Embroiderer’s Pet Peeves
Jennifer Cox, Needle Points
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sponsored by PPAI

Every day there are things that happen that annoy us, day after day. Here at NNEP, we are in a unique position to hear about what annoys embroidery professionals from all over the country, from owners of part time businesses at home all the way up through owners of 400+ embroidery head shops. The most surprising thing is that the concerns we gripe about are surprisingly consistent, no matter what kind or size of business it is!

Here’s a list of the top three pet peeves of embroidery and apparel decoration business owners, and some suggestions about how you can tweak your process, even just a little bit, to reduce or eliminate these frustrations for your embroidery partners.

1) Just Make It Look Good

We hear this exact phrase from our customers far too many times. This ranks at the top of the list of pet peeves because it leaves us hanging. You are asking us to read your minds, or worse, the minds of your customers to what their expectations are and somehow translate that to thread and fibers. The way to get the information we need to meet and exceed their expectations is to ask questions. In our embroidery business, we finally posted a sign in our sales area that our staff and our customers could see:

JUST MAKE IT LOOK GOOD

To “JMILG,” we need the following information:

• What product? Style, size, color, quantity

• What design?

• Where does the design go?

• What size is the design?

• Thread/Applique Colors?

• When do you need it?

We cannot begin the order until we have all the information! If we have to guess, and you are not pleased with the result, there are no refunds.

All JMILG orders must be paid, in advance, in full.

Once we knew we had all information that was required to successfully meet the customer’s expectations, it was not that hard to get customers to answer these specific questions. It was simply a matter of getting them to think about it for a moment. Your contract embroiderer needs all these same details to produce the order for your customer.

Ask your contract shop what the cost would be for them to create a binder for you to keep with examples of their six most popular fonts embroidered on fabric and presented in sheet protectors. Create each “page” with one line of text in each of the following sizes: ¼", ½", ¾", 1", 2" and 3".

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You can also include a few pages of sewouts of different sizes and shapes of left chest designs, from rather small designs up through a few oversized designs. Customers often request a design size that runs on the larger side, which increases their costs and does not always look that good. Having samples to demonstrate just how big a 5" logo is can help you make sure your customers will be happy with the final product.

When a customer is sure they want a larger design on the left or right chest location of a shirt or jacket, the “business card trick” is be very effective for establishing the ideal size of the design. If the customer is wearing a design on their shirt (ANY left chest design), ask them to hold up their business card over the design. If they are not wearing a shirt with a left chest design, may you or someone on your staff always (hint you and they should be!). Most of the time, the card will cover the majority of the design, and it looks “right” on the shirt – not too small, not too large. You and the customer can now agree that a left chest design should fall in the 2½” x 3” range, depending on the proportions of the shape of the design.

2) Last Minute Michael

The next most common pet peeve is when you or your customers leave things to the last minute or push for really quick turnarounds. Your customer needs it tomorrow, yet you or they never responded to sign off on the order sample, then get upset when the order cannot be ready by the end of the day. Or, “Why can’t you do it now?” or you show up before the promised deadline and get frustrated if the order is not ready.

Educating your customer is one way to manage their delivery time expectations. Your customers have no idea of just how many steps are involved in creating an embroidered product – this is not their industry! We discovered that making an analogy to cooking made it easier for customers to get a better appreciation of all the steps in the process. When pressed as to why we cannot get it done while they wait, a response along the lines of, “Well, it is sort of like cooking a nice meal. First we have to figure out exactly what you want, like you would find a recipe. Next we get the elements, just like you would need to go to the grocery store. Then we have to create your design, which is like prepping all the ingredients. And finally, we bring everything together to create the finished products for you. It takes a bit of time. And we have several orders already in line before we get to this one.”

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3) Cheap

Finally, we have all had a customers who says, “I can get it for less from the guy down the street…” That is definitely a fun conversation, isn’t it? At this point, you do have options. You can politely indicate that perhaps that is where they should be doing business. Surprisingly enough, their next comment often is something along the lines of, “Oh well, they can’t get it done in time…” When that happens, that guy’s price no longer has any bearing on the conversation. If your embroiderer can meet the timetable, you have the inside track on this order, and meeting or beating that price is unnecessary as well as unwise. If it is a quick turnaround, it may even be appropriate to tack on a rush fee on top of your normal rates, as incentive to get the customer to pay more attention to the timing of future orders.

For some reason, as an industry, we let our customers interact with us in ways that in many other business settings would be inappropriate, even downright ridiculous. Would you go into a restaurant and bring a hunk of raw steak and ask the chef to prepare it? Yet how often do our customers walk in with their own goods, expecting us to embroider them? As a promotional products distributor, you can buy apparel wholesale to bring to your contract embroiderer. It is new, clean and in a box.

Or customers give you lousy, unusable art and expect top quality embroidered goods. If they had taken that art to a paper print provider, they would be charged art fees/design fees/graphics fees to finish the design and turn it into something useful. Yet you balk at paying for art fees and even digitizing fees. It is appropriate and reasonable for the embroidery professional to be paid for the prep work that goes into generating art that can then be digitized.

If there are things that your customers do, or that your embroidery contractor does, that bothers you, step back and look at the bigger picture. What, specifically, is it about that interaction that bothers you? What can you adjust about how you interact with that customer, or decoration and anyone else involved in the situation, to reduce the frustration? How can you help those customers and those orders become more streamlined with how your business functions? Any steps you can take to move them closer to an ideal process will improve your entire experience with your customers and with your contractors, and that will be better for everyone!

Jennifer Cox is president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals. NNEP members receive personalized marketing consulting designed specifically for their business. To join NNEP today, visit NNEP.net, email Jennifer at hooper@nnep.net, or call 800-866-7396.

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How Do You Manage Client Expectations?
Danette Gossett, From Good to Great
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I’m always surprised when a client takes days to respond, makes changes and then expects to receive their item on the day they originally requested.
sponsored by Next Level Apparel

I’ve just gone through two weeks of frustration with a new client. They are the advertising agency (it reminds me why I don’t like to work with most agencies!) for a large company. We are working on event projects for them – outdoor tent and booth for their client. And to be perfectly honest I feel both were/are a disaster.

Why? In my mind, the agency didn’t manage the client expectations or heed our procedures and timing requirements. And, as life happens, things went wrong.

Count on Miracles or Processes?

We’ve all had clients who think we can pull off miracles. And we all have more than once I am sure. However, in this case, I was extremely frustrated in not being able to move the process along in a timely manner, basically not having any control over the process.

