occupationally exposed workers. PFAS was found in the blood of the general population in the 1990s. That discovery led to greater awareness of the chemicals and concerns over their presence in the environment and humans, as well as potential health impacts.

    Widespread documentation of environmental contamination didn’t happen until the early 2000s. PFAS chemicals can pollute sources of drinking water and the environment in multiple ways, through washing and disposal in landfills and incinerators. The chemicals have been found in sediments, surface and groundwater and wildlife. Some have been found in places throughout the world far beyond where the chemicals were initially used or manufactured.

    Legislation in New York enacting certain PFAS prohibitions notes, “mounting research has linked well-known PFAS compounds such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to kidney and testicular cancer and communities with PFAS contaminated water have been shown to suffer serious medical effects.”

    The same bill cites research from the John Wood Group, an engineering and consulting firm, that says, “PFASs are very persistent in the environment, and some are highly soluble and mobile. Documented evidence has shown that PFASs emitted to soil can readily move into groundwater and be transported well beyond the original contamination source.”

    The Regulatory Landscape

    PFAS chemicals are coming under regulatory scrutiny from all corners: Numerous states have enacted laws and regulations controlling or prohibiting the chemicals’ use or managing human exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering new rules, and in February, the European Union proposed a ban on the manufacture, use and selling of goods containing PFAS in the common market.

    States’ focus on PFAS has typically centered on various product categories, namely:

    • Food packaging.
    • Cosmetics or personal care products.
    • Children’s products.
    • Textiles.
    • Fabric, carpets or rugs, and upholstery.
    • Fish and deer meat harvested from select waterways and areas.

    How this activity affects the promotional products industry varies. Recent legislation of particular note to the promo industry includes bans on PFAS use in apparel that passed in New York and California. These prohibitions go into effect on December 31, 2023, and January 1, 2025, respectively.

    But by no means are these the only regulations instituted at the state level that will impact the industry. Seventeen states have one or more regulations governing PFAS use, while four more have bills in consideration. A law went into effect in Maine on January 1 that mandates notifying the state of any product being sold in the state that had intentionally added PFAS.

    Complicating efforts to comply with these laws, the prohibitions not only cover different product categories, but differ on timetables, how they measure PFAS and which chemicals they apply to – remember, there are more than 9,000 PFAS in use.

    Several federal agencies are also moving on PFAS. Among them is the Environmental Protection Agency, which in 2021 established a strategic roadmap to take specific actions and commit to new policies to protect public health and the environment, and to hold polluters accountable. In September it proposed designating two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous due to “significant evidence” that they present “substantial danger to human health or welfare or the environment.”

    Another federal agency examining the impact of PFAS on public health is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has several ongoing reviews of PFAS in food and food containers.

    “There is no current federal regulation on PFAS in any consumer product,” says Brenner. “It’s not like Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, where there’s a specific threshold that you can’t have more than so much lead and lead in the substrate of any product, or so much lead in the surface coating. There’s nothing like that for PFAS at the federal level yet.”

    In fact, he adds, if we go back to the way that lead was regulated in the U.S., it’s a very similar situation to what’s going on now with PFAS.

    “In the summer of 2007, there were millions and millions of Barbie dolls and other Chinese toys that were recalled. It is referred to as the ‘summer of recalls.’ As a result, a number of states started passing lead regulations – and none of them were harmonized with another, and it became very challenging,” Brenner says. “What can we do when there are different regulations in different states, and they have different definitions of what’s covered and what’s not covered?”

    In August 2008, the CPSIA was signed into law. One of its provisions was that all state consumer product safety regulations that had been passed subsequent to 1986 were preempted. With the federal laws in place, companies didn’t have to worry about what state they were dealing with.

    Brenner says, “It was a benefit to all of us in the industry because all of a sudden we had a standard that applied everywhere. We’ve got the same situation now, and that’s the issue. You have all of these states passing legislation right now about PFAS, and they’re not harmonized.”

    Without federal standards, the simplest thing for industry companies to do is to find the strictest state standard that goes into effect on the earliest date and apply it to their product lines and production methods.

