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  • June 20, 2022 11:52 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    In this series on shops, we’re creating a mini-guide to help you sell more through shops, from spotting new shop opportunities to growing your existing shops’ sales! 

    One thing we often get wrong about selling shops to clients: it’s not about the sourcing, the technology, the logistics, the scale: it’s about inspiring a brand experience. A client wants a shop because they want the shop to do something for the brand, they want to: 

    • Create brand affinity

    • Build brand champions 

    • Launch a brand refresh 

    • Strengthen a brand’s identity 

    • Enhance a brand’s value 

    • Amplify the brand voice

    That’s why they buy a shop.

    What they buy is the ability to scale the brand experience through a 1-to-1 medium (branded merch). What they also buy is a simplified process (the tech), outsourcing to (you) the experts, and democratizing the brand impact to every single person in their network. 

    In other words, the sourcing, the technology, and the products are the table stakes. Don’t get me wrong, you must be really good at sourcing, technology, and product, but those are bare minimum expectations. “Understanding the why in the buy” is the most important part of creating an effective shop and it’s also the secret to opening up new shop opportunities.  

    And often, we’re working so hard in our business, we rarely step back to work on our business: Here is a simple 7-step exercise that will allow you to pause, reflect, and quickly assess the best shop opportunities in your client portfolio: 

    1. List your clients by order of annual revenue. List these in descending order with your largest clients at the top and your smaller clients at the bottom. 

    2. Highlight those clients that you currently do not have a shop with. 

    3. Put an asterisk next to the clients with the greatest potential. In other words, they may not be your largest client, but they have the potential to be a larger client.

    4. Analyze their why: Since you know this client, glance back at the list above: Why do you think they need a shop? Is it to cultivate brand champions? Create brand affinity with their clients or employees? This is the most important part. Draft out a few simple bullet points on why your customer needs a shop. 

    5. Next: Mock a shop for your client. At one time, I would have never suggested such a thing, to build a shop before your client says yes. Shops used to require a technologist or it exacted a huge amount of time from your day. But with commonsku shops, anyone can build a shop in minutes so it’s well worth your time to mock up a shop for your clients.

    6. Create buyer alliances: Ask yourself, “Do I have the right buyer for this shop opportunity?” If not, can I work through my buyer to bring the other decision-makers to the table? Example: You might work with procurement or HR but a shop could fall in the marketing department’s purview. Work with your client to assemble the right decision-makers for your next step, which is … 

    7. Roll out the red carpet and present shops as an experience. One mistake many of us make is to build a dozen mockups for shops and fire off an email to our customers with a link. Wrong. An email is easy to ignore. An email doesn’t translate the why. An email doesn’t emphasize the experience. Moreover, an email’s no fun. For your presentation to a client, create the same kind of excitement your shop will create for its employees. Create specs of some cool merch for your buyers. Have it kitted and sent for your shop’s presentation. And then make your presentation using the leverage of a cool design, fantastic merch, with an emphasis on delivering high brand impact. Presenting a shop should always consist of ⅔  creative and ⅓ logistical/technical. Don’t get bogged down in the tech or logistical details, the excitement around building a shop for your client is in building excitement around the value for their brand.

    Used with permission from Commonsku

  • June 20, 2022 11:51 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The history of mobile applications is confusing – nobody can pin down the origin of the first app. Some argue that Steve Jobs was the first to speak about apps – he did so in 1983 in Aspen, Colorado. At the same time, some believe the first mobile app came to the market with handheld PDAs in the early 90s. And some think the first app on a cellular device was the game Snake that Nokia released with their phones in 1997.

    Whichever side you’re on, there’s no denying the world of mobile apps has exploded since the smartphone’s introduction over a decade ago. You can find an app for pretty much anything nowadays – from virtual Star Wars card trading to an app that you can upload photos of your plants and it will identify them and remind you when to water based on each plant’s specific needs. Some are incredibly detailed while others are very minimalistic, and some apps even use AR like the ones that can show you which constellations and planets are in the sky above you.

