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  • January 06, 2023 10:38 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC), the regional voice of the promotional products industry in Southern California for more than 60 years, has elected its 2023 board of directors.

    Jeff Stevens, of WesCo Marketing, was elected president of the 2023 board. Stevens brings with him over 25 years of industry experience and a long-standing commitment to serve the Southern California promotional community. Stevens succeeds Bob Levitt, MAS, who will continue to serve on the association’s board as immediate past president.

    Also joining the board to begin their two-year terms as directors are Kimberly Horton of FPS Apparel, Victoria Schmitz, CAS of Goldstar, Heidi Selleck of The Vernon Company and Mary Skeen of AIM Smarter LLC.

    The 2023 SAAC Board of Directors include:

    President: Jeff Stevens, WestCo Marketing

    Vice President: Amy Williams, CAS, 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, MAS, The Magnet Group

    Director: Victoria Schmitz, CAS, Goldstar

    Director: Heidi Selleck, The Vernon Company

    Director: Mary Skeen, AIM Smarter LLC

  • December 16, 2022 2:26 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Former clients are ideal for winning back. They’ve worked with you in the past, so you know they have a need for your products or services. However, for whatever reason, these lost accounts didn’t renew or sign the contract. This doesn’t mean you’ll never work with them in the future — it just means you have an opportunity to impress them and win their business again.

    In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we’re highlighting a post from the Handwrytten blog that shares some creative win-back strategies. Marketing managers and business leaders weighed in with their thoughts, so let’s see what they had to say.

    1. Surprise them with a note. In today’s digital world, a thoughtful note dropped in the mail can make a positive impression. The post recommends mentioning to your previous client that you’d like to reconnect and show them what’s new. Want to really wow them? Send a $5 gift card for coffee and ask them to meet for a virtual coffee date.

    2. Touch base with old clients. Your previous customers chose not to buy from you for a reason. Maybe they didn’t have the budget, or their project needs changed. By reassessing past customer needs and taking action, you can regain the trust and loyalty of past buyers, the post says.

    3. Personalize your customer engagements. Don’t send out generic emails designed for the masses. Make sure you personalize each touchpoint with previous customers. This means using their first names in communication and writing in a friendly, conversational tone. According to the post, you can use discounts sparingly to help indecisive customers return.

    4. Recommend a competitor. It sounds counterintuitive, but it can work wonders at winning back customers. The post notes that this is because when you don’t have a particular product or service that a customer is looking for, a recommendation to a competitor can create a wow-worthy experience for them. You build instant credibility in your customer’s eyes by showing that you’re willing to put their needs first.

    5. Reach out with a limited-time offer. This might mean a discount for re-ordering or a special gift for buying from you. According to the post, this is one of the bet ways for winning back old customers.

    6. Get someone new working on the account. Providing a different experience from the first one can make a customer relationship feel fresh, the post says. It may feel unusual having a colleague trying to win back your old customer, but don’t take it personally. By going this route, you’re giving your disengaged client a chance to interact with your company in a new way.

    If you’re hoping to reconnect with previous buyers, try some of the tactics mentioned in the Handwrytten blog. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh approach or a personal touch to get back on their radar.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: The Handwyrtten blog. Handwrytten is an online handwritten notes service.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • December 16, 2022 2:24 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    We’ve been hearing and talking recession rhetoric for months. And by “we” I mean the collective we: business leaders, media, economists and the world.

    Regardless of whether there will be a recession or whether we’re already in a recession, the economy is showing signs of slowing down, or, as The Economist put it, “reality has caught up with rhetoric.”

    Yet many who predict a recession for 2023 do so lightly. In Tom Standage’s “Top 10 Trends for 2023,” he predicts that “most economies will go into a recession …. but America’s recession should be relatively mild.” Morgan Stanley said that the US may skirt a recession entirely. Even Goldman Sachs now sees a slimmer chance of a recession than previously predicted. 

