18Feb/20

2020 PPAI Expo Recap & PPAI Pyramid Award

2020 PPAI Expo Recap

As always is the case, the 2020 PPAI Expo was filled with outstanding education, exciting promotional products, industry networking, education, and a lot of fun!  We had the entire Connect the Dots Promotions team there for the Expo and we had the opportunity to experience a lot.

The CTD team learned about the Power of Sustainability and giving back within the promotional products industry.  The promotional products industry must look at sustainable and valuable ways to strategically use promotional products because, when done the right way, promotional products are an extremely valuable advertising medium that is better than many others.  One great example of a company doing promotional products in a sustainable way with social responsibility in mind is Sandmar.  We love their products and their drive to be a part of the solution rather than the problem by reducing waste and implementing better corporate sustainability efforts.

We also had the opportunity to hear from Ben Nemtin, author and co-founder of The Buried Life movement. He had an incredible and inspiring story that we highly recommend you look into if you have the opportunity to do so.  The big takeaway: Don’t live a buried life, don’t bury your passions and dreams.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we can confidently say that we are passionate about what we do and we want to help you live an unburied life too!

PPAI Pyramid Award

We at Connect the Dots are still on a high from our very own Karie Cowden receiving the PPAI Pyramid Award at the 2020 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas.  The PPAI Pyramid Award honors creative excellence in the promotional products industry.  It also recognizes dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns, and exceptional craftsmanship.  The entire expo was a great experience but it was an incredible honor to be recognized for our hard work and dedication to excellence.

PPAI Pyramid Award Recognition from PPAI:

“In an effort to create sizzle and increase funds for UMOM New Day Centers, Connect the Dots Promotions pitched a rebrand of the current End Homelessness Walk to feature a Guinness World Record attempt.  Refreshing the logo from a tennis shoe to a pair of flip-flops and updating the event name to “Walk the Walk to End Homelessness,” along with providing attendees with branded flip-flops and t-shirts, allowed the event to take on a new life. The flip-flop 1K world record attempt helped UMOM New Day Centers in attracting new donors and raising awareness by connecting all advertising mediums.”

The PPAI Pyramid Award Demonstrates Why You Should Work with Connect the Dots

This award beautifully demonstrates what can happen when you allow Connect the Dots Promotions to coach and help you with your business, brand, event, or marketing and promotional efforts.  For UMOM, giving and donations had plateaued and by implementing our marketing and promotional strategy, they experienced a 60% increase in giving!  

We work closely with our clients and put a substantial effort into creating dynamic partnerships that, when clients fully buy-in, facilitates creativity and growth!  If you are ready to grow your business, brand, or event, Connect the Dots Promotions has the team, creativity, and network to produce exceptional results!

04Feb/20

2020 PPAI Expo – Trends Recap

Attending the PPAI Expo is something that our team at Connect the Dots looks forward to every year.  And, the 2020 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas did not disappoint! One of the reasons we look so forward to the PPAI Expo is learning about the latest trends in promotional products (trust us, this is only one, stay tuned, there will be more blogs soon about the other things we enjoyed while attending!).  

What we really loved about the trends we saw this year is that the trends weren’t simply feature or style-related, there were some trends in the core essence and intention of promotional products.  This is so important because promotional products are not just basic marketing tools, they can be used as powerful and complex tools that are both useful and impactful which further raises brand awareness.

2020 PPAI Expo Trend #1:  Connection & Protection

It is no wonder that we at Connect the Dots loves this trend – it is at the core of what we as s company strive to achieve – connection.  Fleeting moments and flashy trends are fun and can be useful but when it comes to lasting impact that develops true brand-awareness and loyalty, connection is the name of the game.  Promotional products that foster connection include things that make you feel good and/or give back to a specific cause.

When you know better, you do better – or at least that is the hope and trend we are seeing in promotional products for 2020.  Generation Z cares more about protecting the earth more than any generation ever before. Fortunately for our clients, we have special search tools to make it simple to search product lines that give back to specific charities or causes.

2020 PPAI Expo Trend #2: Homeward-Thinking

So often, promotional products are for a specific task or purpose that is work-related (mouse-pad, calendar, pens, etc.), fitness or activity-related (water bottle, gym bag, stress ball, etc.) but now the focus is turning homeward.  By this, we mean that promotional products are much more personal and focused on well-being and quality of life.  For example, sleep is the hottest new luxury – yes, we said sleep.  More and more people know how important sleep is and are making self-care goals to get more sleep – why miss the marketing bandwagon here?  Perhaps a promotional product focused on improving the quality of sleep experience is something that would not only be deeply appreciated but would make a lasting, positive marketing impact.  

