ASI vs. PPAI, Proofing Artwork, Business Cards and More.
Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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In this weekly "talk show" column, industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of brandivate discuss a variety of hot­button industry topics. Click on the graphic to hear their "Unscripted" conversation.

Who Makes Better Salespeople: Men or Women?
Kirby and Amy Hasseman, He Said, She Said
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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.

Fun in the Sun... and in the Office
Tayla Carpenter, Women in Business
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Well, not so much fun, but profits and profits are nice. The seasons they are a changing and it affects everything. With that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind when working around vacations, planning for the future and more.

Schedule Modifications

Without proper scheduling techniques, you could miss a huge order, your kid’s playoff game or miss a flight to Fiji (to dream a dream). A great way to avoid missing out on profits is to review your orders from the previous year, especially if your clients’ needs are seasonally based. Most non-profits (at least in the northern states), schedule their benefit walks, bike rides and the like when folks are less likely to be found frozen mid-step in an eight-foot snowbank. Their promotional product needs are usually substantial so you’ll need to plan for them in advance.

Your schedule and your clients’ schedules will likely be affected as well. School is out for the summer and if your kids aren’t being shuttled off to camp, you’re going to have to find a way to make time for them, too. If your business is a full-time gig, consider outside help and hire a nanny for a few hours. Trying to do it all will only hurt your profits which will ultimately hurt your family. Your clients are people too and like any sane individual, they need retreats from reality. Make sure they’re not on vacation when you need them to approve something. How, you ask? Do just that – ask them! Getting involved or at the very least, feigning interest, in your clients’ lives will let them believe that you think of them as something more than just a cash cow. You deserve a break, too. Let your clients know when you’re planning on jetting off into the sunset so they know you’ll be unavailable.


When working with non-profits, build your relationships by attending the function. Stephanie Zafarana, president of Pica Marketing Group and a member of A Woman’s View Advisory Council states that they “have a lot of events that we’re not only helping clients prep for, we usually attend a lot of them. The planning process helps us not only organize our own business, but because we have all our clients in order, it gives us the ability to continue to get new clients.” Planning and strategic maneuvers at their finest. Summer is the ultimate networking opportunity. Again, without the ever looming threat of freezing to death, people actually go outside. Bring a promotional product with you (say, a snazzy water bottle?) and wait for the compliments and following inquires to roll in.

If your summer months happen to be slow, use this downtime to plan for the rest of the year. Review reports, identify repeating orders/customers and gear up for your busy months.

In an ideal world, every season would be the busy season for your industry. Unfortunately this world is far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dip and dodge your way into making the most of every time of the year. Theresa Gonzalez, President of Stay Visible, LLC and another member on the council of extraordinary women, states that summer can be “the time for you to cultivate the kind of clients that you want to have.” Again, networking is your greatest asset.

Life is short. Get organized, be strategic and have fun doing it.

Tayla Carpenter is the project manager for iPROMOTEu. She developed and currently manages A Woman's View, a program specifically designed to support women distributors in the promotional products industry. Contact Tayla at

Tactical Selling
6 steps to take with every sale. Don Sanders, Drive-Ins
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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,

What We Have Is a Failure to Communicate
Mike Schenker, MAS, Uncommon Threads
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There’s an expression which goes something to the effect that we were given two ears and one mouth because listening is more important than speaking. Or something like that. I’m a writer, not a researcher. Feel free to look this up yourself… I’m very busy.

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Actually, I’m not, as I’m presently under house arrest on the charges of WWU. That’s “writing while unemployed.” With any luck, it’s not a life sentence. Or a run-on sentence, for that matter.

Not that you ever read my column seeking relevance, but in this case, there is some. I bring up my current status because of an episode from this past week. My phone rings, I answer it. It’s a vendor from a promotional industry service provider… someone with whom I’ve spoken in the past about using them for one thing or another (no, I’m not naming names).

In that he’s in sales mode, he starts with Small Talk 101: “How are you, how’s business?” You know the drill. I reply that all is fine, aside from being unemployed (and who says I can’t give a straight answer?). He continues with his routine: “Busy summer? What trade shows are you doing?”

Never known for suffering fools, I interrupt and tell him that I’m not doing any shows in the foreseeable future because, as I’d just mentioned, I’m unemployed. Read into that any way you’d like, young Padawan, but ultimately it means that I no longer work for the company for whom you think I work. Your sales pitch should have ended, I don’t know, maybe in that last paragraph!

Commence radio silence. Nothing from the other end of the call. I ask if he’s still there and he replies that he is. He just didn’t know what to say. A simple “wow… that sucks” would have sufficed, but I would have accepted a “sorry to hear that.” Nevertheless…

I have to admit that I didn’t appreciate his eventual follow-up, which was asking me if I knew who he should contact at my former company. Maybe I should have slammed him three paragraphs ago, but that’s really not my style. I just said “Sorry, no.”

We can address why I felt the need to apologize at a later time.

Again, I won’t mention the company for which he works, but I do question his and their training. I will say that it’s a professional organization in the promotional products industry, not just some telemarketing firm whose annoying people follow the script to the letter. This guy clearly wasn’t listening when I told him that I wasn’t working… he was just powering through his spiel.

