Your PPAI Expo Networking Guide

Your PPAI Expo Networking Guide

The PPAI Expo is an event largely built around the products in our industry. There will be thousands of new products, specials, and closeouts lining the seven miles of booths. With so much to see it’s highly recommended that you go into the show with a plan of what booths you need to hit and which products you need to learn about.

Having a pre-show plan in place will allow for plenty of time to take advantage of the real value provided by the PPAI Expo–networking. Over 12,000 promotional products industry professionals will be managing the booths, walking the floor, and pulling the levers at the slots. No one can connect with everyone, but stick to our PPAI Expo Networking Guide and you’ll optimize your time in Las Vegas.


Outside of the food court, the Starbucks that sits along the walkway to the Expo is the closest place to get a coffee or a bite to eat. It tends to be hectic but will be littered with fellow promotional products industry professionals from 6:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening.

Border Grill

The Border Grill is the closest restaurant to the show floor. It’s moderately priced, perfect for a mid-day margarita, and will be slammed by the lunch crowd. It’s a great place to grab a bit with old friends or talk about your latest RFP opportunity with your favorite supplier.

Orchid Lounge

The Orchid Lounge is located on the casino floor of the Mandalay Bay and is the ideal spot to have an after-show cocktail.


eyecandy is in the center of the casino floor and, though a bit loud, is a very popular spot with industry folks. The small club has no cover charge. It’ll usually kick off around 10:00 and stays open until 1:00.

House of Blues

The House of Blues is at the Mandalay Bay end of the long (and expensive) walkway that connects Mandalay with the Luxor. The music and food are great. If you have to entertain a large group or want to treat your sales team, the House of Blues is the place to go.

Shark Reef Aquarium

The entrance to the Shark Reef Aquarium is just to the left of the food court. It’s really the only major attraction close to the show floor. The aquarium is beautiful and can be the perfect, quiet break from the craziness of the show floor. Tickets are $25, but who can put a price on a little relaxation.

Cirque du Soleil

The Las Vegas nightlife presents a great opportunity for industry managers and team leaders to initiate some teambuilding. Seeing a Las Vegas show is the perfect group activity and there’s none better than Cirque du Soleil. It’s a bit pricey with cheap tickets ranging from $40 to $70 depending on the show, but there’s just something about seeing a grown man bend himself into a pretzel that makes your stretch sales goals for the coming year seem much more attainable.

Regardless of where you spend your time at the PPAI Expo you will have a great time. It’s a wonderful show and you’ll be surrounded by all of the great people who make our industry. Have a blast!

Are you exhibiting at the PPAI EXPO or will you be walking the floor and checking out the new products? Read our top tips for success at our industry’s largest trade show!


Planning for Promo Success in 2015

Planning for Promo Success in the New Year

Planning for 2015As you come out of your holiday daze it’s time to realize that the new year is already here. If your sales plan is in place and backed with the tactics and strategy to achieve your goal, we applaud you.  You are in the very small minority who understands that behind every “lucky” sale you make is lots of work and preparation. You also understand that every “overnight success” comes only after years of experience in the trenches.

If your plan is still a dream waiting to be written down, it’s time to pull yourself and your scraps of ideas together. No success is sustainable without a plan and no plan comes together without focus and hard work.

There are many excuses to not plan for the coming year. We’ve heard just about everyone. However, there is one compelling reason to plan your year that’ll trump any excuse. You must plan for success to make the money for you and your family.

How Do You Start?

You will need information about last years’ sales and top accounts. You also want to look at your margins, top prospects, and your marketing plan.

Top Clients

Start by reviewing your top 20 clients from last year. Do you expect them to increase, hold, or decline in sales this year?  Be realistic here. Your plan cannot be based on hope. Go through this process client by client, adding or subtracting as needed. What does the total tell you about the coming year? Do you need new clients or is your business outlook pretty good?


