Community

DanaZ_ppaf2013

Dana Zezzo talking about Social Media

As a distributor it’s easy to forget that you are connected to a group of distributors, suppliers, industry associations, volunteers and supplier representatives.  It is the whole group that introduces new and exciting products, keeps products safe, educates new sales reps and law makers and responds to consumer trends and needs.  It’s the community I’ve forgotten about in the last couple years since our transition to a virtual assistant service.

The past couple days I attended meetings and an exhibition at the PPAF expo.  That’s Promotional Products Association of Florida for those not in the know.  A room of competitors gathered together to listen to Dana Zezzo, from Jetline, talk about the power of Social Media.  If you haven’t bought into it yet let me pass along one thing to make you think about it.  If your client who you’ve been doing business with decides to take another job will they contact you?  If the answer is ‘yes’ then I’m happy that you have the time to foster awesome relationships with your clients.  Most likely your client will be busy training a new person, emptying the years of stuff they have collected in the office and mentally preparing to make the change and fit the vacation in between jobs.  So you call them to share a new product you think they’d like or see if they are doing to the calendars this year and you’re told “John no longer works here, you’ll have to speak with Sue who just started”. Back to square one…

If you had connected with John on LinkedIn, you would know he left and be able to congratulate him on his new job.  LinkedIn is not just social media, it’s a community bulletin board for professionals on the move.  It’s a relationship management tool.

balloon palmThe second day of the PPAF expo I attended the keynote speech, led by Paul Bellantone, president and CEO of Promotional Products Association International (PPAI).  Again, a room of competitors gathered together to listen as Paul talked about the impact of budget cuts and safety regulations on our industry.  Pretty scary stuff.  Paul stressed the need for our industry to act as a community to educate ourselves on the importance of product safety and educate our users on the importance of promotional products in marketing messaging.  Did you know promotional products have a higher retention rate over any other marketing media?  When the right item is selected for a campaign we avoid the instant disposal that occurs with other media. Again, I was reminded about the importance of community.

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After the keynote I spent a few hours meeting with supplier representatives gathering information both work and personal.  I’ve known some of these reps for 12+ years as we tend to stay in the industry even after changing jobs.  The reps work all year traveling to shows and visiting clients to share news about new items, trends, services and case studies.  A show is a great opportunity to see people you’ve worked with, people you’ve gotten to know through the years and meet new people.  I was lucky enough to accomplish all three and see first hand the community at work.

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