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Maybe it’s because (I claim that) I’m a writer. I also studied broadcasting and journalism back in college. “Communications”, as a whole, has always been very important to me, and that goes both ways. Know that when you’re communicating with me, I’m paying attention to every detail, be it written or spoken. When I’m communicating with you, you can rest assured that you know all the relevant details on my side of this discussion in order for you to formulate your reply. (Please Mister Editor… let’s make sure there are no typos when this goes to press!)

If you’ve heard this one before, stop me. I know I’ve told it before, but it goes along with the theme of this column.

Many years ago, back when I was a lowly territory sales rep, I was working under a sales manager who, to his credit, had his own style. In sales, I find that to be a laudable trait. Speak in your own voice – and don’t always follow the script. He may have taken that too literally.

We were exhibiting at some trade show, I can't recall where, and I was doing a presentation. Sales manager insinuates himself into the conversation (if you know me at all, you’d be surprised to learn that that was not the part that bothered me). I had my thing going on, but allowed him to add some finer details about this or that. At this point, he was in the zone. In this case that was not a good thing.

The customer to whom we were speaking (and by “we” at this point I mean “he”) tried to interrupt, asking something about whether the product in question came in blue, or if it was individually packaged, or some such thing (yes, I actually remember the specifics, but I’m protecting the party in question here. See… I’m an okay guy after all.).

Instead of listening to the customer, the sales manager just kept going, essentially saying that we’ll get to your silly questions at the end of my presentation – once I’m done expounding on the societal benefits of the item in question.

Being new and (brace yourself) insecure, I let him go on and on, even as I watched the customer lose interest. The customer finally extricated himself from the conversation and left our booth. I think it’s safe to say he didn’t order a sample.

See what happened there? The simple act of listening (or, in this case, not listening) most likely cost us a customer. In the case of the guy who called me last week, well, yeah, I do question as to whether or not I would want to work with him once I have the opportunity (you people don’t think you’re done with me yet, do you?).

Now what’s the likelihood that you might have recognized yourself in some of this? If you do, try to remember that in your next conversation or correspondence.

Who says I’ve never taught you anything?

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

The Identity Collection - Wearables 2016
A collection of wearable promotions to build your brand and fit your budget Identity Marketing Staff, Identity Collection
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Word of the Week: Season
Kirby Hasseman, Word of the Week
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Kirby Hasseman is the owner of Hasseman Marketing and the author of Delivering Marketing Joy (a book about better promo!). He is dedicated to personal development and building the integrity of the promotional industry. He can be reached at

Absolute Value
Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector
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If you’re selling a promotional product that is also available either as a traditional consumer product, or if your competitors include the various online only distributors, the reality is that you will soon confront the issue of product reviews.
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The wealth of peer-to-peer information, and unprecedented availability of expert opinions, give potential purchasers access to a rich, specific sense of what it’s like to own or use goods BEFORE they buy them.

If you are a distributor selling to the new generation of end-user clients, you already know that they bring their own consumer purchasing experiences to work with them. When they are at home, they consult online reviews and access friends’ opinions through social media on “absolute value” long before they make major purchases. While marketers are certainly aware of the rise of online reviews and the availability of peer-to-peer opinions, many still use old-school strategies that ignore the current customer base with ownership experience that they willingly share, as well as the influence they have on potential customers.

Speaking of influence, let’s talk about online reviews. If you’re selling a promotional product that is also available either as a traditional consumer product, or if your competitors include the various online only distributors, the reality is that you will soon confront the issue of product reviews. This is important, because these reviews might well impact a prospective buyer who may generalize on your product from negative reviews of a product that are arguably dissimilar. Reviews are tricky business – and often unreliable, as well. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review article also makes the case that positive reviews do not necessarily guarantee the quality of product being reviewed.

Consider this: the subset of users who leave reviews is not randomly sampled from those who have actually purchased the product. Instead, it is consumers with extreme opinions who are more likely to post reviews, which is referred to as the “brag-and-moan” bias. Rating distributions take on a “J-shape,” with mostly 5-star ratings, some 1-star ratings, and hardly any ratings in between. Positive ratings also increase the likelihood of later positive ratings, which is known as “herding.”

A finding in Science Magazine showed that positive reviews increase the likelihood of subsequent positive reviews by as much as 25 percent. The thinking that goes into this is along the lines of, “How can I bash something that everybody else says is great?!” An interesting glimpse into human nature, isn’t it?

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The Harvard Business Review examined the extent to which average review scores from correspond with scores on the products from Consumer Reports. The correspondence was quite small – in fact, the product with the higher star rating on only received a higher score from Consumer Reports 57 percent of the time. If your buyer is relying solely on online reviews of your competitor’s products, or other products in your category, that’s about as reliable as if they were issuing a P.O. while flipping a coin. Yet it’s unlikely that consumers will stop leaving, or reading, reviews any time soon. So factoring the psychology that goes into reviews and customer behavior as it relates to reviews in general into your marketing strategies is probably not a bad idea.

Changing gears, we caught up with Dana Zezzo, who recently joined Imagen Brands as VP of sales and marketing, on the way to the ASI Show last week. Dana has a rather unique challenge, as his sales force represents two QCA-Accredited suppliers, Crown and Vitronic. We wondered about the challenge of presenting these two accredited suppliers at once as it pertains to safety and compliance. “We are helping the reps explain the product safety message specifically about QCA at each brand level. This shows how committed Imagen Brands is.” said Zezzo. “We are implementing internal training with monthly content which includes: Social media, product safety, product knowledge, etc. – the goal is to not only improve our company awareness in the industry – but internal awareness so our sales force can service our customers with confidence.”