    Some of the most popular apps continue to be centered around productivity and workflow, especially around the beginning of a new year. And since we definitely love a good productivity app (shoot – we even made our own!) we’re sharing a few of our favorites that are trending right now!

    1. Forest

    Forest is a Pomodoro app that helps keep you focused! Whenever you need to put down your phone and focus on a task, open the app, plant a seed, and get things done! When you plant a seed on the app, a timer starts – as the timer begins to count down, your tree grows, so by the time you’re done, you’ve got a gorgeous tree you can plant in your virtual garden – if you don’t stay on task and instead pick up your phone, your tree withers and you have to start all over again. There are tons of trees to collect and grow while simultaneously training your brain to concentrate. Not to mention, you can help plant real live trees with the in-app currency you gain by completing your focus goals!

     2. Done

    Done is, well, simply a simple habit tracker! It can help you achieve any goal and is ultra customizable. You can either build or quit a habit, choose the length of your goal period (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), set what days you want to track your goals, and more. Plus, with its reminders – it’s an excellent way to keep on top of those goals!

     3. Any.do

    Can’t decide between a to-do list and a calendar? Any.do combines both worlds! Once you sync your calendar, your meetings, reminders, and appointments will be added to your to-do list. From there, you can add things to your to-do list like pick up dog food or schedule that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off, cross off completed tasks, and more.

    4. Fabulous 

    We recently published a blog about mindfulness, especially in the workplace – and this is the app to help you achieve it! Not only does it provide guided meditations, but it also has sleep stories to help you snooze. You can join challenges that allow you to connect with others working towards the same goals, receive coaching, and it encourages setting small daily goals like celebrating yourself, drinking water, and building positive-thinking habits. It’s a great way to remind yourself to take a break during a busy day – because after all, to be productive, you have to be your very best self!

    5. SAGE Mobile

    I did say we love a good productivity app! If you’re a distributor that’s always on the go, you can get everything you need in SAGE Mobile right on your mobile device. Whether you’re at lunch with a client and want to show them this super cool product you just found, or picking up the kids after soccer practice and need to check on a project’s status – this app is for you, and it’s part of your SAGE Total Access subscription. You can search for products, create presentations or order forms, and more, all at the tips of your fingers.

    And with the tradeshow planner, you can plan out your whole day at any industry show – from deciding the best route to see all the booths that you want to hit, searching for exhibitors, adding notes, pictures of products, and more. If you’re always on the go, SAGE Mobile is right there with you.

    Do you have a favorite productivity app? Tell us in the comments below! Are you looking for even more ways to boost your productivity? Check out our blog on SAGE Project Management or our blog about SAGE Search Tips!

    Used with permission from SAGE

  • May 26, 2022 10:02 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    You may have a tried-and-true deck for your sales presentations, but that doesn’t mean you have to give the same standard delivery every time. By incorporating elements of surprise, you can not only keep your audience engaged in the moment, but you can also ensure they remember you after the fact.

    Worried about sounding gimmicky or salesy? You can avoid these pitfalls by using surprise strategically and sparingly, according to San Francisco-based writer Samantha Acuna. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some of Acuna’s tips for adding a few surprises in your sales presentations.

    Turn it into a conversation. When your clients and prospects attend a sales presentation, they’re probably prepared to listen, not participate. You can surprise them by making their role more active. Engaging speakers know how to break down the barrier between themselves and the audience, Acuna says. Try asking your audience questions about themselves. These check-ins can turn a one-way stream of information into a two-way dialogue, she says.

    Catch your audience off guard. Think about altering the way you typically open a sales presentation. This can make the follow-up much more compelling, Acuna says. This is because anytime a speaker contradicts audience expectations, listeners have a reason to perk up and listen more intently.

