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  • April 17, 2020 5:49 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Things that Matter

    Even in these trying times, it’s the little things that truly make life worth living.

    4/13/2020 | Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective

    Whether in our business or personal lives, we hear all the time that it’s the little things that matter most. Nearly everyone instinctively agrees with that sentiment without really thinking about what the little things truly mean. In these confusing times, where we are all sheltering in place, wearing masks in public, and only connecting with people outside of our homes using video technology, perhaps it’s the best opportunity to explain what the little things are.

    I’m a believer that every skill needed to succeed in a job can be taught, except for two: care and attention to detail. You either bring those with you or you don’t. In my career, I’ve reviewed hundreds – if not thousands – of resumes. Regardless of position, the majority of them profess that the author is “detail-oriented.” My experience, however, is that’s not always the case.

    Of course, there are apparent professional details like ensuring consistency across advertising, ensuring names and other words are correctly spelled, and not forgetting to do simple tasks. To me, however, professional details begin with listening with the intent to understand as opposed to listening with the intent to respond. Far too often, people have a retort chambered and at the ready without really hearing the person. When we listen with the intent to reply, it will likely lead to misunderstandings or a divisive culture – neither of which is right for an organization.

    However, this blog is about the personal little things that matter most – the ones that have revealed themselves over the past few weeks as life has altered from all the things we thought were normal to a world where we float between emotional solitude and Zoom happy hours. I’ve long said that crisis reveals character – it always has and always will. In other words, when things are going well, it’s effortless to be calm, relaxed, and collected. But when the chocolate soft serve ice cream emoji hits the fan, that’s when you see what people for who they are and what they stand for.

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve been witness to incredible acts of kindness and love as well as shocking displays of selfishness and panic. It would be easy to focus on the negatives of all that is happening: the unfair layoffs and furloughs, the hoarding of essential household goods, the canceled events, or the school closures. In this time, I’ve tried to fixate on the positive: I’ve observed people helping others learn how to use the self-checkout line at the grocery store because they were scared to have another human touch their purchases. I’ve seen the drive-by birthday celebrations that have moved me to tears. I’ve watched people at their most creative finds ways to connect with others while staying six feet apart.

    These are seemingly small things that create a lifetime of impact. So, in the spirit of always being as transparent as possible, I thought I would share some little things – in no particular order – that matter to me as I write this from my home office:

    A family that accepts me for who I am – flaws and all

    Friends who call me out of the blue to check on me

    One of my closest friends who is always a beacon of positivity no matter the circumstances

    The solace of my backyard

    A random text from someone telling me they love me

    A dear friend who endured her final chemo treatment last week as she bravely battles breast cancer

    The transformative power of music

    The pure delight of a good book

    A glass of wine outside sitting by the fire pit

    The joy people experience when I cook something just for them

    Laughter in all varieties

    An unexpected gift because someone was thinking of me

    Even in these trying times, it’s the little things that truly make life worth living. To me, noticing the little things is a choice because I see so many ignore them. However, by choosing to recognize the tiniest of loving gestures is what will get me – what will get us – through this and allow us to be much happier people on the other side.

    Used with permission from PromoCorner.

  • March 18, 2020 1:11 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    What is your title/role within your company?

    Full time in the promo space is new for me. Having left the printing industry to start this new company, this time it's only me with no staff. So outside sales, on line marketing, order entry, graphics, supplier follow up, receivables and sometimes delivery. I get to wear all the hats now, so I guess still the Jefe'.

    What do you like best about your company?

    After moving from "technically" the supplier side to the distributor side, it's less stress regarding production issues. Also since I don't have staff anymore, there are no longer any HR issues to deal with. I like the freedom to come and go as I please without the obligations and responsibilities that I'm used to. It's been a nice transition.

    How were you introduced to the promotional products industry?

    I had some of my previous printing clients request certain promotional items over the years that I procured for them, so up until recently my experience in the promotional products industry was very cursory, printing being my primary focus. That has now changed after my first visit to EXPO in 2019 which was an overwhelming experience and solidified my intent to start this new business. It's an impressive industry and also from what I've been able to observe so far from a people standpoint, a very connected one.

    If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product?

    I like the food items, especially the chocolate. I have to learn how not to eat my samples.

    Tell us something about you that most people may not know.

    I'm from Cupertino and watched the whole Silicon Valley thing being born before moving to San Diego when I was in my early 20's. I always crack up when I'm talking with someone and they are confused why this place called Cupertino is on their iPhone. I get to tell then why.

  • March 18, 2020 11:41 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Never do you forget that sinking feeling like an executive, treading water as the tide keeps rising. The painted picture of what it was supposed to be like, the natural career progression; however, the reality of the speed of change within that role is so real for new time executives. Harvard Business Review reported that 50 percent of executives would leave within the first 18 months of their appointment.

