Tips for Selling Print and Promotional Products
Are you a print distributor looking to expand your product line? Here are some best practices for adding promotional products to your print business.
Love it, hate it, or hate it so much it's like nails-on-a-chalkboard-as-performed-by-third-graders-hyped-on-Pepsi, studying is still important. It's how you fix your mistakes, improve your strengths and, most importantly, move past your peers and become the successful teacher's pet that everyone envies. So, while you may miss hitting the books about as much as you miss lukewarm cartoned milk and mandatory gym, it's something you've got to do for your own good.
Does that mean it has to be as torturous as 9 a.m. Latin class with Mrs. Grueller? (We never did learn the Latin word for "bored.") Not at all. Let it never be said that we are cruel instructors. Below, hand-picked and sorted for the easiest of reading, are the best and most critical sales tips we have published in the last year. So, break out the pen and notebook and start your schooling on selling print and promo products.
ON DIRECT MAIL
Boost Success with E-mail Reminders
"We can track direct mail through the use of an intelligent barcode, so when someone receives the direct mail piece, we can send a trigger to e-mail the recipient five days after the piece is received if they haven't seen the [item]."
– Brian Byer, director of business development for Easypurl.com. From "What's in an E-Name? How personalized URLs work, and what they can do for your print products," Print Professional, June 2012.
Avoid the "One and Done" Approach
"The more times we reach out to someone, the greater increase in response. Lots of available research reveals that multiple touches through multiple channels will lift response rates by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent. Remember, a campaign must hit the recipient at the right time with the right message. Sometimes the message can be right, but the timing can be wrong. If you give the recipient another chance when the timing is right, you may be able to increase your overall response rate."
– Summer Gould, director of customer service for Eye/Comm Inc. From "Know Your Audience: Direct mail can be a great conversation starter for cross- media campaigns," Print Professional, April 2012.
ON HARD GOODS
Calendars and Planners: Keep Them Simple
"Make [calendars and planners] simple and functional enough for the end-user to want to make it part of their everyday activities. Too often people try to become overly creative and the promotional item (in this case a planner) ends up being the proverbial 'trash and trinket.'"
– Bill Mahre, president of ADG Promotional Products. From "Penciled In: The 11 must-knows of designing a perennial calendar or timeplanner promotion," Promo Marketing, June 2012.
Tote Bags: Think Sponsorship Space
"An organization can sell advertising space [on the tote] to local businesses and still feature its logo prominently. In turn, the organization can earn income from the ad space."
– Chris Flynn, national sales manager for TARGETLINE. From "That's My Bag, Baby: Getting eco- and profit-friendly with reusable bags," Promo Marketing, February 2012.
Computer Accessories: Understand What You're Selling
"Clients are much more likely to buy from an educated salesperson, rather than someone who can only respond 'I'll find that out for you—give me a day.'"
– Mike Szymczak, co-owner of OrigAudio. From "The Push to Portable: 8 do's and don'ts of selling in the new world of mobile computer accessories," Promo Marketing, April 2012.
How to Pick the Right Sizes
"Look at style and fit guides and size charts available from most top suppliers. Those generally speak to how each brand is sized, the different measurements for men and women, and offer guidelines for target audiences. It's important to note that fits for the teen/young men market are very different than adult sizing, and that all smalls, mediums and larges are not created equally. Also, order a sample to get a real-world look and feel for specific styles."
– Lee Strom, senior marketing manager for SanMar. From "Understanding Promotional Apparel: Breaking into and selling some of the promotional industry's most popular, yet complicated, products," Print Professional, May 2012.
Why High Fashion is Fair Game
"Our younger buyers and style-watchers are demanding fashion, just like they see in the retail stores. There is not only room for fashion, but a place for fashion, and it is a predominant place. Our young buyers now making purchasing decisions were bred on fashion and brand names. They will continue that choice with their promotional wear."
– Mary Ellen Nichols, MAS, director of marketing communications for Bodek and Rhodes. From "Runway Ready: Strike a pose in the trendiest promotional T-shirts and tanks on the market," Promo Marketing, April 2012.
For Uniforms, Two Years is a Good Lifespan
"When developing an image apparel program, the client is looking for a style and material fabrication that will hold up. They are looking for something that will maintain color and shape for approximately two years."
– Taraynn Lloyd, director of marketing for Edwards Garment. From "Girl Talk: What's in and what's out with women's corporate apparel, performance wear and uniforms," Promo Marketing, May 2012.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
Have a Company-wide Social Media Policy
"A social media policy establishes the company's guidelines for social media communications and is a company's first line of defense to reduce [legal] risk. Be sure to include provisions in the policy that address trade secret protection and employees' statements about the company's and competitor's products. Furthermore, consider including provisions that address ownership of social media accounts, user names and content."
– Lisa A. Lori, Esq., partner, Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg & Ellers. In "From the Conference Room to the Chat Room: The dangers of social media for your company," Print Professional, April 2012.
Take Full Advantage of Cross-media Capabilities to Differentiate Your Business
"Integrated marketing programs combining PURLs, personalized QR codes, e-mail, variable digital print (VDP) microsites, landing pages and campaign dashboards will drive growth in the digital print market this year. Personalization on digital direct mail can lead to increased response rates and differentiate the marketplace."
– Paul Edwards , CDC, president of FormStore Incorporated. From "Getting Personal: How digital print is reshaping the print landscape, one person at a time," Print Professional, May 2012.
ON SALES IN GENERAL
Establish More Than One Sales Contact at a Company
"Most people don't stay at their buying roles for that long; [people] often move from company to company. For a salesperson to be safe, they're better-suited to have a deeper entrenched value in the company they're talking to. So yes, they want to have a great relationship with [the initial] buyer, and you know they're going to want to take them to lunch and do all the stuff they've always done, but one thing that's changed is they really need to know people above them, people below them [and] the people beside them. Not to diminish the value of the buyer so to speak, to not have them feel like you're going behind their back, but if that person leaves, then you're not starting over at square one."
– Ryan Sauers, president and owner of Sauers Consulting Strategies LLC. From "Mission Possible: How to find and connect with the appropriate buying decision maker," Print Professional, January 2012.
Even Bad Cold Calls Can Pay Off
"Early on, I stumbled through a cold call with a prospect. She was the main buyer at a big bank. When I asked her if she ever heard of my company, she said, 'Yes. I heard you're expensive and slow.' I didn't have a clue how to reply to that, so I asked for a meeting, and was shocked when she said 'yes.' That moment taught me bad cold calls sometimes work out and bad cold calls are always better than no cold calls when it comes to getting appointments."
– Linda Bishop, executive vice president/marketing strategist, Standard Press. From "Stop, Drop and Listen: Getting schooled in traditional sales techniques," Print Professional, June 2012.
Listen to Your Customers
"The customer will tell you everything you need to know if you learn to ask questions, to not interrupt and to do more listening than explaining."
– Bill Farquharson, president of Aspire For. From "Stop, Drop and Listen: Getting schooled in traditional sales techniques," Print Professional, June 2012. ￼
Related story: How to Add Promotional Products to Your Print Business