    The European Union’s proposed ban on PFAS is the bloc’s largest chemical restriction to date. If adopted, the measure would prohibit the manufacture, use and importation of PFAS on their own, as well as the manufacture and importation of products and substances that contain PFAS. Companies would potentially have to redesign a range of products intended for the EU market.

    Adding another wrinkle to the regulatory landscape stems from children’s products. State regulators pay close attention to PFAS in children’s products, prompting more stringent restrictions. Seven states currently have laws on the books regarding PFAS chemicals in children’s or juvenile products. Six more states have proposed regulations in 2022 and 2023.

    What Does This Mean For Promo?

    For promotional products companies, whether or not their business is subject to current regulations related to PFAS, the wise move today is to evaluate production methods and products to determine if they use or contain these chemicals and are subject to potential risks.

    Industry companies are already moving to manage the PFAS issue. In December, 3M, which participates in the promotional products industry as a supplier through its 3M Promotional Markets division, announced that it would exit PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.

    “This potentially has a huge impact on the promo industry as it is everywhere,” says Chris Pearson, MAS, vice president of compliance and Asia operations at supplier Spector & Co. “Even the largest manufacturers have been using PFAS for years for waterproofing and stain resistance. It is also found out in the world because of this, so trace amounts are everywhere.”

    Electronics and soft goods suppliers are especially vulnerable to these regulations, he adds.

    “It takes a long time to engineer these out with a safe alternative,” Pearson says. “We used to use a different version and that was the solution, but now we realize that the substitute was equally as bad as the original. Without a loss of properties and features, this is very difficult to remove.”

    As has always been the way in every regulatory shift, compliance is driven by the largest customers. Industry distributors selling to smaller businesses are likely to never have a problem. Distributors who deal with companies like Nestlé, General Mills and McDonald’s, etc., will have to be prepared, because those are the type of customers who are going to be unable to buy anything without conclusive proof that the goods they’re purchasing don’t contain proscribed PFAS chemicals. To be successful, these distributors need their suppliers to be prepared.

    “Suppliers in this industry are the ones that need to deal with this,” says Brenner. “They’re the ones that need to understand what’s in their products and whether or not PFAS is part of it. That’s going to be a matter of them contacting their testing lab, getting an education, reviewing their product categories, reviewing their products and developing a strategy, because the distributors in the industry are going to be asking, ‘Is there PFAS in it?’”

    Brenner adds, “It’s really challenging. I don’t think a distributor who’s trying to sell all day long, they don’t have time to be on the phone for three hours to get answers like this. They’re going to rely on the suppliers to be vetting their sources and understanding what’s in the products they’re selling. It’s going to be a big challenge for suppliers because they need to know what’s in everything they make.”

    Test, Test, Test

    The regulatory impact on the promo industry has the potential to be far reaching. PFAS’ ubiquity means it’s likely to found in a wide swath of the industry’s goods.

    “Take PFOA, one of the chemicals on California’s list,” says Brenner. “The question is, what’s PFOA in? Well, if you tried to test your products for every PFAS, it would be far too expensive. Different labs have different strategies, but basically the approach is to start with testing for either total fluorine or total organic fluorine under the basis that if it doesn’t have that in it, it can’t have PFAS in it because every PFAS bond is carbon and fluorine.”

    Pearson says, “Promo companies need to start testing and certifying their supply chains to ensure there are no intentionally added PFAS’ to their products. The companies with more robust testing and compliance programs already are doing this.”

    Promotional products companies can logo, source and distribute any consumer product, and should be cautious when using categories with the potential to contain PFAS.

    “Be aware of the product categories that are at higher risk for containing these chemicals,” says Karolyn Helda, managing director at supply chain solutions provider Qima. “Know your suppliers and what is in your product. The product's Bill of Materials and Bill of Substances can be reviewed to determine if PFAS are added. However, factories may not be willing to provide this information, and therefore it will be up to the promo industry company to conduct testing to monitor their products. A good option is to test suspect materials, such as a coating on a textile, for total organic fluorine.”

