Chris Piper: How to Market to All Five Senses
Kirby Hasseman, Delivering Marketing Joy
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sponsored by Bay State

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.

3 Ways Businesses Can Recruit Marquee Employees
In a competitive job market, it pays to look for top talent long before you leap. Bill Green, From the Business World
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The U.S. unemployment rate continues to drop, and that’s generally regarded as a good thing. Unless, of course, you’re an employer competing to hire top talent for your company.

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Job growth is making it more difficult for companies to find candidates with all the qualifications they require, much less desire.

The job market is a little like the housing market – a lot depends on inventory and the economy. Sometimes there are more buyers, and sometimes more sellers.

Right now, job seekers tend to have the edge.

If your company’s latest collection of resumes is looking pretty slim, it could be you’ve already made your first mistake.

Why wait until you have an opening to start the recruiting process? You’ve likely already met the best candidates out there.

A smart company keeps the pipeline open. That way you won’t have to scramble if someone leaves, or settle for less than you want. You’ll always have someone waiting in the wings.

Even if you think you already have a great team, find some way to keep meeting potential employees, says Green, who has employed thousands at the businesses he’s either built from scratch or acquired and led to success. His tips for finding top talent include:

Get creative in the interview process. Ask questions that are not the typical interview questions that candidates are prepared for. If you can get people speaking honestly and off the cuff, you’ll learn much more about them.

Raid other companies for talent. If you find someone who can help your business and you know he or she is underappreciated at a competitor, release the hounds and get poaching.

There are diamonds in the rough everywhere. Don’t overlook a current or potential employee just because his or her resume isn’t an exact match to your job opening. Today, there are computer programs that toss out applicants before a real person ever gets a chance to check out their qualifications or reasons for wanting the job. Don’t limit yourself to a checklist. Hire people who have a genuine passion for your mission and the skills – self-taught or not – to do the job.

Is a hiring mantra: Always be interviewing.

I’m not saying run ads and interview people every Friday. But you need to keep the mindset that you are never finished recruiting.

William S. “Bill” Green, author of “All In: 101 Real-Life Business Lessons for Emerging Entrepreneurs” (www.bgreenauthor.com/media), is a serial entrepreneur who has built multiple businesses during his 40-year career. He is best known for “bootstrapping a startup” before anyone even knew what the word startup meant. He propelled his first company, Wilmar Industries, from a flea market table to one of the largest industrial distribution companies in the U.S., now known as Interline Brands.

Hot Fun in the Summertime
Lisa Schofield, Product Feature
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sponsored by Howw

Summer and vacations (or “staycations”) go together like peas and carrots. Even a long weekend can feel like a mini vaycay. And because everyone looks forward to summer – and all the fun that awaits – there’s no better time for businesses to ramp up the fun message and to do so with promotional products.

“When people are having fun, they are more inclined to have a positive and lasting impression when they receive a promotional product,” says Scott Denny of Garyline.

Every summer, any of your clients should try some summer-only promotion because it only enhances the two-month experience for people of all ages and walks of life. Summer promotional campaigns make great sense because when done correctly, they can help your clients retain their customer/patient/client base and even attract new business and networking opportunities.

Bill Waller of KOOLGATOR explains that for most Americans, summertime is exciting because we plan new adventures, seek new experiences and spend time outdoors. Here’s the goal, he says: “At the end of the summer, they have new memories that they will cherish forever, and hopefully, some keepsakes to remind them of those memories. From the beach resort they visited, to a music festival they attended, the 5k they ran with friends, the summer camp their kids attended, the baseball game their home team won, the fireworks celebration in the park, and the national park they explored – there are so many places and events where a promotional product would make the perfect keepsake.”

He adds that a unique and purposeful promotional product will remind them of their good times while also increasing their awareness of the brand on the product, and providing repetitive exposure every time the item is used or the garment is worn.

Businesses should indeed have summer promotional campaigns for several reasons, points out Murray Siegel of Towel Specialties. The beginning of summer is six months before and after Christmas – so because it is the furthest time from the end of the year when consumers spend the most money, it’s a great opportunity to seek more revenue and gain a stronger foothold going into the upcoming holiday season. Summer promotions help generate activity while more people are outside being exposed to more promotions and spending money, when kids are out of school, with more time for families to buy products or services. “Since there is more leisure time in the summer, I think people are more susceptible and reactive to the word 'fun,' lending to many creative promotions.”

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Jennifer Reece of Pro Towels also points to the link between great memories made in summertime and desire for reminder keepsakes that should be an attractive reason to create promotional campaigns. “Summer brings excitement, no matter your age. From kids fresh out of school to a grandfather watching his grandchild play baseball, it’s all about our best memories. It’s so easy to take advantage of that from a marketing/promotional standpoint. More than any other season, there are so many products specifically built for this season! A company can capture that excitement, the vibes that come along with it, and extend that beyond the season.”

Reece adds that summer is often slow for many businesses and industries, as July and August are prime time for employees and executives to take vacations, or time off. There is a lull in volume for many industries during the summer, “so a solid, creative summer promotion allows them to keep that momentum going as they pass into the autumn and holiday season that follows. It’s a necessity for any successful company to embrace and utilize the fun of summer!” she emphasizes.

Rich French of PCNA agrees here, too, noting that summer is usually a lower volume time of year for order taking and shipping, “so distributors can use summer-themed promotions to stay ahead of the competition and capture seasonal sales,” he advises.

Beyond the Beach

Not everyone lives by ocean beaches and summer isn’t all about swimming or relaxing by water. Summer fun promo products are perfect for businesses to take advantage of lakeside, poolside, mountains, festivals, marathons, and picnics/barbecues (personal and corporate).

