Tag Archives: Branded Merchandise

The PPAI Expo 2021 ► Are You In?

Each week, over the past couple of months, I’ve reached out to you by way of these emails and video updates. My goal has been to stay in touch with you and, in some way, offer words of encouragement and information to help you through this pandemic. I hope these updates have been helpful. As we look ahead, PPAI will continue to offer opportunities and solutions for individual and company growth.

One such solution will undoubtedly be The PPAI Expo® 2021. For 18 years, the promotional products industry has gathered in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to celebrate the power of promotional products. And we are planning to do the same in 2021. The PPAI Expo will certainly look different than it has in the past, but its purpose will be the same—to provide community, knowledge and a forum to do business. You can trust that we will have your safety in mind as well.

COMMUNITY
For many of you, the sense of community that The PPAI Expo offers is what you cherish the most. And to the degree that it is possible, the PPAI Expo 2021 will be there for you. At the heart of the PPAI Expo is a strong, passionate and interconnected community that comes together each year—a community gathering like no other in our industry. From developing new relationships to connecting with old friends, networking with this community is always at the top of the list for attendees at the PPAI Expo. And the need for that community network has never been so desired as it is today. Serving as the industry’s annual gathering place and the kickoff to business each new year, the PPAI Expo is the crown jewel of community in our industry and it will continue to shine.

KNOWLEDGE
One of the key components to any PPAI Expo is professional development. And in 2021 we will once again set the industry standard in speakers and education opportunities, with 50-plus breakouts and two general sessions. We know that this element of the PPAI Expo is a driver in the decision-making process for many, and we are confident you will be satisfied again with this show. The list of offerings may not be as broad as in previous years, due to some of the overall changes we are making to the PPAI Expo 2021, but the quality will remain. You can expect a timely and relevant lineup of top-level speakers.

BUSINESS
We know that many businesses in our industry have been adversely affected by the pandemic. As a result, for many of you, travel to The PPAI Expo will not be possible, regardless of the state of our nation in January. For those who may be in this position, my commitment to you is that PPAI will be here when you are ready and able to participate.

But if it’s at all possible, attending The PPAI Expo 2021 may well be one of the most important business decisions you can make. Coming out of this pandemic, businesses across all industries will seek unique marketing opportunities to reach their customers. They’ll be searching for ways to break through the clutter that is likely to occur as America gets back to business. The PPAI Expo will be there to help you fill those needs.

But as you might expect, The PPAI Expo 2021 will look different from what you’ve grown accustomed to. We are making some significant changes in order to streamline and facilitate the best business environment possible while considering the challenges you may be facing.

First, we will limit the size of the show. We are making a conscious decision to downsize the footprint of the trade-show floor by 50 percent. This will include limiting the size of booths. This step, along with others, will ease the financial burden for exhibitors while providing a solid business experience for everyone involved.

Second, we will change The PPAI Expo from a three-day to a two-day trade show. This will help both attendees and exhibitors with travel expenses, as well as their time away from the office. To make up for the shortened schedule, we will extend the show hours each day. The new hours will also give us the flexibility to control access to the show floor, if necessary, based on government guidelines.

Finally, we anticipate making PPAI Expo-related virtual opportunities available in advance of, during and after the 2021 live event. Our goal is to make The PPAI Expo a brand you can count on for business opportunities well before and after the live event.

It is highly likely there will be more changes and updates as planning moves forward. I encourage you to stay up to date on the latest developments by visiting The PPAI Expo website for show details and the schedule.

SAFETY
While no one knows exactly what things will look like in January 2021, rest assured that PPAI will go above and beyond to ensure your health, safety and wellbeing. Whether it’s physical distancing, hand sanitizing stations or temperature screening stations, we will exceed the recommended guidelines in order to offer the safest business experience. We are already working with our Las Vegas partners to put things in place.

ppaiexpo21_we-are-in400pxThe PPAI Expo 2021 will be the bright light the industry, your business and our community so desperately needs. We know this event has served as the gathering place for our industry in the past and we anticipate the same for the future. I invite you to share your excitement for The PPAI Expo 2021 today. Go to ppai.org/expo/we-are-in and download your We’re In badge to display on your social, emails and website.