    But when the news headlines blaze with Jeff Bezos warning consumers to spend less, claiming, “things are slowing down,” most of us sit up and take notice. After all, Bezos is in the business of selling us … well … everything, including those large-screen TVs he just told us not to buy. 

    You don’t have time to wait for all the pundits to agree and tell us we’re in a recession. By the time there’s consensus among the world’s brainiacs and billionaires, it’ll be obvious.

    The real question is, what can we do about the uncertainty of it all – now?

    The good news: regardless of whether we’re already in a recession, or whether there will be a recession, or whether there won’t be a recession, or whether there will be a hard landing or a soft landing, for business planning purposes you can still find your focus for growth for 2023, regardless of the economic climate. Here are four tips that will help power boost your business planning for the upcoming year:

    1. Don’t Let News Dictate Your Moves

    Some of today’s most successful companies started during a recession: Mailchimp, Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Warby Parker, Venmo, and many more. 

    Nate Bailey, President and Founder of Ideation, a distributor based in Portland, Oregon, started his career in the industry during a recession. Because of that timing, Nate was given a gift: grit, tenacity, hunger, ingenuity, and mostly, heedless optimism. It worked. In 2022 Ideation was honored as one of Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies. (Nate will join us on stage at skucon in Las Vegas for a fireside chat about his experience).

    As headlines of layoffs, wage freezes, and hiring freezes creep into your feed, live by this edict: “Don’t let news dictate your moves.”

    At skucamp in Brooklyn in September, three of the industry’s largest suppliers joined Catherine Graham, commonsku’s co-founder and CEO on stage, to discuss the state of the industry now and their perspective on the future. The panel featured David Nicholson (Vice Chairman at PCNA), Dan Pantano (President & CEO at alphabroder Prime), and Jonathan Isaacson, Chairman and CEO at Gemline.

    During the interview, Jonathan Isaacson said, “There will be industries that continue to do exceedingly well even in a downturn … in every downturn, there are industries that do really well and there are parts of businesses who do very well. During Covid, who bought? HR. Who didn’t buy as much? Sales and marketing. So, if you are selling to a trucking company and they can’t find truckers, what are they doing? They are turning to us to solve a problem. So the people who are going to do well during whatever time comes are the people who understand that we’re not selling products, we’re solving problems. And that’s true on the supplier side and that’s true on the distributor side: there’s always opportunity out there.”

    Treat news headlines as suggestions, not commands. Yes, Jeff Bezos might be the richest man in the world, but remember that when he speaks publicly on a major news network, he is speaking to his first audience (and perhaps his only audience) his investors. 

    “There’s always opportunity out there.”

    2. Focus on Industries

     To Jonathan’s point: Many industries will thrive during an economic downturn. 

    Forbes recently published an article that detailed which industries you should invest in during a potential recession. We can take our cues from this list on which industries to target as either clients to grow in 2023 or prospects to approach. The Forbes list included healthcare, basic consumer goods, utilities, discount retailers (like Walmart and Costco), alcohol, maintenance and repair services, accounting and payroll services, and transportation. Other experts cited industries like self-care or small indulgences like candy, beer, wine, and the pet industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that during the 2007-2009 recession, the four industries that performed well were healthcare, government, tech and education. 

    This is incredible news for our industry because according to PPAI, the top ten industries that buy promo are healthcare, business services, retail, financial, manufacturing, education, food and beverage, tech, not-for-profit and construction. 

    Compare the lists of those who thrive in a recession and promo’s top buyers by industry, and you end up with 7 out of 10. In other words, we’re already positioned to work with most of the industries that fare well during hard times. Recession or not, focusing on these industries is simply a solid strategy for your business planning for 2023.

    Action step: Tighten your 2023 focus on clients who are in industries that do well during hard times, create a prospect list of those same industries, and focus on solving problems.

    3. Keep Top Talent and Keep Hiring Top Talent

    The war for talent will not wane. Job growth might slow but talented people can now work from anywhere and are more motivated to work for companies whose values, culture, and mission align with their personal passion.

