How seriously are you taking your education?

We’ve just finished attending PPAI’s annual EXPO which, in a “normal” year, is an opportunity for us to meet with others in the industry, network with like-minded industry professionals, see the best and latest products available, and learn and grow by attending education sessions.

PPAI knows the importance of this annual event, and despite all the COVID-related issues, they were able to pull off a virtual event that, given feedback from attendees, was fantastic overall. Much of this praise is due to the number and variety of education sessions available to virtual show attendees. Whether it was a pre-recorded keynote speaker session from years past or it was a live Q&A or product demonstration, the quality of this year’s education was outstanding.

Why should this be important to each of us? It’s because our level of professionalism, the knowledge we bring to our clients, and the expertise we can share with others makes our industry unique. Distributors are the vital link between the customer and the supplier or product manufacturer. The distributor is the primary point person for the client and that client relies on their distributor partner to help them with branding, marketing strategy, and effective promotional programs. It’s where we add value to the customer and can become an indispensable partner.

At Vernon, we’ve always believed that ongoing education is key to our success. This is why at EXPO this year, we offered two unique educational sessions to show-goers.

The first session, which was recorded and can be downloaded here, featured a Q&A session with Jamie Watson from Certified Marketing Consultants. CMC has been providing consulting services to the industry for many years, helping guide distributors who are considering selling their businesses or are contemplating retirement, on the right path. From business evaluations to advice on how to make your business more valuable, Jamie and the entire team at EXPO are truly the experts. They’re also offering a new service for distributors to provide assistance with tax preparations, a much-needed area of education for distributor owners. Plus, Jamie is very well-known in the industry for her expertise with accounting best practices and her no-nonsense approach to business.

The second session Vernon hosted, was an exciting one for attendees, as underscored by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received. Lauren Bailey, the founder of Factor8, the Sales Bar and Girls Club, held virtual audience members captive with her engaging and enlightening presentation about transitioning from in-person to virtual sales. Lauren is a rockstar! As a twenty-year veteran of the Inside Sales industry, she has traveled the world to launch successful Inside Sales teams, working with in-house and outsourced sales teams primarily focusing on IT, Software, and Distribution. Past clients include SAP, Sony, Waste Management, Ingram Micro, Grainger, Microsoft & Google. During our hour-long education session, attendees were rewarded with solid, actionable takeaways and tips for being more proactive and comfortable with selling virtually.

If you were unable to attend either of these sessions, you will truly benefit from watching the recordings. Fire up the laptop, get your pen and paper ready, and prepare to get your education on!

We were excited to offer these sessions to the industry during EXPO, and we definitely look forward to more engaging education to come!

Building Today to Create Future Success in Promo

As we’ve all seen, world events can take a huge toll on your business. Recently some of the biggest effects have been seen leading from COVID. It’s easy to say, “I’ll wait for all of this to blow over” or “My client will come back with their orders when they’re ready.” But the real question is, “How can I build today to set up for success down the road?” The following are a couple of different ways to help with that, including utilizing PPE and social media.

Have you suddenly been thrown into the new and sometimes complex world of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? Many of us have had to learn to expand our perspectives and sometimes move beyond our comfort zone to offer clients an entirely new category of promo products. For some, who jumped on the bandwagon early or who already had experience selling to hospitals, clinics, and other medical professionals, this wasn’t a huge stretch. For the rest of us, however, we’ve had to rethink not only what we can sell right now, but who we are selling to. And the scary situation that we’re often faced with is, even if we get that order, is it a one-and-done?

One way to keep building your business is to look at those new PPE customers as a potential promo/apparel client with long term potential. After you have given them excellent service and competitive pricing, build on that. Similar to your current clients, you can send them a thank you as a way to show them appreciation for the business, but you can include a unique sample to show them the other side of the business you can help them with, making sure that they’re aware that the branding opportunities you can offer them are endless.

Now that so many businesses have been switching over to work from home and similar models, how do you plan on getting in front of new buyers? One suggestion is to start using social media to your advantage. Many local business groups and even municipalities have started hosting virtual town hall meetings. Joining in on these and then connecting with the attendees on social media (LinkedIn or similar) could be a new way to get in front of those businesses. After connecting with these new leads, you can easily message them and introduce yourself and share what you can do to help them. Beyond virtual meeting connections, use social media platforms as a resource for finding new leads that you think could be beneficial. Building these connections and then posting content to keep in front of the new potential clients can take time, but it is another tool to add to your arsenal to stay in front of clients in a world where emails are quickly overlooked.

Adding PPE clients to your regular business programs along with marketing yourself through social media are just a couple of ways you can continue to build for future success.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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