Are you in?

 

The PPAI Expo 2020 Marks Extraordinary Start to Decade

The PPAI Expo is such an exciting time for PPAI and the entire industry as we gather together to celebrate all this great industry has to offer. In January, we hosted The PPAI Expo 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and it was such an extraordinary experience. It was incredible to see everyone come together to advance the industry and discover what’s new and next in promotional and experiential marketing. Expo kicks off the year and brings to the forefront innovation, trends and advanced technologies in promotion, gifting, fashion, decorating and sustainability, as well as activation and engagement strategies. This year, more than ever, we’re seeing technology inside the products allowing marketers to measure behavior and track the success of their campaigns.

It is also important to note, that no matter how long we’ve been here as an industry, we’re still growing faster than most media. Last year we grew at more than six percent, which is almost twice the average GDP. What we’re finding is the more advertisers are using digital and other innovative marketing methods the more they’re looking for something like a promotional product to break through the clutter and build a relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Below, I am pleased to share with you a brief recap of just a few of the many highlights from the extraordinary experience that is The PPAI Expo.

Paul

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PPAI hosted The PPAI Expo® January 12-16, which continues to be the largest, occupying more than a million square feet of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and longest-running trade show in the promotional products industry. Approximately 13,000 promotional products distributors from nearly 4,000 distributor companies and 33 countries came to Las Vegas to experience the industry’s best-attended show.

Expo Montage

The PPAI Expo 2020 was among one of the largest and most-attended shows in the event’s history. In addition to visiting the more than 1,220 exhibitors occupying a sold-out show floor at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the 21,000-plus industry professionals attended more than 115 educational sessions and networking events. Participants were also treated to the updated look and feel of the show that included a brand-new murmuration design.

The 2020 show featured numerous experiences designed to create excitement and engagement in different areas on the show floor. The EXPO Live! interactive stage made its return and provided live streaming of product demonstrations and interviews with notable Expo speakers, exhibitors and industry leaders. The stimulating pop-up activations included fun-filled activities such as roaming photo booths, virtual-reality experiences, donut decorating, live music, and oxygen, caffeine and themed food bars. The Beer Garden offered a laid-back environment on the trade-show floor that welcomed more networking opportunities among industry professionals.

The puppy petting booths returned and were provided by Wagging Tails Rescue. Most of the adorable puppies were available for adoption, and they all live in foster care until they’re adopted to their “fur-ever” families. Therapy goats were also on-site for petting sessions and goat yoga, and they were provided by Petting Zoo 2 U.

The ever-popular Sneak Peek and Product Pavilions featured a new category, Giving Back Products, incorporated into the already-stellar lineup of New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA Products, Express Ship Products and 1st-Time Exhibitor Products. New to the Expo this year was the PPAI Fashion Show, which offered distributors three different opportunities to learn about emerging trends and new supplier products, and the Professional Development Domes, conveniently located right on the show floor, offering attendees additional educational opportunities in a unique space.

During the PPAI Association Update, Bellantone reported on PPAI’s continued organizational growth, noting that the Association reached 16,000 members during this year’s Expo.

During the show, thought-provoking and inspirational general session and keynote speakers included Ben Nemtin of MTV’s The Buried Life; Molly Fletcher, a former sports agent dubbed the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN and ESPN; and Dr. Rick Rigsby, president and CEO of Rick Rigsby Communications, founder of Rick Rigsby Ministries and former college professor, mostly at Texas A&M University.

In lieu of the annual PPAI Pyramid Awards celebration, recipients were honored in numerous ways throughout the show. This year there were 46 Gold, 35 Silver, 11 Supplier Stars and 10 Supplier Awards of Merit winners. During the annual Chairman’s Leadership Dinner, the industry’s luminaries, dignitaries and leaders celebrated the achievements of two industry legends, Carl Gerlach, MAS, of Gill Studios, Inc., and Roni Wright, MAS, of The Book Company as they were inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame. Tribute was also paid to this year’s winners of the Distinguished Service Award, Rick Brenner, MAS+, and Kippie Helzel, MAS, and the H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award recipient Rod Brown, CAS.

