For 2021, the PPAI Expo, the industry’s largest and longest-running trade show, has a new name and a new direction: PPAI Expo Direct-2-You. Set for January 11-14, 2021, the premier, virtual, live event will deliver a flexible schedule for education and thought leadership, real-time networking opportunities and engaging product introductions—all the elements attendees and exhibitors love about the Expo but with a fresh, contemporary twist. It’s designed to put global resources, on-demand education, innovative promo ideas and new products right at participants’ fingertips and accessible from anywhere. 

“For years, The PPAI Expo has been the standard by which all other promotional products trade shows are judged,” says PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE. “It is the industry’s annual gathering place, kicking off the start of each promising new year and bringing together our community’s best and brightest. This event features industry leaders, top salespeople, extraordinary products, unmatched educational opportunities and countless entrepreneurial startups. And while circumstances dictate that we transition to a live, virtual event in 2021, my promise to you is that we will deliver a one-of-a-kind experience, even in this new virtual world.”

Creative ideas and new approaches have long fueled The PPAI Expo, allowing the Association to reinvent it year after year, making it stand out in even grander fashion. Those same creative processes are being used to drive the planning for PPAI Expo Direct-2-You. As the industry has come to expect from The Expo, Expo Direct-2-You will be the industry’s largest and most valuable virtual trade show yet, with pop-ups, gamification, unique lounges, live Q&A and a live master of ceremonies sharing highlights and high points throughout the event.

(all times shown are Central Time) 

Exhibits Open 10 am – 4 pm, Monday – Thursday

Product Pavilions 8 am – 10 pm, Monday – Thursday

Education Sessions Noon – 10 pm, Monday, 8 am – 10 pm, Tuesday – Thursday

Networking Events 4 – 6 pm, Monday – Wednesday

SAGE Conference Education 8 am – 10 pm, Monday – Thursday 

commonsku University 8 am – 10 pm, Monday – Thursday

Supplier Provided Education 8 am – 10 pm, Monday – Thursday

Networking Lounges 8 am – 10 pm, Monday – Thursday 

(Below is a sample of the nearly 20 PPAI-sponsored sessions. All times shown are Central Time. Sessions qualify for CAS or MAS credit.)

9-10 am 
The Power of Purpose In Business and Life

Join Roy Spence, partner at GSD&M Advertising and CEO of the Purpose Institute, as he shares key insights and lessons from legendary, purpose-inspired leaders with whom he’s worked over the years. He will present actionable ideas to inform making decisions that support your core purpose—decisions that build a business and a life of success, and that bring deeper meaning to being a leader.

2-3 pm 
Pivoting Your Company’s Marketing Plan

Sharyn and Hank Yuloff will teach the four questions we must now answer to understand your customers and how you can pivot your marketing plan to reach them. Participants will walk away with an updated plan they can implement immediately with a consistent message that will resonate with clients. The couple own Yuloff Creative Marketing Solutions, a business coaching firm delivering traditional and technological marketing plans for small companies. 

3-4 pm 
Diversity: Let’s Get To Work!

Distributors Johanna Gottlieb of Axis Promotions, and Sonja Smith and Quianne Perrin Savoy of Moore & Moore Merch, will discuss diversity, inclusion and allyship in the promotional products industry and how individuals, businessowners and community members can do more to be a part of the solution.

4-5 pm 
Embrace The Winds Of Change

Are the changes in today’s marketplace an opportunity for prosperity or a pain in the neck? In this session, Johnny Campbell, keynote speaker, author and founder of Promotional Product Profits, discusses how business professionals can effectively lead and navigate through the uncertainties of change and respond to marketplace shifts. Participants will learn how to think more strategically and be more resilient when leading change.

9-10 am
Human Rights And Forced Labor In The Supply Chain

Can you say for certain that there is no forced labor in your supply chain? Nury Turkel, with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Sharon Waxman, CEO of Fair Labor Association, will discuss this multi-layered question as well as the practical implications of cotton imported from the Xinjiang region of China. 

12-1 pm 
Association Update

Join Paul Bellantone, CAE, president and CEO of PPAI; Ira Neaman, MAS, chair of the PPAI Board of Directors, and Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, incoming board chair, for an informative discussion covering current issues and opportunities for the promotional products industry, the Association and its member companies. 

2-3 pm 
7 Critical Steps to Sell Promotional Products in “The New Normal”

Let’s face it, over the past year, many traditional, in-person prospecting and sales methods have disappeared due to social distancing. Since then, distributors who lacked alternatives have struggled to attract, convert and maintain business. In this session, entrepreneur, author and business growth expert David Blaise of reveals seven critical steps to re-engage your clients, adapt your messaging, initiate more conversations and sell more promo.

3-4 pm 
Intro To Financial Resiliency 

Do you know what it takes to build a healthy distributorship? Do you struggle with the operational necessities of running a strong company? Join Jamie Watson, MAS, CPA, senior financial analyst with Certified Marketing Consultants, as she discusses the many challenges owners face when running a distributorship and how to implement the right strategies to make a growing distributorship successful.

11 am-12 pm 
Leveraging AI Today

Join Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+, as he takes listeners beyond the buzz of artificial intelligence (AI). He will demonstrate how AI will transform business as well as how it will likely transform our industry in the next several years. 

Exhibitors at PPAI Expo Direct-2-You will be eager and ready to do business from their virtual booths using live chats and video calls to showcase their product introductions and show deals. Plus, all week distributors can browse through four Product Pavilions—New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA and PPE Products— to pick up new ideas and jump-start creative solutions for their clients.  

Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.