Benchmarks for success
PPAI and Saxum established a test group of agencies and marketing buyers to create an initial benchmark around their awareness of promotional products, market terminology, what promotional products are used for, how they are used, and the industry’s efficacy when compared to other advertising medium. They will benchmark back to that group once a year to find whether the campaign has moved the needle.
They will also look at industry sales volume and market share, and compare that with flow through on the Get In Touch Advertising page and the Promotional Products Work page. Campaign engagement up but industry sales down? Somehow distributors are struggling to convert the leads into sales? Why? How? PPAI can see where the traffic is coming from, and knows whether the lead clicked on the primary contact’s email link and/or visited the website.
PPAI and Saxum will observe OUR engagement with the campaign. How many toolkits were opened, ads downloaded, hashtags used, content shared, tweets retweeted, likes, etc. This campaign will only work if we use the tools and share the story.
The dashboard PPAI’s team uses to observe engagement is impressive. In real-time, they can see whether gifs on a certain page are performing better than statics – and adjust accordingly. The technology is in place that will allow them to be proactive and nimble, and incorporate suggestions from the community into the campaign.
Initial reaction from the industry
I asked members of PromoKitchen (and select others) for their thoughts on the campaign. It’s important to understand that most Chefs, whether on the distributor or supplier side, fall more into the “progressive, daring, solutions-selling” category, and perhaps their responses are influenced by that. Nearly all of the responses had three things in common:
1) Thank goodness PPAI is doing this. It’s time. THANK YOU for this thoughtful and important initiative.
2) This will not be easy to pull off, given the different (industry) audiences.
3) The initial ad(s) did not wow the group polled.
We are all armchair Leo Burnett’s and Helene Lansdowne’s, right? We think we know what’s best and have the credentials to judge, sitting in our homes or offices far away from the decision-makers and doers. “Why weren’t we consulted?” we ask. “I wish I had been on the committee.” Oftentimes, especially in volunteer organizations, if you want to actually publish your work (as Seth Godin would say), you need to limit the number of cooks in the kitchen.
That said, while I don’t have an open window into how the initial ads were created, creative by committee is really hard to pull off. And trying to connect with Millennials via a “your logo here” type of message probably makes it harder. Sure, it is more about connecting through the lifestyle imagery vs. the text used, and some would say that adoption must come before risk-taking, but these ads are competing with the very best ads from the very best agencies – the AdAge big leagues. These initial ads feel safe, at a time when we have nothing to lose by taking risks.
Do the ads make the industry look more sophisticated? Is the word “logo” the correct moniker when our goal is to show advertisers we (collectively, as distributor and suppliers) do so much more than “stamp a logo” and deliver product? Would the word “brand” have been the more appropriate choice? I’m not sure – while “brand” might make us feel more sophisticated, the word is so much more inclusive than what can be elicited from a single promotional product. Brand is also what the CEO wears on stage, whether the company offers health insurance to same-sex partners, where HQ is located, online reviews, price points, other advertising, and a hundred other things.
Could Saxum have gone in the direction of a series of very cool (even edgy??) logos for each additional ad? That would have squashed the debate on whether “logo” works well, but would viewers have made the connection to the industry in the millisecond we have to make that connection before they turn the page? Hard to say, but I think amazing creative can do that.
Photography in the initial ads creates the feeling that promotional products are part of our lives and are part of our lifestyles. We choose to keep, use, and wear them because they are useful to us, serve a purpose, and match our sense of style. The images are colorful, bright, action-centric, and leaves the impression that promotional products are youthful and proactive. Nice work!
All that said, the (collective) commentary above comes from the cheap seats. We’re not in there with the professionals, Saxum, and the PPAI committee(s), slogging through the pros and cons of different strategies, different constituencies, and the why’s, when’s, where’s, etc. But Seth Godin is qualified to comment on advertising. Recently Seth blogged on big company advertising – “If I can substitute one company for another and have the ad still make sense, it’s not a good ad.” Now, to be fair, this is not a perfect comparison to what the initial ads of the campaign are trying to do. But perhaps there is enough truth within to consider some alternatives?
More comments from the industry:
“I think the campaign is a good investment for sure, so they are headed down the right path.”