Towel Specialties, says Siegel, has done research showing that 80 percent of its beach towel orders ship over 100 miles away from the ocean. “In our case, towels that are distributed at summer promos anywhere in the country are a perfect gift because they can be used year-round at indoor and outdoor pools.”

So, no beach? No problem. Says French, “No other time of year provides so many opportunities for consumers to interact with branded merchandise and apparel in such a relaxed and positive way. For example, a backpack cooler can work perfectly at the pool, on a weekend road trip, or at the beach.

He emphasized that staycations are very important to keep in mind as they are also rife with promotional opportunities. The trend of backyard living, which can feature outdoor kitchens and furnishings for conversation clusters is still growing among homeowners. This space is the new “vacation.” Picture this: “Our line of grilling accessories, serving accessories, frisbees and Bluetooth speakers will transform the backyard into a retreat. Additionally, sunblock, lip balm, sunglasses and hats are great for sun protection.”

According to Reece few objects really personifies summer more than a beach towel – and for beyond the beach. Beach towels are perfect for water side but also for a grassy hill to watch a concert, or a picnic bash (can serve as an instant tablecloth), or to relax in a park. “A good towel can be a time capsule that can also carry the message of your client for a very long ROI,” she says.

Denny emphasizes that it does not matter where people live, they relax and enjoy the summer months – at the ocean, in the mountains and at city street fairs as well as county and state fairs, and music festivals. “Products like sports bottles, flying discs and tote bags are available in a wide variety of bright colors and a large logo area to make a good impression in a fun and positive setting,” he says.

Heat safety, points out Waller, is a very important part of any environment – whether workplace or leisure, during the summer. “Our Cooling Neck Wraps & Cooling Towels are the perfect way to promote both the business and safety at the same time. For example, think about summer camps, company picnics, resorts, fitness programs, hiking, biking, gardening, and laying by the pool are just a few ways distributors’ clients can effectively promote programs with these.”

He adds that company-wide fitness initiatives and Fun Runs are being held with more frequency and by more businesses, so consider KOOLGATOR Cooling Neck Wraps and Cooling Towels as a promotional gift to inspire and motivate employees and customers. They can be customized with any design to match the fitness campaign and then handed out at the start, or earned as prizes once certain goals are reached.

And, summertime is abundant with outdoor concerts, festivals, ride parks, sporting events, notably baseball and softball, where spectators are out in the sun on the stands. “When it’s hot in the stands, attendees will be thankful for their cooling neck wrap or cooling towel, branded with their favorite team’s logo, their favorite players picture, or a huge photo of the home field/stadium. Add them to the season pass holders’ goody bags or toss them into the crowd instead of T-shirts,” he offers.

Every summer brings its own unique spin on trends, and this summer is no different.

According to Siegel, Towel Specialties’ ColorFusion Beach Towels, which feature edge-to-edge decorations in unlimited colors, are selling at a more accelerated pace than anything else in the supplier’s line. At Pro Towels, says Reece, “We’ve seen a trend toward some more unique retail looking pieces, from our circular towels to our sand-repellent beach blankets.”

Denny observes that environmental and health consciousness are two leading trends among Millennials. Reusable sport bottles, he says, fit both needs. “Durable Tritan™ bottles can be reused to make a positive impression with a responsible, fast-growing and increasingly affluent segment of the market,” he comments.

French notes that PCNA’s new Spin-It Widget and Clicker Cubes “are the hottest trend this summer. Copper-insulated double-wall drinkware is still incredibly popular, and is available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to keep beverages cool for hours on a hot summer day.”

He adds that logoed promotional Bluetooth speakers are perfect for picnics and parties, while wireless Bluetooth earbuds keep end-users connected to music on the go.

Summertime can be much more memorable especially with promotional products.

CASE STUDIES

Bill Waller of KOOLGATOR: “Last summer, the University of Arizona season pass holders all received a KOOLGATOR Cooling Neck Wrap as a free gift with their season pass purchase. The neck wraps had a design of their stadium, the team logo, and a popular hashtag. Fans showed up to their games with their cooling neck wraps on to stay comfortable in the stands and many tweeted to University of Arizona football with pictures of themselves using their neck wraps saying thanks and talking about what a life saver it was in the AZ heat.

“A large pharmaceutical company orders KOOLGATOR Cooling Products from their distributor every year to provide to individuals who overheat easily. It is branded with the pharmaceutical companies name and colors, and most of the individuals who receive it are potential candidates for the particular drug the company sells.

“Many construction companies keep a full stock of KOOLGATOR Cooling Neck Wraps, both for their employees and to hand out at various local events in the summer. The neck wraps are branded with the company’s logo and has their phone number and pictures of some of their best projects. The reverse side has tips for staying safe in the heat. This is a great promotional product for them because they are able to use it to promote safety in the workplace, but also to increase their brand awarenesss by handing it out to potential customers at the local events they attend.”

Murray Siegel of Towel Specialties: “One of my favorite promotions involved towels being given out an event that was held at a restaurant. The beach towels were rolled up with a ribbon and gift card and placed on the waiters’ trays. In synchronized fashion, the waiters came to each table and ‘served’ the towels to the attendees. Similarly, another large company placed a rolled beach towel on each employee’s desk; the beach towel had a ribbon and card, and the card served as an invitation to the company picnic.

“A company exhibiting at a trade show promised its customers a free beach towel if they would stop by their booth and spend a few minutes filling out a survey. The response was much better than the year before when the exhibiting company only promised ‘a free gift.’”

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Sell the Million-Dollar Millennial Market
Don Sanders, Drive-Ins
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sponsored by Bay State

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, www.sellpromoproducts.com.

Channel Your Inner Rock Star
Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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All too often, salespeople engage prospects and clients with a sameness that is as bland as hospital food.
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Arnel Pineda. Tim Owens. John Corabi. Gary Cherone.

