Tag Archives: promotional products industry

#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.

#Tech22 | Breaking Down Promo’s Top Tech Collaborators & Innovators

This week, August 17-18, in San Francisco, PPAI will host the third annual Tech Summit, a gathering of the promotional products industry’s technology leaders to address the challenges facing the field, and the advancement of the industry through the strategic use of technology.

In the promotional products industry, we have quite a few talented and industrious professionals who have made it their mission to change, innovate and, yes, disrupt everything.

In the spirit of The Tech Summit, Dale Denham and Jon Norris have taken it upon themselves to hack this blog and recognize those individuals who are leading the tech charge in our industry.

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Tech22 Graphic-uEvery company needs a great CEO and every CEO needs a great IT leader to make things happen. IT is no longer about keeping the systems running (but that has to happen!).  Instead, it’s about business strategy and execution utilizing technology. Today’s IT leaders are a different breed as business acumen and the ability to lead people are at least as important as strong technology skills.

 

The Industry Tech22 is an attempt to recognize our industry technology leaders based on their technology and business skills. This list was the brainchild of Jon Norris, who invited me to be a co-collaborator and together we are responsible for the oversights and omissions—as well as the good things. This list originally was the Tech20 but we both refused to leave the other off the list.

While the list is subjective, it is based on our personal experience and knowledge of those on the list.  We debated about a few people at companies who have great technology but decided that an important part of being on this list was industry collaboration. Everyone on this list has been involved in one or more efforts to make the industry better.  As with any list, we missed a few and we look forward to releasing this list again in 2017 with new names.

1

Eric Shonebarger, CIO | Hit Promotional Products

Eric has been and continues to be the leader in system integration for the industry.  His leadership and hands-on involvement in every aspect of HIT technology has supported the very rapid growth HIT has experienced. Eric has been one of the driving forces in the PromoStandards effort. If you have discussed integrations at your company, chances are Eric’s name comes up as the first person to call.

2

Marc Brown, CIO | Polyconcept North America

Michael Conway, I.T. Director, Market Facing Applications | Polyconcept North America

Michael and Marc are incredibly influential because of their ability to see so many different aspects of the technology both in and out of our industry.  Acquiring companies and integrating systems is tough and even more so during periods of rapid growth that PCNA has experienced.  PCNA, and specifically Michael, has been a longtime proponent and leader of industry electronic standards. From the board room to customers’ offices, Michael and Marc are a driving force in the industry. 

3

Mike Knapic, CIO | Sanmar

Rebekah Ellis, Sr I.T. Manager | Sanmar

Online websites for distributors, real time inventory, order status, electronic data formatted well. SanMar has been ahead of the curve and Beki has been the leader behind the SanMar integrations for years. Mike has brought additional support to Beki’s team driving improvements and even more industry collaboration. 

4

Tim Nale, North American I.T. / Director | BIC Graphic North America

Tim took over BIC IT during the midst of a flawed ERP conversion and managed to turn things around quickly. He has continued his success leading IT at BIC thanks to his ability to see the big picture while also being willing to work on the details.

5

Dale Moir, SVP I.T. & Asset Management | HALO Branded Solutions

Irwin Goldstein, Director of Application Development | HALO Branded Solutions

Dale and Irwin are true computer scientists to the core (both hold master’s degrees in computer science). Each with more than 12 years of experience at HALO they have successfully navigated the company IT during an aggressive acquisition strategy. Both Dale & Irwin are very actively involved in numerous industry projects to support the health of the industry.

6

Dan Kroymann, Director of Information Technology | Staples Promotional Products

Dan led Staples through the largest EDI implementation the industry has ever seen. Dan is a strong supporter of PromoStandards and has a strong drive to streamline the order lifecycle.

7

Dan Rochette, Founder and CTO | Facilis Group

Dan developed one of the first industry web-based ERP platforms.  Today that ERP system is in the middle of its second iteration, and The Facilis Group processes over $500,000,000 per year servicing more than 110 distributors. Dan has been a quiet force in technology that has remained largely unknown except to a few despite his large impact on the technology of so many distributors. 

8

Jon Norris, VP of Operations | Starline 

A few years ago I asked Jon to work on a simple project with me, expecting it to take a few weeks. The next day, the work was done and enhanced. Jon is a technologist who can and does lead the business side of things but technology is his passion. An engineer by training, Jon loves to solve problems using technology. He has been chair of the PPAI Technology Committee for almost three years and is a strong force in industry technology collaboration. Both PromoStandards and the PPAI Technology Summit are ideas that Jon was instrumental in launching and continuing. Jon deserves to be much higher on this list but since he is a co-collaborator, we agreed on this position.

