Start Green To Stay Green
Small businesses with an eye on eco-friendly growth can incorporate green practices from the ground up.

Incentives for building a greener business run the gamut—from public opinion to energy credits to waste reduction, even the smallest effort can have a big impact on preserving the planet. If you’re ready to expand your business footprint but don’t want to contribute to the growing climate crisis, consider these steps as you get ready to grow.

• Install energy-saving light bulbs and timers to reduce energy consumption.
• Purchase secondhand office furniture.
• Use reclaimed building materials in new construction, renovations or expansion.
• Contract with a green cleaning service and a recycling facility to reduce the use of chemicals in the workplace and reduce landfill waste.
• Encourage carpooling and the use of public transportation by employees if it’s feasible; consider offering financial incentives to cover the cost of riding trains or buses.
• Invest in landscaping materials that require little maintenance or watering and include native species.


On The Shoulders Of Giants
Small business merchants see big returns from Amazon Prime Day

Amazon may be one of the “big guys” of the retail world, but its Prime Day sales marathon revealed that even small businesses can reap rewards from partnering with the online giant. Prime Day, which is held on Amazon’s anniversary, July 11, offers deep discounts to members of its Prime subscription service.

Smaller companies that participated in Amazon’s Prime Day reported record sales, according to a recent CNBC report. Amazon reports that more than 40 percent
of its Lightning Deals on Prime Day came from small retailers. In 2016, customers purchased more than 20 million items from small businesses, up from 14 million in 2015.

First-time participant Simply Gum experienced a 1,371-percent increase after it offered a discount on assorted packs of its chewing gum, a promotion the company publicized on social media as well as through videos and a news release. The company’s founder, Caron Prochan, told CNBC that Prime Day has become one of the most significant sales days of the year for her company, particularly for brand awareness.

While the average 15-percent sales fees levied by Amazon squeeze the already slim profit margins (merchants must offer at least 20 percent off in order to participate in Prime Day), sellers say the exposure makes it worthwhile, and the traffic helps many businesses fill out the slow summer months.

FIVE MINUTES WITH Kathie Morgan, President of ASTM International

Setting The Standard
Between consumer safety protocols and corporate social responsibility agreements, meeting or exceeding a product or operations standard is daunting. But standards are, well, the standard in the promotional products business today.

Kathie Morgan recently was named the new president of ASTM International, a standards-setting organization, and PPB spoke with her about the importance of adopting voluntary standards, as well as how the importance can be communicated to end users as a symbol of quality and safety.


PPB How does ASTM work with manufacturers and other invested parties
to encourage the adoption of voluntary standards related to the manufacture and distribution of finished products, as well as materials used in the manufacturing process (such as for manufacturing equipment)?

Morgan We have a diverse membership that includes thousands of manufacturers as well as labs, government agencies, consumer groups and more. They drive the process for creating and revising standards through about 150 committees.

They currently maintain about 13,000 standards which support raw materials, end products, manufacturing processes, performance and more. The consensus that our members build is what gives each standard high quality and market relevance, which is why our standards are globally recognized and in high demand.


PPB How can businesses that adopt the standards communicate the importance of adherence to their end users? In other words, why is it better for a consumer to use or purchase goods or services provided by a business that has adopted ASTM standards for its products, or uses compliant equipment or materials in its production process?

Morgan Businesses sometimes state that they meet a specific ASTM International standard when selling to another business, to a government or to consumers.

Manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and others understand that ASTM International standards are developed by some of the world’s leading experts in areas ranging from toy safety to jet-fuel specifications and everything in between.

Whether you’re buying pipe to build a skyscraper or a bike helmet for your kid,
you want to know that the product meets a standard that is recognized worldwide for its high technical quality, such as those developed through the ASTM International process.

PPB How has the method of developing and implementing ASTM standards changed in your tenure with the organization?

Morgan I’ve been here for a few decades before I became president this year. The biggest change has been technology. Members can now interact with each other 24/7 and committee meetings can be held remotely. That speeds up standards creation and revision, which is crucial to keep pace with innovation. I should note that technology has also helped us deliver those same standards more efficiently and effectively through an online platform called Compass.

The second major evolution has been our global reach. We officially changed
our name to ASTM International in 2001. Since then, our international membership has grown to several thousand and we have signed 100 Memorandums of Understanding with nations around the world. We’re also aware that our standards are cited about 7,500 times in non-U.S. laws, regulations and more.


PPB As president, what goals or objectives are you setting for the organization?

Morgan We have five strategic objectives. The first is global leadership, and I’ve traveled to several countries in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere over the past year to build relationships with government and industry leaders who want to get involved or use our standards and related services.

The second objective is enhancing our global technical expertise, which means rolling out efforts such as our emerging professionals program that empowers young engineers and others to become standards leaders. We have several cohorts this year alone.

The third objective is supporting technical content development, which means—for example—creating videos that show our standardized test methods in action. The fourth objective relates to our commitment as a service provider with enhancements to our online platform, Compass, and more. 

And fifth, we are committed to ensuring the vitality of our organization itself by constantly reinvesting in our people, our resources and our relationships that help us meet the four preceding objectives.


Stuck In A Rut

Between Facebook advertising, direct mailers, referrals and Google AdWords, you’ve spread the good news about your business as far and wide as you can—or have you? There’s more to marketing these days, and you should consider embracing one or all of these alternative marketing strategies to grow your business, from Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead, a UK-based writer.

Host a webinar.
If you have experience or expertise working in certain markets, host a webinar on your website or record one and post it on YouTube, then invite stakeholders—prospects and current clients—in that particular industry or who are part of your circle of professional peers, to learn ways they can incorporate your products and services into their projects.

Secure endorsements.
Reach out to your longtime customers and ask them to provide feedback that can be either incorporated into self-promotion activities or posted on your website or blog.

Reach out to local media.
We know and understand that promotional products are relevant and useful for scores of industries and organizations. Tell everyone how you’ve helped local businesses succeed by issuing a news release and sending it to local news outlets. If you can tie your announcement to a current event or trending topic, you’re more likely to see your efforts succeed.

Offer consultation services.
Products aren’t all you sell; service and support are integral parts of promotional marketing. Bill yourself as a consultant and offer your expertise in ancillary services to prospects. When they see how well you help them pull together a marketing or outreach effort, they will remember how you integrated promotional items into the mix and, hopefully, become repeat clients.