Photo by Kevin Ku  /


Tech Week 2020, powered by PPAI Tech Summit, ran September 21-25 and brought together the promotional products businesses’ IT professionals and technology leaders for an extensive range of education sessions presented by experts from inside and outside the industry. The programming also allowed attendees to connect and learn from each other.

Tech Week began with a presentation from an anonymous “white hat” hacker and a walk through a cyber-attack as it happened. Security consultant Tinker Secor, a pseudonym for a hacker with extensive experience in “ethical hacking”—testing designed to determine how an organization and its systems will fare in the event of a real attack—shared a presentation that centered around stories of actual penetration tests and breaches that highlighted the pragmatic issues addressed by security engineering and corporate security teams.

In the session “Zero Day Attack (Cyber Incident In Progress),” Mike Pfeiffer, vice president of technology at distributor American Solutions for Business, took his audience through a cyber-attack as it happens. Pfeiffer, who has more than 30 years of relevant experience, has worked at a data and marketing solutions vendor, a consumer packaged goods company, and as a trade and expense management solutions provider. He is also the mayor of Long Beach, Minnesota.

Tech Week’s diverse lineup also included a discussion on the unprecedented times in which information technology professionals find themselves. In “Leading in Turbulent Times in the IT World,” Jeff Tobe, certified professional speaker and author of Coloring Outside the Lines, discussed how fear-inducing times can present opportunities for professionals to experience more authentic learning and connections. Tobe, who has experience working on both the supplier and distributor sides of the promotional products industry, explained that to function most effectively as a leader comes down to a delicate balance of tasks and relationships.

Bille Forman, director of marketing at SAGE, delivered a session on effective email marketing. In the U.S., businesses see a 4,300-percent ROI from email marketing, making it one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for small businesses. During her session, “Are Your Email Campaigns Working?,” Forman explained how to calculate and improve the numbers for a successful email campaign.

Email marketing is an opportunity to get in front of customers on a regular basis, especially in the COVID-19 era. Forman said there are four numbers that marketers should use to determine the success of the campaign: email open rate—the total number of times a message has been opened; email click-through rate—the total number of times someone clicks on a link in an email; email unsubscribe rate—the number that tells you most directly that there is something wrong with your email campaign; and the email bounce back rate, the number that tells you most directly that there is something wrong with your email campaign.


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.