As a QCA-Accredited supplier (or two), I was curious as to whether topics of safety have begun to lead the conversation with distributors. Responding to this question, Dana replied: “The majority of the questions are coming about tech items and children’s items. Most distributors still don’t know the specific questions to ask, but want confirmation that we as suppliers are aware and doing everything we can to protect them. The challenge when training and coaching a supplier sales force is to get them to reduce the amount of product selling, and add more value proposition selling.”

Concluding our conversation about safety, I asked whether the industry is becoming more interested in delivering safer product, or is it still a little of the wild, wild, west out there? “I definitely believe the industry is and wants to deliver safer product. It is a focus point at many of our upper management and product development meetings,” he said. “QCA has done an amazing job of helping educate the industry both at the distributor and supplier levels. It’s simple – people buy from people they know, like, and trust.”

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. 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 contact him at

Are You Ready for Some Football?
Lisa Schofield, Product Feature
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NFL pre-season football is just about here – and fans are gearing up for the pre-game festivities, that parking lot ritual known as The Tailgate. There are some folks who prep for this event all week – or all year! Some have vans or trucks tricked out as a mobile, and very eye-catching shout out, to the owners favorite team, and in which are all the accoutrements for the pre-game tailgate. Others who bring food and beverages as they roam from party to party.

However, tailgating is no longer limited to football. It has expanded to pre-concert, and of course, any other team sport. Americans just like a darn good excuse to eat, drink and be merry. And they will enjoy doing so with logoed products.

When you think of the experience – and more importantly – when you translate it to your client, remember it is one of sheer enjoyment, and positivity.

Katharina Naciri of BamBams, LLC expresses,Tailgating events are a great opportunity to show team support while having fun hanging out with your friends prior to a sports game. Knowing what team you support, fans start bonding over cheering for the same team. The bigger the crowd, the better the atmosphere and everyone wants to participate. Fans want to dress up using team colors and various noisemakers for support.

Tailgating, observes Bernie DiMeo of Hot Sports Grills, is an outdoor party involving a large group of friends and others with common interests. Its all about visiting, eating, drinking and pulling for the home team. Being next to the stadium where the favorite team plays adds to the excitement. “Often, especially at college football games, band members and cheerleaders join in the fun. The camaraderie among the fans discussing the team, the previous games and that day's game are all part of the excitement.”

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Daniel Berkowitz of Picnic Plus agrees. Its all about fun, fun, fun! Gathering with friends, family and co-workers to support, cheer and create an atmosphere of camaraderie through competition. A tailgate now can not only be held in a stadium or ballfield parking lot but at someone’s home, and bars and restaurants are becoming tailgate destinations for those who don't have tickets.”

Right there, Berkowitz mentions a business sector ripe for creating tailgate promotions. Bars and restaurants can give away a host of football-themed or team-color products (obviously NFL team logos are licensed). Everything from cardboard coasters to after-dinner mints can be part of a fun campaign to pull in people to stay for the three-plus hours of the home game, if not a full day!

Other relevant businesses that may want to get into the tailgate season, says Berkowitz, include local teams, food and beverage companies, corporate and other businesses that provide special events for employees during the sport season, local television and radio stations, healthcare practices, and of course, auto dealers (auto brands remain one of the top advertisers during sports games.) “Remember, companies can also sponsor parking lot tailgate parties for employees and their families, and would desire logoed gear for this event. Also, local school booster club fundraisers would welcome logoed stadium seats, fleece blankets, cushions and more.”

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BamBams, says Naciri, has an “abundance” of products that can be used for memorable tailgating events. The three most used products in this area, she points out, are scarves, noisemakers such as the company's FanFans or BamBams as well as car accessories, such as its car mirror socks or car flags.

She points out, “Scarves can be used for decoration pieces on anything like your car, your chair, or by simply wearing it when heading to the game. During the game, you wear them around your neck and when needed, wave it to cheer on your team. Noisemakers will drive the crowd while driving the opposite fans crazy. They are small enough to be carried inside the stadium but make up for their small size in noise. Fans love to decorate their cars to show team support while driving to the game, tailgating in front of their cars and heading back after a glorious victory, showing pride for their team. Nobody wants to go to a tailgating game without a jersey and the same goes for wearable accessories or decoration products.”

She adds that many end-users love BamBams' car mirror sock, which simply attaches to the outside of the car mirror. These were popular during last year's World Cup and the Coppa games this year, and are also used for many university or pro football games, “where tailgating is a must.”

Hot Sports Grills sells charcoal grills shaped as footballs, football helmets, baseballs, soccer balls, even beer/soda cans and liquor/soda bottles. These are used in a variety of ways, says DiMeo. Bud Light used its helmet shaped grill as the key element of in-store displays across the country. Buffalo Wild Wings hosted a sweepstakes that gave away football grills with its BWW logo to fans at its stores every NFL Sunday during the football season.

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“Local businesses that sell beer, soda, liquor, meat, bread products, snacks, lawn chairs, and coolers are at the top of the list of clients that are highly relevant for tailgating promotional campaigns,” DiMeo says. “A football grill with a Titos Vodka logo for example is a great way for Titos to get its name in front of a key demographic. Same goes for a baseball grill with a Vienna Beef Hot Dogs logo at a baseball game.”