    Executives feel like they carry the weight of the world in a turbulent and complex environment. Ron Carucci in his Harvard Business Review article reported that “38 percent of executives said they didn’t expect the loneliness and isolation that accompanied their jobs and 54 percent said they felt they were being held accountable for problems outside their control”. The pressure to produce results is never-ending and at times, unforgiving. Sometimes, executives need a guiding light to walk alongside them to illuminate the path forward, establish credibility and sustain their results. 

    Like an elite professional who engages a sports coach to develop and strengthen capabilities, skills and mindset, successful executives access tailored-made advice to reveal their blind spots, leverage their strengths and support them to carve a way forward. When organizations invest in accelerating the learning curve, they build influencing skills and minimize the risk of mediocre team leadership.

    The executive learning curve, moving from operational to strategic thinking and leadership, alongside rapid change, can be one of the most significant challenges for a new leader. Many executives do not make a successful leap. Here are eight ways to set up new leaders for success.

    The same qualities do not lead to success

    When executives transition into their first-time experience, they must invest in consciously separating themselves from the day to day decisions to be more comfortable with ambiguity. Executives who embrace the uncertainty, leverage ambiguous environments, are in a prime position to launch new ideas and try on new approaches and behaviors. By transitioning from technical responsibilities to a strategic leader that invests in forward-facing thinking, allows the executive to paint a picture of what is possible and graciously pull people along. 

    Related: 10 Leadership Principles for 2020

    Engage the hearts and minds of people

    Moving to a new level of leadership demands an ability to influence others to accomplish what is needed. Executive leadership involves facilitating people through risk and change; therefore, trust is vital to building the bridge. No leader is an island and cultivating the power of networks will identify people who will lead and execute the vision. When executives do not invest in building and nurturing those relationships, there will be a lack of buy-in and commitment to bring the vision to reality. 

    The adaptative leader

    In today’s climate, executives must quickly adapt and make decisions when needed. The rate of change continues to speed up. Executives must lead with transparency, consistency, take action to create stability within the environment and continue to deliver quality services despite the level of disruptive change. The adaptive leader builds skills for unlocking the potential in people, mobilize collective wisdom and lead collaboratively innovative solutions to drive change. This new type of leader is the catalyst for real transformation this decade.

     The slippery slope of overconfidence

    The overconfident leader can negate the leadership qualities you want within your organization and can cross the line into the danger zone. Executive overconfidence has been blamed for company failure and financial distress within organizations. Overconfidence can hinder a leader’s authenticity, be the enemy of humility and stain the fabric of an organization by putting them at risk. 

    Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

    Self-confidence plays a role in leadership. When executives understand their strengths and areas for development in a balanced way, they can break through obstacles as challenges, lead their inner critic and create the right environment for problems to be solved. 

    Shut up and listen

    The best advice l was every given when transitioning into a new executive role was to “shut and listen”. The evolution of a new role may be unlearning everything that you know to step into the position of listener and learner. Executives must create a different type of operating system to interact and communicate within and external to the organization. 

    Calm within the storm

    Executive presence is a vital leadership characteristic that costs nothing, but everyone gains. When an executive comes from a place of inner clarity and conviction, it evolves from what matters most to you. Executives that have presence look for the best in people acknowledge that everyone has faults and make mistakes, including themselves and they, focus on what matters. What l mean is that they don’t confuse urgent for necessary and remain committed to the priorities. They are the calm within the chaos because they know their best emotional state and remain fully present.

    Delve deeper

    Executives must know who they are. There strengths, passion and areas of development are foundational pillars. The “I can do anything” mantra doesn’t work in the world of executive leadership. Buying the delusion that you can do everything is a false economy. Instead, a 360-feedback process opens the door to explore how others experience you on your leadership abilities. Behavioral profiling tools, such as Extended DISC, will also provide insight into how you are naturally wired, foster opportunities to adapt your thinking and behavior to be more productive, appreciate your motivators, strengths and developmental areas. It also improves opens conversations within teams in terms of how effective communication is flowing up and down the organization and creates a platform to understand and reshape organizational culture. 

    Invest in executive coaching

    The first 90 days of an executive’s transition is critical. Engaging an executive coach can unlock a leader’s potential to maximize overall performance and the bottom line. By investing in executive coaching, you can build your skills, a strategic plan to ensure growth and a bright future path. Successful leaders continuously improve and develop their skills and are committed to having a safe place to grow, learn and be challenged. 

    Related: 10 Popular Myths About Leadership and How to Overcome Them

    In a case study, Harvard Business Review reported that one financial services company approached the execution of the new schedule in simple ways – “articulate a hypothesis. Go out and experiment. And if it doesn’t work, then why not? What did you learn? Add to it. Capture your learning. Share it with other people.” 

    The executive coaching relationship can be a powerful catalyst to create a sustainable growth plan and in partnership, support you to navigate the challenges and celebrate the successes — an alliance to propel you and the organization for success. 

