ePromos News

The latest ePromos news.

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5 Things You Need to Know When You Start a Business


By Jason Robbins, CEO

I’ve learned a great deal in my 20 years with ePromos. I started the company with a clear mission to help customers promote their brands and use modern technology to serve them. I used some of what I learned with my undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, but there was so much that had to be learned on the job.

Here are five key lessons I’ve learned since starting ePromos that I think would be beneficial to any entrepreneur, young or old.

#1 Talent makes or breaks a business.

You can’t build a company alone. Many entrepreneurs (like myself) get out of the gate by brute force. At some point, doing everything yourself starts making things worse. You get stressed, there is little engagement from those who work for you, and you hit a plateau. You can put great processes and systems in place so that operations can run smoothly; however, when you want to grow, adapt or evolve on a strategic objective, you can’t keep the ship running and also invent the next thing.

You need great people to keep the ship sailing, and you need great people to start figuring things out with very little input from you. There is no pride in doing everything yourself. If you want to be a $10 million company, you are going to need some people on your team who have been there.

I learned that it’s best to hire for attitude and train for skill. It’s the attitude that typically gets in the way for people, not their intellect. You can have the smartest person on your team, yet if they have a bad attitude, it can be like a cancer growing in your organization, poisoning it from the inside and costing you big in missed opportunities. Conversely, people with great attitudes take obstacles in stride as part of the journey; they don’t focus on blame and what should be that is not. I am lucky to have a number of great leaders who have been with me from the beginning, who have become managers and adapted to new roles because they have a great attitude. A huge bout of success is due to these types of great attitude players.

#2 Setting fewer goals per quarter leads to a higher success rate.

As a new business (or even an existing business) the list of things to do and new ideas developed daily can run like a ticker tape. For years we tried to manage these ideas while growing and running the day-to-day business. Many times we’d meet and think we were clear on three-five goals, then we’d realize we were working on about 10 goals, and nothing really got finished. Effort was spread so wide that we didn’t accomplish anything meaningful.

You may have heard about leading and lagging indicators… For example, if you want to lose weight, you can’t just weigh yourself and expect change. The lagging indicator is the weight, or, the final success measure. The leading indicators are the calories in and out. If you are taking in more than you are burning each day, for example, you are aware of this and know that the weight won’t drop. You don’t need to wait a month to check in and find that you haven’t made progress. It’s the same thing when running a business. Make sure to define a leading goal, and follow through each step of the way through to completion.

In the past few years we’ve learned two great lessons. The first, is to identify realistic goals with which both the progress and result can be measured. The second is that the recipe for success is having very few goals combined with daily and weekly discipline checks. Stay on top of this and you’ll be very much aware of how things are going along the way. It makes it easier to not lose focus and to re-align when necessary.

#3 Define the what; let your team figure out the how.

When I first started out, not only did I decide what we were going to do, I also would work with my staff to figure out the steps and how we would do it. I was heavy handed and came off as the guy who needed to be the smartest, who needed to do things his way in order for it to be done right.

As a leader, you may feel that you know the best way to tackle a problem. You may want to continuously give great advice,to get involved in all details of a project or process. But that is not your role. Your role is to remove obstacles for the group that is figuring out how to hit the goal. I realized at some point in the development of the company that even though my favorite thing was creative problem solving,  I had to stop. I stopped, but then I started second-guessing. Finally, I realized that while it might take a little longer, my team – the people I hired for their brilliance –  almost always got there (and often times got there faster than I would have). Even better, they did it on their own, freeing me up to continue to lead and set direction and remove other obstacles.

The freedom this method provides to a team also makes a huge difference in engagement. Imagine a company where the boss comes in and tells people how to do things. That isn’t fun for smart, capable people. They want to try. They want you to give them the proverbial video game controller and play themselves vs sitting there watching you or having to follow specific instructions. This is particularly important with Millennials. Give them the freedom to figure out the how, and they will be engaged… otherwise risk bad attitudes and high turnover.

That’s also why lesson #1 is so important: having the right team. Not all employees can run with this freedom. It may be their personality or maybe engrained in previous life experience, but sometimes if you feel you have a good person, you have to explain to them that they are allowed to take chances and have fun trying. It can be a challenge to relinquish control – trust me, I know – but it’s the only way to succeed. It’s really a nice human thing to do. No one should come to work to be told what to do with an attitude. Good morale and ethics are always, always good for business.

#4 There is a target client.

You can’t be all things to all people – no one can – and it’s counterproductive to try. Not everyone will be interested in your product or service, and sometimes you’ll need to establish what market you’re after. It is as much a choice to determine what you are going to be bad at as it is to determine what you are going to good at. “Good at” is the enemy of “Great.” By embracing what types of clients you do not wish to serve, you can better serve and evolve to thrill your target audience.

As a company that started online with Google search providing many of our initial leads, we were forced to be all things to all people. We wanted every sale, and we wanted all customers to be treated with the same love and passion regardless of size. We realized that we couldn’t make a profit if we were going to overserve the smallest customers. We also realized that we couldn’t make a profit even on huge customers if their requirements were too costly to service.

