A limited preview of the Promotional Products Works (PPW) Expo was held virtually on May 18 as PPAI began its foray into major end-buyer facing events.

Announced in January at The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, PPW Expo was created to help buyers boost creativity, inspire ideas and work more cohesively with their distributors. The clients—who had to be invited by a limited group of distributors—got access to supplier booths and educational videos while having the opportunity to engage with their distributor hosts.

Wednesday’s beta was intended as a trial run for the full PPW Expo in late September, which will become a twice yearly event open to all Association distributor members and their hosted clients.

Having gained experience hosting virtual events throughout the pandemic, including PPAI Expo Direct-2-You, PPAI sees this as an opportunity for the association to help distributor members bring a unique value to their client, the buyer, through an online event experience that will include education sessions, product inspiration and more without their client having to commit to traveling. Lindsey Davis, director of promotional sales at supplier Raining Rose, attended PPW Expo and came away from the event refreshed by the emphasis placed on making the event a “client show.”

“That is amazing,” Davis, who currently sits on the PPAI Board of Directors, says. She also says she was impressed with the functionality of the event, which is hosted on SAGE’s virtual event platform.

Along with a loop of educational content running on the main stage, there were several short on-demand videos from exhibiting companies such as SanMar, HPG and more. The videos provided flexible and creative outlets to promote new products or product trends to a willing audience full of clients.

“I loved how easy it was to navigate throughout,” commented Joelly Goodson, senior account manager at distributor Genumark, who invited a handful of clients.

Along with the choose-your-own-adventure content available, PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham also addressed the attendees of the preview event with remarks of his own about the power of promotional products as marketing tools.

PPAI is weighing feedback from Wednesday’s attendees in order to continue to improve on the experience. Davis suggested ways the navigability could be simplified for buyers, and Goodson emphasized additional opportunities to make the event more bespoke for individual distributors, along with technical tweaks.

“I am excited about the future of PPAI’s PPW efforts, specifically PPW Expo,” says Ellen Tucker, the Association’s director of business development and expositions. “Since the announcement in January, we’ve already had the opportunity to learn so much and Wednesday’s preview event gave us exactly what we needed to gain more insight into what will make the fall launch successful. We’re looking forward to continuing to engage our members for continued feedback and insight into what will help PPAI make this a great event for them and their clients.”

An official date for the fall event has not been finalized, though it is expected in late September. PPAI is also in the early stages of producing buyer-facing content at PromotionalProductsWork.com, and will continue to update members on the initiative’s progress.

“The PPW Expo is an important part of how PPAI is leveraging digital transformation to benefit our members,” Denham says. “You should plan to invite all your clients to the fall event to maximize your fourth quarter.”