Product Highlights from the PPAI Expo – Part II
Identity Marketing Staff, Product Feature
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

Couldnt make it to the PPAI Expo this year? And, even if you did, it was virtually impossible to have seen everything. With that in mind, here are a few dozen of the new and interesting products we came across at this year’s event.

AP Specialties
The new 2-in-1 Noodle Charging Cable is a colorful sliding 2-in-1 charging cable / multiple USB adapter. The patented device is compatible with Apple 8-pin devices, and Micro USB.
Apollo Tools
The Apollo Pink 10.8V Cordless Drill features a 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery, 19 position keyless chuck, variable speed switch and a 30-piece drill and screwdriver bit accessory set in compact storage case. Not only is there virtually no self-discharge, but the high-spec 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery, combined with efficient design of motor, transmission and mechanism produces a much more compact drill able to delivery 15 Nm of torque in a lightweight machine that is only weighs 2.2 lbs.
Aprons, Etc.
New Stretch Fabric Chair Advertising Cover features full-color dye sublimation. The covers fits snugly over folding chairs and some stadium seats. Printing can be single- or double-sided.
Aspen Line
The Swing Thing is a solar-powered decorative accessory perfect desk, office, or home décor item. Put your brand in motion with this best-selling patented technology. This unique promotional item never needs batteries and will last for years. Powered by hidden technology, your brand or logo will swing continuously in any light. This distinctive item makes an exceptional corporate or employee gift. Create a mesmerizing gift exclusive to your brand with two locations to customize: the swinging emblem and the label at the base.
Bag Makers
The Dunes features Bag Makers’ natural color laminated material for a subtle canvas-like appearance. The 105 combined GSM matte laminated tote bag, with a large non-woven polypropylene pocket on the front for your imprint has 28” handles. It contains 20% post-industrial recycled content. An optional plastic bottom insert also is available.
Ball Pro
For the elite golfers, partner your logo with the top brands in golf with the Premium Golf Kit. The kit includes three Titleist® Pro V1x™ golf balls, a metal poker chip ball marker, a deluxe wedge divot tool, D brush club cleaner and a synthetic leather valuables pouch, packaged in stunning gift box with a decorative foil label. The platinum golf kit is ideal for golf tournaments, golf awards, or the golf enthusiast. Price includes a one color imprint on the golf balls and decorative foil label and a full color imprint on poker chip, brush, hat clip, divot tool and valuables pouch.

New Adult Coloring Books are U.S.-made feature a full-color cover, two-sizes and four design themes and 24 pages with 12 color pages and 12 inspirational quotes.
BIC Graphic
Great for adults and families, the Carabiner Water Misting Fan provides both a powerful fan and mister for portable cooling relief wherever you go. It features a compact size, soft foam blades. a powerful fan and cool mist option.
The Don’t Sweat It 5-quart insulated neoprene several bucket keeps your beers cold and your table dry. Inside is a leakproof, glossy, powder coated 5-quart galvanized bucket with an exterior 4 mm neoprene cooler sleeve. The outer neoprene is removable for easy cleaning. Easily holds six 12-oz. bottles or two bottles of wine. Also available in premium theme patterns for an additional charge.
Bulova bends the rules with the debut of the world’s first chronograph movement. The Curv collection of 12 designs feature sleek ergonomic designs and a slim case never before possible in a chronograph movement.
Compass Industries
The new Magnetic Rechargeable Flashlight with Powerbank is 6” long a features a LED flashlight (110 lumens) with work lights (120 lumps) on the side. It has a heavy duty magnet on the ooo-roll part of the light. A micro-USB is included for recharging the flashlight and/or phone.
Crown Products
The Camo Viking Tumbler is a 20-oz. double wall vacuum stainless steel tumbler with a stainless steel finish / camouflage pattern on outer wall / press-in lid. It keeps liquid hot for 5 1/2 hours and keeps liquid cold for 24 hours.
Global Tech Branding Group
Businesses and brands can now illuminate up to four messages in brightly colored LED lights in a fan that connect to your smartphone.
Smashing Factory
In addition to more than 350 shapes of Compressed T-shirts, a number of new packaging options are available, including compressed T-shirts in a can.
Snugz USA
The Traverse Line features a variety of genuine full grain hand stitched leather journals, pad folios, wallets, and more.
Insert your mobile device and utilize a variety of VR apps for hi-tech fun any time. Download 3D movies and turn your mobile device into your own personal 3D movie theater on-the-go!
SunJoy’s "Premium" model is its most comfortable and sophisticated option. It features lenses that can be positioned and focused manually, with more advanced adjustability. The faceplate on the front can be removed, allowing for a view through your mobile device's camera on both the right or left side of the device. The front portion of the headset is hinged, and opens to easily insert or remove the mobile device.
New Athleisure Soft Shoes are available in five sizes and a variety of motifs. They are great for travel and hospitality, spas, schools, water activities, yoga, assisted living and healthcare, resorts, boating, and product launches.
The Allen Company
The CamelBak® KickBak™ is vacuum insulated to keep your beverage cold for eight hours and hot for four hours. Available in 20-oz. and 30-oz. sizes, an innovative cap allows you to sip or chug as needed and flips up out of your way to lock into the opposite side for drinking ease.
The Magnet Group
Watch online videos on your smartphone with this Adjustable Virtual Reality Viewer. It can hold up to 6 inch smartphones (without case) and the optics can be adjusted front to back and side to side.
The Sourcing Solution
Logo Hangers offer a unique opportunity to bring the brand or team image into the home and feature it prominently.
Toddy Gear
The delicate cherry blossom design of this lightning cable puts you at ease. This soothing pink, rose, and yellow pattern will bring you calm and peace from the stresses of everyday life. Use this cable at school, home or even at work to charge and sync your Micro USB compatible devices and remember to take a deep breath and calm your mind.
Roll out your devices in style with the 6,000 mAh Round Power Bank, The classy metallic finish, disc shape and tech-friendly color palette make this a great choice at an attractive price.
Triton Poker Chips
Ceramic Poker Chips with a high-gloss finish are now available. The chips are a popular trade show giveaway and offer an attractive cost-effective and customizable alternative to metal challenge coins and feature high definition graphics.
Tropico Imports
Tropico’s Blank Graduation Stoles are perfect for the customer looking to apply their own designs to the satiny material. These stoles are inexpensive, yet durable. And if you are looking for different length options, this stole is the best choice. It comes in 51-, 60-, and 72-inches.
Webb Company
The new two-minute Dental Sand Timer features tooth-shaped and and is available in three colors.
This Dish Scrubber, made from plastic and rubber, is sure to make clean up easier.
Excite your base of customers with this fantastic Versa COB LED Light. It's a pen shaped flashlight featuring super power COB (Chip on Board) LED of 120 Lumens (2X that of regular flashlights). It also features non-slip rubber construction, a rotating magnetic clip, an on / off push button, a wrist strap, and 3 AAA batteries.

