Australian Marketer And Academic Gleans Great Ideas During PPAI Visit
PPAI frequently welcomes members and guests at its headquarters in Irving, Texas, but Monday’s visit by Dr. Marion Steel was especially appreciated because she traveled 9,000 miles to get here. Steel, an at-large board member of the Australasian Promotional Products Association in Melbourne, Australia, and associate professor at Deakin University, was in the U.S. as a speaker at the American Marketing Association conference held in Atlanta last week. She traveled to the Dallas area specifically to visit PPAI and learn about its programs and initiatives to jumpstart several similar initiatives at APPA.
APPA serves the promotional products industry in Australia and New Zealand with approximately 700 member companies and annual industry sales between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.
Steel is a relationship marketing expert and part of a research team looking at how business customers are changing the way they perceive and purchase specialist services associated with the marketing function. During her daylong visit to PPAI headquarters she met with President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, and other staff to learn about the Association’s education strategies and resources, its Industry Branding Initiative, outreach to the collegiate marketplace, diversity engagement and industry research and trends. She also got her first taste of fried green tomatoes and grits during an off-site lunch.
During the discussions, she found many commonalities between the two associations and the two countries. A key takeaway for Steel was in the area of diversity and engaging Millennials. “We have the same kinds of issues as you have here,” she said. She also noted that alumna and business associations in the U.S. are far more sophisticated than in Australia, which she thinks poses quite a bit of business opportunity for her colleagues back home.
She also learned about PPAI’s certification program and plans to start a similar initiative for APPA members. “We’ve got some bright young people who want to stay in the industry but they want something that recognizes them for what they’ve learned,” she said. “A certification program would give them a great opportunity and a recognized outcome.”
Steel says her most impressive discovery was PPAI’s new #GetInTouch industry branding campaign launching next month at Advertising Week. “It’s very exciting and it has such a clear message,” says Steel, who is a huge proponent of using promotional products to create a memorable brand. “Promotional products are one of the few ways you can make your brand tangible to the consumer or customer. It’s the only branded message you can touch and feel. People will actually go out of their way to purchase promotional products with a brand on it in order to preserve a memory of an experience.”