Pop-in Sales Calls; Plastic Bag Bans
Managing Multiple Big Projects; Most Difficult Things for Salespeople; Best Rock Debut Album and more. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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sponsored by Next Level Apparel

Industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of brandivate discuss a variety of hot­-button industry topics in this weekly “talk show” column brought to you by Bay State Specialty. Click on the graphic to hear their “UnScripted” conversation.

Network Your Way to New Business
Danette Gossett, From Good to Great
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sponsored by Prime Line

I’ve always thought of myself as a good networker. I try to make sure I meet new people at most events I attend but sometimes I feel like I’m intruding when it’s a new group.

I attended a conference recently with a new group of people where I only knew one or two other attendees. And I hate to be that person that attaches myself to that one person I know and make them do all the work of introducing me around.

Networking Mentor

However, on the hotel elevator the first morning I met a gentleman heading to the same conference (we were both wearing our badges). He introduced himself and indicated he had been coming for years. He ran into someone he knew as we headed to the breakfast, but he made a point to catch back up to me and said, “I’d be happy to mentor you these next couple of days, introduce you around and such.”

It was such a nice gesture and a relief. I now had someone I could ask questions of and get introduced around. It made me feel very welcomed and at home. We sat together at the breakfast and first session. After that, I would run into him at breaks and cocktail receptions. It was great seeing his friendly face. It’s something I plan to adopt. What a great way to expand my network by basically being the welcoming committee!

New Business Opportunities Abound

At the same conference a group of us had a discussion about how we get new business and I mentioned my involvement at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. I’ve been involved with a numbers of chambers over the last 25 years and I have always found them to be a great resource for new business. Most of my long-term clients came through chamber introductions.

I was surprised that many people felt that chambers were a waste of time. They talked about all the real estate and insurance agents always trying to sell them something. Granted those types of businesses are involved, but I also know that they are a good resource for introductions to their clients for my business development.

Warm Calls versus Cold Calls

If you aren’t currently a member of a chamber of commerce, I recommend you give it another chance. Maybe try it differently this time. I am very involved at the chamber and have been the chair of a number of committees. As such I have met people from a wide variety of business industries. And I can say that right now my prospect list is filled with about 80 percent chamber members. And they already know me and have indicated they are open to meeting and being introduced further to my company and our capabilities. It’s such a nice warm call which I prefer over cold calling any day.

sponsored by Webb Company

At another recent conference they actually had a welcome breakfast that forced you to meet new people. They had table numbers on your name badge and there was a “mediator” at each table. It was really just one of “us” who had volunteered to host the table. They made sure we introduced ourselves, traded cards and we each gave a brief introduction. As it turned out, the conference had tried to make sure that the tables included all business industries with minimal overlap. I am sure it was a lot of work for the organization but as an attendee I thought it was a great way to mix up the group and make sure new connections were made.

As I mentioned, I really prefer a warm new business call versus a cold one and found that these types of events help me to do that.

Being a Member is More than Just Showing Up

It takes work to be part of organizations. I’ve always said that most organizations are like a gym membership, if you don’t put anything into it you will look the same a year from now. Just showing up once in a while and thinking I’ll get business is unrealistic. No matter how “digital” we become, people still want to do business with people they know and trust.

Working side by side for a cause, function or program is a great way for people to see that you are the type of person they would want to do business with.

I try to attend at least one networking event a week. I do think that’s why I have such an active and long prospect list. It does take time but in the long run I have found my involvement to be well worthwhile.

I spend about $4,000 per year between my membership and the events I attend at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Last year I picked up five new clients that spent well over $100,000! A great return on my investment (time and money). And it’s not only for new business because many of my clients are at the same events and typically remember a project they have been meaning to call me about. So I pick up new projects as well!

If the chamber of commerce in your area truly isn’t working for you, then I highly recommend finding other organizations you can get involved with and start networking your way to new clients!

Danette Gossett is the founder of Gossett Marketing, co-founder of Promotions Rescource LLC and co-author of the best-selling book "Transform" with Brian Tracy. Danette utilizes her more than 30 years of advertising agency and corporate marketing experience to develop effective promotional campaigns and products for her clients. Visit GossettMktg.com or SalesPromo.org and follow us on twitter @MarketngTidbits.

In the News
Source Abroad by Prime Adds 15 New Items, Video; Hasseman Releases Updated Book Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by Bay State

Source Abroad by Prime Adds 15 New Items to Direct Import Line

Source Abroad by Prime, the overseas and custom sourcing division of Prime Line, has added 15 new items to its direct import line and launched a new, fully animated capabilities video.

The new video, entitled Source Abroad by Prime, was produced with distributors and end-buyers in mind. It demonstrates from start to finish the process involved with creating a custom water bottle and explains the custom and overseas sourcing services available from Source Abroad®. “It’s a big story to tell and we felt that a fully animated three-minute video would be far more interesting and entertaining than other formats,” said David Fiderer, Prime’s director of marketing and producer of the video.

“We believe this video will be especially helpful to distributors working with a large company that does overseas programs, is looking for competitive pricing, is able to plan orders in advance, values compliance and is looking for the ideas and creative services we bring to the table,” said Andrew Brodey, VP of Global Sourcing for Source Abroad by Prime.

“Source Abroad® offers distributors tremendous flexibility as it can deliver factory direct pricing on a large order of a stock Prime or Jetline item, or it can modify an existing product or it can create a one-of-a-kind item from scratch,” said Jeff Lederer, CEO of Prime Line. “We also offer price engineering where we use less expensive materials to replicate an existing item in order to meet a specific price point.”

Source Abroad’s direct import line is comprised of hundreds of pre-sourced items that are ready to order. The new items are featured in the 2017 Source Abroad digital catalog.

Hasseman Releases Updated Book

Industry educator, distributor and Identity Marketing columnist Kirby Hasseman announced that he has released an updated version of his popular book, Delivering Marketing Joy: Using Promo To Grow Your Business The Right Way.

“We have updated the cover, look, and feel (of the book) and have added some new material as well,” Hasseman points out. “We have even added an audiobook. I am really excited as I hope this will help it reach a new audience. For those that don’t know, this book is written for the end user… but we have received a lot of feedback saying this is great for those newer to the industry.

