Tag Archives: swag

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.

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

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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

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 | 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!

~~~~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry Transformation & A Time To Pivot

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

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

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

Enjoy the read.

Paul


2016’s Guiding Trend in Promotional Products

Has Nothing to do With Products

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

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

PopSocketSlingback2

Products for Mobile: Pop Socket & Slingback

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

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

BoundlessFacebook

LogoIncludedApp

Source: @LogoIncluded Twitter Account

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

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

Seth Godin Session

Seth Godin’s Opening Keynote at The PPAI Expo

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

TweetsPPAI

Tweets from PPAI 2016

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

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

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

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

StephBio

Have you met The Party Animal?

‘Product Persona’ co-op advertising campaign gives voice and personality to promotional products and is designed to inspire and engage buyers.

‘Product Persona’ co-op advertising campaign gives voice and personality to promotional products and is designed to inspire and engage buyers.

Have you met The Party Animal? He and his friends are ready to celebrate with you during Promotional Products Work! Week, May 18-22.

Download him and his friends today, and Party On!

The #PPWWeek campaign creates opportunities for the promotional products industry to open doors, build relationships, serve communities, advocate for the industry, speak up in the halls of government, show customer appreciation, and generates millions of impressions through outreach and earned media exposure—and now advertising.

The new ‘Product Persona’ co-op advertising campaign gives voice and personality to promotional products and is designed to inspire and engage buyers while forging connections with promotional products consultants. The campaign’s ads star popular promotional products and will increase awareness, educate buyers and drive business.

Promotional Products Work! Week - May 18-22, 2015Launched by PPAI in 2013, #PPWWeek is an international week-long event aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of promotional products advertising and marketing. This year the theme is Focus On The Buyer—advertisers, marketers and media buyers.

Product Persona campaign’s ads star popular promotional products and will increase awareness, educate buyers.

Product Persona campaign’s ads star popular promotional products and will increase awareness, educate buyers.

Click to download the tips, tools and co-op ad package:

For more information or questions email PPW@ppai.org

We’ve made it easier than ever.

Join us for the celebration.

Paul

SHRM Show Amusements

Guest post by Kathy Goodin-Mitchell, SPHR, PPAI Director, Human Resources

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) hosted more than 13,000 human resources professionals during its annual conference in Orlando, Florida last month. This year’s hot topics included human resources strategy and leadership, healthcare reform, workplace flexibility, national and California-specific employment regulation, social media recruiting; and much more.

HR professionals are one of the top users of promotional products within today’s business enterprise. A variety of promotional products are used as engagement tools for employee relations, training and education, wellness, motivation and incentives programs. And at this year’s SHRM Conference, promotional products were featured front and center—before, during and after the event. Here are a few of the stand out observations from this year’s SHRM event.

SHRM Best Of

The best use of promotional products was by CareerBuilder®, the largest online job site in the U.S. and a global leader in human capital solutions, which employed an integrated approach using experiential, direct marketing, digital, social, multimedia and promotional products to create the ultimate tradeshow environment, CareerBuilder World: Where recruiting dreams come true.

The CareerBuilder exhibit brought a magical amusement park experience to the thousands of SHRM attendees and featured everything you love about amusement parks – a claw game, a water gun game, a roller coaster photo op, a souvenir (promotional products) shop, traditional amusement park food and more to get visitors attention and keep it.

The engagement experience began before attendees arrived in the form of a paper lollipop mailed to homes, teasing a chance to win a pair of orange Chuck Taylor Converse when the prize code was scanned at the CareerBuilder booth. Regretfully, this attendee didn’t win!

It’s ok, though—the paper lollipops were quickly exchanged for the real thing, which had another promotional message. The booth was set up like an amusement park—we were a captive audience and many of us went back again and again.

Honorable Mentions

  • The must-have conference product was the brightly colored and well designed 4imprint® tote bag, a big winner with the female attendees, who made up 75 percent of the conference attendees.
  • The best use of a branded premium product was by the relocation firm who gave out GUND® plush toys.
  • There were lots of imprinted pens, bags, books, lens cleaners, mints, markers, first-aid kits, tech tools and munchies. Many were customized to highlight company brands, like the Papa John’s Pizza sticky notes.
  • VitalSmarts® had a great idea to distribute its New York Times bestselling books.
  • RecruitMilitary® distributed useful jump drives in the shape of a key, but missed an opportunity to share more information by leaving the drive blank.
  • Many mailed collateral to attendees’ homes prior to the event, but those that did not include a prize or gift incentive did not perform as well.

The parting themes for SHRM 2014…get engaged and be engaging!