If you are a fan of rock music, there is a good chance you are familiar with the names listed above. For those of you who have no idea who these people are, here is a quick rundown:

Arnel Pineda has been the voice of Journey since 2007.

Tim “Ripper” Owens fronted Judas Priest from 1996 – 2004.

John Corabi replaced Vince Neil as the singer in Mötley Crüe between 1992 – 1997.

Gary Cherone was the lead singer in Van Halen from 1996 – 2000.

Four legendary bands and each one replaced a distinctive voice with that of another. While each band continued to record new music and tour to varying degrees of success, they all lost the critical component of individuality each original lead singer brought to their respective groups.

Van Halen provides the best example of what the impact of losing an integral ingredient can bring: With Gary Cherone as the singer, the group not only lost the element of danger and hedonism that David Lee Roth brought to the band, they also lost the majority of their audience and record sales plummeted. No one would dispute that Gary Cherone was a technically better singer than David Lee Roth, but the band just wasn’t the same without Roth’s swagger, personality, and individuality.

The same uniqueness that only David Lee Roth could bring to Van Halen is not dissimilar to the distinctiveness that every promotional products professional needs to share with their clients. All too often, salespeople engage prospects and clients with a sameness that is as bland as hospital food. Do you think David Lee Roth would present promotional marketing ideas in a proficient, but boring and mundane manner? No, he would engage his target audience the same way he would if fronting Van Halen – as charming ringmaster with unbridled confidence and creativity.

Don’t squander your chance to be a rock star the next time your prospect or client gives you an audience. Channel your inner front man and share the unique qualities that make you different than every other person on the planet.

The question is simple: would you rather be Gary Cherone or would you rather be David Lee Roth?

Be Bold. Be Unique. Be You.

Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 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, 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 bill@PromoCorner.com.

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Mind the Gap
Bill Petrie

Online Influencers: Connecting the Industry, Raising the Bar
Unplugged Vacations; Yeti Cease and Desists and Copyrights; Inspirational Quotes and more. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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Industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing services provider to the promotional products industry, discuss a variety of hot­-button industry topics in this weekly “talk show” column brought to you by commonsku. Click on the graphic to hear their “UnScripted” conversation.

New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff, New Products
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sponsored by Webb Company

Promote your brand, company, event, team, school, etc. with a stylish ladies’ rhinestone T-shirt from Foxyware. Price includes a 5.3-oz. 100% cotton pre-shrunk jersey knit with a 1,000 count rhinestone logo and up to two rhinestone colors. Designs that use more than 1,000 stones may incur an additional fee. The shirts are available in 70 different colors and also available in sizes S-XL.






New Image Hangers from MAC Specialties are available in standard and custom shapes. They are made from lightweight, sturdy bubble board or premium high impact styrene. All Image Hangers include full bleed multiple spot color or four color process imprinting on one side.





The Baton golf umbrella from Ro-El has an auto-open feature and color coordinated handle and interior. It has a 60" arc and is available in black with white stripe, black with red stripe, and black with royal stripe.





This new Stretchy Mobile Device Pocket from Prime Line works with most phones and doubles as a wallet to hold credit cards, driver’s license, stylus or other small personal items. It is available in black, blue, lime green, red, and white.





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New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff
New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff
New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff

How Well Is Your SALES Portfolio Performing?
Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, Cliff's Notes
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Having five or six vertical markets will diversify your holdings in a safe and manageable way, but you still need to stay alert to volatile market shifts, because merely developing vertical markets does not guarantee success
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If you’re an investor you know the importance of periodically reviewing your account(s): do certain investments need to be sold, moved or do we need to invest more in higher performing stocks or investments.

The same process holds true for your sales portfolio. How often do you review your numbers, look at your accounts, into other smart investments, sell (or fire) accounts in order to make your portfolio perform to maximum profitability?

In investing, some stocks and equities grow at different rates; some are aggressive, some more conservative. The same can be said of your clients.

Portfolio
Your sales portfolio is the collection of all your accounts, both good and bad. Do you know how your portfolio is performing? How many “A” listed clients do you have compared to the “B, C, D, E” clients in your portfolio? It is mission critical to make sure that your portfolio is performing well and is profitable for the health and longevity of your business and your family.

Asset Allocation
How much money do you set aside for marketing and qualifying your ideal “A” listed clients? Do you even know what you’re “A” client types are?

Bear/Bull Markets
When the market is trending downward you would be in a Bear Market; when trending up, a Bull Market. Are you keeping your ear to the ground by staying on top of the latest trends that could negatively or positively affect your portfolio’s performance? If you do the proper research on your vertical markets you will be able to spot “trends” in the market so you can take appropriate proactive actions to stave off any losses. Case in point: 18 months prior to the PHRMA ruling on transparency, those who saw the writing on the wall were able to make proactive shifts in the dealing to mitigate losses while those who blindly kept moving forward had large portions of their portfolios dwindle.

Blue Chip
When I think of “Blue Chip” accounts I think about the accounts that have certain characteristics that I want all of my clients to have. These are my “A-listers.” For each of you these will vary but for me, an A-lister would have these traits: Honest, open to possibilities, loyal, fair, easy to work with, profitable (45 percent gross profit or better), someone that I have the majority of their business (65 percent plus), high potential, high sales volume ($100,000 annually). Have you taken the time to review your client list and classify your clients? How many A-listers do you have? What about the other categories – B through E? It is critical to classify your clients so you know how much of your resources need to be allocated to each category. Your A-listers are certainly going to get more of your attention and resources than would a D listed client – so take the time to classify your accounts.

