Someone To Believe In
Finding a mentor isn’t as hard as you might think.

Whether you’re fresh out of school or a few years into your job—or even switching gears mid-career—a mentor can do wonders for your growth and success. What’s more, finding a mentor and cultivating a relationship with them doesn’t have to involve jumping through hoops. Jimmy Okuszka, content manager at career resource site The Muse, busts a few myths about mentoring and offers these truths to help wanna-be mentees find their own personal Obi-Wan Kenobi.

• No Formal Invitation Needed
Many mentor-mentee relationships begin naturally, as young upstarts seek advice and guidance from older peers or supervisors with whom they can relate. The key is to keep the conversation going, and to make note of challenges and goals to discuss as your career progresses.

• Look Outside Your Field
It’s perfectly natural to want to be mentored by someone who has followed your desired career path. But, successful and happy individuals can be great teachers regardless of their fields. The perspective gained in “growing up” in any career can generate valuable insights that apply to just about any job. Outside perspectives are equally important when you’re looking to transition into a role that requires hard or soft skills your potential mentor has already developed and applied.

• You Don’t Have To Have Just One
Our friends and family are diverse in their views and experiences, so there’s no reason not to have mentors that provide the same benefits. Having more than one mentor is akin to having a wardrobe for every season: no matter the situation or environment, at least one mentor can outfit you for success.

Finally, rather than asking an esteemed colleague or leader to help mold you in his or her image simply because they are successful, make a list of things you’d like to accomplish, and reach out to someone who already embodies or demonstrates those specific traits. You’ll find a more rewarding relationship develops from knowing what you want first, then going out to find the person who can help you achieve it.



Risky Business
Advertisers continue to pursue online video despite risks to brands.

When is an online video ad a bad idea? According to critics, when that ad shows up next to something that could create a negative association with the advertiser; or, worse, when a brand is fraudulently portrayed. But these risks aren’t keeping companies from spending money on online video ads—to the tune of $29.8 billion this year alone, according to a WARC global ad trends report.

The report estimates that one in 10 ads is at risk for “negative adjacency”; social media platforms, the primary home for video ads, are coming up short on assuring brands that such safety issues are being dealt with. But, while advertisers are leading the charge to implement changes on platforms, they continue to invest in the medium.

The money spent this year accounts for 17.5 percent of the total $170 billion spent on all video advertising worldwide. In 2010, it was just 1.3 percent. The U.S. share of online video advertising is higher as well, with an expected increase to 19.3 percent this year.

So, what keeps the dollars online? Users. The WARC survey projected an increase in online video consumption of 26.6 percent from 2018 to 2020. Currently, users view an average of 66.5 minutes a day, and in 2020 they are anticipated to spend 84.1 minutes a day watching online video. The audience for gaming content alone was estimated at 843 million—larger than the combined audiences for Netflix, HBO, Spotify and ESPN.


ASK THE EXPERT: David Hawes, MAS+, Brand architect, Geiger
Me, Myself And I

Have you ever wondered whether there are better ways to get the word out about your brand? David Hawes, MAS+, brand architect with Lewiston, Maine-based distributor Geiger, offers up his thoughts on successful self promotion.

PPB What does self promotion look like for an industry company? Does it always involve a campaign featuring promotional products?
Hawes People are any company’s most important promotional product. If they don’t embody their company’s values, the success of any promotional product will be severely limited. Brand ambassadors are a company’s most valuable asset.

PPB How does self promotion differ from client or program promotions?
Hawes An effective self promotion should adhere to the same principles that
guide client and program promotions. This means selecting products that include the four U’s:  useful, unique, unexpected and unforgettable. Products that reflect the company’s brand and add value for the recipient are key.

PPB What questions should promotional products companies ask themselves to determine their approach to self promotion?
Hawes For optimal results I suggest they repeat the same strategy they use when selecting promotional products for their customers. Ask yourself, “How will this product help us build our brand? Is it consistent with our brand message? Will this self-promotional product be valued by the recipient?” 

PPB What are some key elements of a successful self promotion for suppliers? For distributors?
Hawes For both suppliers and distributors, self promotion must be about the recipient. Giving them a quality product they will use frequently is the key. Select products that you are proud to give and that reflect your company’s brand. Self promotion is about building and reinforcing relationships.

