Trade Marketing Insights


Trade Show Marketing: Three Surefire Ways to Reach the Media

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Considering a new-product launch? Want to give it a running start?

You may not believe it any more, but trade shows were actually invented for this sort of activity. Our recent economic woes have taken much of the shine off product shows. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that tomorrow’s trade shows will — and must — look very different than their predecessors. But as a tool for reaching a critical mass of your core audience in a single time and place, the trade-show model still has a lot of life left in it.

Of course, not every industry player attends a given trade show in a given year. Even those who do may not find your booth. And even those who drop by may well forget most of what they saw once they return to their daily routines.

That is why a big part of your show-floor, product-launch strategy should include an aggressive outreach to all media in attendance: print, digital and – if available –broadcast. Your primary role at these events is to identify, package and convey your news to these folks, so they, in turn, are better able to deliver this news to their audiences; i.e., your customers and prospects. Except for word of mouth and referrals from friends, those audiences will likely find what the media have to say about your product the most convincing stimulus to action.

What are the most effective ways to connect with media attending a trade show? A mix of methods typically works best. Here are a few of the most important:

Hold a “presser”: If you have a major new product to unveil, a press conference early on Day 1 can be the best way to grab the media’s attention at a show. These events are often held before the show officially opens, so you have the media’s undivided attention — and they yours, because no customers are around. Having your CEO or some other senior exec lead the presentation is the best way to assure preliminary interest and a bias to attend, especially if your event is up against other press opportunities happening concurrently. Like all of us, managing our schedules, the media focus inevitably on the stature of the speaker as well as the relevance of the news.

Offer one-on-one interviews: The downside of a press conference — from the media’s point of view — is that every attending scribe is hearing exactly the same presentation. Sure, that’s great for your messaging, but remember: The media must set themselves apart from their competitors, too. So, reinforce your presser by offering top-tier media outlets one-on-one time with a senior company manager — well out of earshot from any rivals. Given an opportunity to ask his or her own questions in private, the editor can create his/her own slant on the story. The benefit for your brand and your new product may ultimately be stronger coverage in the form of a bigger story or one that more fully presents your product’s best selling points.

Always conduct booth tours: Not every editor will attend your press conference. Not everyone will make the time for a one-on-one meeting. Regardless, be sure to offer every media attendee an appointment for a personalized tour of your booth. This will allow you to present your new-product story in vivid detail, as well as to make certain the media carry away any press materials you have created for the occasion. (More on what those should look like at another time.)

Just as importantly, it will give you a prime chance to get to know each media member better, both professionally and personally: What sorts of topics and stories is the editor/blogger/producer pursuing? How might our new product fit into her plans? How might our company otherwise support that pursuit — both today and in the future?

In short: How can you help the media, not just how can the media help you?

Even if you have no new product to launch at a particular show, the booth tour is an excellent way to build and sustain relationships with the media. Forget the notion of “taking a show off” because “we have nothing new to say.” The media is always writing about something; always looking for ideas, projects and personalities; always open to substantive input when chronicling the story of the industries they cover.

In the end, building relationships with media members, one at a time, is the most effective way to make sure your company remains an integral part of that ongoing story.

Public Relations Insights | The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Social Media and Marketing Tips: Top 10 Blog Posts of 2012

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In 2012 everyone at O’Reilly-DePalma learned a lot, and had so many amazing conversations, both in real life and in the Twitter-verse. We realized the value of bringing the fun to conferences and trade shows, and navigated the sometimes confusing waters of SEO and social media. We looked at building clout in the industry and building Klout on Twitter. We even learned a couple of dance moves from a Rockette. (See: bringing the fun.)

We’re pleased to share this list of our ten most popular blog posts in 2012, and we hope these ideas and insights have been as useful to you as they have been to us:

This Just In: Social Media for Natural Disaster News: It’s not hard to imagine why this post was the #1 most read in 2012. Social media can be a lightning-fast way to share news and even quickly provide aid to families affected by disasters, whether natural or man made.