  • March 18, 2020 11:36 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Spend any substantial amount of time with me and you’ll hear the phrase “Ideas Are Currency” I’ve long held the belief that time devoted to the creation, recording, testing and debating of ideas is the central premise behind the most successful of Organizations, regardless of vocation. A team dedicated to the belief that ideas can serve as the difference between championship success and mediocrity is where I have had the most success in my career and those situations, while rare, are memorable enough to attempt to replicate every day.

    When you’re trading in the currency of ideas your approach to growing a business is often viewed in a longer-term lens, which has a tendency to put pressure on early-stage sales results. We suffered from this problem for a bit in the process of building toward our longer-term goal, but the linchpin in the process was creating enough data to analyze and determine where best to apply our somewhat limited resources to scale success – in layman’s terms, we needed as many interactions with prospects as possible in the shortest amount of time manageable and we knew it so we passed on a “dialing for dollars” approach in favor of something more strategic.

    By taking a data-driven approach to our sales activities, we were able to identify some key areas where we could design solutions in an innovative way that would solve problems for entire categories of clients we’d interviewed in the process of data gathering – instead of starting the entire supply-chain process over again with each new opportunity, we’re using the information we’ve gathered to solve the same problem for multiple clients at the same time.

    It’s much more efficient to sell a winning solution to a known problem to as many people with the problem as possible than to start the process anew with every additional opportunity.

    The idea isn’t new. The dedication shown to ensuring the process is not only built but done so in a way that ensures each step in the process of growth is being managed is often talked about, but rarely executed with the degree of dedication necessary to be a catalyst for significant growth.

    As an industry of small business owners in a consolidating market, it’s imperative we continue to find ways to add value to our relationships with those giving us their time and money. By focusing on ideas and striving to find the most efficient ways to sell the most amount of product to the most amount of people looking to solve a similar problem, we evolve our attention away from a purely product-driven tool-kit to one designed to solve problems using various products in purposeful execution.

    Each of you reading this has a fantastic story about a sale where you came up with a great idea, sourced and decorated it well, delivered it on time and delighted someone. It’s one of my favorite questions to ask when I’m at industry events – watching faces light up with delight telling their stories are among my favorite memories. If you too have those stories, why not go find some more people to buy those same ideas? #IdeasAreCurrency

    Roger has spent 20+ years making complex concepts more understandable for both buyers and sellers alike, and has devoted the majority of his recent career to injecting purpose via philanthropy to his sales and marketing efforts. He’s intent on making the world a better place and his nirvana exists at the intersection of Mission, Passion, Profession and Vocation. He loves the outdoors and seeks memorable experiences whenever possible. Contact Roger at roger@socialgoodpromotions.com or 810-986-5369.

    Used With Permission From PromoCorner 


  • March 18, 2020 11:35 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    As a leader, you might think being accessible is the same as being available. While these words have similar definitions in the dictionary, they don't mean the same thing when it comes to leadership. You can have an open-door policy and believe you're making yourself accessible, but if you're never there for your team members or colleagues, you're not truly available.

    To be an effective leader, you must demonstrate accessibility and availability. Scott Eblin, an executive coach and leadership educator, says that when he's doing colleague feedback interviews for an executive coaching client, he'll sometimes hear that person described as accessible. Other times, a colleague will describe the leader as available. On rare occasions, he says he'll hear that the executive is both accessible and available.

    According to Eblin, demonstrating both accessibility and availability is what all leaders should strive to achieve. It begins with understanding that there's a big difference between being accessible and being available. Rather than aiming to be one over the other, Eblin says it's wise to incorporate best practices from both.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Eblin's thoughts on how leaders can be both accessible and available.

    Being accessible is mainly a function of personality. According to Eblin, accessible leaders:

    Put people at ease.

    Encourage open and honest conversation.

    Provide coaching and guidance.

    Don't stand on title or hierarchy.

    Seek feedback.

    Being available is mainly a function of time management. Eblin says that available leaders:

    Put team members and colleagues on their list of priorities.

    Leave time in their weekly calendar for unscheduled conversations.

    Make clear to others how and when they can be reached.

    Keep their meeting commitments except in case of true emergencies. (This is especially true for regularly scheduled

    team meetings or team one-on-ones.)

    Make good use of technology – particularly video conferencing – to be available virtually when they can't be physically.

    Leaders should aim to operate keeping these best-of lists of accessibility and availability in mind. Both the leader and their team learn more, develop faster and have higher levels of engagement and performance. At the end of the day, being a great leader is often more about your soft skills than the hard skills you possess. When you work to make yourself available and accessible to your team, you help propel your team and your organization forward.

