The Best PPAI Expo Ever … Really?
The branding for this year’s Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo was “The Best Expo Ever,” which is a big claim, considering the Expo is always a great event.
The Expo is the largest industry event of the year. It’s a busy, productive week that, for many, goes beyond being a trade show—it’s more like a family reunion. Was it “The Best Expo Ever”? Here are my thoughts.
Relationships are what drive business, and in the promotional products industry there are many ways people connect, such as regional associations and supplier/distributor relationships, as well as online groups that nurture relationships. The Expo gives us the opportunity to personally connect. It was great to visit with so many in Vegas. That’s something that makes the Expo special.
VOLUNTEERS MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
For me, the week of the Expo started off with volunteer day. This is the first day in which we see old friends and learn what’s happening with PPAI.
The day began with a volunteer luncheon followed by an afternoon of committee meetings, where volunteers donated time to serve in the association. From the awards program to education certification, these committees are the lifeblood of our industry. I participated in the Marketing Statistics and Research Committee. We were responsible for putting together the surveys that provide valuable information for our industry.
Volunteers drive the association, and these are the people who make things happen. You can find information on how you can be involved with PPAI here.
OUR ASSOCIATION HAS GREAT LEADERS
In these video interviews, I visited with outgoing PPAI chairman of the board Rick Brenner from Prime Line and incoming chair Tom Goos from Image Source. These are great people who are energetic, effective leaders.
While volunteer day was happening at Mandalay Bay, 150 distributors and suppliers were attending skucon at the Inspire Theater in downtown Las Vegas. I was able to attend the inspirational opening session with PPAI Hall-of-Famer Paul Kiewiet and the tail-end of the conference. In this video, Mark Graham, of commonsku, which held the event, talks with me about the magical day.
Day two was education day, and started with the SuccessFit4Life! Fun Run/Walk. This is the second year FreePromoTips.com has done this. Those who participated loved it. In addition to the morning event, distributors who made a donation to the Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) were able to pick up SuccessFit4Life!-branded products from a few suppliers during the Expo. With the support of SnugZ USA, Pro Towels, Halls & Company, Prime Line, Ad-A-Day Company Inc., Southern Plus, HTT Headwear, BIC Graphic, Adcapitol and AIA Corporation, we were able to raise more than $3000.00 for education scholarships in the industry.
SuccessFit4Life! has a greater purpose—building awareness for health and wellness both inside and outside of our industry. The program was birthed by my personal life experience, and was developed to encourage people in their wellness journeys, wherever they would like to go.
The impact of what we have here is powerful. People are encouraging others in ways I couldn't imagine. This is kind of funny, but real. SuccessFit4Life! has inspired "Elf Fit," as you can see in this short video from the PPAI Expo show floor. We need Santa to be healthy so he's around to do his job! I’m stunned by the impact SuccessFit4Life! is having. While it’s hard to imagine thin Santa, healthy Santa is good! The Santa community is worldwide, and distributor Ron Breach is reaching out to it. Amazing! Everyone is invited join the industry-only FreePromoTips.com SuccessFit4Life! Facebook Group and/or the open-to-everyone SuccessFit4Life! Facebook Group and share what they are doing for fun and fitness.
Wellness is a huge market. Promotional products play an important role in pushing forward the message and serving as incentives for achieving goals. More information on the SuccessFit4Life! wellness program for businesses and organizations is available here.
The PPAI professional development team put together an awesome selection of classes.The diversity of topics that included sessions geared towards women and those reaching the next generation of buyers personally impressed me.
An innovative keynote session provided the opportunity to hear from three different education presenters. Attendees could choose what full session they wanted to attend. This was a big hit, as shown in this short video clip. Not surprisingly, how to connect with millennials was a popular choice.
PromoKitchen chefs Bill Petrie (Pepper) and Kirby Hasseman (Salt) served up a tasty education session moderated by Danny Rosin. Here are their thoughts on the session. Attendees loved it, as noted in this video clip.
Seth Godin, one of the most prolific business thinkers of our time, was the keynote speaker for Expo opening day. Seth is an outstanding communicator, and the session was powerful. Perhaps PPAI will have it available on video for members to see.
THE PROMOKITCHEN PARTY WAS COOKING
Each year, the PromoKitchen event at the House of Blues is a highlight of the week. PromoKitchen represents a cross section of the industry: suppliers, distributors and service providers; men and women; salespeople and business owners; young and the young-at-heart.
PRODUCT SAFETY IS IMPORTANT
Through PPAI’s Product Safety Aware, every company exhibiting had completed training on product safety, which is so critical in our industry. Delivering quality, safe products is important to our industry. PPAI is taking a lead role in this, earning respect from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) leadership for its proactive efforts in safety compliance.
Organizations, like the Quality Certification Alliance, are accrediting suppliers via a stringent process that is required to do business with many large companies. The reality is that no business wants to end up on "60 Minutes" with a product safety issue. While the topic of product safety may not be exciting, it’s critical to the health of our industry.
I’m passionate about this. At the PPAI awards ceremony, FreePromoTips.com received an award for our humorous take on this serious topic. Bob from Bob Co. wants to build his business, but doesn’t understand the product safety issue. Like many distributors, Bob thinks this is boring. You can see the award-winning video here.
ALL ON ONE FLOOR
With the expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the Expo now is on one floor, which made the show easier to walk. The distributors and suppliers I talked with loved the new layout, and the show floor was quite busy.
It’s become a tradition for Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI's president and CEO, to talk about the Expo and what’s happening at PPAI with me. Our interview is here.
Was this “The Best Expo Ever"? From my perspective, that would be a resounding yes! It was awesome, and I can’t wait until next year.
On another note, this is my last rant for Promo Marketing. You can follow my commentaries by opting into receiving the content driven FreePromoTips.com e-newsletter on FreePromoTips.com. We feature industry commentary and business-building information, and you will see what’s new from a great group of suppliers. We also have launched our upgraded, all-new YourPromotionSolution.com end-user safe video website, with some features people have asked for. FreePromoTips.com is a beneficial resource for our industry that you can take advantage of.
Jeff Solomon, MAS, is affiliated with a top 10 distributor company, and also publishes FreePromoTips.com, a popular industry resource. The PPAI-award-winning FreePromoTips.com website and twice-a-month e-newsletters are packed with beneficial information. You can opt in to receive these informative, twice-a-month e-newsletters here! Check out what’s new in the GP2: Good Products-Good Prices section of the site. Take advantage of free, end-user-safe product videos you can share from the YourPromotionSolution.com website. You can stay connected to FreePromoTips on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or me personally on LinkedIn, my personal Twitter account, Google+ and my Instagram account.