BIC Graphic Receives PPPC Awards

BIC Graphic announced that it received two awards at the PPPC National Convention on February 12, 2017.

The Canada! 150 Years Calendar was awarded a Silver in the Most Creative New Promotional Product category. Mark Wingrove, National Sales & Marketing Manager for Canada, was on hand to receive the award.
Stephanie Bouchez, Inside Sales Canada, was selected as a 2016 PPPC Momentum Award Recipient. The Momentum Award recognizes the industry’s dynamic leaders who are continuously challenging and improving conventional methods, leading the way for the promotional product industry into the future.

New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff, New Products
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sponsored by Blue Generation

The Original Smart™ Fan LED from Global Tech Branding Group is now available with up to four custom illuminated messages in bright LEDs. The patent pending proprietary design works with iOS or Android (OTG) and has low power consumption. Choose from six LED colors.

Compass Promos has introduced Magellan Cedar Creek Sunglasses. These offer classic looks along with the style and performance of sunglasses costing three times as much. Designed for men and women, the glasses combine the best of performance with versatile style. They are packaged in ultra microfiber drawstring pouches and feature solid gray polarized lenses and a contoured fit.


Hanes
brands has launched its new X-Temp® Tri-blend T-shirts with FreshIQ™, which merges the best of lifestyle apparel and activewear without compromising on either. This new fashion T brings the great heathered look of a tri-blend combined with the cooling, wicking X-Temp™ technology and the advanced odor protection of FreshIQ™ technology. The textured 60/30/10 poly/cotton/rayon blend T-shirt, is available in styles for both men and women. FreshIQ advanced odor protection technology targets odor-causing bacteria thereby reducing unpleasant odors from clothing.

The Twist X™ Banner System from Above All Advertising provides an ideal opportunity to advertise the sponsor's brand name by printing their logo onto the fabric in their corporate colors. These banners display your brand name or logo clearly, so they are easy to read-letting your customers know that your business is open, show what products you carry and relate your message so it is clean and easy to read. Custom Indoor/Outdoor banner system are a great way to attract people to your business or direct customers to your products. Whether you're part of a small shop or a large organization, every business needs to get their name out there and draw in new customers. Above All Advertising, Inc's In-ground Twist X™ Banner System is a great solution as an outdoor banner display for maximum impact and visibility.


Need an answer to a pressing question, just roll the die – or the DieCision Maker from Alpi Internatonal. Five of the sides these dice offer answers, and one side is a wonderful imprint area. Perfect for relieving stress and tension associated with everything from work related issues to laying it all on the table. For home, work and travel, promotional trade show giveaways and so much more. Products are not intended for use by children or pets.


Attractive, high quality vinyl pad folders from Marlo Plastics are terrific for seminars, meetings, training sessions or promotions. Made of 12 gauge vinyl and features a 100 pt. board that won't let it bend and includes a lined pad. The left inside flap has a pocket for loose papers and a business card pocket. Choose from more than 30 vinyl colors.

Make 50% on ALL Orders
Don Sanders, Drive-Ins
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sponsored by Howw

Don Sanders is a 25-year promotional products industry veteran. Since 1982 he has sold more than $25 million worth of imprinted items. He has won two PPAI Pyramid Awards and hosts the industry’s first sales training site, www.sellpromoproducts.com.

Up Close & Personal with Bobby Lehew of commonsku
Kirby Hasseman, Delivering Marketing Joy
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sponsored by ProRose

Kirby Hasseman is the owner of Hasseman Marketing and the author of Delivering Marketing Joy (a book about better promo!). He is dedicated to personal development and building the integrity of the promotional industry. Contact Kirby at Kirby@HassemanMarketing.com.

Weekly Poll Results
How many orders do you write a year? Identity Marketing Staff, Identity Research
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sponsored by Next Level Apparel

Product Safety a Burning Issue
Taking a class and doing nothing is not good enough. Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, Cliff's Notes
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sponsored by Prime Line

Barry Roberts is a good friend and a fellow speaker. Several years ago he stated the following in one of his keynote addresses: “Knowledge without action is useless.” I live by those words.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation given by PPAI's Tim Brown at a MiPPA Conference in Michigan. He discussed the very serious topic of product safety and how it relates to and affects our industry. PPAI is so serious about this matter it has mandated that suppliers who wish to advertise with them or exhibit at any of its shows, someone from the company must go through its four-hour product safety course. But, is that enough?

Last year I also attended the PPAI Product Safety Summit in Washington, D.C. and heard many speakers from across the country speak on various topics like child safety regulations, lithium batteries, electronics, state regulations, and more. It was quite an eye opener. And the regulations and restrictions can change from year to year. Are you in the loop?

As acting director of marketing for iPROMOTEu, I, along with my colleagues, realize that having and applying that knowledge does the following:
• Helps you protect your client’s brand.
• Helps protect your brand.
• Elevates your professionalism.
• Creates a significant point of differentiation between you and your competitors.
Like other companies, we have taken significant steps to get the word out and create educational platforms to understand all of the issues and ramifications.

Case in point: A friend of mine was approached by his top client, and when I say top, I mean huge who had requested he acquire some power banks my friend deemed unsafe because the supplier in question hadn’t had proper testing done on them, so he initially refused to order the product. From the client’s perspective, it was a matter of cost; from his perspective it was a matter of brand protection. Eventually my friend agreed to package the product with the other items they were kitting.

When the power banks arrived, they were placed in his warehouse and a few hours later they caught fire. The building was evacuated, the problem resolved, the damage was minimal and no one was hurt. Imagine if those products had landed on the client’s desk and that had happened – what a mess. Lesson learned. My friend now refuses to take inferior product in and repackage it.

sponsored by Webb Company

There are some amazing suppliers in our industry, many of which are doing the right thing by acting on what they have learned. One supplier actually lists all of its testing documentation listed on its website. You needn’t guess or beg for the information; it’s right there, keeping you informed and helping you maintain the highest level of professionalism. There are others, too!

