As 2021 has come to a close and we ring in 2022, Roger Burnett, Founder of Social Good Promotions (soGOOD) would like to share company events and accomplishments and look ahead to future growth opportunities and provide an update on its’ progress against their short and near-term goals.
Social Good Promotions is a 100% women-owned company headquartered in Brighton, Michigan, and was started in January 2019.
We were founded with a purpose-driven hypothesis that found us asking ourselves “how can we use what we do at work to make the world a better place?”
Our exhaustive research has proven that businesses focusing on a purpose-driven strategy experience the following results:
- Outsell their competition.
- Have loyal employees.
- Develop raving fans of clients who provide quality referrals.
The branded merchandise/promotional marketing marketplace has an inordinate amount of competition. Open up a new tab in your browser and Google “coffee mug” 681,000,000 (that’s right, 681 MILLION!) results come back in less than one second. The amount of available choice can be paralyzing to the average buyer of branded merch.
For Social Good Promotions to stand out from all of this competition and offer a reason for you to choose us instead of the online, low-cost provider, there has to be SOMETHING we do to justify the difference between those vendors and soGOOD to compel you to try something different, and in some instances with more friction in the transaction. We’re aware of what we’re up against, and we think we have the difference nailed.
When the business first started in early 2019, CEO Kara Keister would often ask “where are the orders”? While orders and sales are important, the long-term strategy I put in place was to develop client trust as a means to not only get that first order but to earn repeat business.
With this priority in place, soGOOD’s strategy has always been to “get accounts”—not orders. Accounts place orders after orders on an ongoing basis while a one-time sale is often a “one and done”. Potential clients can easily buy stuff to test us and “kick our tires”, but our goal has always been to develop a relationship dedicated to achieving strong trust with the people we work for and with. When we get calls from our current clients, they often start with the same statement: “I have this project and I am interested in getting your recommendation on what I should do” When we hear that, we know the trust is in place for us to be in a position to offer professional recommendations.
Startup businesses like soGOOD face numerous challenges to their success, but throwing in the Covid pandemic of 2020 could have been devasting. While there were zero orders and zero business in April and May of 2020, we used that time to buckle down and collaborate with clients on fulfilling their branded merch needs and as a result, we were able to grow our business by 86% for the second consecutive year. Our previous experience in difficult situations helped structure the rapid development of our game plan. By working more strategically with clients on their needs we were able to fuel explosive growth in back-to-back years during what many would consider one of the most difficult sales environments in the history of the American economy.
2021 was an important milestone year for soGOOD. The company launched “The Giving Tee” t-shirt platform. Similar to our approach of suggesting products from factory partners that share our “help us make the world a better place” ethos, The Giving Tee works with non-profits and other philanthropic organizations to execute t-shirt based fundraisers to better realize their mission and raise the most amount of funds possible with the least amount of stress and heartache. On a personal level, Kara was recognized as a member of the 2021 Class of Rising Stars in the branded merchandise industry by PPB Magazine, a publication of Promotional Products Association Internation, our industry trade association, and as a Company, we were fortunate to win our second consecutive Pyramid Award for digital self-promotion programs for our soGOOD Interviews series.
While total sales grew in 2021 to just shy of $425,000, we’ve set an aggressive sales target of $1,000,000 for 2022! Achieving this target will be no easy task, but we have plans in place to get there. What’s most important is your support of our efforts. There are amazing outcomes awaiting us once we cross that sales threshold, and we are incredibly excited to share the developments with those of you willing to join us on this ride by buying what we sell.
Our near-term goals include hiring our next full-time Promise Maker, bringing on freelance employees to expand our marketing efforts, and adding new consulting clients and new events to our portfolio in 2022 and beyond. These milestones will accelerate our vision for the organization, which is to hire and train a staff of paid employees representing underserved communities in the areas where we operate. The more we sell, the faster we’ll be able to add people to the team. We’re dedicated to that objective and it fuels the work we do, every day.
Coupled with our staffing growth is the aspiration of becoming a “B Corp” branded merchandise agency. Currently, this is an aspirational objective, as the application process is purposefully and necessarily difficult, time-consuming, and thought-provoking. The B Corp community is internationally renowned for being the safe place for environmentally and socially responsible practices and we’re excited by the work required to achieve that certification.
We believe we’re well-positioned for success in the upcoming year, as our mission to connect commerce with a purpose to tell the story behind our clients’ brands continues to explode in popularity given the state of our current socio-economic climate. Our work has unlocked some amazing collaborations between us, our clients, and local non-profits seeking corporate assistance on important projects.
