I Believe...

The who, what and wear of industry experts

… Social media marketing is not a fad or a phase. Social media as a marketing tool is more important now than ever, and it continues to grow at an amazing pace. What’s exciting to me are things like the explosion of Instagram and figuring out ways to showcase our industry within that space. If you weren’t already serious about social media, you might want to give it more of your time now. A recent article in Fast Company by Belle Cooper noted that only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business – that means there are lots of people getting involved and managing a social media strategy.

… The dishes can wait, but your relationships can’t. As a proud father of six, I’ve learned to accept the chaos and have backup plans for my backup plans. I strive to make a sincere connection with my family every day.

… My kids have style. All of my kids have started to become fashion trend-spotters, font snobs and seriously struggle to buy apparel at retail prices. I recently said something to my wife about a chevron pattern, and my youngest daughter, Payton, who is 10 and always listening, said with a sarcastic tone: “Dad, chevrons are so last year.”

… We have to show that we are more than just logos on stuff. There are a lot of challenges and pressures facing our industry, but near the top of my list (and I believe this is something salespeople and business owners can actually control) is allowing buyers to paint you into what I call the “commodity corner.” This is the uncomfortable place where buyers think that distributors and decorators are all the same and replaceable. They often jump to this conclusion when our industry hyper-focuses on products. Business owners in our industry need to take a step back and define themes and look for opportunities to be storytellers. This will satisfy a real marketing objective by arousing emotion, building a lasting impression and creating mystery, curiosity and a call to action.

… Becoming a total brand manager is crucial. I can’t think of a better opportunity than digital media branding to allow distributors and decorators a platform to be truly unique and offer profitable marketing solutions. If you ask any of them, this is what a huge portion of their existing customer base is begging for and so desperately needs. Distributors and decorators are already managing a big part of their clients’ brands – the tangible physical portion – so why not start managing the digital side, such as websites, mobile- and tablet-compatible sites, landing pages and social profiles? By partnering with Affinity Express, distributors and decorators can start the process and become a one-stop-shop, profitable brand manager. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

… Will Ferrell is comedy gold. I love to watch age-appropriate Will Ferrell movies with my family because they allow us time to relax, let go of some stress and laugh together. My favorite movie of all time is “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

… Hipster-inspired style is on its way out. I’m happy to report that we have hit the apex of mustache popularity and will now see them fade away. I’m still seeing a big trend in vintage banners, stamps and seals. Some website designers have been using a “flat” or minimalistic approach, and I have seen that similar trend in our apparel and promotional design world. Also popular are design elements that incorporate patterns like Moroccan, Casablanca, chevron, botanical, organic and animal prints, when used sparingly. Many of the apparel decorators I’ve spoken with still seem focused on multi-decoration strategies and mixing media – for example, combining sewing and sublimation.

… Helping small businesses grow is my calling. I feel most proud and fulfilled when I can simplify and share slightly disruptive ideas and new technologies that will make a big impact on the growth of small businesses.

… We all need more cowbell. I love that line from the SNL sketch: “Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!” I guess it reminds me to relax and laugh more.

… Small-business owners are amazing. Besides my parents, I most admire the small- and medium-size business owners I’ve worked with. They often don’t have a perfect plan, but they don’t let that stop them. They are time-starved, juggling hundreds of details every day, struggling with their cash flow, doing all that while trying to maintain some kind of balance with the ones they love. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.