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  • Writer's pictureJeff Solomon

The Truth About What Drives the Branded Merch Industry

What I share here may be foreign to some. Still, for many, the true power that drives our industry is not innovative tech tools, thousands of products effectively carrying brand messaging or the brilliant ways many of our colleagues use them.

At the core of our exciting industry is a group of people who bring something exceptional to the party. If you have yet to experience what's happening, this may sound vague, but it's worth my attempting to share this in words.

The truth about what drives our industry has little to do with business concepts and everything to do with the power of business relationships.

Through the years, I've had the privilege of getting to know some of the brightest creatives in the industry. These people not only do killer branded merch marketing but also care about people and the environment. They genuinely want to make a difference in what they do. These innovators are moving our thriving industry forward in positive ways.

At my wife's urging, we added selling "promotional products" to our successful apparel decorating business MANY years ago. My first experience in promo was at the PPAI Expo in Dallas. I was stunned by the focus on education, and we met some hospitable, sharp people with whom I am still connected. In those early days, I sensed something special about this industry. Over 30 years later, I'm more excited than ever about what lies ahead.

What happened in Dallas was the start of a life-changing journey. In recent years, I've gotten to know intelligent, creative, fun personalities driving the branded merch industry forward. Those who are aware see the passion coming from the next generation. These people focus on sound business that goes beyond selling stuff. "Seasoned" veterans like me now realize we can use branded merch for good. I'm inspired by what I see happening. Our marketing medium goes far beyond slapping logos on stuff.

It's encouraging to see the positive ways we are changing to be better stewards of how we communicate brand stories. The creativity I see is exciting. The focus on sustainability and doing the right thing has refocused my thinking. The future is bright for the branded merch industry! Our elevated role in the advertising/marketing space should motivate us as we raise the bar in serving our clients.

Talking with colleagues about the brilliant marketing they bring to their clients through our TACOS with Jay and Jeff Show has opened my eyes to what drives our industry. Our colleague's willingness to share what they do inspires us all.

The vision to create the Branded Merch Network was birthed as we spotlighted high-level creativity and enjoyed our connections with those driving this uncommon work. The Branded Merch Network is a place where we can have conversations centered on principles of purpose and relevance. We want to share insights over information. The network is evolving organically into what the community want's it to be.

"Why It Matters" is a simple concept that offers like-minded organizations the opportunity to share different, meaningful perspectives. We address why it matters for a supplier to produce better products, why it matters for a distributor to sell better-sourced products, and why it matters for end users to buy responsibly produced products to carry their brand message. Why It Matters is an effective communication tool to push forward the conversation we all want to have. 

Moving forward, we will facilitate these discussions through "Let's Taco 'Bout It!" conversations. These are mouthwatering discussions that transform casual conversations into a feast of knowledge. Our audience has a front-row seat to the minds shaping the dynamic branded merch marketplace.

If connecting on the Branded Merch Network is of interest, we invite you to join the BMN Community on LinkedIn:

It's challenging to describe how meaningful these relationships are in words, but they are game-changing. I appreciate the occasional times we can meet personally, but these times are rare. Because of that, I'm thankful for the online vehicles we have to be connected. It not close to being together in person, but it's something.

Somehow, we have all found ourselves in a business that can do much good and go far beyond creatively sharing brand stories on products. What drives our industry is that quality people are doing extraordinary things. I feel blessed to be a part of it!

My encouragement is to get connected. Go to industry events, join your regional association, collaborate with your supplier partners, learn from them, and take advantage of the many education opportunities available.

Life is happening in the branded merch industry. Let's live it together!

© 2024 Jeff Solomon


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