Trust And Connections Drive The Marketing Revolution

By James Khattak

In today’s interconnected world, the only resource that matters is who trusts you, who’s listening to you and who’s connected to you. That, says Expo East Keynote & Cocktails speaker Seth Godin, is the revolution of the digital age. “We are living in a revolution. Revolutions destroy the perfect and enable the impossible. And something impossible is happening in your industry,” he says.

Godin ended Expo East’s opening day Thursday on a strong, inspiring note, drawing an enthusiastic crowd to the show’s annual Keynote & Cocktails event. A bestselling author, blogger and agent of change, Godin also spoke to the industry at The PPAI Expo 2016 in Las Vegas.

Marketing and media have undergone a sea change in recent decades. When Henry Ford pioneered industrialism, he ushered in the age of mass production. The world learned to make a lot of the same, identical thing. But how do you distribute and sell a lot of the same thing? Middlemen. Mass production led to mass marketing. And that, says Godin, worked for 75 years. “It was magic. Attention was cheap, you could buy a lot of it, and make a profit.”

Mass production leads to “more and more and more.” It leads to average products for average people. We were all the same, says Godin, until the internet.

When we are connected, we create value. The core of Godin’s connected economy isn’t spin or buzz or clicks. It’s not the story or the price. It’s the product or service. The connected economy’s core has to be something worth connecting to. In operation, it is governed by four factors: coordination, trust, permission and the exchange of ideas. These depend on generosity and art. “No one wants to connect to a greedy person. No one wants to connect to a boring person.”

“Cows are boring,” says Godin. “They’re all the same. But what if there was a purple cow. A purple cow is remarkable! And all remarkable means is ‘worth talking about.’ Who gets to decide that? Not you. It’s the person who chooses to talk about it.”

When a business or product stands out from the crowd, and people choose to use or buy it, price isn’t the point. When you’re the only one, Godin explained, the story, the legend, is the point. And the world today is one of abundance. There is an unlimited amount of choice and information available. The good news is that every customer in the world is available to you. The bad news is that every competitor is only a click away.

Humans are hardwired to do what other people are doing. There is opportunity in being the person to take the first step and create connections among the community, audience or tribe. Godin says that this hardwiring is why marketing today can be reduced down to seven simple words: “People like us do things like this.”

“Why aren’t you dating your prospects?” asks Godin. “Why isn’t your business based on turning strangers into friends, rather than customers? Keeping in touch is free. The only two challenges you have are trust and attention.”

Trust and attention are only going to get more valuable, Godin stressed, as the bell curve that defines a “normal” person melts away every day. “Day by day, there are more people outside of normal. The people on the edges are weird, that means they’re interested, that means they’re looking for you as long as you don’t try and sell them something for normal people.”

Connecting with these people requires showing leadership, doing something new and doing your best work. Godin defines your best work as “making change happen” but cautions, “Change has an ugly stepbrother that’s always there: tension. But if failure is not an option, neither is success. Innovation is failing over and over again. As Kurt Vonnegut said, ‘We have to throw ourselves off cliffs to grow wings on the way down.’”

Godin closed his keynote with an encouraging nod toward the audience and its potential. “There’s a difference between being ready and being prepared. None of you are ready, but you’re all prepared. Someone in this room is going to change everything, whether you are ready or not. They’re going to discover a new kind of generosity or art.”

See These Top Sellers At The Expo East Product Pavilion

By Tina Berres Filipski

Registered distributors visiting the Expo East Product Pavilions early Thursday morning got a chance to browse through dozens of top-selling products available from show exhibitors an hour before the show opened at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The Product Pavilion is open during show hours and is located on the trade-show floor. Below is a selection of products that caught my eye.



The Cobra VR™ Viewer allows the user to experience virtual reality with only a phone. Simply start any virtual reality app, insert the phone into the Cobra VR and look through the lenses to see the virtual world.
It works with iPhone and Android. HandStands, Booth #2300








Taking along a cool beverage is easier than ever with the 26-ounce Tritan flair bottle with flip straw and handle lid in luscious, translucent colors. Garyline, Booth #2301







coolerKeep 20 cans of soda chilled in this durable can cooler that also doubles as a trunk organizer. Constructed of non-woven polypropylene, it’s fully padded and insulated with large front and back sleeve pockets. Continental Marketing Services, Booth #2631






cutting boardKeep your customer’s brand front and center on every dinner table with this bamboo trivet edged with silicone. It comes in three whimsical shapes: a pig, chicken and apple. Minya International Corporation, Booth #2314







Water bottlesThe next time you reach for a bottle of water, make sure it’s one with a brightly colored cap. Choose from 14 cap colors, including tangerine and ruby, each filled with 12 ounces of spring water. Water Promotions, Booth #2218











paracordPlay it safe with a polyester Paracord survival bracelet with built-in emergency whistle. It carries almost 10 feet of cord that can be used in countless survival situations and has an easy-release plastic buckle. Choose from seven colors and color combinations, including camouflage. The Premium Line, Booth #2031







emblemThe Minute-Mark emblem is a new application emblem that can be applied on almost all delicate garments and can be sealed with a heat seal machine set at a low temperature or with a hand iron. Thermopatch, dba DECO-Print, Booth #507








mug for EE editor's picksMake a company anniversary celebration extra special by choosing a clear glass mug embedded with an original, vintage nickel from the company’s founding year. Vintage Coin Concepts, Booth #2437

Expo East Opens On A High Note

Expo East signs

By Tina Berres Filipski

The doors opened at Expo East in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Thursday morning marking the show’s fourth year in the city and the second in conjunction with the Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS). The show, running through Saturday at the Atlantic City Convention Center, is designed to provide an experience similar to The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, with the same high level of exhibits, education and networking events.