I wasn’t sure the agency was even trying to manage the client. Now, after the fact, I find out that the account person at the agency had given notice and was leaving. So, maybe her mind was elsewhere. But deadline after deadline was missed. And yet, we were still supposed to deliver.

To be honest, I lost multiple nights of sleep over this because I never want a client not to have what they need.

We Are Experts

This is why I have procedures in place to manage my client’s expectations. And over the years, they have grown to recognize that these are in place for a very good reason – all of our sanity!

Years ago I had a bid situation for an overseas custom project. I’ve done quite a few and understand the process. Well, I told the client if we didn’t have approval by a specific date, they wouldn’t get their products in time for their event. Another vendor came in pennies less and said “of course we can have it for your event,” giving them the extra couple of weeks they wanted to finalize. Fast forward three months and I get a call from that client. Sure enough, their product hadn’t arrived in time for their event and they were actually still waiting. Her comment to me, “I should have listened to you.”

Sometimes we have to remind our clients that we are indeed experts in our field and that’s what they are paying us for. Do they stop their doctor in the middle of a procedure to tell them they could skip that step?

Don’t Skip Steps

For instance, we always require a proof for review. And, we provided one for the tent and flags we were doing for the new client. It didn’t start out as rush production but with all their changes and delayed responses it now was. They approved the proof and it was delivered on time (thanks Showdown Displays!). We came to find out, at the last minute, that they didn’t review the proof with the client and barely looked at it themselves – and they had provided the wrong logo.

We are very fortunate that imprinting processes have improved dramatically over the years. We sometimes can get things out in 24 hours instead of days or weeks. Luckily, Showdown Displays was able to get the revised flags out overnight. But for the first day of their event, they had flags they couldn’t use because they didn’t listen to their expert advisor and take the time to review their proofs. If they were a long time client, I might have picked up that it was the wrong logo, but being just our second project, I didn’t have a clue.

Have a Plan

For large projects with multiple elements, I like to sit down with my client at the very start and review all the steps we will be taking to make the project a success for them. We review deadlines and the importance of quick responses from them. And of course, we discuss the consequences of multiple changes or delayed responses.

I’m always surprised when a client takes days to respond, makes changes and then expects to receive their item on the day they originally requested.

That’s what I am now faced with for my new client’s trade show booth. We are retro-fitting a very old booth system with new graphics as well as a new custom hanging sign that is 8' in diameter. Their show begins in less than a week and we still don’t have artwork. Yesterday I joined them at their client's office to review the final changes again, only to find out that the agency hadn’t even discussed the pricing quote we had provided to them – more than a month ago! Now, at the last minute, they are questioning the expense which now, with rush shipping expenses, is only going to increase.

So, I am thinking about how I could have managed this better. Quotes were provided and acknowledged and time schedules were reviewed plus multiple follow-ups were made. Should I have just walked away when they didn’t meet their own commitments? That’s not my style.

So, I am calling in some favors and crossing my fingers because now we don’t have time to retrofit the booth here. It’s going directly to the convention center, sight unseen. I guess I’ll be losing some more sleep!

However, this whole process was a great reminder that our processes are in place for a reason and having great vendor partner relationships is a godsend!

Danette Gossett is the founder of Gossett Marketing, co-founder of Promotions Rescource LLC and co-author of the best-selling book “Transform” with Brian Tracy. Danette utilizes her more than 30 years of advertising agency and corporate marketing experience to develop effective promotional campaigns and products for her clients. Visit GossettMktg.com or SalesPromo.org and follow us on twitter @MarketngTidbits.

Understanding Millennials In The Workplace
Study unmasks several misconceptions. Christy Hopkins, From the Business World
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Millennials now comprise 35 percent of the workforce and counting. Understanding their priorities is vital for anyone seeking to hire and retain the best talent.
sponsored by PPAI

New research by Fit Small Business reveals many misconceptions around what millennials want in the workplace. Over 600 Americans aged 18-65+ were surveyed about what they prioritize when looking for their ideal job. The study was undertaken in March 2017.

The study posed questions such as “Which benefits are most important to you?” and “What characteristics of your boss would make you consider changing your job?”

Millennials now comprise 35 percent of the workforce and counting. Understanding their priorities is vital for anyone seeking to hire and retain the best talent.

The findings showed that many of the preconceptions about millennials in the workplace are not accurate:

Millennials don't want an equity stake in their company or Facebook HQ-style perks: Healthcare across all generations is the most important benefit a company can offer. 34 percent of millennials selected healthcare as their top priority, with only 5 percent wanting an equity stake, and 7 percent looking for perks.

Millennials are willing to travel for the right job: When asked “How much shorter of a commute would make you consider changing a job?” 43 percent answered that they don’t care how long they have to travel.

Millennials take criticism better than other demographics: Only 17.6 percent of millennials chose having a mean boss as the top reason that they would leave their job. This compares to 19.3 percent of people ages 35+.

Previous research has shown that work-life balance is important for millennials and that many are not interested in C-suite positions in the companies they work for. This new study sheds light on their relationship with management and what they look for when they're changing jobs.

When you're taking on a new hire, you are pitching your company to them as much as the candidate is pitching themselves to you. This research lends itself to companies who are taking on millennials helping them to gain a greater understanding of what is the best way to get them on board. Flexibility is a company's strength and being able to speak to the needs of different demographics can only lead to a successful team and business.

Fit Small Business, launched in 2013 by Marc Prosser and David Waring, is an educational website, helping small business owners navigate the questions and difficulties that arise when running a business. Their expert writers cover topics ranging from small business financing to managing employees to finding customers and building relationships.

Make Webinars Work for You
9 tips on how to make them effective sales tools. Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

I proudly boast being the very first person to deliver a webinar to some of the largest distributors in this country. I flew to Seattle to do the first live national webinar for all of PPAI. Those were the days… long, long ago. NOT! That was only 10 years ago and, in the interim, the world has both embraced webinars and moved beyond.

As a distributor, you sit in two seats that used to require face-to-face communications. The first, to listen and learn what your suppliers can do for you and, ultimately, your accounts. To suck up all the creative ideas, case histories and concepts that make you grow as a consultant. Despite the inconvenience, your door had to remain open to all those suppliers who committed to you not to sell direct. You were, and are, their sole outlet to the market. Like any sales organization, you need to be motivated and educated. The second seat is one where you play it forward to your client’s and prospects reacting to their needs, proactively helping them solve problems, etc., with the arsenal of solutions provided to you by your suppliers.

As suppliers, your meeting objective is to motivate, inspire and educate your distributors about your products and give them the ability to promote it forward.