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Diversification
Your sales portfolio should be balanced. Having all of your eggs in one basket can be detrimental to your portfolio’s overall performance. Imagine having a top level account where 75 percent of your time, efforts and resources are devoted to that one client; imagine further if they sold, went out of business or moved the operation to another state or country. The likelihood is your portfolio would suffer tremendously. I am a huge believer and I preach this during my coaching sessions about the need to develop multiple vertical markets for just this reason. Having five or six vertical markets will diversify your holdings in a safe and manageable way, but you still need to stay alert to volatile market shifts, because merely developing vertical markets does not guarantee success.

ROI/Total Returns
For each account, your gross profits or your total returns is different. The health of your portfolio is in direct relationship to the profits generated. If you parallel our analogy would be a stock portfolio where you have 100k invested with stagnant movement and no growth. The same holds true with your sales portfolio. Selling a million dollars is great but if the return is minimal or non-existent, then it’s really an under-performing portfolio.
Remember: "Sales Feed Egos, Profits Feed Families".

Liquidity
Part of having strong portfolio is having assets that you can use to move your business forward. This is why having savings or cash in an accessible account is extremely important. These assets can be used for capital improvements, new computers or phone system, investment in training, hiring additional staff or attending a show. Part of your portfolio should have reserves readily available for such a need.

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Market Risk
Like stocks, some vertical markets are riskier than others so it’s imperative for you to do your homework. Remember the issue with the pharmaceutical industry? If you were heavily invested in this market from a sales standpoint and took a blind eye to what was happening, then your risk was great. However, if you knew the details of what its initiatives were, you could have still sold in that space and made some handsome profits based on where you could have gone and what was acceptable. Sometimes the lure of certain markets looks good, but how many folks were stung and in fact went out of business when the “dot-com” bubble burst? Looked good, but it failed.

Risk Tolerance
I would correlate this to selling at low margins and keep this brief and to the point: if you sell for 10 and 15 percent profits, keep in mind that the risk associated with that is great. In this case you own the cost of goods to the tune of 85 to 90 percent. If something goes sideways with that account, could you absorb that loss? I don’t think many people truly look at this in the way they should. Be mindful of what you are willing to potentially lose before you say yes. Sometimes it’s better to say, “no thank you.”

Valuation
You want to build a business, a book of business, in your sales portfolio that, in the end, has value. I have seen many people who believe their business is worth “X” when in reality it is nowhere close. I get it, it’s your baby, but numbers don’t lie. To have a strong company valuation, your sales and marketing portfolio must be strong. Don’t make the mistake that if you sell a $1 million dollars a year that your company is worth that or more; there are many factors that play into the valuation of each client which make up your portfolio.

Advisor
You may feel a bit overwhelmed by all of this, but not to worry – there are numerous resources both in and out of our industry that can assist you on getting your portfolio in order. Please note, when reaching out, go armed with a list of questions for your specific needs. Each company is different; I have seen some that need tons of help where others need a little nudge and coaching to get back on the rails.

Whatever your need, take time to do a self-evaluation and needs assessment, in the long run; you’ll be happy you did.

Until next month, have a great balance of the year and continued good selling with a strong and profitable sales portfolio!

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 http://www.myengagepage2.com/cliffquicksell.


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Why Won’t They Call Me Back?
Cliff Quicksell, MAS+

Love Notes from Distributors to Suppliers
Jeff Solomon, Deep Thoughts
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sponsored by Webb Company

In this Deep Thoughts commentary, Jeff shares some love notes from Distributors to Suppliers. Just to be fair, he is also putting together a compilation of Supplier love letters to Distributors. Everything is anonymous, so Suppliers PLEASE feel free to contact Jeff with whatever you would like to share. The link to the written commentary is here:http://bit.ly/2sk5MD3

Jeff Solomon, MAS, is the voice behind FreePromoTips.com 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 YourPromotionSolution.com 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.

Charity Gibson: Dealing w/ Change, Best Advice I've Received
"Rising Star" and Peerless National Accounts Coordinator Kirby Hasseman, Delivering Marketing Joy
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sponsored by Bay State

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.

You Are the Cure for a Marketer’s Stress
Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away
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Self-promotion should not be a one shot deal. It needs to be a campaign using all the portals possible to gain attention, build repeated awareness of you and incite action.
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In a revealing study by Workfront, with over 500 marketers responding, an overwhelming number of marketers indicated they are under an “inordinate amount of stress” directly related to “the way their work is being managed.” The study revealed that 80 percent of marketers say they are “understaffed and overloaded” – 25 percent say they are stressed to the max. Nearly one-third blame internal issues for most of their stress.

This sets the table for you. So get on your horse and get ready to charge in and save the day. As outsource consultant with expertise in promotion and communication, you are the tonic for stress and the conduit for marketing success. You cannot only relieve stress, but can bring the marketing creativity needed to get better results. You can fill the void of being understaffed, without the overhead associated with hiring. You can take overloads in the form of short and long term projects. You can serve the needs of marketing from creative program development to implementation and results monitoring.

The opening provided by the information in this study is in self-promotion. An empathetic campaign acknowledging your understanding and availability to help the marketer through their stress, positions you as a needed partner.

Be extra vigilant on your self-promo. As a marketer, self-promotion to another marketer is truly under a microscope. A more critical eye will be given to this promotion than to almost any other department and application. However, if this self-promotion gets through the gatekeeper you are on your way. If it gets a response, there is little in the way of matriculating the prospect into a client.

Self-promotion should not be a one shot deal. It needs to be a campaign using all the portals possible to gain attention, build repeated awareness of you and incite action. Lumpy mail, dimensional mailings get attention.

It starts with a target list. 100 seems to be a common number in target marketing. 100 targets in your pipeline is a substantial enough number where a response rate of 3 percent or more can generate enough revenue to validate your campaign and finance continued promotion. Your target of 100 should constantly be replenished. As they turn into clients, add more. As they change jobs, close businesses, etc., get replacements.

