6 ways we can build a stronger promo industry

Our friends at PPAI announced their strategic plan for 2012-2015 and it got me thinking about how those of us in the industry could use that plan as a jumping off point for some strategery of our own. I’m a big GTD fan, so I wanted a list of actionable items that we could start doing right now to help ourselves and our industry.


PPAI Goal 1: Deliver Great Value

  • Action: Choose Your CRM Wisely

A powerful CRM systems allows companies to track and tap into powerful data.  Make sure your CRM goes beyond contact details and can provide add-on value such as the ability to prioritize workflow, help identify trends, and target customers.   Your CRM should be easy to use and elastic enough to provide a variety of actionable data.  Social tie-ins get bonus points, of course.

  • Action: Present Well

The catalog is a dying phenomenon.  Customer presentations are evolving from paper to digital and from static to dynamic.  Use the web to step up your game by pitching in more visual ways: pinterest, landing pages, and commonsku presentations all appeal to the more visual content that resonates in today’s digital world.

PPAI Goal 2: Advocate for the Industry

  • Action: Connect with Colleagues

Get out there and connect with your fellow promotional products professionals.  Learn what your vendor reps do outside of PK sessions.  Grab a coffee with other distributors at tradeshows. Interact on social media. Organize a local Meetup. By building stronger bonds within the industry, we strengthen the industry.   Set personal competition aside and realize that stronger industry ties means we’ll all do better.

  • Action: Educate Customers

Swag is not a bad word. Promo is not trinkets and trash.  We need to re-frame the discussion and teach consumers that swag creates a powerful, emotional, connection with recipients.  If you don’t do it, who will?

PPAI Goal 3: Engage the Global Marketplace

  • Action: Learn About One Other Place in the World

Suppliers already do a bang-up job of sourcing globally for products for our market, but we should be thinking of product and practices in terms of global relevance.  Look to global markets for their best practices and bring them home.  Put new spin on the phrase “think globally, act locally.”

PPAI Goal 4: Manage an Efficient, Progressive, Professional Organization

  • Action: Be Next-Gen

The workforce is continually changing.  It’s not just about digital or the cloud, it’s about thinking in new ways.  Never rest on your laurels or accept that something should be done one way because “it’s always been done that way.”  Look at other industries…tech, retail, B-to-C…and embrace the trends and emerging changes you see. Encourage everyone to bring outside passions into work.

PPAI has outlined effective goals for our industry, now it’s our turn to spin them out and use them to make our industry a better place to learn, shop, and work. Pick 2 of the actionable items above and do them by the end of the year.