As an example, I attended Shark Tank host Daymond John’s keynote presentation at the annual ASI Show in Chicago last year. While some high-profile speakers in previous years have been a big disappointment, Daymond was just the opposite. He is a gifted speaker with a distinctive style that reflects his upbringing in the community of Hollis, Queens [New York]. His main message emphasized the importance of doing what you love while always remembering that you are the brand.

He wrapped up with a story about his recent battle with stage 2 thyroid cancer. Just before the surgery as he was being sedated, his anesthesiologist told him to focus on something he cared about deeply. He immediately started thinking about his baby daughter Miska. The surgery went very well, and he is now cancer-free.

Daymond has become very successful in the business world. His FUBU brand alone is worth over $6 billion. However, in closing, he said that’s not what he emphasizes. Instead, he urged us to remember that we can’t be wealthy unless we are healthy. As luck would have it, the self-promotional products I brought for him reflected Daymond’s passion for health: I presented him a Walk Star Kit, making him an honorary
“Walk Star Shark.”

PPB What values does self promotion bring to a distributor or supplier?
Hawes Self-promotion products often provide a great opportunity to initiate a relationship. The moment one is given we begin to build a bridge to a customer, a prospect or a center of influence. I remember giving a pizza cutter to a congressman in Washington, D.C., during L.E.A.D. [PPAI’s Legislative Education And Action Day]. A year later we met again and the first thing he said was: “You’re the pizza guy!” He taught me a very valuable lesson. Give people a product they will use while they are doing something they enjoy. Then you become unforgettable!     


United We Succeed
Is there a disconnect between your sales and marketing teams? Follow these steps to open communication channels and create a cohesive plan.

Sales and marketing should be complementary functions, but many times the teams end up in a war of words over which department is more responsible for failing to secure more, or better, business leads.

To end the acrimony and help sales and marketing employees recognize their symbiotic relationship, Forbes contributor Jennifer Davis suggests these best practices for bridging the gap.

1.  Shadow Sales Teams
Marketing professionals should listen to live sales calls, particularly calls that are tied to a specific marketing campaign that requires monitoring and optimization. This allows parties from each team to review calls, determine what works and what doesn’t, and adjust going forward.

2.  Combine Team Meetings
Inviting sales staff to participate in marketing meetings lets them see what’s involved in developing, executing and measuring the effectiveness of a campaign. The sales staff can also weigh in on those elements they view as most or least important to their sales strategies.

3.  Build An A-Team
Where operations prevent regular cross-meeting participation, members from sales and marketing can join in an advisory group that can provide consistent feedback and recommendations.

4.  Team Up On Customer Visits
Marketers who tag along on sales calls and client visits get to see firsthand how sales staff build relationships; they also learn directly from the customer what makes for effective marketing.


Can We Talk?
Companies are moving from text messages to rich content systems messaging to improve the customer relationship.

If you’ve signed up for text message alerts from companies with which you do frequent business, you’re probably someone who appreciates quick, efficient communication. But text messaging has its limits, which is why more companies are choosing to interact with customers through rich content systems (RCS) messaging instead.

RCS, most commonly seen as internet protocol (IP) messaging, allows for an enhanced experience—which explains why it was used more than text messaging in more than half of the 56 global markets examined in the 2016 GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey. It’s also proven to be more cost-effective than traditional text messaging.

The top users of IP messaging were in Asian, Central and South American, and Middle Eastern markets. European and North American markets lagged behind in adopting the more interactive technology. But common IP messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat have conditioned users to expect feature-rich messaging that enables the integration of gifs, videos and emojis, as well as the ability to see read receipts and typing indicators.


So, what are the benefits of IP messaging? To name a few: 
• Lower operating costs
• More data control (telecom companies control SMS data)
• More visual creativity within messages
• Flexibility in conversations (real-time chats)
• Ability to be built into existing apps

Whether your company chooses to communicate with customers through existing IP messaging platforms or wants to build an in-app messaging option, the end goal should always be to boost engagement and retention.


Jen Alexander is associate editor of PPB.