    Take a good look at how you lead your team. Can you truthfully say you're accessible and available? If not, consider moving the needle in a more positive direction by taking guidance from the points above.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Scott Eblin is an executive coach and leadership educator. He's the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative and the co-founder and president of the Eblin Group.

    Used with permission from PPAI and PC Today. 

  • March 18, 2020 7:05 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    It's a basic fact of sales: Before you can sell anything, you must align your offering with customer needs. If your customer doesn't need what you're selling, there's no amount of salesmanship that can get them to make a purchase.

    Snigdha Patel, content writer at REVE Systems, says you can provide quick and positive results by anticipating, identifying and meeting customer needs. If you want to get better at giving customers what they need, read on. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Patel's tips for meeting customer needs and giving your business a competitive edge.

    Enhance your product. A good product is anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that satisfies customer needs. The product quality speaks for itself. If your products are built across helping customers to resolve their issues faster, it will attract them and keep them coming back, says Patel. To enhance your product, conduct customer research and analyze your findings.

    Deliver quality support. Patel asserts that customers prefer brands that offer real-time support. So, your support teams should focus on providing a smooth experience from the first interaction. When customers get exactly what they need, their overall satisfaction skyrockets. Brands benefit by putting extra effort into exceeding customer expectations.

    Build long-term relationships. Customers stick to brands that are customer-centric, says Patel. When brands can anticipate customer needs, classify the type of need and provide value through a product or service, they stand out as a customer-focused brand and win customer loyalty. If you develop a strong system for how you discover, analyze and address customer needs, you help set your business up for long-term success.

    Measure customer satisfaction regularly. Patel notes that to know how happy your customers are with your overall business you must measure it on a regular basis. Measuring customer satisfaction provides deep insights into your overall business performance. You can look at customer satisfaction metrics such as customer satisfaction score (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS) and customer effort score (CES). Based on the inferences, you can restructure your product and services in order to reduce the customer churn by boosting the satisfaction rates.

    Ask customer feedback. Customer feedback is a vital ingredient for the success of every business, says Patel. You must always choose the right time to acquire honest and constructive feedback. For example, Patel suggests checking in with customers after a successful transaction. Once you receive customer feedback, you must analyze the data according to internal and external customer needs and expectations. Patel says you must then determine the gaps between your business and your customers. Be sure to include all team members in the discussion to ensure you get a whole view of customer needs and wants.

    To win more clients and close more sales, it's important to always put the customer first by prioritizing their needs. When customers see that you relate to their needs, you end up reducing customer churn and building a loyal customer base.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Snigdha Patel is a content writer at REVE Systems. She endeavors to understand complex support channels and provide information regarding them through comprehensive blog posts.

    This article was used with Permission from PPAI and Promotional Consultant Today. 

  • February 13, 2020 12:38 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The 2020 SAAC Board Installation Dinner was held at the Pomona Valley Mining Company on February 6, 2020. The event drew more than 60 SAAC members and honored the numerous past presidents who were in attendance, highlighted the great work that continues to be accomplished by the Foundation for SAAC and formally welcomed the 2020 Board of Directors.

    Executive Director Jennifer Bingham provided a year in review and paid tribute to all the accomplishments achieved with Immediate-Past President Rhett Todd at the helm. Todd graciously thanked his 2019 Board members for their unwavering support and continued dedication to SAAC and the members. He also expressed his great appreciation for all PPAI has brought to the partnership over the past year. Todd welcomed Tara Villanueva, MAS, as the incoming Board president, stating that he “couldn’t be leaving the Association in better hands.”

    Villanueva presented a snapshot of what members can expect in the coming year by way of events, education and legislative advocacy for SAAC members. Members learned her mission during her tenure as president is to create a renewed sense of community within the SoCal promotional products industry.

    The capstone of the evening was the welcoming of the 2020 SAAC Board of Directors. Jacob Dobsch, 2017 SAAC president, had the honor of installing the new Board with the “SAAC Oath of Office.”- Each board member pledged “to act honorably to protect the mission, vision and values of the Association.”

    To end the evening, members toasted to the exciting year ahead with a special treat, The Dirty Cookie, generously provided by Logomark. To view more photos of the 2020 SAAC Board Installation Dinner, visit www.saac.net/photo-gallery.

  • February 13, 2020 7:02 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The coronavirus is shaping up to have a significant impact on businesses around the world and the global economy. Since it was first reported in early January, the virus has sickened more than 40,000 people in 25 countries and killed over 1,000, but the outbreak’s impact is also being sharply felt along global supply chains that run through China.

    The virus was first detected during one of the highest travel seasons in the country. China’s Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated throughout the country and during which many people travel home to visit family and friends in cities and towns far from where they work, began on January 25 and was extended by the country’s central government to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Initially set to end January 30, it was extended to February 3, however 24 of China’s 31 provinces urged businesses not reopen until February 10.