“In the end, they have done a fine job and I think it's a good use of funds.”
“The purpose is a little general at the moment, but I believe there is a well thought plan behind the curtains.”
“I think this is a critical initiative for the industry.”
“Can’t wait to get involved!”
“Right on time; ready to rock this exciting initiative!”
“The regional associations can have a vital role in the success of this initiative … They can be an immense army of voices to carry the campaign forward on a very local level.”
“Very cool! As this progresses please let me know how I can get more involved.”
“It’s exciting to see this coming at a time when industry sales have spiked in the last little while. Onwards and upwards!”
“#GetInTouch with pretty much the only advertising medium you can actually touch. Love it.”
Seth Godin was recently describing his new book, a collection of his work from the last few years called What Does It Sound Like When You Change Your Mind? He mentioned that a book “has an impact and a weight and an ownership that we just can’t find in the digital world.” The same can be said for promotional products via a thoughtfully-crafted and delivered campaign. Despite the “tchotchke” talk, commoditization of products and service, and a host of unknowns in the marketplace, compared to other media we have an enormous advantage to connect with clients. People thank us for the advertising we deliver – no adblockers here. Our medium lasts longer, delivering the message to more eyeballs. It’s tangible and creates a tactile connection that is unrivaled. When we wear, carry, or use it publicly, it becomes part of who we are – part of our personal brand and our unique lifestyle.
Bobby Lehew says that “Promotional marketing is emotional marketing. The product is a conduit, a vehicle for an emotional transaction to occur. To deploy Get In Touch effectively, we must ask the right questions of our buyers: How do you want the recipient to feel when they touch this product? How should they respond? What interjections leap from their mouths when they receive this? That moment becomes the touchpoint, the spark when the medium transcends a transaction and becomes a transmission of feeling and purpose. When we switch our mindset from product purveyance to emotional conveyance, the product comes alive in the hearts and minds of both buyers and recipients. It’s then that we earn the distinction of “consultant”.
1. The absolute right medium at the right time.
2. The full support of our trade association and the tools to spread the message.
3. The knowledge that we must move from “peddlers of product” to probing and challenging the client.
Is there anything stopping you from jumping in headfirst and getting on board?
If parts of the campaign feel like a one-size-fits-all solution, then incorporate the elements that make sense to you, your company, and your unique go-to market strategy, and simply discard those that don’t. After all, savvy buyers don’t want to see the same thing from each and every one of us – they’ll notice, just like they notice when we all walk in with the same supplier’s 300 page catalog.
Remember, this campaign has just started. It will provide us with a variety of tools over the next 16 weeks (and 5 years) to help us market our unique strategies. As good a job as PPAI and Saxum have done up to this point, the campaign will look different in a year than it does today. And with your thoughtful and constructive feedback, it will be even more effective.
You owe it to yourself and your profession to help make this campaign a success. Reach out and be heard - get on board with Get In Touch!
How do we get involved?
1) Commit to being a part of the initiative. Share this information with your internal teams, colleagues, and peers. Use the pieces that are relevant to your business and strategy.
2) Open the digital toolkits from PPAI and review the ads and graphics available to you for customization. Make sure those responsible for your marketing efforts can access the password-protected sections so you can get the full benefits of PPAI’s efforts.
3) Use the hashtag #GetInTouch when we post on social media.
4) Follow and Like the campaign on social media. PPAI’s FB page has over 13,000 likes – only a dozen or so have liked the recent Get In Touch content.
5) Provide feedback – Paul’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his office phone is 972-258-3050. PPAI wants our feedback, and this initial push is just the beginning. Let’s provide the feedback PPAI is seeking so we can help shape the campaign.
6) Send CASE STUDIES to Kim Tedora (email@example.com). As Bobby is fond of saying, “every order sold is a story waiting to be told.” It’s true. Let’s help PPAI tell our story better through case studies.
7) Look at your company’s info in the Find A Consultant lead-generator link. Is it up-to-date and accurate?
8) Review your annual Member Report Card with your PPAI membership contact. It will show you, for example, that your email link was clicked 16 times in the year from the Get In Touch Advertising and Promotional Products Work pages. How many did you convert?
This article was written by PromoKitchen chef and current board president, Robert Fiveash.