Picnic Plus has a wide range of upscale products for tailgating activities – from food totes (to keep certain dishes warm throughout the festivities) to tub coolers (who has a brewski-free tailgate?) to casserole carriers and tailgate tables. An excellent example of the latter is the company's Dolby Portable Table with bench seating. It features 600D reinforced polyester, two recessed drink holders, weighs less than 18 pounds, and can hold up to 250 pounds per bench seat (500 pounds total). The entire table and frame folds up easily and fits into its hands-free backpack carry bag.

And can any tailgating experience for football games be complete without the now-iconic imprintable huge foam “number-one” finger? This is the creation of Geral Fauss, founder of Spirit Industries, who dreamt it up and made the prototype for the high school he taught at in 1977. The offerings from Spirit Industries have expanded since then, and now include foam cowboy hats, flyers, beverage holders, spirit wavers, paws and claws, pop-up visors and much more.

So, are you ready to kick off the tailgating season?


Bernie DiMeo of Hot Sports Grills: "One of the more clever promotions was done by Tito's Vodka. Tito's has a "Tito's Tailgating Trailer" that travels to college football games around the country. They do radio and print and online ads promoting where they will be next. They bought football grills with their logo; announced in their promotions that they would be giving them away and indeed did give them away every hour or so at their Tailgating Trailer.

Pokemon Craze, Uber Experiment and more.
Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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In this new, weekly 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.

I Would Never Join a Regional Association
Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, Cliffs Notes
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Did my headline get your attention? I lied. I get a ton of questions from distributors and suppliers about the value of joining a regional trade association. So many inquires, I decided to produce a webinar devoted strictly to Regional Association Involvement, named “The Value of Regional Associations” and why everyone should consider joining.

To set the record straight, I am a BIG believer in regional associations. I belong to the Chesapeake Promotional Products Association (CPPA) and some years back, served as its education chair for five years, I had an amazing time and the reviews that came in after the webinar were outstanding. It was strange to find out that while many people knew that regional associations existed, few knew the profound benefits it could have for them professionally.

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So why should you consider joining a Regional Association? The reasons for joining are many, so let’s discuss some of these and what the positive takeaways are.

Membership often includes educational opportunities throughout the year. Most of the time the education is valid for CAS/MAS certification. Over the years I’ve heard some dynamic speakers, Jeff Tobe, Barry Roberts, Paul Bellantone, Paul Kiewit and Tim Brown to name a few. Recently I was introduced to the product safety courses offered by PPAI at MiPPA (Michigan Promotional Products Association) and delivered by Tim Brown. After that four-hour workshop I realized that after nearly 35 years in this business there was still plenty to learn. I find the educational offerings extremely beneficial in furthering my career and give me great information to use during my coaching sessions. Professional development is imperative… do you have a plan for yours?

Many of us find it difficult to get to major shows throughout the year and the time between shows can be long. Regional shows offer a great alternative, augmenting your connections with vendors throughout the year. There has been a push of late at various regional associations for “end-user shows.” Before you panic let me state that these shows are extremely well organized. I have had the pleasure of attending two, SAAGNY and MiPPA. This opportunity for your clients to see the breath and width of your capabilities is invaluable. A friend and client, Gail Deutchman, a distributor and active board member of SAAGNY, told me she brought 20 clients to their last end-user show. She said the shows offer the best opportunities for writing new business.

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Additionally, the trade shows offer a very relaxed environment to reconnect with factory and multi-line reps, and to see what’s new and exciting with not only products but special service offerings from your suppliers.

There is nothing better than reconnecting and catching up with old friends and colleagues. I have developed and fostered some of my best relationships with both fellow marketers and suppliers at regional association events. Many associations use the monthly meetings as a time to have fun, whether it’s going wine tasting, a baseball or hockey game, or maybe a mock game show or bowling. These networking events are meant to bring people together in a fun, safe environment. One of my fondest experiences was attending a wine-makers dinner sponsored by PMANC in California. Not only did I learn a ton about Dutton-Goldfield wines, I met some great people whose friendships I treasure to this day. One the best quotes I’ve heard recently is “in order to have a friend you need to be one.”

Giving Back
During the webinar I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I interviewed Haines Maxwell with CAAMP, Gail Deutchman with SAAGNY, Paul Zafarana with MiPPA, and Bettse Andrade with AZPPA. Each of these folks are principals of their own companies yet they make time to give back. Each have either served on their respective boards or are currently doing so. When asked, “Why do you do it?” each had a similar answer: they want to contribute, give back, make a difference and elevate their game and make the industry better. You can’t do any of that without involvement through contribution.

Worth the Money
When you consider the many benefits, what do you think it would cost? For most the membership runs between $100 and $150 annually. That’s value! With regard to membership, the late Joe Charbaneau stated, “You’ve gotta’ give, give, give before you get, get, get and the more you give, the more you get – it’s called the law of reciprocity.”

Additional Information

Below are three links that will assist you in finding your specific regional association, contact information and a well-prepared FAQ list to answer your questions. Should you have additional requests you can either contact me ( or your local association for answers.

I promise, if you engage and get involved, the benefits will be amazing!

