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  • February 09, 2023 8:41 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Email can be a great tool for keeping communication flowing smoothly, but it can also be a major time suck. It may seem like you never reach the end of unopened messages, and you may get repeatedly sidetracked trying to keep up with the influx of new emails.

    If your inbox has become a source of perpetual stress, read on. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we’re sharing some tips from writer Mary Squillace on how you can conquer your inbox once and for all.

    Be ruthless with your inbox real estate. Only keep emails requiring immediate action in your inbox, Squillace says. This keeps you laser-focused on what you need to address right away. File or delete the non-urgent messages.

    Create a “waiting folder.” Let’s say you need a response from a client or colleague before you can move forward with something. Rather than letting an email take up space in your inbox, drag it into a “waiting folder.”

    Get organized with subfolders and labels. You can use these to group together email chains or categorize different topics. When you’re looking for something, you’ll know exactly where to find it because you’ll know where you stored the communication.

    Set inbox rules or filters. Squillace says many email providers allow you to do this, which can help you quickly categorize emails without depleting your brainpower. You may want to create rules that sort emails into different folders or prioritize based on the sender. Then, you can take time at the end of the day to follow up or scan the emails you received.

    Create templates. Instead of tailoring a different reply for every email, Squillace says you may benefit from keeping some stock responses in your drafts that you can easily reuse.

    Schedule email-checking times — and stick to them. It’s easy to get caught up checking and responding to emails when you could be tackling more important tasks. To avoid this, close down your email and only check it during dedicated time blocks of your choosing.

    Turn off email notifications. For many, the siren song of your inbox notification might be too great a temptation, Squillace says. To avoid getting distracted by constantly checking your emails, just turn off the notifications. You can check in at your scheduled time.

    Use idle time for inbox cleanup. Do you typically scroll social media when you have a few moments in between meetings or projects? Try doing some quick email clean-up instead. You could delete spam, file things or send off quick replies.

    You don’t have to accomplish the elusive inbox zero. Instead, try some of the tips above to change how you handle your emails. Maybe this means creating calendar reminders for emails that need action or immediately unsubscribing from messages that no longer add value. When you gain control over your email, you can benefit from less stress, improved productivity and better organization.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Mary Squillace is a writer and editor who contributes to The Muse blog.

    Published with Permission from PPAI Media

  • February 09, 2023 8:32 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    As the ultimate customers of promotional merchandise, end-buyers’ experiences with and impressions of the products are a consideration in every campaign’s planning. Through initiatives like PPAI’s Promotional Products Work program and its upcoming PPW Expo, and regional trade shows held across North America, the industry is working to elevate clients’ understanding and perception of promotional products and work with them to better target their needs.

    Promo In The City Of Big Shoulders

    Several of the promo industry’s regional associations have incorporated end-buyer shows in their schedules for quite some time now. Next month, the Promotional Professionals Association of Chicago is hosting its own end-buyer show at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.

    PPAChicago’s Showcase 2023 on March 16 will feature more than 100 booths and an education session at which PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, will be speaking on the Association’s Promotional Products Work initiative.

    “Both exhibitors and distributors definitely benefit from the event,” says Dawn Janis, MAS, PPAChicago’s immediate past president. “Distributors are able to strengthen their client relationships, as at our Showcase, clients can ‘shop’ for ideas – they may see something that sparks a reminder about an event or project which has never come up in discussions with their distributor. There are so many products in our industry, it is impossible to show a client everything. Our Showcase gives the distributor a way to engage their client and present more ideas.

    “Suppliers rave about the PPAChicago Showcase every year. Attendance is great and both clients and distributors are engaged. Suppliers feel confident showing their products to a client and potentially having more impact on decision making.”

    The regional’s trade show illustrates many of the best practices in hosting events catering to both distributors and their clients:

    • As it is an end-buyer show, no net pricing is discussed.
    • Name badges for client guests show only a name and who is hosting them.
    • After the show, exhibitors will have the information they need to follow up with the distributor who invited the client.
    • Additionally, SAGE is handling the show’s registration and lead retrieval, so distributors will know where their clients visited on the show floor.