    The idea to follow suit with wholesale layoffs is tempting, but Stephen Mihm from Bloomberg suggested that all of these “Mass Layoffs in Big Tech Are an Old-Guard Mistake,” citing a study that looked back over more than three decades and found that CEOs “who pursued a strategy of mass layoffs were far more likely to end up receiving their own pink slip for their bungled efforts.”

    Bains, the global management consulting firm, put it this way: “Think of a recession as a sharp curve on an auto racetrack (which is the best place to pass competitors, but requires more skill than straightaways). The best drivers apply the brakes just ahead of the curve (they take out excess costs), they turn hard toward the apex of the curve (identify the short list of projects that will form the next business model) and accelerate hard out of the curve (spend and hire before markets have rebounded).”

    In our interview at skucamp, Jonathan Isaacson talked about it in terms of control: focusing on what we can control and what we can’t, and he zeroed in on our most important asset -- people:

    “I only really worry about one thing because there’s only one thing we can control which is the quality of the people that we hire. Everything else comes out of the quality of the people in the organization … our ability to win or lose is going to singularly hang on our ability to hire the right people in the organization. You screw that up everything goes to hell, we get it right, we win.” 

    Action step: Review your team. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Review your pay structures and comp plans. Be open-minded to the fact that top talent may be more easily acquired during lean times than robust times and mostly, be prepared to hire when others hide. Recession or not, recruiting, hiring and keeping top talent is a solid business strategy.

    4. Plan For Growth – Substantial Growth

    You have likely heard of the Post vs. Kellogg’s story cited in a famous New Yorker article titled “Hanging Tough,” quote: “When the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost 30 percent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.” 

    “Fortune favors the bold” is a mantra our CEO often repeats. Study after study shows that those who invest more in marketing and in their business, grow during tough times for one simple reason: You become a survivalist, a pirate, a challenger brand. To quote the New Yorker article again, “Recessions create more opportunity for challengers, not less. When everyone is advertising …. It’s hard to separate yourself from the pack.” The article points out the difference between “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass). Recessions can be a great opportunity to race ahead of the competition, possibly leading the pack for years to come.

    Action step: invest, invest, invest. Invest in marketing. Invest in your people. Invest in tech. Invest in your team’s continual education. Invest in yourself. When others pump the brakes — push on and pass by. 

    Uncertainty is the New Norm: Embrace It

    As a worldwide pandemic descended on us in 2020, many of us thought it was the beginning of the end. But instead, you thrived. And our industry, the branded merch medium itself, elevated its importance for brands. We were all —suddenly and rightfully— thrust into solving client problems through product. Our industry matured during the most difficult season of our lifetime. If there’s one lesson we collectively learned, it’s that the only thing we know for sure is that uncertainty is our new normal.

    We might be in a recession. Or there might yet be a recession, next month, next year, next week.

    But it doesn’t have to be your recession.

    This article is brought to you by commonsku, the work-from-anywhere platform that powers your connected workflow enabling you to process more orders and dramatically grow your sales. To learn more visit commonsku.com.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • December 16, 2022 2:10 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    It’s good to be productive, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When people are focused on constantly doing more, spreading themselves too thin and neglecting their overall health, they’ve fallen into a pattern of toxic productivity. This can lead to burnout, which impacts nearly half of all professionals today, according to recent research from Microsoft.

    If you’re wondering what toxic productivity looks like and how you can break out of unhealthy patterns, read on. We share insight from writer Danielle Doolen in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    What It Looks Like
    If you or someone you work with feels the need to constantly be doing or learning, toxic productivity may be at play. For example, instead of unwinding at the end of the day with a TV show you enjoy, you may read a business book instead of truly unplugging. Or, you may feel guilty for taking time away from work. Instead of enjoying the company of friends and family, you may bring your laptop with you to check in and stay productive.