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Consider quarterly campaigns. Every three months is enough to get you the recognition and awareness.

Packaging Counts – Look for a creative package that can be hand delivered or sent by a cost effective method. While UPS and Federal Express get attention, they are costly. The Post Office is your best option other than hand delivery. Whatever the box, pouch or envelope, decorating the outside with your logo and theme is critical. When the recipient sees the design more than once it builds greater interest. Variable data in your design speaks volumes about your ability, so add that to your promotion. It is easy to print a full color adhesive and wrap it around most any packaging.

Theme – There are boundless opportunities to create a theme for stress relief, etc. Your theme and approach should clearly answer the question the recipient has… what is in it for me?

Positioning You – This is not the place to show your “stuff,”, but rather your capabilities. A broad stroke is best in copy. All you are seeking is a meeting and you need to entice the prospect.

Stress Hotline – Your office number is your business number, your personal cell phone is your stress hotline. From this thought can come one of your dimensional self promotions. An item for the phone branded with your name and stress hotline speaks volumes. There are hotlines for all human conditions from binge eating to serious issues such a suicide etc. – your hotline can be unique.

Stress Toys – I have long protested that stress balls do absolutely nothing to negate stress. I have not changed. However, “stress balls” and other toys such as sand and a rake, thumb twiddlers, etc, can carry the message for you at a low cost. By the time this is published, fidget spinners will be in your product arsenal or perhaps already run its fad course.

Serious Stress Tools – Readers will know that this writer owns a company that provides music therapy. It can be provided as an e-mail attachment, on CD or as a download. Music, aroma therapy, exercise materials are among the very few promotional items you have that are proven stress fighters. “Take As Needed” for your stress headache can be an effective and low cost self-promotion.

Lumpy/dimensional mailings must, must be accompanied by constant contact. Use the phone to say hi, use e-mail, if you know it, to keep in periodic, but not too frequent, touch. Use your network groups as an open channel for face to face contact.

A distributor recently told me she enclosed a “groupon” for a “Healthy & Stress Free” lunch to discuss a prospect’s marketing objectives. It worked, she related, and she did three lunches from a self-promotion mailing of 50 pieces.

The reality is that most of your buyers are pressed for time, have limited staff to focus on projects and need outside help. The key to you is that you deliver the creative help at little or no cost and are remunerated by being awarded the execution of the programs you develop. This too is a vital message to deliver in your self-promotion.

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.

Big or Small Tent?
Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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When you provide an experience that is uniquely yours, there is no competition.
sponsored by Webb Company

Complaining about who is “allowed” to enter the promotional products industry is nothing new. For years it has been one of the biggest points of contention between distributors and both PPAI and ASI. Whether people feel like new entrants lower the bar or further saturate the market, the consensus among distributors is that when there are more people in the industry, profits are lowered.

Frankly, I’ve had enough.

It shouldn’t matter who is a member of PPAI, acquires an ASI number so they can operate a business out of their garage, or partners with SAGE. None of this prevents a distributor from selling more merchandise or growing his or her business. The fact is that a business will flourish or fail based on the quality of work and the value provided to the client – period. When distributors place an inordinate amount of focus on what the “other guys” are doing, they end up losing sight of their own business objectives.

Let me use a sports analogy to illustrate my point: the Dallas Cowboys don’t get better by worrying about the free agent defensive back the Philadelphia Eagles signed in the off-season. The Cowboys only get better by focusing internally on having a more robust offensive plan, coaching their receivers to run more precise routes, or by simply practicing more.

None of us can control who joins our industry. This means that there is no positive payoff that comes from using precious time to focus on it. That time is far better spent trying to reduce friction from the buying process so that clients see you and your distributorship as their preferred source for promotional merchandise. When you provide an experience that is uniquely yours, there is no competition.

As an industry, we need to decide whether to have a small or big tent. On one hand, we can have a small tent to keep people and organizations out because they represent a threat. On the other hand, we can have a big tent to allow people to join because they might raise the bar and make all of us better. I, for one, am all for the big tent for a few reasons:

1) New thinking forces everyone to innovate or risk becoming irrelevant. I am smart enough to know that I don’t know it all – and never will. When people join the promotional products industry, they bring new ideas that cause me to think differently about my areas of expertise.

2) Those who fear new entrants into the industry for fear that they only serve to increase competition generally sell only on the value of price. The problem with using price as a differentiator is that there is always someone willing to go lower and win that race to the bottom.

3) Far too many in our industry have a “secret society” mentality and want to keep it that way by protecting industry pricing codes, keeping the supply chain a mystery, etc. We live in an age where information is cheap and, in most cases, free. Simply type “promotional products industry pricing codes” and you’ll be astonished at the results. This means that the end-user is far more educated than ever and there is very little magic or mystery to promotional products unless there is a value-add like packaging, individual customization, proven ROI, etc.

I do understand the fear of letting just “anyone” enter the promotional products industry, but the fact is that it will continue to happen. In my mind, everyone has a choice: either continue to complain about it or focus inward to improve their offerings to the point where the consumer thinks only of them as the resource for promotional merchandise. As for me, I choose the latter.

Bring on the big tent – it only makes the ones who truly differentiate better and stronger.

Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 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, 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 bill@PromoCorner.com.