In 2022, we will continue to lead by example in the following ways:
- Offer free marketing services to the community
- Volunteer at community events
- Cash donations to non-profits
If you’d like to know more about the relationships with our soGOOD Supply Co. factory partners, we offer a library of interviews with our factory partners telling their stories about the ways they make the world a better place in tangible ways. Please visit: https://socialgoodpromotions.com/sogood-supply-co/ to learn more and fall in love with your favorite soGOOD story.
Recognize Your People This Holiday Season
The Great Resignation.
The Great Reset.
No matter what you name it, it’s clear there is a major change happening in the United States Labor Market.
Most Americans (55 percent) who are either employed or looking for a job – what economists would describe as “being in the workforce” – say they are likely to look for new employment in the next 12 months, according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey. Even more surprising, some 28 percent of working Americans who currently say they’re NOT looking for a new job are still expecting to search for a different position at some point in the next year. (Bankrate Blog, 8/23/21)
Most, if not all employers in the marketplace would benefit from additional employees, and many companies generate a significant portion of their revenues in Q4 and Q1, so open headcount means lost revenue, plus, a dynamic job market suggests some percentage of your current workforce might be on the move to new positions in 2022.
How do you compete for the talent you need and retain the talent you’ve developed? How do you capture the lost revenue opportunity you KNOW you could get with more staff?
The statistics tell the story for themselves.
Awards and Recognition thought-leader O.C. Tanner studied employee engagement and how managers can tailor their workplaces to promote it. An employee survey they conducted included the question “What is the most important thing your manager or company currently do that would cause you to produce great work?”
Respondents answered in their own words, providing a variety of responses, but a clear pattern emerged.
37% of respondents (the clear majority) made their desires for more and better recognition clear.
If this is true for your company, if you need to find more staff PLUS hold on to your existing team of winners, it’s high time you started thinking about the ways you’re going to recognize them and acknowledge their efforts. It will keep your people and bring more candidates to your door. Awards and recognition can take many shapes and working with a promotional marketing/awards and recognition expert is incredibly important this year for one VERY important reason.
If you’ve shopped anywhere this year, in a store or online, you’ve been witness to the disaster that is the shipping industry. We’re not immune to the fact there are millions of items in containers stuck in the ocean, waiting for the opportunity to unload. In the meantime, there are wild swings in product availability and shortages of things like black hoodies, blankets and even screen-printing inks are wreaking havoc on our marketplace.
I recently hosted a panel of participants from a cross-section of the promotional products supplier base, in an attempt to learn how best clients could navigate these product shortages and save their opportunity to recognize their staff and key clients this holiday season. While the discussion was realistic and a little somber, the following 3 things came to light as being incredibly important if you want to come thru for your people this year:
- Don’t Go It Alone: the internet is proving to not be nearly as reliable as in years past. Just because you ordered an item online that showed as being in stock does not mean the product is actually there. You may have an order, but it might be months before your delivery. Even if the product ships on time, there is no guarantee UPS, Fed-Ex, etc are going to deliver the said product in time. Work with a professional in the awards and recognition or promotional products industry to give yourself the BEST chance at a successful outcome.
- If You See It, Buy It: if you’re working with a professional, the products they’re showing you are available, TODAY. There’s no guarantee that same product will still be on the shelf next week, so, if you like an item, it’s best to move forward immediately than to continue to shop in hopes of finding something better. Don’t delay.
- Substitutes > Waiting: if you order hooded sweatshirts or any of a litany of categories where supply is constantly changing, don’t be surprised if you get more than one label in the lot. Don’t focus on the fact that you got a combination of Champion and Russell branded sweatshirts when the order arrives – be thankful that your people were able to know you cared about them; remember, it’s the thought that counts!
By navigating the complex waters of employee recognition this year, you’ll give yourself the best chance possible to grow your team in 2022 while holding on to your top talent. In what is clearly a rapidly-changing environment, your employees will appreciate knowing they’re working for a place that truly understands what 37% of the respondents in the survey made clear.
Now it’s my turn to give back.
I’m a huge advocate of using my superpowers for good. I spend every day of my life working with amazing organizations, creating fantastic fundraisers using my favorite marketing medium, promotional products. As a company, we have put the pieces and parts together to do the same for truly wonderful programs that change the life of those facing a cancer diagnosis. This is our attempt to show the world how much we care about breast cancer research. At the same time, we’re hoping to peel back that curtain a little along the way so if there is a fundraiser that our supporters would like to tackle for something you care about, we are here for you. We think it’s pretty awesome and we want to share that awesomeness with the world.