    Helda notes that alternatives to PFAS are coming onto the market – hydrocarbons and waxes are being adopted by outdoor brands for use in textiles; cellulose-based alternatives, biopolymers and biowaxes are being used in food packaging; and the cookware industry offers ceramic and hard-anodized options. But even as these come available, testing and scrutiny will remain important.

    “Chemical alternatives to PFAS are being developed and studied,” says Helda. “But like with any new chemical, companies need to do their homework on the safety of the alternative before employing it for use on their products."

    What’s Next?

    It’s not yet clear whether the industry will get federal regulations harmonizing rules regarding PFAS across the country like it did with CPSIA. Regardless, promo companies need a strategy.

    “This is coming, and you need to be aware of it,” says Brenner. “There are countless products that have PFAS that we’re selling every day."

    “If you’re a distributor, you need to be asking questions of your suppliers, and suppliers need to study the issue and understand where and why these chemicals are used. The best advice is to be aware of them and to try to get an education on how they are used and where they are in our inventories.”

    Industry businesses may or may not be affected by the consumer product regulations related to PFAS. But because the chemicals are so prevalent in goods today, prudent companies should evaluate their potential risk now to determine if PFAS can be found in their products or production methods.

    Promo companies also have educational opportunities to available to them, as PPAI’s annual Product Responsibility Summit has brought experts together from within and outside the industry to discuss the issue.

    “More than anything, take the time. Now,” says Brenner. “We’re in the ramp-up before it gets to be where every product is examined for PFAS. Understand where, what and which of your products has some PFAS chemicals in them. Take the time to investigate.”

    Khattak is the senior digital editor at PPAI.

    Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:22 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach effectively shut down last Thursday evening through Friday due to a worker shortage. Port and labor representatives offered differing analysis of the causes behind the stoppage, but that it comes during protracted labor negotiations has raised some eyebrows.

    The Shutdown

    Late Thursday, April 6, terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach closed due to a lack of workers during the evening shift. The closures continued through Friday, with operations resuming on Saturday.

    • Statements from port management suggest the staffing issues took them by surprise as well.

    Both International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13, representing port workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing employers, have issued statements on the incident.

    “On the evening of Thursday, April 6, ILWU Local 13 held its monthly membership meeting as is its contractual right,” ILWU Local 13’s statement read. “Several thousand union members attend the monthly meeting. On Friday, April 7, union members who observe religious holidays took the opportunity to celebrate with their families.

    “Cargo operations are ongoing as longshore workers at the Ports remain on the job.”

    The PMA’s press release reflects its view on what happened. It reads, “The largest ILWU local on the West Coast has taken a concerted action to withhold labor at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, resulting in widespread worker shortages.

    “The action by the Union has effectively shut down the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – the largest gateway for maritime trade in the United States.”

    The Promo Perspective

    Labor negotiations between the ILWU and PMA have entered their 11th month. They began in May 2022 and affect 22,000 dockworkers at 29 ports from California to Washington.

    • The contract negotiations cover wages, working conditions and several other issues.
    • Dockworkers have been without a contract since July 2022.

    The discussions appear to have stalled. Last month, PPAI joined with several other industry groups in a call for the Biden administration to become more involved in the discussion toward its resolution.

    For importers in the promotional products industry, last week’s incident is another chapter in the lengthy, ongoing labor dispute and the uncertainty that surrounds it. For most, the best case is to remain flexible.

    The winners in the dispute have been ports on the Gulf and East coasts, who saw their traffic pick up during the West Coast port backups in 2021 and 2022. With potential labor action on the West Coast, shippers continue to have favorable views of the Gulf and East coasts. As shipping services and infrastructure builds up around these ports, promotional products companies should expect some degree of this shift to be permanent.

    James Khattack, PPAI

    Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:19 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Most companies offer employees a variety of resources to help them succeed. These may include trainings, mentorship programs, tuition assistance or any number of other offerings. While these benefits and perks can certainly help individual staffers, companies should also pay attention to creating a supportive work environment — one that leads to a culture of well-being.