    The Showcase has proven popular with PPAChicago members, with 1,000-1,200 distributors and their clients attending each year. This year’s highlights include a New Product area, where suppliers are encouraged to submit their latest goods for display. And the night before the show, PPAChicago is hosting a pre-show part for attendees and exhibitors to mix and network.

    End-buyer Shows Throughout The Industry

    PPAChicago’s Showcase is one of many industry shows that cater to end buyers. Regional association events like the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association’s Promotions That Roar show and the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York’s Summer Showcase give distributors’ clients a first-hand look at all the industry’s suppliers have to offer.

    Distributor companies in the industry are also bringing in their clients to give them an up-close look at what suppliers have to offer. Madison Heights, Michigan-based distributor Creative Specialties (PPAI 104311, D5) is collaborating with a group of Midwestern multi-line reps to co-host a show this month for their customers.

    “One of our top multi-line reps, whom we’ve known for many years, made us an offer to set up an end-buyer show for just our company, that we thought might be an excellent way to reconnect with our clients that in most cases we haven’t seen since the Covid pandemic,” says Joe Thomas, owner and president of Creative Specialties.

    End-buyer shows are also available north of the border. Promotional Product Professionals of Canada has sought to support distributors and their clients through its TOPS+ series of shows. The five-city tour – which ended last week in Winnipeg – brings distributors and their clients together with suppliers to see the latest and greatest promotional products.

    “Buyers who attend our events with their distributors always walk away with new ideas,” says Jonathan Strauss, president and CEO of PPPC. “The value in distributors bringing their clients is confirmed by the same distributors returning year after year with clients. And I always hear anecdotes of clients calling their distributor asking for an invite to our event.”

    Added Value

    For companies who participate in end-buyer shows or who host their own, like Creative Specialties, these events have proven to translate into increased sales.

    “Distributors can showcase the valued connection they have with the various suppliers,” says Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, president and CEO of Cliff Quicksell Associates. “I find this to be empowering. End-users can see the scope and vastness of our medium in one place.

    “It’s an ‘eye opener’ for end-users to see the magnitude of what is available.”

    The account executives at Creative Specialties have experience with several end-buyer shows and understand the advantages they represent.

    • “End-buyer shows help distributors connect with clients on a more personalized basis,” says Darlene Thomas. “We ask our invited clients to bring other team members they felt would benefit from attending an event like this. It’s a great way to delve deeper into a company or organization and meet possible decision-makers from other departments or divisions that you may not have direct access to.”
    • “End-buyer shows are a great way for our clients to get a behind-the-scenes look at a portion of our research process and allows them to collaborate directly with our reps on their specific projects,” says Andy Haffey, MAS. “They become more invested by being a part of this process and leave with the same excitement that we have after leaving a show like The PPAI Expo.”
    • “No matter how many times you try to explain it, clients don’t always grasp what we can really accomplish,” says Michele Chapie, MAS. “Once they start to see the different items, they get a better understanding of what we can do. It opens the door to new thoughts that even the client might not know they had. They start linking items to different projects.”

    Buyer shows’ benefits aren’t limited to just distributors and their clients. They serve exhibitors as well.

    “To a large extent, it is impossible for a distributor to know every supplier’s product line,” says Quicksell. “The opportunity for the supplier is with their knowledge, they know the right questions to draw out answers and opportunities from the end client. That advantage in-turn helps the supplier give assistance to the distributor to hopefully close the sale.

    “The other advantage is suppliers can uncover opportunities quicker than a distributor which flattens, or shortens, the potential sales cycle.”

    The PPW Expo

    Like the regional associations’ shows, Promotional Products Work and its affiliated PPW Expo – coming March 28 – seek to educate end-buyers on the power of promotional products and the value in working with a distributor. If nothing else, sending an invite to the event can help distributors stay top of mind for their clients without specifically soliciting business.