    The extended holiday saw factories and their operations shuttered—carmakers in China, for example, are cutting production by 15 percent in the quarter—shoppers are staying home and numerous international airlines are curtailing, if not cancelling, flights to the country. American Airlines is not expected to resume flights to China and Hong Kong until April at the earliest, says a report in USA Today. And with China’s factories shut down, global supply chains are finding parts in short supply, cutting production beyond China’s borders. Hyundai in South Korea has already temporarily closed plants, and Fiat Chrysler is working to prevent similar disruptions at its European factories.

    On Friday, PPAI hosted a webinar, “The Coronavirus: A Conversation With Leading Global Experts,” to help industry professionals learn more about the outbreak and its effects. Facilitated by Jonathan Isaacson, CEO of supplier Gemline, the webinar featured the expertise of top specialists: Dr. Joseph Eisenberg, chair of epidemiology, University of Michigan; Dr. Mary Gallagher, director, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan; and Peter Martin, vice chairman, FocusPoint International Crisis Management.

    Eisenberg began by explaining that coronaviruses are, in general, fairly common. They cause the common cold, for instance. What makes the current outbreak so different is that it was transmitted from animals to humans. Eisenberg said, “It’s spreading the way it’s spreading because it’s novel. It’s a new virus and people don’t have prior immunity. Even with influenza, which emerges as a different strain each year, people have some level of immunity.”

    With so many products coming into the U.S. from China, one major concern voiced during the webinar is the potential risk of the coronavirus being transmitted on products and packaging being imported from China. Eisenberg explained that flu viruses can survive on surfaces for a couple of hours. Products coming into the U.S. by air are generally in transit for three days. Those traveling by sea may be in transit for 14 days or more. Eisenberg said, “Survival time on a porous surface, like sheets, is going to be different than a surface like steel. It’s a pretty wide range. For the coronavirus, we’re probably talking hours, but we don’t know for sure. It’s probably safe to say it’s closer to influenza. Without knowing the specifics of the virus, it is unlikely that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for products’ shipping durations. A standard surface cleaning would make it even less likely. Three to 14 days is a pretty long period of time for a respiratory virus to actually survive.”

    In the webinar, Isaacson asked Eisenberg if we’re seeing the right response to the coronavirus from a public health perspective. Eisenberg said, “In respect to risk in the U.S., yes, the risk is incredibly low—especially when you compare it to the flu, which kills of tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. Thinking of that relative risk, there should be little concern about the risk of getting coronavirus in the U.S.”

    The outbreak and responses by the Chinese government and governments around the world raise questions for businesses operating in China. The Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair, one of the largest events in the world for the global promotional products industry, is still on schedule to run April 27-30. Asked about the impact of the virus on gatherings such as this, Gallagher said, “The Chinese government is debating postponing two annual meetings that occur in March, meetings of the legislature and a consultative conference. There’s a lot of political sensitivity around them. It would indicate the unprecedented level of the crisis. I’d leave a lot of room for flexibility.”

    On the webinar, Martin talked about the crisis management aspect of the virus on business. “There’s a lot of uncertainty around getting supplies in and product out, and what the reaction of countries doing the importing in and out are going to do,” he said. “Regarding shipping to and from China, there are issues with traffic volume and employee comfort level. Fedex, for example, is allowing pilots to volunteer as to whether or not they fly into China.”

    Martin added, “At this point, there’s a lot of pivoting and indecision. If there was a decision right now, I wouldn’t trust it being honored more than for a few days’ time. The financial impact on China and the businesses relying on it will be significant, and we don’t really understand what that’s going to look like yet. There remains a lot of uncertainty about how this will play out in the next couple of weeks and it is too early to tell.”

    Continue to follow this developing story in PPB Newslink. The 60-minute webinar is free and available to listen to on demand, here.

  • February 13, 2020 7:00 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    For more than 60 years, the PPAI Pyramid has stood as a beacon of excellence to recognize the creativity, originality and flawless execution achieved by talented promotional professionals. These exceptional efforts can spark spectacular success for the client—and distributor. This year 11 companies were recognized in five categories with a PPAI Pyramid Award for Client Programs. Ignite your imagination and find inspiration from nine of these Pyramid-winning promotions.

    Make Your Best Work Count

    The entry period for 2021 Pyramids in four categories will be opening soon. Mark your calendar now for these opening and closing dates and find entry forms and details at www.ppai.org/awards.