Until next time, continued good selling!

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

"We Already Have a Promotional Products Company We Work With"
How to respond to that statement. Rosalie Marcus, Promo Biz Coach
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Rosalie Marcus, The Promo Biz Coach, is a promotional products business expert, coach and speaker. Combining her skills and years of experience in promotional sales she helps her clients sell more at higher profit margins and dramatically increase their incomes! Reach her at Get a FREE Promo Biz Success Kit at

In the News
PPAI Announces Board Candidates Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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PPAI Announces Board Candidates

Promotional Products Association International ( has announced the candidates for PPAI Board of Directors Class of 2021 election. Distributor candidates are Mitch Rhodus, CAS, of HALO Branded Solutions and Danny Rosin, co-owner of Brand Fuel. Supplier candidates are Andrew Spellman, vice president of corporate channels at Victorinox Swiss Army and Sharon Willochell, chief operating officer of Leed’s.

One candidate from each category will be elected by the membership and will begin their four-year board terms immediately following The PPAI Expo 2017. The PPAI board election will take place from August 29 to September 19, with results available in early October.

“Once again, the Leadership Advisory Committee has done an excellent job of identifying, recruiting and vetting capable board candidates for the Elected Directors Nominating Committee’s consideration and selection,” said PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE. “The four candidates in this election all have the qualities necessary to serve and lead the PPAI board, and no matter the outcome in September, the members of PPAI and the industry are the winners. I look forward to working with these talented, accomplished individuals.”

The board election will be administered electronically by a third-party election administrator and by paper ballot as required. To vote, each PPAI member company’s designated voter can visit the PPAI voter site and click on the “VOTE” button to learn more about the candidates and cast their ballots.

“This year’s candidates have proven track records of success,” says Tom Goos, MAS, PPAI board chair, “and they bring unique backgrounds and skill sets to the table that PPAI and its membership can benefit from. Over the coming election period, members will have ample opportunities to get to know each candidate and cast educated, confident ballots.”

Up Close & Personal with Jessica Hutwelker
Kirby Hasseman, Delivering Marketing Joy
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Kirby Hasseman is the owner of Hasseman Marketing and the author of Delivering Marketing Joy (a book about better promo!). He is dedicated to personal development and building the integrity of the promotional industry. He can be reached at

Why Neglecting Your Personal Brand Can Torpedo Your Career
Karen Tiber Leland, From the Business World
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Even though personal branding has been with us for decades,” says Leland, “the advent of social media as a daily part of all our lives, has brought it to the forefront and made it a priority in today’s wired world.

AT&T understands the importance of promoting its brand. So do Toyota, Disney and McDonald’s, just to name a few.

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But individuals often don’t understand just how critical it is for them to promote their personal brands as well. In fact, their careers depend on it.

“No one from the CEO to the secretary can afford not have a strong personal brand (online and off), if they want to succeed in today’s job climate,” says Karen Tiber Leland, a branding expert and author of “The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand” (

A personal brand – much like those corporate brands – tells the world about you. It’s a way of selling yourself and your image in a way that leaves a positive impression.

Leland points out that personal branding is not a new idea. She notes the article that Tom Peters wrote in 1997 titled “The Brand Called You” which helped give rise to the popular idea that an individual can be just as much a brand, as a soft drink or laundry detergent. She also points out that people such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin were carefully nurturing their brand images decades and even centuries before it became fashionable.

“Even though personal branding has been with us for decades,” says Leland, “the advent of social media as a daily part of all our lives, has brought it to the forefront and made it a priority in today’s wired world.”

Leland says there are several reasons why it’s important for everyone to follow Churchill and Chaplin’s lead and cultivate a personal brand. A few of those reasons include:

• You need to outshine the competition. The job market is a competitive place and it’s easy to get lost in the clutter of all those other applicants. You can stand out from the crowd by carefully crafting your brand with elements that can range from the way you dress to the way you tell the story about the accomplishments you have achieved.

• Social media is forcing your hand. “It’s critical to make sure your online presence (including Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) represents you in the most powerful and professional way,” says Leland. Why? Because potential employers will check them out to check you out. According to a 2015 CareerBuilder poll, 52 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. And not having social media accounts isn’t a good option because 35 percent of those employers say they are less likely to interview someone who doesn’t have an online presence.

• A negative image could undermine your career goals. While social media sites can help promote your personal brand, Leland says, they can also be your worst enemy. That same CareerBuilder study reported that 48 percent of employers chose not to hire someone based on social-media content. So ditch inappropriate photos, references to drinking, critical comments about former employers and anything else you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see.

“Anyone who plans to wait out the personal-branding trend until it passes needs a new plan,” Leland says. “It’s no longer an option in career management. If you don’t define your personal brand, someone else will define it for you.”

Karen Tiber Leland is a branding expert and author of “The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand” ( She is also president of Sterling Marketing Group, where she helps companies, CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs build stronger personal, team and business brands. Her clients have included Apple Computer, LinkedIn, Twitter, AT&T, Avis Car Rental and Bank of America, among many others. She is a regular guest of the media and has been interviewed by Fortune, Fast Company, CNN, MSNBC, and Oprah, among others. Karen has spoken for Stanford, Harvard, The American Management Association, Young President’s Organization and others.