PPAI Expo: Business Must Go On; Top Memories from the Show.
How competitive are you? Self doubt and getting out of your own way, and more. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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sponsored by Kaeser & Blair

In case you missed it, here's a re-broadcast of Bill and Kirby's live podcast from from Skucon at the PPAI Expo, which originally aired on Sunday.

New Products from PPAI Expo
Identity Marketing Staff, Product Feature
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sponsored by Bay State

Every year, suppliers introduce hundreds, if not thousands, of products at our industry’s largest trade show. With miles of aisles, its virtually impossible to see them all. With that in mind, here are some of the many new products our editors came across at this year's event. In addition to the few dozen listed below, we’ll feature more in the coming days.

A+ Career Apparel
This unisex quarter-zip fleece pullover is the perfect layer for cold mornings and chilly work environments. Made from 60% combed ring-spun cotton, 40% polyester it has rib-trim cuffs, a hemmed bottom, and is available in six colors.

This new Memory Pedometer features the KS10 pedometer engine the most accurate available. Features include seven days of step memory, distance and calorie counter, and step memory for today, each of past seven days, and seven day grand total. It comes with a sturdy metal belt clip, long-lasting lithium battery and three-way pedometer leash.
Ads On Magnets
The Magnetic Eyeglass Holder is an innovative way to keep your eyeglasses, sunglasses or earbuds easily accessible at all times. The 1" button insert can be customized with logo or advertising campaign. The button is removable & can be replaced with other button designs as needed. It also makes a great ball marker for golfers! The designer button attaches to the front of the magnet base which attracts the silicone covered magnet through the shirt & the glasses hang from the ring. Caution: Keep magnets away from pacemakers!
Alexander Manufacturing
Perfect for camping, the new Frosted Carabiner Dome Light has six LED lights, three function lighting: high, low and flashing. The magnet and carabiner handle on back offers multipurpose use. On/off button, 3-AAA batteries included.
Alpi International
These new Agate Paperweights will add a touch of class to any promotional message. The colors of the agates look great with any décor and the glassy finish of the polished stone makes any imprint appear shiny and more vibrant. Be aware that this is a natural product—different sizes, shapes and color variations are to be expected. These stones have a high perceived value, provide an unforgettable base for your message and will last forever.
Antigua Group
The ladies’ Gossamer is a 95% polyester/5% spandex solid jersey knit long sleeve full zip jacket. It has a diamond quilted front and back panel, zip hand pockets, open tail bottom and 3D silicone gunmetal A logo. It is available in six colors.
AP Specialties
The Ridge Cooler Picnic Bag is an insulated poly canvas cooler with detachable cover. It has sturdy padded handles and is collapsible for easy store. Decoration via embroidery and heat transfer is available.
AT Designs
These Custom Metal Spinning Tops are a unique and personalized keepsake people will hold on to. High quality, mesmerizing, and pleasure to interact with. Available in antiqued gold, silver, and bronze finishes, give it a home on the desk or shelf with a matching display stand.
The Pocket-sized Multi-tool Key Tag includes a full-color epoxy dome imprint. Features include two flat screwdrivers, a Phillips screwdriver, pry bar, bottle opener, wire stripper and lanyard/key ring hole with split ring.

ETS Express
The h2go swig, available in a choice of eight colors, is a 14-oz. double wall 18/8 stainless steel thermal bottle with vacuum insulation, threaded stainless steel insulated lid, and stainless steel base. It will keep hot beverages hot for eight hours and cold beverages cold for 16 hours. A retail gift box is included.
Evans Manufacturing
The Shake-It™ Compartment Bottle features a specially designed Vortex™ ball to break up powders. It has a swivel finger loop on the flip-top sport lids for carrying or attaching to a carabiner. The removable bottom compartment makes it easy to add protein powders or vitamins. Ounce and millimeters measurements are embossed on the back side. Colors: red, blue, black and lime green.
Make a statement with Two-tone Sports Frame Sunglasses with arm imprint. Perfect for: trade shows, product launch, corporate events, charity, college/Greek life, sports, weddings, birthdays, parties, concert/festival merchandising, etc.
Fields Manufacturing
Premium Seeded Paper Wristbands are packed with wildflower seeds and printed with earth-friendly inks. Wearable, plantable and interactive, they have an easy-to-use one-time peel and stick adhesive.
The new Flexfit Melange Cap is fashioned from 92% polyester/8% Spandex and features mid-profile styling and a pre-curved visor. Details include poly melange jersey front panels, a stretch mesh back for breathability, black undervisor and eight rows of stitching on visor.
The new Thumbs Up Antenna Topper is made from EVA foam and is approximately 2 1/2” with a 1-1/2” imprint area. It is available in 10 colors.
These high-quality, plated Aluminum Color Tops and food-grade synthetic cork based stoppers make this an ideal tight fitting bottle stopper. Colors: black, silver, gold, metallic blue, metallic red, metallic pink. Stands 1-1/4”H, 1-1/4” D across top.
Gannett Line
Enhance your client’s logo with a clear polyurethane Dome Hitch Cover with Decal. The covers are available with a 2” stem receiver and 1” stem receivers also are available on request. The covers are great for auto dealers, cubs, special events, fundraisers, sports teams, schools and more.
The 18-oz. Tritan Cadet Bottles with new Flip Straw Lid is molded with food-safe, dishwasher-safe, BPA free Tritan. Choose from five bottle colors and 14 solid or two-tone color lids.
Golden Pacific
This innovative, Personalized Carry-on Size Luggage allows you to bring your product to life. A vibrant insert resides in the inside of the clear front shell to protect it from the rigors of travel. Superior spinner wheels, a polycarbonate shell and smooth telescoping handle, the luggage offers prominent brand exposure and ease of use.

Gold Bond
Answer, refuse or redial phone calls directly from the Sonic Boom Bluetooth Speaker with flashing LED lights. Lights flash festively to the rhythm of the music. The speaker has pause and play tracks and the option of wireless or line-in connection. Retail style box and cord are included.
Gordon Sinclair
The Metallic Diego Gift Set features a 20-oz. double-wall metallic tumbler and six Belgian chocolate covered Oreos packaged in a luxurious gold and black gift box. Six color choices are available.
Made from 4.5-oz. 60/40 ring-spun cotton/polyester and available in sizes S-3XL, this women’s X-Temp shirt has mitered v-neck and side-seamed contoured cut for a flattering fit. Details include a stylish single-needle edge-stitched collar. It has moisture wicking control designed to adjust to body temperature and a 40+ UPF rating. Choose from six colors.
The innovative design of the ATOM™ Fusion Wireless Earbud Headset allows you to use a single earbud or fuse them together with a small connecting cord for stereo sound. Listen to music, make phone calls and even activate Siri. With one full charge (one hour), you get up to 3.5 hours of audio, 4 hours of talk time and 40 hours of standby. Rechargeable lithium battery charges with included micro-USB cable. Customize with a brand imprint to make the most of your next marketing campaign.

