Getting the Most out of Promotional Products
If this seems logical to you, the next question is how to find even the few lines that you need. Obviously you can scan the ads in Print Professional and other industry publications or try to locate what you need online. But, this approach is quite time consuming. This is where “joining” comes in. Most cities will have a promotional advertising (or specialty advertising) association. Most are affiliated with the national not-for-profit industry trade association, Promotional Products Association International. Through regular meetings, table-top trade shows and getting on the association mailing list, you will quickly have information from dozens or even a couple hundred suppliers of promotional products. If you are in a joining mood, there are other groups that can be quite helpful—for a price! There is the national association, a couple of private, for-profit information and publishing companies that provide research and tools for the promotional products industry and there are specialized distributors.
Specialized distributors are a bit like “trade printers” in that they have no direct end-buyer customers. You sell through the trade printer. They produce the job, deliver the job and sometimes even bill the job—and you make money. A specialized distributor (the good ones) solicit no direct end-buyer business and sell exclusively through independent business owners like print shops, fundraising companies, party organizers and full-time promotional products sellers. Some are organized as franchises (where a fee is charged—at times substantial) but most are not. The shopping you do finding the specialized distributor that is comfortable for you will end up being a great investment of your time. A good specialized distributor will provide the capital necessary to grow your new profit center. They will have strong training available, a great support staff and lots of experience with a remote sales arrangement. They will take the credit risk on your customer’s order and will handle almost all the time consuming administration needed to process orders. Other things to look for are free online catalogs, proprietary printed catalogs, a lucrative commission or profit structure, a flawless reputation in the promotional products industry, stable and strong financial condition and special pricing considerations from the best suppliers in the business.
Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president for Kaeser & Blair Inc. (K&B). He has more than 40 years of experience in marketing and the promotional specialty advertising industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B dealers. Contact Emmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.