Category Archives: Promotions

Paper Calendars Endure Despite the Digital Age | Guest Post by NYT Reporter, Christopher Mele

Today I am pleased to share with you this feature on printed calendars published by The New York Times. I would like to express my gratitude to the reporter Christopher Mele and to PPAI members Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars, and Melissa Ralston, marketing director for BIC Graphic, for their contributions.

Paul

~~~~~~~~~~

By Christopher Mele, Reporter, The New York Times

Digitally published in The New York Times on December 29, 2016 and in print on December 30, 2016, on Page B2 of the New York edition.

With the year’s end comes the ritual of many households and offices: getting new appointment books, planners or calendars to hang on walls or put on desks.

In an age of smartphones and the internet, you might think the days of paper calendars are numbered, but data suggest otherwise. Not only have they survived the digital revolution, but sales of some kinds of print calendars have increased.

The sales of appointment books and planners grew 10 percent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 to $342.7 million, and decorative and other calendars increased by 8 percent to $65 million in that time, according to figures from the NPD Group, a consumer research firm.

Personalization has helped make planners and appointment books popular, Leen Nsouli, an analyst of the office supplies industry at NPD, said in an email.

“The consumer can customize a planner to fit his or her style with accessories, colors and even color code events and activities,” she wrote. “That’s not something you can do on the standard phone calendar.”

ta-medforce-calendar

Promotional calendars are a way for businesses to advertise and to connect with customers. | Credit: MedForce

Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars in Iowa City, Iowa, said traditional calendars remain popular because they combine aesthetics with utility. Paper and digital calendars can readily coexist.

“What we found is it’s a question of and,” he said. “It’s not a question of or.”

Bertel King Jr., in a blog post last year for Make Use Of, a technology and productivity site, made the case for paper calendars, noting that he was “inundated with notifications, beeps, alerts and messages.”

“Having to open another tab, fire up another piece of software, or launch another app to access my calendar amounts to one more onscreen thing vying for my attention,” he wrote. “Suddenly a paper planner starts to make sense.”

It may seem counterintuitive that a print product can thrive in the digital age. But the continued success of some paper calendars mirrors that of printed books, an industry that several years ago was confronting what seemed like the very real possibility that e-books would outsell the printed variety. Instead, a Pew survey this fall found that most readers still preferred their reading material printed on paper.

Still, the popularity of some calendars — desk pads and the ones that hang on your wall — has waned.

The average number of printed calendars in households was 3.12 in 2011 compared with 3.98 in 1981, according to the most recent study sponsored by the Promotional Products Association International and the Calendar Advertising Council. The kitchen remained the prime display location, with 75 percent of respondents saying they had a calendar there. The average number of printed calendars per business was 2.10, down from 2.56 in 1981, according to the study.

A 2008 paper from Virginia Tech, called “An Exploratory Study of Personal Calendar Use,” predicted the march of electronic calendars would be swift and inevitable. “With the increased use of mobile devices, more and more calendaring tasks are performed off the desktop computer,” it said.

A bright spot in the industry remains promotional calendars, like those distributed by real estate agents, medical professionals, car repair shops and other businesses. As a percentage of sales of promotional products, those calendars have held steady or increased slightly from 2012 to 2015, according to industry figures.

chalkboard-calendar-bic-graphic

Paper calendars are an effective advertising vehicle with a mass market appeal. | Credit: Wright County Parks & Recreation

Melissa Ralston, marketing director for BIC Graphic, said in an email that companies have found paper calendars to be an effective advertising vehicle with a mass market appeal.

She said studies have found that 82 percent of recipients enjoy getting a calendar as a complimentary gift and 70 percent plan to do business with the company that provided the calendar.

As for Ms. Ralston, she practices what she preaches. She said she has three calendars: a planner, a wall calendar and one on her refrigerator.

Are you In Touch?

git-graphics-lockup

DOWNLOAD | Get In Touch! Toolkit

We are nearly three months into the launch of Get In Touch!, the first-of-its-kind industry branding campaign, and I am pleased with the positive response from so many industry professionals supporting the initiative and equally appreciative of the worthwhile feedback and suggestions from those who would manage the program differently.

To grow your business and raise awareness download the Get In Touch! toolkit today. The toolkit includes collateral and materials to which you can add your logo and website such as digital ads, social media graphics, infographics, print ads, research videos and more. For questions or assistance with Get In Touch! campaign contact Kim R. Todora at KimT@ppai.org.

This multimillion-dollar long-term strategy extends over the next five years, and I look forward to updating you on the campaign’s progress and highlights. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts and ideas along the way.

That said, I thought it worthwhile to share a very thoughtful blog post written by Robert Fiveash, PromoKitchen Chef and current board president.

Enjoy!

Paul

