A Distributor Asks: What resources, such as books, podcasts, TED talks, videos, etc. have other distributors or suppliers found to be inspirational and helpful in their approach to running their business?

These two videos have influenced the way I do business, and how I live my life. I hope they will influence our industry professionals as well.

  1. Simon Sinek – “How Great Leaders Inspire Action

This is from a TED Talk, and to date has received nearly 28 million views.

  1. Steve Jobs – “Marketing is About Values

This is from a presentation Steve made just after he returned to Apple in 1997. Both the content and his presentation style are very powerful.

David J. Hawes, MAS+ 

Brand Architect


UPIC: G671322

I love reading industry publications. I also follow PromoKitchen and love it! I find PromoKitchen to be a great tool with great tips and info on industry leaders and icons. I follow them on Facebook and get their email newsletters. They have podcasts where they interview people within PromoKitchen and other people in the industry. I have learned so much from the podcasts. I really enjoy them. I have recently become a mentor through PromoKitchen and am enjoying this side of it too.

Johanna Gottlieb

Senior Branding Specialist

Axis Promotions

UPIC: axispromo

For a podcast recommendation: Try season one and the follow-up seasons for Startup by Gimlet Media. It’s not really related to our business, as it follows Alex Blumberg as he gets funding and builds his podcast media company. But it’s a fantastic look into the growth of a company (warts and all) as he records everything. It’s surprisingly relevant to small-business owners. The following seasons are not quite so relevant but still interesting. Here’s the link.

I also have several other podcast suggestions that are not work related. Malcom Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History is fantastic. It’s such a worthy listen no matter who you are. Just listen to it; I’ve been raving about it to everyone.

Kate Plummer

Sales Manager, Marketing, Designer



Great books

Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps.  This is a terrific book that shares some interesting ways to win customers and influence word of mouth. The main focus of the book is the concept of GLUE (Giving Little Unexpected Extras) and provides numerous examples. For anyone looking to differentiate in business, this is a must read.

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. Written by the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group (the man behind such fabulous New York City restaurants such as Grammercy Tavern, Union Square Café and Blue Smoke), this book is filled with insights on how to leverage the philosophy of hospitality to not only win but retain and delight clients.

Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. Eighty percent of companies state they deliver outstanding customer service, yet only eight percent of their customers agree. This book shares some valuable tools on how to close that gap by forcing the reader to rethink the way they approach customer service—by listening to your critics. As the book aptly states, “Haters are not the problem, ignoring them is.”

Curious by Ian Leslie. As we grow from children to adults, we tend to lose our innate curiosity. The author makes a very strong case for cultivate the “desire to know.” Drawing on powerful research, the book looks at what feeds curiosity as well as what starves it. Filled with a ton of inspiring stories and case histories, this book challenges the way you think about the world around you.


unscripted. Promotional products industry insiders Kirby Hasseman and I talk about the world of marketing, branding, sales and just about everything else in this weekly 20-minute podcast.

Tim Ferriss Show. A great show for any entrepreneur. In this podcast, he deconstructs world-class performers from all manner of industries to dig deep, finding the tools, tactics and tricks the listener can use.

Video/TED Talks

Any talk or video by Gary Vaynerchuk. A whirling dervish of activity, if Gary can’t motivate you then you can’t be motivated.

Bill Petrie

Founder and CEO



Eight Great Promo Industry Blogs For Distributors

By Kate Masewich

Whether you are new to the promotional products industry or a veteran, it’s important to keep up to date with the latest news, trends and resources available. If you do a quick Google search of the “best promotional products blogs” however, you’ll notice most of the results are intended for end clients, not the distributors themselves. So we’ve rounded up a list of eight great promo industry blogs that will help keep distributors educated, inspired and sharp.


PromoKitchen is an all-volunteer organization led by suppliers, distributors and service providers who are creating a new voice for the industry. The blog includes helpful features, interviews and episodes of the PromoKitchen podcast.

Check out: “Your Vendors as Partners” from March 22.


Bill Petrie has been in the promotional products industry for over 15 years helping distributors and suppliers. On his blog he shares his knowledge and experience through helpful posts.

Check out: “The Non-Product Website” from May.

Connections– Observations from Paul Bellantone

Paul Bellantone, CAE, president and CEO of PPAI, shares his personal insights and experiences, and features guest posts by industry professionals.

Check out: “Industry Transformation & A Time to Pivot” from January 20.

Hasseman Marketing Blog

Every week, Kirby Hasseman and the team update their stream of content, which includes promo ideas, Kirby’s personal blog and the Delivery Marketing Joy podcast where Kirby interviews someone in the promotional products industry.

Check out: “Be a Connector” from January 16.


Steve Woodburn shares his thoughts on branding and life in general from his 25 years of experience in the industry.

Check out: “Innovate or Die” from January 5.

Delta Marketing Group

DMG has been in the business for over 30 years and their blog shares weekly insights on everything from inbound marketing to sales to promo trends.

Check out: “This is The Biggest Piece Missing From Your Sales Calls” from May 23.

Your Brand Marketing

Ben Baker is all about creating tangible evidence to help companies communicate effectively. His blog provides insights into achieving results through branding, trade shows and more.

Check out: “Why Should You Re-Brand?” from April 19.


Quintain’s blog posts help you better understand how social media, content marketing and email marketing fit into your digital marketing strategy.

Check out: “Should I Use Social Media Marketing as Part of my Inbound Strategy?” from May 16.

Bonus: commonsku

The commonsku blog is where you’ll find business resources, insights on promo industry trends, sales and marketing tips and episodes of its podcast, skucast.

Check out: “Designing a sales compensation plan that works” from March 24.

Kate Masewich is marketing manager at commonsku. This article is adapted from a May 26 blog post on commonsku.

A Distributor Asks: Over the past 10 years I have been faced with the same problem over and over: how to design the perfect “professional” ad for the print media. I think we all do a great job at interactive and social media, but it is very difficult to come up with a truly classy magazine ad or flyer. How have other small distributors been able to create good-looking and effective magazine or print ads? Any tips are appreciated.

What’s Your Answer? Email answers along with your name, title and company name to Question@ppai.org by September 16 for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.

Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.