The Value of Friction
Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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... the basic concept of a sale doesn’t change – and it hasn’t changed for centuries.
sponsored by Bay State

Since I travel quite a bit, I tend to indulge in a bit of magazine reading at the airport or on the plane. Many times it’s Sports Illustrated, but lately my periodicals of choice have been business publications like Fast Company or Entrepreneur. I find it interesting that almost every month these magazines contain several articles centered around the same themes: how the world of business is changing, why “old school” ways of selling just don’t work anymore, or if you don’t fully leverage social media into your marketing plan, success will be elusive at best.

All of those articles are correct: the business world is evolving, your clients are changing, and many traditional ways of selling are bordering on extinction. What each article fails to mention is that the basic concept of a sale doesn’t change – and it hasn’t changed for centuries:

Sales are based on a transactional exchange

• Transactional exchanges happen between a seller and a buyer

• Both sides will attempt to maximize the value of the transactional exchange

Sales is still very much based on the simple concept of exchanging value between the seller and the buyer. With the influx of technology into every facet of society – including the sales process – many are seeking to leverage that technology create a frictionless transaction. However, when looking to facilitate a transactional exchange that eliminates friction, three things must be taken into consideration:

1) Force Must Be Applied – If we recall high school science class, Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force. If we shift the focus to sales, this means your clients are at rest and the external force is you. This can be an internet search, Google ad, recommendation, social media post, direct mail, or even a cold call. The key takeaway is that it is your responsibility to create the force necessary to get the client moving.

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2) Maintain Speed – Once the client is in motion, we need to ensure we don’t do anything on our part to create friction that will slow it down. Therefore, it’s critically important to remember that clients don’t want to be sold, but they do need to be convinced – and each client has a different purchasing journey. This means that you must continually learn and improve to see what works for different clients to eliminate friction. As the provider, it is incumbent upon you to make the purchasing journey of the client as easy as possible to preserve the velocity of the sale.

3) Resistance Points – This is what sales trainers used to call “objections” and to really become a master at sales, you had to have all manner of tricks in your bag to overcome said objections. Almost every transactional exchange will have at least one resistance point: value for the price paid, concerns about budget, viability of the product in question, etc. During a client’s purchasing journey, you have to not only understand the resistance points, but anticipate them. Embrace that it is up to you to understand sales resistance points, then find ways to either mitigate or eliminate them.

So, is it possible to truly create a frictionless transaction? I firmly believe the answer is a resounding no for the simple fact that regardless of how easy a seller attempts makes the sales process, it is impossible to anticipate and/or eliminate every potential area of friction. However, this is a good thing because it gives the seller an opportunity to prove their worth by removing friction along the purchasing journey.

A true consultative salesperson adds a tremendous amount of value to any transactional exchange by simply removing friction and accelerating the purchasing journey. I would argue that a certain amount of friction in the transactional exchange is necessary for through that friction, both sides realize the maximum value.

Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. In 2014, he launched brandivate – the first executive outsourcing company solely focused on helping small and medium sized-promotional products enterprises responsibly grow their business. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, vice president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients. He can be reached at

In the News
Bulova, The Recording Academy Announce Partnership. Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by American Apparel

Bulova Watch Company and The Recording Academy Announce Partnership Celebrating Timeless Moments in GRAMMY History

Bulova Watch Company and The Recording Academy announced a three-year partnership agreement, which centers on a range of products and activities.

The partnership includes a GRAMMY-inspired collection of Bulova timepieces, as well as various live events to celebrate the impact music has on our collective culture. Over the next several years, Bulova and The Recording Academy will build a special ‘Moments in Time’ activation which will focus on the unique ‘moments’ in our lives punctuated by some of the world’s most iconic GRAMMY-winning music.

“We are honored to partner with The Recording Academy and to be part of the GRAMMY family,” said Jeffrey Cohen, president of Bulova. “Both music and time mark moments that stay with us.”

“I am thrilled by the coming together of these two iconic brands, both American born but with wide international recognition,” said Neil Portnow, CEO of The Recording Academy. “Together, in the years to come, we will create and celebrate timeless moments in music history.”

Bulova, the premier watch brand with 141 years of history has always had a direct correlation with the world of music, having aired the first ever national radio commercial in 1926 and launching the first clock radio to the market. In 1960 Bulova introduced the humming Accutron movement with a tuning fork logo, which over the years has represented the very essence of the brand.

Word of the Week: Passion
Kirby Hasseman, Word of the Week
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sponsored by Identity Marketing

Kirby Hasseman is the owner of Hasseman Marketing and the author of Delivering Marketing Joy (a book about better promo!). He is dedicated to personal development and building the integrity of the promotional industry. He can be reached at

Are We Following Victoria's Secret?
It's print catalog is gone in favor of digital. Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away
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sponsored by ProRose

With Victoria’s Secret catalog no longer in print, one has to wonder about the future of catalogs in our industry. I am not sure if anyone would miss my catalog as much as I will miss Victoria’s. Much has been written and said about the continued need for print catalogs in our business and a reality check is due once again.

There are a few givens:

1) Suppliers are producing far fewer catalogs than ever and the unit cost is rising.

2) Shipping a single catalog is more expensive than ever.

3) Distributors, on the whole, are not taking print catalogs from trade shows as they did before the internet.

4) Distributors over the age of 40 are still “more comfortable” having print catalogs from, at the very least, their top 40 to 100 suppliers.