    Doolen says it’s important to remember that we can all get everything important done while also protecting our health and resting along the way. Here’s how to do this:

    Establish boundaries. This is a crucial step in avoiding toxic productivity. Doolen recommends planning for zero productivity time during the week. You might use this time to take a walk, watch a movie or read a book simply for fun. You owe it to yourself to have sacred time where nothing needs to be accomplished, she says.

    Plan for rest — and then stick to it. Does this sound like you: You make plans to spend the evening relaxing, but instead you fret over everything you need to do the next day and you end up feeling exhausted. To break out of this pattern, plan for rest and then take time to actually do nothing. Doolen says that to maintain healthy productivity levels, you need to find a balance between doing and being.

    Stay mindful. There will always be tasks to do, people to see and conversations to be had, Doolen says. But before you try to get through everything at once, stop and think about what you actually need to get done. For example, maybe you’d benefit more from a 30-minute break at lunch instead of working at your desk to try to get more done. Be thoughtful about what’s productive for your stress levels and mental health, she says.

    Powering through in the name of productivity won’t serve you well in the long run. Set boundaries on how you spend your time and give yourself opportunities to recharge and reset. It’s all about balance, so allow yourself to be productive while also finding time to relax.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Danielle Doolen is a writer and communications professional whose writing and expertise have appeared in Career Contessa, Insider, Motherly, PopSugar, PRSA Strategies & Tactics, The Financial Diet, Thrive Global and more.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • December 16, 2022 2:05 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    ’Tis the season for social gatherings of all kinds. While these parties and get-togethers may not be true networking events, this doesn’t mean you can’t make meaningful connections and expand your professional circle. At non-networking events, people may feel more relaxed, which can lead to more authentic, organic conversations.

    Worried about doling out your business cards and killing the vibe? No worries — Quinisha Jackson-Wright, a staff writer for The Muse, has some tips on how you can network without putting a damper on everyone’s social experience. Keep reading this issue of PromoPro Daily for her suggestions.

    1. Talk less and listen more. This is the first rule in networking, whether or not you’re attending a true networking event. Stay in the moment and hear what the other person is saying. Don’t make a running list of what you want to add to the discussion. And remember that most people talk about their work at social gatherings anyway, Jackson-Wright says, so allow the conversation to drift there naturally.

    2. Get to know the other person. What commonalities or interests do you share? Maybe your kids go to the same school, or you both enjoy the same hobby. If you want to go a step further, Jackson-Wright recommends taking a few minutes after the conversation to make a note of anything unique for future reference. When you follow up or see the person again, you can mention one of these small details.

    3. Focus on quality conversations. Don’t rush from one person to the next, just trying to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. It’s better to chat with fewer people but engage in more in-depth discussions.

    4. Add value in a small way. When you’re at a social event, don’t ask any big favors from someone right away. Instead, flip it and think about what you can offer or do for someone else. Jackson-Wright says it doesn’t have to be anything major. Even just giving a recommendation for a great local shop or restaurant can show you’re not just talking to someone because you think you can gain something from them.

    5. Casually ask to stay in touch. You could ask the other person to exchange phone numbers or social media info, Jackson-Wright says. She suggests waiting a few days and then reaching out with a quick message or text saying how you enjoyed meeting them and you’d like to take them out for coffee or lunch to continue the conversation.

    Parties, cocktail hours and other casual events can be prime networking opportunities. Follow the tips above to mingle and make a positive impression — no elevator pitch required.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Quinisha Jackson-Wright is a freelance marketing consultant, U.S. Navy veteran and part-time staff writer with The Muse.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • October 31, 2022 10:57 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Editor's Note: Upon request by several industry groups including PPAI, the Department of Labor has extended the deadline for the public to submit comments. Originally slated to end November 28, it is now December 13.

    PPAI and the promotional product industry are pushing back against a proposal by the Department of Labor to revise its guidance on identifying who is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

    Announced earlier this month, the DoL is seeking public comment on new regulations that would make it challenging for independent contracts in the promo industry to retain their preferred classification.

    An Industry At Risk

    PPAI, working in collaboration with industry members in its Government Relations Advisory Council, has determined that if this rule is implemented, it will make it extremely difficult for thousands of entrepreneurs in the promotional products field to retain their status as independent contractors under FLSA.