The webinar was ground zero for where we are today in communication and where today’s sales strategy is focused. I had a solid plan for webinars. I met with over 5,000 distributors in three years. Step one was to get the appointment. That was done by snail mail, email and telephone. Because I was creative and early into webinars, I had a great batting average. Step two was to cluster a bunch of non-geographically competing distributors in one webinar to save both time and money. Step three, was to prepare and send a meeting kit in advance of the meeting. Within the kit were the samples, fliers, catalogs, etc. that we were going to talk about. Also enclosed was a coffee cake, peanut butter crackers or even a small bottle of wine... depending upon what time of day the meeting was. The box was clearly marked HOLD FOR SOUNDLINE MEETING MARCH 26, 2010. WARNING – DO NOT OPEN UNTIL MEETING UNDER PENALTY OF LAW – SEE MATTRESS TAG FOR PENALTY. This got the attention I wanted, got what I needed in their hands and set the table for a fun event. Step 4 was to send no less than two reminders and ask for confirmation in return. Step 5 – go online, keep it fun, keep it light and keep it moving.

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From then until now, not much has really changed. Yes, there are more competitors asking for time and there are more efficient channels of communication. This meeting portal grows every day because it has become faster, cheaper and better. It fits how today’s buyer wants their connective relationship. Webinars still thrive and should be looked upon as bulk, non-personal, communications. I’ve done thousands, but there was no relationship building when a question is typed or asked by a faint voice... “Hi, I’m Bob and have a question.” Still, I suggest you use webinars for bulk business building and perhaps let these webinars open the next door for more personal interaction.

My first experience with Skype was calling home from China. It took only one call to see just how great it was. This form of communication lacks only the ability to have physical contact – a handshake, a kiss, a pat on the back. It can mix in every other positive element of one-to-one contact and broadcast enthusiasm, affection, understanding, etc. The expression, “Did you get the message?” cannot only be spoken, but seen in the facial expression and gestures on screen. Streaming two-way audio video is sales utopia. Skype currently allows up to 10 people on one call you can generate – 10 in one company or 10 different companies. It allows screen sharing and other features.

Skype and Facetime are just two channels for communication you should be actively embracing now for your sales meetings. YouTube videos can coach you to pro status in just a few hours.

Today, more than ever, sales calls need to be events. The Millennial world demands it and the generation “hatching” now won’t know any other way. Effective sales meetings require effective planning:

1) Theme. A short, catchy “inspire me to participate” theme heightens interest in keeping your date.

2) Make meetings short, but be prepared (written contingency plan) if the contact on the other side wants more or goes off on a tangent.

Attention spans have become non-existent. People don’t look down to see if they have crumbs in their lap, but to text, email and multitask. Plan content blocks. More is not better. More can void all the information you have presented when you reach a saturation level. Your mission is to present a few content blocks, perhaps in a regular order, or customized by product, application, etc. If you get the signal more content is wanted, add a block or two as needed. No need to ad lib or wander if you have content blocks ready. If your call was good, then it is easy to have another call in a few weeks.

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3) Make your meeting content edgy. It really does not matter what you want to discuss, it matters that you bring it to the front in an edgy way; edgy being a video, a story, a grand entrance so that it commands attention, promotes retention and keeps focus.

4) Leverage your digital assets. Brief, short, snips expressed in live action, animations, etc. have greater impact on millennial audiences than ever. If you have a hospital product, take your phone with you, go to the hospital and film it on location. Above all, get a Dropbox account. Take all the assets you use in your calls and deposit them there. Clearly title them, even print a “user’s guide” to digital tools. Open a general link and make sure all your call partners get that link so they can pull down the asset and use it at will.

5) Customize or be turned off. Canned presentations didn’t work 50 years ago and do not work today. If what you show in an image or video can be customized before your meeting, do so. Your relationship bonds on a different level when your sales partner realizes the work you are willing to do for them.

6) Tell a story. Minimize PowerPoint presentations. Slide shows can be boring, but stories engage. They should be short stories, but by giving a case history on how something was used, you can get in all the sales points you wish and do it in a concise and engaging way.

7) Be contagious. Nothing beats enthusiasm. Rudy would never have played the few downs he did had he not been driven to do so by an enthusiastic being that never believed in the word “no”.

8) Fun, gamification. Hey, I’ve got five spot questions to ask in the next five minutes and if you get four or more, you get a ?????. Need we make any case for games? Learning improves with gamification.

9) Develop everything for pass along use. If you are a supplier, build it for distributors to use. If you are a distributor, build it for your buyer to use with staff and supervisors.

Test your plan and meeting with fellow sales people. Do this until you are comfortable with your presentation and don’t sound like you are reading a script. Be prepared with follow up, from an immediate e-mail or snail mail thank you to something special in lumpy mail. Try to pencil in the next meeting. If it is required, be sure to do so. If it is just another casual contact, get consensus in a week or month. Always leave a meeting with a reason to have another one. Finally, Yelp Me. If you give good sales meeting ask for a note, a review. Use any recommendations to build an all-star reputation which will help you gain appointments with others.

Facetime ain’t your daddy’s face to face, but it may be your only access and certainly saves money.

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.

Weekly Poll Results
What Marketing Channels Are You Utilizing? Identity Marketing Staff, Identity Research
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sponsored by PPAI

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The Wisdom of Falstaff
Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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The fact is that no amount of sales calls, spec samples, slick literature, or marketing materials will persuade some potential clients.
sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

I have an admission that – at least to those who know me – won’t exactly come as a surprise: I am a bit of a nerd. To be certain, I enjoy a lot of traditional non-nerdy things like sports, dining out, and spending time with my family. However, there is a part of me that has always gravitated towards the works of Shakespeare which, some have suggested, is a particularly nerdy endeavor.

My affinity for the famous playwright began in high school English class where I first uncovered the flawlessly brilliant prose woven into dialogue, soliloquies, and character exchange. Where my classmates were hopelessly disinterested in the lives of Hamlet, Othello, and King Henry, I was enthralled. Within each comedy or drama, there was always a character that I seemed to enjoy more than the others. One such character – who happened to be a recurring one – was that of Falstaff.

Sir John Falstaff was a bragging, bulbous, and ultimately, cowardly knight who appears in three of Shakespeare’s plays as a primarily comic figure. While his appearances were brief, his impact was lasting as the world still uses many of Falstaff’s words to this day. My personal favorite is, “the better part of valor is discretion,” which is often quoted as “discretion is the better part of valor.” Even at a young age, I felt the inherent truth in the statement and how it genuinely applied to everyday life.