Additionally, much more focus is on quality experiences a part of a marketing moment including immersive experiences and other activities that encourage experiential play such as escape rooms or other experiences like Meowolf.  These types of promotional products and experiences encourage people to be present and in the moment and that is certainly a hot trend for 2020!

19Nov/19

Connect the Dots Invests in Continuing Education and Certifications 

Connect the Dots Invests in Continuing Education and Certifications 

At Connect the Dots Promotions, we believe strongly that the best service can only be provided to clients when we are continually striving to learn and improve.  Continuing education and certifications keep us well-informed of industry standards, new technology, creative marketing strategies, and help us develop valuable skills and knowledge that we can pass on to our clients.  The entire Connect the Dots team is invested in our industry and we have recently had the opportunity to do just that through continuing education and certifications.

Marcie Becomes TAS Certified with PPAI

Marcie is a valued member of the Connect the Dots team and recently became TAS certified through PPAI (Promotional Products Association International).  PPAI explains what it means to get your Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) certificate, “The PPAI Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) Certificate is an initiative of PPAI Professional Development aimed at providing promotional products professionals—who are new to the industry—with a source for finding answers to their questions and a plethora of information about the industry.”  We are very proud of Marcie as she keeps working to provide outstanding service to our clients and keeps working towards the next level certification – CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist).  Karie is also proud to be a certified MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) through PPAI.

Karie Participates in the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative

The Small Business Administration or SBA is dedicated to helping Americans start, build, and grow businesses.  Recently, Karie took the opportunity to participate in SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative in which she participated in a series of intensive executive-level educational and training opportunities with the intention of accelerating the growth of high-potential small businesses in America’s underserved cities.  For this training, experiences from advisors and business leaders in urban communities across the country were used to inform the curriculum.  Specialized areas of training include growth strategy planning, financing and access to capital, government contracting, and CEO mentoring.  Karie is constantly learning and staying on the cutting edge of all things business, marketing, and promotional products and this Emerging Leaders Initiative e was certainly in line with that.  The initiative prepares and encourages small businesses to move to a new level and emerge as a self-sustaining business that creates jobs and builds communities – something Connect the Dots Promotions is all about!

 

30Oct/19

5 Holiday Promotional Products for Employees (That They Really Want!)

The holidays are a great time to show employees how much you appreciate their loyalty and dedicated service to your company.  But, we’ve all been on the receiving end of some terrible holiday promotional products and unwanted holiday gifts from an employer.  They go in the desk drawer and never see the light of day again until it is time for spring cleaning, during which they often end up in the trash.  Gasp!  What a waste!   Don’t waste your precious marketing dollars or employee budget on tired, unwanted promotional products.  Not only are promotional products a great way to say ‘thank you,’ but when used correctly, they can also be an excellent marketing tool!  Get a little creative with your employee gifts and keep them motivated with these fun and highly useful employee holiday promotional products!

1.  Power Bank

We have all experienced the dread of our technology running out of battery.  Whether it is your phone, tablet, or laptop – when you are on-the-go, you need power!  But, power may not always be readily available or you may have forgotten that trusty cord to connect your device at home.  Fear not!  A wireless power bank to the rescue!  Whether you are in a theme park, airport, in the car, hiking, or anywhere else, a ready power supply can be right at your fingertips with a power bank.  

2.  Bluetooth Speaker

Employee Promotional Products A portable Bluetooth speaker keeps the music playing wherever you are!  While Bluetooth speakers are not necessarily new (they’ve been a trend the last few years), they are one of those promotional products that never go out of style.  Can anyone have too many Bluetooth speakers?  We think not!  And, anywhere your employees use that Bluetooth speaker, they will see your branding and be reminded of your generous gift and they will also show off your brand wherever they go and use the speaker.

3.  Backpack

Employee Promotional ProductsA backpack is a hot gift right now because there are so many cool ways to brand a unique backpack that is useful for storing a laptop, taking to the gym, taking on a hike, or toting your things on a flight.  Gone are the days of basic, boring backpacks!  There are many cool new styles, including canvas bags that look like they came straight off the racks at a trendy local shop.