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Mind the Gap
Bill Petrie

A Better Mousetrap That Comes Without Regulation
With direct sales from Amazon and Alibaba, and links from Facebook and Google, traditional product safeguards can be side-stepped. Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector
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The problem with the direct-to-consumer sales of this latest fad is the same as with the exploding hoverboards that came before it – the traditional safeguards for product safety in the U.S. are given an end run.
sponsored by Bay State

We can argue whether or not the biggest fad of 2017, the Fidget Spinner, should be considered a better consumer product mousetrap, but there is little argument about its popularity – or availability. A recent search on Amazon for “Fidget Spinner” revealed 50,010 different spinners for sale, with some 35,564 results returned from a search for “Fidget Cube.” While you may loathe the thought of sourcing this for your clients at the shallow end of the product pool, it’s impossible not to marvel at how this product got to where it is – rising to this “must have” level before a brand, a retailer, or advertising campaign was employed to give it a boost.

You know that in the promotional products industry, many of today’s standards for product safety had their beginning in 2008 with the retail-oriented Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The law gave the CPSC significant new regulatory and enforcement tools, and presumed a traditional supplier-to-distributor-to-store shelves distribution system. To protect your clients, you have been using that model and keeping an eye on the ever-changing regulatory requirements ever since.

The problem with the direct-to-consumer sales of this latest fad is the same as with the exploding hoverboards that came before it – the traditional safeguards for product safety in the U.S. are given an end run. Popular products shipped directly from China to consumers can mean that regulators learn about product failure at the same time we do, by reading about it in the news. Many of the burns and other injuries caused by faulty batteries in hoverboards were from products where it was impossible to trace what factory was the manufacturer.

Neal Cohen was instrumental in helping promote safety in the promotional product industry, speaking frequently at industry events like the Product Responsibility Summit in his role as ombudsman for small businesses at the CPSC. How does a regulator who is supposed to protect consumers deal with sellers who do direct shipping from overseas? Cohen, now in private practice, told BuzzFeed News, “It’s not like it’s coming on a freight truck... [Regulators] cannot successfully get a FedEx box. That’s a needle in a haystack. Innovation comes really quickly now with the speed to the market. You can have a factory one day making hoverboards, and then they find out about fidget spinners. Now suddenly they’re making fidget spinners. They don't know anything about what they’re doing. They’re just reverse engineering pictures they’re finding.”

Disruptors – the popular term these days for the players threatening suppliers and distributors sticking with only a traditional sales model – are coming at you from all angles in the online world. But, something you may not have thought of, they are disrupting your clients’ safety when they aren’t buying from you. We live in a time when a product can reach literally millions of people directly, and before we know much about the product itself. Like whether or not it will blow up while charging, or break a small part off while spinning. Maybe something to keep in mind as you contemplate the information you share in your corporate blog, email marketing, or other customer communication channels. Informed customers are, we hope, safe customers.

Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for 40 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 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. You can find him still advising Global 500 Brands on promo product initiatives, 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 jacobs.jeffreyp@gmail.com.

Computer Customer Service Woes and YOUR Customer's Experience
The Next Step in Content: Battle of the Apps; Are You a Salesperson or a Marketer? Who Were Your Mentors? Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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sponsored by Next Level Apparel

Industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing services provider to the promotional products industry, discuss a variety of hot­-button industry topics in this weekly “talk show” column brought to you by commonsku. Click on the graphic to hear their “UnScripted” conversation.

New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff, New Products
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sponsored by Howw

New from Atlantis Time is this Action waterproof camera with wi-fi feature. It features 1080p definition, a 2" screen and an assortment of mounts.

Men’s Carhartt Tacoma ripstop shorts are now available from Lutz. Co. They are offered in four colors in waist sizes 30-44.

New exercise bands from WOWLine stretch and help with various exercises, including many yoga poses, and feature locking handles for easy storage. Available in blue and red, your company name or logo can be imprinted on the handles. These exercise bands are the perfect giveaway for gyms, yoga studios, trade shows and fundraisers!

The new Hexa Tote from PWS is a 80 GSM premium non-woven polypropylene cube-shaped tote (10" x 10" x 10"). It is available in aqua blue, black, charcoal, kelly green, lime and royal blue.

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New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff
New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff
New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff

Ready for a Rich Niche?
Rosalie Marcus, Promo Biz Coach
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Niche marketing allows you to stand out in a competitive field and not be just another promotional products company.
sponsored by Webb Company

I don’t have to tell you how competitive the promotional products business is these days; that’s why concentrating your selling efforts on a niche market or markets is a key strategy for being successful in our ever-evolving industry.

I believe that, as the saying goes, “You can’t be all things to all people,” BUT you can be a star in your niche market. Niche marketing allows you to stand out in a competitive field and not be just another promotional products company.

I’m a huge believer in niche marketing, that’s why as a business coach I only work with people in the promotional products industry, I teach them strategies to sell smarter and make more money with less time and effort. Part of that is helping them identify ideal and profitable niche markets (that speak to their strengths, skills and passions) – then show them how to become the go-to person in those markets.

Why should you develop niche market expertise?

Whether you’re new or established in the promotional products industry, you may have noticed that things are shifting dramatically in our industry. Many of the traditional ways of selling promotional products are no longer working. In fact, many have become obsolete. To prosper in promotional products sales today, you need to work differently. You need to position yourself as an expert, target your marketing and be invaluable. You need to position your company as the market leader in your niche and position yourself as the go-to person in that niche.

You may fear having a niche market will limit your business. Actually, quite the opposite is true. When you establish niche market expertise, you’ll get more referrals, your reputation will grow and clients will seek you out. As an added benefit, you’ll enjoy your work more!

There are many ways to establish a niche. You can create a niche by the industries you serve (healthcare, education, finance) the products you most enjoy selling (apparel, writing instruments) or the services you provide (company stores etc.) – and these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to niche marketing!

One thing to keep in mind: having a niche or niche markets does not mean you can’t sell outside of that market. It just means this is where you will concentrate the majority of your marketing efforts.