(Editor’s note: much to Jon’s objection, I would not allow a technology list to be published without Jon’s inclusion.)

 

9

Dale Denham, MAS+, CIO | Geiger 

Dale has been the industry’s technology evangelist for over a decade. As past PPAI Technology Committee chair and incoming chair-elect for the PPAI Board of Directors, he delivers a strong voice to the industry for technology. Three years ago, Dale orchestrated the most significant meeting of Technology leaders this industry has ever assembled. Today, Dale is very involved in leading the PPAI Technology Summit as well as being a driving force in PromoStandards.  Often the voice of reason and a dose of reality, he balances the business needs with the technology capabilities to deliver results.

(Editor’s note: much to my objection, Jon insisted my name be included as well.)

 

10

Eric Alessi, President and CEO | Essent Corporation

Steve Luisser, VP of Research | Essent Corporation

These guys searched for the Holy Grail and delivered the cherished goblet for the industry to sip from. That of course being well formed orders. Both are very involved in the architecture and ongoing development of Essent Business Management system, which is used by both distributors and suppliers. 

11

Brian Carothers, CTO | Proforma

Brian is leading Proforma’s technology advancement and development of a new order entry system. Brian has a computer science background and experience working with Fortune 50 companies. Brian is new to the industry but as the top technologist at a top five company, Brian is already making his presence known. 

12

Armughan Rafat, EVP and CTO | ASI

Armughan runs all technology initiatives, infrastructure and technology strategy for one of the industry’s largest business service providers. He has re-engineered ASI’s technology strategy and is behind ASI recently supporting PromoStandards to support wider adoption of systems integrations.

13

Catherine Graham, CEO | commonsku

Catherine has shown the industry how great software supported by a loyal community can drive sales with cloud-based commonsku. A trip to their offices in Toronto makes you instantly want to be a part of their amazing culture and team. Catherine has the respect and admiration of the entire technology community as well as the many business users relying on commonsku.

14

Eric Natinsky, CEO | SAGE Quick Technologies

SAGE was the first “cloud” provider offering online services before most people were online. Combined with strong business skills, Eric is the primary architect and developer of SAGE. His vision has helped position SAGE to continue to dominate the business service landscape.

15

Jason Nokes, President | Distributor Central

Dave Schultz, VP of Operations | Distributor Central

Jason and David are on the forefront of web, cloud and mobile solutions for companies of all sizes within the industry. The scalable challenges they have faced hosting over 20,000 websites is no easy feat. Early adopters of PromoStandards, they have continued their drive and desire to see industry standardization flourish. For a small distributor, they make it easy.

16

Rene Whitcraft, CIO | The Magnet Group

Jonas Temple, I.T. Manager/Developer | The Magnet Group

Rene and Jonas have been propelling The Magnet Group to be an industry leader in technology.  Their willingness to adopt new technology, drive integrations and work with service providers on end-to-end integrations is an impressive industry technology resume.

17

Jay Zimmerman, EVP Information Technology | alphabroder

Running the IT for a billion-dollar acquisition hungry company is a demanding position that requires significant effort. Jay just completed integrating multiple acquisitions into a single platform to better serve the industry.

18

Pranav Dalal, Chief Disruption Officer | Office Beacon

Pranav is the visionary behind Office Beacon. The amount of industry order information that is handled by Office Beacon is significant. Pranav does not rest and is constantly bringing new solutions to the industry, including ecommerce giants.

19

Frank Wiggins, Vice President I.T. | Gemline

Frank’s quiet style keeps him under the radar but his success in leading IT at Gemline has been felt by clients and staff alike. Gemline innovation keeps Frank busy and his team keeps successfully delivering on internal and external projects. 

20

Chris Lanagan, Vice President, I.T. | Vernon Company

Chris is personally involved in nearly every aspect of IT at Vernon.  He runs a lean IT department and most recently had the joy of upgrading a very old ERP system while living to tell the tale. 

21

Sam Hornstein, President | eXtendTech

A NetSuite fanboy, Sam was previously CIO of Jetline and led the successful and rapid implementation of NetSuite. Sam started his own company to focus on NetSuite in the industry and is the industry authority on NetSuite. 

