Seth Godin Implores His Audience To Never Settle For Average

By Tina Berres Filipski

A standing-room-crowd turned out to hear master marketer Seth Godin’s Opening Session on Tuesday morning at The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. And Godin gave them plenty to think about in his talk Invisible Or Remarkable: Notes From The Revolution.

While most of us were taught in school from an early age to be quiet and fit in, Seth Godin begged his listeners to do the complete opposite.

Using examples, personal stories and unforgettable, often hilarious, oversized background images, Godin took on what’s been wrong with marketing since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

He should know—in 1992 he published a book about the internet and it sold a dismal 1,842 copies; a total, epic failure, he admitted. At the same time, two guys created a site about the internet and named it Yahoo. Godin credits their success with the fact that the pair had a blank slate—and figured that if people want to learn about the internet, they would learn online. He, on the other hand, created what he already knew how to make—a book.

For almost an hour, Godin held thousands of listeners in the palm of his hand as he explained the giant shift that’s been happening in marketing over the past 50 years.

Mass merchants demand mass markets to sell more stuff, he explained. “The mentality was that if we advertise it enough, people will buy from us,” he says. “This is all fueled by bosses who keep saying the four-letter word to us over and over again. M-O-R-E. More market share, more yield, more profit per share. This leads to average products for average people.”

Godin emphasized his point: “All products are average on purpose, because if you want to reach everybody, you better make something everybody wants to buy.”

But the rules have changed, he pointed out. “There is an entire industry that is falling apart—the one that drove the mass marketing concept of interrupting everybody is going away. We are going into a completely new way of thinking and lots of people are looking in the rearview mirror and thinking ‘How do we drive forward?’”

The good news, he said, is the skills that listeners have are perfect for this new moment. “The privilege of delivering personal, anticipated and relevant messages to people who want to get them drives so much of what you are capable of changing in industries that need your help,” he says. “Also, for the first time ever, it is easy and imperative to treat different people differently.”

Ushering in this change is a shift from an industrial economy to a connection revolution. “The only asset that matters is who you know, who knows you, who’s paying attention to you. Connection.”

New Products, Door Prizes Draw Distributors to Grand Opening Celebration

By Julie Richie

Thousands of distributors flocked to the Grand Opening Celebration at 8 am am in the Product Pavilion on Tuesday morning, and in addition to getting first looks at products in the four Product Pavilions and the brand. Pavilion, 32 lucky winners won door prizes donated by suppliers and PPAI, including two round-trip tickets on American Airlines.

As attendees made their way along the product pavilion tables and then through brand drawings for prize items were being announced every few minutes. John Oda, account executive at Onyx, was thrilled to win a Weber grill. “I’m really excited. That’s a phenomenal way to start the show,” he says.

Joe Chavarria, owner of New Generation Graphics, enjoyed the Grand Opening even though he didn’t win a prize. “I’m here to see what we can offer our customers in terms of new products. We walk through here and it’s kind of amazing to see how many new products there are. For me it’s exciting,” he says.

For some distributors, getting on the floor early was a good way to get the creative juices flowing. “If you stand back and look at everything as a whole, you get better ideas. I look for items that I can combine with screen printing,” says Rich Ringer, president of Boardwalk Promotions. He pointed to a reversible sweatshirt in the New Product Pavilion. “This is a perfect example.”

The Grand Opening prize winners are…

Wayne Grothmann

Walter Kurt

David Laviguer

Chris Stumpf

Nick Cooper

Melanie Richards

Jody Ferrer

Johnathan Vasquez

Pete Aklestad

Paul Herzbrun

Sarah McTaggert

Jerry Hare

Brian Klayman

Joyce Sato

David Skolsky

Kathy Adameak

John Oda

Brian Beam

Brad Shuman

Yvonne Leung

Masayuki Sato

Sunny Fedorick

Cindy Gardner

Gordon Ballard

Randy Gallant

Janna Mundis

Ian Miller

Matt Gonzales

Gayle DeBord

Jean Sillman

Sherry Cousins

Chris Matsumoto

Winners who have not yet received their certificate can retrieve it from the PPAI booth (Booth # 2451), then take it to the booth number listed on the certificate to claim their prize.