    2021 Competition Deadlines


    April 1, 2020 - April 30, 2020
    April 1, 2020 - April 30, 2020
    April 27, 2020 - May 29, 2020
    April 27, 2020 - May 29, 2020






    Type Of Client Host committee, sporting event

    Target Audience NCAA VIPs, Impact Advisory Group, basketball working group, team administrators and hosts, Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee board, staff and volunteers, and ambassador and partner sponsors—a group of 342 people

    Other Media Print was used to tell stories

    Primary Objective To recognize and thank Final Four VIPs (including NCAA and local corporate sponsors), create an unforgettable impression of the City of Minneapolis by integrating Minneapolis culture into the mementos and to prioritize suppliers based on ethnic diversity and sustainability

    Total Cost $55,000, including promotional products, other gifts, packaging, delivery, logistical planning and licensed product supplied by NCAA

    Strategy And Execution The distributor developed and delivered 486 gifts with distinctive Minneapolis themes, vetted product suppliers with diverse backgrounds and built a timeline for execution. Included were themed, custom-printed inserts for all NCAA gift packages, five days of room drops for the top 36 NACC VIPs and single gifts for other gifting groups. Local treats tucked into the Taste of Minneapolis gift baskets included caramel corn, granola, nuts, homemade marshmallows and a cookie. 

    Results The gifts met the objective of authentically highlighting Minneapolis and its culture and using unique, distinctive products, not more of the same. An NCAA VIP said, “Impressive. I have done this for a long time; your gifts truly represent your community.” The MLOC CEO said, “STUNNING! I have to use all caps. It’s jaw-dropping, gorgeous work.”


    Type Of Client Ride share company

    Target Audience 6,100 drivers who have earned the Rider Preferred designation for extraordinary rider feedback

    Primary Objective The distributor worked directly with the client’s agency to create a surprise deliverable with unique branding for a special group of drivers to celebrate their achievements. 

    Total Cost Approximately $671,000 or $110 per box, including postage and overtime

    Strategy And Execution Drivers love the connection with their riders and they are fans of the company itself. This program was a first step in improving communication and the relationship with the driver community. Rider Preferred drivers received a custom box in the mail that featured a variety of processes including soft touch, debossing, embossing and cut-outs. It contained a custom sticker, travel mug and the star of the show: a video screen that played when the box was opened. Drivers also got an exclusive Rider Preferred designation in the app to let riders know whenever they’re matched with an amazing driver, and the company added an extra $1 to every tip as highlighted in the package. Production took approximately eight weeks and delivery was by USPS due to the number of residential deliveries.

    Results This campaign was a huge success with plenty of social media coverage—drivers who received the boxes used social media to express their surprise and gratitude. The company plans to repeat the program every six months to recognize a new group of drivers.


    Type Of Client Homeless Shelter

    Target Audience Sponsors (150 local corporations), attendees (2,000 previous participants) and 300 local churches and youth groups

    Other Media Web, email, video, direct mail and radio

    Primary Objective To raise funds the shelter could use to restore hope, rebuild lives and end homelessness. The world record attempt became the primary objective the day of the event.

    Total Cost $40,103, which included the race website, zoo entry, parking lot rental, printing, timing company and promotional items

    Strategy And Execution After nine years of hosting the walk, it needed a little sizzle. The distributor presented the idea of trying to break a world record and the record selected to beat was the most people running a 1K in flip flops. The walk was rebranded to “Walk the Walk to End Homelessness” and the logo was changed from a tennis shoe to a pair of flip flops. A sponsor was secured for the flip flops and each attendee received a pair of flip flops, a t-shirt and free entrance for the day to the Phoenix Zoo, the event location. iHeartRadio stepped in to sponsor the event’s audio/visuals and Marty Manning, a local radio celebrity, was the emcee. The local movie theatre chain, Harkins, also advertised the event for two months at no cost. The client sent flyers to previous attendees and donors eight weeks out. Social media efforts started 12 weeks out.

    Results The flip-flop world record attempt helped to attract new donors and also raised awareness. Sponsorships grew 78 percent from $13,350 in 2017 to $63,100 in 2018. Peer-to-peer involvement grew 66 percent from $10,760 in 2017 to $31,765 in 2018. Attendance grew 21 percent from 1,700 in 2017 to 2,163 in 2018.


    Type Of Client Café and ice cream parlor

    Audience Individuals living in a 20-mile radius of Annapolis, Missouri, with enough expendable income to dine out two to three times a week. Total audience count was 6,974

    Other Media Facebook

    Primary Objective To increase the café’s out-of-town customer base

    Total Budget $10,339

    Strategy And Execution A 45-week rebranding campaign reflecting the café owner’s brash and blunt but loveable personality was developed using promotional products and social media. The rebranding included renaming the café The Crazy Sister Café & Ice Cream Parlor and introducing a new logo featuring her likeness. Banners on the building promoted the new name. Facebook ads blanketed accounts within a 20-mile radius, including those in nine small towns, promoting a contest for crazy sayings with photos of the winners, daily specials and the owner “in character.” Beginning in week four, promotional products were used daily onsite to further engage customers to share and recommend their ‘Who You Callin’ Crazy’ experience. Logoed postcards invited guests to submit their crazy sayings for possible inclusion on t-shirts. Stickers with the slogans were used on take-out bags and logoed floor mats greeted customers at the doors. T-shirts for staff and for sale were decorated with different “crazy” sayings on the sleeve. A menu redesign included some of the owner’s famous sayings along with her personal story.

