Category Archives: Promotional Products Work

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 | 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.

Industry Transformation & A Time To Pivot

As an advocate and evangelist for our industry, I’ve spent the better part of my career traveling the US (and the world) to tell anyone who would listen that the promotional products business is about so much more than selling products at the lowest price.

This year at The PPAI Expo it was more evident than ever that the overwhelming influence of technology and access is making industry stakeholders reconsider and reposition how they go to market now and in the future.

With this, it is my pleasure to feature a guest blog I stumbled upon from Boundless Marketing Manager, Stephanie Freyer, who along with her team is responsible for delivering ‘Brand Love’ moments—everyday. Steph’s observations are on the mark and sum up, quite well, what so many in the industry are experiencing today.

Enjoy the read.

Paul


2016’s Guiding Trend in Promotional Products

Has Nothing to do With Products

Coming to you live from Las Vegas at the Promotional Products International Association’s (PPAI’s) largest event of the year and the biggest trade show in our industry, I’m excited to reveal some of the insightful marketing trends we’ve seen at this year’s Expo. In case you aren’t familiar with Expo, PPAI hosts over 1,300 exhibiting suppliers and 11,000 distributors from across the globe – all clamoring into the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the heels of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to find out what the hottest new products for 2016 will be.

After closing out day two of the Expo, I sat in my hotel room trying to digest everything I had been absorbing over the past couple of days. I could have easily started writing about the cool life-hack products that are perfect for, say, people who are taking photos all day (like me), or just want their phone readily available to make sure they can check email without digging through their bag (see below for “slingback” and “pop socket” to name a few). But while these little life hacks are cool, catchy, and buzz-worthy, they aren’t the real takeaway of the event.

PopSocketSlingback2

Products for Mobile: Pop Socket & Slingback

Even more impressive than capitalizing on the mobile trend is how deeply our suppliers are invested in their products. From specialized trend research teams, to full-fledged development departments, to entire facilities dedicated to quality assurance, our suppliers are investing in resources that will ensure their products are not only on-trend and meeting consumer needs, but also following compliance laws and making sure they are safe, and risk-free for our clients and end users.

I initially predicted that come time to write this blog post, I’d be sitting here compiling the brand-new items hitting the market. In a recent Facebook post, I remarked on being curious about which trends from last week’s CES show would carry over to PPAI—I joked about seeing branded holograms and mused about new wearables. And while I did see plenty of wearables (and even virtual-reality products…and drones!) what I found is that most of the products at PPAI are not, in actuality, “new.” At first, I was surprised to see that most of what I looked at was the same as last year, with a slight enhancement—a 2.0 version. But this is, in fact, the crux of one of 2016’s guiding trends.

BoundlessFacebook

LogoIncludedApp

Source: @LogoIncluded Twitter Account

On Wednesday, I spoke with a supplier partner of ours about their fitness tracker device, and in discussing a proprietary app they built for it, he actually said the words “to us, the app was the most important part.” Hold the phone. That is quite a strong (and telling) statement. We are in a PRODUCTS industry, people! Promotional products. But as it turns out, the most important thing about promotional advertising moving forward won’t be the product alone, and this show wasn’t about the next groundbreaking item on the market that no one had ever seen before. It was about driving the next level of engagement…it was about the enhancements that can be made to products to make them even more useful, even more necessary, even more relevant to a consumer.

The seeds of this trend were planted in my head at the first session I attended on Tuesday morning with marketing guru and renowned author Seth Godin. Godin speaks in an almost lyrical way—gliding through pretty words and impactful phrases. He is ever-inspiring, and seemingly easy-to-follow—yet he spends most of his time illustrating abstract concepts that are eventually boiled down into a simple idea. His style, his writing, and his whole point is to get marketers to think differently. As Godin said, “one of the biggest marketing challenges is that most of the people you are trying to sell to don’t think they have a problem that only you can solve.” In essence, brands are challenged to put products into the world that play a critical role in consumers’ lives—and do it better than the next guy.

Seth Godin Session

Seth Godin’s Opening Keynote at The PPAI Expo

In case you haven’t been following Boundless on Twitter, we’ve been tweeting out soundbites heard throughout the Expo from our top suppliers. Reading them back to myself gave me the opportunity to clearly identify the theme that had already been manifesting in my mind.

TweetsPPAI

Tweets from PPAI 2016

All the suppliers I spoke with told a similar story in a different way: the product is only a part of the equation. The critical ingredient is finding a way to create a marketing tool (a promotional product) that builds a relationship. How do we enhance a product so that it actually becomes a necessity, or occupies a permanent spot on your desk or in your bag? Something you couldn’t imagine living without?

We need to pay attention to how people interact with products. In what situations and contexts do people have challenges that need to be solved? How can a product be enhanced to meet those needs?

For some suppliers like the one mentioned above, that means building a client-branded app that not only connects to a fitness tracker like a FitBit, but lets users interact with each other—from engaging in fitness competitions to arranging meetups. For others, it means designing a special pocket in a bag that addresses a unique need for a certain demographic or interest group. And yet for others, it means leveraging a digital rewards code to connect on the platform we use most: the internet. Some suppliers embrace the age of digital connectivity by creating products that continue to make it easier for us to stay connected with one another—from chargers, to tablet stands, to storage devices—they’ve developed a product that once you have, you cannot live without. Or at least, you think you can’t. Addressing a unique need, driving people to a connected platform, serving up a branded web experience—all of these methods produce a more engaging interaction with a consumer.