In my own promotional products business, the year I decided to concentrate my efforts on a lucrative niche market – healthcare – my sales doubled and continued to grow rapidly. Shortly thereafter, my company made the “100 Fastest Growing Companies” list in the Philadelphia Business Journal and I had clients seeking me out for my expertise.

The same niche marketing strategy I used to grow my own promotional products business, I have been able to share with many of my coaching clients who achieved equally great results.

Remember: the more expertise you have in your niche, the more opportunities will become available to you and that translates into more business and better business for your company.

I’ll be presenting a free webinar, “How to Cash in on a Profitable Niche Market,” later this month. If you would like to get on my mailing list for a complimentary invitation to attend, or if you have questions about niche marketing, please contact me at Rosalie@promobizcoach.com.

Here’s to your niche marketing success!

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. Download a FREE Special Report 10 Proven Ways to Thrive in Promotional Products Sales… In Any Economy at www.PromoBizCoach.com – Reach her at Rosalie@promobizcoach.com.

Kara Keister: Staying Motivated and Inspired
City Apparel, OPPA president and Accounts Solutions Mastermind. Kirby Hasseman, Delivering Marketing Joy
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sponsored by Bay State

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.

3 Tips For When Company Culture Goes Awry
Brad Deutser, From the Business World
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Frequent fliers may look back on 2017 as the year those supposedly “friendly skies” turned into chaotic clouds. The list of airlines in trouble seemed to grow by the day, whether it was cancelled flights that led to near riots, prize rabbits dying in the cargo hold or roughed up passengers who declined to be bumped from their seats. Something definitely has been amiss in the airline industry – and it’s something we all can learn from.

Beyond getting past the negative media coverage, if an airline – or any company for that matter – wants to right the foundering ship, someone should do a deep dive into the company culture. Any business leader needs to understand that their ultimate success starts with what happens on the inside of the organization. If the people inside the company aren’t aligned and in synch with the company’s values and goals, then the result is going to be confusion and turmoil that eventually will affect the brand’s overall performance.

A few airlines are experiencing that right now, but plenty of other businesses do as well. A lot goes into setting things right when they go awry, but among the steps that should be taken are as follows.

• Strive for organizational clarity.

The most critical ingredient to achieving business success is clarity, and that includes clarity of the organization’s purpose and vision, as well as clarity in the roles of those involved in carrying out that purpose and vision. If leaders are fuzzy on the goals they have for a business or organization, then those charged with accomplishing those goals are less likely to succeed.

• Keep things positive.
Keeping an upbeat atmosphere is essential to a company’s culture. You want your employees to be happy. If you can find a way to encourage a positive outlook and attitude, employees will be more motivated and will perform their jobs better.

• Go in search of what’s right in the company.
When businesses want to improve, they typically focus on what’s wrong or what’s broken. It just seems to make sense to address head-on whatever difficulty has arisen. But Deutser says that approach should be flipped on its head and the question should not be: What are we doing wrong? It should be: What are we doing right? What are the great nuggets inside that organization that can take us to a different place, to a different height? If you understand where the company culture is getting it right, you can duplicate those practices in the areas where the problems lie.

"Just about any company will hit a bumpy stretch somewhere along the way," Deutser says. "When that happens, it may be time to explore its culture, re-evaluate how it operates and re-imagine what its future can be."

Brad Deutser is president of Deutser LLC (www.deutser.com), a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity, especially in times of transition, growth or crisis. He is an expert at leveraging culture to drive business performance, and his firm has counseled organizations ranging from the Fortune 100 to nonprofits. Deutser launched his firm in 2002.







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T-shirt Trends: Fashion and Fun!
Lisa Schofield, Product Feature
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sponsored by Howw

T-shirts are probably the most versatile piece of clothing one can own. They can be dressed up or down, and worn for work or play. This year, retailed-inspired T-shirts, heavier knits, poly knit blends, moisture management/performance wear, and athleisure styles are still growing in popularity. Consumers want fashion — and comfort — as well as the ability to go from the gym to the store! Promotional product suppliers continue to respond to this demand with an array of retro, raglan, higher collar, and dolman styles.

Summer Barry of BELLA+CANVAS believes the promotional products in this industry will always be driven by impression. “When a product can leave a lasting impression on the end consumer, they will never forget your brand,” she emphasizes.

According to Michael Cohen at S&S Activewear, customers are looking to updated retail styles and fabrics. “The demand has originated from surf and skate, music merchandising, and boutique retail niches but are emerging into everyday business,” he says. “Traditional customers now request these products. Much of music and liquor merchandising has moved away from 18 singles, 100 percent cotton T-shirts into these better fabrics and updated styles. From Beyoncé and Metallica, to Hanger One and Cuervo, and to wineries and breweries — these are the products we see selling successfully.”

Cohen continues that blends have also made a resurgence — along with lighter weight fabrics and more modern silhouettes. Additionally, in the performance/athletic category, the major shift has been to 100 percent polyester/moisture management fabrics, he reports.

Next Level Apparel’s Mark Seymour also sees athleisure styles as a significant trend. “We have launched two new styles in a mock twist fabric and both are hot sellers,” he notes. “Customers want garments that are soft, stretchy, comfortable, and can multitask. Decorators love them because they are easy to print. Customers love the great value.”

Demand has also been strong for women’s dolman styles, Seymour continues. “Our heathery tri-blend dolman has been a consistent top seller so we added two new styles in solid colors,” he reports. “Both have the flowy comfortable feel and large print area that define the dolman style. They can be worn off shoulder or loosely fitted for that generous ‘boxy chick look.’”

Heavier fabrics in knits and fleece are huge at TSC Apparel, in addition to poly-rich blends and tri-blends for heathers and softness, Marcia Cumberledge says. Muscle Ts and soft colors such as mauve, peach, and olive are also popular.

sponsored by Webb Company

Dov Charney at Los Angeles Apparel also acknowledges that thicker knits are on the rise, as well as higher collars on T-shirts. “Demand on the higher end side of the T-shirt industry is strong,” he comments.