CES Loses Clout as New Products Launch Pad: We take a look at why industry trade shows have lost their impact and influence over the past few years, and also examine what some shows are doing right. (Hint: incorporating some fun into your booth is the way to go.)

eTail 2012 – 10 Things Building Products Marketers Need to Know: A nice girl from the building products industry shares ten amazing lessons on technology, social media, and online marketing that are relevant for almost any industry.

Building Relationships on Twitter with Stacy Garcia: We loved doing this interview with Stacy Garcia, the brains behind the popular KBTribeChat on Twitter. This post includes some really helpful insights into using social media to build a business.

A Klout Definition, As Best We Can: This post from 2011, in which we help untangle the real meaning of a Klout score, remained popular last year. Klout isn’t the ultimate measure of a person’s influence, but it can be a helpful evaluation tool.

Curation Nation - 10 Community Building Tips from #AtomicChat: Yes, Twitter conversations can help build your brand. We look at how to curate your social media content to effectively appeal to your target audience without wasting time or effort.

What Do Pandas and Penguins Have to Do with Your Marketing Strategy? Google updates its algorithms to keep over-optimized, spammy websites from rising to the top of search results. How do you make sure your websites are the cream of the crop under the new rules?

Brand Engagement Lessons from BlogHer 2012: Our overview of the highlights of brand engagement (featuring the Rockettes and pedicures) at BlogHer 2012. Creativity is key!

McDonald’s Redesign: Think Presentation and Environment Don’t Matter? OR-DP looks at the amazing effects a store redesign had on overall sales and even interest in new products at McDonalds.

Altitude Design Summer - New Model for Industry Conferences: You may have never heard of this conference, but if getting attention from influential design bloggers is your goal, this conference is the place to be.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll share our top ten Client News blog posts. Happy New Year, everyone!

Content Marketing Insights | Public Relations Insights | Social Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Effective Marketing Communications to Millennials: Socializing and Strategy

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So your building products brand has a Twitter account, and an iPhone app is in the works. Think that’s effective marketing communications to successfully engage Millennials? A new generation is beginning to buy starter homes and tackle home improvement projects, and their attitudes toward advertising and branding are vastly different than other age groups. Millennials – young people ages 16 to about 34 – are sophisticated consumers who are fluent in technology, heavy users of social media, and they can see right through traditional advertising techniques.

Here are a few tips for successfully engaging these young consumers:

Give something back. A study by PR News found that Millennials are 7% more likely to choose a product if the purchase supports a cause than non-Millennials. If your brand supports a cause, especially a cause the brand shares a relevant and authentic connection to, it can be easier to gain the attention and respect of the Millennial generation according to a study by Cone Inc. and AMP.

Cause marketing can also be an excellent loyalty strategy when targeting young consumers: Millennials who feel a deep commitment to a cause can be more likely to develop a “strong personal relationship” with a brand that supports that cause.

Be a smart social butterfly. The importance of having a social media presence for your brand is old news by now, but make sure you’re managing your accounts in a thoughtful way. Social media is first and foremost about interaction, so don’t just broadcast promotional posts and tweets and call it a day. Look at what your target audience is already chatting about and converse, don’t sell.

Millennials want the opportunity to speak to and about your brand. Ask them engaging questions through your social media accounts, and provide space to rate and review products. The younger generation can be turned off by straight marketing pitches, so conversation is key.

Creativity counts. One of the best ways to gain the attention of Millennials is to produce fun, creative social content. A relatively small investment in creating a unique campaign on Facebook or YouTube can result in millions of impressions if the content is appealing to young consumers and they find it to be something that is worth sharing.

This point is particularly key in the building products industry. Prospects need education on the process and the products. Edutainment fits the bill: inspiring confidence and action.

Finally: keep your messaging consistent across all your earned, owned and paid media outreach. Not only will you maximize awareness, you build trust with a generation that has an innate mistrust of marketers.

The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


What Makes a Good Case Study?