    The virtual PPW Expo helps buyers – hand in hand with the distributors who invited them – explore the vast world of promo products, ignite their creativity and engage them to work more collaboratively with their distributors.

    “A well-produced buyer show adds significant value for buyers of promotional products while reinforcing the importance of working with distributor partners,” says Denham. “Our industry needs more quality events that elevate promo to the buyer community.

    “Not every buyer will make time to attend an in-person event and not every city has an option for a quality in-person buyer show. That is why PPAI launched the Promotional Products Work Expo to reach buyers with a powerful online event that keeps promo top of mind and elevates promo.”

    Those interested in attending PPW Expo must be a qualified promotional products distributor or have received an invitation from a distributor. Buyers of promotional products that would like to attend should reach out to their distributor to ensure they are on the guest list.

    Author: James Khattak, News Editor, PPAI Media

    Published with permission from PPAI Media

  • January 16, 2023 10:45 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    As any sales pro knows, it typically takes a lot of work to land a meeting with a potential client. You may spend a significant amount of time researching prospects and then warming them up before that first call. Considering the effort that goes into securing that initial appointment, it’s critical to make the most of the meeting.

    However, this doesn’t mean you should go into the meeting in pitch mode. A post on The Center for Sales Strategy blog says that the best sales professionals use the first appointment to uncover business challenges.

    If you want to get better at those first calls, keep reading this issue of PromoPro Daily. We’re highlighting the post, which explains 4 ways to fully leverage first meetings with prospects. Spend a few minutes socializing with the prospect and then try the following tips.

    1. Let the prospect know your intention. Your goal is to walk away from the meeting with an assignment. What big problem is the prospect willing to spend money to solve? This is how you want to help.

    2. Show that you understand them. No one wants to be sold to, so don’t kick off the call with a sales pitch. Remember that prospects want to work with someone who gets where they’re coming from. The post recommends pulling from your research to demonstrate that you know something about their business.

    3. Ask thoughtful questions. It’s important to use this first meeting to discover the prospect’s challenges and problems. Don’t just wing it but go into the call with a list of prepared questions. You can then discuss how you can help the prospect solve their problems. The post points out the importance of your research in this step. You shouldn’t ask questions that you should know the answers to. Always ask open-ended questions that can prompt the prospect to share more about their situation.

    4. Don’t rush things. According to the post, when you first seek to understand, you’ll have plenty of time to be understood. In other words, you’ll have the chance to pitch your offering and close a deal. Take your time in the conversation and avoid pressuring the prospect to buy. This is how you can keep things moving along, rather than driving away the prospect.

    A positive first meeting can open the door to more conversations, which can lead to long and fruitful sales relationships. Use the guidance above to make the most of a first call with new sales prospects.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: The Center for Sales Strategy blog. The Center for Sales Strategy is a sales performance improvement company.

    Published with Permission From PPAI

  • January 16, 2023 10:42 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    You know the saying — it’s not what you know but who you know. Creating and maintaining connections can have a huge impact on your professional success. More than 80% of people say networking is essential to their career success, and around 41% say they want to network more often.

    While LinkedIn is great for networking — marketers say 80% of their leads come from the site — there are many places you can expand your web of connections. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share a post from the Atlanta Small Business Network blog that highlights some unique places to network and make connections.

    1. Coffee shop. Your morning latte could lead to a fruitful business relationship. The ASBN post notes that because coffee shops attract all kinds of people from many different industries, you could expand your network in new areas. Try striking up a conversation with someone. If the dialogue continues, have your business card handy so the other person has your contact info.

    2. Conferences and conventions. Events like The PPAI Expo provide prime networking opportunities. You can mingle and learn from others in the promotional products industry and build stronger connections with those you know. Just remember to reach out to people after an event so they remember your conversation.

