November/December 2020 Print

President's Column

At the beginning of this year, had I thought about writing this final column of the year, I would have envisioned noting all the wonderful things we did as an organization and pointing out all the highlights for the year.  Unfortunately, there is not much in that regard.  We did, however, get the Room Show in just before the lockdowns started which was a great event.  We also created ‘Facebook Live Fridays’ which featured a new Supplier presentation every week.  These became so popular, we continued these through December 18 and will relaunch them again in January.  Special thanks go to Sabrina Franz, our Social Media Chair, who created this forum and has served as the host and moderator.

We are beginning to see small in-person events pop up across the country, run by other regionals and the like, but we are still a way off from seeing them on a regular basis.  We at UMAPP have been very cautious about moving forward with these types of events but are hopeful that we will be able to hold all our events in 2021. 

While we await our first in-person event, The Room Show, scheduled for next April, the board has decided to move forward with a Virtual Event in February.  We are intending to fill the gap between PPAI’s virtual event in January and ASI Orlando at the end of March to be able to provide a forum for suppliers to showcase new products and allow distributors to engage with their local supplier reps. Look for details coming soon.

Next year, The Room Show will be at a new venue, The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth, MN.  We at UMAPP are very excited for this new location as it will have more room than we have had in past years, both in and outside of the presentation suites.  Look for registration details coming in January.

Our Brand Connection Expo, which combines the Spring Booth Show and the Fall End User show was to debut in August this year and now we will have our inaugural event next August at the Inwood Oaks Event Center in Oakdale, MN with a Golf Outing proceeding and Dan Nevins as our Keynote speaker. 

Intermixed throughout the year will be our ‘Connects’ Events to keep all of us engaged in networking and having some fun along the way.  It will be so refreshing to get back to these and all other in-person events and I am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Despite managing our way through this pandemic and canceling events, I am very proud of our board and how they navigated through all the uncertainty along the way. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication this year. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent UMAPP as the President and I look forward to working with the board in my new role as Immediate Past President in what we all hope is a more “normal” year.

Happy Holidays,

Kent Dunham
UMAPP Board President


A note from your Executive Director: A grateful thanks to President Kent Dunham for his strong leadership during these unusual months in 2020. His business expertise, insight, wisdom, and intuition have been of invaluable assistance as our Association learned how to acclimate to new technology, ideas, and standard procedures. I feel I can speak for our board and membership when I say a heartfelt "thank you" for your volunteerism and leadership for the Association.

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Calendar of Events

Save the Date!  We've planned some events to get you back into the swing of things. 

Wednesday, February 17 
"Up Close and Virtual" 
Trade Show
Suppliers and Distributors! Join us for our first Virtual Trade Show to get you caught up on all the latest and greatest to jump start your 2021.   Registration opening soon for suppliers and in January for distributors!  

Thursday, April 15 
The UMAPP Room Show 
Our first in-person event at a beautiful new venue, The Crowne Plaza in Plymounth, Minnesota. Plenty of space for distancing, yet you will be able to experience an in-person event with 11 suppliers getting everyone caught up with their 25-minute presentations.  A must attend.  All State requirements will be adhered to along with appropriate social distancing measures.  

Lunch 'N Learns 
We plan to have four Lunch 'N Learns throughout the year with local companies. More to come on this!  

Wednesday, August 18 
Golf is Back! 
UMAPP's popular summer golf outing is returning to StoneRidge Golf Course in St. Paul. This is one not to miss! Enjoy golf contests, a hole in one opportunity (big money here), hole sponsorships with a donation going to the Wounded Warrior Project, lunch, awards, and FUN. 

Thursday, August 19
Brand Connection Expo
This is the event that combines the former Fire & Ice Booth Show with our End Buyer Showcase.  Held at the Oakdale Inwood Oaks Center, this event will showcase a keynote speaker, Dan Nevins of the Wounded Warrior Project. If you haven't heard him speak before, check out our website for more information, but be assured that a more inspiring and motivational discussion has likely not been heard.  He has an amazing story that will leave you breathless.  Also join Dan the morning of the show for an early yoga session.   

This is a distributor show where their customers are invited, too!  Come alone as a distributor, or invite your customers.  More information to come for both exhibitors and distributors.  

CAS/MAS Scholarships
What is this, you say?  UMAPP believes strongly in the power of higher education, so the Association offers THREE scholarships ($500 each) for our members to pursue industry education towards their TAS, CAS, MAS, or MAS+ designations.  Visit our website here to apply for a 2021 scholarship.  Deadline to submit an application is December 1, 2020. 

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Guest Column

Reprinted with permission from Promotional Consultant Today. 

Top-Shelf Tip No. 142:

“Good things happen when you set your priorities straight.”

Scott Caan

Four Bad Habits To Break When You Work Remotely

Remote work is having a moment—and may continue to grow as the pandemic rages on. According to Gallup, nearly seven in 10 employees work remotely all or part of the time. Only one in four remote workers want to work in the office.