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Everyone appreciates a good case study…

…especially manufacturers, looking for a credible way to depict the value propositions of their products in real-world settings through third-party testimonials;

…especially specifiers, builders and installers, looking to showcase their most attention-worthy projects and the professional skills that brought them to a successful conclusion;

…especially the media, always in need of compelling, newsworthy editorial that they may not have the time, the resources or the good fortune to uncover themselves;

…especially the readers of these case studies, trade and consumer, seeking innovative ideas to make their own lives easier, more productive and more fulfilling.

In many instances, these case studies — “project profiles” might be a more accurate term — are rendered briefly, sometimes with simple bullet points: a quick overview of the most salient details. It is enough to celebrate a high-profile project, allow for a quick bow by the key participants, while underlining critical role the highlighted product played in it.

But our changing media landscape now offers more opportunities for another type of case study, one that permits deeper storytelling and a genuine narrative arc. The editors who solicit — or are at least receptive — to this longer-form case study will likely insist that branding on behalf of a manufacturer or product be removed. But if one of their readers tells your product story through his on-the-job experiences, that is a more believable approach that is readily embraced by many editors.

So what are the core elements of a successful, B-to-B case study these days?

Compelling story line: If the project is large or prestigious, perhaps headed to LEED Platinum status or a high-profile design award, etc., that certainly helps. But a high profile is not essential to success. The best story lines involve problem-solving: What kinds of challenges did the individual at the center of the “action” encounter? How did the chosen product (yours) help him meet these challenges? Finally, what were the payoffs — preferably in tangible, measureable benefits — for all involved?

Credible players telling the story: Readers — and the editors who serve them — tend to place greater value on the words and experiences of other readers: people who do exactly what they do for a living. That’s why testimonial advertising is such a staple of business-to-business advertising. A professional reliving his successful saga for the edification of his like-minded brethren is compelling stuff, because it’s so easy readers to imagine themselves grappling with similar circumstances. “If that product/system/method helped that guy succeed, hey, maybe I should give it a shot, too.”

Captivating pictures enhancing the story: If you’re tempted to skimp in this area, don’t. Chances are, the editors already have had to themselves, which is why they need your help. Whether working in print or online, editors love good images because they bring readers closer to the action, while making stories more real and — best-case scenario — more comprehensible. Last, but far from least, excellent photography adds luster to any story, as well as to the media hosting or publishing it.

In short, excellent photography or illustration is the capstone of a well-conceived and well-written case study. It is an essential ingredient the media’s cultivation of loyal, enthusiastic audiences who believe and value what they are reading.

For more on the art of the case study, check out our three part series on a builders materials case study completed by O’Reilly-DePalma that garnered over 40 million impressions.

Content Marketing Insights | Public Relations Insights | The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Why Best Buy Might Not Make It

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In the wake of founder Richard Schulze’s sudden departure from Best Buy last week, I shopped there this weekend.

After doing my research online—with the usual frustration that I couldn’t match top reviewed products from CNET within the Best Buy site search—I settled on a new camera that was on sale.  I put it into my shopping cart, intending to buy online and pick-up in store. But then I had a change of heart, and abandoned the shopping cart in favor of the in-store experience, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.  I still tend to kick it old school when shopping for major purchases, thinking that the sales reps will know a lot more than I do.


The sales rep not only didn’t try to upsell me on anything, but he didn’t even know about some of the upsell opportunities I had found through my research.  He followed me around like an eager Labrador puppy, trying to be helpful, as I snapped up accessories that I wanted, but he was ultimately pretty clueless and unable to answer questions.

Then I noticed that the online sale price was lower than the price listed in store. I showed the salesperson where I had bookmarked the sale price on my Android phone.

“Oh, yeah, we’ll match that,” I’m assured.

“Match it? It’s yours. This is your site, Best Buy.”

“Oh, yeah, and I mean we’ll match the online company’s pricing.”

The store was his employer.  The website was practically a foreign entity.

That’s a problem.

While unable to help me find accessories to improve my camera experience, the salesperson was, however,  very well trained in selling the extended warranty.

That’s a problem. (Talk about kicking it old school!)

I got an auto email precisely 24 hours after I had abandoned my original shopping cart, asking if they could help me. Not aware of a transaction made in store. Two separate systems.