This really hits the target when applied to sales. When describing the ideal qualities of a salesperson, words such as “tenacious,” “persistent,” and “determined” are often used. While these are seemingly fantastic, if not ideal, elements of a successful salesperson, it’s strictly one dimensional. Every salesperson has encountered countless situations where a sale simply was not going to be made regardless of persistence or tenacity. The fact is that no amount of sales calls, spec samples, slick literature, or marketing materials will persuade some potential clients.

Perhaps the prospect doesn’t have the budget, wasn’t able to see the value in the product/service, or simply didn’t like the person trying to make the sale. The reason is not as important as the realization that despite any amount dogged determination, some prospects just will not buy from you. This is where the wisdom of Falstaff’s famous quote comes into play for the salesperson: to truly succeed, there must be a realization that even though every prospect likely buys promotional merchandise, not every prospect will buy from you.

Make no mistake, knowing when to fold the proverbial sales tent and move on to the next process is much more an art than a science. However, it’s an art that must be practiced to protect the most important resource: time. In sales, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, for there is no honor wasting time and energy to convince a prospect that either can’t or won’t buy when there are others who will.

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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The Final Frontier for Promotional Products
Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector
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Will the right Major League Baseball logo cause all this controversy and negative PR to fade from the collective consciousness of consumers?
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When you start a business development conversation with a client, which question usually comes first? If it isn’t, “What do you have that’s cheap?,” isn’t it, “What’s new?”

My guess is that you have never replied to the latter with “diapers.” Well, now we’ve crossed that bridge, too.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has partnered with The Honest Company, makers of upscale designer diapers, as well as personal care products and household cleaners, to introduce the “Born a Fan” collection. Right now, diapers for six teams (Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Giants, Cardinals, and Dodgers) are available only at Target, but will be available on The Honest Company’s website directly starting next week. According to the company’s website, the team logos are imprinted on super-absorbent, hypoallergenic, plant-based, eco-friendly diapers.

Why do I mention this when you likely have not had a major diaper request?

Well, interest in product safety should come with EVERY product sourcing question. You may remember that The Honest Company was founded by actress Jessica Alba, and positions itself as having commitments to family, community, and environment. But, as mentioned in Adweek, it may also work to distance the brand from PR difficulties suffered last year. The Wall Street Journal outed Alba’s company for using the cleaning agent SLS, an irritating chemical in mainstream brands that Honest pledged it wouldn’t use. Honest issued a statement that the WSJ story included “factual inaccuracies and misleading statements,” but the company did reformulate its detergent last September. Adding to the PR tailspin, were also numerous complaints about its sunscreen, and the fact it voluntarily recalled its organic baby powder in January.

So, will the right Major League Baseball logo cause all this controversy and negative PR to fade from the collective consciousness of consumers? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Let’s move on to phthalates (you’re not still pronouncing those first two letters, are you?). You likely know by now these chemicals are in a large number of consumer products that are also sold in our industry. Personal care products, plastic food wrap, plastic packaging, toys, and child care products are all on the list. That’s why the National Resources Defense Council, along with scientists and health professionals, published comments last month pushing the CPSC to do the right thing for public health protection by finalizing phthalates bans first suggested in 2015.

Many phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and are especially harmful if exposures occur during fetal development or early life. Phthalates have been shown to interrupt development of the reproductive organs, brain, and nervous system. In 2009, Congress banned six phthalates from use in toys and child care products. Three were banned permanently, and three were subject to an interim ban and flagged for further study. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act focused on “toys that can be placed in a child's mouth” or “child care article,” but we all need to remember that it doesn’t need to be a “children’s product” to deserve special scrutiny when sourcing. A “general use” product becomes “child appealing” with the simple decoration of a popular animated character.

Finally, as mentioned in this space last time, YETI is serious about defending its intellectual property. If you have sourced knock-offs for your clients, you may want to consider the potential repercussions. After settling with RTIC, YETI next targeted Walmart, then added suits against Axis Cups and Bayou Ice Boxes. Now, YETI has again moved its sights, this time focusing on Home Depot, and products carrying the Takeya brand. The lawsuit, filed in Texas against Home Depot, has familiar language. “Yeti has invested significant resources in the design, development, manufacture, advertising, and marketing of the Rambler drinkware. The designs and features of the Rambler drinkware have received widespread and unsolicited public attention.” Yeti accuses Home Depot and Takeya of trade dress infringement, trade dress dilution, unfair competition, misappropriation, and unjust enrichment.

While the suit does not specifically mention the distributor sourcing the “offending” products being sold at Home Depot, it does seek an injunction against further sales, a recall of products already sold, and destruction of all recalled products. Further, YETI seeks “an award of defendants’ profits, Yeti’s actual damages, enhanced damages, exemplary damages, costs, pre-judgment, and post-judgment interest and reasonable attorney fees.”

Based on YETI’s success on these lawsuits so far, how would you like to be the distributor and see the benefit from a large sale turned into a punitive problem?

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

Border Adjustment Tax; 1 and Done: Right or Wrong?
Biggest Challenges Down the Road; Content vs. Time Constraints Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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sponsored by PPAI

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 Cedar Crest Mfg.

New from CPS Keystone is this Deluxe Personal Travel Duo. Two 20-oz. Aspen Tumblers are placed inside a black carry case. The stainless steel tumblers have a plastic lid.



Adirondack chairs from Seven Sourcing are perfect for beverage promotions / POS displays and more. They are made from fir wood and feature a laser logo (maple) or screen print. Custom colors also are available. The chairs are 29 1/2"w x 35"h x 35"d.




The innovative Suction Power Bank from BIC Graphic secures to the back of a phone, tablet or laptop. It has a 2000 mAh Lithium ion battery. Suction cups adhere securely to flat surfaces.




Prime Line’s new four-port USB hub with phone stand features an aluminum top panel and ABS plastic base and phone stand. All four posts may be used simultaneously. Colors: black, blue, silver.




The Bala Stylus Pen from Hub Pen has a unique mid-barrel retraction design. The wide body executive style pen with handy stylus features high gloss enamel styling and a bold chrome clip and accents.


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

Up Close & Personal with Megan Zezzo
New role, industry changes and more. Bill Petrie, Delivering Marketing Joy
click anywhere in title to expand article
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.