The next installment of The PPAI Expo is set to be held January 10-14, 2021, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

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GET Connected: PLUG-IN to the POWER of PROMO

GET Connected: PLUG-IN to the POWER of PROMO during Promotional Products Work! Week, May 13-17

Next month, Promotional Products Work! Week will take center stage. During the week of May 13-17, the industry will collectively shine the spotlight on the benefits of working with promotional professionals and the undeniable power of promotional products.

Why is Promotional Products Work! Week so important? More than 40,000 promotional products companies and a workforce of more than 500,000 professionals contribute billions of dollars to local economies and more than $23.3 billion to the U.S economy. Nearly the entire promotional products industry is composed of small businesses—96 percent—that make real and tangible differences in their communities as volunteers, business-owners, tax payers and purveyors of goods and services. In many instances, promotional products serve as the first and last impressions relied on by the more than 30 million U.S. businesses to build brand awareness and loyalty and inspire action among employees, clients and consumers.

By committing to at least one activity during the week of May 13-17, you will help promote and protect your business and our vibrant industry, while also making a powerful impact by adding your story and your voice alongside thousands of industry professionals.

Last year, Promotional Products Work! Week was celebrated in a big way in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad with factory tours and open houses, speaking engagements, volunteerism and community outreach, legislative outreach in Washington, D.C., at the state and local levels and with personalized expressions of gratitude to the industry’s customers.

The highlight of 2018 was the PPW!Week Official Kick Off produced by Regional Association Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS) in partnership with the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber.

The two-day event included a SHEPENCO ribbon-cutting ceremony and factory tours hosted by Henry Hulan III, president of Musgrave Pencil Company founded in 1914, and Dan Townes, president, and his son, Daniel Townes, chief operations officer of SHEPENCO, founded in 1933, both headquartered in Shelbyville, Tennessee, known as “The Pencil City,” with Congressman Scott DesJarlais in attendance. A proclamation for the City of Shelbyville presented by Mayor Wallace Cartright and City Council, declaring it Promotional Products Work! Week—and if that wasn’t enough, the City passed a resolution renaming itself “Promotional Products City USA” to commemorate the week.

Next was a luncheon held at the Blue Ribbon Circle and the gathering of state and local dignitaries, distributors, suppliers, buyers and PPAMS board members, where I was humbled to share the stage with Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce CEO Allen Pitner to share on the state of the industry.

The festivities culminated with Tennessee government officials, including City of Shelbyville Mayor Wallace Cartright, County Official Scott Johnson (presenting on behalf of County Mayor Eugene Ray) and Senator Shane Reeves, who presented proclamations from the City of Shelbyville, Bedford County and the state of Tennessee (signed by Senator Shane Reeves, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and State Representative Pat March).

All of this was made possible through the commitment and leadership of the PPAMS Board and Executive Director Mark Farrar and his amazing team.

GET Connected: Get the toolkit!

Promotional Products Work! Week, now in its seventh year, is an industry-wide event dedicated to demonstrating the importance of working with promotional professionals to design and implement creative and successful campaigns while creating awareness for promotional products as a powerful and effective advertising and marketing medium. The week is designed to reach key audiences and feature a variety of activities, including open houses, factory tours and hospitality events; new client prospecting and lead generation; an advocate day focusing on community, colleges and business groups; legislative action; and customer appreciation.

Celebrated annually, the week-long event is designed for the entire industry—large and small companies, regional associations, distributors and suppliers, business services providers and multi-line representatives—to get behind an industry-wide movement in support of demonstrating the power, value and effectiveness of promotional products.