    “Our industry is being unfairly lumped into this proposed DoL rule, which seeks to do what Congress rightly refused to,” says Dawn Olds, MAS, PPAI Board Chair. “It is critical that members take action and make their voices heard. This is one of the most harmful issues we have faced, since it affects so many – multi-line reps and distributor independent contractors in particular.”

    • Multi-line reps are largely relied on by small and mid-size promotional products suppliers.
    • Roughly 4,200 industry suppliers meet the U.S. Small Business Administration’s definition of small businesses in manufacturing (nearly 98% of the industry’s suppliers).
    • These companies account for roughly $7.8 billion in annual revenue.

    Unlike the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act which was introduced in Congress last year and would have modified the National Labor Relations Act, the newly proposed administrative rule changes the criteria for determining whether workers are employees or independent contractors under the FLSA.

    • The new test, which is comprised of six parts compared to the current test’s four parts, considers many of the same factors as previous standards, however the new test is more likely to result in a worker being classified as an employee under the FLSA.

    A Call To Action

    It is critical for members of this industry to contact the Department of Labor regarding this newly proposed rule change. If the rule is implemented as it is currently written, it could result in thousands of independent contractors in the promotional products industry having their livelihoods threatened.

    PPAI has included some prepared comments to assist with companies’ outreach to the Department of Labor. They can be uploaded or copied into the Federal Register.

    Industry members are encouraged to add their own specific examples that show evidence of independence to demonstrate to the DoL that this proposed rule would be detrimental to their ability to independently earn their income.

    Published with Permission From PPAI

  • October 31, 2022 10:53 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Editor’s Note: Multi-line reps serve many crucial needs in the promotional products industry. A new Department of Labor proposal threatens their independent contractor status and livelihoods.

    It is critical for members of this industry to contact the Department of Labor regarding this newly proposed rule change before December 13.

    PPAI has crafted prepared comments to assist with companies’ outreach to the Department of Labor. They can be uploaded or copied into the Federal Register.


    Distributors strive to be heroes in their client’s eyes. Getting there means delivering superior client results achieved through creativity supported by high-quality products and service. That’s a tall order.

    The good news is that distributors don’t have to go it alone. They can lean on the resources of multi-line reps. These experts represent multiple non-competing suppliers and operate within specific territories across the U.S. as an extension of the factory and an essential business connection within the industry’s distribution channel.

    Unlike factory reps, these seasoned road warriors provide distributors with a broad, and often complementary, range of products and product information, plus ideas, solutions, case studies and success stories gleaned from their years of serving distributors. And because of their experience and close relationships with their supplier companies, MLRs are also a reliable go-to source for checking inventory and order status, getting production time estimates and shipping dates, sampling products and as an experienced sounding board for promotional strategies and ideas.

    “We have access to so much more information about the supply chain, inventory levels, product trends, etc., than a traditional factory rep,” says John Bates, president at Michigan-based Bates Group, adding that MLRs have a better perspective on what is going on in the industry from a supply-chain and manufacturing standpoint since they are exposed to multiple factories and their operations.

    MLRs operate as an extension of the factory, and by personally visiting with distributors in their regions to offer potential solutions for upcoming projects, they help distributors find the right solutions for their clients. In short, MLRs create relationships and offer resources that help their distributors to be more successful.
    For distributors who may have overlooked the opportunity to maximize the resources available through MLRs, it’s easy to get started.

    1. Allow Time To Meet With An MLR

    Before the pandemic, MLRs scheduled meetings on a regular basis in distributors’ offices and met with most of the firm’s salespeople all at once. Later, when face-to-face meetings weren’t possible, MLRs met with distributors through video conferences. When offices opened back up, MLRs were some of the first back on the road setting appointments with distributors. But not all distributor sales personnel have returned to their offices, so MLRs have had to be creative. They are still holding web meetings when needed but they are also visiting distributors’ homes and scheduling meet-ups in local coffee shops and work-share conference rooms. The MLRs interviewed for this story say promotional products need to be touched and experienced, so in-person meetings are optimum, no matter what it takes.

