IMA Summit – A Special Offer for PPAI Members

PPAI and the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) have been collaborating for years on education and events. Recently as I was talking with Sean Roark, IMA executive vice president and Summit chair, and he shared that IMA is extending a valuable offer for PPAI members who want to attend this year’s IMA Executive Summit July 18-20, at the Hyatt Regency, Houston, Texas.

PPAI members who attend the IMA Summit can take advantage of two discounts from IMA:

  • Receive 50 percent off on the “Principles of Results Based Incentive Program Design” course. The course and the exam to earn the “Incentive Professional” IP Certification are both offered at the Summit. Enter the code PPAI80 on the Summit registration form.
  • Save 50 percent on first year IMA membership dues when you join IMA at the conference.

Because PPAI members and IMA members work in related channels, the IMA Summit provides a great opportunity for promotional products professionals to better understand what’s involved in becoming a part of the incentive industry.

The Summit agenda has a robust collection of events, from world-class speakers and curriculum to fantastic entertainment and networking opportunities. Including breakout sessions, round tables and Strategic Industry Group (SIG)-focused meetings to provide both broad issue-related topics as well as SIG-specific education.

To register online and view the conference schedule visit the IMA website.

Participate. Elevate. Celebrate.

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Next week is Promotional Products Work! Week, and together we will build awareness and increase exposure to grow and protect our industry. Everyone has a role to play and each action, no matter how small, will make a big difference at the local, state and national level. You can help by raising awareness in your own company, community and among your current and future customers!

Many of you already have the whole week planned out, but if you haven’t yet started, it’s not too late! Here are a few things you can do—easily, quickly and inexpensively—to promote your business and strengthen our industry right now!

Take a few minutes to reach out. We’ve made it simple and easy.

Initiate. Inform. Influence.

  • Download the PPW! Week guides and toolkits.

    PPWW Persona Quad Ad Set

    Download & add your logo to the #PPWWeek co-op campaign!

  • Use the banners, infographics, video and ads to post to your website and social media pages, and embed in emails. Personalize them by adding your logo.
  • Add the Promotional Products Work! twibbon to your social profile pic.
  • Round up self-promos and samples and donate them to a nonprofit in your community.
  • Advocate for the industry by participating in the PPAI Legislative Education and Action Day Virtual Fly-In.
  • Reach out and thank your customers.
  • Take lots of photos and share them using the hashtag #PPWWeek.
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Add the #PPWWeek twibbon!

The fourth annual PPW! Week is focused on growing your business by educating the buyers of promotional products—your current and future customers. This international week-long event is focused on raising awareness of the benefits of promotional products among advertisers, marketers and media buyers.

Our goal is to increase our share in the media buy by enabling a deeper understanding of promotional products as an advertising medium among buyers, as well as sharing the benefits of working with certified promotional products professionals.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to this great and growing industry. It is through your individual and cumulative efforts that we succeed—every day.

Paul

For more information or questions, contact PPW! Week program manager, Kim R. Todora at KimT@ppai.org.

Promoting and Protecting the Incentive Industry

For many years, PPAI has been an active member of the Incentive Federation. This organization is dedicated to promoting and protecting the incentive industry which includes promotional products, recognition items and related promotions. This group is now in conversations with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), regarding recent changes to their Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. Under these new guidelines, OSHA points to the negative success safety incentive programs have had in the work place:

“Incentive programs for workers or managers that tie performance evaluations, compensation, or rewards to low injury and illness rates can discourage injury and illness reporting. Point systems that penalize workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, or other safety or health concerns have the same effect, as can mandatory drug testing after reporting injuries. Effective safety and health programs recognize positive safety and health activities, such as reporting hazardous conditions or suggesting safer work procedures.”

These new Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines puts a negative stigma and a blanket generalization on all safety incentive programs, which is just not the case. Limiting potential hazards in the work place is something both employees and employers take very seriously in an effort to have a safer workplace, and all methods of safety prevention should be considered when trying to achieve these objectives.

