The Inevitability Of Change
Promotional products have been making headlines lately. Unfortunately, it's not in a way we want. First, "Jerry Brown bans official California trinkets." Then it got worse when "Obama spending cuts target federal agencies' travel, technology and swag."
This isn't the first time our industry has taken a hit. Look back to 2008 when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) went into effect. Go back even further to 2002 when the phRMA code put many industry firms on life support.
While these may seem like unrelated events, they all have one thing in common: Change. Each of the above examples represents a change in our market. With all this change going on, we should be very practiced on how to respond—or, even better, avoid—these types of outside threats to the survival of our industry. But, unfortunately, this isn't the case.
The most common sentiments seem to be how these events are "unfair" or that people just don't understand the value of promotional products. Since when has politics or business been about what is fair? Perhaps we should spend less time lamenting the "unfairness" of these efforts and spend more time embracing change.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), a 19th century British politician, said, "Change is inevitable. Change is constant." While he made these remarks more than 130 years ago, they remain true today. People have always resisted change, and they'll continue to do so. But there is real risk to our industry if we continue to fight rather than evolve to meet the challenges of these changes.
Don't believe me? Let's look at some other industries as a preview of what we can expect if we do not evolve. Movie rental and newspaper publishing are good examples. The wired telecom industry is another. But what really stands out to me is the music industry, as it did not respond quickly nor strongly enough to the change in their marketplace when online music providers hit the charts. When was the last time you went to the proverbial "record store" (even that term is terribly outdated) to make a music purchase? But I bet you've recently picked up an iTunes card at any of your local grocery or convenience stores.