    3. Social media sites. There are dozens of social media sites to choose from, and it is good to sign up and frequently post on multiple social media websites at once, the post recommends. This can grow your potential customer base.

    4. Job fairs. Even if you’re not seeking a job or recruiting talent, the ASBN post recommends attending job fairs. Why? Because you can get to know both attendees and the companies that are hiring for different industries. You never know how new connections can benefit your career or when you may be able to create a joint venture with different organizations.

    5. Alumni events. If your college or university hosts alumni events, take advantage of the opportunity to network with fellow graduates. The connection to your school makes it easier to interact since you already have a common interest.

    6. Volunteer opportunities. Are you active with any local charities? Every time you attend a volunteer event, you have an opportunity to gain recognition for your business.

    Some of the best networking may happen in unusual places. The next time you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop or volunteering in your community, try stepping out of your comfort zone and introducing yourself. You never know who you might be rubbing elbows with and what that connection could mean for your career.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: The Atlanta Small Business Network. ASBN is a source of business news, information, best practices and event coverage.

    Published with permission from PPAI.

  • January 16, 2023 10:40 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Does anyone else think this way?

    Like an extension of the holiday season, The PPAI Expo has always been a marker on my calendar that signals the end of one year and the start of another.

    It’s an opportunity to relish time with friends, enjoy a little too much amazing food (and drink) and a reason to put off starting the goals I’ve been mulling over for one more week.

    So, now that it really feels like 2023, what should you do next, after The PPAI Expo, to make sure you capitalize on the business opportunities you discovered and set the stage for a year of growth?

    Read Your Notes

    Take some time to read through your notes from education sessions and meetings. You wrote down some great ideas, but if you never crack that magic notebook open, they are lost.

    Pick out some easy opportunities for quick impact and a few bigger projects that will be meaningful for you or your business. For the low-hanging fruit, implement change right away by creating a project plan, setting a meeting or shooting off an email to get the idea moving immediately.

    For a bigger project, create a SMART goal – one that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely – and set aside an hour a week or an afternoon a month to work on it until completion.

    Send Clients An Event Recap

    You just attended the biggest trade show in the industry, where suppliers released new products and you gathered great ideas and left with new connections – you need to tell your clients all about it!

    Share your pictures, tell them what excited you, give them a few ideas and share fun case studies you heard or new data. This doesn’t have to be curated to every individual client, but it can be – especially for your largest accounts.

    Secure Self Promo

    It is the start of a new year. Suppliers have new products and new budgets. Now is the perfect time to plan your own promos that will help you sell all year.

    Think about what you loved from The PPAI Expo. If you loved it, your clients will too. Ask your suppliers reps if they are running any self-promo specials. If they aren’t, they might still give you a great deal.

    Make January Matter

    January has typically been a slower month for many salespeople. Probably because we just spent the last month being less proactive than we usually are the rest of the year. That’s OK. Use this time to your advantage by reaching out to clients about their plans for 2023 and asking for introductions to people in other departments. Then, when those great self-promos arrive next month, you’ll already have a few new leads to start with.

    Take Advantage Of Upcoming Virtual Shows

    We all work hard to see everything there is to see at The PPAI Expo. But you are probably still going to miss something or forget something.

    Use The PPAI Expo Direct-2-U event on January 31 to keep your momentum going into the rest of Q1. The online event will have great educational content, supplier booths and product pavilions to keep your creativity flowing.

    Then, on March 28, the Promotional Products Work Expo will offer an opportunity to bring your clients into our world. The virtual event will host product pavilions to help you drive sales in Q2 and Q3 and education made for buyers on topics like planning a perfect golf tournament, engaging your community at summer events or preparing for back-to-school.

    After The PPAI Expo, it’s OK to take a deep breath. Put your feet up for a weekend or a week and get some needed rest.

    Then you can start 2023 strong.

    Davis is the business development director at PPAI.

    Published with permission from PPAI.

