The pandemic provided something of a reset for in-person events, both for the promotional products industry and beyond. For many, that pause has been an opportunity to rethink and innovate. Sarah Weber, industry veteran and owner of Denver-based Sweber Marketing Group, has used that time to develop and launch the R.I.S.E Tour series of promo market shows.

The Show

The R.I.S.E.—Reset, Inspire, Exceed and Excel—events are typically smaller shows with 10-15 vendors, held at interesting venues that people want to visit. Food, drinks, activities and games are provided for participants to enjoy between exhibitor visits.

R.I.S.E. Tour events are typically held at locations other than the usual venues frequented by the promo industry. Think breweries, parks and game halls. Planners’ focus is on keeping attendees engaged.

“We are a lively, innovative bunch that strives to evolve the industry by putting together unique customer experiences,” says Webber. “The R.I.S.E. tour consists of industry supplier friends who genuinely love being around each other and it shows at the events. There are no boundaries on what we can put together.”

Weber and her team have held close to 35 R.I.S.E. Tour events since launching the concept. Originally featuring multi-line reps, factory reps joined the show as well. Along with Sweber Marketing Group, currently participating in the tour are Reyco Promo, Maguire Marketing, Wesco Marketing, Chris Dollar Marketing Group, Direct Sales & Marketing, West Coast Branding Solutions and Blankenship Promo. Representatives from suppliers Raining Rose, BAG Makers, IMAGEN Brands, Peerless Umbrellas, Evans Manufacturing, Magnet Group and AAkron Group have also begun exhibiting.

Origin Story

“Honestly, it all started from a simple text,” says Weber. “I knew I had to get back in the market as I started my business, Sweber Marketing, in January of 2020 and as a multi-line representative, if you don’t work you don’t get paid. I texted a few of my Colorado-based multi-Line rep friends to see if they wanted to get together and do a small outdoor show to showcase our products and see our clients for the first time in months. To my surprise, they all said yes.”

Weber’s idea gained steam, with several of her industry peers and colleagues joining her in developing the show. Mindy Reynolds with multi-line rep firm Reyco Promo played an instrumental role, contributing to almost every aspect of what went into the shows. After the show’s third or fourth show, factor representatives began came onboard and it expanded to more locations. Quinn Bui, Southwest sales executive at supplier Raining Rose, Inc., the first factory rep invited to join, took over all graphic design and photography and helped find more experiential locations.

Weber says, “The tour planning process was able to be carried out through Slack, our centralized hub for communication, which is different from other industry standards.”

Reynolds and Bui were also colleagues of Weber’s from their time on the board of the Rocky Mountain Region Promotional Products Association.

As the events grew, Weber and her fellow organizers decided it needed an official name. Larry Willis, with multi-line firm Wesco Marketing, suggested The R.I.S.E. Tour.

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, The R.I.S.E. Tours are unlikely to grow in exhibitor counts, as the shows’ organizers want to keep them between 12 and 15 reps, at least for the time being. They will, however, add more locations and social events over time. It will likely stay away from hotels and focus on venues that “you can have fun while showcasing promotional products.”

“We have such a good vibe with our current suppliers that it would take away from the experience of our clients if we add too many,” says Weber. “Every rep that is in our full tour was invited because their personality aligns with our goals of making trade shows more engaging and experience driven.

“We want you to walk away with a positive memory and be excited to attend our next event.”