    Joe Keely, owner of Select Lines Marketing in St. Louis, Missouri, says he’s done very few Zoom meetings over the past year and, when he did, they were to discuss a specific project or sample. “Now [for distributors who still work from home] I am scheduling multiple meetings with one to three salespeople at a Starbucks or similar location. Personally, the individual meetings are much more effective for the salesperson as we can get in-depth with their projects,” he says.

    “We are in a relationship-driven, face-to-face business,” says Matt Eysoldt, principal at Eysoldt Marketing Group in Ohio. “I think it is crucial to establish that first. Everything else, in my opinion, is second best.”

    Toward that goal, Eysoldt has created in-person opportunities for work-from-home distributors. Along with a small group of MLRs who share his territory, he conducts individual, 30-minute meetings in various cities to focus on the specific needs of the distributor and its clients.

    In addition to restarting personal visits, Mindy Reynolds, principal at ReyCo Promo, a rep firm in Denver, Colorado, sees exceptional value from her group’s participation in industry table-top shows and regional trade shows in the states she covers. She’s also personalizing her in-person visits.  “I’ll ask the distributor, ‘What’s good for you? I’ll come to your home or meet you at a coffeeshop,’” she says, but adds that the latter is difficult because she’s unable to bring as many product samples as she would take to a distributor’s office or home. As an additional touchpoint, Reynolds sends customers a monthly email newsletter, Give Me Five, where she features one product from each of her five lines.

    Bates implements two additional alternative strategies to reach distributors where they are: check-in phone calls to account executives for a casual conversation, and his new Product of the Week emails. These are sent to distributors to highlight a new product, trend or sale going on with one of his supplier partners.

    When a MLR requests an appointment, the distributor should be ready to say “Yes!” Making time for a conversation that can grow into a relationship is the best way to maximize the value MLRs can bring to the business.

    1. Be Transparent About Your Clients’ Needs

    “When I interact with my customers, my only goal is to help them increase their business,” says Eysoldt. “I find it very interesting that my customers who are relationship-driven tend to work the relationship with their vendor partners just like they do with their clients. Once that relationship is established, trust follows, and trust is an essential part of this relationship if I am really going to help them grow.” 

    MLRs are trusted partners who are in business to help distributors succeed, so the more information a distributor can share about an upcoming project, the better. “Most of my customers are excellent with sharing information about their customers that can help me help them,” says Keely. “They trust me to keep information confidential and that leads to a much more effective relationship. Yes, there are some that hold information closer and I respect that. Even getting general information can help me suggest ideas that might work, but more details will help me get there quicker.”
    Another way to get the most value from MLRs is to include them in client meetings because they can provide unique suggestions and ideas from various manufacturers, not just one. “Are you working on a big project? Send your MLR the details so they can easily check their sources rather than you trying to remember every line they represent,” says Bates. “It’s very hard for a distributor to keep all of the suppliers straight, so utilize your MLR to help alleviate the stress that goes into finding the appropriate items that will impress your client.”

    Distributors can feel comfortable asking their MLRs questions such as:

    • What ideas do you have for this market or this audience?
    • How can I present this product to my client?
    • How does this product work?
    • What are some markets where this product is a good fit?
    • Why is this product a better choice than a similar product from another supplier?

    1. Be Open To Growing The Relationship

    “I think the way to get the most benefit from a multi-line rep is to view them as a partner,” says Keely. “Reach out for suggestions when you’re putting together presentations and need ideas. I can save them a lot of time and aggravation by suggesting products that I know are in stock and can meet their ship date.”

    Eysoldt agrees and takes that thought a step further by suggesting distributors look at MLRs as an extension of their marketing department. To get the most value at this step, details are essential.