  • January 06, 2023 10:38 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC), the regional voice of the promotional products industry in Southern California for more than 60 years, has elected its 2023 board of directors.

    Jeff Stevens, of WesCo Marketing, was elected president of the 2023 board. Stevens brings with him over 25 years of industry experience and a long-standing commitment to serve the Southern California promotional community. Stevens succeeds Bob Levitt, MAS, who will continue to serve on the association’s board as immediate past president.

    Also joining the board to begin their two-year terms as directors are Kimberly Horton of FPS Apparel, Victoria Schmitz, CAS of Goldstar, Heidi Selleck of The Vernon Company and Mary Skeen of AIM Smarter LLC.

    The 2023 SAAC Board of Directors include:

    President: Jeff Stevens, WestCo Marketing

    Vice President: Amy Williams, CAS, AB Unlimited Worldwide

    Immediate Past President: Bob Levitt, MAS

    Treasurer: Heather Valle-Laird, Logomark

    Secretary: Ryan Paules, Radar Promotions

    Director: Daniel Henderson, Proforma

    Director: Kimberly Horton, FPS Apparel

    Director: Steve Parker, MAS, The Magnet Group

    Director: Victoria Schmitz, CAS, Goldstar

    Director: Heidi Selleck, The Vernon Company

    Director: Mary Skeen, AIM Smarter LLC

  • December 16, 2022 2:26 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Former clients are ideal for winning back. They’ve worked with you in the past, so you know they have a need for your products or services. However, for whatever reason, these lost accounts didn’t renew or sign the contract. This doesn’t mean you’ll never work with them in the future — it just means you have an opportunity to impress them and win their business again.

    In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we’re highlighting a post from the Handwrytten blog that shares some creative win-back strategies. Marketing managers and business leaders weighed in with their thoughts, so let’s see what they had to say.

    1. Surprise them with a note. In today’s digital world, a thoughtful note dropped in the mail can make a positive impression. The post recommends mentioning to your previous client that you’d like to reconnect and show them what’s new. Want to really wow them? Send a $5 gift card for coffee and ask them to meet for a virtual coffee date.

    2. Touch base with old clients. Your previous customers chose not to buy from you for a reason. Maybe they didn’t have the budget, or their project needs changed. By reassessing past customer needs and taking action, you can regain the trust and loyalty of past buyers, the post says.

    3. Personalize your customer engagements. Don’t send out generic emails designed for the masses. Make sure you personalize each touchpoint with previous customers. This means using their first names in communication and writing in a friendly, conversational tone. According to the post, you can use discounts sparingly to help indecisive customers return.

    4. Recommend a competitor. It sounds counterintuitive, but it can work wonders at winning back customers. The post notes that this is because when you don’t have a particular product or service that a customer is looking for, a recommendation to a competitor can create a wow-worthy experience for them. You build instant credibility in your customer’s eyes by showing that you’re willing to put their needs first.

    5. Reach out with a limited-time offer. This might mean a discount for re-ordering or a special gift for buying from you. According to the post, this is one of the bet ways for winning back old customers.

    6. Get someone new working on the account. Providing a different experience from the first one can make a customer relationship feel fresh, the post says. It may feel unusual having a colleague trying to win back your old customer, but don’t take it personally. By going this route, you’re giving your disengaged client a chance to interact with your company in a new way.

    If you’re hoping to reconnect with previous buyers, try some of the tactics mentioned in the Handwrytten blog. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh approach or a personal touch to get back on their radar.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: The Handwyrtten blog. Handwrytten is an online handwritten notes service.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • December 16, 2022 2:24 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    We’ve been hearing and talking recession rhetoric for months. And by “we” I mean the collective we: business leaders, media, economists and the world.

    Regardless of whether there will be a recession or whether we’re already in a recession, the economy is showing signs of slowing down, or, as The Economist put it, “reality has caught up with rhetoric.”

