In our industry we started seeing our valued supplier and distributor members become affected as one by one, events were either cancelled, postponed, or reimaged as a virtual event. As I started working from home alongside my husband, I kept hearing him hop on the phone and then come back in and say “another one.” Meaning, another event that changed status. Which got me thinking about how his events and our industry intersect as he is the one primarily responsible for obtaining promotional products for these events. And then I decided, hey, what better way to learn how his job and his company have been affected than to hear it from him first-hand. And thus, began my Q&A which thankfully, he was more than happy to participate in.
Meet my husband, Steve, an events consultant for a large financial company. And I’m Courtney, the executive director of supplier marketing at ASI.
C: How would you classify the industry you’re in?
S: Financial services
C: How many employees are in your department?
S: There are three in the events department.
C: How many events are you responsible for managing each year?
C: How has your job/company been directly impacted by the coronavirus?
S: Every conference through March and April has been cancelled or postponed. There were 10 scheduled during these two months. Luckily, March is traditionally a slower month for us.
C: Of these 10 events, what is breakdown of those cancelled or postponed? And of the ones postponed were they rescheduled for this year?
S: 3 have been rescheduled so far.
C: Has any event gone digital?
S: None have gone digital. These types of events need to be held in person because of the industry.
C: Are you the one responsible for ordering promotional products for these events?
S: Yes, I order for all events
C: Why does your company use promotional products at your events?
S: Branding – and financial professionals love promo products.
C: What types of promotional products do you order?
S: We’ve always ordered the items that financial planners seem to like receiving: hand sanitizer, which I’m sure many are happy about right now, pens and new this year, reusable straws.
C: Had you already placed an order for all of the conferences this year?
S: No, our inventory was getting low though, so I was in the process of getting the budget approved for the next batch of conferences before this happened.
C: Besides the events you are responsible for, are promotional products used in any other ways at your company?
S: We have an online store that the sales reps (advisor consultants) have access to where they can order high-end items to send directly to their clients. Some of these product categories include golf items, men and women’s apparel, outwear and fleece, bags, caps and blankets and baby and youth items.
C: When this impacted your business, did your distributor reach out to you?
S: No and I have not talked to them since I placed my first order this year.
C: Right now, you’re working from home but attending company townhalls and meetings online like many of us are. What has been the tone of those meetings and how is company morale right now?
S: Right now, everyone is optimistic that everything is going to be rebooked at some point. But right now, we’re in a holding pattern – we can’t sign any contracts but we’re pretty positive that everything is going to be rescheduled at some point this year.
C: Thank you, I’m heading back upstairs now.
I hope this gave you a little bit of insight as to how the coronavirus is impacting one company within the financial services industry. I’m a little displeased that the distributor company he uses has not yet reached out to check in. I think now more than ever it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and stay connected however possible. I encourage all of you reading this post, whether supplier, distributor or end-buyer to check in on those you work with on a regular basis. The people and companies that do this will be the ones that are remembered as the ones who cared after all of this is over.