Resources for the Promotional Products Industry
Build Your Brand: Change it Up, See Results
“My brand is what others say it is,” Jay Busselle says. “My branding is what I do to get noticed.”
Busselle, who’s known in the promo industry as the chief taco officer and co-host of the Tacos With Jay & Jeff show, has a personal brand that’s evolved over the years. He’s nurtured it through a variety of roles that give back to the industry. In addition to the show, he’s managing partner at FLEXPoint and volunteer chef and mentor at PromoKitchen . These initiatives, built with love and sweat, are creating communities for marketing, branding and business development professionals who share tested techniques and winning strategies for the good of all.
And on top of it all, Busselle also has a day job — vice president of sales and marketing for Equipment Zone, a major national reseller of Epson wide format printers for direct-to-garment, direct-to-film and sublimation printing. He brings authenticity to the table in all four roles.
“I want to be the connector,” Busselle says. “Having a network that trusts me — that knows I can be the connector and share my opinion is a critical role. I know I’m not 100% correct, nor am I pretending to be, but my hope is somebody in my network will have the answers.”
At the heart of Buselle’s personal brand, he says, is the desire to provide value and educate others. He also takes a page from Seth Godin when it comes to finding his audience. “Rather than build it for the masses, find the least viable audience and then ask their permission to build something more for them,” Buselle says, paraphrasing Godin. “We should be giving value first to the audience,” he says, noting that it may require a series of trial and error before getting it right, and even then the end result doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s more about the journey.
“It won’t hurt my feelings if it doesn’t rock your world because I enjoyed making it. It’s not a sales pitch — it’s my nature, it’s my style, it’s my brand!” he says. “Another author I think about a lot is Jay Baer. Baer talks about less hype and more help. We need those words more now than ever!”
Other authors high on Busselle’s list for guidance are Jay Baer, who emphasizes the need for help over hype. “We need those words more now than ever!” Buselle exclaims. And then there’s David Akers, who he calls the godfather of branding and Ann Handley, who speaks to the importance of writing well for marketers.
Busselle believes the approach of providing value versus selling a product is settling in more these days for the branded merch and promotional products industry. Five years ago, he says everyone was looking for that elusive shortcut that gave people the immediate results they wanted.
“Everyone was looking for that hack; they were looking to automate something, or scale it, to deliver it faster,” Busselle says. “But this approach often removes what is most important, which is the heart. The best branding to me, the most effective, is the most human. That’s what’s working now, and I think we’re going to be on this trajectory the next three to five years.”
Seeing too many hackers out there is what spurred Busselle’s other ventures, especially Tacos With Jay & Jeff.
“The idea for the show was born out of frustration,” Busselle says. “We were seeing so many businesses that were in the promo and apparel space. They said they were branded merch experts but were doing the same things they had always done, and were completely stuck in the status quo.”
And then the calendar flipped to March of 2020. Buselle knew the status quo wouldn’t hold muster. “Another email blast of your sales flyer is not effective marketing. I was complaining, and I said something to Jeff Solomon. He asked me ‘What would make it better; what would you do differently?’” Buselle recalls.
“I’m lucky to have great friends and a network with really smart people that are doing epic work — just amazing, blow-you-away work — who leverage branded merch, apparel, packaging and signage in their marketing. That’s how we came up with Tacos With Jay & Jeff,” he says. “We put the spotlight on them. We showcase their epic campaigns. We talk about epic work with top creators over tacos. We just crossed our two-year anniversary by hosting a great discussion on disruption, creativity and branding.”
This article originally appeared in the May issue of PostScript Magazine. Brand Chain members receive eight printed issues each year as a member benefit and have access to the digital magazine library. Non-member subscriptions are available as well. Learn more here .