~~~~~~~~

Should you get on board with PPAI’s Get In Touch! Campaign?

Originally published September 19, 2016 via PromoKitchen

You’re a physician. You went to med school. You are trained well to take care of your patients and sworn to uphold the ethical standards of the Hippocratic Oath. Your compensation is determined by your production, peer reviews, and patient feedback. Despite your busy schedule, you’ve found the time to teach and perform research at the local university. Years ago, you and some of the brightest young minds in medicine developed a novel new treatment for childhood asthma. It’s as effective as any prescription treatment on the market, doesn’t use steroids, and costs about half as much as the market leader for an annual regimen.

But the competing products and procedures are entrenched – their powerful lobbying efforts have kept your product, SWaG (Stop Wheezing and Gasping), off the shelves and out of the hands of other physicians. SWaG isn’t even listed as an approved treatment available to physicians, depriving millions of children of an effective, low-cost treatment for asthma.

The analogy to our industry might be a stretch, but when Marketing Managers report ad spend, promotional advertising is not listed as a separate medium, alongside its entrenched brethren: TV, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, and a handful of others. We’re a $20.8 billion ad segment, and “cinema” gets the nod ahead of our medium.

Cinema!

How do we get included in the marketing mix, so that we’re invited to the crucial budget meetings and strategy sessions, just like our more entrenched brethren?

Since PPAI hired the Saxum nearly a year ago to help promote the industry to a wide range of advertisers (corporate departments, HR departments, ad agencies, etc.), those of us waiting to see how the effort would play out now have a few answers. In conjunction with Advertising Week New York, the industry branding initiative will officially launch September 26th.

The primary messaging for the Get In Touch! Campaign speaks to the power and value of promotional products. Exposure in national publications such as AdAge will attempt to show advertising buyers the ROI of promotional products vis-à-vis the other media competing for those dollars, such as TV, digital, radio, etc., and gain a larger share of advertising spend. Importantly, the elements of this campaign will be available to distributors to support the campaign in their local markets.

A secondary message, important but not to be overstated, is promoting and encouraging the use of promotional product consultants.

So, how does the PromoKitchen community, and beyond, Get In Touch?

  1. Engage with the information PPAI is sharing to help us (individually and collectively) promote the industry.
  2. Emphasize to clients and prospects that promotional products are a high-ROI medium.
  3. Embrace the critical role we (you!) play in helping make the initiative a success.
  4. Envision the new you: the promotional consultant capable of making any campaign come alive.

Nuts and Bolts

  • 16-week roll-out designed to create momentum and continue the conversation
  • Every other week (or so) new branding elements will be presented to PPAI members
  • Members will receive digital “toolkits” with Power Tips that describe how to use and when to use the elements of the campaign
  • The toolkits will include print (“click to act”) and social (“click to act”) graphics – professional, high-quality artwork, advertisements, icons, and (eventually) multi-media video that can be used for individual campaigns to a distributor’s clients and prospects
  • Social elements (including graphical statistics and talking points) will be pre-sized for Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram

Several evergreen webinars will be available to train those interested in the campaign on how best to utilize the tools

This five-year, fully-funded (a huge difference from past awareness campaigns), multi-million dollar initiative is an unprecedented investment in the industry’s future.