His Master’s Voice
Mike Schenker, MAS, Uncommon Threads
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It’s all about the time management – priorities are not always based on who’s screaming the loudest.

The bad news is that many of you will not recognize that title as the slogan of the old Radio Corporation of America. Some of you are now picturing RCA’s old mascot, Nipper, tilting his head listening to a phonograph. The good news is that, if you’re recognizing neither the title nor the Nipper imagery, this just means that I’m finally starting to skew to a younger audience. And now this month’s column:

Not a day goes by now that I don’t hear from someone asking, “So… how’s the new gig going?” By that, they’re actually inquiring how well my consultancy is doing. To the public, I certainly seem busy. Busy is one thing… successful is another.

sponsored by Next Level Apparel

In one form or another, I’ve been consulting to (and for) promotional industry participants for many years. I guess that’s what comes with being opinionated. I might not have realized that I was consulting at the time… it might have merely been me shooting off my mouth. Ask me a question, get a dissertation. How much time do we have?

Mike Schenker Consulting has actually been “a thing” for several years, as I’ve worked with a few small businesses who were either looking to enter the promotional industry or gain a larger footprint. All that, while otherwise gainfully employed or pretending to be. It’s only since mid-2016 that I’ve devoted myself full time to this endeavor. It’s really been an interesting experience finding my true voice.

One of the best parts? No boss. Clients, yes, but no boss. I get to choose with whom I work. The Trophy Wife may think otherwise, but I am the boss of me. If you knew how many voices there are in my head at any given time, you’d appreciate that this is no small task.

At any given moment I might have several projects going on (perhaps even one for each of those aforementioned voices). It’s all about the time management – priorities are not always based on who’s screaming the loudest.

This arrangement has allowed me to continue my writing (which still doesn’t mean I’ll get this column in on time. I’m all about maintaining tradition). At the same time, I’ve been able to secure more speaking opportunities both within and outside of the promotional products industry, as well as work on some new educational courses I’ll be offering in 2017.

One of my favorite things to do is playing Love Connection. Stealing directly from my own website (, I describe myself as an “Opportunity Liaison” and add “Isn’t it important to be a connector in life as well as business? Through my broad professional network I connect individuals seeking opportunities and companies seeking talent.” If it’s on the internet, it must be true.

What good are my 30-plus years’ worth of connections if I can’t put them to good use, and help friends and associates better their careers and companies? All I do is make the connections: it’s up to the individuals to make this work.

And the same holds true for the companies with whom I consult. I have lead several of these horses to water… that doesn’t mean that they’re going to drink. And if they do drink, it doesn’t mean that they’re take the time to drink the entire contents of what I’ve poured. And again… I get to walk away.

I collect quotes. Not formally, although I have saved one or two fortune cookie messages over the years (“You would make an excellent critic.” Really?) One of my all time favorites is from Robert Townsend, whom I’d assumed was the actor of that name. Nope, this Robert Townsend is, of all things, a business consultant. His quote has resonated with me for years… little did I know that it would someday be relevant to me. He wrote, “Consultants are people who borrow your watch and tell you what time it is, and then walk off with the watch.” It’s my goal to have a drawer full of watches.

Mike Schenker, MAS, is a promotional industry veteran and member of the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) Hall of Fame. He can be reached at

Weekly Poll Results
Did your company throw a holiday party this year? Identity Marketing Staff, Identity Research
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

Industry Heroes
Jeff Solomon, Deep Thoughts
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sponsored by Kaeser & Blair

In this Deep Thoughts commentary, filmed on the last day of the 2017 PPAI Expo, Solomon reflects on our industrys unsung heroes. Many of us dont understand everything these people do to make business happen. This was covered in a commentary he dubbed, Salute to Our Industry Heroes. Here’s the link to that piece on

Jeff Solomon, MAS, is the voice behind is a PPAI award winning business resource. With over 20 years of industry experience, he has a passion for networking and helping others. Based on his own personal journey, Jeff created SuccessFit4Life! an innovative program that drives product sales through SuccessFit4Life! WELLNESS PROGRAMS and EVENTS. Contact Jeff to learn how you will benefit from the innovative, sales generating SuccessFit4Life! program. His video website enables distributors to share short product videos with one click. Jeff is also the president of All American Marketing Group that is affiliated with a large national distributor.

It’s Showtime!
Trade shows offer big opportunities for distributors. Lisa Schofield, Product Feature
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sponsored by Bay State

Look around everywhere in your home and office. All those “things” you use were guaranteed to have made appearances by their manufacturers at a trade show.

In addition to large, national shows, like the Consumer Electronics Show, there are thousands of regional and local events, many of which are important events for local businesses. Additionally, many charitable foundations host “taste of” events, featuring local restaurants, breweries and wineries – so, yes, your local establishments are prime for promotional products to boost their efforts at and after these events.

Many have begun to wonder whether widespread technological advancement has made trade shows obsolete: with the easy availability of information and communication, is there any need for face to face events? Absolutely!

“Shows are a big investment – booth space, freight / drayage, airfare, hotels, etc.,” says Joe Durand of Larlu. Overall, for a client, a successful show includes clear branding in the booth – printed table covers, signage, and a clean looking booth; and some type of creative traffic builder to attract attention in the booth, such as useful items given away like micro fiber screen cleaning cloths, bling lanyards, erasers, etc. Remind clients who intend to invite key customers (large, significant accounts) to provide those VIPS with a gift at the booth for showing up.

Eric Johnson, MAS of Halls & Company/ID Line, states that the most important idea behind a trade show is the ability and goal to build strong relationships. The best way to accomplish this, he explains, is with a well-designed and readable event badge, which immediately projects the person’s name and position, allowing the attendee more comfort in approaching to ask questions.

“ID Line’s Event tags can accomplish this and can be printed two sided so that one side is not blank,” he describes. “Everyone knows that the blank side is always the side that ends up showing – so get rid of the blank side! We now carry a wide range of options and price points and we can also print QR codes and Imbedded Digital codes that can be scanned but not seen.”

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When it comes to booth display, Scott Thackston of Aprons, Etc. observes that not only are attractive and effective displays appreciated by your exhibitor clients, but also by other exhibitors and show attendees. He suggests using a dye sublimation imprinting process helps create a real wow-factor display. “As show costs have increased and available manpower has decreased, we find more exhibitors opting for smaller booths. This presents the challenge of being seen as visitors walk down the aisles. Dye sublimation, and the creative opportunities it provides, helps exhibitors and their messages shine!”

More clients that exhibit will likely do so at smaller events. Thackston notes that there are many trade shows that are table top shows instead of full booth displays, so Aprons Etc. has introduced its new Table Top Sign Banners, which provide your client-exhibitor “greater visibility in a small space since it features an over the table impactful space for the client’s message and logo while keeping the valuable space on top of the table free for other uses,” he describes.