    Vary your tone and cadence. You can also surprise during your sales presentations by changing up your delivery style. Instead of putting everyone to sleep with the expected monotonous delivery, Acuna recommends varying your presentation’s speed and volume. You can also incorporate short silences when appropriate.

    Stun them with stats. If you have some wow-worthy data or numbers to share, make sure you put the stats in context. Try saying, “that’s the equivalent of” to help people visualize what you’re saying. Remember that dropping a fact is not enough on its own, Acuna says. You must provide the relevant context for it to be impactful.

    Be yourself. Your audience may be expecting you to take a straightforward and professional approach. However, don’t be afraid to work in humor and show your human side. This can help you win over your audience, Acuna says. You can surprise them in a good way by sharing a personal anecdote or lesson early on in your presentation.

    Your sales presentations are a chance to wow your listeners. If your presentations have gotten a little stale, try working in a few of the ideas above to surprise your audience. Whether you start with an interesting personal tale or you drop a few impressive stats, you can use the element of surprise to stand out in the best possible way.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Samantha Acuna is San Francisco-based writer who contributes to outlets such as Entrepreneur.com and Yahoo! Small Business.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • May 26, 2022 9:55 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The best salespeople — those who achieve their goals over and over again – aren’t just naturally likeable or born with a knack for persuasion. These top performers simply know how to manage their time. Most salespeople only spend 90 minutes of their workday actively selling. They spend the rest of their time completing non-sales activities, from answering emails to writing proposals. While these activities are necessary, sales professionals shouldn’t get so caught up in them that they have little time left over to sell.

    Josiane Feigon, president and founder of TeleSmart Communications, has met sales reps who enthusiastically call prospects all day long. But these people aren’t skilled at forecasting, and they end up wasting a good portion of their time. She has also met sales professionals who excel at planning and research, but they don’t leave time for calling potential buyers.

    She says the best reps tend to follow three habits. We discuss her thoughts on these essential habits in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    1. They schedule time for selling. Top-performing sales reps don’t leave their calendar to chance. Instead, they block off dedicated time to focus solely on prospecting. Feigon recommends that sales reps schedule “power hours” three times a week. She says 90 minutes is the best time block because you can focus without needing to take a break or pause for interruptions. These time blocks should be non-negotiable, which means you should politely decline requests and calls during the 90 minutes you set aside for selling. Feigon says that if you do this at least three times per week, you’ll see results within a month.

    2. They identify the right targets. The most successful sales professionals get specific with their prospecting. They research and strategically plan their territory. Feigon suggests creating a quarterly territory plan that sales reps revisit and adjust often. This plan could include things like a territory’s top 25 accounts and territory summaries and overviews. You could also analyze each territory’s competitive landscape.

    3. They create a daily tactical plan. Feigon notes that a tactical plan differs from a stratetic plan, which focuses on who you sell to. A tactical plan focuses on what you need to do to make quota. The more precise you can get with your numbers, the better you can become at forecasting. For example, a tactical plan might include making 75 daily outbound calls, having five meaningful conversations each day and giving five presentations each week. Feigon recommends being conservative and rounding down so that your baseline is your quota.

    It’s no secret that sales professionals are strapped for time. Much is required of them, which can leave them with little time for actually selling. You can help set your team up for better productivity by considering the tips above. From blocking off time for selling to getting specific about prospecting, small but intentional changes can lead to enhanced productivity and more sales.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Josiane Feigon is president and founder of TeleSmart Communications, a global training and consulting company. She’s the author of Smart Sales Manager and Smart Selling on the Phone and Online.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • April 18, 2022 5:26 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    This month, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced revisions to previously announced updates to Proposition 65’s short-form warning labels. The agency has concerns over how informative the short-form warnings are and in December and January proposed new regulations that would reign in their usage. Following pushback from trade organizations and companies, including PPAI, OEHHA latest announcement has softened what the previous proposal would have required.

