Times, they are a-changin', and you have a choice: Do you change with them, or do you stay the course?  Sometimes you need to take a step back, evaluate your position, and decide if it's still appropriate for you, or if it's time to be a-changin' yourself.

In the Maple Ridge office, we have inspirational posters hanging around the building, but there's one right next to the time clock where staff can see it every day: Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.  Now, I'm not saying that existing branding and processes are stupid. Rather, to me it's a reminder to review why things are done the way they are, and if it's beneficial to hold position or begin implementing changes.

We've all fallen into the "We've always done it that way!" trap, but why?  Is what worked ten years ago, five years ago, even last year still the best way to do things, or are there new opportunities that can be taken advantage of to improve your ROI?  Change can be hard (we are creatures of habit, after all), but it can help to think of them as growing pains—sure, change may be an ordeal in the moment, but without it there can be no growth!

Back in the day, we received orders and art by mail—the advent of the fax machine was met with no small amount of excitement.  Tracking inventory was done by hand, as was invoicing. Now it only takes a few clicks to perform the same processes thanks to computers and other technological advances, which are continuous; we're already in the process of evaluating new technology to further streamline our processes and look forward to simplifying tasks for our staff even further to allow us to better serve our customers.  Sure, our current system works and we could certainly continue to use it, but if an investment in an updated system ups our productivity and cuts costs overall, why wouldn't we want to at the very least explore the option?

If you've been around a while, you may remember our old website.  Again, it did its job, but it wasn't feature-rich or easily-maintained on the backend.  In 2016, we began the process of developing a new website, which launched in July 2017. The difference is night and day, in both user experience and maintenance.  Both contribute to the ROI of the development—a sizeable investment, but one well worth it in the end!

The success of the website launch also inspired us to revisit our booth design.  You can see below our old booth on the left and new booth for 2019 on the right—the difference is significant!  It only took a few cosmetic changes to liven up the booth and increase traffic and engagement, and that's what exhibiting at a show is all about, right?   Again, it was an investment, but one that handily paid for itself with the increased exposure.

This isn't to toot our own horn (well... maybe just a little), but rather to demonstrate that visible and behind-the-scenes modernization offer important benefits.  Some of those benefits may not be immediately apparent, but time will tell how effective that modernization is as things continue to evolve.

Modernization doesn't have to be about processes, systems, or visible branding, either—it can be as simple (or as complicated) as changing perceptions.  There is increasingly a shift in the promotional products industry toward charitable giving, spotlighted by PromoCares.  Cause-marketing not only boosts exposure and engagement, but also allows people at all levels, whether end buyers, distributors, or suppliers, to contribute to the betterment of their communities—or communities across the country and around the world.  (Watch for our cause-marketing program to roll out later this year!)

We naturally resist change, but it's important to periodically evaluate your position.  Are you where you want to be? Is there room for improvement? Taking that essential step back and looking honestly at where you are and where you want to be can make all the difference in the world.

Shana Gardner, MAS, MASI, Operations