You would think that the attendees of a conference held by an association for association executives would be hyper-aware of compliance issues. But I discovered, upon attending the Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), that this isn’t necessarily the case.


It’s a given that trade associations are significant users of promotional products. Because their events provide a venue for their distribution of mass amounts of promotional products, I expected them to know about promotional products. I was not disappointed. With the number of trade shows run by associations, the association executives I spoke to were very familiar with promotional products.

What surprised me though is those I spoke with had not given compliance much thought. Since the majority of associations exist to protect an industry or the public, or to promote awareness of a cause, protecting an association’s brand would seem second nature.

However, they quickly caught on that adding brand protection and user safety to the mix would allow them to add value for themselves and their members.

I explained that paying a little more and getting a lesser quantity would result in people hanging on to what they handed out. They also understood the need for compliance after I showed them where their own promotional items could be missing key markers and labels in particular instances (ex: tech products and plush).


This conversation paved the way for the cost per impression conversation which was easily understood by most since no one wants their logo tossed in the trash before it even leaves the show floor. This is in line with the message that PPAI has promoted with its important “Get In Touch” campaign, targeting end buyers.

Association executives understand that people like to get stuff. Providers of promotional items want people to remember them by their stuff, and they do not want their brands tarnished by that same stuff.

Because associations have a broad reach and lots of influence of their membership, they are a great avenue for sharing our message. I made several contacts who are interested in exploring partnering opportunities and many others who want to discuss further how they can actually share this information with their members.

These executives saw value in sourcing responsibly and protecting their brands. And this opens the door for generating much more awareness for QCA and our affiliated companies.