Attendees Find Fresh Products At The PPAI Expo

By Darin Painter

Before Abby Lunn arrived in Las Vegas for The PPAI Expo, she was impressed with a few numbers—1,500 exhibiting companies, more than 3,300 booths, thousands of promotional products on display. But Tuesday on the show floor, she was more interested in a different number—one.

Lunn wanted to meet one new vendor who could become a long-term partner, or learn about one new marketing concept, or make one meaningful connection with a fellow distributor. To her, the mark of a successful industry event is its takeaway value. She hoped spending a couple days at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center would help her distributor grow in 2016.

“We came to the PPAI show because it’s the best place in the industry to see the latest and greatest promotional products, all in one place,” says Lunn, vice president of sales at First Systems & Resources in Charlottesville, Virginia. She and her team met last week to discuss upcoming marketing projects the company will handle for its clients, and met yesterday with exhibitors with “extremely impressive solutions we hadn’t seen before,” Lunn says. One such product was a fold-up tote bag with a reinforced bottom. “We’re going to leave Las Vegas with new suppliers who will be getting our business.”

Lunn wasn’t alone. From the time the show floor opened Tuesday, it was buzzing with conversations between attendees and exhibitors. For newcomers and industry veterans alike, it served as a place of opportunity and action—connected aisles filled with connecting professionals.

One of them was Dean Ellis, who used his smartphone and the SAGE Mobile™ app to plan his show-floor attack. Ellis, president of Performance Marketing Inc., a distributor in Mequon, Wisconsin, created a “walk list” prior to the show, marking in red more than 30 exhibitors on the app’s interactive show floor.

By early afternoon, Ellis had only visited a few of them. “I’m spending way more time than I thought I would at some booths,” he said. “I’m extremely impressed with the exhibitors as a whole. It’s not the same old, same old at all.”

He should know. Ellis has been in the industry for 35 years, and recently refocused his business to concentrate on what he does best—offer customized promotional programs and apparel to businesses. He has been to this annual event many times, but had skipped it the past three years. “What impresses me most this year is the number of variations and customization options I’m finding,” he said. His phone reminded him to stop at HTT, Head To Toe/VPI Headwear, where he says he found several apparel styles that might impress a new manufacturing client that aims to boost its brand.

Ellis said the huge breadth of products at Expo is the main reason he attended, and discovered a difference between this event and ones in years past. “The level of sophistication my customers have for promotional products has increased. Before, clients would ask me to bring back some fresh ideas to discuss. Now, because they’re more educated and believe in the value of promotional products, they’re telling me to search for specific items. The script has flipped a bit. More of them understand the importance of using promotional products and apparel to communicate.”

On the opposite side of the show floor from where Ellis stood with his phone, Mark Myers and his associate, Jayson Manship, discussed a concept that was important to many of their clients—finding products with accurate “Made in the USA” claims. Fortunately for them and their team at Rector Communications Inc., the show floor included four easy-to-locate Product Pavilions, including one called Made in the USA Products.

“Where else can you see this many promotional product vendors in the same place?” asked Myers, vice president of sales at Rector Communications Inc., Noblesville, Indiana. “This is the best trade show we’ll go to all year.”

“Absolutely,” Manship said. “And the reason is the Expo isn’t just about products; it’s about the coaching you get from exhibitors to help you sell those products. The show floor has exceeded my expectations, and we’re only four aisles into it.” As he talked, he held an imprinted bottle opener from that he thinks will kick-start a conversation with a prospect.

“The cool thing about Expo is this is just one of literally thousands of products here that can help us build relationships and grow our business.”

Darin Painter is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio, and editor in chief of PSDA’s PS Magazine. 


Steve Slagle Honored With PPAI Hall Of Fame Award

By Jen Alexander

The PPAI Chairman’s Leadership Dinner on Monday night at Mandalay Bay Convention Center was a lively evening filled with heartfelt congratulations and a spirit of thanks for the contributions of the evening’s honorees. Among them was Steve Slagle, CAE, former president of PPAI, who was inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame.

Slagle took to the stage to share his thanks and express gratitude for the honor in the humble spirit that he has embodied since the beginning of his relationship with the promotional products industry.

“I was both surprised and blessed to have been hired as president in 1995, and doubly blessed to serve in the role for 16 years,” says Slagle. “During those years I grew professionally, made many, many incredible friendships and I think–and I hope–I was able to contribute to the Association’s growth and success.”