Here is the link to the GET Connected: PLUG-IN to the POWER of PROMO campaign toolkit. Download the PPW!Week campaign assets, including the Organizers Guide, Publicity and Promotion Toolkits, videos, social posts and infographics and much more. GET Connected, PLUG-IN and get started today!

Please share within your companies and with your colleagues around the industry.

Spread the word!

Paul

Promotional Products Do Work – A Modern Approach to Practical, Useful, Thoughtful “Conference Swag”

As a trusted leader in the promotional products industry, it is our responsibility to advocate for our members and to deliver to others the essential knowledge they need to understand the inner workings of our medium. I have been reminded today after reading the Fast Company piece that there still remains an excess of misconceptions and doubts about our industry—ones I would like to take this opportunity to address. I will be responding to Fast Company on behalf of the Association, our members and this amazing industry.

The influence of promotional products cannot be underestimated, with more than 65 percent of advertisers citing promotional products as highly effective in reaching consumers and contributing to brand recall, and 88 percent of marketers recommending promotional products. Unlike the article suggests, promotional products are not toss away items—in fact, more than 80 percent of promotional products are used for more than a year. Eighty-three percent of consumers have a more favorable impression of the advertiser, and that increases to 88 percent for Millennials. Additionally, eight out of 10 consumers pass along promotional products versus carelessly throwing them in the trash. These are only a handful of the statistics we have proving promotional products are a strategic and influential medium that resonate with our audiences. Promotional products are welcome in places and spaces no other advertising medium can touch and deliver pass-along rates that are the envy of the advertising industry.

Our industry has evolved and grown over time, and consumer preferences and behaviors have also changed. We have pioneered many studies as an industry, and at PPAI, to ensure we keep up with our end-users and to understand the role promotional products can play within their current lifestyles. Most modern promotional products are designed to be useful, practical and enjoyable—their shelf life is far more extensive than meets the eye. For example, the “flimsy totes” we receive at conferences have become more and more useful with the adoption of plastic bag bans that are rolling out in states across the U.S. Many consumers have made them an essential part of their everyday lives. Our industry has also connected to consumers’ tech-savvy side by integrating technologies such as AR and Near Field Communication, which will only continue to advance in the future.

We also want to address one of the reporter’s main points: the environmental footprint of promotional products. As the leading voice for the promotional products industry, PPAI is committed to making a positive impact on the global environmental crisis. We have identified environmental responsibility as a core pillar, with mandatory product responsibility education and the ongoing development and sharing of best practices with our members and industry partners so they can recognize and address the impacts of their operations and supply chain on the environment. This is not restricted to emissions reduction or lowering the impact of manufacturing, but also encompasses a larger set of affirmative protocols that promote human rights, and worker health and safety. With the right resources and tools, promotional products organizations have been adopting policies to offer more environmentally-conscious assurances for their customers and employees. From green and compostable products to sustainable textiles, the promotional products industry has taken a proactive stance (including a “green” pavilion at our annual exposition) in bringing to market products that make the consumers’ experience more enjoyable and better for the environment.

As we always say, promotional products are truly the only advertising medium that reaches all five senses, plus a sixth—the sense of ownership for consumers. We do not want to deprive the majority of consumers (83 percent) who enjoy and are inspired to take action upon receiving a promotional product. Rather, we want to grow and evolve along with them so both brands and their audiences can continue to see this as a positive advertising medium in all aspects of their lives.

PPAI Presents ‘THIS IS MARKETING’ With Seth Godin At Advertising Week

Advertising Week New York

Oct. 1-4 | AMC Loews Lincoln Square

I am pleased to announce that PPAI is once again joining together with author, entrepreneur and marketer, Seth Godin to host a master class seminar at Advertising Week in New York.

In the master class interaction, Godin will open attendees’ eyes to how the industry has profoundly changed as brands now have the opportunity to market with people, rather than at them. An exploration into a variety of topics, the seminar will cover subjects from the building blocks of effective marketing to creating work that matters for people who care. Following Godin’s detailed discussion, I will join the author for a deeper dive into the shifting environment of the marketing industry.