In addition to electronics, there can be concerns with apparel, particularly when it comes to youth garments. Federal law that states every youth garment must have a “printed” tracking label on the garment. It can be incorporated in the design or printed somewhere else of the product, but it must be there. Too many of my friends will contact me saying, “my screen printer says you don’t need this” or “my printer doesn’t know what you’re talking about.”

However, lack of knowledge doesn’t give one a hall pass not to do what is required. Some decorators take the matter very seriously. One marketing company told me her go-to printer has a complete separate area strictly for printing youth apparel – nothing else. Additionally, this decorator provides complete testing documentation of all inks, solvents and chemicals used in his operation to those who request it. Moving forward it’s becoming more and more of an issue.

I strongly urge you to take the time to educate yourself on this information. A great start would be navigate PPAI’s website at http://www.ppai.org/inside-ppai/corporate-responsibility/product-responsibility/product-safety-aware/. View the educational offerings and become Product Safety Aware. Take that knowledge, put it into action, doing so will elevate your brand, help protect your clients brand and create a significant point of differentiation for you among your competition.

Until next month, continued good selling!

For more than 30 years, Cliff has been speaking, training and consulting internationally to associations and national business groups on more effective ways to market themselves, their products and services, as well as motivating their personnel. Recognized by PPAI for his creativity, he has won the prestigious PPAI Pyramid award 25 times, and the Printing Industry's PSDA’s Peak Award for creativity five times in three years. He has also received PPAI's Ambassador Speaker of the Year Award six consecutive years and was the inaugural recipient of PPAI's Distinguished Service Award. Named one of top six industry speakers and trainers, he also was recognized by PPAI in the book, "PPAI at 100," as having a significant influence in education. He has also been recognized by Counselor Magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in the Promotional Products Industry. You can engage with Cliff at http://www.myengagepage2.com/cliffquicksell.

Eat, Drink and Be Profitable
Identity Marketing Staff, Product Feature
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sponsored by Bay State

Whether it's outfitting or equipping the staff, enhancing an establishment's brand or providing patrons with a take-home reminder of their experience, industry suppliers offer a plethora of products that are geared to bars and restaurants. And with a growing niche for microbrews, wine tastings and similar events, the market is ripe for distributors. With that in mind, here is a 12-pack of products to help put you on the path to profits in this lucrative and expanding market segment.



These medium weight matte pulpboard bar coasters from Admatch are sharp, classy and unforgettable.
You won't get caught in the dark with this bottle opener from Bay State. Great advertising sure to light up and be the life of the party. Push button key chain for constant light source.


The 16-oz pubWARE® pint from BIC Graphic, the “Standard Mixing Glass” found in restaurants and pubs around the world, will not crack, cloud or discolor. Made to look like glass, but more durable, it is impact-resistant, keeps beverages colder longer with double-wall insulation and produces less condensation than glass.

Blue Generation’s DuPont™ TEFLON® fabric protected bistro vests, aprons and tie, as well as its Superblend™ poplin shirts, are made to withstand all the spills and stains of a busy bar or dining room. The colorful collection of wait staff wear is durable and stylish.

This functional beer-tasting set from Calibre is designed and engineered for professional bars, brewpubs and breweries. So grab some wild brews, some good friends, and go about the business of becoming your friendly neighborhood beer expert. Includes four, perfectly sized 6-ounce mini pilsner sampler and a 17” paddle. Glasses are dishwasher safe, wood paddle, hand wash only.

Carolina Made carries Q-Tees waist aprons with pockets. It features 55/45 cotton/poly, 7.5 oz., waist side ties and three-section front pouch pocket. Size: 24”W x 12”H. Eight colors.


The Dickies Women’s Relaxed Straight Server Cargo Pant is the ideal utility pant for waitstaff. Wrinkle-resistant for a professional look. StayDark™ technology ensures superior color fastness wash after wash, and easy care stain release make this pant perfect for combatting food spills and greasy messes. Includes built-in storage solutions for busy servers on the go, with an extra pocket to hold an order memo book, a reinforced key loop and a double pen clip. Available in black, desert sand and navy.
Classic wine opener from Evans Manufacturing features a chrome plated metal body with stainless steel accents. It has a stainless steel corkscrew and double hinge lever, and a serrated foil cutter.
Take home your favorite draught from your local brewery, pub or liquor store with the On-The-Go Growler from J. Charles. This half-gallon container is made of amber glass that protects your brew from harmful UV rays keeping your beer fresher, longer. A gift sure to be appreciated by the beer connoisseur.

Perfect for outdoor events, drink promotions, festivals and souvenirs, the "TuffCup" from ProRose is offered in three U.S.-made fluted designs: 14- and 20-oz. as well as a 3.5-oz Taster size. The feature a textured surface for a comfortable feel and better grip. Flexible, stackable, food grade, BPA free and top-shelf dishwasher safe, TuffCups are great for everyday use at home, around the pool, on a boat, special events, in a bar or restaurant or anywhere a rugged durable cup is needed.
This reusable insulated carrier from PWS accommodates single bottles of various shapes and sizes. What an excellent opportunity to promote your brand on a product wine lovers are sure to love and remember! Made from 80 GSM non-woven polypropylene with thermal insulation, zipper closure, front pocket and wrist handle for secure carry comfort! Perfect for wine, liquor stores, giveaways and more.
This flat bar bottle opener with spout remover from Webb Company allows easy removal of bottle spouts and is great for any home or commercial bartender! Decorate this item with screen printing or laser engraving.
sponsored by Blue Generation

sponsored by Howw

Content Marketing: What Works, What Doesn't?
Content creation struggles; Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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sponsored by ProRose

Industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of brandivate discuss a variety of hot­-button industry topics in this weekly “talk show” column brought to you by Bay State Specialty. Click on the graphic to hear their “UnScripted” conversation.

New from Industry Suppliers
Identity Marketing Staff, New Products
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sponsored by Next Level Apparel

The classic baseball T with raglan 3/4 sleeves from Bella+Canvas takes on a fresh update with a super soft blends of combed and ring-spun cotton, modern fit, three-quarter contrast raglan sleeves and crew neck with contrast trim. One of our bestsellers, this 3/4 sleeve blank baseball tee has a tight-knit surface and is great for printing on. This T-shirt comes in a variety of cool color combinations.

