Founded almost 100 years ago in Newark, NJ, Peerless has risen to become the leader in umbrella technology and the largest umbrella company in the promotional products industry. Now with offices across the United States and Canada, Peerless prides itself on quality products, fast turn arounds, and a deep inventory. It’s the commitment to quality, collaboration, and communication that has won Peerless the Distributor Choice award 13 years in a row.

Click here to explore Peerless Umbrella’s 2022 lookbook.

Charity Gibson hardly needs an introduction. A force to be reckoned with since she first entered the industry in the early 2000s, Charity is Peerless’s National Account Coordinator. She’s also one of PromoKitchen’s founding chefs, the host of the Badass Women of Promo podcast, and the owner of her own social media company.

Charity and Bryony sat down to talk about Peerless’s strategies, storytelling through creative marketing, and the benefits of going digital. You can watch the full interview with Charity here or check out our highlights below.

“We look at our website as our hub of activity…you can either download tools or customize tools for your use that will make it easier for the distributor to do business with their customer.”

You can jump to the full interview with Charity here or check out the highlights below.

Video Highlight: Digital Transformation

Charity totally gets why people cling to their print catalogs. When she worked as a distributor, she had a huge filling cabinet stuffed to the brim with supplier “big books” as well as a complicated system to keep track of them, and at the end of the year, she would have to throw out all of those catalogs and start over from scratch. Not to mention an entire room devoted to physical samples.

Now-a-days, Charity is still interacting with clients using the same methods, but the medium has changed, and that huge filing cabinet and the room full of samples now live online. Advances like that are nothing new to Peerless.

Video Highlight: Peerless’s Philosophy of Innovation

Charity explained how Dan Edge, the National Sales Manager at Peerless, has always been at the forefront of technological advances.

“Dan has a good pulse on what is happening in the retail world. He tells this story all the time: back when websites were first coming out, he had won a free one-page website in a raffle.”

People were sure they wouldn’t need a webpage to sell their products, but Dan knew it was the future. 

Peerless has taken that same spirit of innovation, enabling their reps and customers to make their own way, blaze their own trails, and find new ways to tell stories with their marketing and sales materials.

Video Highlight: Print Versus Digital

Charity views social media not only as a place to make sales but as a platform for getting to know her customers and helping them. It’s one more way to anticipate what they want and give them exactly what they need. After all, why send an entire catalog to someone only looking for drinkware?

Video Highlight: Catalog Strategy

“You get so much information from people,” Charity said. “People are so willing to give it to you, especially if it’s going to help them!”

Ask most people about the biggest challenge in the promotional products industry today, and nine out of ten will probably say inventory and/or shipping. Charity is that tenth person, though. She sees the biggest challenge as a lack of creativity.

“It’s not a lack of time, human resource, or inventory. All of those things are problems that need to be solved. It just needs a creative problem solver to come in and help solve them.”

Video Highlight: Biggest Challenges

So how has the switch to digital helped increase creativity and solve problems? In the past, as a supplier, when a customer would come to them for a quote, their response would be an unwieldy email full of long, ugly links to their website.

“I wouldn’t open all of those links if I was a distributor!” Charity said.

Now…well, Charity says it better than we could summarize:

Video Highlight: ZOOMstudio

We asked Charity for the one piece of advice she’d give to suppliers and industry professionals looking to make a digital transformation that will propel them into the future.

“Start somewhere. Just start.”

Figure out the thing that you are the best at and figure out where that skill you have can be best exhibited. Whether that’s social media, your website, YouTube, or whatever. Find your niche, and you will multiply that thing you’re good at by 100.

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