It's Time to Find a Niche in Ad Specialties
Another way to develop relationships is to invite manufacturers to educate the company about their promotional products and marketing strategies.
"We have several vendors that come in every year with the launch of their new catalogs. They bring in a whole line for us and give very specific information relating to the products," said Scott.
And of course distributors tout the benefits of value-added products, because ultimately these services are what distinguishes them from competitors. PPI Graphics has found that fulfillment in particular is a service that adds value to its product listing. "We do a lot of work with larger companies that need products shipped all over the world. It helps eliminate the pricing game when we add other services," said Smith.
Smith also discussed the importance of adding services in light of the lack of supplier loyalty, noting that a supplier will produce an order for him one day and for his competitor the next.
"ASI suppliers traditionally do not keep quiet about the concepts that distributors bring to them. They often turn around and take it out to bid, which can cut down the profit margin for distributors," he said.
Knowing clients and their needs will also give the distributor that necessary edge. More often than not, the commodity in ad specialties is the idea surrounding the promotional tool. As such, business forms and commercial printers are at an advantage because of their familiarity with their clients' needs.
Even though the ad specialties industry can sometimes seem overwhelming, the benefits do outweigh the costs. It simply requires creative solutions to not only know what the client wants, but what the distributor and sales reps need in order to be efficient, committed and inventive.
"There are great opportunities in promotional products. The key is to diversify business and get as many different lines of printed materials in the tool box as possible in order to be more of an asset to the client," said Scott.