Three Content Takeaways from the newest HBO Commercials
Aubrey Collins, Creative Challenges
click anywhere in title to expand article
sponsored by Next Level Apparel

Last night I put on a YouTube video for my three-year-old daughter. I set this scene because anyone who has parented a three-year-old (or who has even been around a three-year-old) knows that these dears are not known for patience. So the last thing you want to do while waiting for a video to load is view a paid advertisement any longer than necessary. That five-second window you have to sit through before you can hit “Skip Ad” usually feels like an eternity (even if you don’t have a three-year-old next to you squealing, “I don’t want to watch ‘dis! Why are we watching ‘dis?”).

So that’s why it is noteworthy that while we waited for the video to play, she and I sat through an entire advertisement — viewing it a whopping 40 seconds past the coveted “Skip Ad” appearance.

What was this piece of wizardry? It was HBO’s new ad campaign called "It’s What Connects Us."

T.J. Miller, dressed as Silicon Valley’s Erlich Bachman silently walks into the frame, but before he does or says anything, the promo cuts to Thomas Haden Church and Sarah Jessica Parker’s characters from Divorce as they awkwardly walk into a new frame and stand next to one another. Then a second later, Silicon Valley’s Richard Hendricks is in the middle of the frame, assumingly to out-awkward the bunch. By this point, the “Skip Ad” button is up, but then Erlich Bachman is back blowing out a puff of weed. And now there’s Delores from Westworld. And you’re already eight seconds in. Oh, wait there’s Cersei from Game of Thrones — and... you’re hooked.

You remain hooked as characters from more of HBO’s original programming — including Sesame Street, hence the three-year-old being along for the ride — come on screen, sometimes for barely half a second, saying variations of “Ahhhh,” while in character.

It goes on for dozens of characters and culminates in the screen panning out to all the stars making the “Ahhhh” sound that plays over the iconic static that appears before each episode of HBO’s original programming airs.

What makes this spot so compelling? How did it cut through the clutter of modern life to get me to watch nearly a minute of this voluntarily?

It makes use of suspense – In today’s gimme-gimme-instant-gratification world, where you know there is endless competition vying for your audience’s attention, it’s understandable that most people want to play it safe. The long-game approach scares you. You want results you can measure now. But this campaign takes a chance. It depends on audience participation. HBO shows are known for their freedom, their shocking moments, and their memorable characters that have redefined television. The excitement of not knowing what to expect next has a large hand in record numbers tuning into the networks each week. As a viewer, I know this, so even in this commercial spot, I wanted to see what they were doing and why.

It’s clever, creative, entertaining content – Not many things can get me to sit through an advertisement these days. If this promo listed all the ways HBO was creative or unique or legendary, I would’ve had my cursor hovering over the “Skip Ad” button. This spot didn’t do that. In fact, it didn’t have any words other than “Ahhhh,” at all really (except for what Hodor utters). All it included was the original characters making that noise and left it up to the audience to understand what such an advertisement implied (that HBO is so creative, unique, and legendary that it has such creative, unique, and legendary characters that you just watched all of them saying, “Ahhhh” for nearly a minute. God, they are geniuses, and we should all bow to them.). Like the best content marketing out there, it wasn’t marketing at all. It was merely entertaining.

It’s proof that quality is often worth the price tag – Granted this is HBO and not a small business — and sure there were probably number crunchers behind the scenes who didn’t understand why the network should pay an ensemble cast to say the word “Ahhhh” — but the bottom line is HBO ponied up the cash to have its highest paid actors en masse to put together some funny, quirky ad spots. HBO knows that their advertising money is better spent creating something compelling and innovative, and brand building that people will watch rather than something stock, forgettable, and clichéd that people will skip. This goes for most businesses. Save where you can, but spend when it matters.

I will never hear the opening to an HBO show the same ever again, which is a goal all advertising campaigns should be so lucky to achieve.

Aubrey Collins is the director of marketing and communications at MediaTree, a supplier of branded digital entertainment cards. She fell in love with the promotional products industry in 2011 at her first PPAI Expo. She shares her perspective on everything from the industry, what parenting continues to teach her about business, to what marketing campaigns make her cry on her blog. Connect with her on Twitter or email her atacollins@mediatreegroup.com.

3 Lesser-known Benefits of Flashing Your Amazing Smile
Dr. Jamie Reynolds, From the Business World
click anywhere in title to expand article
A smile works on both the physical and emotional level to transfer positive feelings between the parties involved.

The Consumer Guide to Dentistry lists eight different components of a smile, practically from ear to ear, beginning with the frame (lips) and ending with the buccal corridor (that’s the dark space between the corners of the mouth and the upper teeth, for those who might not know).

sponsored by PPAI

While smiling might seem like a complicated process, especially when you consider that it takes anywhere from 11 to 17 muscles just to prop up both sides of your lips, the life benefits that smiling provides are immeasurable.

“A beautiful smile is a combination of factors that communicate a sense of well-being to those who see it,” says Dr. Jamie Reynolds, an orthodontist, national and international lecturer and author of “World Class Smiles Made in Detroit.” “A smile works on both the physical and emotional level to transfer positive feelings between the parties involved.”

It can also have the opposite affect.

“I’ve had some patients who are self-conscious about their smile, and it has seriously affected them,” says Reynolds. “It made them feel timid, hesitant or even like they were poor or not intelligent because their teeth were crooked.”

Here is a closer look at how your smile can directly affect your life:

• Your longevity might depend on it. A 2010 study by Wayne State University measured the span of smiles on Major League Baseball players from their 1952 trading cards. The study found that those who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of 72.9 years, versus 79.9 years for the players who did smile.
• Smiling has therapeutic effects. There are a number of therapeutic effects that smiling has on a person’s brain and demeanor, Reynolds says. Smiling reduces stress hormone levels, taking on similar conditions to cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, while increasing mood-enhancing endorphins. British researchers found that one smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as 2,000 chocolate bars, while lowering blood pressure at the same time.
• Smiles are a universal language. Non-verbal communication doesn’t always translate well between cultures. In the United States, for example, a thumbs-up signals that all is well. Try that gesture in Australia and the reaction might be a little different than expected, thanks to a vulgar meaning of the hand sign. Smiling at that same person, however, should give the recipient the intended positive response. In every culture and every country across the world, a smile means the same thing, essentially making it a universal language.

“If you have a smile you are proud of, you want to show it off to others,” says Reynolds. “I’d like to see everyone giving off honest, heart-felt smiles.”

Dr. Jamie Reynolds (http://askdrreynolds.com/) is recognized on annul basis as one of the top orthodontists in Detroit. His book, “World Class Smiles Made in Detroit,” puts an emphasis on the many benefits of having a great smile. Reynolds – who is a national and international lecturer on high-tech digital orthodontics and practice management – attended the University of Michigan for both his undergrad education and dental studies.