    Author Dr. Richard Safeer says that employee well-being and health are not solo sports — well-being involves the whole team. So, to create an optimum work environment, leaders can start with the three building blocks of a healthy culture. We outline Dr. Safeer’s thoughts in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

    1. Peer support. Those around you — your colleagues, friends and family — significantly influence your habits. Dr. Safeer points out that when we’re around happy people, we’re more likely to be happy. Likewise, when we’re around stressed people, we’re more likely to feel stressed. He says leaders can take advantage of this strong connection by encouraging peer support in pairs or groups. Instead of only commending employees for personal achievements, try appreciating them when they support a co-worker. What the leader pays attention to gets repeated, he says.

    2. Leadership engagement. It’s important for leaders to not only talk about the importance of well-being but to model it as well. Your team is watching you, Dr. Safeer says. If you take a break for lunch, so will they. And if you decide to go for a walk after lunch, they might feel inspired to move as well. Sharing what you do to stay healthy shows your team that well-being is important, he says.

    3. Norms. The third building block, according to Dr. Safeer, involves norms. These might include supporting a healthy workday, like eating together to build a sense of community among team members. He recommends having a discussion with staffers to learn what health goals they may want to achieve. Then, you can drive norm agreement and address any obstacles that might get in the way. Dr. Safeer says you might even encourage a team promise by inviting employees to sign a pledge that everyone will support each other.

    If you lead a team, remember to focus on well-being for the entire organization — not just individual employees. You can lay a solid foundation with the three building blogs of peer support, leadership engagement and norms.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Dr. Richard Safeer is the chief medical director of employee health and well-being at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the author of A Cure for the Common Company: A Well-Being Prescription for a Happier, Healthier and More Resilient Workforce.

     Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:17 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Some sales approaches have seemingly been retired for newer approaches in recent years. Things like cold calling and transactional selling have been put aside — especially in the age of artificial intelligence. Mike Kunkle, a sales expert and founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC, doesn’t think these sales approaches are totally useless now, but he does feel they need to be modernized.

    Through his career working in sales effectiveness roles, Kunkle has learned a few things about sales relationships. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we highlight some of his top takeaways when it comes to relationships in modern selling.

    1. Know what clients want from the relationship. You should always understand your customers’ challenges, opportunities, impacts, needs, outcomes and priorities, Kunkle says, as well as need and solution alignment. However, it’s also important to know what the buyers want from a supplier/partner. Ask, clarify and confirm. Kunkle says this alone can differentiate you.

    2. The best relationship wins. Following the tip above can be a key differentiator, but it may not be enough. The buyer’s personality and other situational factors will come into play. And keep in mind, Kunkle says, that some prospects will still choose to work with someone they know, like and trust, even if they don’t necessarily have the best solution.

    3. There’s always emotion and logic involved. Kunkle says people make decisions emotionally and justify these decisions with logic. They seek out what’s trustworthy and credible and then look for the logic in their choice.

    4. Professional and personal aspects matter. This applies to you and the others at your company or partners with whom your buyers will work, Kunkle says. It’s important to know your buyers’ and customers’ value drivers. They may include things like aspirational plans or personal motivators. Always aim to be buyer- and customer-centric, he advises.

    5. Never overlook branding. Remember that customers can have a relationship with your company too, Kunkle says. This is why your branding matters so much. Think about how people feel about the brands they are loyal to. These brands can evoke powerful emotions that lead to brand loyalty. Aim to create a brand that resonates with your target audience.

    Sales relationships today may still involve traditional things like golf outings and dinners, but they should always be built on a foundation of true bonds. These are what Kunkle calls the “human differentiators.” By considering the observations above, you can build a solid foundation in today’s evolving sales environment.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    SourceMike Kunkle is a recognized expert on sales enablement, sales effectiveness and sales transformation. He is the founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC.

    Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:12 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Cybersecurity has become a crucial element of running a promotional products business. It’s an unfortunate reality, but ransomware incidents and cybercrimes are increasingly targeting different companies in the industry.