    “When distributors send me their projects, programs, information, timeline, budget, colors and art, I can work up ideas and virtuals, and get them samples,” says Reynolds. And because MLRs are constantly in the field, they are rich with ideas, and can share and adapt successful promo ideas that have worked for other distributors.

    Building trust with a MLR can take time, but once that’s accomplished, the distributor is more likely to share important details about the client company and their needs. “With that, I can make appropriate suggestions,” says Eysoldt. “In addition, I make many end-buyer calls with our distributor partners. That is where I can really make an impact—helping to close the deal sooner and even taking some of the weight off the distributor’s shoulders.”

    To contact MLRs in your area and to schedule a visit, check with your preferred suppliers.

    Tina Berres Filipski is director of corporate relations at supplier PowerStick.com, the only company designing and manufacturing its own portable chargers in North America. She is a 26-year promotional products industry veteran and was previously director of publications and editor at PPAI.

    Published with Permission From PPAI

  • October 31, 2022 10:51 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Shippers are preparing contingency plans as negotiations between the railroads and railway workers’ unions remain at an impasse.

    In support of further discussions, PPAI has joined with hundreds of trade organizations in a letter to the White House encouraging the Biden Administration to continue working with both parties in the dispute to reach a satisfactory resolution.

    The Letter

    Last week, PPAI, along with 321 local, state and federal trade associations, called on the White House to continue to work with the railroads and railways to ratify the tentative agreement based on recommendations from a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) established in July.

    “It is paramount that these contracts now be ratified, as a rail shutdown would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and lead to further inflationary pressure,” the letter reads. “We continue to urge that the contracts be ratified to provide stability and predictability to the system. Your involvement can only help make that happen and ensure there is no interruption to rail service.”

    The Dispute

    In September, the Biden Administration helped railway workers unions and railroad operators reach a tentative agreement based on recommendations presented by a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) established by the White House in July. It did not include all of the railway workers’ most pressing demands, however. Remaining concerns include:

    • The lack of sick time
    • Dangerous working conditions
    • Unpredictable hours

    The agreement will only be ratified when all 12 of the unions involved in the discussions accept its terms. So far, only six have signed on.

    • In October, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED), one of the largest unions involved in the despite, voted to reject the agreement.
    • Last week, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen also voted to scrap the agreement.
    • The National Carriers’ Conference Committee, representing the freight railroads, rejected BMWED’s revisions to the agreement.

    Richard Edelman, counsel for BMWED and its chief spokesperson dispute, told CNBC, “The railroads consistently underestimate the frustration and anger of the workers. Workers can’t take it anymore.”


    A strike is not necessarily imminent. Both of the unions who rejected the tentative agreement have agreed to retry negotiations. However, one the unions has set a November 19 deadline.

    • The four unions that have not yet approved the deal are expected to do so over the coming month.
    • The engineer and conductor unions, who have not yet voted, have the most concerns regarding quality of life.

    If no agreement is reached, the U.S. Congress may step in under the Railway Labor Act. The legislature can impose the recommendations of the PEB or order negotiations to continue while the trains operate as normal.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • October 31, 2022 10:50 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The promotional products industry’s biggest trade show is set for this January, and The PPAI Expo 2023 is returning with strength in numbers.

    The 2021 PPAI Expo was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it returned to its in-person format with cautious enthusiasm in January 2022 with pandemic-related safety measures. The PPAI Expo 2023, on the other hand, will be the 20th Expo at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, and excitement is high.

    In fact, as of October 24, registration numbers continue to trend high for both distributors and exhibitors.

    According to an internal report, as of Monday, October 24, The PPAI Expo 2023’s onsite attendance is trending to be up almost 40% over last year’s. The Association is expecting representation from most, if not all, top distributorships across the country.

    And for good reason. There’s plenty to be excited about.

    • Promopalooza: The PPAI Expo Party is returning Live from Allegiant Stadium on January 11.
    • Engaging and respected keynote speakers have been announced.
    • Expo Live is slated to return, producing thought-provoking content throughout the week, including interviews with industry experts, compelling TED Talk-style presentations by leading professionals and more.
    • Networking opportunities abound, including scheduled meet-ups for young industry pros, tech professionals and women leaders.