The Easiest Way to Increase Your Sales!
Rosalie Marcus, Promo Biz Coach
click anywhere in title to expand article
sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

While it’s always important to prospect for new accounts, your current clients will always be your easiest and fastest source of new business. Why? They already know you, like you and trust you. Plus, estimates suggest it costs at least 60 percent more to sell to a new client. All things being equal, clients will stay with a known vendor.

So how can you sell more to existing accounts? Here are my 10 best suggestions.

1) Stay informed! It seems obvious, but visit your current clients web page and social media profiles often and before every sales call. The internet can be a great source of information on current clients. Better yet, set up a Google Alert for every current client. That way Google will send you an alert every time your current client is mentioned on the web.

2) Keep them educated. Make sure your client is aware of all the different ways you can help them. Prepare a one sheet with your company logo and all the different ways you can provide help them such as: safety programs, customer retention, direct mail, uniforms, name brand products. The more they are aware of the plethora of services you provide, the better chance of selling more.

3) Add special packaging. Are you offering special packaging? Adding special packaging can customize the order and greatly increase your bottom line.

4) Upsell, Cross-sell. McDonalds does this when they say, “Would you like fries with that milk shake?” You can do it too by adding complementary products to your orders. For example, suggest a coaster or custom blended coffee with your next mug order. Or, remind your clients that they’ll get a better price and will save on shipping charges by ordering the higher quantity now.

5) Be aware of trigger events. Look for trigger events. Once you have a Google Alert set up you can be on the look-out for trigger events. What’s a trigger event? Anything that could possibly call for the need for promotional marketing such as: a product launch, company anniversary, mergers or a branding change.

6) Add additional services! Make your distributorship a one-stop shop. The more services you can provide the better you’ll do. You don’t have to do these yourself. Have a team approach, but bill under your company name. Reach out to graphic designers, meeting planners and other complementary businesses and see how you can work together. Many distributors are doing this and presenting themselves as boutique marketing firms.

7) Investigate additional opportunities. You may be selling to the marketing director, but there are lots of other opportunities especially in bigger companies. Ask for introductions to the head of HR, the national sales manager, the event planner, the safety director and anyone else who you believe may benefit from your services. Once you’re an approved vendor in a large company it’s much easier to get into other departments.

8) Reward them. Encourage more sales by setting up a rewards program. When clients reach a certain level of sales they get better pricing or a promotional gift. Never miss an opportunity to tell a client how much you appreciate their business.

9) Sell products that repeat frequently. Products such as pens, notepads, calendars and awards are known to repeat frequently. When you become the vendor of the record for one of these products you are creating an annuity for your business!

10) Keep a record of their buying cycle. Use a CRM, (Customer Relationship Management) tool to track your current client’s buying habits. This will help you track what events are coming up and the types of products they buy.

Happy selling and here’s to many more sales with current clients!

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


Natural Fabrics, Retail Influence Carrying Bag Market
Sherry L. Baranek, Product Feature
click anywhere in title to expand article
Bags with a hip, urban style are more popular than ever – both in retail and promotional products.
sponsored by Bay State

The bags/totes promotional product market continues to be driven by retail trends. Bags and totes made of natural fibers are also continuing to gain momentum as U.S. cities begin to ban the use of plastic bags. And, pockets and features that allow technology to be stored safely, yet close at hand, is an emerging trend. Grocery bags, totes, backpacks, gym sacks, messenger bags, and rucksacks are just some of the items distributors can present to their clients.

Gary Mosley of Kati Sportcap & Bag notes that the bag category is unique because there is something for everyone. “There is such a variety of price points and styles,” he comments. “Just about everyone uses a bag in some form every day.”

According to Alan Tabasky of Bel Promo, cotton and jute material bags in natural colors are trending as a result of retail and eco-conscious markets. Dave Porter at Sportsman Cap & Bag agrees, adding that 100 percent cotton solutions generate a great deal of interest – particularly for end-users who looking to “go green.”

BIC Graphic’s Margit Fawbush also weighed in on the natural trend. “Cotton bags are a favorite among millennials because it is a lifestyle statement about being eco-conscious,” she comments. She adds that shopper totes are popular because of their clean lines, comfortable handles, and leather accents. Other trends are military inspired features such as leather accents, buckle closures, extra pockets, and a utilitarian feel in form luggage and bag designs.

Grethe Adams of Southern Plus echoed and expanded on Fawbush’s thoughts. She agreed that the casual, rugged look and feel of the company’s jute bags are particularly popular with the millennial crowd. They have a high perceived value but are relatively inexpensive while being eco-friendly. She adds that tech-gadget bags are also popular, with pockets and features that keep phones and tablets secure but also allow quick access.

sponsored by Next Level Apparel

Another growing trend is in decoration, specifically a growing interest in full-color imprints, Adams notes. “Requirements for complicated graphics have increased dramatically and is partially driven by advances in technology to facilitate such complicated imprint on stock bags,” she explains. “Edge-to-edge print has also become a more frequent request and is an option we offer on some of our cotton totes.”

The rucksack is also hot, Fawbush of points out. “With a drawstring closure plus flap and buckles, this trend is all over high-end handbags,” she says. “Bags with a hip, urban style are more popular than ever – both in retail and promotional products.” She adds that two-tone polyester, which is an upgrade to the traditional 600D polyester, has a higher perceived value and provides the perfect finish to a street style/casual look when used in retail.

Vitronic Promotional, Lindsey Schultz says it’s all about taking the classic pieces and adding new colors – citing the company’s classic Colored Economy tote’s newest colors: Perky Pink, Osaka Blue, Sorte, and Vital.

Porter at Sportsman Cap & Bag maintains that demand has been increasing significantly. “By dividing the category into five niches, Sportsman Cap & Bag can help educate those in the bag category,” he elaborates. “The niches – backpacks, duffles, messenger bags, gym sacks, and totes – provide a variety of options for all types of customers.”

“Demand has been strong and increasing,” Tabasky intones. “Bags are a great way to showcase your logo and message. They are reused countless times and in all industries – the average cost of impression is practically free – when you consider the amount of time we reuse nicer bags and the amount of times that bag and logo is viewed by the public.”