Johnson points out that booth appearance has gone from suit and tie to logoed apparel and custom name badges, which can increase your sale with garments. “Why wear or match every other exhibitor on the show floor? When attendees are walking for miles, an exhibitor needs to find a way to stand out and be remembered, and the booth staff are the ones that make that happen. So dress them professionally and make sure the guest knows who they are talking to at the booth,” he advises.

Giveaways, meanwhile, should reflect some aspect of the client’s unique corporate personality, or the new product/service it is launching and therefore spotlighting. The question becomes, “How can your giveaway do more for your brand during a trade show?”

There is an endless array of items to choose from, like tote bags (always a favorite), pens, flashlights, car chargers, hand sanitizers, umbrellas, notepads, buttons, tech products, screen cleaners, mints, lip balms, and much, much more, depending on those attending the event.


Scott Thackston of Aprons Etc.: “A distributor’s client was a major university. They purchased table covers and banners for each department for an on-campus visitors day, then used them separately throughout the year as each department attended and sponsored separate events. For a university / college, there are many opportunities including the Marketing, Alumni, Athletics, and Academic departments. Each with a different buyer, so ask for and get referrals!”

A Sneaky Sleepover in IKEA
Is an illicit teen prank really a PR gift? Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

You know who they are – those poor folks suffering through life with a short attention span. Conversations divert from the topic at hand with little or no warning. But, could it be there’s actually a strategy in mind with this diversion? Could that strategy also work as a public relations ploy when corporate image is at stake?

We’ve talked in this space before about the IKEA dresser tip-over risk. It’s serious. At least six have died, and a child is injured every 30 minutes in the U.S. by furniture or a TV toppling over on them. That’s why The Quality Certification Alliance was asked last year to represent our industry and partner with the CPSC as a Community Leader for the Anchor It! Campaign. The 29 million dressers recalled by IKEA beginning last June is the largest recall of its kind.

The news came last month that IKEA had settled wrongful death lawsuits filed after the death of three Philadelphia children for a whopping $50 million – the largest settlement amount ever. IKEA also agreed to donate $50,000 in memory of each of the three children to hospitals in communities where their families live, and another $100,000 to Shane’s Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on children’s safety and tip-over issues founded by the mother of a child killed in a tip-over incident. The news black eye was not getting any better for IKEA.

But then, IKEA’s corporate image caught an unlikely break. Two teens in Belgium, in timing that is at least an interesting coincidence, snuck into an IKEA for a sleepover and posted a video on YouTube that has been seen nearly two and a half million times. “Two Idiots at Night in IKEA” has been duplicated with sleepovers by other teens in IKEA stores worldwide (in the U.S., Canada, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, Australia and Poland), apparently initiated after first watching the video. Cue the PR team to swing into action, testing a lighter tone in an attempt to gently offset the currently very negative corporate news.

A spokesperson told the BBC, “We appreciate that people are interested in Ikea and want to create fun experiences. However, the safety and security of our co-workers and customers is our highest priority and that's why we do not allow sleepovers in our stores.” Deft move, or just dumb luck, it’s a clever play by IKEA either way. They get to appear stern towards pranksters while simultaneously spreading the news about a hipster trend involving their brand. It’s not a strategy that I would suggest if you are facing a recall of promotional products you’ve sourced – probably a better idea to make sure it is safe and compliant BEFORE you ship it. Don’t want to see you yelling “Squirrel!”

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Speaking of QCA, it announced last week in Las Vegas at EXPO the addition of a new member to the Distributor Advocacy Council. Blink Marketing is joining the DAC, a group which recognizes and supports that compliance solutions are best done as a collaborative effort between suppliers and distributors. Daniel Gardner, managing partner at Blink said, “Blink Marketing is passionate about responsible sourcing and has worked tirelessly over the last few years to ensure we are doing all we can to maintain the highest level of product safety for our clients. In striving to go above and beyond, Blink approached the Distributor Advocacy Council to gain an even greater insight into compliance, safety and supplier transparency.”

Tim Brown, executive director for operations at QCA, added “Blink Marketing, an up-and-coming industry force, joining our Distributor Advisory Council furthers the cause of taking to heart our industry’s responsibility to protect our clients’ brands. Whether stated or not, end-buyers expect to receive safe and compliant products from our industry. Distributors like Blink elevate the professionalism of our industry by promoting the value of accredited supply chain processes through independent third-party auditors.”

Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for more than 35 years, working in commercial television, Hollywood film and home video, publishing, and promotional brand merchandise. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He recently retired as executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant promotional products. Before that, he was director of brand merchandise for Michelin. As a recovering end-user client, he can’t help but continue to consult Fortune 500 consumer brands on promo product safety when asked. You can also find him working as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem, traveling the world with his lovely wife, or enjoying a cigar at his favorite local cigar shop. Follow Jeff on Twitter, or reach out to him at

In the News
PromoCorner Wins PPAI Technology Award; Chocolate Inn Taylor & Grant Acquires AmuseMints. Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by Bay State

PromoCorner Wins PPAI Technology Award

PromoCorner was awarded a Silver Medal in the annual PPAI Technology Awards competition which recognizes PPAI members for development and effective use of technology in a variety of applications. The PromoCorner staff accepted the award at the awards ceremony at the PPAI Expo on Tuesday.

The PromoCorner award was for Web Content/Functionality. This category of competition focused on the web-based presentation of a company’s overall products and services in an effective format utilizing concise content and appropriate terminology for the intended audience. Criteria included:

• Overall navigation

• Content

• Quality

• Creativity

Chocolate Inn / Taylor & Grant Expands, Acquires AmuseMints

Chocolate Inn / Taylor & Grant recently completed a six month move that took it from a 50,000-sq.-ft. facility to a 140,000-sq.-ft. facility in Hicksville, NY.

David Miller, president of Chocolate Inn, said, “Newly acquired capabilities plus our acquisition of AmuseMints necessitated the need for additional space and concludes in Chocolate Inn being a one-stop shop of confectionery, mint, chocolate, and snack products to the promotional products industry.”

AmuseMints has been a fixture in the souvenir market since 2004. Its creative packaging (including unique tin shapes), industry-leading artwork, creative design library, licensed portfolio, and short run custom capabilities have made the company a leader in the souvenir trade – ranging from theme parks, national parks, airports, gift shops, zoos, and other tourist destinations.

Chocolate Inn’s additional capabilities include state-of-the-art customization, custom chocolate molding (chocolate in any shape or size, including bars and themed pieces) one- to four-color process printing on tins, plastics, drinkware and more; direct full color edible printing on chocolate, candy and snacks; full color digital and flexographic bag / label manufacturing capabilities (short-run printed customizable bags); printing and die cutting of boxes and packaging; wrapped candies and truffles; and more.

Fey Promotional Products Acquires Magna-Tel

Fey Promotional Products Group announced it has acquired the assets of Cape Girardeau, MO, supplier Magna-Tel, Inc. “This acquisition brings together two long-standing suppliers of promotional products,” said Mike Fey, president of Edgerton, MN-based Fey Promotional Products Group, “We truly are excited to have the opportunity to align ourselves with a company such as this that has a long standing reputation of the highest product quality and an extensive history of excellent customer service.”