Promotional products are branded products and apparel that the story of a brand. Our business curates and designs all the things with corporate messaging and makes a brand shine. We are passionate about the medium as a marketing star and it became very apparent early on as we started working with for-profit, and especially, non-profits that we could make a difference with the thing we were good at.
So when The American Cancer Society and the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign jumped into our lap, we took the call and accepted the challenge. It’s important to us. It’s important to so many. We knew that it was time to use our superpower for good.
The hard work, and platform development, and trial and error, and fundraising that we had been working so hard to do successfully for others has taught us that we can really make a difference. In true fashion, it’s time for us to connect commerce to purpose to tell the story of your brand, or in this instance, an amazing message of hope. The plan is simple. For thirty days, my amazing partner in crime has accepted the challenge to be a 2021 class member of the Real Men Wear Pink Detroit campaign. He’s the most amazing sport and very rarely draws the line, even when it’s a pink satin jacket and headband while carrying a sparkling can coolie.
We promised amazing promotional products to serve as fundraising rockstars and they are leading the charge. We have a t-shirt representing The Spirit of Detroit and a journal that I designed alongside my mother, which I am so incredibly proud to present to others affected by breast cancer to ease their treatment journey.
We’ve created activity challenge groups and obtained matching funds offers and are on the way to a truly meaningful contribution to The American Cancer Society and their quest to alleviate and eradicate breast cancer.
Once again, we need to thank our tribe. Our industry network has pulled through and helped create a wardrobe of pink that is one to be envied for our fearless Man in Pink. Our friends and family have once again rallied and opened their pockets, liked, shared, and commented on this quest we are on. Complete strangers have shaken our hands and contributed to the cause and told us their stories, and for that, we are forever grateful.
To Amy and the team at The American Cancer Society, a million thank yous for allowing us to be part of your story. To each and every one of you who has taken the time to listen to my story, I appreciate every second you spent listening or reading. The task is coming to an end, but it’s not over yet. We need your help to make strides. Please consider a donation, a matching offer, a purchase, or a gift. Your dollar could change a life like mine.
Find your tribe. Love them hard.
If it wasn’t for my mom, I could not have done it. She was right there with me at every appointment. She said, “We’re going to do this and this is going to be OK”. My mom, my then-boyfriend/now-husband, my immediate and extended family, my dance community, and my coworker; I would not have made it without them. It takes a village. It honestly and truly does. I mean it. I had so much support behind me. It wasn’t an option to fail.
I knew that Komen existed because we had been running the Race for the Cure for years. My mom completed treatment ten years prior at that point, so we knew organizations designed to assist with treatment, care, and support existed. I knew that the American Cancer Society existed. I knew that Cancer Patient Services of Hancock County existed. But, there was so much out there that I did not know existed that was brought to my attention during my treatment and I will forever be grateful.
When it’s you affected directly, it changes your perspective and if you weren’t involved before, it could be the catapult that makes you join the charge. And unfortunately, with breast cancer, one in eight women are diagnosed and one in four women are directly impacted. Read it again: one in four. Directly impacted means your mother, your aunt, your sister, your grandmother. Somebody very, very close to you has been diagnosed or has some kind of breast cancer treatment ahead of them in their future. That’s intense. Look around your table. FOUR! That’s a big number.
I had just turned 30 when I learned of the diagnosis. Thirty was hard enough as is it. I was working multiple full-time jobs. I was still volunteering. I was putting the effort in with my mother, who was a breast cancer survivor, actually a two-time breast cancer survivor at that point, so I kind of knew the drill. And I needed all my people. The whole tribe.
Let me be clear. Medical research saved my life. My doctors, nurses, PA’s, the lady that checked me in at the front desk. They all saved my life. The organizations that I had grown to know and love proved that every dime we had raised and every mile ran or walked mattered. Research matters. My diagnosis and treatment were were different than what my mom received, what my great aunts received, and what every person after me will receive. Those dollars matter and that research save lives.
It’s definitely scary. I didn’t know how to behave or how to act, but what I’ve been taught from a very young age is every day is another day. Head down and work hard. We always say one day at a time, I know that that’s used for many struggles around the world, but taking one day at a time really got me through it. While life-altering, breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. While there’s much left to do in terms of research and treatment, there have been advances. I had a fast-growing tumor, but my healthcare team knew what to do and my doctors guided me and I was able to make my own medical decisions, which is also incredibly important and ultimately the reason why I can sit here today.