Fortunately for distributors, promotional products suppliers have a wide array of new and best-selling bags and totes that address new and emerging trends in this market. Top sellers at Sportsman Cap & Bag are a range of totes, including those from Q-Tees, Blackman maintains. “The Q800 and QTB are big sellers because they are versatile, coming in various colors that are perfect for many different needs,” he comments, adding that roll top backpacks – like the CH104123 from Champion – are also popular. These bags provide a large main compartment and opt for a buckle closure rather than a zipper. Sportsman’s Porter adds that another top seller has been the range of bags from HYP because of their versatility.

The upscale Wellington is a favorite of Adams of Southern Plus. “We still see neutral colors trending high so this bag is an ideal choice if looking for a more upscale option,” she explains. “The premium waxed cotton canvas is water- and stain-repellant and adds strength and durability. The wide 100 percent cotton webbing handles add to the classic, low-key look of this tote.” The tan color also makes this bag a good unisex option, Adams points out.

The reusable grocery bag is huge at Kati Sportcap & Bag, according to Mosley, as communities continue to move to regulate disposable bags. “For customers, these bags are a great way to get their imprint out there in an inexpensive way that will be used repeatedly,” he says.

Ombre is one of the current hottest trends, notes Schultz of Vitronic Promotional. “We are introducing this trend with a new sport pack, as well as a cooler and umbrella,” she comments.

Promotional products suppliers agree that the staying power of bags and totes, their high perceived value, and large imprint area for logo and message are strong selling points. To that end, Blackman of Sportsman Cap & Bag believes this market’s strength lies in its variety. “No matter what you need, there is a bag or tote for you,” he emphasizes. “There are so many styles, colors, and prices that once you find out what the customer needs, there will be a style for them.”

In agreement is Kati Sportcap & Bag’s Mosley. “There are sales opportunities all around for bags,” he states. “Once you know that, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions: Who is their audience? What end use do they have in mind? How can you meet their budget and timeline?”

Bags and totes sell themselves, according to Thinc Actionwear’s Schroedl and Schultz of Vitronic Promotional. “A very effective way to sell bags and other apparel is to simply give out samples,” Schroedl recommends. “Customers, decorators – you name it – they love free samples. After that, the bags sell themselves.” Schultz adds that the company’s sports pack is an eye-catching product that sells itself and really enhances the brand. “It is perfect for outdoor events like 5Ks, color runs, bike-racing parties, yoga classes, etc.,” she enthuses.

Finally, Adams of Southern Plus recommends bundling a bag with another item for a customized solution. “Try a beach bag with a beach mat or flip flop or beach chair, a work tote with a lunch cooler, a gym bag with a workout/exercise towel, or a travel duffel or tote with a travel blanket and neck pillow,” she says.

Clearly, distributors have a range of options to present to their clients when it comes to totes and bags and with the right presentation, sales are sure to be “in the bag!”


The Jumbo Tote from AST Sportswear is made from 12-oz. 100% cotton canvas. Featuring extra long natural web handles, it has full side and bottom gussets and is available in 11 colors.

The Gypsy Non-Woven Shopper Tote from Bullet has an open main compartment with Velcro closure and double 30" reinforced handles. It is reusable and a great alternative to plastic bags.
Carolina Made carries Ame & Lulu’s Panel Totes. This style features 18-oz. 100% cotton canvas with 100% nylon liner, water repellent treated, large main compartment with snap closure, interior zippered pocket.
No perfect weekend is complete without the Canvas Overnighter from Clava. This canvas bag features top grain leather accents in a rich café color. Its generous main body leaves plenty of room for packing. Choose from several coordinating Redford pieces to complete your set.
Elevate Tangent 15” Computer Backpack from Leed's is made from water resistant material and zippers. It has a large front pocket with organizer, top front zippered pocket for quick access items like sunglasses, front grab handle for convenience, a dedicated laptop compartment with side zippered access, padded rear shoulder straps and back with trolley sleeve, sternum strap, side water bottle pockets with drawstring closures and branded Elevate accents.
Great for carrying all necessities for a great day at the beach, this bag from Pro Towels is made from a 100% polyester blend that repels sand, dries quickly and is allergen free. It is offered in five colors.

The Ame & Lulu 25.5L day tote, available from S&S Activewear, is made from 18 oz., 100% cotton canvas and has a 100% nylon liner, water repellent treated,
28" contrasting self-fabric handles, 10 1/2" drop. The main compartment has a zippered closure and zipped back and interior pockets.

Designed to complement Towel Specialties’ Freestyle™ and Spinnaker™ Beach Towels, the Nautical Reversible Bag features cotton canvas construction with two zippered 10" x 10" compartments, one inside and one outside, for carrying accessories to the beach or pool. The cushioned shoulder straps provide comfort and make it easy to carry.

This rugged duffle bag from Sportsman Cap & Bag is made of 85% cotton/15% polyester, 12-oz. Concrete Cloth Canvas. A zippered main compartment, inside pocket and exterior zippered pocket offer extra organization. The adjustable canvas shoulder straps and snap canvas wrap handles allow for easy transportation.

The Middle Seat Experience
Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
click anywhere in title to expand article
Elevate your client experience to a first-class window seat and customer loyalty will follow.
sponsored by PPAI

If you are a frequent traveler as I am, there are few things more harrowing than a seat assignment ending in the letter B or E – a middle seat. Generally, this means you can look forward to one or more of the following for the duration of your flight:

• Inability to cross your legs

• Passive/aggressive jockeying for armrest space

• Shoulder to shoulder “bonding”

Under pressure to increase profits, airlines have maximized the number of seats on a plane at the expense of client comfort. Given the way airlines operate, they make it incredibly difficult for anyone to have a positive experience and the dreaded middle seat has become a symbol for all that is unpleasant about flying. Simply put, airlines have placed a premium on profit over experience.

From a business perspective, this does the exact opposite of creating the most valuable feeling in a client: loyalty.

Client experience and customer loyalty is driven by an organization’s interaction with its audience and how well it consistently delivers on expectations. Your clients don’t see customer service and sales as two different things; they simply see one brand – your brand. Because of this, every single interaction with a client is an opportunity to reinforce your brand experience – either positively or negatively.

To keep your client experience consistently positive, start by focusing on the following three areas:

Hiring – Regardless of their role, everyone in your organization is an ambassador of your brand. Every associate should believe in your brand and be able to consistently communicate the brand value to clients through both words and actions.

• Empowerment – Allow your team to actively solve client issues without having to check with their manager. Empowered employees take ownership in problem solving and will leave a much more positive impact when communicating with clients.

• Velocity – The more time you allow clients to tread water in a sea of uncertainty, the worse the experience becomes. Fix problems quickly and conduct a postmortem later to learn from the issue to see what can be done to mitigate or eliminate it going forward.