    Promo pros everywhere have been anxious to get back to Las Vegas for The PPAI Expo. Michelle Britt, a product and systems specialist for Cintas, was the first person to register when registration opened in September.

    PPAI Media spoke with Britt about what makes The PPAI Expo a must-attend event for her.

    PPAI Media: What do you love about Expo?

    Michelle Britt (Cintas): I enjoy collaborating with my peers and exploring all of the new, creative products our suppliers bring to the industry. I love the ability to source new opportunities with new suppliers. I love seeing old friends and making new ones while attending the show.

    PPAI Media: What are you hoping to accomplish at The PPAI Expo this year?

    Britt: Along with discovering new creative products, of course, we are always looking for ways to bring creative, diverse and eco-friendly solutions to our customers. I am looking to leverage our existing suppliers to help with these solutions while onboarding new suppliers that can bring these creative offerings to the table.  

    PPAI Media: How many times have you been to The PPAI Expo prior to this year?

    Britt: Oh gosh, maybe four or five times.

    PPAI Media: If you have any funny or interesting or noteworthy anecdote about an experience at Expo in the past, we’d love to hear it.

    Britt: Well, to be honest … What happens in Vegas …

    Registration for The PPAI Expo is open. Attendance is free for PPAI member distributors and $99 for qualified non-member distributors. Rates are set to rise on December 4.

    Published With Permission from PPAI

  • October 31, 2022 10:47 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    So, you think you hit it off with a prospect. The conversation is flowing, you feel like you made a good impression and then **crickets** Getting ghosted is never a good feeling. It can drive you mad wondering what you did or said that caused the other person to suddenly cut off all communication with you.

    Your prospect may have disappeared for any number of reasons. The timing may not have been right, or they felt your company simply wasn’t a good fit. A competitor may also have caught their eye. Regardless of the reason, Brian Cristiano, the CEO of BOLD Worldwide, says that you shouldn’t panic if you don’t hear back right away. However, you should take some specific actions to stop a ghost in its tracks.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some of Cristiano’s best ghost-busting tips.

    How To Stop A Ghost

    Do you have a ghost on your hands? Cristiano says it’s probably because you let go of control of the sale. This momentary lapse in grip allowed the potential client to slip out of your hands. He adds that as a salesperson, it’s up to you to guide the prospect all the way from the initial point of contact to the signing of the contract. If a prospect is ghosting you, follow these tips to get them back before they disappear entirely.

    Don’t get angry. If someone is ghosting you, you may want to go off on them. However, this can only make the situation worse, Cristiano says. Instead, he recommends creating a pleasant climate for them to come back to. Leave them a voicemail or send an email to check in. This will signal that you care about solving their problem, he says. Then you can regain control by offering a few different times to reconnect in the coming days.

    Push for facetime with them. If there’s a ghosting-in-progress, do what you can to get them on a video call. Cristiano says then you can make them feel like they are in control by asking questions. The more talking they do, the more in control they feel, which helps you learn more about their challenge or issue. He recommends weaving in additional psychological sales strategies like testimonials and expert proof.

    Send a postcard. Consider this your breakup communication. The tone should have a “wish you were here” kind of feel like a postcard, Cristiano says. Let the prospect know you hope they found a solution to their problem and that you are closing out their file now. Many prospects will be spooked when they hear, “I hope you solved your problem,” and may reach out to you after all. And if they do, circle back to the first tip and don’t treat them harshly.

    When prospects ghost you, remember that it’s probably not personal. They may not be returning your calls or emails for any number of reasons — and you may never know those reasons. While you may not be able to get back every prospect who seemingly disappears, you can follow the play-by-play above when buyers ghost you.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Brian Cristiano runs the Manhattan-based strategy firm, BOLD Worldwide, coaches some of the most successful names in business and speaks to audiences on how they can create success personally and in business.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

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