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QCA Expends Distributor Advisory Council with Blink Marketing

The Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional product industry’s only independent, non-governmental accreditation organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe products, has expanded its Distributor Advocacy Council (DAC) with the addition of Franklin, TN-based Blink Marketing.

The DAC mission is to elevate the standards by which firms that import and/or manufacture products are consistently delivering safe, high quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise, and its affiliates recognize QCA as the industry standard. Together, the DAC and QCA Accredited Companies are forming a new level of collaboration in this industry-changing effort, which is effectively the only way to ensure supply chain transparency and control.

Blink Marketing provides clients with an all-in approach to promotional marketing that includes awards and recognition, apparel and uniforms, custom packaging, fulfillment, merchandise, paper products, signs and displays, webstores and ecommerce. It was named the 2015 Distributor of the Year by Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), and it was awarded the designation of fourth fastest-growing promotional products distributor in the country by Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Additionally, the company has been featured on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company list and holds Best Place To Work titles from PPB Magazine and Nashville Business Journal.

“Blink Marketing is passionate about responsible sourcing and has worked tirelessly over the last few years to ensure we are doing all we can to maintain the highest level of product safety for our clients,” says Daniel Gardner, managing partner. “Being a part of the Distributor Advocacy Council gives us an even greater insight into compliance, safety and supplier transparency. We look forward to having a wider scope of supply chain visibility along with a contributing voice when it comes to current product safety and future compliance policies.”

“Whether stated or not, end buyers expect to receive safe and compliant products from our industry,” said Tim Brown, MAS, QCA executive director – operations. “Distributors such as Blink elevate the professionalism of our industry by promoting the value of accredited supply chain processes through independent third-party auditors.”

For more information about Blink Marketing, visit

For more information about the QCA Distributor Advocacy Council, visit

Staton Now Offers Next Level Apparel

Next Level Apparel announced that Staton Corporate and Casual is now a new full-line distributor of its products. “Staton, with warehouse locations in Dallas and Memphis, is sure to create significant opportunities in the Southeast with the addition of the Next Level brand,” the company reported. As a family owned business since 1981, Staton Corporate and Casual maintains a customer first philosophy while maximizing selection, value, and service. Next Level Apparel, based in L.A., is a leading fashion blanks manufacturer that uses innovative fabric blends that are heavenly soft, at a value that is second to none.

From the PPAI Expo; Dressing for the Show; Travel Case Study.
Best bosses ever; Top business conferences; Memorable Vegas experiences; Industry consolidation; skucon and more. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, Delivering Marketing Joy
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

In case you missed it, here's a re-broadcast of Bill and Kirby's live podcast from from Skucon at the PPAI Expo, which originally aired on Sunday.

When to Fire Clients
There are times when making a sale is just not worth the effort. Don Sanders, Drive-Ins
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sponsored by Kaeser & Blair

Don Sanders is a 25-year promotional products industry veteran. Since 1982 he has sold more than $25 million worth of imprinted items. He has won two PPAI Pyramid Awards and hosts the industry’s first sales training site,

Content Creation vs. Curation
Kirby and Amy Hasseman, He Said, She Said
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sponsored by Bay State

Kirby and Amy Hasseman have over 35 years of combined experience the promotional products industry. Together, they own and operate Hasseman Marketing out of Coshocton, OH (the birthplace of promotional advertising). Hasseman Marketing has four full-time employees and six sales team members.

Profitability: When is Too Much Too Much?
Profit is NOT a four-letter word. Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, Cliff's Notes
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I need to set the record straight, during my 35 years in this business, I have never used a handgun in any sales presentation; my clients always had choices!
sponsored by Next Level Apparel

For those of you who have worked with me or heard me speak, you know one of my mantras is getting paid for what you do, not what you sell. Unfortunately for some, we are relegated to what suppliers suggest we sell their products for, and while I appreciate that, all of the other things we do seem to fall into the free bucket or part of customer service.

Vendors set their prices on various criteria: warehousing, fulfillment, staffing, rent or mortgage, insurance, marketing, advertising, catalog printing, attending shows, technology enhancements – just to name a few. All of this and more are factored in to what a supplier ultimately charges for their product. An as an aid to us, they use a simplistic coding system that can tell you in moment what you net cost is, but folks that is a SUGGESTED price.

There are lots of vendors that sell a “C” handled white coffee mug, the basic version is basically the same yet the prices can vary and they do. Why is that? Well, for the very factors indicated earlier. So if one vendor shows the mug for $2 net and another at $3, does it mean that the second vendor is ripping you off? Not at all!

What are you worth per hour?
When I work with distributors and their salespeople, we will often breakdown their sales and profits and determine what exactly that individual is making an hour for all the effort they put in every week. You should do it, you might be shocked. About six months ago I was working with a person who was very talented and when we did this exercise it was determined that she was making about $10.80 per hour. This person was shocked and rightly so. (We’ll come back to this.)

Are you a professional order taker or consultant?
There are a ton of people who claim they are consultants but get paid like an order taker. Don’t get me wrong, if you are content with that, COOL. But if you’re not you should read further.

Consultant: Experienced professional who provides expert knowledge (often packaged under a catchy name) for a fee. Source:

Professional: A person formally certified by a professional body of belonging to a specific profession by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice. And whose competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards. 2. Person who has achieved an acclaimed level of proficiency in a calling or trade. Source:

Order Taker: Type of salesperson who only collects orders but does not make any diligent attempt to find new customers, or to persuade existing customers to increase the size or frequency of their orders. Source:

Unfortunately, most people don’t see themselves in the role or capacity of a professional consultant. So I ask you this: Don’t you ask questions, help determine a client’s need, solve problems, manage projects, do risk assessments, do continuing education, negotiate with vendors, outsource tasks to proper channels, secure art, do art, make suggestions (consult) on products, merchandise, packaging, proper layout and positioning, select proper shipping, follow up on all of that to ensure the client’s needs are met? You probably do a lot more, so why aren’t you getting paid for that? Is the value truly only in the product?

This is not an indictment on vendors; they are pricing their goods for a profit to cover all of the things we discussed and some we haven’t; and they should do this. The point is, when a vendor says “… my coffee mug is $2 net and I suggest you sell it for $3, please remember that is a suggested price. Each vendor’s circumstance is different and therefore pricing will be different as well. Just like you, different circumstances different pricing.

When you bring additional services to your clients and prospects, that is value – but it is perceived value. If your clients and prospects find value and worth in your uniqueness, then they will pay for it and you shouldn’t feel bad about what you charge. I will never forget a delightful conversation with the late Marvin Spike from ASI years ago. We got into a discussion about profitability and his words still flow through my head, and perhaps that may be a reason I preach about this topic. He said, “Cliff, remember profit is not a four-letter word.” How true. It is the source by which we sustain our families, save for the future, pay for education, put a roof over our heads etc. It’s what all companies should strive toward, bringing value and getting paid for the hard work.