    Results The goal of the promotion was to generate 50 percent of café sales from out-of-town customers and that goal was exceeded by 25 percent. As a result of the promotion, 75 percent of sales were from out-of-town customers as tracked by ZIP Codes on checks and credit cards. It was a financial and branding success.


    Type Of Client Patent law firm

    Target Audience The promotion targeted 600 of the law firm’s attorneys, clients and vendors

    Other Media Email

    Primary Objective To give attorneys, clients and vendors a carefully selected holiday gift and to thank them for helping the firm reach its 25th anniversary. The client wanted the gift to be useful, gender-neutral, travel-friendly and to symbolize the firm’s commitment to creating quality, high-tech patents.

    Total Cost $107,400

    Strategy And Execution The distributor recommended the Jabra Elite 65T wireless earbud headphones for their attorneys, clients and vendors because it’s considered the gold standard for wireless calls and audio quality. The carrying case added tremendous value since most of the recipients travel frequently. The case also provided a discrete imprint location. The packages were scheduled to ship for an early December domestic delivery and mid-December arrival for international clients. By delivering the gifts a little early, the client avoided being lost in the Christmas shuffle. This maximized the gift’s impact and created more buzz. A holiday card expressing their gratitude was also enclosed with the gift.

    Results The firm uses email thank-you notes received to measure the impact of their holiday gift. This gift generated a record response, producing 57 thank-you emails and the client was thrilled. That is 316 percent of their goal of 18 emails received.


    Type Of Client Nonprofit for substance use disorder

    Target Audience 240 mental health, sexual abuse and substance use disorder professionals attending an eight-hour education summit, offering 6.5 CEUs to each attendee during the eight-hour summit

    Other Media Web, email, direct mail

    Primary Objective The 2018 Summit of Intersections was a collaborative nonprofit event hosted by Heartly House, Mental Health Association, United Way, Frederick County Health Department and Wells House with a significant focus on adverse childhood experiences, and the cause and effects of the disorder. The objective was to increase registrations and revenue, provide recognition for the sponsoring organizations and increase awareness for the event and topic.

    Total Cost $4,200

    Strategy And Execution The logo and branding was designed to depict how each of the issues of mental heath, substance use disorder and sexual assault intertwine with adverse childhood experiences. The summit logo, used on promotional products, collateral material, signage, social media and registration outreach, incorporated adverse childhood experiences into the triangle showing the intersection and how it relates to each element of the three organizations. The bags, lanyards, signage and programs were distributed at onsite registration. The three sponsoring organizations provided promotional items. The summit was highlighted through social media four months prior and online registration was promoted two months prior to the event. Email marketing with a “save the date” message was sent to various organizations five months prior. As a result, the event sold out before the close of registration.

    Results The costs of all merchandising was approximately $4,200 with the event netting $15,800, an increase of 55 percent from 2017. The number of attendees increased from 145 to 240 resulting in a 65-percent increase.


    Type Of Client University Health Care and STEM Education

    Audience The target audience was children in kindergarten through 12th grades, primarily within the state of Iowa in the public and private education system—approximately 20,261 students

    Other Media Web, email, direct mail

    Primary Objective The internal objective of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program was to increase the total number of students engaged in kindergarten through 12th grade, to increase participation from female and minority students in the STEM program through outreach programs and to grow the number of students participating from rural areas.

    Total Cost $81,500

    Strategy And Execution Students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in STEM programs at the university hospitals. Strategically selected promotional products that represented science, technology, engineering and math were used during the registration/check-in, lectures, tours and in the three-hour labs that are part of the STEM programs. STEM participants were given a cinch bag with program information in a folder and a lanyard at check-in. Both items featured a special logo that was visible to participating students throughout the event. Several of the items also featured a consistent, branded look for the university’s health care system and College of Medicine. One item that really stood out was the Rubiks Cube, which featured a unique brand. This product was recommended because it encourages problem-solving and critical thinking, which are two fundamental skills inherent in STEM professionals. A custom calendar was created by the college print division and given to professors, schools and legislators.

    Results 20,261 students participated in 159 STEM programs with 73 percent of the participants being females and one-third located in rural areas. This resulted in an increase of more than 4,000 students from the previous year and a 22-percent increase in female engagement.


    Type Of Client A county agency that provides emergency management preceding, during and following disasters, and education and training to the public regarding emergency preparedness and response

    Target Audience All residents of Clallam County in Washington State with a primary focus on 40,000 between 18-60 years old

    Primary Objective To promote awareness and generate participation in the MYN (Map Your Neighborhood) and CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) disaster response training programs. The goal was to improve attendance at preparedness seminars and increase the numbers of individuals/families participating in the programs.