4.  Fitness Ball or Athletic Bands

One of the hottest themes in promotional products in 2019 (and we think this will not change anytime soon), is gifts that promote health and wellness.  Something like an inflatable fitness ball, massaging balls for sore muscles, or athletic bands for stretching or exercising at home or on-the-go.

5.  USB Adapter 

Employee Promotional ProductsWe live in a digital era and we all need to charge all of the technology we use every single day.  Not only does that leave us with a lot of cords but it leaves us trying to find adequate outlets and chargers available for all our devices.  A USB adapter can make your charging life much easier by multiplying the number of available ports and removing the complication of finding the right chargers for devices because you can simply use the USB end of your charging cord and plug it right in!  Your employees will be thanking you when they start enjoying the convenience of a USB adapter with your logo on it!

20Oct/19

Use Unique Promotional Products to Stand Out This Holiday Season (and Beyond!)

Use Promotional Products to Stand Out This Holiday Season (and Beyond!)

Example: Give out a yoga mat for “International Day of Yoga”

The holiday season is upon us and for most businesses, that means giving gifts to thank customers and employees for the year of loyalty, hard work, and continued patronage.  Giving a thoughtful gift is a great opportunity for a business to make a memorable impact and showcase appreciation while also extending a business’ brand awareness.  If you have been in business for some time, you have likely been on the receiving end of a holiday or end-of-year promotional product gift.  And, while we are not here to hate on a delicious holiday-themed food basket, we want to encourage you to get a little more outside the box.  

Why Blend in When You Can Stand Out?

Sure, you could give s traditional holiday gift and it will be appreciated.  But, how memorable will another tin of popcorn really be for your customers or employees?  Delicious? Obviously. Memorable? Maybe not.  You are utilizing a portion of your marketing budget to promotional products so why not take the opportunity to stand out and get the best return on investment with your holiday gifts!!

Who Said You Can Only Give a ‘Christmas’ or ‘Holiday’ Gift?!

The answer? Nobody!  Showing your appreciation to employees or clients is always a welcome gift, no matter the time of year or occasion.  And, in fact, it is probably far more memorable to give a fun, themed gift that is creative rather than getting lost in a sea of other similar promotional products during the holidays.  When it comes to optional holidays or occasions for promotional product gifting, there are endless possibilities.  

Example: You could give Bluetooth speakers for National Compliment Day and the message/compliment could be “You Rock!”

 

There are, of course, traditional holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and more!  But, what about something even more unique and memorable, such as World Kindness Day (November 13th), America Recycles Day (November 15th), Small Business Saturday (November 30th, National Hat Day (January 15th), National Compliment Day (January 24th), Love Your Pet Day (February 20th), National Napping Day (March 11th), International Day of Yoga (June 21st), and more!  Imagine the fun and creativity you could have choosing fun and useful promotional products for such holidays.  And, by getting outside the box and standing out from the pack, your gift will be more appreciated and memorable. 

Show Your Brand Personality with Strategically-Timed Promotional Products

Example: Give out a branded blanket for “National Napping Day”

Interact with your clients and employees in a unique and fun way by showcasing your brand’s fun and creative spirit.  Custom promotional products that display your branding are an ideal way to extend brand awareness.  Further, every time those products are used, it keeps your brand in your customers’ minds, making them far more likely to turn to you when they need services or products that you offer.  Holiday promotional products, and food products, in particular, are a heavily saturated market. Maximize your marketing dollars and get the best ROI by choosing a creative gift or unique holiday to make your mark!  Not sure where to start?  At Connect the Dots, we LOVE to get creative and help our clients think outside the box so that their promotional products make the biggest impact possible!

17Sep/19

2019 WBEC-West 16th Annual Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference

2019 WBEC-West 16th Annual Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference

WBEC-West 16th Annual Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference


At Connect the Dots, we believe strongly in networking with and supporting small business – and even better when it can be with fellow female-owned businesses!  At Connect the Dots, we are a proud team of women and it has been our privilege to be a member of WBEC-West (Women Business Enterprises).  We always love attending their events and this year’s WBEC-West 16th Annual Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference did not disappoint!