Whether or not working from home is your preference, it pays to know how to work from home effectively. Without keeping a close eye on your time and activities, you may start to see some negative consequences of working in a more relaxed environment. Kaitlin McManus, an associate law editor for Vault, has compiled a list of four bad habits to break when you work remotely.  In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share McManus’ thoughts on the pitfalls of working remotely and how to avoid them.

  1. Not following a morning routine. Working from home saves you the hassle of a morning commute, but this doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed and right into work. McManus advises professionals to stick to a morning routine that works for them. Whether you like to meditate, exercise or catch up on the news over a cup of coffee, do what works for your lifestyle. If you are supposed to start work at 8 a.m. and wake up at 7:55, you’re not giving yourself a good start to the day. Give yourself time to complete your regular morning routine.

  2. Never signing off. While remote work comes with the perk of no commute time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of constantly working. It’s all too easy to start your day sooner and work later into the evening since you are already at home. However, McManus says this is a bad habit because you will start to feel like you spend all your time working. To avoid this, be sure to sign off for the day at an appropriate time.

  3. Giving in to distractions. Even if you work in a home office with the doors shut, distractions are all around you. McManus once got a Snapchat of a friend making homemade marinara at 2:45 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. Whether you get tempted to make a batch of cookies or put on a load of laundry, be cautious about how you spend your time during the workday. McManus says it’s okay to take small breaks throughout your day, but make sure they don’t start taking up more and more of your day. To help, try setting a timer to keep yourself on track.

  4. Eating all the food and not exercising. In the workplace, you often have to pay for snacks in the vending machine. At home, all the food is there for the taking—no loose change necessary. Your fitness routine may be thrown off, too, especially if you are accustomed to working out on your way to or from work. McManus advises professionals to keep an eye on their eating habits when they work remotely and to schedule time to be active. This could mean going for a short walk around the block or pausing for a yoga break. The idea is to try and eat mindfully and stay active while working from home.

You can work from home successfully if you keep yourself accountable. Create a reasonable schedule for your work and try to adhere to it as much as possible. Be sure to stay mindful about how you spend your time and look for ways to get up from your laptop. You can be productive and still enjoy the perks of working remotely by striving to avoid the bad habits above. 

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Kaitlin McManus is an associate law editor for Vault, a site that provides ratings, rankings and reviews for thousands of top employers.  

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Welcome New Members


Booshie, Inc. 
Chris Babiash 
[email protected]
336 Linda Lane 
Circle Pines, MN 55014

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Industry News


Rob Alley has been hired to lead marketing for ZOOMcatalog; the industry’s leader in digital marketing technologies. Alley will play a key role in all branding, product and digital marketing, growth initiatives, sales enablement, customer experience, internal and external communications, and more. 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Rob has joined our team. He’s a perfect fit for ZOOMcatalog as he brings years of experience across the promotional products industry and B2B technology services.” --Bryony Zasman, Co-Founder.

UMAPP’s own, Scott Mueller of Indoff, is a PPAI 2021 Pyramid Award Finalist!  His first time as a finalist and we are proud! Here’s more about this program:  

PPAI’s Pyramid Awards celebrate the pinnacle of achievement by the Association’s member companies and recognize excellence in creativity, service, quality and craftsmanship, as well as the collaborative partnership between suppliers and distributors.

The finalists for the 2021 PPAI Pyramid Awards have been selected in each of the five Pyramid categories: Supplier Star, Client Programs, Marketing, Supplier Decorating and Technology. Winners will be announced on December 17 in PPB Newslink and explored more in-depth in future articles in PPB magazine.  Here is the link for more information:

PPAI Honors Janet McMaster, MAS, As 2020 PPAI RAC Volunteer Award Recipient.
Promotional Products Association International (PPAI;, the world’s largest not-for-profit trade association serving the more than 15,500 corporate members of the $24.7 billion promotional products industry, has named Janet McMaster, MAS, the recipient of the 2020 PPAI RAC (Regional Association Council) Volunteer Award. McMaster is the regional vice president at Geiger, a Lewiston, Maine-headquartered promotional products distributor. She received the award on October 15 during the PPAI Leadership Development Workshop.

The PPAI RAC Volunteer Award is presented annually to regional association members who have demonstrated an outstanding level of volunteerism and leadership and who have made significant and measurable contributions to a regional association. McMaster is the 18th recipient of the laurel, which has been awarded annually since 2010.

McMaster is currently serving a three-year term on the Promotional Products Education Foundation’s (PPEF) Board of Trustees and has a distinguished history of service with the industry’s regional associations. She served as a leader for the Philadelphia Area Promotional Products Association (PAPPA) from 2004-2005 and from 2007-2010 as well as on the board of the Carolinas Association of Advertising and Marketing Professionals (CAAMP) board from 2012-2017, where she served as board president in 2015. She also served on the RAC board from 2015-2018, presiding as president in 2017.