All this to say: the pen, the water bottle, and the grocery tote aren’t going anywhere. Value can be found in any product that is suited for the audience and is “sticky” because of utility or novelty. But the future of our industry lies in the type of functionality that goes deeper than the bag that sits in your trunk. It taps into our basic human need to connect. It gives us avenues to build relationships over an extended period of time, and it makes us feel like we can trust in brands. From what I can tell, 2016 is going to be a great year for promotional marketing.

StephBio

LASTING IMPRESSIONS = BRAND GRATITUDE

It is with great pleasure that I repost an article by PPB’s editor, Tina Filipski. It’s good reading. Enjoy!


AWXII Blog Article - I Love New York T-ShirtGuest blog by Tina Berres Filipski, editor, PPB magazine | Originally published in Advertising Week Social Club, September 15, 2015

With the abundance of ad messages coming at consumers from multiple sources, it’s not surprising that ad avoidance is at an all-time high. This tendency to close an ad or change the channel is a real concern because marketers want their audience to desire engagement with their brands. Best-selling author, entrepreneur and agent of change, Seth Godin, whose blog is one of the most popular in the world, recently wrote that the most valuable forms of marketing are consumed voluntarily.

An Hour with Seth Godin InviteHear more from Seth Godin on how to initiate meaningful conversations with your audiences when PPAI presents “An Hour With Seth Godin” on October 1 at the Hard Rock Café New York.

Click here to reserve tickets.

Advertisers have discovered that the way to the decision-making part of the brain is not only through a prospect’s eyes or ears. Advertising that appeals to people’s sense of smell (a branded pen filled with vanilla-scented ink), taste (a gift box of silky chocolates) and touch (the softness of a Pima cotton logoed t-shirt) is a fresh approach to driving sales and, more importantly, to making the advertising message stick.

Today, we hold more computer power in the palm of our hand than Apollo 11 had when it landed a man on the moon. Technology feeds us a constant stream of news, notes, entertainment, educational content and advertising messages 24/7, on the device of choice, at our desks, in airports, on busses, trains and planes, in bars and restaurants, in our cars, on the street and in our homes. It’s conservatively estimated that the average adult is exposed to no fewer than 200 visual advertising messages a day; that’s 70,000 per year. Amid all the noise, it’s easy to filter ad messages, confuse them or tune them out completely.

It’s not surprising then, that the average adult has an attention span of  eight seconds (the average goldfish can pay attention for nine seconds) so advertisers must create messages and methods of communicating them that are innovative, engaging and memorable.

This is where taking a multi-sensory approach with sound, touch, taste and smell reinforce the visual message to produce a more powerful and memorable experience both for the advertiser and the prospect. Yasushi Kusume, a brand and innovation designer, author, speaker and lecturer says that applying multi-sensory design to all the touch points (moments of contact with a user) allows a product or service to produce a more complete, and ultimately better brand experience.

Appealing to the senses can also positively affect consumers’ memory about the brand. In one example, scientists discovered that adding tea tree oil to wooden pencils helped recipients remember the logo on the pencils. Two weeks later, recipients who received fragrance-free pencils experienced a 73-percent decline in recall but for those who used the scented pencils, there was only an eight-percent decline.

So how do you create a multi-sensory experience? Pairing an online ad with an offer for a tangible promotional product (such as a logoed travel cup offered in an online ad from a state tourism department) is a proven way to keep the ad message top of mind. Liquor distributors have found value in promoting new brands by partnering with bars to serve up their drinks in LED-lit take-home glasses. Real estate agents and homebuilders keep their names in front of new homeowners by gifting them with a logoed key chain embedded with a sound chip. Likewise, take-out restaurants can remain memorable longer if they tuck a sound-activated refrigerator magnet into each order. Car dealers can also keep that new-car smell fresh in a new owner’s mind with a scented car air freshener. Insurance companies and banks can put a smile on clients’ faces by sending them home with a chocolate-scented pen or beribboned gift pack of the real thing.

By creating multi-sensory experiences in pairing the tactile value of promotional products with visual or auditory media, advertisers are also reinforcing name recognition for the brand as research shows that 88 percent of consumers were able to recall the advertiser’s name on a promotional product received in the past 12 months, while only 71 percent could recall a newspaper ad seen the week before.

“If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what’s the worth of the real thing?” asks promotional consultant, author and speaker Jae M. Rang, MAS, in her new book Sensory Media. “I’m going to suggest its image to the power of five—five representing our five senses. Here’s why: When you hold a promotional product you hold the “brand in your hand.” It’s different than seeing a billboard or watching a commercial. A promotional product is an interactive, multi-sensory communication tool that can create or recreate a brand experience. Each time you pick up that pen, wear that t-shirt, drink from that water bottle, or write on that sticky note, you’re reminded of where it came from and are, in some way, interacting with the brand imprinted on the product.”

Unlike all other forms of advertising, promotional products recipients actually say “thank-you” to the giver and then keep and use the product for up to two years on average. No other media can claim that.

In a world where consumers are flooded with ad messages, and the staying power of the impression can be as fleeting as an Instagram post, promotional products offer a tangible, memorable and refreshingly innovative way to promote a brand.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Berres Filipski, editor, PPB magazineTina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB (Promotional Products Business) magazine, the flagship publication of Promotional Products Association International, the trade association serving more than 11,000 manufacturers, decorators and promotional agencies in the U.S. and around the world. Before joining PPAI in 1995, she produced publications for the meetings/hospitality and home furnishings industries, as well as a consumer magazine for upscale Dallas-Ft. Worth homeowners.

ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS:

People Love Promotional Products

The Influence Of Promotional Products On Consumer Behavior

Effectiveness Of Promotional Products As An Ad Medium