    Yet many who predict a recession for 2023 do so lightly. In Tom Standage’s “Top 10 Trends for 2023,” he predicts that “most economies will go into a recession …. but America’s recession should be relatively mild.” Morgan Stanley said that the US may skirt a recession entirely. Even Goldman Sachs now sees a slimmer chance of a recession than previously predicted. 

    But when the news headlines blaze with Jeff Bezos warning consumers to spend less, claiming, “things are slowing down,” most of us sit up and take notice. After all, Bezos is in the business of selling us … well … everything, including those large-screen TVs he just told us not to buy. 

    You don’t have time to wait for all the pundits to agree and tell us we’re in a recession. By the time there’s consensus among the world’s brainiacs and billionaires, it’ll be obvious.

    The real question is, what can we do about the uncertainty of it all – now?

    The good news: regardless of whether we’re already in a recession, or whether there will be a recession, or whether there won’t be a recession, or whether there will be a hard landing or a soft landing, for business planning purposes you can still find your focus for growth for 2023, regardless of the economic climate. Here are four tips that will help power boost your business planning for the upcoming year:

    1. Don’t Let News Dictate Your Moves

    Some of today’s most successful companies started during a recession: Mailchimp, Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Warby Parker, Venmo, and many more. 

    Nate Bailey, President and Founder of Ideation, a distributor based in Portland, Oregon, started his career in the industry during a recession. Because of that timing, Nate was given a gift: grit, tenacity, hunger, ingenuity, and mostly, heedless optimism. It worked. In 2022 Ideation was honored as one of Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies. (Nate will join us on stage at skucon in Las Vegas for a fireside chat about his experience).

    As headlines of layoffs, wage freezes, and hiring freezes creep into your feed, live by this edict: “Don’t let news dictate your moves.”

    At skucamp in Brooklyn in September, three of the industry’s largest suppliers joined Catherine Graham, commonsku’s co-founder and CEO on stage, to discuss the state of the industry now and their perspective on the future. The panel featured David Nicholson (Vice Chairman at PCNA), Dan Pantano (President & CEO at alphabroder Prime), and Jonathan Isaacson, Chairman and CEO at Gemline.

    During the interview, Jonathan Isaacson said, “There will be industries that continue to do exceedingly well even in a downturn … in every downturn, there are industries that do really well and there are parts of businesses who do very well. During Covid, who bought? HR. Who didn’t buy as much? Sales and marketing. So, if you are selling to a trucking company and they can’t find truckers, what are they doing? They are turning to us to solve a problem. So the people who are going to do well during whatever time comes are the people who understand that we’re not selling products, we’re solving problems. And that’s true on the supplier side and that’s true on the distributor side: there’s always opportunity out there.”

    Treat news headlines as suggestions, not commands. Yes, Jeff Bezos might be the richest man in the world, but remember that when he speaks publicly on a major news network, he is speaking to his first audience (and perhaps his only audience) his investors. 

    “There’s always opportunity out there.”

    2. Focus on Industries

     To Jonathan’s point: Many industries will thrive during an economic downturn. 

    Forbes recently published an article that detailed which industries you should invest in during a potential recession. We can take our cues from this list on which industries to target as either clients to grow in 2023 or prospects to approach. The Forbes list included healthcare, basic consumer goods, utilities, discount retailers (like Walmart and Costco), alcohol, maintenance and repair services, accounting and payroll services, and transportation. Other experts cited industries like self-care or small indulgences like candy, beer, wine, and the pet industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that during the 2007-2009 recession, the four industries that performed well were healthcare, government, tech and education. 

    This is incredible news for our industry because according to PPAI, the top ten industries that buy promo are healthcare, business services, retail, financial, manufacturing, education, food and beverage, tech, not-for-profit and construction. 

    Compare the lists of those who thrive in a recession and promo’s top buyers by industry, and you end up with 7 out of 10. In other words, we’re already positioned to work with most of the industries that fare well during hard times. Recession or not, focusing on these industries is simply a solid strategy for your business planning for 2023.