“Expo East continues its evolution this year by co-locating once again with The Imprinted Sportswear Show,” says Darel Cook, PPAI director of expositions. “Based on last year’s member feedback, we adjusted the show days to take better advantage of our members’ work days and much better hotel rates. This has proven to be beneficial to the show as our pre-registration numbers are up eight percent over 2015. Along with similar increases from the ISS pre-registration, we expect a very successful show.”

Expo East presenter

Eric C. Rackoff, president of the Specialty Advertising Association Of Greater New York (SAAGNY) and account manager for Staples Promotional Products, sees the show as the place to build integral relationships. “The show is a must-see for the East Coast to meet and build relationships with local supplier reps,” he says. “It is important to have those relationships when you need that rush done, have an issue with an order and, of course, need a special price. It is impossible to have all the suppliers’ reps come to every office on the East Coast but to see them in one location is easy.”

Hundreds of attendees arrived at the convention center for Education Day on Tuesday and attended their choice of more than 50 education sessions in seven tracks focusing on pertinent topics from product safety to growing margins to embroidery how-tos.

“The buzz during professional development day was great,” says Tom Goos, MAS, PPAI board chair and president of Image Source, Inc. “I sat in on some valuable sessions and took away some great nuggets of information.”

Among those who also spent time in the education sessions was Deanna Cross, president of Business Incentives, a division of CarCross Company, Inc., who attended with the goal of earning her CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist) designation. “I’m hoping to get my CAS soon so all the offerings here are very beneficial to me,” she says, noting her plans to attend five sessions on Wednesday and Thursday to earn the needed credits. Cross says that even though she’s been working in the family business since she was 14 and in a full-time capacity for the past five years, earning her CAS is an important, personal achievement.


Gail Deutchman, president of Distinctive Promotions, also drove in early for the education and plans to stay for the entire show. “Distributors need to come to the show to get educated and
to validate our relationships with our suppliers because they are our best friends,” she says. “If we work with them, they’ll help us create sales for our clients.”

Industry newbie and first-time attendee Anthony Pepe, sales coordinator for The Embroidery Factory, attended Wednesday’s keynote luncheon featuring speaker Diane Ciotta and was positive about his first experiences. “The company owner encouraged me to come out here for training,” he says. “I’m looking to take back successful strategies which I’ve learned in the three sessions I’ve been in. It’s all about listening to the customer to see what they want and offering things that will help them and that they will benefit from.”

Expo East is also an important show to Mike Delaney, principal at Calico Enterprises, who has attended for the past several years. “I come here to get my batteries recharged. I can learn a lot,” says the former weekly newspaper owner and ad salesperson who lives nearby. “It’s easy for me to get here. My wife is meeting me here tonight and we’ll be on the show floor tomorrow.”

Trent Geis, sales/marketing consultant at distributor Ray Hough Company, has attended the show for the past six years. “I always find the education sessions helpful—I always learn something. I’m always looking for ideas to pass on to my customers and this is one of the best places to get them. Making contacts with the different representatives and vendors is also really important. It’s good to know your sales rep because you never know when you are going to need something—quicker shipping, free samples, better pricing and those are the guys who are going to make things happen.”

Professional development continues on Thursday with Keynote & Cocktails, a free education and networking event featuring memorable speaker and master marketer Seth Godin beginning at 4:30 pm in Room 402. Additional free sessions will be offered on Friday and Saturday.

Expo East is open Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 5 pm and on Saturday from 10 am – 3 pm.

Keynote Speaker Diane Ciotta Shares The Importance Of Impressions And Integrity

By Tina Berres Filipski

Expo East speaker Diane Ciotta
Diane Wednesday

“It’s all about the imprint,” said Expo East speaker Diane Ciotta to her audience during her keynote luncheon presentation on Wednesday. But she was quick to point out she was not talking about printing or decorating promotional products—she wasn’t talking about products at all. Ciotta’s point was that her listeners had the power to make a mark or impression on their customers through their motivation, passion, integrity and ability to relate. “It’s not about making a sale, it’s about making a difference,” she said. “That’s the impression we leave on people.”

Ciotta started her career in retail sales and was frustrated when she was told she couldn’t go past a certain physical point in the store to approach customers. She had to wait for them to come to her. In contrast, promotional products salespeople must go where their customers are in order to solve their problems. However, she cautioned listeners to remember to keep customers’ needs in mind before their own. “‘What’s in it for me’ is the only language your customer speaks,” she said. Without that, potential customers will stereotype you as pushy, self-centered, money-hungry and dishonest. Instead, you want them to see you as helpful, knowledgeable, caring and interested in their needs.

Integrity is another quality that’s critical to effective and successful salespeople. “It’s something that can’t be compromised,” she said. “You can’t rationalize it. Integrity isn’t something you pay for but if we lose it, it will cost you everything.”

She also emphasized the importance of being able to tailor sales approaches and follow-up calls specifically to the individual business of each client, whether that means wearing a business suit to see a banker client, dressing in jeans and boots to visit a farm equipment supply company or making yourself comfortable on a large block of cheese, as Ciotta once did, in the makeshift office of a pizza restaurant when a chair wasn’t available. “Every call is different because every client has a different story and a different type of business,” she said, adding it’s this ability to genuinely recognize and meet individual client needs that can make the biggest impression.

This is the imprint you want your customers to remember.