Snapshots: commons Hosts Virtual skucon Conference Experience


commonsku, a promotional products business and sales software provider, took its skucon conference virtual in May, drawing more than 700 promotional products professionals from all over the world and raising $12,000 for United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. 

commonsku CEO Catherine Graham says, “From the time we first conceived of ‘skucon at home’ to the time we went live was just over 30 days. We’re proud of the flexibility of our speakers, who were willing to share their strategies and tactics during uncertain times. And we’re proud of this amazing industry, which responded so quickly to gather together and support one another while allowing us to contribute to a worldwide cause. Seeing the overwhelming response and the commitment from the community—like our Australian friends who were up at 3:45 am to attend—was yet more proof that our industry is incredibly resilient and will fight to thrive, no matter what challenges are presented before us.”

skucon participants took part in a three-hour conference that included keynotes, breakout sessions and one-on-one networking. The first 500 attendees who registered received a “skucon at home” kit shipped directly to their homes that included a mug, pens and a journal, sponsored by Numo (above photo).

Sessions ranged from “Growing Sales Through Adversity” to “Positioning During a Downturn,” with topics relevant to today’s challenges. Speakers included David Nicholson of Polyconcept North America; April Dunford, entrepreneur and start-up marketing expert; Jamie Mair and Barry Deutsch of BDA; Nick Lateur of IMAGEN Brands; Meg Erber of S&S Activewear; Cola Svec and Angie Svec of Soul & Swag; Denise Taschereau of Fairware; Renya Nelson of Brand+Aid; Tom Rector of Screenbroidery; Brian Gill of thumbprint; Rich Patterson of Patterson Brands; Brandon Mackay, MAS, of SnugZUSA; Pierre Martichoux of ChameleonLike; Hayley Green of Rightsleeve; Anna Branch of Creative; Johanna Gottlieb of Axis Promotions; Kate Plummer, MAS, of Clearmount; Chris Ferriter of SoBe Promos; Roni Wright, MAS, of The Book Company; Gillian Hammond of Brand Fuel, Inc. and Janie Gaunce of Grapevine Designs.  

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The Vernon Company held its annual national sales meeting April 27 through May 1, while respecting widespread stay-at-home orders. The sales meeting, which for decades has taken place in a different region of the United States in the early spring, had originally been scheduled as an in-person event in Charleston, South Carolina, and was moved to an online platform this year.

“We knew that the sales meeting was just too valuable to skip for a year,” says Dave Regan, MAS, Vernon’s vice president of sales and marketing. “When we realized that our event was scheduled to take place while the entire country was under quarantine orders, we quickly scrambled and created something phenomenal that all our account executives could participate in. Thank goodness for technology.”

Live education sessions were delivered online throughout the event, with salespeople taking part in supplier up-close-and-personal sessions, small group roundtable discussions, morning coffee sessions grouped by region and a virtual trade show, featuring videos hosted by Vernon's top suppliers.

Each day of the week, an award ceremony took place to recognize suppliers in a range of categories, including Supplier of the Year, Supplier Representative of the Year and Supplier Account Executive of the Year. A number of account executives were also recognized throughout the week for their individual achievements during the 2019 sales year, with Vernon naming its Top 10 salespeople based on commissions, Rising Stars and President's Award recipients, among several other awards.

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Pro Towels donated 500 face masks to local essential workers in Abbeville, South Carolina, to help combat the spread of coronavirus. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-headquartered Pro Towels’ main decorating facility is in Abbeville County, where it has been an integral member of the community for more than 30 years. 

Kevin Nord, president of Pro Towels, says, “We appreciate all the first-responders and their hard work and efforts during these challenging times. We are more than happy to provide these masks for our hometown heroes.”

Face masks were given to workers serving on the front lines of the pandemic in the city of Abbeville and throughout Abbeville County, including police officers, EMS, fire fighters and city council members. The company decorates promotional beach and sports towels, apparel, accessories and blankets, but with social distancing replacing sports and events of all kinds, the supplier says it began looking for other ways to support its community and customers, such as providing face protection.

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James Khattak is news editor of PPB.

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