Thank you, PPAI, for recognizing the need to promote the industry’s ROI as an advertising medium, and our collective ability to touch the end-user recipient in a way that’s clearly different. Promotional products are a slam dunk (when well-executed), as other media simply do not have the staying power and ability to create an emotional connection through physical touch. It truly is “Advertising that lives on”. Consumers are bombarded literally every few seconds with ephemeral media messages and digital distractions, and there has never been a better time to espouse the benefits of promotional products. Seize your opportunity now!

Read Robert’s full article here.

#GetInTouch! Campaign News | U.S. Calls In Promo Industry To Raise Its Profile | Guest Post

I am pleased to share with you this Product Media article excerpt reprinted courtesy of the British Promotional Merchandise Association covering PPAI’s new industry branding campaign, Get In Touch!

We are excited to see the Get In Touch! campaign getting international attention. Designed for the entire promotional products industry, we hope to see Get In Touch! take hold around the world and become a global movement.

Paul

~~~

I am delighted that my good friend Paul Bellantone, and PPAI Chair of the Board, Tom Goos are speaking at the bpma Education Day at Silverstone, UK in September.  I think it’s really important that the promotional products industry works together around the globe to support each other, whether on end buyer campaigns like the #GetInTouch! campaign, product safety, research, education or best practices.

Gordon Glenister, bpma Director General

GIT - BPMA article image

Much like the work of the British Promotional Merchandise Association (bpma), the Promotional Products Association International’s (PPAI) core mission is to grow and protect the promotional products industry and enhance the professionalism and success of its members. To this end, PPAI has developed and delivered initiatives like Product Safety Aware, MAS+, MAS and CAS professional development industry certifications, as well as Promotional Products Work! Week which I know has also become a successful initiative for bpma members in the UK.

For its latest programme to drive growth and success, PPAI will officially launch the industry branding initiative, the #GetInTouch campaign, this month in conjunction with Advertising Week in New York City.

The #GetInTouch campaign was introduced by PPAI chair of the board, Tom Goos, MAS, and me at The PPAI Expo 2016. It is a five-year, multi-million dollar, industry-wide initiative targeting advertising buyers. It is designed to increase awareness and enhance the perception of the promotional products industry as well as communicate the benefits of working with promotional consultants. The overall goal of the campaign is to direct a larger share of advertising dollars to our industry.

Celebrate success

#GetInTouch, a joint initiative between PPAI and the membership, is important to the promotional products industry because, for too long, it has been an afterthought for many advertisers. It is seen as a medium of fun and useful ‘stuff’ that is not always recognised for its proven value and strengths. The industry knows, understands and communicates the power of promotional products, but it’s high time the rest of the world recognised the advertising power of promotional products and their place in successful advertising campaigns. Our research tells us that as other advertising media struggle to achieve year over-year growth and remain relevant, promotional products are perfectly positioned to grow – and have grown – in an increasingly digital world.

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

Tom Goos put it best when he said: “For years PPAI has worked on advocating for the industry, but never with a multi-year strategic campaign at this level. Industry promotion has always been bootstrapped with little budget or limited resources. With the launch of the #GetInTouch campaign, the board is saying we want this to be a primary focus and we should put funding and a strategic plan behind it. The board recognises that we are well positioned to capitalise on the changes in marketing and growth of the digital world.”

He added: “PPAI will not be successful if it pursues this initiative alone. It’s going to require companies like mine and yours to participate.”

Get involved

Along with an integrated paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) strategy that includes major media buys in publications like Advertising Age, digital strategies and possibly an industry spokesperson, the #GetInTouch campaign will feature member kits available for download and customisation, including elements that members will be able to immediately incorporate into their own marketing efforts. The goal is to make sure PPAI members become an integral part of the #GetInTouch campaign.

Complementing the launch of this initiative is a newly redesigned and recently launched website (PromotionalProductsWork.org). It is targeted at advertising buyers, tells a two-part story about the power of promotional products and the importance of working with promotional consultants.

We know that our ability to clearly articulate the power and compelling value of promotional products and of working through promotional consultants is critical to the vitality and vibrancy of our industry. PPAI has a winning plan to reach advertising buyers through the campaign at the national level and will create the tools our members need to get involved and engaged with their customers and prospects.

#GetInTouch will be one of the most significant contributions PPAI has made to the strengthening of the promotional products industry, but as Tom noted, we must engage our members for this initiative to be successful.

Read the entire article here.

Guest Post | Thoughts on PPAI L.E.A.D. in Washington, D.C.

If Coke and Pepsi can set aside their battle of the brands for a worthwhile cause, so too can the promotional products industry. During PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) event held in May, industry representatives from around the country united to encourage our nation’s legislators to consider critical issues important to the entire industry.

Today I am pleased to present a guest post, “Thoughts on PPAI L.E.A.D. in Washington, D.C.”  by Kyle A. Richardson, editorial director of Promo Marketing magazine. This PM blog originally appeared in the June 27, 2016 issue of Promo Marketing.

Thank you, Kyle, for joining us for the PPAI L.E.A.D. We are grateful for your participation and retrospective on the critical importance of our industry’s unified voice in D.C.