5) Catalogs from other suppliers languish in file cabinets and are cleaned out “every so often.”

6) Distributors who do not subscribe to the internet search engines (Distributor Central, SAGE, ASI, etc.) are still in need of print catalogs.

I won’t debate the future of print but rather look at the future of digital. Keep in mind as I present my case that I have been doing print catalogs since 1974 and, according to many of my colleagues, I’m “too old to figure out digital programs.” I love digital primarily because it provides me with an opportunity to make many, many targeted catalogs. I don’t have to start at ground zero, but simply massage the base content of my master catalog. Why make “many” different catalogs?

Let’s take a flashlight. The typical catalog simply shows a picture, it gives the vital data and presents a price. Rarely, if ever, is there a case history or any copy slanting, presenting and convincing a buyer that this is the right flashlight for their specific needs. In reality, promotional product catalogers can’t do that. A supplier, heretofore, has had to produce a “universal” catalog appealing to any and every end-buyer. We don’t know to whom you will show our catalog. If the flashlight buyer were at sleep-away camp, the copy should speak to his/her needs. That would be vastly different from a safety director where the light may be used in lifesaving ways. The use of the light and features could be different for a mining company, a utility company, etc. Copy for a healthcare professional using a pen light to look into your mouth could be fun to write “powerful, but short enough not to make you gag” or “no matter where you probe, we can shine a light up there.” Application and market specific catalogs can offer the needed “romance,” case histories and diversified application information.

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The internet is filled with flip catalogs. These catalogs, when produced correctly, can be used on mobile devices and on computers; they can be accessed on line, loaded onto flash drives and burned onto discs. They can have hyperlinks and other interactive ingredients providing everything including a shopping cart. If suppliers embrace and create more specialty catalogs talking to, and about, specific buying markets, the distributor and end-user both will benefit.

It’s been about 45 years since I was a distributor, but I know buyers still say... “send me your catalog.” Don’t you just love the request for a singular catalog? Hey, Mr. Prospect, there is no such thing as “a catalog.” If there was one catalog, it would be over 100,000 pages and I would need a truck and forklift to deliver it. Consolidated catalogs may still be fashionable and some and have a positive cache about them, but are they still needed and as effective today? Going digital is not about saving a tree, it’s about delivering need focus information the way today’s Gen X, Gen Y and Millennial buyers want.

If your prospect were a safety director and you were asked to “send me your catalog,” in the new digital world, it is quick and easy to assemble one of your own. Identify your dozen or so prime safety product suppliers, copy their digital flip catalogs onto a flash drive, CD or file and you have your very own specialty catalog. But, what if these catalogs were the “safety market” editions from each supplier? They would feature only related product and would talk the language of the buyer. By your putting together your selected digital catalogs just one time, you have an asset for prospecting other buyers and you can link it to your social media pages, etc.

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For my own company, I have taken the heart of our product line, still CDs and DVDs, USBs, printing and music, and broken down our core product into many, many different market application catalogs. It is the same product group but each catalog talks to the specific market and buyer. Were you to call my office today and request information on a given product that has to do with anti-distracted driving, you would be sent a catalog of products with pictures and copy addressing that need and application.

It is easy for distributors to take matters into their own hands. There are programs available to create them or some industry service providers, including PromoCorner, that can do it for you.

Let’s assume you want to make a basic gift catalog of your own for the holidays. Start by selecting pictures of the products you want to show from your supplier websites. Drop them into slides on PowerPoint or Microsoft publisher. You can even put them into Word. Add some copy and save each page as a .pdf. From there, it is a simple process of creating a flip book with user friendly software from many different sources. Add music, your own narration or many other features.

Your catalogs can be uploaded to services such as Dropbox and, whenever the need is there, you send a link to your prospect.

The applications to prospect by market are endless – fundraising, schools, associations, etc. Prospecting by application is endless, as well – membership recruitment, retention, appreciation. Perhaps suppliers will get the message that a universal catalog is the common core, but the annual need is to break it down into a set of catalogs by market and application.

Whether you own your own agency or work with a larger company, you are your own vice president of marketing. I have always preached that every salesperson needs to take one day a month and leave their office and cellphone behind. No distractions. That one day is when you become the chief marketing officer and focus only upon marketing. Be it a direct mail, email, or advertising campaign, that one day is vital to future business. With the digital assets we have today, your short- or long-term marketing plan becomes easier to achieve. Using or creating digital catalogs should be part of that plan.

The take away – long live the catalog – whatever form it has in the future.

And I will miss Victoria.

Joel D. Schaffer, MAS is CEO and Founder of Soundline, LLC, the pioneering supplier to the promotional products industry of audio products. Joel has 48 years of promotional product industry experience and proudly heralds "I was a distributor." He has been on the advisory panel of the business and marketing department of St. John’s University in New York and is frequent speaker at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. He is an industry Advocate and has appeared before the American Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, National Premium Sales Executives, American Booksellers Association and several other major groups. He has been a management consultant to organizations such as The College Board and helped many suppliers enter this industry. He is a frequent contributor to PPB and Counselor Magazines. He has facilitated over 200 classes sharing his industry knowledge nationwide. He is known for his cutting humor and enthusiasm in presenting provocative and motivating programs. He is the only person to have received both the Marvin Spike Industry Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). He is a past director of PPAI and has chaired several PPAI committees and task forces. He is a past Chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, Past President of SAAGNY and a SAAGNY Hall of Fame member. He was cited by ASI as one of the 50 most influential people in the industry.

