What's Your Industry IQ?
As they often do, a discussion recently in a LinkedIn Group went off in an interesting direction.
It started with a comment about people not having access to professional industry research tools to do their own inquiries. The complaint was that some appear to just use LinkedIn Groups for product searches. Someone else wondered if some of these folks had ever been to an industry trade show. The discussion wandered on to note that some are stuck on "logos on cheap stuff" and then commentary about our industry being a commodity business.
The scattered conversation got me thinking about Industry IQ. This kind of IQ encompasses a variety of things: formal education, training in specific areas, knowledge gained from supplier/distributor relationships and mistakes that you have learned from. Real world experiences and insight received from business mentors as well as family and friend relationships contribute to our Industry IQ. My video Rant on this can be found here.
One post noted that the low barrier for entry to our industry is an issue, as well as there being no minimum standard of training. The new PPAI Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) certification level seems to be a step in the right direction toward providing early education opportunities to new people.
What's your Industry IQ and how important is that?
My personal take is that education is an asset. Clearly, more knowledgeable promotional professionals are good for the industry. There will always be sellers of stuff, but it's going to be the more educated people that will have an advantage in today's competitive marketplace.
Opportunities like selling branded incentive products, navigating the changing world of apparel and new decorating methods, are skills that require continuing education. Niche programs like safety and recognition can help build your business. These also require education to do well.
Promotional Production Association International (PPAI) has had a long-standing certification program that has been expanded to include the Trained Advertising Specialist Program (TAS) for people just getting started. A project based Master Advertising Specialist + (MAS+) designation that takes MAS to a higher level has been added. You can learn through on-line classes and on-demand webinars. The PPAI Expo and Expo East offer many education opportunities as do other PPAI events. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, shares about their education program in this video interview.
Supplier Fields Manufacturing 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 certified for education credits through PPAI and ASI.
Promo Marketing is doing online education. I just attended one of their sessions presented by SnugZ. It was excellent. Suppliers like Maple Ridge Farms are also offering quality education on how to be effective selling food gifts.
Regional Associations around the country have education events. Their trade shows enable you connect with suppliers. Suppliers are an excellent education resource. They can help you better understand how you can be more successful presenting their products. This information is invaluable.
My own industry resource program FreePromoTips has launched Success Tracks, an online learning experience component that offers unique personal development content. Conversations on Topics That Matter started with a discussion with Rod Brown, CFO of distributor MadeToOrder talking about why (and how) he takes two months off in the summer to recharge. Watch for more interesting topics coming soon: Communicating Your Message with award winning Toastmaster - the Sicilian Mentor, Maurice DiMino. And in October, Creating a Business Annuity will be presented.
Being connected is key component for success. On our inaugural "Sail to Success" cruise to the Bahamas September 17th all these elements will be in play. I look forward to sharing some of what happens and the lessons that are being learned during the cruise. To enable reporting on this cruise in video, we want to express our appreciation to a few companies. These suppliers understand the value of education and building relationships. Thanks go to Jetline, Pro Towels Etc., Warwick, Dyenomite, World Wide, Ad Mints and Vault Promotions for providing goodies and supporting this SuccessTracks event.
The theme of this cruise is enjoying life and being positioned for a quality lifestyle. We will have many successful distributor salespeople on board, including folks from AIA and Vernon. These two distributor companies have been supportive of FreePromoTips and we are thankful for their participation.
What determines your industry IQ? Your level of education and experience may lead to a high score, but the bottom line I believe, is being knowledgeable, motivated and refreshed...continually. A healthy personal life leads to successful professional life. In the big picture that's the true measure of your industry IQ.
Jeff Solomon, MAS, MASI is affiliated with a large 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. Jeff can also be found on Linkedin.