So the biggest lesson here is to find out why your best customers like you and find more like them.

#5 You must accept what you cannot control.

I wasted a lot of energy, resources and time over the years just complaining and worrying. While it’s so logical that we can’t control 99% of what happens, many of us still spend time talking, thinking and expensing energy over things that happened that we can’t change and over things that haven’t happened yet.

How much time are you spending on thinking about something in the past, that is over, that you can’t change? In my experience, business is going to unfold for you, and you can either see things as good and bad or just see things as they are. You can move forward, or you can stop progressing and dwell on the past. I meditate daily, and I’ve developed a skill that helps me be mindful of if I am thinking in the past or future. I continue to meditate because I view mindfulness as a muscle that needs to be exercised.

There is always a silver lining. Accept what you cannot control; learn from what you can. Embracing mistakes will make your company better. Embracing the attitude that mistakes are welcome will help you make the world a better place through your people, through your team. It’s been said that mistakes are just lessons, repeat until learned. At ePromos, we try to learn from our mistakes and move on.

So there you have it… five tidbits from my experience. These past 20 years have been hard work and fun. Best of all, I have grown into a better person. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead my own team – to help all our wonderful staff build their careers and make their positive contributions on those they impact. I love the promotional products business because it give us a chance to use our creativity and advice to help our clients look their best and make their own impact on the world. We are all interconnected, and I really appreciate that. I look forward to seeing how our ePromos family evolves in the next 20 years and thank everyone for the opportunities they have given me to grow and learn as a leader.

Interested in learning more about our story? Click here.


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A Shout-Out To The Winners Of ePromos’ 2015 Top Supplier Awards


It’s always fun going to The PPAI Expo, the promo industry’s largest and longest-running tradeshow. Our team was there in Las Vegas last week, scoping out all the hottest promo items for 2015, uncovering new trends, and keeping our finger on the pulse of all that’s new.

But that’s not all we were up to.

We were also there to give some major kudos to some of our supplier partners. We were there to bestow our annual Top Supplier Awards.

These awards showcase the very best in supplier partnerships. The companies and individuals who we honored this year are the ones who stood out from the pack and went above and beyond the call of duty.

Congrats are in order for:

  • Jane Rice: Inside Rep of the Year
  • Michelle Newhouse Weiss: Outside Rep of the Year
  • SnugZ: Supplier of the Year
  • PCNA: Elite Supplier of the Year

“The winners of our Top Supplier Awards demonstrated excellence and creativity time and again,” says Hope Binegar, ePromos’ Senior Supplier Relations Manager. “They created amazing products, they helped educate our staff on product benefits, and if we wanted to create something unique for our clients, they were there to discuss innovative options. These suppliers were true partners to the ePromos team.”

To our 2015 winners: Thank you for all your support. Let’s make it another great year.

Top Supplier Award

Hope Binegar (center) presents the Top Supplier Award to SnugZ.

 

Top Supplier Awards

PCNA receives the Elite Supplier of the Year award from Hope Binegar (left).

Check out our press release for more information on the Top Supplier Awards.


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The Promotional Products Video You Need To See: Should Have Called ePromos


Should Have Called ePromos

If you subscribe to our YouTube channel, you know we produce all kinds of promotional products videos. Most are educational. Some are amusing. And then there’s this standout gem of a corporate video: “Should Have Called ePromos.”

Go on and watch.

What did you think? Funny, right?

When we set out to produce this company video, we didn’t want it to be stuffy and un-fun. That’s not who we are.

We wanted to make our customers and potential customers smile and show them in an entertaining way that ePromos is the best choice.

Well, what makes ePromos so great? Let’s take a look.

We have promo know-how.

Too many marketers, and heck, even promotional products companies, flounder about when it comes to promo items. They don’t have a real understanding of the products or why they’re being used.

That’s not the case at ePromos. We have a team of expert Brand Consultants who have worked with tens of thousands of clients over the years. We know what works. And, just as important, we know what doesn’t work. We have that promo know-how you’re not going to find anywhere else.

We offer a 110% guarantee.

Many companies say they put the customer first, but it ends up being an empty statement. At ePromos, we stand behind what we do with a 110% satisfaction guarantee.

It’s simple. We want you to be completely happy with your promotional products, and to rest assured that you’ll have the right product with the right imprint at the right time. If you don’t, your order is on us.

Our prices can’t be beat.

You have a budget. We get that. That’s why we offer a low-price guarantee so you know you’re always getting the best deal. If you find a lower total price for product, set-up, imprinting – the whole deal – within 30 days of your purchase, we’ll credit you the difference. We’ll even give you 10% off your next order.

Our website makes your job easier.

When you’re on the hunt for promotional products, the task can seem daunting. There are literally thousands and thousands of promo items to pick from, and then you have to drill down into the personalization options. The possibilities are exciting, but it can also be overwhelming if you’ve never ordered promos.