~~~~

Last month I had the privilege of joining a select group of promotional products professionals in Washington, D.C., for Promotional Product Association International’s (PPAI) Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). Influential industry members from across the country volunteered their time to head to our nation’s capitol, to raise awareness about our industry and the legislation that impacts suppliers and distributors.

We’ve reported on many of these business topics—independent contractor requirements, the Affordable Care Act, Toxic Substances Control Act reform—but it is another thing entirely to go to D.C. and speak to senators and representatives about our industry, our concerns and our needs. When you see a small section of our community—just 80 volunteers in all—organize more than 300 meetings over two days, you start to appreciate the significance of what PPAI has put together.

It isn’t just the numbers, either: Who was in attendance is just as important. Supplier CEOs, distributor franchisees, multi-line representatives and more all stood united in D.C. We were organized by state, with many groups consisting of companies in direct competition with one another. Along with some suppliers and distributors, I was on the Pennsylvania team representing Promo Marketing next to ASI’s own senior vice president and senior counselor, Chuck Machion. No one was concerned about business rivalries. We were all there to do the same job.

PPAI_LEAD - PM 6-27-16

Left to Right: Kyle A. Richardson; Bruce Korn, CAS, president of Zakback Inc.; U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA); Larry Whitney, director of global compliance for Polyconcept North America.

What most stood out, however, was seeing that what we’re doing works. In several meetings, staffers greeted members of our team by name, recalling them from last year’s event. In other meetings, representatives mentioned receiving emails from suppliers and distributors as part of Promotional Products Work! Week. One staff member we met with took notes on the PPAI L.E.A.D. notebook he received in 2015. If you think events like this don’t have an impact, you’d be surprised.

You also may be surprised to learn that every D.C. staffer looks like they’re 17. Don’t let “House of Cards” fool you: Everyone in the Capitol is too young to drink.

I want to thank PPAI for inviting me along this year, as well as all the members of my team—Chuck, Bruce Korn of Zakpack Inc., George Jackson of George Jackson Promotions, Larry Whitney of Polyconcept North America and Norm Hullinger of alphabroder.

It’s said you should lead, follow or get out of the way. The promotional products industry has made it clear which path it will take.

~~~~

Kyle Richardson

Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.

 

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.

PPW!Work_Logo2016

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.
PPW Twibbon FB Ad Set 600x600

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.

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