New TuffCup Fluted Wall Cups from ProRose are U.S.-made and available in three sizes: 14-oz., 20-oz. and a 3.5-oz. Taster cup size. They feature a textured surface for a comfortable feel and better grip. Flexible, stackable, food grade, BPA free and top-shelf dishwasher safe, TuffCups are great for everyday use at home, around the pool, on a boat, special events, in a bar or restaurant or anywhere a rugged, durable cup is needed. They are available in translucent, white, red or blue.

The 27-oz. Impulse Series Tumblers from Glass America features double wall stainless steel construction with copper vacuum insulation. It has a twist-on, color coordinated thumb slide lid and includes a straw for use with cold beverages. It is offered in a choice of four colors.


New Cape Cod from Southern Plus is as big as it is functional. The rustic elegance of this oversize tote is anchored by the weathered grey stripes and the heavy-duty 14-oz. natural cotton canvas. The thick, twisted cotton rope handles and silver grommets complete the relaxed look. Features an inside open pocket and magnetic closure.


Warwick Publishing's custom printed pillow boxes (sometimes called pillow packs) are a great way to build your company's presence. Printed in full color on the front, back, and flaps, these custom pillow boxes are large enough for gifts likes ties and soap, or add some tissue paper for smaller gifts like jewelry, pens, or knickknacks.

In the News
Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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sponsored by Prime Line

Prime Line Expands Jetline SC Facility

Prime Line has significantly expanded its Jetline South Carolina facility to keep up with an increasing demand for free 24-hour rush service on apparel and drinkware. The expansion was celebrated yesterday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the plant attended by employees, distributors and members of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

The expansion amounts to an additional manufacturing and warehouse space and includes upgrades to its screen printing, embroidery and multicolor drinkware areas. In 2017, Prime added apparel brands Bella+Canvas, Fruit of the Loom, Jerzees and Hanes to its Jetline product line to go along with existing brands Gildan and Next Level.

“With the addition of these popular apparel brands combined with free 24-hour rush service and streamlined single invoicing for apparel, Prime continues to be a true one stop shop for distributors,” said Jeff Lederer, CEO of Prime Line. “At the January industry trade shows, distributors were pleasantly surprised to see our expanded apparel line and learn that we will decorate as few as 12 shirts and ship within 24 hours.”

“Prime’s acquisition of Jetline has been good for distributors and the industry because we are now able to offer more products and services like three-day embroidery,” explained Lederer. “With Jetline servicing the southeast with 24-hour production and one day ground shipping, distributors are saving money and getting their orders faster.”

Apparel is included in both the 2017 Jetline and Prime Line® annual catalogs. To browse the 2017 Jetline catalog, click here; to browse the 2017 Prime catalog, click here.

PPEF 2017 Scholarship Period Now Open; Awards Increasing to $175,000

Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF; www.ppef.us) is pleased to announce that the 2017 PPEF scholarship program is now taking applications for the 2017-2018 school year with $175,000 in scholarships available. Since its inception in 1989, PPEF has awarded approximately $1.5 million in financial assistance growing by 75 percent since 2013.

sponsored by Webb Company

In 2016 the PPEF Tomorrow Fund multi-year pledges grew by $88,000 with the support of Prime Resources Corporation, The Legacy Group, The Vernon Company, Carolinas Association of Advertising & Marketing Professionals, Budgetcard, Inc., Chris Lovell, Dana Floyd, and Lori Bauer.

“We are grateful to PPEF donors for their generosity and excited to award even more scholarships this year,” said Sara Besly, PPEF Manager. “The PPEF Board is thrilled to grow its support of educational opportunities for promotional products industry professionals and their children.”

The 2017-2018 scholarship application period is now open and the submission deadline is Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Academic scholarships offered:

• Four-year scholarship – ($8,000, awarded $2,000 per year; need-based)

• Four-year merit scholarship – ($4,000, awarded $1,000 annually for four years)
• Chairman’s scholarship – ($5,000, awarded $2,500 annually for Junior and Senior years)
• One-year scholarship – ($2,000; need-based, nonrenewable)
• One-year merit scholarship – ($1,000, nonrenewable)
• Friends of PPMN scholarship – ($1,000, nonrenewable for industry employees only)

Application forms and guidelines are available at www.ppef.us. Application information can also be obtained by contacting Sara Besly at SaraB@ppai.org. Applications must be submitted by March 15, 2017. Winners of the scholarships will be announced in May. Donations can be mailed to PPEF, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, TX 75038.

Admints & Zagabor Receives QCA Accreditation
Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional product industry’s only independent, non-governmental accreditation organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe products, has awarded QCA Accreditation to Bellmawr, NJ-based Admints & Zagabor, a division of Hit Promotional Products. The company is a U.S. manufacturer of candy, mints, food gifts, and personal care items such as lip balm and hand sanitizer – all made in strict adherence to FDA and Kosher guidelines.

sponsored by Bay State

“Achieving QCA Accreditation has been challenging, as we’ve had a busy year integrating with HIT Promotional Products and managing our continued growth within the industry. Yet our team was able to upgrade our systems and implement many operational improvements while reinvesting in new technology, product offerings, inventory, and personnel,” said Brett Hersh, Admints & Zagabor president. “But the process has been extremely beneficial and rewarding. With so many different opinions and testing companies talking about product safety, quality assurance and social accountability, it became clear that achieving QCA Certification was the only way for us to meet the expectations of our customers and their end-user clients."

QCA Accredited companies endorse a self-certification, complete a rigorous self-assessment, and then submit their headquarters and their supply base to multiple third-party audits. The QCA board uses a scorecard representing the performance of the applicant and its supply chain on the third-party audits as the foundation for granting accreditation. For more information about QCA Accreditation and to inquire about the process and benefits received, email tbrown@qcalliance.org.

Chocolate Inn / Taylor & Grant Hire Ryan Schafman

Ryan Schafman has been hired as Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant's Midwest regional sales manager.