Slagle pointed out that his legacy rests in the collaborative efforts of association employees and industry professionals. “Whatever I managed to accomplish while with PPAI is a result of a partnership with other staff, volunteers, members and good friends,” he says. “I’d like to think that PPAI is better for my having served [there]. I’m confident the association is in extremely capable hands today and I salute the staff, the hundreds of volunteers and the members who continue to make this 113-year-old organization an essential leader in this great industry.”

Slagle is quick to admit that he was hesitant to accept a nomination for the Hall of Fame, believing such honors are better placed among the professionals who work in the industry, and whom the Association serves.

“While I know there is precedent for staff members to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I always felt the highest association awards should really be reserved for the volunteers who devote so much time and energy to helping the association be successful,” he says. “So, while having some reservations about being nominated, I eventually said yes, and tonight I’m very pleased I did.”

PPAI Humanitarian Award Recipient Mark Gilman Embraces Servant Leadership

By Jen Alexander

Monday night’s program, the PPAI Chairman’s Leadership Dinner, celebrated the philanthropic work of Mark Gilman, CAS, the 2016 recipient of the PPAI H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award. Gilman took to the stage to share the story of his lifelong love affair with his hometown of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

“When Paul Lage and Carl Gerlach asked if they could submit my name for consideration for this award, I hesitated,” says Gilman. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to call attention to any humanitarian acts I might have inadvertently committed. But then I thought how proud I would be to have my name associated with Ted Olson, and so I agreed to let Paul and Carl proceed.”

As a longtime resident of Johnson County, Kansas, Gilman has immersed himself in the growth of his community through public service and servant leadership. He has contributed his time and support to numerous organizations and causes, including Shawnee Mission Medical Center, the Johnson County Library and several fine arts community groups.

“Because of my lifelong interest in the performing arts, I quickly joined the [Johnson County Community College] arts advisory committee,” Gilman says. “I’m still connected closely to the college’s performing arts endeavors.” Gilman has also supported high school performing arts through patronage and publicity, supplying the promotional posters designed by students for productions.

“The kids have saved copies of each of the posters as examples of the outstanding work being done by the theater department,” he says. “Our poster program is a good example of how a business can make a simple connection with a school and help advance the cause of education in America.”

Gilman, who served on the PPAI Board of Directors for nine years, told the audience he was most proud of the role he played in the hiring of Ted Olson to fill the role of Association president and CEO. “I always thought of Ted as the ideal servant leader. He was called to lead, and he led by always serving the needs of the Association,” Gilman recalls. “I had many learning experiences under Ted’s guidance, and I am humbly grateful to receive this award in his honor.”

Teresa Moisant, MAS, And Bruce Felber, MAS, Honored For Outstanding Service

By Tina Filipski

PPAI presented honors to a number of members and industry leaders at Monday night’s black-tie Chairman’s Leadership Dinner hosted by Rick Brenner, MAS+, PPAI board chair and Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO. Among those being recognized were a new class of 50-year members, the inaugural PPAI Promotional Products Pioneers and PPAI’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award winners.

PPAI members recognized and applauded for their 50 years of membership were: Dean Watkins Company East, ADG Promotional Products, Advertising Accents Inc., Ball Chain Manufacturing Company, A.T. Cross, Gemaco Inc. Lipic’s Inc., Paulich Specialty Company Inc., SAMCO Line, Sanatex Corporation, SELCO, and Tee Pee Advertising Co.

Among those honored in PPAI’s newest program, PPAI Promotional Products Pioneers, were Norman Cohn, ASI; the late Forest P. Gill, Gill Studios, Inc.; Frank Krasovec, formerly with Norwood Promotional Products; Norm Stern, Norscot Group and the late Frank B. Thomas, ASNA/PPAI. The five were honored for their vision, drive, innovation, character and leadership that played a key role in the advancement of the promotional products industry.

Bruce Felber, MAS, The Image Group, and Teresa Moisant, MAS, Moisant Promotional Products, were each presented with PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award in appreciation for their countless hours of volunteer leadership to PPAI and the industry.

In accepting the award from presenter Steven Meyer, MAS, Felber thanked many of his industry friends, family and fellow volunteers within PPAI and the Ohio Promotional Professionals Association and added, “This is the greatest industry with the greatest people. I share this award

with the entire industry and my hope is that we all continue to give back to PPAI and the promotional marketing industry.”