So when IS too much, too much?

Years ago, I wrote an article about raising the bar, bringing value and getting paid. I shared an idea of how, when selling high-end jackets, I use to use suggestive selling to generate huge margin opportunities every time I presented. In this article I shared a story about selling laser engraved hangers to a client where I made 500 percent gross profit. The client loved the idea, bought the hangers for the jackets and had a remarkable response rate. After the article was published I was called, perhaps emailed, by a reader that accused me of extortion, stating, “We are in a 50/50 industry and you should be ashamed of yourself for overcharging the client. At most you should have doubled your cost.”

As indicated at the beginning of this article, I never took a handgun to that presentation or ANY other presentation for that matter. I simply had an idea, shared the idea with a client, associated a cost to it based on my effort and the originality, and he loved it. Furthermore, he had a choice! I was not the only one who could provide laser engraved hangers. I did not hold a monopoly on the hanger business – but I was intuitive enough to develop an idea, have a sample made, show it at the presentation and have the client get excited about it, believing that what I was charging for had VALUE.

Additionally, years ago I had a prospect contact me about printing one tennis shoe, the shoe was a part of a photo shoot. I did my calculations and realized how much time (and overtime) it was going to take and based on my hourly rate, the quote was for around $1,700 – and she paid it! When people see value in what you do – the stuff that separates you from the competition – that’s where the profits are.

I can go to one restaurant and buy a burger for $6.99 or go to another and pay $15.99. What’s the difference? It would be in all of the other unique things the restaurant provides. If I value those things, I am prepared to pay, and by the way, no one has EVER forced me to dine or buy anything I did not want.

So when is too much, too much? It’s when people don’t have a choice, or when they are forced to do something that they absolutely need. Two examples, one recent, one some time ago.

Years ago a devastating hurricane ravished homes in Florida, plywood that was once $20 a sheet then went for $80+ a sheet – overnight. That’s taking advantage but you had no choice; you had to have it. Most recently the situation with the pharmaceutical company that was charging $600 for Epi-pens. People depended on them and their price skyrocketed. No choice here – they had an audience that needed that product and the government had to step in. Being abusive and taking advantage of people is wrong, but when there are significant choices, then it’s fair.

Our products and services are not objects upon which people’s lives are dependent – our clients have choices.

You have a choice too. If you’re happy where you’re at, then perfect; but for those of you, who are inventive, creative and are always looking for ways to improve your clients' marketing, help them grow sales, drive more people to trade shows, help effective launches of new products and services, reward and recognize employees – NEVER feel bad about charging for your time and ingenuity. Agencies do it, doctors do it, lawyers do it. What makes you any different? Educate yourself, be creative, bring value, create differentiators and get paid for the effort – remember, “Profit is NOT a four-letter word.”

Until next month, continued good selling (and profits)!

For more than 30 years, Cliff has been speaking, training and consulting internationally to associations and national business groups on more effective ways to market themselves, their products and services, as well as motivating their personnel. Recognized by PPAI for his creativity, he has won the prestigious PPAI Pyramid award 25 times, and the Printing Industry's PSDA’s Peak Award for creativity five times in three years. He has also received PPAI's Ambassador Speaker of the Year Award six consecutive years and was the inaugural recipient of PPAI's Distinguished Service Award. Named one of top six industry speakers and trainers, he also was recognized by PPAI in the book, "PPAI at 100," as having a significant influence in education. He has also been recognized by Counselor Magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in the Promotional Products Industry. You can engage with Cliff at

In the News
Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

Gildan Wins Bid for American Apparel

Gildan Activewear yesterday won a bankruptcy auction to buy American Apparel for about $88 million in cash. Gildan will not take any of American Apparel's 110 stores-leaving their fate unknown, but will get rights to its brand, and some of its manufacturing equipment.

The company will also take over some of American Apparel's manufacturing plants in southern California, Reuters reported, one of the largest garment-making operations in the United States, with about 3,500 employees. The auction for American Apparel attracted companies like Amazon, Forever 21, and California-based Next Level Apparel, but Gildan outbid all of them, raising its initial offer of $66 million. The Gildan takeover is still subject to a bankruptcy judge approving it on Thursday.

Ball Pro Acquires Diversified-Adtee

Eden Prairie, MN based Ball Pro announced that has acquired Diversified-Adtee of Normal, IL effective January 1, 2017.

Ball Pro president Tim Hanson, MAS, stated, “Ball Pro has been looking for product lines the past few years to broaden our offerings. Diversified-Adtee sells quality kitchenware and golf products. The golf products fit nicely into Ball Pro’s current offerings. Golfers, more than ever, are looking for products such as drink wear, steak knives, grill sets and other kitchen products they can use daily.”

Kevin Mullroony, president of Diversified-Adtee, will be joining Ball Pro as a vice president of sales. He will continue to reside in Illinois. The equipment and inventory have already been moved to Minnesota, thus allowing the business to run uninterrupted. Both companies will be in booth #5545 at the PPAI Las Vegas Expo this week and at ASI Orlando next week.

Schenker Named GCPPA Executive Director

The Gold Coast Promotional Products Association (GCPPA) is pleased to announced that Mike Schenker, MAS/MASI, will serve as executive director of the association. GCPPA president Jean Kalinsky, BASI, reports that, “The board is excited to have someone with Mike’s promotional industry experience and recognition join us as executive director. His years working with both SAAGNY and PPAI made him the ideal choice for managing our association, facilitating growth and for providing our members, nationwide, with the services and offerings of a leading regional association.”

Mike, who lists himself as “All That” at Mike Schenker, Consulting, has been in the promotional products industry for many years as both a distributor and supplier. He has been a contributing editor at Identity Marketing for 20 years and is also recognizable as one of the administrators of the popular “Promotional Products Professionals” group on Facebook.

“I’m honored to be joining this great group of dedicated promo industry people,” Schenker said. “This association is on the verge of some very exciting times and I’m happy to lead it into the future.”

Cold Calls in a Digital World - Are They Worth It?
Absolutely, when done right! Gregg Emmer, Marketing Matters
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sponsored by Kaeser & Blair

Is it worth it depends on who you ask. Should you care? You bet you should! First let’s define what a cold call is. For a study Baylor University did a few years ago they considered a cold call as a telephone call to a random list with no pre-qualifications and only a geographic parameter. The study was conducted by students – millennials – so the idea of any in-person contact didn’t even cross their minds! They enlisted the assistance of 160 real estate professionals with a national firm. Their goal was to set appointments.

The Baylor study, even with no pre-qualification and only phone contact, showed there is value. Without going into the number of calls to get an appointment and costs for each successful transaction, the final count showed value.

