Sourcing Ad Specialties
So you've decided to sell promotional products -- now what?
You've probably noticed that there are few forms distributors left—you may not even be one anymore.
Declining forms sales and changing client requests have turned you into a single source for all that is printed. Consequently, somewhere along the way you became a 'printed products distributor'—and if you haven't added promotional products to your mix, rest assured you soon will.
But then what? The ad specialty industry is, well, just that—another industry, separate from business forms. And, for many distributors, getting started can be tricky—especially when that means sourcing products in an industry that is all but closed to those outside of it.
Despite popular belief, ASI—the Advertising Specialty Institute—isn't the only source of product information, although it certainly is the oldest, the largest and probably the most well-known. Because of this, many distributors new to the industry turn to it.
For example, John Osborne, president of Wichita, Kansas-based Midwest Single Source, admitted that he knew little about the ad specialty industry when he first got involved nearly a decade ago—but he knew about ASI.
A business forms distributor since the mid-70s, Osborne remembered, "I had gone to enough seminars to know that I should be selling promotional products, and although I didn't really know very much about the industry, I knew about ASI."
Subscription requirements, however, include submitting a number of invoices from ASI-listed manufacturers. The number required depends on how involved the distributor already is in the industry.
Osborne needed 10, and recalled, "working our butts off to get them. We just didn't know who to buy from." Ultimately, the combination of a few business forms manufacturers that had crossed over into promotional products territory and a friend who produced acrylic awards generated the invoices needed to meet subscriber requirements.