Teresa Moisant gratefully accepted the award from her friend and colleague Linda Campbell and recounted many stories and shared her appreciation for those who helped her grow her career in the industry. “This award is all about service,” she said. “I am where I am today because someone helped me. I encourage each of you to open those same doors for others around you and to make someone else’s day a little bit brighter.”


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Financial Expert Monica Mehta: The U.S. Economy Is Stronger Than It Looks

By Julie Richie

Despite the recent volatility in the global stock market, the U.S. economy has actually been in expansion mode for 78 months, which is about 20 months longer than the average expansion, according to Monica Mehta, an investor, finance expert and author of The Entrepreneurial Instinct.

In Tuesday’s keynote luncheon, “Recession or Progression,” Mehta discussed the overall health of the U.S. economy. She presented relevant data underlying the six barometers critical to the health of the U.S. economy: growth, consumer, housing, financial markets, business and world economy.

Growth: Over the past 60 years, the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the total value of everything people are buying in the U.S., grew 3.25 percent. Since 2007, Mehta said the GDP has averaged 2.5 percent and the future prediction for the GDP is 2.3 percent.

Consumer: “The U.S. economy lives and dies by the consumer. Consumer spending is 70 percent of GDP,” Mehta says. “It’s taken six years, but consumers finally have more money to spend.”

Housing: Home prices have been rising, and as the primary source of wealth for consumers, that’s a good sign for the economy. In the top 10 housing markets, prices have risen 5.5 percent in the last year, and 35 percent since the low, but are still 11 to 13 percent lower than the peak in 2006.

Financial Markets: While volatility continues in the overseas markets and the stock market lost $1 trillion in value in the first week of 2016, “China only represents less than five percent of S&P profits, so it doesn’t have the bearing you might think,” Mehta emphasized.

Business: Manufacturing is slow because of the decline with overseas demand for American products. The energy sector has been the biggest drag on corporate earnings, while at the same time lower gas prices are good for the consumer.

World Economy: While volatility is up, China’s GDP is still predicted to grow 6.5 percent in 2016, compared to eight to 14 percent in past years. It won’t have a big effect on the U.S. economy.

Final economic verdict: Moderate progression.

Buzz-Worthy Tech Products for 2016


The multi-powered folding fan is USB-powered or battery-operated and runs whisper-quiet while blowing a strong, cooling breeze. With soft blades for safety, the fan folds down to fit in small spaces and is perfect for traveling.

Beacon Promotions, Inc.
Booth # 5340, 5341



Liven up your work space with the soft polyurethane, patented MopTopper™ with long-lasting microfiber hair. It serves as a multi-function stress reliever, mobile device holder and screen cleaner. The MopTopper holds most styles of cellphones.

Prime Resources Corp.
Booth #5817



The Smart Charge mobile gift set is a four-component promotional kit packed with must-have tech accessories including a full-color, full-wrap imprint on a power bank with 2600mAh of power for charging portable electronics, a microfiber cleaning solution and a unique phone stand that supports and cleans electronics.

Toddy Gear
Booth # 3078



The FireWater is a USB/solar-charged, collapsible LED bottle. Unfold it to use as a water bottle or as a waterproof container for your valuables. Illuminate your surroundings with the three-setting LED light: low, high or flashing. Choose from green, blue or clear.

Seattle Sports
Booth # 4560



An innovative sheet of keyboard tattoos for your computer keys, each full-color sheet contains six key tattoos that are ultra removable for easy application and removal. Simply peel and stick to your keys to customize your keyboard.

Gill Studios, Inc.
Booth # 3925



The newest version of the Instax lineup of cameras, the smaller and much sleeker Mini 70 camera features a high-performance flash for better exposed pictures and a hi-key mode for beautiful and enhanced skin tones.  Additional features include a selfie mode for great self portraits and a convenient self-timer that will shoot up to two photos at a time for picture sharing capability.

Fujifilm USA, Inc.
Booth # 5970



Custom-shaped retractable earbuds will bring a smile to any recipient and keep your brand in their hands and in their ears. Feel free to get creative since this product can be customized to any design.

Promobilia Corp.
Booth #6223


The Pyramid Awards Celebrate Distributor Creative Excellence

By James Khattak

Tuesday night at the PPAI Awards Presentation & Reception, the Association and the industry honored 27 companies with the PPAI Pyramid Award for their outstanding use of promotional products. The Pyramid Awards represent promotional excellence at its best by shining a spotlight on distributors’ creative use of promotional products for a variety of client programs and initiatives.