22

Ken Phu, Vice President I.T. | Hub Pen

Ken was an early adopter of NetSuite and now serves on the board of his local NetSuite chapter. Ken has led IT at Hub for more than five years and during that time he integrated Hub systems with several large distributors to speed up production time and reduce costs.

Redefining The Industry | #GetInTouch – Industry Branding Campaign

PPAI will officially launch the industry branding initiative, the #GetInTouch campaign, September 26 in conjunction with the 2016 Advertising Week in New York.

The #GetInTouch campaign (formerly referred to as the Industry Branding Initiative) was originally introduced to the PPAI membership by PPAI Chair of the Board Tom Goos, MAS, and me at the 2016 PPAI Expo. It is a five-year, multimillion-dollar industry-wide initiative targeting advertising buyers. It is designed to increase awareness and improve and enhance the overall perception of the promotional products industry and communicate the benefits of working with promotional consultants. The overall goal of the campaign is to direct a larger share of advertising dollars to the promotional products industry.

The #GetInTouch campaign was originally conceived by the 2014 PPAI Chairman’s Roundtable Work Group, and is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work by a collection of PPAI staff, members and volunteer groups, including the PPAI Board of Directors, the PPAI Industry Branding Initiative Advisory Group and the PPAI Public Relations Committee.

Collaborating for Success

ppai-techie-1200w

PPAI’s #GetInTouch campaign launches during Advertising Week 2016

This joint initiative between PPAI and the membership is extraordinarily important to the promotional products industry because, for too long, we’ve been an afterthought for many advertisers—a medium of fun and useful ‘stuff’ but not always recognized for our proven value and strengths. Within the industry we may know, understand and communicate the power of promotional products, but it’s high time the rest of the world recognizes 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 SAXUM, a nationally known Oklahoma City-based integrated marketing agency 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 spoke at the opening general session at The PPAI Expo earlier this year: “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 recognizes that we are well positioned to capitalize on the changes in marketing and growth of the digital world.” He also explained “PPAI will not be successful if it pursues this initiative alone. It’s going to require companies like mine and yours to participate.”

To that end, along with an integrated paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) strategy, including 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 customization. The member toolkits will include a variety of communications assets including print advertisements with several versions of copy along with various digital, social, promotional products, public relations and collateral elements that members will be able to immediately incorporate into their own marketing efforts—the key here is making sure PPAI members become an integral part of the #GetInTouch campaign.

The Messaging
While the overall message is about the power of promotional products and the importance of the promotional consultant, there will be several sub-messages which include:

  • Campaign tagline: ADVERTISING THAT LIVES ON
  • Campaign hashtag: #GetInTouch
  • Promotional products are a tangible representation of a brand.
  • Promotional products create excitement, surprise and delight.
  • Promotional products positively affect buying decisions.
  • Promotional products have staying power.
  • Promotional products, the only advertising your customers will thank you for.
  • Promotional products become a part of everyday life.

The campaign will also include sub-messages focusing specifically on Promotional Consultants:

  • Promotional consultants help design programs that get results and save time and money in the process.
  • Promotional consultants partner with you to promote and protect your brand.
  • Promotional consultants are industry experts and marketing pros.

A Redesigned Website | PromotionalProductsWork.org
Complementing the launch of this PPAI initiative is the launch of the newly redesigned www.PromotionalProductsWork.org website. The website, targeted at advertising buyers, tells a two-part story about the power of promotional products and the importance of working with promotional consultants.

While this site is independent of the #GetInTouch campaign, the timing of its redesign and launch is not coincidental. After passing through a specific #GetInTouch page, buyers who want to learn more will be directed to the new site.

A Call to Action
The PPAI #GetInTouch campaign 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. Here are a few things you can do—right now and long-term—to be part of this exciting initiative:

  • Commit right now that you will be part of the initiative!
  • Share this information with your internal teams, colleagues and peers.
  • As the campaign will focus on the power and proven results of promotional products, we need your winning case studies.
    • Get in touch with Kim Todora today to learn how to include your case studies in the #GetInTouch campaign.
  • Keep on the lookout for information on the #GetInTouch campaign.
  • Share your thoughts and ideas for enhancing the campaign with Kim and me and the planning team.

Thank You
Our ability to clearly articulate the power and compelling value of promotional products and 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 #GetInTouch campaign at the national level and will create the tools you need to get involved and engaged with your customers and prospects. I thank you in advance for your support and participation.

Sincerely,

Paul

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.

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.

High-Res JPG - 1095_165C_LA_161248_Low_Rider_Page_FN_DOM

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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