The question is simple: does your brand deliver a great client experience or is it more like the middle seat on an airplane? The airlines typically don’t care about client experience because there are precious few other cost-effective options with different experiences available to the flying public. In the promotional products industry – an industry where distributors purchase the same products from the same suppliers at very similar pricing – that’s simply not the case. Elevate your client experience to a first-class window seat and customer loyalty will follow.

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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Pros/Cons of FB Promo Products Professionals Page; NBA Logo
Pros/Cons of FB Promo Products Professionals Page; NBA Logo; Disconnected Criticisms; Dov Charney's New Business; Board Games and more. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
click anywhere in title to expand article
sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

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
click anywhere in title to expand article
sponsored by Bay State

New from Admatch, these napkins are made with 2-ply, bright white, facial-grade virgin tissue paper featuring decorative coin-edge embossing. Go Ahead. Print up to 15 different designs of artwork on these beautiful full color digital printed napkins all collated into one inner package of 250-ct. Front panel and back panel printing is included in the pricing; you can even have different artwork on each side.

The Quadro 4-in-1 multi-function pen from Yafa allows you to effortlessly access three different colored ballpoint refills and a precision 0.5mm mechanical pencil, all in one durable and stylish instrument. Available in four distinctive finishes, each Quadro features a knurled comfort grip and spring clip designed to hold tight but slide easily into the pocket. Each pen comes loaded with a black, blue, and red ballpoint refill as well as 0.5mm lead and eraser. Stored within the solid brass barrel is a gravity assisted mechanism that makes selecting a writing mode intuitive and convenient. Simply hold the pen at a 45-degree angle and rotate until the desired color is face up then press the thumb advance button. To retract, depress the thumb switch conveniently located on the clip. To access the eraser, remove the thumb advance button.

This new tote from J.I.T. Manufacturing if made from 10-oz. cotton duck canvas. It is 14" x 11" and has 18" polypro web handles. The handles are available in 10 colors.

The 100100 Surrey Coat from Lutz Co. is made from .50 mm, polyester backed fabric. It is waterproof and all seams are electronically welded and major seams also are stitched. It has a snap detachable hood with adjustable drawcord closure, two lower front pockets with cool and loop closures, and reinforced elbows.

Mix and match handle, cap and collar colors to create your own custom made screwdrivers from Compass. The screwdriver come with eight different bits. Seven handle colors and six cap and collar colors are available.

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New from Industry Suppliers
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New from Industry Suppliers
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The Wheels on the Bus
Protect yourself and your business should they fall off. Mike Schenker, MAS, Uncommon Threads
click anywhere in title to expand article
sponsored by Next Level Apparel

There’s always a bus. If it’s not this bus, it’s the next bus. I can assure you that the bus is coming, and it’s coming for you.

So… what the hell is Mike on about this time? Planning. Proper planning, specifically. And what happens when the proverbial bus comes and hits us.

A bit fatalistic, perhaps, but honest and accurate nonetheless. Are you and your business prepared for when that bus hits?

I want to make sure that, when my bus comes, everyone in my downline knows what I’m working on and where to find it.

It seems so simple and yet, how many of us (and by us I mean you) have those plans in place? It can be something as simple as a shared drive online – saving everything to the cloud of your choice, and making sure all those who need to know how and where to find whatever.

All of this has come to light as I continue to grow into my position as executive director of the Gold Coast Promotional Products Association (www.gcppa.org). I’m a transient… I can be replaced on a moment’s notice (but let’s not give the Board any ideas). For that matter, the Board is also fluid. It changes every year… on whom can we rely four years from now if we need to refer back to what was served in the box lunch at our show in 2018?

The answer? Systems. The Board members or show chairs of the year in question have long since moved on to better things and real lives. They can’t be expected to remember every such finite detail. With proper systems and ways to access them, the work they’ve created can easily continue and keep your business or organization moving forward smoothly.

Of course, some people already know this. Historically, I was (note the past tense) one of those. While my memory may suck, my filing systems are (okay were) impeccable. But you know what? A lot of my files didn’t make the move when I packed up my office. If anyone needed any kind of historical back-up on what color shirt we wore on the Tuesday of Promotions East in 2000, well… you’re S.O.L.

While the “cloud” may be a scary frontier for some, it’s necessary to put aside your fears for the greater good of your business. Problems like missing files and lost history could be avoided by having a shared drive. Yes, in the cloud. This allows access for me (and/or my replacement) to research minutiae, but this also is very appropriate and necessary for the day to day operation of any business.

According to TechTarget, “Cloud file sharing provides end-users with the ability to access files with any Internet-capable device from any location. Usually, the user has the ability to grant access privileges to other users as they see fit. Although cloud file sharing services are easy to use, the user must rely upon the service provider ability to provide high availability (HA) and backup and recovery in a timely manner.”

This means you can maintain one version of your file, while having the ability to retrieve and edit it from your phone, tablet or computer – as long as you have internet access. If you choose the right provider, you will always have backup of your collateral.

Here are some popular and secure ways you can easily and affordably store your business files, so that when the proverbial bus hits, your business wheels continue to turn:

Google Drive For Work: According to its website, “Google Drive for work includes unlimited storage for files, folders, backups and everything important* for $10 per user per month. Sync all your business files, including Microsoft Office files, across your computer, phone, and tablet to access your work whenever you need it. *Accounts with fewer than five users get 1TB of storage/user.

Microsoft OneDrive: If you’re a PC user, OneDrive is pre-installed on Windows 10, and it works on all your devices. You can access and share files and photos on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS. Pricing can range from $60 up to $150 per year, per user.

Dropbox Business: Like the other cloud storage solutions, some features of DropBox include flexible storage plans, file and version recovery, easily recover deleted files and restore previous file versions. Set link permissions – you can even password-protect your links or set expiration dates to grant temporary access. Pricing ranges from $12.50 to $20 per user per month and go up from there.

That bus is coming for all of us. I hope to be at the airport when it crashes.

Mike Schenker, MAS, is the Executive Director of the Gold Coast Promotional Products Association (GCPPA), as well as “all that” at Mike Schenker, Consulting. He 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 mike@mikeschenker.com.

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sponsored by PPAI

In this Deep Thoughts commentary, Jeff gets personal about what's REALLY important and shares about a recent challenge he's been dealing with. The written commentary that goes into more detail is available here: http://bit.ly/2np3Dkk

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.

How to Sell 100K Orders
Don Sanders, Drive-Ins
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sponsored by Cedar Crest Mfg.

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.

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