    Background:Under California’s Prop 65, businesses must provide consumers clear, concise warnings regarding significant exposure to chemicals in products that cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. Prop 65 also mandates that the state publish a list of chemicals that have been found to cause such issues. In 2016, OEHHA updated the warning requirements under the legislation that allowed businesses, under certain circumstances, to use a short-form warning. This change was implemented, in part, due to businesses’ concerns that the long-form warning would not fit on smaller products.

    OEHHA, however, has harbored concerns regarding the short-form warning. At a Prop 65 conference in 2018, OEHHA General Counsel Carol J. Monahan Cummings expressed concern over the form’s popularity, as the agency’s perception is that companies are over-using the short-form warning, thereby not providing the information to consumers that the Prop 65 regulation mandates.

    Amendment Progression:In December, OEHHA proposed amendments to the short-form warning requirements that would:

    Mandate the forms identify at least one listed chemical in the item.

    Limit short-form usage to products where the total surface area available for the label is 12 square inches or less.

    Limit short-form usage to only when the package size or shape cannot accommodate the full-length label.

    Require that the warning be printed in a font no smaller than the largest type size used for other consumer information included on the product.

    That font size be no smaller than 6-point type.

    This month, OEHHA proposed an update that softened or removed some of the new strictures it had put in place on short-form usage following business and stakeholder comments. The requirement revisions would:

    Remove label size and package shape limitations governing short-form usage.

    Remove requirement that the font size of the warning match the largest type size used in other consumer information on the product.

    Expand implementation of the short-form warning amendments from one year to two years after their effective date.

    At Present: The ongoing revisions to the short-form label maintain the new requirement that they include at least one listed chemical. OEHHA is accepting public comments on this latest round of revisions. Any written comments to the proposed amendments must be received no later than April 20. Electronic comments can be submitted through OEHHA’s website.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • April 18, 2022 5:25 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Whether you’re helping clients build and grow their brands or you’re working on your own marketing, consistency is key. If you don’t show up in the same way, your target audience may get confused. If they’re confused, they’re probably not going to buy from you. Being consistent with your brand can help potential buyers recognize you and get to know what your company is about. This can lead to trust and may eventually lead to more sales.

    A recent post on the Mailchimp blog covered the importance of staying consistent with your branding. This means using a matching voice, color palette and visual style to help prospects recognize who you are and what you offer.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we review some pointers from the Mailchimp post on how you can maintain a consistent brand message across your marketing channels.

    1. Develop brand standards. Staying consistent with your branding requires a solid foundation. Choose a color palette and think about the tone and voice you want to use with the brand. If you’re working with a client, is the business fun and easygoing, or is it more professional and serious? You should also define how you will display a logo in different formats, the Mailchimp post points out. Some other points to consider include fonts you will use and how often you will communicate with your clients and prospects.

    2. Keep all your marketing assets in one place. This makes it much easier to stay consistent across all marketing channels, according to the Mailchimp blog. Organize things like product images, logos and color guides in one place where all team members and stakeholders can access them. Staying organized in this way doesn’t just help with consistency — it can also make collaboration much simpler. When working on different components of a marketing campaign, everyone will have what they need without needing to track down a logo or image.

    3. Create a marketing calendar. The Mailchimp post notes that when you use a marketing calendar, you get a clear view of what you have done and what’s coming ahead. This helps you see how everything fits together so you can ensure a consistent message. It takes some time to build a marketing or promotion schedule, but doing so can give you some flexibility to make changes as needed.

    4. Maximize your content. Every piece of content you create can be repurposed into something fresh and interesting to your target audience. Repurposing your content allows you to reinforce your message with minimal effort, according to the Mailchimp post. Prospects often need to hear messages many times and repurposing your existing content can help you stay in front of them in different ways. So, what are some ways you can mix things up? Try compiling blog posts into an e-book or updating evergreen blog posts with new images or headlines. You could also turn client presentations into a shareable slide deck.