When you click over to www.epromos.com, we make it simple for you. We have a powerful site search engine and filtering system that allows you to quickly and easily narrow down your choices. Need some expert help? You can live chat with one of our Brand Consultants.

In summary

You don’t want to be the person who doesn’t call ePromos. Your life may not spiral out of control like the example in our video. You may not lose your job and end up on the street washing windshields at stop signs. Or at least, we hope you don’t.

The point is: You’re better off working with a company that knows its stuff. A company that’ll be there for you.

We are that company. Work with us.

Got any questions or comments? We’d love to hear them. Leave a reply below this post.


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ePromos Once Again Declared A Top Workplace In The Promo Industry


counselor best places to work

Well, folks, we’ve done it again. We’ve earned ourselves a spot on Counselor magazine’s “Best Places to Work” list. This makes the fifth year in a row that ePromos has been named a top workplace in the promotional products industry. We rank 55 out of 90 companies selected for the list (and out of about 35,000 companies in the industry.)

Here’s the cool part about this accolade – it was decided by our very own employees.

Counselor, the b-to-b publication for the Advertising Specialty Institute, directly surveys employees of promotional marketing companies for the straight scoop on what it’s like working for those companies. Only the highest ranking businesses have a shot to make the annual list.

ePromos employees got real on some big issues in the workplace: team effectiveness, trust in leadership, overall job satisfaction, and more.

When the scores were tallied up, ePromos surged ahead of other companies in the promo industry. We’re the highest-ranking New York-based company to receive the honor.

So, what’s so compelling about ePromos? Why do people genuinely enjoy working here?

A lot of reasons, actually, but perhaps the biggest (and most cherished) reason is that we have fun. It doesn’t feel like work when we head to the office or log on for the day. We work in a creative industry, and we’re proud to put our promo know-how to work for our customers.

We have fun in our individual jobs, and we also have fun as a team. Click through some of our Facebook photos and you’ll get a good idea of what it’s like working here. We have pizza lunches. We paint pottery. We even pack up and head to Mexico for incentive trips.

This is fun stuff – and it’s built right into the culture at ePromos. You can read more about our latest win in this press release, and if you’re pining to be part of our team, check out our job opportunities.


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How Nonprofits Can Get Free Promotional Products: Introducing ePromos For Good


ePromos for Good

Could your organization use some free promotional products? Well, here’s a new way to score those free promos: ePromos for Good. It’s ePromos’ new charity program, and any 501(c)(3), accredited school, or accredited religious organization is invited to apply.

Here’s how it works.

Each month, we’ll reward a different nonprofit with $500 in free promotional merchandise. The winning organization can use the promos as it sees fit – whether it’s thanking donors, recruiting volunteers, or getting the word out.

The organization will also get free exposure on ePromos’ social media channels and right here on our blog.

So, why are we doing this?

It’s simple, really. We want to help organizations that are doing good do better with the help of promotional products.

Learn more about ePromos for Good and fill out an application form for your organization.

Tell us: What would you do with $500 in free promotional products?


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Promotional Products, Outstanding People, And A Heaping Helping Of Creativity


I must say:  The promotional products industry is amazing! As I explain what I do to friends and family, I usually end the conversation with: “I get to play with toys!”

Our industry is led by incredibly talented people and overseen by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Each year, these organizations release tons of interesting data.

In the next few months, ASI will be coming out with its 2014 State of the Industry report. The 2013 State of the Industry report is also jam-packed with useful information. It laid out 10 strategies for the promotional products industry.

I actually found the strategic article: “The Competitor You Can’t See” quite interesting.

With lines to ponder like: “[Name] agrees, but insists that the consultative sales model is far from waning in the ad specialty marketplace … You have customers who order and know exactly what they want … But a large majority of customers are looking for creative ideas.”

And …

“[Name] believes the tenor swings toward consulting … I believe that 90% of the people who are buying products want to feel they have an actual rep they’re dealing with because of the nature of the product.”

Photo via www.asipublications.com

Photo via www.asipublications.com

We are so misunderstood.  I believe people are still missing the point on at least what ePromos is and who we are as a company.

I had the opportunity to spend some time in our Minnesota office last week. The reason for my visit? Live up to a bet I made to the team. I ended up cooking and serving shrimp and grits – a Southern favorite (and now a St. Cloud, Minnesota, favorite).

hope at breakfast

That’s me on the left, serving up some good homestyle eats

If that wasn’t fun enough, I enjoyed talking and learning from the reps in the Minnesota office. The energy on the sales floor was higher than I have ever felt. We even had an impromptu contest that resulted in the best sales day for the dot com team in the history of ePromos.

Now if that doesn’t get a manager excited nothing will!

Being on the floor listening to the sales calls, I was hearing something like never before: a real creative buzz. Repeat customers calling in and asking for their personal rep, and the personal rep giving creative solutions to the customer’s needs.

I shared before that ePromos has a face, and it is serving up awesome creative ideas.

So go on thinking that we are just a turn and burn order-taking company, and we will continue dazzling customers with great value and creativity.

Man, I love my job!