How about those margins? A 5% increase can have a huge impact on your income. You can make this increase a reality by buying better and/or developing greater confidence in your pricing strategy. Either way, a bump in margins helps you and your company, and it is pretty achievable.

Account Development

Referrals and account development are two similar sales-building techniques that are very effective. If you currently work with an HR buyer, it’s very easy to ask HR who else in the business buys promotional products. Ask your buyer to make the introduction and you’re in. Account development involves a plan to move from a handful of buyers to a broad network of buyers. It’s easier to build within clients than it is to get into an unknown client. By using email, social media, mail, phone, and referrals, a large network of buyers can be won over in a fairly short period.

Buddy System

If you have a sales manager or mentor who will help this process, be sure to utilize their support. If not, team up with another account executive so you can work on this project together. It’s going to take four to five hours but is well worth every minute you spend.

Ultimately you are accountable to yourself and your family to make this year the best year ever. Plan your activities, work the plan, and check on your progress every week.



Best Practices for PPAI Expo Success | Attendee Edition

Are you planning to attend the PPAI Expo? Make the most of your time (and survive Las Vegas) by following these simple tips.

Begin your show preparation at least a month before the event. This is when you call your clients to discuss their marketing calendar and promotional products needs. These clients’ needs will become your shopping list for the show!

Set appointments with suppliers to discuss specific client projects. This one-on-one time should be focused, fast-paced, and impactful. Make the most of your time!

Have manners.

  • Don’t block the aisles.
  • Don’t interrupt a supplier or sales rep because you’re in a hurry.
  • Don’t linger in a booth and dominate a supplier’s time.
  • If you’re looking for free stuff to ship home for the kids… really?

No need to visit every vendor, especially if they visit your office regularly. Look for the suppliers you don’t see often.

Ask suppliers about their best-selling products and hottest markets.

Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking between 5-8 miles!

Everyone has a saturation point when you just can’t look at another cap, mug, or pen. When you hit this point, do yourself a favor and call it a day.

At times the nightclub or the craps table may be calling your name. If you can’t say no at least be sure to turn in early.

Follow these time-tested tips and you’ll be able to get the most out of any industry trade show. Happy shopping!

Want to help an exhibitor make the most of their PPAI Expo experience? Send them our post on the topic!


Best Practices for PPAI Expo Success | Exhibitor Edition

The PPAI Expo is upon us! Haven’t started planning for it? Didn’t get the results you wanted last year? Do not panic! Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on the track for PPAI success!

Smile! Social media and email won’t help you here. Your smile is your brand. Practice it and use it often!

Make eye contact! We’ve attended well over 100 product shows and are always “hooked” into a conversation when an exhibitor makes eye contact and smiles! Who can resist a friendly face and a smile?

Act like you really want to be exhibiting. When you or your show staff don’t want to be part of the exhibit team, it shows. Save the time and money and stay home.

Have a purpose! Use show time to build on friendships and business relationships. Know your top 25 clients and know what you want to discuss with them. Make a personal call to your top 25 the week before the show. Set a time and reason to talk. Probe for homework, quotes, and spec sample needs. Your booth should not be a place to sling out catalogs, but a place to wrap up deals.

Don’t sit in the corner of your booth checking email! We’ve all send hundreds of exhibitors who were relieved to see us pass their booth without stopping. The point of the show is to draw prospective clients in, not turn them away.

Spring for the padded carpet in your booth. Your clients will stay to talk longer and your feet will thank you at the end of the day.

Look sharp! Whether you wear a suit, business casual, or jeans and a pressed shirt, dress like you mean business! Impress your clients and take pride in your appearance.

Stock up on breath mints and hand sanitizer. This should be self-explanatory.

Follow-up on your show promises. If you said you would send a sample or spec or special pricing or resolve a problem — do not fail to deliver!

Have a great show and enjoy Las Vegas!

Want to help an attendee make the most of their PPAI Expo experience? Send them our post on the topic!