The Incentive Federation response highlights in great detail how injuries have been in steady decline from the 12-year period of 2003-2014 reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I encourage you to take a look and better inform yourself on the current guideline changes taking place.

Additionally, I will be heading to Washington, D.C. next week as part of our annual lobbying event—the Legislative Education and Action Day or L.E.A.D.—and we will be sure to share the effectiveness of well-designed safety programs in reducing worker injuries and improving employee morale.

If you have any questions about this report or our work in DC, please contact me and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

PPAI’s 2016 Legislative Agenda – Get Engaged!

As the PPAI Public Affairs team, our DC-based Lobbyist and 80 of the most engaged, dedicated and motivated volunteers prepare for the Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D) next month in Washington, DC, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share PPAI’s 2016 Legislative Agenda.

Please take a few minutes to read through the industry- and small business-critical issues we will focus on during our Capitol Hill visits in May, and throughout the year during PPAI’s L.E.A.D. Local and recess visits.

It doesn’t take a lot to get engaged in industry advocacy but the payoff is tremendous. Want to get involved? Start here – at the PPAI Law website or contact Joseph Landeros at josephl@ppai.org or 972-258-3015.

 

Let’s work together to grow and protect this amazing industry.

Guest Post | Rebranding for the Millennial Consumer

Seth Barnett is PPAI’s Diversity Development & Engagement Manager. This program was developed by PPAI to help the industry meet the challenges that come with a broadening generational demographic. Seth’s job is to develop new ways for businesses to meet the growing demands of an increasingly diverse workforce and changing buyer market. Businesses are encouraged to utilize PPAI’s diversity development resources at www.ppai.org/diversity and on social media by following #PPAINextGen. These resources are updated weekly and will help business develop plans to meet demographic challenges. 

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Millennial buyers are the first to share what brands they identify with and are loyal to. This buying group is the most brand loyal of any previous generation and prides themselves on the brands they know and love. Because of this, many brands are seen as characteristically outdated by Millennials and are struggling to meet the demands of the new customer.

This past year the Millennial Generation took their spot as the majority shareholders among retail consumers. Over the past few years many brands have adapted their marketing practices to meet the demands of a new buying group. Companies like Target, Nike and Coca-Cola have remarketed themselves over the past few years and are among the top 10 Millennial brands. Rounding out the bottom of this list are companies created exclusively for this buying group such as Axe and Anthropologie, which goes to show that even the most influential Millennial branded companies struggle to compete.

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Harley-Davidson’s new global marketing campaign titled ‘Live Your Legend,’ is designed to inspire generations to learn to ride and demonstrate how a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle can enable riders to create deeper bonds and share richer experiences.

For the purpose of better understanding what rebranding and remarketing looks like for a consumer company, I was surprised to find the 113-year-old motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson as one seeking to revise its image among young consumers and doing it the right way. This week, Harley-Davidson released a new marketing campaign that truly speaks Millennial. In conjunction with this, Harley-Davidson began a social media campaign, the first of its kind, titled #LiveYourLegend. The premise of this campaign is to show young consumers that a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is no longer exclusive to the older demographic. The associated advertisement shows a young Harley-Davidson rider who has the perfect Millennial look mixed with biker edge. He is shown pulling into his garage where his toddler son waits for him on a toy tricycle. They ad concludes with “if you wait to live your dreams, your kids will miss the lesson”.

Harley-Davidson did something interesting in this campaign, they sought out younger consumers without alienating the older demographic or their existing customer base. The company used stories from existing Harley-Davidson owners about their experience with the motorcycle world to build a well-rounded marketing campaign. This gave the ad a sense of nostalgia while maintaining a trendy edge. This particular TV ad will be released during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a first for a Harley-Davidson commercial, which naturally targets the youngest consumer group.

Harley-Davidson has consistently shown investors that their target demographic is 35 to 74-year-old men of various income levels. However, these consumers will only decrease their national market share in the coming years. The present young adult consumers will make up the market majority for years to come. Harley-Davidson is a company that is choosing to be proactive to ensure their longevity. It is Harley-Davidson’s goal to have Millennials make up 50% of its market share within the new few years. Also worth noting here, Harley-Davidson expects 64% of its entire market to be female over the next decade. Again, this is all done through a careful balance to ensure that all consumers are marketed to equally.