    Action step: Tighten your 2023 focus on clients who are in industries that do well during hard times, create a prospect list of those same industries, and focus on solving problems.

    3. Keep Top Talent and Keep Hiring Top Talent

    The war for talent will not wane. Job growth might slow but talented people can now work from anywhere and are more motivated to work for companies whose values, culture, and mission align with their personal passion.

    The idea to follow suit with wholesale layoffs is tempting, but Stephen Mihm from Bloomberg suggested that all of these “Mass Layoffs in Big Tech Are an Old-Guard Mistake,” citing a study that looked back over more than three decades and found that CEOs “who pursued a strategy of mass layoffs were far more likely to end up receiving their own pink slip for their bungled efforts.”

    Bains, the global management consulting firm, put it this way: “Think of a recession as a sharp curve on an auto racetrack (which is the best place to pass competitors, but requires more skill than straightaways). The best drivers apply the brakes just ahead of the curve (they take out excess costs), they turn hard toward the apex of the curve (identify the short list of projects that will form the next business model) and accelerate hard out of the curve (spend and hire before markets have rebounded).”

    In our interview at skucamp, Jonathan Isaacson talked about it in terms of control: focusing on what we can control and what we can’t, and he zeroed in on our most important asset -- people:

    “I only really worry about one thing because there’s only one thing we can control which is the quality of the people that we hire. Everything else comes out of the quality of the people in the organization … our ability to win or lose is going to singularly hang on our ability to hire the right people in the organization. You screw that up everything goes to hell, we get it right, we win.” 

    Action step: Review your team. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Review your pay structures and comp plans. Be open-minded to the fact that top talent may be more easily acquired during lean times than robust times and mostly, be prepared to hire when others hide. Recession or not, recruiting, hiring and keeping top talent is a solid business strategy.

    4. Plan For Growth – Substantial Growth

    You have likely heard of the Post vs. Kellogg’s story cited in a famous New Yorker article titled “Hanging Tough,” quote: “When the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost 30 percent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.” 

    “Fortune favors the bold” is a mantra our CEO often repeats. Study after study shows that those who invest more in marketing and in their business, grow during tough times for one simple reason: You become a survivalist, a pirate, a challenger brand. To quote the New Yorker article again, “Recessions create more opportunity for challengers, not less. When everyone is advertising …. It’s hard to separate yourself from the pack.” The article points out the difference between “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass). Recessions can be a great opportunity to race ahead of the competition, possibly leading the pack for years to come.

    Action step: invest, invest, invest. Invest in marketing. Invest in your people. Invest in tech. Invest in your team’s continual education. Invest in yourself. When others pump the brakes — push on and pass by. 

    Uncertainty is the New Norm: Embrace It

    As a worldwide pandemic descended on us in 2020, many of us thought it was the beginning of the end. But instead, you thrived. And our industry, the branded merch medium itself, elevated its importance for brands. We were all —suddenly and rightfully— thrust into solving client problems through product. Our industry matured during the most difficult season of our lifetime. If there’s one lesson we collectively learned, it’s that the only thing we know for sure is that uncertainty is our new normal.

    We might be in a recession. Or there might yet be a recession, next month, next year, next week.

    But it doesn’t have to be your recession.

    This article is brought to you by commonsku, the work-from-anywhere platform that powers your connected workflow enabling you to process more orders and dramatically grow your sales. To learn more visit commonsku.com.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • December 16, 2022 2:10 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    It’s good to be productive, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When people are focused on constantly doing more, spreading themselves too thin and neglecting their overall health, they’ve fallen into a pattern of toxic productivity. This can lead to burnout, which impacts nearly half of all professionals today, according to recent research from Microsoft.

