Dave Sarro – President and CEO of Promo Direct

Any entrepreneur must keep a close eye on the economy, shifts in market trends, and business competitors.

Dave Sarro is the president and founder of Promo Direct, which was founded in 1991 in Henderson, Nev., and offers customized promotional products to business professionals across many industries. Dave studied business administration and criminal justice at Arizona State University. He enjoys playing golf, exercising, traveling, and coaching youth sports.

Where did the idea for Promo Direct come from?

A friend in business introduced me to the promotional products industry about 25 years ago. At the time, I was looking to start a company and thought the promotional products industry would be a fun, rewarding, and profitable long-term industry. Promo Direct was designed to be a one-stop shop for all customers’ promotional product needs.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

My typical workday is filled with phone calls and emails to my management team and key supplier partners. I’m currently planning our next six months of marketing strategies, technology advancements, and new projects. To stay productive, I prioritize my most important projects and try to deal with work in real time so it doesn’t pile up.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring my ideas to life by first conceiving a concept of or a plan for the project. Then, I decide on how to best execute the idea. To help myself visualize the execution, I often go to my senior graphics person and have him produce designs and graphs of the plan. The next step is to determine the project’s costs and potential ROI. If the ROI beats the input costs, I’ll then go speak with people I trust within the organization to discuss whether we want to move forward.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’m really excited about technology trends that younger generations are growing up with and mastering. As technology becomes more mobile, so does our society. I believe there is tremendous opportunity for companies that harness technologies in the Internet age.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I stay productive by praying for Promo Direct and keeping a vigilant watch over all areas of the company. I’m always looking to improve the company each day.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was that of a newspaper delivery boy because I didn’t like knocking on front doors to collect money from people. Although I didn’t care for the job, it did motivate me to make my own money when I grew older.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would invest more financially in the company and hire more qualified people in the beginning. This would’ve helped the company grow more quickly, and it would’ve helped me avoid some of the mistakes I made in the company’s youth.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Any entrepreneur must keep a close eye on the economy, shifts in market trends, and business competitors. I’m constantly working to make the business better and more profitable.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My best strategy for Promo Direct’s growth was a comprehensive online marketing strategy. Hiring a team of competent and results-oriented Internet marketing talent was critical, as was investing heavily in our website. Thanks to boosting our marketing through pay-per-click, SEO, SEM, and social media, we’ve seen real growth. I work closely with our team to ensure our traffic numbers are growing; this translates into more sales and a greater ROI.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The greatest failure I’ve had came from investing in California real estate during the 1980s. The economy took a downturn, so I was forced to liquidate several properties at a significant loss. To overcome this, I started Promo Direct and invested my time and money into a venture outside of real estate.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As social media continues to explode, many business leaders are finding that they have neither the time nor the expertise to manage their company’s social media. To do social media well, one must be comfortable online, understand multiple social media platforms, and enjoy talking to others. To get started building your social media marketing portfolio, work with a few nonprofits in your area or offer services at a discounted rate to local business owners.

Tell us something about you that very few people know.

Very few people know that I have a love for the lost people in our world — people who have given up hope for living or are simply down and out in their lives. Whether it’s a financial, emotional, relational, health, or spiritual issue, I want to see them overcome their troubles.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Promo Direct has designed its own technology platform, so we use that. Our proprietary software is web-based with an integrated, user-friendly front end and back end. On the front end is our website. The back end consists of sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, purchasing, and the other areas of the business. Our software runs on an Oracle database and is written in JavaScript. We love it because we get to write our own business rules and aren’t trying to force our business into someone else’s software.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recommend everyone read the Bible because it contains the history, life, and truth of the world. It’s the word of God.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

When I was younger, I attended several seminars by American salesman Zig Ziglar. I really enjoyed his style, ideas, and sales strategies. He was a master at selling and could help anybody sell more of just about anything.


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