Schafman has over nine years of experience in the promotional product industry as a member of AIA Corporation, starting off as a member of its customer service team to eventually moving over to their Supplier Relations team for the past two years. With Chocolate Inn / Taylor & Grant Schafman will be responsible for working with distributors and prospects in MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, KY, ND, and SD along with other key national accounts for Chocolate Inn. “I am excited to join the Chocolate Inn team. Their reputation for innovation, product breadth, and adherence to quality and excellence is well known in the industry.”

Ryan can be reached at 516-351-4229 or by email Ryan.Schafman@chocolateinn.net.

More Clients, Less Time
Rosalie Marcus, Promo Biz Coach
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I know this strategy may scare some people, but trust me, if you give it a try the payoff can be enormous.
sponsored by Blue Generation

Having a hard time attracting new prospects to your promotional products business? Looking for a proven strategy that works far better than cold calls, will get you out of the office and in front of more ideal prospects - and will get people calling you instead of you calling them?

What is it? Public speaking! I know this strategy may scare some people, but trust me, if you give it a try the payoff can be enormous. I can tell you from experience, the more you speak, the more your sales will increase.

Why does this marketing strategy work so well? When you speak in front of a group, you’re remembered. Ideally, prospects get to know you, like you and trust you. You’ll also be perceived as an expert. People want to do business with experts.

Where can you speak? Chambers of Commerce, networking groups, local libraries and service clubs are frequently looking for speakers.

Here are nine proven and easy tips to attract business when you speak:

1) Have a catchy title. How to Promote Your Business is boring, but 5 Proven Ways Drive Traffic to Your Trade Show Booth is catchy and memorable. You get the idea.

2) Be part of a panel of speakers. If you’re just starting out, being part of a panel is a lot less intimidating than speaking to an audience alone. Look for related businesses that target a similar client to share the spotlight with, such as meeting planners, graphic designers, and trade show display companies.

3) Share stories. Sharing true stories of how you’ve helped your clients is so much easier than memorizing a speech. While you’re at it, unless you’re a graphics expert, ditch the PowerPoint. People will be a lot more interested in what you have to say rather than a bunch of boring slides.

4) Bring fun giveaways. Bring promotional items with your company logo and distribute them to the audience. It’s a great way to get people to remember you and see the value in what you do.

5) Get the audience engaged in your topic. Ask them to pull out a promotional item from their pocket, purse or briefcase. Give an award to the person who has the most logoed items with them. It will get everyone engaged in the topic, have fun, and drive your point home.

6) Practice, practice, practice. Practice what you’re going to say before you get out there. Consider joining a local Toastmasters group to brush up on your speaking skills.

7) Collect business cards from everyone in the audience. Have a drawing for a free gift at the end of your presentation. Make it a fun promotional product that someone would want to receive. Tech related items work great.

8) Have a call to action. Offer a free marketing check-up or free virtual samples to anyone that gets in touch with you in the next month. Tell your prospects that you will provide at least three new ideas for promoting their product and service when they meet with you.

9) Consider turning your live talk into an on-demand webinar. You can send it to clients and future prospects to view.

Follow these tips and you may never have to cold call again!

Rosalie Marcus, The Promo Biz Coach, is a promotional products business expert, coach and speaker. Combining her skills and years of experience in promotional sales, she helps her clients sell more at higher profit margins and dramatically increase their incomes. Download a FREE Special Report 10 Proven Ways to Thrive in Promotional Products Sales…In Any Economy at www.PromoBizCoach.com – Reach her at Rosalie@promobizcoach.com or 215-572-6766.

Four Marketing Pillars
Build a business as strong as the Parthenon. Ranked Higher, From the Business World
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Dating back to Ancient Greece and Egypt, monumental structures have relied on the strength of stone pillars, working together to support an immense amount of weight and pressure. Over the past 2,500 years, the Parthenon has been rocked by earthquakes, blown up by exploding gunpowder and suffered severe fire damage, yet it and its pillars still stand today.

sponsored by Howw

“The way we apply digital and online marketing to a business is no different,” says Scott Wilson, founder, and CEO of RankHigher.ca, a Burlington, Ont.-based digital marketing and SEO firm. “Every business should be built upon the same principle, using a plethora of marketing pillars to uphold the pressure of its success, and together produce significant results.”

Today, there continues to be a number of businesses that rely on a single pillar and Wilson calls this the ‘high diving board approach.’ If this one pillar comes crashing down, businesses can find themselves in a hard freefall to the ground. For example, if 10 years ago a business’s only pillar was the yellow page ad, they would have lost their only method of reaching new customers and growing their market share once consumers stopped opening the phone book for information.

Wilson explains there is a clear and significant risk to having just one or two pillars, which is why he recommends the Parthenon approach.

Four of the many marketing pillars businesses should use to build a solid foundation:

Search Engine Optimization: Earning top rankings in natural organic Google search is still one of the best ways to grow a business. When a consumer is searching for a product or service, cutting through the clutter of over 130 trillion web pages to appear among the first few results is crucial.

A great tip is to write 2,500 words of unique text, inserting your core keyword up to but no more than 19 times. The use of latent semantic language lets Google find relationships between those keywords and the ones in the search query. Consumer testimonials are also a great method to include keywords and improve your Google ranking.

• Search Engine Marketing: While it may take a while to earn Google’s trust through SEO, Search Engine Marketing can be turned on fairly quickly. With SEM, businesses pay to play, while maintaining full control of speed and budget. SEM allows for targeting of prospective customers through search engines such as Google and Bing.

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SEM is also a great way to do A/B testing on coupons and special offers to find the one that resonates with your perspective customers. Once a winner is established this can be used with SEO, social media or print media.

• Paid Social Media Ads: Social media advertising allows businesses to target customers based on location, demographic information and interests. This provides a far better ROI than traditional marketing because you have laser beam focus on your potential customer.

• YouTube: Having a branded YouTube channel for a business can be a powerful marketing pillar as many consumers go to YouTube to search information about a company, and to gain a better understanding of the product or service they offer by seeing it in action.

The most powerful YouTube videos explain the benefit of what the company offers, and the function of a specific product or service. These videos can be easily embedded to social channels or websites, and integrated with SEO and SEM for optimal results.