I hope you are able to join me for this master class and Q&A with Seth about his new book, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

Reserve complimentary tickets here. Tickets are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

PPAI is proud to celebrate the launch of Godin’s new book and is excited to present the author’s newest insights that will continue to motivate and inspire the industry.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 2 at 10:30 AM EDT; Not going to be in New York? View the live stream here.

WHERE: AMC Loews Lincoln Square, Realtor.com Stage, 1998 Broadway, New York

There’s more.

  • This Is Marketing by author Seth GodinThe first 100 attendees at the session will receive a copy of Godin’s new work, “This Is Marketing”, scheduled for release in November.
  • In addition, PPAI is presenting all attendees with a one-of-a-kind Castelli journal and Riteline pen featuring a bound galley previewing the first chapter.
  • A book signing with Godin will immediately follow the seminar.
  • SPECIAL OFFER FOR PPAI MEMBERS: ‎AttendAdvertising Week, October 1-4 | PPAI Members receive a 20% discount on a ‎Delegate or Super Delegate pass using Promo Code ‎PPAI20OFF.‎

Advertising Week is a long-standing partner in PPAI’s mission to reach buyers in an influential and highly targeted way.  This week-long gathering of the advertising industry’s best and brightest brand marketers, creative visionaries and media leaders and influencers is an ideal setting for us to initiate thoughtful conversations, inform meaningful decisions and inspire consideration and buying of promotional products advertising. This is just one more positive and powerful way the Association engages in buyer outreach to drive the industry’s business forward and position it with strength now and in the future.

We are pleased to partner with Advertising Week to bring this master class experience with Seth Godin to you.

I hope to see you there,

Paul

P.S. A word from Seth

Promotional Products Work! Week To Kick Off In The Pencil City

Promotional Products Work! Week, May 14-18, 2018

I am happy to share some exciting news about Promotional Products Work! Week. PPAI and Promotional Products Association Of The Mid-South, will kick off Promotional Products Work! Week on Friday, May 11, 2018 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, the town also known as “The Pencil City.”

Founded by PPAI, Promotional Products Work! Week will be celebrated by thousands of promotional products businesses around the country with special community programs, a national day of service, legislative outreach and customer appreciation and recognition events.

Shelbyville Tennessee City Seal

Shelbyville, Tennessee, also known as The Pencil City.

PPAI is honored to join with PPAMS to kick off the sixth annual Promotional Products Work! Week in The Pencil City. We applaud Shelbyville’s rich history and salute all the promotional products pioneers and companies in cities all over America.

This will be the official kickoff for our industry’s national awareness event, which will be held May 14-18. The kickoff event is organized by the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. Local, state and national leaders will gather in Shelbyville for a factory tour, luncheon and official ribbon cutting to kick off Promotional Products Work! Week.

Musgrave pencil

For almost a century, Shelbyville was the hub of wood-cased pencil manufacturing in the United States.

For almost a century, Shelbyville was the hub of wood-cased pencil manufacturing in the United States. In 1991, the World’s Longest Pencil was produced in Shelbyville. Although only one pencil manufacturer remains, the city of 21,000 people is still home to familiar names in writing instruments: Goldstar, Musgrave, Sanford and Shelbyville Pencil.

Promotional products are proven to be one of the most effective media available to advertisers. Because promotional products are tangible, useful and highly targeted to the audience they reach, 79 percent of consumers retain them for one to more than four years, and 87 percent recall the advertiser/message, proving that they deliver the highest rate of reach, recall and return on investment in the advertising industry.

The $23.3 billion promotional products industry, with its more than 40,500 businesses—96 percent of which are small businesses—and more than 500,000 professionals, will work to create awareness for the value promotional products deliver to advertisers and marketers, as well as the positive impact promotional products businesses have on the U.S. economy, job creation and community enrichment.

Many of you already have the whole week planned out, but if you haven’t yet started, it’s not too late!

Celebrate The Power Of Promo

Download the PPW! Week with a POP! guides and toolkits today.

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