    Total Cost Approximately $15,000

    Strategy And Execution There were several community presentations focused on community preparedness with speakers including employees from emergency management, local fire departments, Red Cross, faith organizations, public utilities and a former state representative. Attendees were encouraged to sign up to learn more about the MYN or CERT programs. The promotional products chosen were those that would be useful in a natural disaster and help spread the word of the program’s availability throughout the community. Logoed key ring clickers and COB multimode lights were used to promote awareness. Both products also included web addresses and contact information and were handed out at presentations and at a Home & Lifestyle Show. All MYN facilitators were given a sling backpack in addition to the clickers and COB lights. CERT graduates were also given a sturdy backpack and a hard hat. Bracelets were also used to identify rescue workers in a training exercise.

    Results There have been over 400 families trained in MYN. CERT graduate numbers doubled between July 2018 and July 2019 and there was a 700-percent increase in MYN participants. The increased awareness surpassed the client’s expectations.

    This article was used with permission from PPAI Publications, view the original article at https://pubs.ppai.org/ppb-magazine/the-top-client-promos-of-the-year/

  • February 13, 2020 6:59 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    "Creativity is intellgience having fun." - Albert Einstein

    2/4/2020 | Gregg Emmer, Marketing Matters

    No - that’s not a typo! Marketing may be the most complex part of any business, almost everyone thinks they are a marketer but rarely do people actually understand what it means to be “marketing”! The most succinct definition is “Absolutely everything that takes place creating an atmosphere where a sale can take place”. But marketing is better understood when broken into four segments.

    Product (or service) has to be developed, designed and produced ready for selling. The market for the product has to be researched. The USP (unique selling proposition) has to be determined. In many cases a high degree of creativity is needed because the marketing strategy and concepts for the product might have been established before the product even existed. People active in the promotional specialty marketing channel (that’s us!) are not normally involved in this part of marketing.

    Price is a substantial part of overall marketing. Pricing strategies may encompass market driven competitive forces, brand strength and reputation, guarantees, product support, availability and dozens of other considerations. Marketing’s job is to investigate all these modifiers and establish a price that will enhance the perception of the product. This is very complicated. A few years ago in our annual catalog I had six writing instruments that were essentially the same and all looked like an expensive European pen. I had six different prices with nearly 40% difference between the least expensive and most expensive. All six sold very well. Even when samples were provided and the nearly identical products were side by side, people selected the higher priced product because they believe that it was inherently better. 

    This same strategy is used to sell luxury automobiles, wine, first class seats on an airplane and almost every other “premium” product. 

    The opposite end of the pricing strategy is value. This is an area where you get involved in advising your clients about value at the same time you are actively engages in your own pricing marketing decisions. This is where the balancing between marketing and marketing comes in. While you certainly are not part of the manufacturing cost/price equation, how you represent the products we use as media to deliver messages for our clients is a major factor in promotion.

    Promotion, the concepts, advertising, incentives, endorsements and public relations that are used to build an appetite for the product also will have you balancing the work you do on your own behalf and for the benefit of your client. Whenever you promote your own business you are actually “auditioning” in front of your client. If your own marketing is well thought out and presented professionally, you stand a much better chance that your recommendations will have authority. 

    The highest value is perceived when you compare the cost/price to the desired results the client is looking for rather than the item being used. For example, a car dealer knows that the more test drives potential customers take, the more sales will take place. The promotion you may be suggesting to increase test drives only needs a few extra sales to more than justify the investment. The desire for those extra sales is what will motivate your client. 

    Sales Channel is the fourth segment of marketing. Promotional specialty advertising and marketing, considering suppliers and distributors together (they are actually two separate channels, but that is for another article!) is a sales channel for us - not our clients! Understanding the sales channel the client wants to stimulate is what will determine your recommendations. The target market for the clients products is the target for the marketing you are suggesting. 

    A client that manufactures whiteboards may look for marketing support in several channels - schools, hotels and corporate boardrooms for example. Understanding the unique aspects of each channel such as potential unit count (classrooms vs. boardroom), major concern (appearance, durability, mounting ease) and product selection may be different for each channel. Offering a “one size fits all” recommendation will likely not get well received by your client. Be ready with several different proposals. Determine if focus on a single channel is how budgets are to be allocated or if it will need to cover some or all channels. 

    Your own marketing should get no less consideration. While a general message might be fine if you see yourself “selling promotional products”. If however you are building a professional client relationship, you might increase success by being aware of the specific sales channels the client wants to pursue or strengthen and focus (as a specialist) on reaching the potential buyers your client wants to reach. I agree with Albert Einstein - start having some fun!

    Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at gemmer@kaeser-blair.com.

    This article was used with permission from PromoCorner. View the original article at https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Maintaining-the-Critical-Balance-of-Marketing-and-Marketing?i=3963

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