For professionals in the promotional marketing/specialty advertising industry, we do have to look at an important consideration. If you are a new company just ramping up, prospecting for clients and doing it efficiently is required. For well established businesses, you may get greater revenue generation from a more active and focused relationship with existing customers. This information, however, will still be useful to deal with attrition, which is estimated to be a minimum of 15 percent of your current business each year.

If you did your own research on this topic as I did you would find that content marketing firms, digital ad agencies, web developers and other “digital enthusiasts” consider cold calling dead and want to bury it forever. There is another side to this story.

Competition is a good thing in any strong market because it gives a marketer a chance to differentiate from the others. By showing your USP (unique selling proposition) to a client, you leave the crowd behind. But what if that crowd is so large that you have little or no chance to show your USP? A Google search for “promotional products” brings back 74.4 million hits! If you read my other articles and realize you don’t sell products, the situation improves a bit. A search for “advertising specialties” only will get you 3.9 million competitors. If you stop searching for things and instead look for marketing support by searching for “specialty advertising” you only have to compete with 3.5 million others!

sponsored by Bay State

Another reality is that a majority of people you talk to on the phone will ask if you have a website they can look at. A great way to get off the call and even if they do take a look, they will be exposed to many other offers similar to yours.

The cold calling Baylor did, even with valuable results, is not anything I would recommend. But with pre-selection and pre-qualification, the work associated with cold calling goes down and the value shoots up quickly. Nothing should be random. Be highly selective choosing businesses YOU want as clients. Check on their backgrounds and even run a credit check if you use a credit service. Once you have YOUR list, then decide on how you will cold call the account.

Phoning for appointments is tedious, will not get you to the proper person about half the time and most of all has no continuing effect on the potential client. But what if you actually use the same powerful marketing media you want a chance to discuss with the potential client? The next part of this gets scary so be sure you are sitting down. What if you actually made an in-person sales call on the account? Even if you assume that the person you need to see will not be available you can accomplish a lot.

Leave behind your catalog, business card and a “gift” for the person you want to see. Your gift – a well selected promotional item – will absolutely be delivered for you, by hand to the right person. The fact that you are a living breathing human being and not a faceless website will be inescapable. You actually have then demonstrated the power of promotional specialty marketing because you got right to the boss’s desk! And you will have a continuing potential to influence since your “gift” will stay with the prospect long term. When you follow up with your call and indicate that you dropped off a gift and your card, the chance of getting past the gatekeeper goes way up. If you left him/her with a gift, too, your contact with the boss is almost guaranteed.

You can continue to stand in line with millions of competitors; you can even jump up and wave flags (banners for the digital crowd) to try to get their attention, or you can get out of the line and go straight to the front, knock on the prospect’s door and let them know you are on the job, in their community and ready to help them grow their business.

One last thing. If you read this whole article, you are a tiny minority of the people that saw the words cold calling in the title and never went any farther. The same is true in the marketplace – you will have virtually no competition knocking on the same door. Sometimes that path less traveled is actually a shortcut.

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 specialty advertising 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

Weekly Poll Results
2017 Sales Predictions Identity Marketing Staff, Identity Research
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sponsored by Next Level Apparel

Quality, Multifunctional Devices Driving Tech Market
Sherry L. Baranek, Product Feature
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

Tech accessories and products continue to permeate the promotional products industry as smart phone and tablet usage reach unprecedented levels. Products like chargers, speakers, virtual reality headsets, flash drives, ear buds, headphones, battery packs, cases, organizers, and styluses are compact, lightweight — and appreciated by recipients!

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reports that 68 percent of adults have a smartphone; and tablet ownership is up to 45 percent among adults. Numbers like this will only increase as technology becomes more sophisticated — and the promotional products industry is capitalizing on these market trends.

According to Margit Fawbush of BIC Graphic, trends in promotional tech products and accessories continue to evolve and track major releases by top smartphones and computer brands. Athena Promo’s Steve Davis agrees about this market mirroring retail trends, noting that promotional products and accessories in this market focus on mobile and tech products, and are driven by tech trends in consumer electronics. “Demand is increasing substantially and 2017 will be a fantastic year for the industry,” she maintains.

Earbuds and headphone sales are extremely strong in this category, Gwen Brey of Beacon Promotions maintains. “We are seeing more interest in Bluetooth® items and items that are UL approved,” she comments. “Advertisers want their name associated with quality products. Most people correlate quality with a Bluetooth® product or products that have been tested by the Underwriters Laboratories testing facility.” She adds that demand continues to be strong as customers are continually searching for something new in different since tech products evolve so quickly.

Dan Jellinek of The Magnet Group notes that trends the company is seeing are following the consumer market, namely in the virtual reality sector. “Virtual Reality headsets have hit the market strong and are getting a tremendous amount of press and support through rapidly growing apps and content,” he elaborates.

Tech products designed for multiple uses are trending at Compass Industries. Gary Rosenberg questions, “How can one product be used in more than one way thereby making it a ‘multi-tool’? Can it be used for more than just a tech purpose?” He reports that demand has been so strong since the company introduced two items during the 2016 holiday season that it has added a third items for 2017 and are continually exploring other possible products.

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Promotional products suppliers have been working tirelessly to introduce new tech products and accessories to the market and keep up with continually evolving technology. The Magnet Group recently introduced two pairs of headsets, the TEK 200 and TEK 201. “These products have a tremendous imprint area, and we are very pleased with the sell-through,” Jellinek comments. “They give you the ability to create a virtual reality experience and are designed to use your phone screen as the ‘expensive’ component — enabling a low cost yet fantastic experience.”

The #32029 Arnold Aluminum Power Bank (8000mAh) from BIC Graphic is small, sleek, and perfect for on-the-go travelers who need serious power, Fawbush notes. “It easily will fit in your pocket and provide reliable power when you need it most. This power bank is UL listed, has a built-in LED flashlight, and dual outputs which allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time.” The company’s #32024 Crank It Up Wireless Bluetooth® Speaker is portable and wireless. The company’s myCharge® portable charger line offers Peak Power™ technology, which Fawbush explains allows the company to maximize the amount of available power into the portable charger based on the input source (car, wall outlet, computer), which allows for faster recharging.

BIG Graphic has also unveiled several tech accessories. The #32025 Oh So Cool USB Hub Organizer acts as a cup to hold pens, highlighters, scissors, markers, phone, etc., but also adds three extra USB ports to a computer. The #32035 Advocate Audio Travel Set is a high quality carrying case for easy transportation and storage that includes portable earbuds for on-the-go listening. A five-way splitter also doubles as a phone/table stand.

BIC also has several styluses available, which Fawbush says are becoming more necessary as note-taking and drawing apps become more popular and higher-level functionality is developing. “Stylus pens use the touch screen keyboard more quickly, draw on the touch screen with more accuracy, project a more professional appearance when using a tablet, and keep the screen cleaner,” she affirms. “Multi-function pens are highly valued as a promotional product — whether it’s multi-color, dual function like highlighter/pen combos, or has a tech accessory built in like a phone stand or LED pointer. These extra features add interest and make a traditional promo products like a writing instrument even more practical.”