Promotional product suppliers have rolled out Ts in an array of new styles and colors that are guaranteed to generate excitement in 2017. S&S Activewear’s new offerings focus on new fabrics and silhouettes, including 50/50, 60/40, 65/35, and Tri-Blends, Cohen says, and are selling as much as 100 percent cotton styles. “In the performance area, with the popularity of Under Armor, Nike, Adidas, and Champion all expanding at retail, as much of the basic athletic business tries to shift to the 100 percent polyester fabric,” he adds.

At Next Level Apparel, customers have been requesting a long bottom cotton crew in the company’s 100 percent combed ring spun cotton so it added style 3602 to the line in three colors. “Demand is so high we are expanding to more colors,” Seymour enthuses. “The extra length and longer sleeve along with a slightly curved bottom has been a huge success with the millennial market.” Also doing well is Style 2021, a mock twist raglan hoody which Seymour calls a perfect co-ed garment. “The fabric is super soft with a snowy look and tri-blend feel. The companion piece is style 2050, a raglan short sleeve crew. Both are perfect from workout to street.”

Barry at BELLA+CANVAS says the company’s most recent releases include a cut neck tank for women and a unisex poly-viscose T that is great for sublimation.

Retail-inspired offerings from TSC Apparel have been best-selling this year, including Tultex 241 poly-rich blend T; Ei-Lo 3600, 100 percent combed ringspun cotton T; Los Angeles Apparel BB401, poly/cotton T; Bella 8803, Flowy Muscle Tank; LAT 6937, Football T; and Anvil 6750 Tri-blend T. Los Angeles Apparel’s Charney adds that Style 1801 of the company’s new garment dye T-shirts is showing momentum.

Suppliers agree that samples are a must when it comes to selling these products to clients. Barry at BELLA+CANVAS believes T-shirts speak for themselves when samples are provided. TSC Apparel’s Cumberledge also sees the importance of having depth in inventory to service customers and a broad selection of styles to appeal to many different customers.

In agreement is S&S Activewear’s Cohen. “You should be offering these products to all of your customers,” he affirms. “When they shop at retail stores, this is what they buy for themselves. If a traditional customer uses a better product to promote themselves, they will get a higher ROI, because the apparel is more likely to be worn. Explaining this to them, will help you sell this fashion oriented apparel to their clients.”

Charney of Los Angeles Apparel also weighs in, adding, “Introducing new products to your client by providing them examples of the product and even giving it to them for free is important. You have to make them feel comfortable outside their comfort zone.”

Expanding on Charney’s sentiments is Seymour at Next Level Apparel. “It is important to get samples in your customers’ hands so they can feel the unique fabrics and understand and appreciate the detailed styling,” he explains. “All of these options represent another opportunity to reach trending markets at a value that will work when decorated. Showing new fabrics and styles with decoration will help the customer break out of their current routine and visualize new opportunities.

“It’s exciting to witness the basic T-shirt body, that we all know and love, morph into fashion forward, retail-inspired garments that can be worn in almost any setting,” Cohen continues. “Shake up the market with fabric, fashion and value and your customers will love you for it.”

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Mind the Gap
Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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Anyone can do the big things right; it’s the little things that separate one business from another.
sponsored by Bay State

If you’ve ever been to the United Kingdom and ridden the subway (locally known as “the Tube”) in London you’ve heard the term “mind the gap.” It’s essentially a warning issued to rail passengers to be careful when crossing the spatial chasm between the train door and the station platform. To my way of thinking, the “gap” also refers to the space between the desired client experience and the reality of the service that is provided.

I do a fair amount of traveling by air and it usually goes like this: I board the plane in an orderly fashion, I stow my luggage, I take my seat, and I arrive alive. Many would argue that the transaction is near perfect, which is to say I got exactly what I paid for. However, the real issue is that as a customer it’s not the experience I desire. When I fly, I generally feel as if I am little more than a trespasser occupying a seat. There are precious few smiles, little eye contact, and rarely a feeling of gratitude for my business. My airline of choice is sufficient, but does not mind the gap between my desired experience and the one that is given.

When you deliver promotional merchandise, decorated correctly, delivered on time, and sold at a fair price, you are merely sufficient and no different from anyone else. To mind the gap means paying attention to the seemingly little things. Anyone can do the big things right; it’s the little things that separate one business from another.

Here are three strategies you can implement immediately to mind the gap in your clients' experience:

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1. Be Attentive – Do you give your clients your complete and undivided attention when communicating with them? Do you listen with the intent to respond rather than the intent to hear? Do you focus only on the words being spoken and not their tone, pacing, and body language? Do you glance at your phone because you received a text? Place a premium on being fully invested in all your client communications.

2. Show Appreciation – How do you express heartfelt gratitude to your clients? Hand write thank you notes, send food gifts (with their branding of course) during their busy season, or thank them in an over the top way for a major order. Leverage your creativity and do more than a courtesy “thank you” email.

3. Create Delight – Put a smile on their face and in their heart. Make a fun video, bring fresh baked snickerdoodles to a meeting, create an amusing out-of-office message, or send their kids balloons on their birthday. People love to serve as ambassadors for their favorite brands so help them to get to know yours by sharing your culture.

Memorable, meaningful, fun, unusual, and unexpected experiences influence the way your clients perceive your business and feel about you. Don’t be tempted to brush aside the little details as a low priority. It’s the little details that create loyalty. It’s the little details that keep people talking about you and recommending you. It’s the little details that allow people to rationalize paying more because they have an emotional connection with your brand.

Mind the gap.

Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 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, 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 bill@PromoCorner.com.

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