Another Ignorant Hit to our Industry!
Once more our industry has suffered a hit, in part because of the lack of understanding about its true value. In a move with 50 times more impact than the promotional products purchasing ban in California by Governor Jerry Brown, President Barack Obama again puts promotional products under attack.
President Obama has recently issued an executive order cutting spending by 20% on "extraneous promotional items." The order states that "agencies should limit the promotional items ... in particular where they are not cost-effective."
Prior to the order being issued, Washington news source The Hill reported: "President Obama is set to unveil an executive order on Wednesday aimed at cutting wasteful spending on excess travel, printing, cell phones and government 'swag.' The 'swag' under fire includes plaques, clothing, mugs and other agency-identified items distributed to employees."
"Swag" was used prominently in the recent Government Census. Shirts, pens, padfolios, bags and other branded items were used as incentives. In the previous Census, our company produced T-shirts. The sales process went something like this: "How many T-shirts can we buy with $5,000.00? We have a government credit card."
We can all probably agree that government spending needs to be cut. But sadly, once again, the value of our industry is being devalued. What we sell is referred to as "swag." No other marketing or advertising medium is subject to such a derogatory term. Yet we continue to hear it and in some cases, use it ourselves.
It's interesting to note that politicians have used promotional products in successful election campaigns and will continue to use them. For instance, for the 2012 election, President Obama has a web store featuring many promotional products, from a $15.00 "Barack's Best Friend" dog leash to $40.00 Grill Spatulas. The Mitt Romney web store has $15.00 "Believe In America" water bottles and $50.00 hoodie sweatshirts. This shows that they see the value of how promotional products delivers their brand message.
Another question might be how big the problem of excess spending in government agencies really is? Politico, a Washington media source, filed this report on their questions about government's use of promotional products and asks where is this swag? Click here for their story "Has Anybody Seen the Swag?"
Our industry has taken some heavy blows lately in regards to what we do. A couple examples are what happened recently in Minnesota and Missouri. It's my feeling that our industry is being grossly misunderstood.
I'm not trying to make any sort of political statement here. But when do we each stand up and set the record straight about the benefits of promotional marketing? Regardless of your politics on either side of the fence, this issue has to do with how our industry is being perceived. As we can see here, that perception may affect our ability to do business ... yet it continues to happen.
Below is the immediate PPAI response to the issue and their action steps. We also offer followed commentary from Ben Baker, President of CMYK Solutions and a link to a Fast Company article, Does Swag Work? written by Jerry McLaughlin, CEO of Branders.com.
One of our company tag lines is: "We don't sell stuff, we provide solutions." If we are unable to present how promotional products offer value and provide marketing solutions, we will continue be perceived as purveyors of "swag."
PPAI Petitions President To Reconsider Promotional Products Spending Limit
President Obama has issued an Executive Order instructing all Federal agencies and departments to limit spending on "non-essential items used for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and non-work related gadgets."
The limits on promotional spending are included in a larger effort to reduce spending on federal employee travel, vehicles, printing and technology by 20 percent.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of one industry member who has embraced the PPAI grassroots program, PPAI was alerted that the Executive Order was imminent late last week. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, immediately petitioned the President and said, "while it might be tempting to limit the purchase of promotional products in order to yield some short-term savings, in the long term, this prohibition may unintentionally diminish the good work of Federal agencies. Time and again, promotional products have proven themselves to be the most cost-effective way to reach a very targeted audience in a tangible, long-lasting and memorable manner."
In addition, the PPAI Advocacy team reached out to the White House and small-business advocates within the government. "While PPAI was not able to stop this order, we believe we were able to mitigate the overall impact further demonstrating why the industry needs grassroots participation to be effective," says Bellantone. "We need to make sure we have members of Congress watching out for us.
"The government efforts against our industry are not coming through traditional channels. Executive orders are written privately and released-without public input or debate. We must have sentinels on every public policy corner. This is the second time in the past two months that vigilant members have given us critical insights and allowed us to preemptively respond to threats. In both cases, those inside Washington acknowledged that they were surprised we had found out about what they are doing."
PPAI thanks members who are watching out for the industry and encourages everyone to join us in our advocacy efforts. PPAI's goal is to ensure that promotional products are viewed in a positive light. The Association will work diligently to achieve that goal.
CALL TO ACTION:
Have you ever sold promotional products to a Federal department? If so, please contact PPAI immediately at email@example.com and let us know. We will use your experience to demonstrate how promotional products can be used to help government agencies succeed. Look for more specific guidance on next steps to guide your advocacy efforts.
firstname.lastname@example.org links to: mailto:email@example.com
If you have industry critical information, please contact Paul Bellantone at PaulB@ppai.org or Anne Lardner-Stone at mailto:AnneL@ppai.org
PaulB@ppai.org links to: mailto:PaulB@ppai.org
AnneL@ppai.org links to: mailto:AnneL@ppai.org
Understand the Value of Multiple Marketing Tactics For Better Brand Awareness!
A Commentary by Ben Baker, CMYK Solutions
One of my guilty pleasures is that I post quite frequently on a Linkedin Group that has some of the brightest minds in the Promotional Marketing Industry as part of its membership. These are major suppliers in the industry, top rated marketers and trade organization executives. What I like about this group is that they discuss problems critically, argue passionately from their point of view and are open to look at opposing viewpoints.
Today, the discussion came up regarding President Barack Obama's mandate to reduce the use of promotional products within the Federal Government by 20%. This will affect thousands of people and hundreds of jobs within the United States, but that is far from being my point. My point is that the lobbyists within the Promotional Marketing Industry have gotten it all wrong. Instead of focusing on lost revenue, they should be demonstrating on how utilizing a lower cost, but more effective medium, can increase brand awareness and return on investment. True dollars spent by the Federal Government on Promotional Marketing items is a very small percentage of their overall marketing spend. It is their perception that this spend does not provide ROI that has led to this decision. This perception could not be further from the truth. It has been proven time and again that promotional marketing items, if used properly to support the brand initiatives, create better recall and spur call to action better than any other medium on a dollar cost averaging basis. For further information on this, please see the following studies.
Promotional Marketing, like any other medium, is not a magic bullet. It is a tool that should be used in concert with other tools, including social media, direct mail, mass media and others to build brand awareness and move people towards a desired call to action. There is value in all types of marketing. Each is a tool that appeals to different audiences. By using different tools in concert you can capture a greater market share. Be creative, get people's attention and tell a better story of why a business or organization provides value in the marketplace.
As we move through these uncertain economic times, everyone needs to market to survive. It is those who understand how to develop strategic marketing plans, utilizing the best mediums to support the brand within budget constraints that will ultimately succeed.
We close this piece with a link to thoughts from Jerry McLaughlin, CEO of Branders.com, as published by Fast Company. Click here for his article, Does Swag Work?
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.