Harley-Davidson is also seeking to provide another key element to the equation of selling motorcycles. They have tapped into social media and online campaigns to help drive traffic into their dealerships. Once there, customers will be met with a new Harley-Davidson experience. Harley-Davidson shops are no longer exclusively a place to buy a motorcycle or have maintenance done, they are a place to congregate and relax. Many shops have lounge areas, pool tables, constant activities, and free beer on tap (Pabst Blue Ribbon, the top-selling beer for Millennials). Harley-Davidson is developing a more welcoming, engaging environment that Millennial’s seek out. This helps fit the old economic logic that the longer a person is able to stay in a consumer environment, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Over the past two years Harley-Davidson has seen a steady decline in sales. However, they seem to be making the correct adjustments to welcome in new buyers and keep their products on the road. I suspect that Harley-Davidson will continue to advance toward the Millennial consumer market through carefully designed methods while maintaining their “Live to Ride, Ride to Live” attitude.

Guest Post | The Best of Government Spending

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post by Counselor Editor, Andy Cohen.

This Counselor Commentary was published in response to the KHOU investigative report broadcast last week.

Thank you Andy for your staunch support of this great industry!

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It’s common – and wrong – to question how government agencies spend money on promotional products. Those are smart investments, even though some don’t want to admit it.

Election season really does bring out the worst in just about everybody. Candidates, political action committees, backers, government officials, and voters even – they all end up slinging mud at some point in an election year. So, 2016 is certainly no different, and considering the tenor of the presidential campaign, it may even be the worst yet.

But one common line of criticism, which definitely ramps up during election years, is how government offices (local, state, federal) spend money on promotional products. These are used in many ways by public offices – rewards for employees, awareness campaigns, job fairs, and retention and hiring efforts. They’re all legitimate expenses because they provide value and help these government offices spread their messages and achieve their goals.

Not everybody wants to admit that. Take officials in Texas, for example. A recent report on KHOU, a CBS-affiliated television station in Houston, and online at KHOU.com revealed that the media outlet’s “investigative reporters” totaled up how much state government agencies spent on promotional products that it used as rewards for employees between September 2008 and December 2015. The grand total? A whole $8.8 million worth of what the report calls “trinkets.”

The range of promotional products that state agencies in Texas used over that seven-year time period – can I stress, SEVEN YEARS! – was rather impressive. There were items such as weather station desk accessories, water bottles, coffee mugs, travel tumblers, blankets, umbrellas, jump ropes, juggling balls, pens, notepads, and business card holders. They were also used in a variety of ways, including as performance and retention rewards, and as training tools at meetings.

“These items were purchased and utilized to reinforce training concepts,” Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told KHOU in reference to the juggling balls that the agency purchased. “Different quality control scenarios were written on the balls, and the balls were then used as a tool for the participants to answer scenario-based questions and apply the information presented during the class to reinforce learning.”

A completely reasonable purchase for a state agency to make, but KHOU decided to make this a referendum on public spending, saying that “your tax dollars” bought these items. The implication, of course? Wasteful spending. So, they found somebody who would speak out against it.

“I think it needs to be seriously looked at,” said Peggy Venable, senior policy fellow with Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit government watchdog group. “We do want government employees who are recognized for doing a good job, (but) how do we do that? I don’t think it’s with junk.”

Well, Ms. Venable, you have no idea what you’re talking about. It has been proven time and again that promotional products provide value beyond just the item that’s handed out – just check out the many ASI Ad Specialties Impressions Studies we’ve conducted at www.asicentral.com/study. They’re far from the “junk” you call them, because they actually provide a return-on-investment better than most other forms of marketing media. And, as rewards promotional products are particularly impactful because recipients actually keep and repeatedly use the items in their everyday life – reinforcing the message that the agency handing the items out wants to impart.

