Pondering Life’s Milestones
My family celebrated a milestone occasion when my son graduated from high school. I am sure many of you can relate to these significant education accomplishments, either as a proud parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle.
Indulge me for just a moment. Ryan has turned out to be a great kid. He is smart, a talented drummer, a leader at our church and has a desire to help others. His plans include going on to college to continue his education as he establishes himself in whatever career he chooses in life.
My life’s career led me into the promotional marketing industry, and I love it. In addition to my distributor business, I have the privilege of publishing FreePromoTips.com, which allows me to help distributors and suppliers build their businesses in a variety of ways. That’s rewarding to me.
I’ve learned many things in my 20-plus years in this industry. Some lessons (often the hardest ones) have come through experiences dealing with both clients and suppliers. Through the years, I’ve made it no secret that I believe there are many benefits to building relationships and gaining knowledge though others. I am passionate about being involved with my regional association and attending industry events.
Many years ago, I set a goal to pursue industry certification. By taking a variety of classes, I’ve achieved the CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist) designation and went on to get my MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) designation. These are the promotional marketing industry’s continuing education degrees.
Some don’t fully understand or appreciate the benefits of industry certification. The question comes up about the value of these designations. Do clients care? What does it really buy me? Speaking from personal experience, I can say that the benefits are there. My degrees have served me well.
Your clients probably don’t fully understand what those letters after your name mean, but they can probably assume it means you have gone on to get more education in your industry. And education means something. That designation gives you an advantage in an increasingly more competitive marketplace. By noting you have accomplished this goal, you can earn the business over someone without a certification credential.
Even if you disagree and think the designation means nothing to your clients, you can’t argue with the fact that every education class you take benefits you personally. When you take education classes, you learn. You benefit from tracks of learning that give you more tools to succeed. Knowledge is power.
At the recent Expo East trade show, I profited from sessions that I greatly enjoyed. Kathleen Booth, CEO of Quintain Marketing presented an excellent session on content marketing. Those who know me know I’m passionate about this topic. God knows distributors and suppliers desperately need to understand that we must move past the product and price position that dominates our industry. Kathleen shares the key takeaway point of her session in this video. She gets it!
With today’s changing business models, those who just sell stuff will be more challenged. Why do clients need us when there are so many online options available for buyers? Many are threatened by today’s changing marketplace and for good reason. There are good, online sources for the products we sell.
Buyers who simply need a product with their logo on it don’t need a traditional distributor. What would be helpful for many buyers is having access to an educated promotional consultant. A smart distributor will save them money and time by finding the right products to convey their brand message.
Do you think buyers understand the different fabrics and decorating techniques that are available to them as they shop for apparel? Do you think they understand why a hot stamp imprint might be more preferable then a screen print on a product? Do they know when a laser imprint is more appropriate on an item? Why is it important that clients understand the value of delivering quality, safe products? Do they realize their brand is at risk in today’s product safety driven marketplace?
The days of the “stuff seller” are moving toward extinction. We need to provide value to buyers. If we don’t offer them value, they have no use for us. That sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true.
Dave Regan, MAS, from The Vernon Company, is the Chairman of the PPAI Education Certification Committee. We recently talked about the importance of investing in yourself. Dave didn’t buy into the idea of education for 15 years, but ultimately realized the benefits. You don’t need to wait as long as Dave did to take advantage of the information that is available. Our discussion on the value of investing in yourself can be found this video interview.
Some of you may know that Joel Schafer, MAS, from Soundline, is passionate about helping you make money. Joel notes that it’s easier than ever to get rich content from the comfort of your home or office. If you are certified, Joel will give you special attention and a discount. More suppliers should start doing that. Learn what this seasoned industry professional has to say in my video interview with him.
I’ve been around for a while and have seen this industry change. We have weathered significant economic downturns. The existing suppler/distributor/end-user distribution channel we are comfortable with is changing. But changes can challenge us to create opportunity. Education offers us the ability to gain an advantage. We may lose some of the commodity business, but can earn quality opportunities that will greatly enhance our bottom line.
Where do you want to take your business? The choice is yours. My encouragement is to take advantage of the education opportunities that are available to you. And consider the benefits, both seen and unseen of industry certification.
Jeff Solomon, MAS, is a distributor affiliated with a top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information. On the website, you can opt-in to receive these informative twice-a-month e-newsletters! 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 http://yourpromotionsolution.com website. Like the FreePromoTips.com page on Facebook follow it on Twitter and connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.