    • Small and large companies alike are vulnerable.

    A new study conducted by a cybersecurity company reports some harrowing statistics involving shipping and logistics carrier.

    Phishing With FedEx

    Phishing is one of the most common forms of cybercrimes, so much so that the White House felt compelled to officially warn businesses of the threat in 2022.

    • Criminals use phishing to trick the user into letting them into their files to steal, disrupt or hold files ransom.
    • This is not the obvious phishing of 10 years ago, which was typically easy to identify.
    • Phishing has increased in sophistication and number of attempts, which, combined, increase the probability of any given company being successfully victimized.

    Impersonation is the most likely tactic of a phishing scam.

    • The cybersecurity firm Cloudflare released a report of the most common brands impersonated through successful phishing scams (defined by causing victims to click on the phishing URL).

    The report showed that shipping and logistics companies rank among the top ways phishing scammers approach potential victims.

    • FedEx, a PPAI Affinity Partner, is ranked 40th on Cloudflare’s list of most impersonated brands.
    • Much higher on the list is the carrier service DHL, which is ranked fourth on the list.

    Shipping and logistics companies are impersonated because doing business with a carrier can mean getting updates about the status of your delivery, or requiring action to receive an order or address a delay.

    • When a business needs to receive a shipment, they typically need that shipment on schedule.
    • For that reason, they may rush to open an email that contains only minor differences from what a real email from FedEx might look like without taking the time to consider it might be a scam to gain access to their computer.

    The Real FedEx Has Advice

    FedEx’s statement on possible fraud is as follows:

    “FedEx does not request, via unsolicited mail, text or email, payment or personal information in return for goods in transit or in FedEx custody. If you receive any of these or similar communications, do not reply or cooperate with the sender. If your interaction with the website resulted in financial loss, you should contact your bank immediately.”

    A few warning signs that FedEx warns customers to be on the lookout for:

    • A sense of urgency

    While your shipment is likely an urgent matter to you, FedEx emails, texts or calls will not rush you to act or appear pushy in their language or tone. Urgency leads to quick decisions, which is what scammers are hoping for.

    • Requests for personal or financial information.

    FedEx’s systems are organized from the initial phase of doing business. If the company requests money or personal information while a shipment is supposed to be in route, take a step back and visit FedEx’s customer service page and get in touch with a representative.

    • Spelling or grammatical errors.

    These are telltale signs of phishing. Be sure to look at the exact email address. It may be slightly different from what an official FedEx email address would appear as.

    Take Best Practices Seriously

    Whether the criminal is impersonating FedEx, PayPal or the CEO of your company, you are very likely to be targeted by a phishing scam.

    A cyber crime can be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    PPAI has a few best practices and considerations that the organization follows internally and advises of members.

    • Consider how much access to systems, data and files each employee needs in order to be able to do their job. The less any compromised device has access to, the less reach that threat has.
    • When archiving data for reference, consider making it ‘Read Only’ so users can look at it but not alter it.
    • PPAI urges companies to be constantly updating their cybersecurity prevention and security plans to keep up with evolving threats. PPAI’s security road map looks very different than it did even just last year.
    • Train all your employees to be on the lookout for phishing scams.

    If you are successfully hacked in a phishing attack that turns into a ransomware attack, you may receive a message claiming your computer is infected and demanding you to call a number or pay an amount or take an action.

    • At that point, it may seem too late.
    • Nonetheless, immediately unplug your machine and contact your IT department, as the damage can potentially be mitigated.

    Written by Jonny Auping, PPAI

    Published with Permission From PPAI

  • March 14, 2023 7:05 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    February 23, 2023, members of the Specialty Advertising Association of California, the state’s largest membership organization of promotional product professionals, gathered to celebrate the installation of the 2023 SAAC Board of Directors and the 2023 SAAC Honorary Life Membership recipient, Robert Collins.

    The event at Orange County Mining Company brought together industry professionals to network, enjoy a fabulous dinner and celebrate the beginning of a bright new year, sponsored by Logomark and J. Charles.