    Your brand is how you differentiate yourself from everyone else. It lets you reveal what you offer, what you value and why prospects should buy from you. Take time to maintain your brand and ensure you’re staying consistent with your messaging, brand colors and logo. When you do, you can help create a memorable, long-lasting brand.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: The Mailchimp blog. Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform and email marketing service.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • April 18, 2022 5:24 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    People love great stories, and case studies allow you to tell them. A case study in sales is a narrative showing how your product or service helped a client. Like any good story, a case study should have a beginning, middle and end. Case studies are never about you and your business though—they are about your clients and how they benefitted from working with you.

    Want to know how to write more compelling case studies? In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share tips from veteran writer and editor, Michele McGovern.

    Highlight your client as the hero. Your case studies should always feature your client as the hero. This allows potential buyers to relate to them. When they see how similar businesses faced a challenge and succeeded, they can better envision themselves doing the same thing.

    Be consistent. McGovern says consistency is key when creating case studies. Your sales reps will know what information to gather for every case study, and prospective buyers will have a better experience reading and absorbing the stories. For each case study, try writing a paragraph or two for a problem, solution and result. Then, stick with this same format every time.

    Weave in your clients’ words. The best case studies in sales always include clients’ actual quotes, says McGovern. When talking to your clients about their success story, take note of the phrases they use.

    Make your case studies readable. No one wants to scroll through a long, drawn-out post that’s difficult to read. McGovern recommends formatting your case studies like a good short story, incorporating space with headers, bullet points and images. This helps draw readers in and allows them to digest the key takeaways.

    Add emotion to headlines. Some prospects will only skim your case studies. You can use headlines to stir emotions and tell a succinct version of how you helped your client. For example, you might say for the problem, “Buyer felt disheartened by lack of awareness” and for the solution say, “Buyer impressed by how well logoed magnets increased visibility.”

    Dig in with details. McGovern says case studies shouldn’t too long, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the details. She recommends adding specific, colorful information such as explaining what your client does, what issue they faced and how your solution made a difference. Also, when possible, use exact numbers and percentages. For example, doubling donation dollars from $500 to $1,000 is vastly different from going from $5,000 to $10,000. Don’t make your readers guess.

    Get extra mileage from your case studies. When you take the time to craft a case study, look for other ways you can use it. This might mean recording a conversation with your case study hero and creating a visual version for a podcast or YouTube video.

    Case studies may not make a prospect buy, but they provide real-world validation of what you can do. Whether you are just beginning, or you already have a library full of case studies, use the tips above to tell engaging stories and get prospects closer to buying.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Michele McGovern is a veteran writer and editor who has authored many white papers for upper-level execs and business news posts. She covers topics such as employee morale, customer service, loyalty and sales.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • April 18, 2022 5:24 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Content marketing can take on many forms, from blogs to videos to podcasts. When you create and publish content your audience finds valuable, you can help show your expertise and stand apart from other businesses. Your content can also help you get found on search engines and generate leads.

    Whatever kind of content you create for your business, it helps to stay current on the latest trends. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we’re sharing a few insights from Barbara von der Osten, a writer for Rock Content, on some key trends in content marketing. Read on to learn how you can make the most of your content this year.

    1. Include more interactive content. You know those polls and quizzes you see on social media? Aim to include more of these in your content marketing. These allow you to engage your audience, gather useful insight and capture leads. Some other ideas for interactive content include guides as animations or expandable reports, says von der Osten.

    2. Focus on empathy. This is the year to refocus on your clients and prospects and ensure you have them at the center of your content marketing. What do they need and want from you? What motivates them to take action? According to von der Osten, when you know these answers, you can create helpful content that evokes relatable emotions in your audience.

    3. Embrace video marketing. Video isn’t going anywhere in 2022. In fact, von der Osten points out a HubSpot survey that reveals that 59 percent of marketers already use video in their content marketing and 76 percent say video is their most effective content format. Why is video so helpful? Because it captures attention and creates deeper connections.

