Why Is This Important?
I see the industry from many sides, both in my role as publisher of the PPAI-award winning FreePromoTips.com and as a distributor. My perspective is different from most, and that enables me to publish content that is of interest to our industry.
For 10 years, FreePromoTips.com has been focusing on content, and as a result we have become a valuable resource. More distributors are opting in to receive our twice-a-month, content-driven e-newsletter. And more suppliers are seeing the value of reaching the marketplace through our multi-faceted, relationship-focused approach. We do this through effective e-marketing, our social media reach, using informative video, and, of course, sharing relevant content.
Recently the Quality Certification Alliance commissioned a comprehensive, independent analysis of online influencers. More than 2,500 social media accounts were evaluated, and FreePromoTips.com came up No. 13 on the list. That is pretty exciting! We are very honored to have been recognized. Information on the study and a listing of the top 25 can be found here.
It is nice to receive this recognition, and I am grateful. But a benefit to everyone is what we can learn from the study.
Social Media Examiner, a leading resource of research and content on social media engagement, addressed the importance of influencer marketing in this informative article. We all should be aware of this emerging trend. Being an online influencer affects business in many positive ways. While not everyone will reach a huge audience, everyone can reach their audience, and that may make the difference between you earning the business or your competitor taking it. That’s why this is important.
The individuals on this top 25 list, many of whom I know personally, are passionate about our industry. We see the value of sharing useful information and interacting through the online tools we have available. Our industry will be well served to move past posting the latest “special” and instead offer content that has value. My hope is that this survey and the Social Media Examiner article will encourage others to get more involved online and participate in meaningful engagement that is beneficial to our industry.
I’ve reached out to a few people on this list asking what online influence means to them. They share their thoughts here. Interestingly, there are only four suppliers on this top 25 list. I’ve realized for a while that many suppliers are missing the opportunity to engage in meaningful online communications. I covered this in my commentary, Suppliers, Where Are You?
Here are some random thoughts from industry influencers:
Margit Fawbush, communications manager, BIC Graphic
“We believe it is our job as a supplier to not only provide great products, but to be a resource that helps sell those products and support the industry as a whole. So we share a mix of promos, trend content, industry info, social media thought-starters, company news, selling tools and a little fun–all tailored to the channels we participate in. The response has been really amazing, and we are thrilled to be in the top 5 of the top 25 influencers. Engaging with our customers in a more personal way and seeing what they respond to is truly gratifying.”
Danielle Petroskey, social media marketing manager, GroupeSTAHL
“We at GroupeSTAHL are grateful and humbled to be on the Top 25 Promotional Products Industry Social Media Influencers List. Our companies were built on the precept of educating people about the heat printing industry and how to grow their businesses. We believe that the way to better ourselves, as people and as a brand, is to build a community–connecting with, listening to and learning from others. Our social networks help us do this every day.”
Michael Van Beck, corporate sales director, Tervis Tumbler Company
“Our approach has been to humanize Tervis by scaling conversations that will build and reinforce brand trust. We engage with our consumers in a genuine voice with fun and interesting content. The type of content we use to engage these fans espouses the Tervis brand essence, which looks to make everyday moments and occasions extra special. We use this messaging across all our different channels to create a consistent voice and tone that resonates with the audience.”
Steve Woodburn, regional sales manager, Prime Line
“I was dragged into volunteer work with our local association (GAPPP) in 1998 and am so glad I was. From GAPPP to RAC to the PPAI board, I was honored to serve in a small way to help the industry I love become more professional and offer a career path younger people want to pursue. I believe in sharing my experience and knowledge through social media and blogging, and have learned as much in return from those I've met and become friends with over the years. I've never looked at helping others as anything but paying back the people who mentored and nurtured me.”
Heidi Thorne, Thorne Communications
“Interestingly, some of my social media activity includes conversation and sharing with other promotional products distributors and marketing professionals. Why would anyone want to connect with competitors when any customer can buy from anyone online? But I see it as helping to create a professional community of like-minded people who can share best practices. Influence isn't just something that's employed with regard to customers, which is how most people view it. Influence extends to colleagues, too, helping to ‘up-level’ the professionalism of the entire industry.”
Matt Gray, MyLogoSource Inc.
“It’s a great honor to be selected to the Quality Certification Alliance Top 25 List of Industry Influencers! Any time I receive an honor, I know it’s a blessing from the hand of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Any abilities or strengths I may have come from Him. I give the honor and glory back to Him. I’ve been blessed to be able to share my passions for Him, building businesses through promotional product ideas, social media and branding through the use of several social media platforms. I’m blessed and thankful!”
Kirby Hasseman, Hasseman Marketing & Communications
“I love to share content that I think will help people. If you pay attention to my content, my hope is it helps my clients and my fellow promo peeps! The goal is to raise the industry profile as well. It’s awesome to be a part of a movement that is working not just to sell … but to help people and organizations grow!”
Danny Rosin, co-president of Brand Fuel, chef at PromoKitchen
“I’m proud to be associated with the promotional products industry. And I believe in the power of promotional products—the only form of advertising that people actually like to get. There are so many ways to get invested and connected in the industry. Sure, social media is one powerful avenue, but I would encourage folks to get invested in acts of service by volunteering for associations, regionals and nonprofit groups like [the Promotional Products Education Foundation] and PromoKitchen. It is in these organizations where you will learn from the industry’s biggest hearts and finest brain matter. So roll up your sleeves and find your voice. The industry needs each of us to stay on top of trends and create ways to stand out in a crowded, ever-changing marketplace.”
I’ve learned a few things about influence from the people I follow both in and out of our industry. My pastor, Marty Walker, has had a positive influence on my life. He offers these thoughts on this topic: “After spending two weeks in Malawi, Africa, I can attest to the truth of one of their many proverbs: ‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.’ A mosquito makes a difference, albeit an annoying one … but I think you get the principle here. One person can make a difference, stop injustice or be a voice for truth; one person’s kindness can change a life. Every person matters.”
Consider what you can do to have a positive influence on your family, community and business. Best-selling author Seth Godin talks about tribes. I think we all need to consider the impact we are able to have within our “tribes”. If this topic is of interest to you, here is a short slideshare presentation of notes from Seth’s 2009 book Tribes.
Personally … I want to make a difference in my life. That’s why I write these commentaries and why I created FreePromoTips.com. The goal is to help others as I was helped when I entered the industry. I created SuccessFit, a community to share, inspire and motivate in the area of fitness as it relates to success in our personal and professional lives. Feel free to join the SuccessFit Facebook Group. This is so important; I am expanding my “tribe” and taking SuccessFit outside the promotional marketing industry.
Why is this important? Because we all have the opportunity to make a difference.
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 their YourPromotionSolution.com website. You can stay connected to FreePromoTips on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or me personally on LinkedIn, my new personal Twitter and Instagram accounts. Follow my occasional live broadcasts on Periscope: @JeffSolomonMAS.