Sampson-Miller Advertising is a full service Promotional Agency providing solutions to Business and Non-profits in the areas of Marketing, Branding, HR-Employee Retention and Recognition, and Client/Donor Retention. We focus on outstanding service and long-term relationships, rather than short-term sales. Since 1931, a combination of creativity and hard work has brought success to our company and our clients. Involvement in continuing education and industry associations keeps us on top of our game. We pride ourselves on finding just the right product to match all your criteria. We meet your budget, deliver by your deadline, and exceed your expectations. That's the secret to our staying power.

Our History: Outstanding Service and Long-Term Relationships

Sampson Miller Advertising (SMA) is a 3rd generation family business. John E. Sampson founded the company in 1931 with the belief that the future of his business lay in the service provided to his clients. These core principles set in place by our founder remain important to us today; vision, integrity, honesty and dedication. In the last few years, we have worked to become a full service Promotional Agency in order to provide increased value to our clients. With a focus on meeting our clients' needs, we have continued to earn the business of clients who first worked with us decades ago. In addition, almost all of our new business comes from current client referrals, from clients who change employment and take us along to their new company, and from our own targeted marketing.

Our Strategic Advantages: Creativity & Effort

As with other types of advertising, the majority of creative promotional advertising is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Staying on top of an industry whose products number almost 950, 000 poses a constant challenge, but provides us the opportunity to pair the appropriate products with our clients' needs. There is, of course, an element of creativity in advertising, and while anyone can say they are creative, our creativity has been recognized by PPAI, Promotional Products Association International. SMA earned a silver "Pyramid Award" for a promotion that demonstrated outstanding creativity and effectiveness.

Our Future: Experience and Education

The second generation of SMA brought an understanding of how important it is for a healthy business to stress continuing education. With every member of the firm involved in continuing education, we have an edge over our competition. Our national association, PPAI, awards two levels of industry designation to those individuals that complete a series of requirements, including 70 (CAS)to 170 (MAS)hours of education and additional service. Three of our members have earned their CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist) and one his MAS (Master Advertising Specialist). These designations put us in elite company, and illustrate our dedication to the industry and to our clients. In addition, we have a long history of leadership in our industry at the regional level and more recently at the national level as well. This involvement translates into new ideas, techniques, and added services for our clients, see our "News and Events" link.

At Sampson Miller Advertising we work hard to partner with our clients. We hope through our focus on outstanding service and long-term relationships we will exceed our clients' expectations. Leadership in our industry and continuing education, provides us the tools to find just the right product for your marketing plan. Since our founding in 1931, we have continued to rely on the core principles of vision, integrity, honesty and dedication. And we intend to continue this way; at least until things like coffee mugs are no longer useful.

Our History, By Sean McDonnell, McDonnell & Associates

Sampson-Miller Company Story   Draft 070210

The Power of Promotional Marketing: Sampson-Miller Advertising

Sampson-Miller Advertising adheres to a simple, yet straightforward business philosophy: Take care of your customers, and they'll always take care of you. The company's customer-first heritage can easily be traced to its founder, John Sampson, who began J.E. Sampson Advertising in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression. During a time of massive business failures and double-digit unemployment, Sampson knew firsthand the value of customer attentiveness – especially as a provider of promotional sales products, or "ad specialties," as they were called back then.

Sampson hadn't necessarily planned to start his own business during a dire economic downturn, but was forced to do so upon finding a "Closed for Good" sign on the door of his prior employer, a promotional products company. With his mother, two sisters and a nephew to support at home, Sampson acted deciseively to open his own business. Unfailingly honest and straightforward with customers, Sampson quickly discovered an aptitude for promotional product sales. He logged his first sale on his first day in business. The Sampson family living room became the company's first headquarters.

Investing in Promotion

Sampson quickly learned that his prime sales prospects were much like himself: small business owners struggling to stay afloat during the economic downturn. Advertising was not their first priority, so Sampson had to convince them of its value. Tall and striking, Sampson knew firsthand the value of self-promotion, becoming as known for his perfect attire as he was for his business smarts.

It was an era when many companies distinguished themselves from the competition. Business textbooks now recount how the Post and Kellogg's cereal brands were neck-and-neck rivals at the start of the Depression, but how Kellogg's permanently won the market lead by investing in image and advertising programs, while Post withdrew its marketing programs.

Sampson similarly helped many Twin Cities companies market themselves to business success, and in the process built a highly satisfied and loyal customer base. In fact, two of the company's original customers, both funeral homes, are still with Sampson-Miller after nearly 80 years. Unlike promotional product competitors, who simply viewed their role as product purveyors, Sampson emphasized the power of relationships: his with his customers, and his customers with their customers. In pricing his products, he lived by the belief: "It's always about what's reasonable, not about what you can make." To Sampson, promotional products were simply one part of a company's overall marketing strategy. He reveled in helping companies determine the best marketing fit and use for their promotional items. When health issues forced Sampson to forego Minnesota winters by instead residing in Arizona, he discovered the loyalty he had built among his customers, who would wait months for his springtime return in order to place their promotional orders specifically with him.

Sampson-Miller Today

When Joan Miller took over her father's business in the 1970s, she quickly learned three things: first, the tightly knit business relationships her dad had established; second, that he had never created a business succession plan; and third, the fact that women had historically never worked in this field. She had never accompanied her father on a sales call.

Undaunted, Miller dove into her work with relish, learning the business from friendly competitors and customers alike. For example, at the close of one of Miller's first sales calls, a longtime customer asked her: "Aren't you going to ask me about how many I'd like?" She quickly learned how to close a sale. Miller continued the standard of service excellence established by her father, and added several new customers to the mix. She also gradually introduced her young son, Paul Miller, to the business, in the hope that the family's business legacy might continue. The likelihood of any family business surviving to a third generation is slim. According to the Family Firm Institute, only 13 percent of all family-owned businesses make it to the third generation. But like his grandfather and mother before him, Paul rapidly discovered a love for marketing promotional products, and more importantly for helping businesses of all kinds effectively tell their stories through promotional marketing. He assumed control of the business in 1977.

The Sampson-Miller Difference

Today, Paul strives to continue his grandfather's core business principles: quality customer service, fair pricing, innovative thinking and a rigorous attention to detail. Integrity and tenacity are also central to the Sampson-Miller way of doing business.

For example, product safety is one of today's hottest topics in promotional product sales, and Paul has actively been part of industry activities to promote the use of safe materials in the manufacturing of promotional materials. He has served on the boards of local, regional and national promotional product associations, and operates his company to rigorously scrutinize the sourcing of all promotional products.

The negative consequences of sourcing unsafe promotional products bearing a company's name and reputation are potentially enormous. Thus, unlike commoditized promotional products suppliers focused solely on price, Sampson-Miller works to ensure its clients' products are safe for consumers. Promotional product buyers should keep in mind that any product bearing their company's name becomes an extension of the company's brand and reputation. What brand impression does a company wish to impart to its customers, prospects and others based on the quality, thoughtfulness and applicability of its promotional products?

Paul's industry and association knowledge is invaluable for brainstorming on behalf of clients to obtain the best, safest and most cost-effective product solutions available to meet their promotional needs. As important as it is to be creative with promotional merchandise, he believes order fulfillment is equally important. At Sampson-Miller, the company's attentiveness to detail continues throughout the ordering process: checking on details from the time an order is placed until the time it's delivered to the client.

Under Paul's direction, Sampson-Miller operates today just as its founder once said: "Focus on the client, not on the sale."