A YouTube video of customers telling the story of how a product or service helped them has proven to be a highly effective marketing method.

“These digital and online marketing pillars are meant to interrelate and support each other, just like the Parthenon,” adds Wilson. “Business owners and marketers must ensure each of these are given equal focus, attention and importance, and that they are working well, both independently as well as collaboratively.”

Based out of Burlington, Ontario, RankHigher.ca began in 2002 and has since built a team of 50 expert digital marketers, who drive business growth for their clients through the implementation of innovative, profit-driven solutions. Understanding a business' online opportunity, building mobile-friendly search-optimized websites, online advertising campaigns, social media marketing channels, online reputation and brand awareness, video production and more.

Stop Wasting Time, and Start Generating Content
Aubrey Collins, Creative Challenges
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Remember, content marketing doesn’t only mean blogging. There are dozens of ways you can put out content to drive meaningful conversation (and leads!).
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When you’ve determined that content marketing is of value to you and your company (costing 62 percent less than outbound marketing while generating three times as many leads, according to Content Marketing Institute, it is of value), it’s easy to feel like you should be doing more. And by more I mean all the things, all the time.

Then you suddenly find yourself already one month into the New Year with none of your content marketing goals met (not even the one where you, ahem, set some content marketing goals), it’s easy to get bogged down — and ultimately paralyze yourself— with all of the things you could be and should be doing.

But it is possible — and precisely because of content marketing’s value to your company, it’s also essential — to snap out of your frozen-in-fear state and start generating content.

Start small. (But be consistent.) Sometimes when you look at examples of great content marketing, it’s easy for overwhelm to set in. Every time I watch the original Dollar Shave Club commercial, I want to turn in my keyboard and hang up my thickly framed glasses. But you have to overthrow those thoughts of mediocrity. And the perfect way to keep them from having the power to undermine any of your content marketing efforts is to take small, consistent steps. Write a post. Share it. Measure its success. Repeat things that worked. Change up things that didn’t. You’ll build up your confidence as well your content simultaneously.

Figure out topics your audience cares about. But how are you going to figure out topics your audience cares about? Ask them. For suppliers, thanks to commonsku and industry Facebook groups, this work is easy. Join those groups, start engaging with members and get a feel for the pain points and things that keep customers and prospects up at night. Distributors, you might have to do a smidge of work to find exactly where your target audience hangs, but after a little digging, you could find yourself hitting the mother lode Reddit and Facebook group perfection, where your potential clients are seeking answers about the very things you can provide. A little work, and your content calendar can be queued up for the rest of the year.

Content marketing goes beyond copy. Remember, content marketing doesn’t only mean blogging. There are dozens of ways you can put out content to drive meaningful conversation (and leads!). Don’t forget about infographics, videos, podcasts, webinars… even memes. Anything that delivers valuable information and gets people talking (and sharing) counts as content marketing. Interview customers. Create new case studies. Share fun details about your employees. Embrace your inner child and have fun with it. If it’s drudge work, that’s likely going to come through in the finished product. It’s important to remember that while content is king, quality is the queen.

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There’s no need to go it alone. If you own your own business or have a very entrepreneurial spirit, you might have a very “do it yourself” mentality. But in most cases, your company’s content marketing efforts don’t have to be solely your responsibility. Create a content committee (or content champions!) and have various members of your team contribute. Seek out partners to write guest blogs for you (the very nature of the supplier/distributor relationship makes these partnerships a perfect match). If all else fails, hire some help, even on a part-time or per-project basis.

When your to do list feels endless and your calendar is overscheduled, it’s easy to push something like content marketing aside, especially if it’s an area you don’t feel exactly comfortable. All those days of putting it off add up, though, and the rest of the year is going to go as fast as this first month, so if you don’t make a point of prioritizing it, 2017 is going to be another year this goal slips through the cracks. If it’s important to you, get it on that overscheduled calendar of yours and start creating more of the content this industry desperately needs.

Aubrey Collins is the director of marketing and communications at MediaTree, a supplier of branded digital entertainment cards. She fell in love with the promotional products industry in 2011 at her first PPAI Expo. She shares her perspective on everything from the industry, what parenting continues to teach her about business, to what marketing campaigns make her cry on her blog. Connect with her on Twitter or email her atacollins@mediatreegroup.com.

Weekly Poll Results
President Trump's First Two Weeks Identity Marketing Staff, Identity Research
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You Don’t Care About Product Safety
Unless you can actually prove otherwise. Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector
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Consider taking another look at putting product safety in your bag... it might end up resulting in more sales and happier customers.
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In a $22 billion dollar industry, where 50 percent of the business is done by folks selling less than $250,000 a year, most industry professionals just can’t — or won’t — find the time to focus on product safety. From both the perspective of end-user client, and while in my role as executive director of the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance, I found starting a conversation on the topic of promotional product safety was never easy. While there are dedicated individuals who recognize that delivering safe product is not only a good way to do business, but also the right way to do business, they are relatively few and far between. Over the years, I realized a stark truth — you just can’t make people care.

It’s not for lack of trying. A couple of years back, PPAI created the Product Safety Aware Initiative. The initiative was designed to entice members to take an interest in demonstrating even a modicum of ‘commitment’ to product safety. To participate, a company simply designated an employee to serve as a Product Safety Ambassador for the organization, and he or she was then required to complete four hours of product safety education. As leverage designed to get companies to comply, PPAI announced that it wouldn’t allow a company to display on any show floor without the company achieving Product Safety Aware status.

While not the most robust of product safety solutions, I give much credit to PPAI for its effort, for recognizing a need, and for putting a program in place. I also realize that an organization like PPAI needs to serve all of its constituency, so it’s hamstrung when it comes to enforcing things of this nature. But, to be fair, when it comes to an issue that’s as important — to both brands and end-users — as product safety, one employee and just four hours of training is really the bare minimum. It’s particularly telling that the first time PPAI made it known that it would actually enforce the trade show participation requirement, they had to hold hastily scheduled classes in order to meet the demand of folks clamoring to get “qualified” upon actual arrival at the show site. One person, four hours. Deemed so unimportant that folks chose to ignore it — until they showed up at a trade show and found they couldn’t gain admittance. That’s really a pretty sad state of affairs, and provides an understanding of the almost complete disregard for product safety in the minds of so many in our industry.