    If you’re wondering what toxic productivity looks like and how you can break out of unhealthy patterns, read on. We share insight from writer Danielle Doolen in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    What It Looks Like
    If you or someone you work with feels the need to constantly be doing or learning, toxic productivity may be at play. For example, instead of unwinding at the end of the day with a TV show you enjoy, you may read a business book instead of truly unplugging. Or, you may feel guilty for taking time away from work. Instead of enjoying the company of friends and family, you may bring your laptop with you to check in and stay productive.

    Doolen says it’s important to remember that we can all get everything important done while also protecting our health and resting along the way. Here’s how to do this:

    Establish boundaries. This is a crucial step in avoiding toxic productivity. Doolen recommends planning for zero productivity time during the week. You might use this time to take a walk, watch a movie or read a book simply for fun. You owe it to yourself to have sacred time where nothing needs to be accomplished, she says.

    Plan for rest — and then stick to it. Does this sound like you: You make plans to spend the evening relaxing, but instead you fret over everything you need to do the next day and you end up feeling exhausted. To break out of this pattern, plan for rest and then take time to actually do nothing. Doolen says that to maintain healthy productivity levels, you need to find a balance between doing and being.

    Stay mindful. There will always be tasks to do, people to see and conversations to be had, Doolen says. But before you try to get through everything at once, stop and think about what you actually need to get done. For example, maybe you’d benefit more from a 30-minute break at lunch instead of working at your desk to try to get more done. Be thoughtful about what’s productive for your stress levels and mental health, she says.

    Powering through in the name of productivity won’t serve you well in the long run. Set boundaries on how you spend your time and give yourself opportunities to recharge and reset. It’s all about balance, so allow yourself to be productive while also finding time to relax.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Danielle Doolen is a writer and communications professional whose writing and expertise have appeared in Career Contessa, Insider, Motherly, PopSugar, PRSA Strategies & Tactics, The Financial Diet, Thrive Global and more.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • December 16, 2022 2:05 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    ’Tis the season for social gatherings of all kinds. While these parties and get-togethers may not be true networking events, this doesn’t mean you can’t make meaningful connections and expand your professional circle. At non-networking events, people may feel more relaxed, which can lead to more authentic, organic conversations.

    Worried about doling out your business cards and killing the vibe? No worries — Quinisha Jackson-Wright, a staff writer for The Muse, has some tips on how you can network without putting a damper on everyone’s social experience. Keep reading this issue of PromoPro Daily for her suggestions.

    1. Talk less and listen more. This is the first rule in networking, whether or not you’re attending a true networking event. Stay in the moment and hear what the other person is saying. Don’t make a running list of what you want to add to the discussion. And remember that most people talk about their work at social gatherings anyway, Jackson-Wright says, so allow the conversation to drift there naturally.

    2. Get to know the other person. What commonalities or interests do you share? Maybe your kids go to the same school, or you both enjoy the same hobby. If you want to go a step further, Jackson-Wright recommends taking a few minutes after the conversation to make a note of anything unique for future reference. When you follow up or see the person again, you can mention one of these small details.

    3. Focus on quality conversations. Don’t rush from one person to the next, just trying to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. It’s better to chat with fewer people but engage in more in-depth discussions.

    4. Add value in a small way. When you’re at a social event, don’t ask any big favors from someone right away. Instead, flip it and think about what you can offer or do for someone else. Jackson-Wright says it doesn’t have to be anything major. Even just giving a recommendation for a great local shop or restaurant can show you’re not just talking to someone because you think you can gain something from them.

    5. Casually ask to stay in touch. You could ask the other person to exchange phone numbers or social media info, Jackson-Wright says. She suggests waiting a few days and then reaching out with a quick message or text saying how you enjoyed meeting them and you’d like to take them out for coffee or lunch to continue the conversation.

    Parties, cocktail hours and other casual events can be prime networking opportunities. Follow the tips above to mingle and make a positive impression — no elevator pitch required.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Quinisha Jackson-Wright is a freelance marketing consultant, U.S. Navy veteran and part-time staff writer with The Muse.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

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