This year’s recipients were recognized for their accomplishments in 11 categories reflecting business-to-business and consumer campaigns, employee incentive and internal communications programs, and sales incentives, among others.

Congratulations to this year’s winners.

Silver Pica Marketing Group

Bronze LeRoe Corporate Gifts, Inc.

Bronze Promotional Alliance, Inc.

Progressive Promotions, Inc.

Gold Shumsky

Silver All That Jazz, an iPROMOTEu affiliate

Bronze Bamko Promotional Items

Concepts & Associates, Inc.

Silver Geiger

Bronze Geiger

Gold AB Unlimited
Indiana Metal Craft
R.S. Owens & Company, division of St Regis Crystal

Silver JR Resources
Milano Worldwide Corp.

Silver Bamko Promotional Items

Bronze Axis Promotions

Silver Freestyle Marketing
Silver Geiger
Bronze Corporate Specialties LLC


Silver Geiger

Gephart Marketing Solutions, LLC

Gold Hillarys LLC

Silver Summit Group, LLC

Silver The Planet Group, an iPROMOTEu affi liate

Bronze AB Unlimited

Bronze Xpert Media Management


Gold Business Impact Group

Silver Gephart Marketing Solutions, LLC

Silver The Planet Group, an iPROMOTEu affi liate

Bamko Promotional Items

Silver Grapevine Designs LLC

Hillarys LLC

Silver Threadmasters

Bronze ID, Inc.

Sponsored By: Visions/Awardcraft

PPAI Supplier Achievement Awards Celebrate Best In Craftsmanship, Creativity

By Tina Berres Filipski

The work of 58 supplier companies was praised Tuesday night at the PPAI Awards Presentation & Reception in categories ranging from embroidery and sublimation to metal striking and etching. Congratulations to these companies—winners of the 2016 PPAI Supplier Achievement Awards.

Indiana Metal Craft 3351

Silver Bruce Fox, Inc. 3775

BIC Graphic USA 5431

Silver MediaTree 6055

Silver Navitor 3875, 3876


Gold Waterleaf Studios 6308

Silver BAG MAKERS, Inc. 3825

Silver Prestige Glass International 6306

Promobilia Corp. 6223

Silver Promobilia Corp. 6223

Prestige Glass International 6306

Silver Promobilia Corp. 6223


Silver KeepSake Box USA 5777

Silver Picnic Time, Inc. 2233

Gold MiPen Company 6312

Gold Pop! Promos 4056

Silver JMTek – CorporateKey 5267, 5366

Silver Next Products, Inc. 1656

Castelli North America, Inc.

Stouse, Inc. 2850

Silver Next Products, Inc. 1656

Vantage Apparel 5331

Vantage Apparel 5331

Silver Vantage Apparel 5331

St Regis Crystal Inc. 6304

Silver Prestige Glass International 6306

Silver Prestige Glass International 6306

Stouse, Inc. 2850

Silver Gill Studios, Inc. 3925

Bruce Fox, Inc. 3775

Gold R.S. Owens & Company, a div. of St Regis Crystal 6304

Silver Bruce Fox, Inc. 3775

Silver LogoIncluded 5866


Gold SELCO 833

Gold SELCO 833

Gold Visions/Awardcraft 6104, 6105
Adwerx Communications, aniPROMOTEu affiliate

Gold BAG MAKERS, Inc. 3825
The Prestigious Mark

Castelli North America, Inc. 5031

Silver BIC Graphic USA 5431

Starline 6140, 6141

Silver Moderne Glass Co., Inc. 3136

Silver Toddy Gear 3078

Buffalo Bay 1326

Gold Buffalo Bay 1326

Silver K & R Precision Corp. 6222, 6225

Silver Suntex Industries 3750

BIC Graphic USA 5431

Gold SELCO 833

Global Promo, LLC 1771

Gold KTI Networks / KTI Promo 6315

Silver BIC Graphic USA 5431

Stouse, Inc. 2850

Silver Prime Resources Corp. 5817


Gold In Your Face Apparel 1744

Silver SAVI CUSTOMS 1268

Silver Towel Specialties 2750, 2751

Sponsored By: R.S. Owens & Company, a div. of St Regis Crystal