That’s a problem.

No follow up from Best Buy to help me use my new technology. No links to videos or other cool helpful content.

In the end, Best Buy got the sale, but it’s probably for the last time, after a good decade of complete customer loyalty.

Next time: Amazon.

The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Why Is the Building Products Industry so Bad at Lead Nurturing?

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For an industry with a generally long purchase cycle and an incredibly complex route-to-market system, we collectively do a really terrible job of nurturing prospects when they raise their hands.  Does this sound like your marketing department?

  1. You collect leads at trade shows and mail every one the same generic “information” package after the show. You have no idea if anyone ever closed that sales loop
  2.  You have no idea that you get leads from certain publishers related to your advertising and media relations investment.  Or you have no idea who handles them in your department, if anyone.
  3. You have no idea why or how many people have registered at your website, nor if anyone has closed the sales loop.  Nonetheless, you feel compelled to send them all the same enewsletter of things you think they should know about you.
  4. You supply every lead to channel customers and field offices and they never do anything with them.
  5. Your channel customers and field offices say they never do anything with your leads because they’re lame.

Marketers across all industries are stepping up their game to better capitalize on and manage sales leads, according to a survey conducted by marketing automation service provider Eloqua.   Of responding marketing executives across a variety of industries, 88% reported increased their lead analytics activity, with almost three-quarters forming a better understanding of conversion rates.

Two-thirds are digging deeper into the funnel in search of shorter sales cycles and improved sales intelligence.

The biggest hurdle reported—perhaps answering the question in the headline of this article—is a lack of processes.

Yet with the changing the shape and nature of the sales funnel driven by the increase in social media, content marketing and mobile, is it a process you can afford to put off much longer?

The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


eTail 2012 - 10 Things Building Products Marketers Need to Know

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What’s a nice girl from the building products industry doing at an e-commerce conference?

Simply put: any phenom that brings together everyone from big boxes to independents in a collective shudder is something I need to better understand.   I’ll be sharing what I learned discovered at eTail 2012 in posts over the next few weeks, but here are the 10 most amazing things I learned:

1. Conversion measurement is getting harder to track.  How do you know if someone scanned your email headline and then went back to your website later to take action?  Or if someone has been a quiet fan of your Facebook page, enjoying conversations from afar enough that when it came time to buy, she went to a showroom and chose your brand?

2. By 2017, CMOs will spend more on tech than CIOs.  (Gartner Group data via a Bain Ventures presenter). Which means marketers better get over their fear of tech PDQ.

3. E-commerce is by no means an easy, low-cost venture compared to traditional retailing. Spending on search and keyword advertising is easily five figures a month for considered purchases such as building products. It’s also at least as labor-intensive as a storefront. A presenter from noted that 58% of their sales are by phone.

4. Low engagement on emails—low rates on opens and click thrus—can reduce your email deliverability. If no one ever responds to your emails, Internet service providers (ISPs) are increasingly seeing that as a sign of spam.  Email service providers such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and Bronto will reject your lists.  Make sure your emails have the right message targeting the right people.  Even unsubscribes are better than apathy.

5. Our industry is not only way behind the curve on managing and converting leads, but also behind the curve in valuing leads. How many brands follow up with trade show leads with any more than a letter and a brochure mailing?  A solid CRM system is the necessary starting point, but even then, what’s the comeback to “our sales reps and/or showrooms never really follow up on the leads?”

6. Email is getting people to Facebook, but Facebook isn’t getting people to opt in for email. And virtually no one is experiencing direct sales from Facebook. Over and over at eTail, presenters said it was a waste to put your product catalog on Facebook.

7. Friends, fans and likes on social media are not great metrics, but they are they are the best we have right now. (See #1)  Still nearly impossible to plot a direct causal link, other than what we’ve known since commerce first began: we buy from people we like.

8. Related: happy people sell product.  The most overlooked sales people are your own employees. “No one ever bought anything from an un-enchanted employee,” said day-three keynoter Guy Kawasaki.