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Rechargeable flashlight/power banks have been an outstanding product at Compass Industries, according to Rosenberg. “The first two we offered came in two sizes and had different functions,” he details. “Both could be used as an emergency power bank for a cell phone and they are powerful rechargeable flashlights. Our #3592, a magnetic rechargeable LED flashlight, work light and power bank has been an instant hit for many programs and uses.”

New from Beacon Promotions are Bluetooth® speakers and earbuds. According to Brey, company best sellers are its wireless earbuds, which are Bluetooth® compatible and feature arc supporters for improved stability; the 4 Port USB hub, which conveniently charges up to four different power devices at one time; and the portable USB water bottle humidifier. Powered by a micro USB cable, this item can moisturize the skin, increase humidity, reduce dust and bacteria, and remove odors/smells. Brey adds that it works with any size water bottle, but it must be refilled if water is below the filter. It also has a safety auto shut-off after eight hours.

At Athena Promo, Bluetooth® speakers, flash drives, power banks, and chargers have been popular, and the company plans on adding more products this year.

Slim power banks are hot sellers at SunJoy, with Harrison Fu pointing out their slim and compact design with big imprint area as being appealing to the promotional products industry. Best sellers include the Slim Power Bank with UL-certified Battery, Ultra Slim Power Bank with UL-certified Battery, Horizon Slim XL Power Bank, and Grandi Slim Power Bank.

When it comes to selling tech products and accessories, Davis at Athena Promo recommends distributors understand how each product works and its benefits. “Once you know how a given item works and how it is used in general, you can apply that knowledge when discussing these item options with customers,” he explains.

Showing how these tech products and accessories work—as well as offering a variety of price points and functionalities—is also key to making a successful sale, Rosenberg maintains. “Show it, people want it,” he stresses. “They can be presented to end-users for home, business use, or travel. They offer security, safety and reliability.” The Magnet Group’s Jellinek agrees with this method when it comes to selling the company’s Virtual Reality headsets. “Download some cool content on your phone, have it loaded and ready in your headset, and ask your client to put them on. Sold.”

Expanding on these views is Beacon Promotion’s Brey, who concludes, “There are several different uses for tech products. Some are looking for inexpensive items that are given out in volume. The popular items here are USB car chargers and wall adapters. But the more expensive items are usually used as gifts for anniversaries, performance incentives, or business gifts. This where the power banks, Bluetooth® speakers, and earbuds are great choices. The beauty of tech products is that any market can give these away, not just tech companies.”

Trade Show Tips You May Have Not Thought Of
With Glenda Stormes-Bice, MAS. Jeff Solomon, Deep Thoughts
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sponsored by Next Level Apparel

In this Deep Thoughts commentary I interview my good friend Glenda Stormes-Bice. We discuss trade shows tips that I'm sure many of you have not thought of. Glenda and two other savvy industry veterans, Lee Ann Peter and Jennifer Sullivan came up with a great trade show prep list. This is really good stuff! Even if you are a salty old industry veteran, you should check out their list in the Business Building Articles section on

Jeff Solomon, MAS, is the voice behind is a PPAI award winning business resource. With over 20 years of industry experience, he has a passion for networking and helping others. Based on his own personal journey, Jeff created SuccessFit4Life! an innovative program that drives product sales through SuccessFit4Life! WELLNESS PROGRAMS and EVENTS. Contact Jeff to learn how you will benefit from the innovative, sales generating SuccessFit4Life! program. His video website enables distributors to share short product videos with one click. Jeff is also the president of All American Marketing Group that is affiliated with a large national distributor.

In the News
Quinn Flags Earns SGIA Recognition; Hub Pen Co. Acquires Beacon Promotions. Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

Quinn Flags Earns SGIA Recognition

The 2016 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Expo brought together leaders of the specialty imaging industry this year in Las Vegas. In addition to a successful showcase, Quinn Flags was recognized in the Association's prestigious Golden Image Competition with an honorable mention for flags.

“I am very proud of the Quinn Flags team,” said Ryan Halvorsen, chief operations officer. “Our work was compared to the best in the world, and we came out on top. That’s quite an accomplishment!”

“The judges had a very difficult time this year, not because of the sheer volume of entries, but because of the overall quality of the work. Judges in virtually every category told me the entries were so good that choosing winners was a real challenge,” said Johnny Shell, SGIA’s vice president of technical services. Shell added that the Golden Image competition is judged on the technical accomplishments of each entry, excluding aesthetic issues from the evaluation and scoring process. Prints are judged on the level of difficulty and quality of execution.

“Winning the Honorable Mention for Flags puts Quinn Flags among the top specialty printers in the world in terms of quality and capability. The ability to consistently print such high-quality products indicates that Quinn Flags is an expert at controlling the many variables involved in specialty printing,” Shell said.

Hub Pen Co. Acquires Beacon Promotions

Hub Pen Company announced it has acquired Beacon Promotions.

“For more than 60 years, Hub Pen has focused solely on writing instruments and in doing so we were able to deliver the highest quality pens at a better value than anyone in the market,” said Joe Fleming, president of Hub Pen, in the release. “Joining forces with Beacon Promotions enables us to apply that same passion for excellence to a broader product offering while continuing to deliver the best writing instruments in the industry.”

BIC Graphic Issues Safety Compliance Statement

BIC Graphic announced that nearly all its product SKUs across all three of its 2017 catalogs are Prop 65 compliant and do not require a Prop 65 label when shipping to California. The only minor exceptions being products that will inherently require a label due to the material used in the construction of the item (e.g., lead crystal).

The company noted that:
• BIC Graphic products are rigorously tested to confirm compliance to Prop 65, CPSIA and other North American product safety laws and standards.

• BIC Graphic technology items are tested to applicable UL, UN and FCC standards.

• All plastic drinkware products are BPA Free.

• Health, Wellness & Safety products go through extensive analysis to confirm compliance with all applicable FDA regulations.

• BIC Graphic is C-TPAT Tier II certified by U.S. Customs which evidences their superior commitment to supply chain security.

• BIC Graphic is QCA Accredited - The promotional product industry’s only independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe, high quality products.

• BIC Graphic participates in the PPAI Product Safety Awareness Program.

Pro Towels Adds New Sales Reps

The Pro Towels announced it has added two new additions to its sales team. Julie Nordine-Jacob with JNJ Marketing will cover Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Beata Miller with Jules Scheck & Associates will be covering the Northeast and Upstate New York. Both sales representatives from each company will represent products from Pro Towels, Kanata Blanket, Neet Feet, and Superior.

Learning New Skills: Just Do It! What Will You Get from Expo?
Educational sessions, podcast, part-time distributors, Las Vegas dining and more. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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sponsored by Kaeser & Blair

In this weekly “talk show” column, industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of brandivate discuss a variety of hot­-button industry topics. Click on the graphic to hear their “UnScripted” conversation.

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