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As I was thinking about this and working on this article, I thought I would crowdsource a question or two on product safety interest, so I posted in the Promotional Products Professionals group on Facebook. It’s a closed group, but boasts more than 4,000 members. My guess was that I would get very little response. It’s a group comprised primarily of smaller distributors, many of whom are just focused on getting through the challenges of sourcing product on a daily basis. But, while I set the expectation bar extremely low, I got even less response than I thought — just three members took the time to respond.

“I can see by the responses... well lack of responses, that the topic of product safety is just not that sexy. But you know that.” said Jeff Solomon, of FreePromoTips.com. Jeff also represents a national distributor for his product sales. “At The ASI Show Orlando, two suppliers who I know have invested in product safety did a presentation to a packed room of salespeople from my company. Interestingly, one person talked a bit about product safety, but never mentioned their investment to provide it. Product safety was not even mentioned by the other person. That’s not surprising really, but it puts a spotlight on the challenge to share this message. If the importance of delivering quality, safe products is not able to trickle down internally through suppliers, distributors will never get it.”

Johanna Gottlieb, senior branding specialist at Axis Promotions, capitalizes on the lack of talk about product safety in the field. “I absolutely feel the conversation gives us an advantage. It is a lot less sexy (after the fact) to be involved in a recall or with a job that does not pass product safety or compliance standards.” Shamini Peters, Axis’ director of imports and compliance, is a recognized professional in the industry, speaking frequently on industry panels, and an important asset to the organization as it relates to its investment in product safety. “The salespeople at Axis make sure to involve Shamini and her team early and often on many projects. Their team controls the importing processes, which allows us to manage jobs more smoothly. There is a big cradle of comfort for us, and for our clients, with their resources.”

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I also heard from a 30-year industry veteran who has represented a national distributor, but is now out on his own. He is well aware that the lack of safety conversation in the industry is a big advantage for his small distributorship. So much of a leg up that he didn’t want me to attribute his comments because he knows his competitors in California are watching him. “My QCA (Quality Certification Alliance suppliers) message, much to my surprise, is normally the first time the customer has heard about it and they know absolutely nothing about it. So, I give them a strong informed message, and by doing so differentiate myself from all the competition. I have yet to lose a deal when I include this in the presentation. Even in a low price bid situation this message is powerful, and I never understand why distributors don’t get on board and use it to the fullest advantage.”

I know that I beat the product safety drum on a regular basis, but I feel we are a little short of drumbeaters right now. I can promise you that your end-user clients, whether they express it or not, care deeply about product safety and keeping themselves and their families safe. I can also promise you that the brands that buy your promotional products for their customers and prospects care deeply about product safety, and about keeping their brands and brand reputations safe.

So, where are you on that front?

I urge you to consider taking another look at putting product safety in your bag, and making it part of the foundation upon which you build your business. If not because it’s the right thing to do, then maybe because it might end up resulting in more sales and happier customers. That’s something everyone should be able to get behind, isn’t it?

Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for more than 35 years, working in commercial television, Hollywood film and home video, publishing, and promotional brand merchandise. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He recently retired as executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant promotional products. Before that, he was director of brand merchandise for Michelin. As a recovering end-user client, he can’t help but continue to consult Fortune 500 consumer brands on promo product safety when asked. You can also find him working as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem, traveling the world with his lovely wife, or enjoying a cigar at his favorite local cigar shop. Follow Jeff on Twitter, or reach out to him at jacobs.jeffreyp@gmail.com.

Corporate Apparel: Premium Fabrics Driving Market
Sherry L. Baranek, Product Feature
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There are so many products and items in the promotional products industry that take their cue from the retail market, and corporate apparel is no exception to this rule. Companies are seeking out high-quality retail brands from distributors. These garments must be fashionable and fit well—anything less will not be worn and therefore not be worth purchasing. Promotional products suppliers are responding to current demand with an array of products like golf shirts, T-shirts, polos, athletic apparel, outerwear, hoodies, and even sweaters in a wide array of styles and colors.

According to Hilary Kleese at Rivers End Trading, the company is finding that more and more brand-conscious, growth-conscious companies are seeking out high-quality retail brands that are known by and meaningful to their end-users, like Columbia, Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, and others. “These brands are hot in the consumer marketplace, and our distributors say that they’re getting more requests for well-known, high-quality brands from their business customers,” she emphasizes. “It is apparent that what’s driving this trend is an increased understanding by businesses that it’s not just about cost. It’s about return on investment. A cheap, unknown polo or fleece jacket isn’t really much of a deal if it never gets worn—or worse—gets tossed or shoved to the back of the closet before it gets used at all.” She adds that the distributors that Rivers End works with and their customers are becoming increasingly savvy about giving quality items that will be appreciated and used by the employees and customers who receive them.

This trend toward high quality is also seen in the application of company logos, Kleese continues. “There is a subtle, higher-end application of the company logo, whether its on the shirt cuff, on the sleeve or in a subtle pocket location,” she explains. “Customers often want to use tonal thread for a high-quality look that makes a statement while remaining sophisticated. In the case of athletic gear, unique decoration techniques like sublimation or heat transfer using unique materials like 3M Reflective material or glitter material is becoming increasingly popular. Brands want to stand out without being gaudy, and that’s what we help them do.”

Rick Phillips of aphabroder can also speak to trends in the athletic apparel market when it comes to corporate wear. “Performance and innovation is definitely the dominant trend in the promotional market right now,” he affirms. “At first, this trend was driven purely from the popularity of the athletic apparel industry, and the looks that were being produced were clearly active-influenced in terms of design and styling—with lots of color blocks, contrast stitching, contrast zippers, and other dramatic looks in the same vein

“However, now these same principles in performance are being adopted in more corporate-type looks,” he continues. “Fabrics with innovative weaves and finishes (stain repellant, no-iron, moisture wicking, etc.) are being engineered into classically-styled polos, woven shirts and even layering pieces.” This shows that even if the customer is a traditional corporate-minded individual, they still want the latest technology that’s driving the apparel industry, Phillips adds.