In conjunction with sister company, American Diversity, American Solutions for Business recently held a virtual event called Thriving in 20 – a format in which ASB salespeople and team members could choose to schedule private 20-minute sessions with 69 selected vendor partners over a 2-week span.

The event also included a kickoff day with update videos from leaders at ASB as well as industry figures, Paul Bellantone (PPAI), Tim Andrews (ASI) and Matt Bruno (PSDA). The kickoff was followed by a virtual social hour open to all participants.

“Just because we aren’t able to host large-scale events in person doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from virtual opportunities to connect our salespeople with our top vendor partners,” says Dana Zezzo, ASB’s VP of Marketing, Vendor Relations & Events. “This format allowed for an inclusive, cost-effective environment that worked around all participants’ schedules.”

SAGE, the leading provider of information, marketing, and business management solutions to the promotional products industry, announces the release of SAGE Mobile™ 10.0. The app, available for iOS and Android devices, allows industry distributors easy access to all their critical research and business management operations while on the go.

SAGE Mobile™ 10.0 now includes the Project Management area, introduced earlier this year in SAGE Online 16. This highly praised feature allows distributors to easily view and manage projects, all while improving their team's organization. The Project Management area was created exclusively for the promotional products industry and can be customized to each distributor's specific workflow.

American Solutions for Business has partnered with eCommerce technology group, OrderMyGear (OMG), to expand their suite of eCommerce solutions.

This strategic partnership combines the robust software solution with the broad range of products, services and support ASB provides to their customers. This allows ASB sales associates to build simple, customizable online pop-up stores to streamline order process and grow sales.

“2020 has been about adaptability and evolution,” says Dana Zezzo, VP of Marketing, Vendor Relations and Events. “We’re excited to partner with OMG – especially during a time when online sales are so prevalent. This is a pivotal time in our industry, and American Solutions for Business is committed to keeping a progressive, open-minded philosophy when it comes to finding new solutions, tools and partners.”







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Guest Column II

Reprinted with permission from Promotional Consultant Today. 

Top-Shelf Tip No. 213:

“One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention.”

Jim Rohn

Seven Tips To Enhance Every Client Interaction

Your clients probably demand a lot from you and your sales team. If you can’t meet their requests, they may consider parting ways to work with a competitor. While you are expected to

deliver the products and services your clients need, you should also be looking for ways to improve the customer experience.

How can you make it easier for clients to get information? What are some ways you can go above and beyond? Clients today often expect more than what they signed up for on their contract. Sophia Bernazzani, a content marketing professional who started and manages the HubSpot Service Blog, says sales professionals can do a few things to enhance every client interaction. We share her tips in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

  1. Demonstrate empathy and gratitude. Be generous in thanking your clients for everything—from their patience if they had to wait to their time if they left feedback. You can also be empathetic by apologizing when clients have an issue or complaint. Bernazzani recommends treating customers as you want to be treated as a customer. Always aim to be upbeat and gracious.
  1. Always follow up. Never leave your clients hanging. If you can’t provide an answer right away, give them an exact and reasonable time frame on when they can expect a resolution. Be sure to respond to every client outreach, whether they sent an email, a social media comment, or a text.

  2. Be transparent and communicative. According to Bernazzani, sales professionals should always exercise transparency when communicating with clients. This is especially important if you have made a mistake. Communicate how the issue happened and how it won’t happen again. If it could happen again, be upfront about it so the client can prepare.

  3. Request (and act on) client feedback. When you regularly ask for client feedback, you can identify potential problems that may lead your clients to leave. Surveys also allow your clients to voice their thoughts on your products or service in a way that makes them feel valued, notes Bernazzani.

  4. Double down on the delight. While you can always send a custom gift or a discount, you can also add delight by simple actions such as sending a thank-you letter or giving a shout-out on social media. Bernazzani says these actions go a long way toward building goodwill and an emotional connection.

  5. Go where your clients are. If a client sends an email, don’t respond back with a number for them to call. You can make their experience much smoother and more enjoyable by meeting them where they are. Bernazzani says sales teams should always strive to respond to customers on the same platform they originally used.

  6. Be authentic. In other words—talk like a human. Your clients don’t want to hear scripted corporate-speak. However, you should always remain professional, notes Bernazzani. While you don’t need to be formal, you should stay mindful of your language.

Remember that the customer experience doesn’t end with the sale. To improve every client interaction, you must look for ways to make their experience better. You can start the process by following the seven tips above.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Sophia Bernazzani started and manages the HubSpot Service Blog.

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This is a newsletter provided by the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Professionals.  UMAPP is a professional trade association for companies in the promotional products industry.  UMAPP covers the states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Western Wisconsin.  Membership is by company, but all staff are included under the umbrella of the company membership.  

For more information, contact the UMAPP office at:  [email protected]  

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