    Honored during the event were:

    Past SAAC President’s - Honorary Life Member Rick Greene, Stephen Ropfogel, MAS, Tara Villanueva, MAS, Jacob Dobsch, Beverly Walter, Michael Bistocchi, Honorary Life Member David Messe and Bob Levitt, MAS

    In recognition of his longstanding dedication and contributions to the association, the SAAC Board presented Robert Collins, of Collins & Associates, Inc., with Honorary Life Membership. Having served SAAC and its members for over 35 years, Robert has remained active in the industry and the association, including holding the positions of president in 1984 and immediate past president in 1985. To this day, he remains an invaluable resource and advisor to each SAAC president.

    During the event, Rick Green from HALO Branded Solutions introduced the 2023 SAAC Board Officers and Directors and led them in taking the SAAC oath of office, signifying their commitment to their roles. The 2023 SAAC Board of Directors includes a group of experienced Officers and Directors who will guide the association towards its goals for the upcoming year.

    President: Jeff Stevens, WestCo Marketing
    Vice President: Amy Williams, AB Unlimited Worldwide
    Immediate Past President: Bob Levitt, MAS
    Treasurer: Heather Valle-Laird, Logomark
    Secretary: Ryan Paules, Radar Promotions
    Director: Daniel Henderson, Proforma
    Director: Kimberly Horton, FPS Apparel
    Director: Steve Parker, The Magnet Group
    Director: Victoria Schmitz, Goldstar
    Director: Heidi Selleck, The Vernon Company
    Director: Mary Skeen, AIM Smarter

    View the Photo Album Here

  • March 09, 2023 9:16 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    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 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 2023 scholarships will open on March 18, 2023 and will close on May 20th, 2023. 

    Please see the application requirements below and start completing your first step toward consideration for this very special scholarship season.

    2023 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

    -personal essay

    Visit https://saacfoundation.square.site/scholarship for more information

  • March 09, 2023 8:58 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Content marketing is one of the most meaningful ways you can connect with your target audience. Whether you produce videos, podcasts, blogs or newsletters, this content allows you to provide relevant and helpful information to prospects and clients.

    According to new research from Semrush, content marketing is more valuable than ever. By simply updating their content, 53% of marketers saw their engagement go up and 49% saw their traffic and rankings increase.

    Want to ramp up your content marketing? In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share some tips from Seth Richtsmeier, a contributing writer for Smartbrief, on how you can harness the power of content marketing.

    1. Strategize. For your content marketing efforts to be effective, you need a plan. Don’t just send emails on a whim or post to social media when an idea strikes. Richtsmeier says you should regularly publish blog content, maintain an active social media presence and curate interesting content.

    2. Know your audience. LinkedIn is a great platform for most B2B marketers. Richtsmeier says 94% of marketers distribute content on the platform. But don’t limit yourself to only LinkedIn. You could try building a TikTok presence or experimenting with user-generated content. The idea is to meet your audience where they are, he says.

    3. Branch out. To maximize the power of content marketing, your message should appear in as many places as possible. Try out different channels and see what resonates with your audience. Richtsmeier points out that it can take 5 to 7 touchpoints for a customer to remember your brand, so keep creating content and getting it out there.

    4. Be authentic. People want to see what’s real. Give them a sneak peek of some new products at your company or take them on a behind-the-scenes tour of your offices. You might also get vocal on social issues, Richtsmeier says, or use humor as a way to connect with your audience.

    5. Invest in data analytics. Data is one of the most powerful tools you have at your fingertips. With more access to data than ever before, Richtsmeier says you can leverage your website’s traffic, consumer behavior data, social media metrics, case studies and so much more to adjust your approach to content marketing. Data is a superpower that every brand has access to, so use it, he says.

    Content marketing, in all its many interesting forms, allows you to reach your audience in impactful ways. It can help you showcase your industry expertise, bring in new leads, and build long-lasting relationships. Follow the tips above to make sure you leverage the full potential of content marketing.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    SourceSeth Richtsmeier is an SEO professional and freelance writer. He’s a contributing writer for Smartbrief.

