The future of promotional marketing is bright, but it is facing a shift in values. It is time for us to plan for that shift. Here is how we see the future shaping up, coupled with some promises to you, our loyal, bold clients who are hungry for a tired industry to breathe fresh life into itself…

  1. In the future, we will focus on a creative shift to “Designing Beyond a Logo.” We will try not to emblazon your logo on merchandise to be given to people who do not have a relationship with your brand. We will help you focus on less LOGOSLAPPING and more beautiful design and messaging with subtle logo treatments. To that end, we will partner with more designers, artisans and creatives.
  1. We believe there is a fun crisis in business. In the future, we think there will be blurred lines between business to consumer and business to business marketing. As you read, we are living through “Merchmageddon.” B2C brands like Kraft are creating pajamas with all-over printed dayglo orange mac and cheese noodles and are selling them out with limited-edition merch drops. Your B2B brand likely wants to drive fun into its organization and take a page from B2C brand merch activations. Did someone say “fun”? We’re in.
  1. Our shared future will be about less crap and more quality. We must all hold ourselves accountable with regard to the products and packaging we put into our world. Boxes, polystyrene, bubble wrap and bad promo that becomes “brandfill.” We will reduce our environmental footprint with a carbon tracker tool and offer responsible product and packaging alternatives.
  1. Today, we sell quantity at scale. In the future, we will sell quality at scale. If your customer has a lifetime value of $150,000, we will not sell you a silly-shaped foam stress reliever or lame $.99 ceramic mug that will end up in Aunt Sallie’s garage sale. We will challenge you to think about our products as an investment versus a line item. Did someone say, “access to retail brands with your design?” You becha.
  1. In the future, product search technology will be enhanced.
    • In the future, we think products will have a life expectancy designation. We hope to share stats to make better suggestions towards your purchase of sustainable products that last. Again, less crap. More quality.
    • In the future, we think we will be able to recommend products that will be a match for a particular demographic. For example, you will be able to find the ideal giveaway for 50-year-old active males in the hospitality industry on the west coast.
    • In the future, you will be able to rate products, access peer reviews, and thereby help us with a better relationship with transparency and quality.
  1. In the future, you will purchase based on trends. For example, today, we need to invest in trends like “home as the new domain,” wellness, on-demand, smart offices and workspaces, remote work, tech, social media influences fashion, online learning, NFTs, blockchain, AI, efficiency … and crowd-pleaser, a focus on employee happiness.
  1. In the future, we think Human Resources, not Marketing, is where more of your brand merchandising dollars will be spent. We promise to help you invest more deeply in recruiting and retaining the best employees, in particular, those who are remote.
  1. In the future, as events continue to reemerge and digital events improve, we will deliver experiences in a box that are on-brand, on-budget and on-time.
  1. In 2021, $700B was spent on Digital Marketing globally. In the future, we will triple down on Phygital Marketing – the marriage of digital + physical (our products). We will help you enhance your digital marketing strategy. For ex., sign up for a demo or answer a survey and get a cool branded product.
  1. In the future, we will help you give your end recipients a choice of what they want versus what you think they want. Giving everyone the same thing in the future will be a fail. We will design build new platforms to personalize your employee or customer’s experience with your branded gear.
  1. In the future, you will be able to customize products coupled with decorate-on-demand solutions. We will take a page from the OreoID and Nike ByU playbooks.
  1. In the future, we will marry your digital efforts with in-person activations AND great giveaways. Here is an example: A Burbank hamburger restaurant will give you 10% off your meal if you order it in the voice of Randy Savage (the pro wrestler who did the snap into a slim jim ads). Better yet, they give you your meal for free if you body slam a friend. Marketing is about participation, not just promotion. ps this restaurant should be giving away a t-shirt instead of a meal.
  1. Everything we know about cheap products from China may be wrong – the reliance, the lack of quality and transparency, the commoditization. The future alternative? A “Maker Revolution.” More made in USA. Crowd-investing in new ideas. Partnerships with artisans. This will help us deliver unique, one-of-a-kind “ungettable gets” to you and your audience. And yes, it will cost more but we think the impacts and outcomes will be well worth it.
  1. In the future, we will leverage predictive inventory analysis to help you with efficiencies and cost savings.
  1. In the future, through technology and even simple QR Codes, we will be able to deliver more of what you crave and deserve – ROI analysis.
  1. In the future, we will build on our industry’s role and potential in the world view. We will help you unify voices, build pride, and stimulate activism.
  1. In the future, the 5th P of marketing, PURPOSE, will reshape what matters in your business. New socially progressive employees and consumers will demand it. Cause-marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts will be a part of every strategic plan. And we will leverage our products to help you.

And yet, some things will remain. We will continue to challenge you to think differently about who we are and to show value. We will help leverage your branded merch in a growing digital world. We will work to better understand your business, brand and industry. We will continue to present sustainable and quality products. We will not settle by selling you products that do not help your brand even if doing so pays for our kid’s braces. We realize doing so damages your, our and our industry’s reputation. We will put an emphasis on earning the role of your “trusted partner.”

And we promise to add more fuel to your brand. Every. Single. Time. Thank you for placing confidence and faith in our team.

[Access co-President, Danny Rosin’s industry call to action from PPAI EXPO in Las Vegas on January 12, 2022, HERE]