    4. Think hyper-personalization. Brands like Stitch Fix and Netflix are already using this approach with their content marketing. It requires going beyond using someone’s name to tap into their preferences, wants and needs, says von der Osten. You can embrace hyper-personalization in your content marketing by exploring artificial intelligence or using automation to create unique interactions with individuals.

    5. Use more visual content. Written blog posts are the gold standard in content marketing. However, you can elevate your approach by attracting and engaging prospects with visual content like infographics. According to von der Osten, well-designed visual content can increase engagement and help you expand your reach.

    6. Mix in more audio. Podcasts aren’t new, but von der Osten says they will continue to trend higher during 2022 and beyond. This kind of audio content lets listeners tune in while they are doing other activities like commuting or exercising.

    7. Optimize for voice search. Another key content marketing trend this year is optimizing content for voice queries. Instead of writing for keywords such as “best promotional products for real estate agents,” you should now create content that answers questions like, “Hey Alexa, what are the best promotional products for real estate agents?”

    Content marketing is always evolving. Whether you refresh your strategy to incorporate some of the trends above oryou double down on what works well, the main components are still the same. You should know who you want to reach with your efforts and what you want to accomplish with your content.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Barbara von der Osten is a writer for Rock Content.

    Used with permission from PPAI Media

  • March 14, 2022 6:28 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Congress Moves To Stem Cyberattacks’ Impact

    During an uncommon Friday legislative session, the U.S. Senate passed legislation aimed at mitigating any adverse effects of future cyberattacks on American companies. S. 3600, the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022, is a mini-omnibus bill that combines three pieces of legislation previously introduced in the Senate. Of the three, the Cyber Incident Reporting Act (CIRA) is the bill that is likely to have the largest impact on the promotional products industry. CIRA requires certain entities that encounter a cyber incident to report the incident to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 hours, and alert that same agency about ransomware payments within 24 hours. Covered entities include organizations identified as existing within one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors. The Commercial Facilities Sector is of particular concern to the promotional products industry because it includes office buildings.

    The Senate passed S. 3600 via unanimous consent, which is indicative of broad bipartisan support for the policy. The bill is widely expected to pass the House of Representatives as well, considering the House already passed similar legislation in 2021. After passage by the House, the bill would have to be signed by the president before being enacted into law. PPAI staff is also tracking efforts by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Gary Peters, to include this new cybersecurity legislation in the huge omnibus federal spending bill that must be passed in Congress this week to avoid a federal government shutdown. Although CIRA is atypically prescriptive, the reporting requirements created by the bill would be developed through the normal regulatory progress by the CISA director, consisting of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking listed in the Federal Register, a public commenting period, and the issuance of a final rule to clarify the details relating to compliance with the bill’s mandates.

    Maurice Norris

    PPAI, Public Affairs Manager

  • March 14, 2022 6:25 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    For most, the idea of starting their college or trade school journey is daunting and yet also very exciting.  The Foundation for SAAC developed a scholarship program to assist industry college students with their continued education in 2011 and awarded its first scholarship recipients in 2012. 

    We want YOU to be one of the awardees of our 10th annual scholarship fund!

    The scholarship is open to children of individuals in the promotional products industry who are members of SAAC. The SAAC Presidential Education Scholarship Program recognizes and encourages academic performance, intellect and achievement as well as personal growth through participation in extracurricular activities within the civic and academic communities.

    The application window for 2022 scholarships will open on March 18, 2022 and will close on May 20th, 2022. 

    Please see the application requirements below and start completing your first step toward consideration for this very special scholarship season.


    2022 Presidential Education Scholarship Program Requirements:

    -child of any current SAAC member

    -household income of $99,000 or less (a Pell Grant is $60,000)

    -a system of questions

    -personal essay

Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) 
3125 Skyway Circle N
Irving, TX 75038

p:972.258.3070   e: info@saac.net

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