9. Everyone underestimates the time it takes to get things done for online engineering.  Getting two to three major initiatives done per year on your website and customer relationship management is actually a pretty reasonable pace.

10. The slickest CRM and retargeting technology can’t overcome bad copy, cheap images and boring videos. Content rules.

My favorite quote from eTail?  “WTF stands for website, Twitter and Facebook.”

A near perfect metaphor for today’s marketer, IMHO.  Want to learn more? eTail Boston is scheduled for Boston in August.

The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


AHR Expo Rides the Rising Tide of Energy Efficiency

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If you are actively involved in the HVAC business—whether wet heat, forced air or some creative combination of the two—and chose not to attend AHR Expo 2012 in Chicago last month, you owe yourself a heart-felt apology. You really should have made the scene—no excuses, please (if you didn’t, there’s always AHR Expo 2013 in Dallas).

The beleaguered construction market of recent years has taken a terrible toll on everyone’s marketing budget, and trade shows have been a particularly conspicuous target of sharp spending cuts. More and more decision-makers, potential exhibitors and attendees, are opting to hang onto their cash and stay home with scant regret, convinced there is precious little ROI to be gained spending another four or five days living out of a suitcase in Las Vegas, Orlando, or Wherever.

But while it may be a bitter season for most exhibitions, the annual AHR Expo continues to flourish. You’d think the prospect of spending three days in Chicago in mid-January would be reason enough for all interested parties to just say “no,” but you’d be wrong. In fact, this year’s event broke all the records any trade show covets. According to the AHR Expo’s website, the 2012 event saw…

  • Record visitor attendance: over 39,000 contractors, engineers, distributors, facility managers, manufacturers, reps and other HVACR professionals.
  • Record total attendance: over 58,000 visitors and exhibitor personnel.
  • Record exhibit floor: more than 428,000 net square feet of booth space in two halls at McCormick Place.

Much of the credit for this success goes to ASHRAE, its staff and membership for all the hard work that goes into making a successful exposition of this magnitude year after year after year. But I don’t think it’s especially radical to suggest there’s an even larger, more critical reality at play here, given the enthusiastic crowds at the AHR Expo in recent times.

National phenomenon: It comes down to two words: energy efficiency, and the galvanizing impact this movement is having despite the economy, or perhaps because of it. This impact affects not only on the people who attend the Expo, but also—and more importantly—American society as a whole. After all, absent a vibrant market for energy-efficient products, the number of exhibitors and attendees at the AHR Expo would be far fewer, no matter how hard show organizers worked.

Americans continue to regard the green movement in general with a skeptical eye. But when it comes to saving money on their fuel bills, a critical mass of homeowners are “all in.” A recent article by John K. McIlwain in Urban Land, the online publication of the Urban Land Institute, summed up the trend by quoting an unnamed developer to the effect that energy efficiency has become the “new granite countertop.”

“After all, no one asks what the payback period is for a countertop. Just as items that were once added to a new home or condo for an additional price are now standard, so too are energy-efficient equipment and design becoming standard features expected by the buyer or renter.” (Italics mine.)

The makers, designers, specifiers and installers of heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment understand this happy reality, and its beneficial resonance on their businesses and their careers. That’s why McCormick Place was humming with activity in late January—at least for the first two days of the AHR Expo—and why it will likely be humming again next January when the show moves to Dallas, and then in 2014 when it returns to New York, New York.

It’s also why if energy efficiency is the core rationale for how you earn your daily bread, you just might want to check out the AHR Expo, one of the very few trade shows these days that isn’t struggling to justify its existence.

The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Report from ISH 2011: Let There Be Fun

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After nearly four decades in the building products business, I finally got myself across the Atlantic this winter to the biennial ISH fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Shame on me: I should have made the scene at this grand event many moons ago. There is absolutely nothing in North America that I have come across that even begins to compare.

If you know anything about ISH, even if you’ve never attended, you are probably aware of the scope of the overall fair (11, multi-level buildings); the size and opulence of the exhibits (some of them mini-trade fairs unto themselves); and most of all, the phenomenal crowds cruising its aisles and corridors: more than 200,000 attendees at this year’s event. Upon arriving at the show last month, I found that reality matches all the hype and then some.