In the News
PPAI Announces #GetInTouch Industry Branding Campaign Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by Howw

PPAI Announces #GetInTouch Industry Branding Campaign
PPAI will officially launch the industry branding initiative, the #GetInTouch campaign, September 26 in conjunction with the 2016 Advertising Week in New York.

The #GetInTouch campaign (formerly referred to as the Industry Branding Initiative) was originally introduced to the PPAI membership by PPAI Chair of the Board Tom Goos, MAS, and me at the 2016 PPAI Expo. It is a five-year, multimillion-dollar industry-wide initiative targeting advertising buyers. It is designed to increase awareness and improve and enhance the overall perception of the promotional products industry and communicate the benefits of working with promotional consultants. The overall goal of the campaign is to direct a larger share of advertising dollars to the promotional products industry.

The #GetInTouch campaign was originally conceived by the 2014 PPAI Chairman's Roundtable Work Group, and is the culmination of a year's worth of hard work by a collection of PPAI staff, members and volunteer groups, including the PPAI Board of Directors, the PPAI Industry Branding Initiative Advisory Group and the PPAI Public Relations Committee.

Collaborating for Success
This joint initiative between PPAI and the membership is extraordinarily important to the promotional products industry because, for too long, weve been an afterthought for many advertisers – a medium of fun and useful stuffbut not always recognized for our proven value and strengths. Within the industry we may know, understand and communicate the power of promotional products, but its high time the rest of the world recognizes the advertising power of promotional products and their place in successful advertising campaigns. Our research tells us that as other advertising media struggle to achieve year-over-year growth and remain relevant, promotional products are perfectly positioned to grow – and have grown – in an increasingly digital world.

To help us achieve success with this initiative, we’ve partnered with SAXUM, a nationally known Oklahoma City-based public relations and branding firm to deliver a creative and impactful campaign that breaks through the advertising clutter to reach and influence advertising buyers, from Fortune 500 companies to smaller, local advertisers.

sponsored by VisionUSA

Tom Goos put it best when he spoke at the opening general session at The PPAI Expo earlier this year: “For years PPAI has worked on advocating for the industry, but never with a multi-year strategic campaign at this level. Industry promotion has always been bootstrapped with little budget or limited resources. With the launch of the #GetInTouch campaign, the board is saying we want this to be a primary focus and we should put funding and a strategic plan behind it. The board recognizes that we are well positioned to capitalize on the changes in marketing and growth of the digital world.” He also explained, “PPAI will not be successful if it pursues this initiative alone. It’s going to require companies like mine and yours to participate.”

To that end, along with an integrated paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) strategy, including major media buys in publications like Advertising Age, digital strategies and possibly an industry spokesperson, the #GetInTouch campaign will feature member kits available for download and customization. The member toolkits will include a variety of communications assets including print advertisements with several versions of copy along with various digital, social, promotional products, public relations and collateral elements that members will be able to immediately incorporate into their own marketing efforts—the key here is making sure PPAI members become an integral part of the #GetInTouch campaign.

The Messaging
While the overall message is about the power of promotional products and the importance of the promotional consultant, there will be several sub-messages which include:


• Campaign hashtag: #GetInTouch

• Promotional products are a tangible representation of a brand.

• Promotional products create excitement, surprise and delight.

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• Promotional products positively affect buying decisions.

• Promotional products have staying power.

• Promotional products, the only advertising your customers will thank you for.

• Promotional products become a part of everyday life.

The campaign will also include sub-messages focusing specifically on Promotional Consultants:

• Promotional consultants help design programs that get results and save time and money in the process.

• Promotional consultants partner with you to promote and protect your brand.

• Promotional consultants are industry experts and marketing pros.

A Redesigned Website |
Complementing the launch of this PPAI initiative is the launch of the newly redesigned website. The website, targeted at advertising buyers, tells a two-part story about the power of promotional products and the importance of working with promotional consultants.

While this site is independent of the #GetInTouch campaign, the timing of its redesign and launch is not coincidental. After passing through a specific #GetInTouch page, buyers who want to learn more will be directed to the new site.

A Call to Action
The PPAI #GetInTouch campaign will be one of the most significant contributions PPAI has made to the strengthening of the promotional products industry, but as Tom noted, we must engage our members for this initiative to be successful. Here are a few things you can do – right now and long-term – to be part of this exciting initiative:

• Commit right now that you will be part of the initiative!

• Share this information with your internal teams, colleagues and peers.

• As the campaign will focus on the power and proven results of promotional products, we need your winning case studies.

• Get in touch with Kim Todora today to learn how to include your case studies in the #GetInTouch campaign.

• Keep on the lookout for information on the #GetInTouch campaign.

• Share your thoughts and ideas for enhancing the campaign with Kim and me and the planning team.

Thank You
Our ability to clearly articulate the power and compelling value of promotional products and working through promotional consultants is critical to the vitality and vibrancy of our industry.

PPAI has a winning plan to reach advertising buyers through the #GetInTouch campaign at the national level and will create the tools you need to get involved and engaged with your customers and prospects. I thank you in advance for your support and participation.

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