My people are everything and I am forever grateful for your support. To donate, please click here.
And then it was me.
There was a lump. A lump I ignored. I had one before and it was nothing. So at my Friday morning checkup, that turned into an all-day test extravaganza, I thought was nothing. Once I fully understood that there might be an issue, everyone kept assuring me “This is routine, this is normal, these spots show up, we’re just going to watch it, blah blah blah blah blah”. I went home, I went about my life and I waited for those “nothing” results to come in. I got on an airplane on Monday morning and flew to Las Vegas for the annual promotional products trade show. When our flight landed, there was a missed call and a voicemail from my actual doctor saying, “Please call me immediately”. As I sat in a hotel room in Las Vegas with my doctor on the other end of the line saying, “I need you to get on the next flight home”, my response was “No, I don’t”. I know that sounds really crazy, but at that moment my answer was no. I needed to process, I needed to get my head on straight, and at that point, I knew I needed to keep my job to keep my insurance to pay for what was ahead. So no, I don’t. I decided in that instant that I wasn’t leaving that hotel room, and I didn’t. I think it was a solid twenty-four to thirty-six hours before I even got out of bed because I didn’t know what to do. I finally got up for a cheeseburger…and a beer. It wasn’t supposed to be me. Everyone said that it was fine. This is fine. This is normal. These scans happen and it’s your age and it’s your heredity. I just kept thinking, “it can’t be me”. And when they said, “You have cancer”, I just kind of shut down. No thank you.
Everything from that trip to Vegas is largely a blur, but I had an amazing support system and I had someone there with me who picked me up and said, “When you’re ready, let’s do this”. I don’t know what clicked, but it was after about a day and a half there that I got up and said, I’m here to work. We’re going to do this. So, I put my big girl pants on and out we walked, straight to the trade show floor. I told no one. I wasn’t in that place yet. In addition to my cheeseburger, I picked up a lovely tattoo to commemorate the experience. When in Vegas, right? I spent WAY too much money in the Mandalay Bay casino that night, but it made me feel better. Then, I got on the airplane and I went home early, just like the doctor asked. That was Wednesday, and on Thursday I officially had my appointment with the doctor and we had a plan of attack. I started that plan the following Tuesday. To donate, please click here.
I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse, but the joke on the Ward side of my family is that we have a rubber band arm. It just shoots up in the air and we can’t stop it. My penchant for volunteerism, fundraising, and lending a helping hand started when I was little. I grew up in the Catholic faith where we learned a lot about service and organization. While attending a small, Catholic school you volunteer A LOT; you work in the concession stand with Aunt Carol, you take money at volleyball games, you learn how to count change at a very young age. It’s part of the gig. As a family, we did a lot of volunteering together. We’d work at festivals and events. We were at every community event frying donuts or flipping hamburgers or cleaning tables or hauling boxes. I was brought up with this sense of service and community and it’s just continuing to be passed down through our family and generations. I started out with my aunt when I was very young helping with the local community parade and now one of my best friends runs the show and I still am out there every single first Saturday of August in the heat, wearing a Sheriff’s vest in the middle of the street, directing traffic. It’s just that small-town mentality. You pitch in, you help out, and it’s how we make the world go round.
On top of that, I am a twenty-three-plus-year volunteer for Special Olympics Ohio. It’s an organization that is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I started there with my uncle and my brother when I was in junior high and early high school, and I haven’t ever stopped. And then comes my love of fundraising. I love a good event. Fun run, 5K, family walk, golf outing, poker walk – you name it, I’m here for it. And when that event touches your heart, affects your or your family, or makes you feel like you are really making a difference, the chances that you are going to give of the time of your money, of your own effort are going to significantly increase. Those events that truly resonate with me are the organizations that support the Think Pink movement, breast cancer awareness and research, and women’s health. It’s so incredibly important that we talk about women’s health and organizations like The American Cancer Society, Look Good Feel Better, Sephora Brave Beauty, and all of the amazing programs for women who have been diagnosed. Pink ribbons have been prominent in my life from a young age. We wore pink for our great aunts, we ran in their honor and memory. When I was in high school it hit even closer to home. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. So immediately our family flocked to those organizations. We wore pink, we ran, we walked, we gave, and we supported because it meant more to us now than ever. And now the whole family does it every single year – mom, dad, brother, aunts, uncles, all the way down to the babies in the strollers. We are out there, loud and proud, rocking our pink ribbons and making a difference for every other person who hears those words, “You have breast cancer.”To donate, please click here: