On July 11, I walked into PPAI headquarters with a brand-new job and an event launching in less than 90 days – the Fall Promotional Products Work Expo.
The job – Promotional Products Work manager – is not just new to me, it’s also new to PPAI, and so is the event on Sept. 29. But that is why I am here, to do something new and to help elevate you and the unique solutions our industry provides.
Let me start by backing up and zooming out a little. If you have not heard the new vision statement for PPAI, you may not know that it recently changed:
Promotional Products are universally valued and essential to every brand.
This new vision was meaningful to both my decision to come on board and to the development and overall direction of the Promotional Products Work initiative. I may be a little biased, coming from a family of promotional products pros, but I believe that when we talk about goals like promotional products being universally valued and essential, this initiative is the purest and strongest support of that vision. To be part of that is a dream come true for me.
Back to the here and now. My first goal in my new job is to make this fall’s first client-facing Promotional Product Work Expo a must-attend event that is as effective and valuable for members as it is inspiring and enlightening for end buyers.
We’re creating an event that elevates and educates, and the Association as a whole learned a lot from the Promotional Products Work Expo beta test that was made available to a limited audience in the spring.
We have created a unique experience that melds what we love about in-person trade shows with the benefits of a virtual environment and maximizes the visibility and value of the distributor and the promotional products industry as a whole.
Distributors and the clients they invite and host will be able to explore products by type, feature, and use to create opportunities for brainstorming through the platform’s chat feature and to discover new ways to think about their promotional marketing campaigns. Each pavilion will have product categories that are relevant to buyers to help guide their search. With this, there will not be traditional virtual booths at the event, avoiding the need for presenting suppliers to plan for staffing and the concern of direct conversations between buyers and suppliers. There will still be plenty of opportunities for suppliers and distributors to follow up on leads. Read on to learn more.
When distributors and their buyers click into a product to look at details, they will have the same view, which will include images, product details, and a description. It will not include pricing information, allowing distributors to fully control that part of the conversation.
During the event, educational content will be playing on the platform’s Main Stage, restarting every hour. The focus will be to inspire buyers about all the ways they can use promotional products and to show off some of the biggest trends in the industry. Topics will include unboxing, sustainability, give-back, retail brands, employee gifts, technology, customization, personalization and more, all while weaving in product and stories throughout. Between each segment, attendees will get a look at the new face of the Promotional Products Work campaign in the form of short ads that will soon be available for members to utilize in their own marketing. All the while, a closely monitored live chat will ensure the event feels “live” for its viewers, while also protecting buyer data (more on that in a moment).
One of the benefits of a virtual event is the ability to capture data and provide detailed reporting. As they explore the product pavilions, attendees can view products and “like” their favorites. They can even revisit their favorites to see a comprehensive list at any time. Distributors will receive all of this data for each of their hosted buyers. So, when your customer calls the following week and says, “I saw this tote bag; it was blue and had a white imprint. I need it for my next event,” you can check their product views and get them a virtual or physical sample right away. Suppliers will receive all of this data – with the exception of buyer information – for each of their showcased products as well. So, after the event, they can contact distributors with quotes, information, samples and other sales tools.
In order to provide useful data, while also protecting buyer information, each hosted buyer will receive a unique ID number. This number will be tied to their information in the platform and to their hosting distributor. Distributor reporting will include both the unique ID number and the hosted buyer’s information. Supplier reporting will include only the unique ID number, so all follow-up communication will flow through the distributor.
There is more to be done in the coming weeks. As this issue hits your mailbox, we are just under 30 days from the event. We are finalizing product samples for the education segments and getting ready to start filming and hosting demos for distributors and their salespeople daily.
Registration is open for distributors to invite their clients, and we already have many companies signed up.
I hope you and your clients will join us on Sept. 29 for what will be an incredible, event and also just the beginning of the new Promotional Products Work, an essential initiative that we believe has universal value for this industry.
Davis is the Promotional Products Work manager at PPAI.