As a former Director of Marketing, turned fairly recent Account Manager at a promotional products distributor, I thought I knew SWAG. You know Stuff We All Get: Promotional products, tschoskies, giveaways, whatever you choose to call it. After attending my inaugural Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo – the promo industry’s premier showcase event – in Vegas last week I realized very quickly that I don’t know,
shit er SWAG at all.
First and foremost, I have never met a better bunch of people. Promo people – both on the supplier and industry side – are truly some of the nicest I have met over the span of my career. (And it spans a lot of years and industries so that’s saying something.) These people are here to help. They don’t even care if you are a competitor. There was none of the “I’m bigger/better/know more than you” attitudes that I’ve encountered at other industry conferences and shows. The mindset from everyone I met was completely one of “there’s enough room for all of us here.”
But back to the SWAG. I had been warned that walking the trade show floor for the first time would be a bit overwhelming. That was a gross understatement. You guys, if you have ever wondered if a product existed, I am here to tell you that it does, and I’ve now seen it in every color option. For two full days we browsed aisles and aisles of stuff. Some new and exciting and some tried and true staples. I’m here to tell you (as an insider now), you have no idea what’s out there and available. You, like me, don’t know SWAG.
Seeing all the stuff last week opened my eyes. I now know when I was on the buying side, I was limited by what I thought I knew. As a Director of Marketing for a credit union that bought a lot of SWAG, I was jaded. Nothing ever excited me because I thought I had seen it all. There was never any wow factor because we always ordered the same swag over and over. Until we found our perfect distributor match – one who saw our potential and helped me sift through the clutter. I only thought I had seen it all because we were never seeing anything new. It took a distributor who had a different, creative approach to help our organization not only uncover products we’d never considered as options but convinced us to use them in new and different ways. I was truly wowed by their process and the way they made promo so easy (Yes, I’m talking about INM). When I was ready to make a career change, after some post-layoff and Covid-shutdown soul searching, they were one of the first companies I reached out to. Lucky for me they were hiring.
At INM, we don’t just want to sell you promotional products. We aim to help our clients utilize branded merchandise in ways they never imagined. We are the eyes and ears for our clients, uncovering new products and new ways to reach their goals. It’s why we ask so many questions up front, even when you think you know what you want. We can see what you aren’t able to envision…yet. We KNOW what’s out there. And thanks to last week’s PPAI experience, we’ve literally seen it all too!
Yes, there will always be a need for clicky pens and notepads (and we are happy to help you with that) but promo goes so much deeper and that’s where INM thrives. If you aren’t utilizing merch for more than giveaways, you are limiting your reach. So many organizations are not taking advantage of all the ways promo can help their business – whether it’s retention, acquisition, gifting, onboarding, influencing, Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives, or something still beyond your imagination – we can help uncover all the ways branded promo can be beneficial for your organization, and believe it or not, your bottom line.
Don’t limit yourself to what you think you know. There are a lot of amazing products out there you haven’t seen. Let us be your eyes and ears. It’s our specialty and one we are pretty darn good at. And just for fun here are a few of my favorite pics of our team exploring Vegas together!