At Next Level Apparel, Mark Seymour agrees that better-made products with premium fabrics and fits are hot in the corporate market. “If you take the time to decorate, you must use a product that will be worn and loved,” he urges. “The corporate market has embraced the Next Level Apparel vision for color, comfort, and fit. This is the best start to the year ever and the last quarter was also strong.”

Sweaters are the top promotional corporate apparel product at Edwards Garment Company. Taraynn Lloyd notes that sweaters are worn throughout the year regardless the weather. “Event coordinators are looking for alternatives to a woven shirt or a polo as part of their corporate apparel program,” she says. “Sweaters provide another layer that is functional and fashionable. They can be worn casually or dressed with accessories like neckwear. Demand remains strong for sweaters in all yarn types including cottons, cotton blends, and acrylics.”

Promotional products suppliers are rolling out high quality corporate items in response to demand. Next Level Apparel has added two new ideal women’s styles—a dolman and a contrast racerback, as well as five new new styles in a garment dyed collection that Phillips reports are super soft in a retro pastel color pallet. “The other hot trend is our new mid-weight fleece collection,” he comments. “Hoodies and crews in fabrics that crossover from T-shirt weight to fleece silhouettes.”

Rivers End Trading has seen an increase in demand for well-known consumer brands like Columbia and Brooks Brothers, in addition to the company’s own Page & Tuttle brand of golf shirts, layering pieces and outerwear. “Our customers have found that they can get the same technology of high-end golf apparel at an unbeatable value,” Kleese says. “We’ve introduced new colors, a broader range of styles and new fashion collections in Page & Tuttle, and in sizes for everyone from S-4XL and for both men and women. Our customers have told us this has made it possible to find entire event packages or staffing programs for the whole team in one spot. And our quick-turn, in-house decoration means time and cost savings for our customers, which they appreciate.”

Last fall, alphabroder launched a layer piece companion to its one-quarter zip style in the DRYTEC20 polo family. Phillips notes that the DG479 and DG479W were created with the same great DRYTEC20 fabric technology with EZ Cool wicking, as well as no-shrink, no-fade, no-pill and no-wrinkle performance its customers have come to expect from a DRYTEC20 product. “Made from incredibly soft, 100 percent cotton interlock, these one-quarter zips are a must-have for any DRYTEC20 fan, or just a fan of natural cottons in general,” he adds.

Quarter-zip polos in an array of styles and colors have also been added to Vantage Apparel’s corporate line. A number of jackets and polos are also new for 2017. Moss and aquamarine have been added to traditional color offerings of black, white, gray, and navy. Quarter-zip sweaters are also hot ticket items at Dunbrooke, in addition to pique and jersey polos and outerwear. At Blue Generation, red, plum and heathered red are among the new colors added to the company’s offerings, which include pullovers, colorblock polos, and athletic Ts.

Best sellers at Edwards Garment Company include the ladies’ open cardigan sweater as well as more traditional styles in the cotton blended fabric. Lloyd adds that cotton blend sweaters remain in high demand because of their versatility and color array. Men’s and women’s crewneck and V-neck cardigans, sweater vests, and pullovers have also been added to Dress Code Sweaters’ 2017 offerings.

Recommending corporate apparel to customers is a matter of taking the initiative, notes Rivers End Trading’s Kleese. “When offering higher quality brands with a higher price tag for customers, the distributor customers we’ve seen be the most successful are those who proactively suggest solutions, rather than simply waiting for customers to ask for a brand,” she elaborates. “The company won’t know you have it until you suggest it. You never know when a well-known consumer brand is on their mind until you let them know you can get it for them. Business customers are more time-starved than ever, so serving up new ideas and solutions make savvy salespeople trusted partners.”

Lloyd at Edwards Garment Company recommends including a sweater when creating a presentation flyer for a client. “They may not select it immediately, but you’ve made a suggestion that no one else has and your client is always looking for something special for their events,” she states.

A sample in the customer’s hand—or better yet—as an addition to their wardrobe is the key to selling corporate apparel, Next Level Apparel Seymour asserts. “They will experience the superior aspects and demand these products for their project. The retention and repeat business is also impressive when their customer’s appetite for better-made products is engaged.”

From Music City: Super Bowl Recap; Team Loyalty; Commercials
In case you missed it, here's a re-broadcast of Bill and Kirby's live podcast from Nashville, which originally aired on Monday. Kirby Hasseman, Bill Petrie, UnScripted
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Industry educators Kirby Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing and Bill Petrie of brandivate discuss a variety of hot­-button industry topics in this weekly “talk show” column brought to you by Bay State Specialty. Click on the graphic to hear their “UnScripted” conversation.

In the News
Gildan Completes American Apparel Acquisition Identity Marketing Staff, Business News
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Gildan Completes Acquisition of American Apparel

Gildan Activewear Inc. announced that it has completed the acquisition of the American Apparel brand and certain assets from American Apparel, LLC, (American Apparel). On January 10, 2017, Gildan emerged as the winner in the court supervised auction to acquire the American Apparel® brand and certain assets, subject to approval by the bankruptcy court and other customary closing conditions.

Halo Acquires Michael C. Fina Recognition

HALO Branded Solutions announced the acquisition of Michael C. Fina Recognition, a third-generation leader in the recognition and incentives industry based in New York.

Marc Simon, HALO CEO, noted, "Michael C. Fina Recognition is one of the most reputable recognition companies globally, maintaining an experienced and success-driven management team. We plan to build the Michael C. Fina Recognition business through synergy - offering technology-driven employee recognition and incentive solutions to HALO clients through our account executives, and providing Michael C. Fina Recognition clients with competitive and creative promotional solutions."

HALO will maintain Michael C. Fina Recognition's New York office, administrative center and management team, including members of the Fina family. Simon concluded, "We are thrilled to partner with Michael C. Fina Recognition and utilize their expertise to help our clients offer their employees memorable experiences for their workplace achievements and milestones. We are confident we can grow both the employee incentive and recognition business and the promotional business by leveraging long-standing relationships with many of the top global brands."

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