Las Vegas Tradeshow 2022

Two Major Announcements Kick Off The PPAI Expo

The PPAI Expo 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada, began only minutes ago, and already two marketplace-shaping announcements have been made.

First, the Association has set plans to hold a pair of end buyer-facing events in 2022. The first Promotional Products Work Expo will be held virtually in late spring. The events will be geared toward distributors and the clients they invite, providing education based on PPAI’s research into why promotional products are effective marketing tools.

The events are intended to help foster creativity and inspire ideas for buyers to work more cohesively and successfully with their distributors. In addition to the content and education, clients will be able to visit supplier booths and engage with their distributor hosts. More details will be shared during PPAI Direct-2-You (D2U), February 22-24, and the new events will be held on the same platform as D2U.

PPAI also introduced discussion to create an open standard through its service providers, primarily SAGE, to simplify communications between distributors and suppliers so that every member has ease of access to data and information. These industry standards will be designed to help ensure suppliers can communicate inventory, order status and more to customers in real time.

PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, says the impact of industry standards will be to ease friction points felt across the marketplace. “It looks like this: When you are about to place an order, you know if the supplier has inventory without ever having to place a phone call,” Denham says. “When the order is placed, if you need to give your client an update, you’ll know when it’s going to ship, or if it’s shipped and the tracking number.”

Suppliers can begin implementing industry standards through SAGE now, and its open standards features will roll out for other order management systems in the second quarter.

Denham made the announcements just before welcoming keynote speaker Simon T. Bailey to The PPAI Expo Conference stage for the kickoff of Monday’s education sessions. The two initiatives flow from PPAI’s new vision and mission, products of nearly two years of analysis and discussion by the Association’s Board of Directors. The mission, Denham unveiled, is “to be the voice and the force to advance the promotional marketplace for the benefit of our community.”

The spring Promotional Products Work Expo, likely to be held in either May or June, is a precursor to what will become an annual event slated for the third quarter. The virtual shows are a direct result of PPAI’s new mission statement, giving distributors a way to remain top of mind for clients by providing information on ways to leverage promotional products and a reason to reach out with an invitation. The second event of 2022, in September, will prepare end buyers for the holiday gifting season as well as engage their thinking about promo budgeting and initiatives for 2023.

PPAI board chairman Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, sums up Promotional Products Work Expo as an opportunity for clients to learn how to “work strategically with their distributors to help the clients advance their objectives.” The show will reinforce to end buyers PPAI’s newly-announced vision: “Promotional products are universally valued and essential for every brand.”

Pottebaum says the Board began working on the new vision and mission statements prior to the onset of the pandemic, but took a step back to evaluate changing circumstances in light of COVID-19. The statements were finalized during a three-day Board planning session last fall.

“I think this is really, really powerful,” says Pottebaum of the impacts that will come from the revised vision and mission. “I believe it has the possibility of changing the trajectory of the Association, the members and the industry.”

Also developed in conjunction with the new guiding statements is a strategic plan, which Denham highlighted Monday. Major areas of focus for the Association will be corporate social responsibility, digital transformation within the industry and enhanced content offerings to inform and empower members.

The PPAI Expo, back in person this week for the first time since 2020, has already led to some of the collisions and creativity that drive the industry. Of the Promotional Products Work Expo announcement, Denham on Sunday received an endorsement from incoming PPAI Hall of Fame member Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, who overheard Denham describing it during a rehearsal. Quicksell says one of his consulting clients in 2021 held a similar event for the buyers he works with, to great success.

“We invited 120 people to this end-user event, and 89 showed up and stayed the entire time,” says Quicksell. “The revenue he generated was over $220,000 from just that hour and a half.”

That information, shared during a chance collision between colleagues, is a testament to how important it is to have The PPAI Expo back this week, and with it the countless opportunities that are sure to sprout in Las Vegas.

“The Expo is where the community comes together,” says Pottebaum.

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