But the first thing that hit me about my Inaugural ISH Experience was the high level of hospitality exhibitors happily and freely extended to attendees — great food and lots of German beer (and wine), of course. But also a sheer abundance of… what’s the word? Oh, yeah: FUN. People really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

And not just after hours. But right on the show floor, with attendees interacting with interesting brand experiences for literally hours on end. Don’t underestimate the return. “There’s a lot of business going on here,” advised This Old House’s resident plumbing expert Rich Trethewey, whom I encountered at the Uponor booth.

In today’s tight economy, the trade-show budget line item is one of many under intense scrutiny. Yet in some ways, it has always been thus. For as long as I’ve been in this industry, brands have been putting pressure on trade show organizers to demonstrate ROI for their heavy investments in shows, conferences, local meetings and more. “Show me the money!” is an American economic reality that never wanes.

But with trade shows, I fear we have “ROI-ed” the fun out of these events to the very detriment of our business goals. On the fun-o-meter, the typical U.S. trade show ranks a half-notch above a trip to the dentist, a pitiless grind even in good times. How many times have you been through a fast run-through of key messages from a bored booth staffer and on your way in less than 10 minutes, texting friends about where to meet for the REAL fun after 5 p.m.?  Where just as much — if not more — business gets done.

It’s a universal truth that we all do business with people we like and like to be around. After attending ISH, pardon me if the whole thing now seems a no-brainer. U.S. trade show exhibitors would do well to think more about booth hospitality along with their key messages. Give people a reason to come in, sit down and stick around a while. Just to talk — with you. Get into real conversations with people, and learn more about them and what they truly want and need.

Figure out how to have a little more fun, and everything else — including ROI — is quite likely to follow. Because having a good time is just as American as making money.

Special Events | The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Bob Garfield Rated 1990s American Standard Ad Campaign Rated a “Winner” in Final Column

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Iconic Advertising Age critic Bob Garfield retired earlier this year after 25 years with the magazine.  In his final column, he offered a rundown of the best and worst ad campaigns he saw in his career.

Included amongst the “winners” was American Standard’s 1993 “It’s Seen You Naked” ad, which “subtly anthropomorphized” bath fixtures like faucets and tub drains and featured the copy “It’s seen you naked. It’s heard you sing.”

The campaign was the brainchild of advertising executives Tom Gabriel and Mark Razidlo, now at Gabriel, deGrood, Bendt, who worked closely with the then-Marketing Communications Manager at American Standard, Nora DePalma to develop the ad.

Gabriel’s goal with the campaign was to change the way people thought about American Standard and even about their relationships they had with their bathrooms. “Their competitor owned the luxury position, the ‘house on the hill,’” he explained. “We felt there was another way into the minds and hearts of upscale consumers: to demonstrate that American Standard understands the way we really live…specifically the relationship we all have with this one special room in the house. These days, creating shared connections between brands and their consumers takes different forms, but it’s still all about finding that common ground and evoking empathy and understanding.”

At the time, not everyone was entirely on board with the bold campaign. DePalma remembered that “literally everyone from office peers to my parents hated the ad.  But I felt confident in the risk, because I’d seen the research.  I knew what our competitors had to spend on marketing and I knew we couldn’t overcome it; we had to go someplace different as a brand to be accepted in consumers’ minds.”

While DePalma and Gabriel were both right in their feelings about the ad, even they weren’t able to predict just how big of a splash the campaign would make. A few years ago, Gabriel saw Bob Garfield at an ad function and was surprised when the critic told him he thought “It’s Seen You Naked” was the best print ad ever done. “At the time, I thought he was pulling my leg,” Gabriel recalled. It turns out that Garfield was definitely being genuine in this compliment.

In equally good news, our Uponor client now works with GdB Advertising, where Gabriel and Razidlo now work.  All of us at O’Reilly/DePalma are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again collaborate with with our old friends and look forward to doing more great work together.

The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights

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