     Published with Permission from PPAI Media

  • March 09, 2023 8:57 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Keeping your sales pipeline full is critical to sales success. To close deals and hit your numbers, you need to have qualified prospects that you can convert into buyers. However, it’s not easy creating and maintaining your sales pipeline. It may feel like the number of people you can sell to is decreasing, but your quota keeps rising.

    To keep your sales pipeline full, Colleen Francis, an award-winning writer, consultant and bestselling author, says you must never rely on marketing for warm leads — you must learn to become self-sufficient and self-sourcing.

    In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share some of her top strategies for ensuring your sales pipeline is always flowing with qualified leads.

    1. Build in redundancies. Francis says one is a dangerous number in sales. Your success should never be based on one client, one contract, one line of communication or one process for converting a lead into a buyer. By building in redundancies, you won’t be leveled if you have one failure. Create multiple sources of leads, networking opportunities and points of contact with every account, Francis says, so that if the marketing department gets you prospects, you can consider it the icing on the cake.

    2. Network consistently. Don’t rely on your existing network for future sales. Francis says it’s important to foster and maintain your valuable connections, but you should always be having meaningful conversations with other prospects across various channels. Networks are meant for growing, so keep growing yours.

    3. Ask for new business. It seems basic, but many salespeople overlook the simple step of asking for new business from their current customers. Francis advises creating a list of your existing accounts and calling each one. Ask them for external referrals from suppliers, partners and colleagues. She says people who do business with you want to help you succeed, but you must first ask them for that help.

    4. Work at building your contacts. Your work as a self-contained selling machine means you must work consistently on building your contacts within each account, Francis says. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a staff change, a downsizing exercise or an unexpected early-retirement decision. These could all happen if your selling method depends on a single point of contact. Build out. Leverage your efforts at asking for new contacts so that you discover new people who work in other departments within your customer’s organization, Francis says.

    When you have qualified leads on tap, you can close more deals and boost your sales. Follow the tips above to build a sales pipeline that attracts, qualifies and converts quality leads into long-term customers.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Colleen Francis is an award-winning writer, consultant and bestselling author of popular sales books. She is also a Hall of Fame keynote speaker.

    Published with permission from PPAI Media.

  • March 09, 2023 8:52 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions.

    Earth Month

    April 6 
    National Caramel Popcorn Day

    caramel corn snack bags with custom labels

    Product Idea: Satisfy your sweet tooth and celebrate with custom-branded bags of Copper Kettle Caramel Corn, a rich, traditional caramel popcorn cooked in real copper kettles from scratch. Made in the USA. Each snack-sized bag is 3.75 oz., with a four-color process imprint on a 2.75-inch round label. 
    Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8  

    April 19 
    National Poker Day

    April 27 
    National Bring Your Child to Work Day

    National Physical Fitness & Sports Month 

    May 6 
    National Nurses Day 

    May 18 
    National Notebook Day 

    May 27 
    National Sunscreen Day

    travel-size sunscreen bottle with custom label

    Product Idea: Show you care about the environment as well as your recipient with this 2-oz. Happy Reef Sunscreen. This eco-friendly coconut-scented lotion offers SPF 30 coverage and contains only natural ingredients – no oxybenzone or parabens. 
    HPG Brands / PPAI 110772, S11 

    Pride Month 

    June 1 
    National Olive Day

    June 18 
    International Picnic Day

    collapsible fabric picnic basket with aluminum handle & frame - shown open & flat

    Product Idea: This Collapsible Picnic Basket comes equipped with a heat-sealed PEVA liner and double zippers for easy access to chilled drinks and snacks, as well as a built-in bottle opener. It’s lightweight for easy carrying and collapses flat for convenient storage. Available in four colors (lime shown) with 3x2.5-inch imprint on the front pocket. 
    Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, S13 

    June 21 
    International Yoga Day 

    If this calendar is helpful or if you have ideas for ways that we can better provide this information, email the editors at magazine@ppai.org.

    Published with Permission from PPAI Media

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