The media outlet in Houston and the one non-profit watchdog representative that they chose to quote are making a lazy and easy argument that tends to rear its ugly head whenever government spending becomes an issue. So, the whole state of Texas spent $8.8 million on rewards for employees and training tools over a seven-year period – less than $1.3 million per year for one of the largest states in the union. I’d argue that they didn’t actually spend enough, and could have gotten more out of what KHOU refers to as “your tax dollars at work” by doing more consistent promotional products campaigns. Maybe they should have targeted some extra education and training efforts toward local media, so they too can see and feel the impact of promotional products.

PPAI’s Legislative and Advocacy Work – The Power of an Industry Voice

If you’ve had your eye on industry social media or recent industry news, you may have read about the pending launch of a new membership-funded industry lobbying group. I’ve been tracking the comments of dozens of engaged industry professionals supporting PPAI’s legislative and advocacy efforts and have had dozens more direct emails and calls looking for an official PPAI response.

It is unlikely I will gather the thoughts and opinions of our 11,000+ member companies (representing more than 500,000 industry practitioners) in a timely enough manner to respond to the “I want an answer now” social media climate. Rather, I will offer what I know to be true about PPAI’s efforts in this area, and I welcome your comments and suggestions in this broader, interactive format.

For longer than I’ve been associated with PPAI, we’ve had a strong, industry-driven and collaborative lobbying presence in Washington, D.C. From the beginning, PPAI’s lobbying efforts have focused on the core issues related to independent contractors, tax reform and small business, as well as industry-critical issues we identify as we monitor thousands of bills on a day-to-day basis. We continue to invest heavily in this strategic initiative. This is in addition to our ongoing and significant efforts to increase understanding and acknowledgement of promotional products as key branding tools that help advance brands, and to position promotional consultants as strategic partners and trusted advisors.

As a result of our reputation and long-standing presence in D.C., we are a sought-after coalition partner. As an industry that represents advertising, media and marketing, as well as manufacturers, importers, resellers and decorators, we are able to strategically align with partners who focus on specific issues, including the Small Business Legislative Council, the American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the American Alliance for Innovation, the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity, the Coalition to Save Local Businesses, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many more.

Our government relations work is built upon a firm foundation of industry engagement from the smallest to the largest members—including engagement by the Advertising Specialty Institute’s (ASI) senior management on PPAI’s Government Relations Action Council and our Legislative Action and Education Day (L.E.A.D.). I mention ASI here because they have been an increasingly engaged colleague in our legislative efforts and, in my view, seem to be receiving some undeserved scrutiny for running the recent story.

Thanks to these engaged stakeholders, PPAI has a well-oiled machine in place. From our D.C.-based lobbyist’s boots on the ground, to L.E.A.D. at the federal, state and local level, to the ‘virtual fly-in’ digital advocacy (more than 7500 industry emails to legislators) as part of our Promotional Products Work! Week efforts, to our dedicated government relations team—we make sure federal and state lawmakers understand the value, economic contributions and employment opportunities offered by this vital and growing industry. As part of our mission to grow and protect the industry, we—PPAI, together with its expansive and engaged constituency—continuously educate members of Congress—at their D.C. and home offices—and other government entities on the value of the industry.

I will continue to respond to individual member inquiries regarding the potential launch of a new legislative advocacy group, letting them know that while I am pleased to see that the prospective group’s agenda is consistent with PPAI’s long-standing efforts in this arena, it would be unfortunate if any industry effort was divided or diluted as a result of two separate efforts.

The irony isn’t lost on me that I am posting this blog as I sit in the Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC) board of directors meeting in Washington, D.C. This group influences legislative and federal policy issues related to the small business community, and thus directly impacts our industry. PPAI’s standing seat on the SBLC board assures us a driving force on the relevant legislative agenda.

To learn more about PPAI’s advocacy efforts, I encourage everyone to visit the PPAI LAW website and take the opportunity to become more engaged in these efforts so that we can all protect and grow this industry to which we owe so much.

Want to talk about it? You can call our Director of Public Affairs, Anne Stone, at 972.258.3041, or me directly at 972.258.3050.