A Changed Life ... My Personal Journey in This Industry
"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." -Albert Einstein
Many years ago I started in this industry as an apparel decorator. We were doing pretty well, but my wife saw the need to expand the business to include promotional products. I thought she was nuts but I went along with it.
Our first "new" opportunity came when one of our apparel clients asked about getting a product to promote their newest project. They wanted a custom cast replica of the cattle brand that was from the ranch they were building on.
Hah... I thought, let my wife find this product! Much to my surprise, we went onto our industry search tool and found a source for the product. The supplier was great and we completed our first order, which was about $10,000. Needless to say, I was then convinced that it made sense to sell promotional products, and our journey began.
I was smart enough to figure out that we needed to learn a bit about the promotional products industry. We decided to join PPAI and attend their big trade show, which was in Dallas at that time.
The whole thing was a new experience for me. I was shocked by how many people were up at the crack of dawn getting on buses to get to the convention center. My big concern was where the coffee was. There was a focus on education that just wasn't prominent in the apparel decorating business.
That was the beginning of my love for this industry. Through the years I have pursued continuing education and it has served me well. In addition to the education, the connections I've made have been invaluable. It was in a trade show seminar that we met someone who invited us into a networking group that to this day has had a powerful impact on my professional development.
Through the years I have taken a variety of education classes that ultimately earned me the MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) designation. For those who don't know, the Master Advertising Specialist (MAS) and Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) are the promotional products industry's professional designations. Individuals with MAS/CAS Certification are seen as industry leaders—those who have attained a higher standard of professionalism, knowledge and experience. MAS/CAS certification is acquired through a combination of: active employment in the industry, education, industry contributions and the successful demonstration of expertise. Certification is maintained through continuing education to ensure current knowledge and leading-edge professional skills.
In addition to the program that has been administered by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) has created their BASI and MASI designations.
ASI has launched the Advertising Specialty Institute Certification Program, the industry's only free certification program, created on a highly user-friendly digital platform. The ASI Certification Program offers two certification levels, the BASI and the MASI.
BASI certification courses serve as a solid foundation for all ASI distributors, suppliers and decorators. The BASI curriculum will arm them with the fundamental knowledge they need to thoroughly understand and navigate the promotional products marketplace profitably, and develop solid relationships with their colleagues that will help them prosper in the industry.
MASI certification courses provide ASI distributors, suppliers and decorators with advanced knowledge of the advertising specialty industry. MASI holders are recognized as the true industry experts who've cultivated profitable and collaborative relationships with distributors, suppliers and decorators. This designation is a testament to their contributions to the advertising specialty industry.
Fields Manufacturing is a supplier that is focused on education, supporting a variety of professional development events. Their innovative "Fields of Opportunity" books will not only help you be more effective with your selling efforts, they are now certified for BASI and MASI certifications through the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI).
There has been some discussion through the years as to the value of these designations. Do they translate into sales in the real world? People have asked whether our clients really care. My answer would be that it really doesn't matter. In some cases these titles may give you a competitive advantage and in others maybe not. The real benefit is to you. You will be able to better serve your clients with the knowledge you have received talking these classes. In today's marketplace that edge makes the time you put into education a worthwhile investment.
As January approaches, you have some great opportunities to network and build on your education foundation. In Orlando, ASI will offer a full state of classes that will include a lively keynote session featuring a Bill O'Reilly and Carville Keynote. Now that should be interesting! Their always fun Gala Celebration will be held at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Other ASI Shows will follow in Dallas, San Diego, New York and Chicago. The ASI Shows provide an environment conducive for suppliers and distributors to spend quality, one-on-one time together.
The PPAI Expo is the promotional products industry's largest and longest running trade show dedicated to bringing distributors and suppliers together. New products, outstanding education, effective networking and creative business-building ideas are all experienced every January in Las Vegas.
"Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune."
Make yourself a fortune, by taking advantage of the education options you have available!
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook and follow them on twitter.