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The Everest of Expos!

Whilst you were summering it up in Australia during January, I was trumping it up in America!

This was travel for both work and play!

The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo was the main purpose for the trip – the biggest industry expo in America. We are talking 11,000 distributors representing 4,000 companies and 30 countries, attended by over 20,000+ people. The Everest of Expos, both in respect to the variety of products, the exhibition space … and trying to get through it in three days. Then throw in the Las Vegas location – the epicentre of ‘can you make it bigger and better’!  

With something as big as this, you have to plan and be selective from the start, or you could find yourself lost in the noise, hype and excitement.

The opportunity to attend this Expo in Vegas was a milestone for not only my business, but also for me personally …. as I extended the time to experience America is a completely different way.

We, my husband and I, experienced Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco and then drove to Las Vegas via California Highway 1 for a stay in San Simeon, home to the amazing Hearst Castle. We miraculously stumbled across over 3,000 elephant seals that come to the coastline every year to give birth and mate….But that is for another time and something I would be happy to share if you are thinking about travelling to America.

So, back to the show.

We had a plan and it worked very well.

The first two to three days were purely education in sales and marketing, specific to the promotional products industry. I attended a lot different educational sessions. I think it was 16 in total. Customer Service online and offline, continues to be top of mind. There was also a lot of education around high performance selling, unifying sales teams and the latest trends and topics related to social media, metrics, branding and positioning. A great opportunity to immerse myself in how the world is seeing business and integrating promotional products to further extend and leverage marketing communication and programs.

For the following three days I walked the Trade Show floor on the lookout for new products or a new and fresh approach to existing lines and found the segments with a lot of momentum are:

1. ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS are big and only getting bigger. Which is great to see. Recycled straws, recycled materials, less materials, reusable straws, bags, containers for food and drinks.

2. BLING AND MORE BLING! What I mean is bling decoration on anything and everything – bags, drink bottles, in cars, books, clothing, phones. I don’t think this is going anywhere soon. The asian influence in our markets continues to grow, and anything bling acts as a means of creating your own signature add on. Click on the image below to view the Sequin Artwork.

3. SOCKS has turned into a means of self expression. We are seeing a lot of branded socks out there. If designed with the customer and positioning in mind – this is very effective.

4. DENIM. The days of denim are definitely not behind us. There is a lot of denim still to be lived. It’s exciting to see the different ways in which this material is being integrated with other materials – and bringing new life to products we haven’t seen before.

5. THE EXPO LIVE ‘GET IN TOUCH’ interactive stage was also a good bit of fun. There is where live product demonstrations and interviews with industry leaders were streamed. A non-guilt rest break!

Also throw in the very talented, knowledgeable and ENGAGING KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

David Goggins, the closing speaker, was a stand out for me. He spoke on the topic “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great”.  An inspiring talk about personal accountability and building momentum. He spoke about in the early challenges in his life, becoming a Navy SEAL in most elite unit in the American military, and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training. He also was in the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man, and Air Force tactical air controller training. A few years later he became one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world.

Scott Stratten was also another great speaker . Who was named a top five social media power influencer by Forbes. He has completely changed how corporations do business. During his presentation, he shared his ‘radical’ insights on how to engage better with customers through social and viral marketing and blended real-world strategies with memorable stories to rethink the way we market and sell.

Connie Podesta … well I have not laughed so much at this stand out presentation on sales as I’ve never heard it being presented before.  As an award-winning author, Podesta is an expert on the psychology of sales, leadership, change, life balance and getting your act together, which helped to inspire industry professionals to do what it takes to increase sales, attract and retain more customers, build longer-lasting relationships, strengthen leadership skills and become more profitable, happier and successful.

So back to our plan for the show. It worked well. Or we thought it was working well. Until….we heard about the ‘Pop Up Puppy Stand’. (Which was amongst foodie pop-ups chocolate-dipped bacon, meatballs and rolled ice cream and caricature artists and an illusionists). In a flash we made a run to cuddle the most beautiful puppies.

This is genius marketing distraction and also drove traffic to less populated areas of the venue … and the perfect reminder that we are fundamentally, as humans, emotionally driven. Which brings me back to why promotional products continue to work.

Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO said. “Promotional products are the only medium that allow us to connect with consumers on a tangible level”.

The benefit of tangible connections, is increasing emotion, trust and engagement – which are the foundation for establishing sustainable business and brands.

If you would like more information about the show and the latest promotional products please get in touch – info@turnkeypromotions.com.au

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