2019 WBEC Conference Highlights

WBE prioritizes the cultivation of sustainable relationships between certified Women Business Enterprises and Corporate America through certification, education, and targeted networking.  The WBEC-West 16th Annual Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference’s theme was “Learn How to Uncover the Clues to Success” and was a 3-day event that fostered sustainable relationships through a myriad of networking opportunities including symposiums, luncheons, matchmaker opportunities, strategic mini-connections, and round table meetings with corporate partners, primes. Government agencies, and fellow WBEs.  It was a great event that really encouraged meaningful, industry-specific opportunities within each business’ target markets. 

Karie Cowden Wins Supplier of the Year – Class 1 at WBEC!

Most exciting of all – Connect the Dots Promotions‘ very own, Karie Cowden, won an incredible award! Karie won the Supplier of the Year – Class 1 Award.  She was honored to be nominated by the Salt River Project for this prestigious award.  If you know Karie, you know that she was more than deserving of this award because she works hard to be the best supplier every day for her clients!  The 2019 WBEC-West 16th Annual Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference was a great time of networking, education, and fun and we can’t wait for the next one!

09Sep/19

New Promotional Products & Technology at the AZPPA Exhibitor Show

Learning About The Latest Promotional Products & Technology at the AZPPA Exhibitor Show

While there are some staple promotional products in the marketing industry, there are constantly new trends and technologies emerging.  And, while those staple products are not only time-tested and effective, the implementation of new technologies in marketing strategies often allows a business to reach a new audience or impress an existing audience in a new and memorable way.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we love to stay informed about the newest products and technologies.  In doing so, we are able to connect our clients with unique promotional products that will set them apart from the competition and maximize their marketing budget.  We recently attended the AZPPA Exhibitor Show and had a chance to check out some really exciting new promotional items and technologies, as well as connect with industry peers.

About the AZPPA Exhibitor Show

The Arizona Promotional Products Association (AZPPA), hosts an annual trade show which we recently had the joy of attending. If you are unfamiliar with the AZPPA Exhibitor Show, it is a great Arizona-based trade show that features local and national suppliers as well as attracts distributors from throughout Arizona.  

Exciting New Promotional Products and Technology!

One of our favorite new technologies that we saw is an NFC-enabled pen.  If you are not quite sure what NFC technology is, you may be more familiar with it than you think!  NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is embedded in most new phone technology today.  For example, if you have an iPhone and have ever used Apple Pay, you have already used NFC technology.  Simply put, NFC detects and enables technologies in close proximity to securely share wireless data, without the need for an internet connection. But, there are many more applications for this technology and we were so excited to see how it can be leveraged as a marketing tool by embedding it in a pen.

How You Can Use NFC Technology for Business Marketing

An NFC-enabled pen simply needs to be waved near technology such as a phone, tablet, or other NFC-enabled device and the information can be securely shared.  There are many exciting and unique ways in which this technology can be used as a marketing tool.  First, it is a fast, easy, and economical business card!  Think of how easy it would be at a networking event to simply wave your NFC-enabled pen and share your business card with as many people you want in rapid succession. To use it as a powerful promotional product, consider embedding custom, branded pens with your company brochure, important contact information, photographs, music, games, website, event schedule, or any other information you want to share with your potential or existing client.  Then, that information goes with them wherever they go with the pen.  It is a convenient, economical, eco-friendly, portable marketing tool that is sure to be a hot promotional item in the months and years to come! 

If you would like to learn more about how you can utilize these cool new marketing technologies, we at Connect the Dots Promotions would love to talk to you about all of the new products and technologies we just experienced at the AZPPA Exhibitor Show!

23Aug/19

11th Annual UMOM Walk to End Homelessness

The 11th Annual UMOM Walk to End Homelessness is right around the corner!  On Saturday, September 21st, 2019 from 6-9am, we at Connect the Dots Promotions will be participating in this incredible event and looking to defend the Guinness World Record for the Largest 1K Thong Sandal Race!

At Connect the Dots, we love connecting our industry peers, clients, friends, families, co-workers, neighbors and more to love and support those in our community.

About the 11th Annual UMOM Walk to End Homelessness

The UMOM Walk to End Homelessness is a 1K race at the Phoenix Zoo that raises awareness and funds for families, single women, and youth experiencing homelessness in Arizona.

How You Can Be a Part of Defending a Guinness World Record

Whether you build your own team or join ours, we can’t wait to see you there in to walk in flip flops through the Phoenix Zoo.  This is the perfect event for individuals of all ages, making it a great family-friendly activity! There are lots of fun activities for participants and with your registration fee you receive all-day access to the zoo.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!