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Jeff's Rant

By Jeff Solomon, MAS

About Jeff

Jeff Solomon, MAS is the creator of, the industry's most popular business resource program. Jeff’s Rant will touch on topics with his straightforward approach to life and business.

Ask the Accountant

Harriet Gatter
Do I Have to Collect Sales Tax for Out-of-state Sales?
Oct 2, 2015

Question: Do I have to collect sales tax for out-of-state sales? It depends, and it's complicated. State governments would like...

Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
So What's Holding You Back?
Sep 24, 2015

Are you afraid to fail? Or are you afraid to get started because you might fail? The late TV preacher...

Lights, Camera, Promotion!

Brittany Hahn
The Mayor of Funkytown
Sep 23, 2015

Each Power Box has its own personality. Power Box 1 is really into dubstep music. He raves hard all weekend long. On...

Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Think About What You Just Did
Sep 22, 2015

My son did something wrong, and I want him to learn so he doesn't repeat the same mistake. I hear...

Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
11 Keys to Great Success in Life and Business: Key 5: Find Great Mentors
Sep 16, 2015

The most amazing thing I have found about massively successful people is that they both credit other people who mentored...

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
Ask the Accountant
Jul 24, 2015

Question: I am starting out as an ad specialty distributor. Is it better to set up my books on a...

Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Gotta Love These Supplier Best Practices
Sep 1, 2015

I’ve been in the promotional products industry for more than 25 years, both selling products and programs, and coaching and...

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
A Cycle Of Engagement
Jun 10, 2015

In 2015, the journey of the promotional products professional in shifting prospects to clients is more challenging than ever. With...

Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Swing All the Way Through
Apr 20, 2015

From time to time, I’ve written about a situation involving one of my kids, and after observing something recently, it’s...

Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
The Exact Cause Was Never Determined
Apr 3, 2015

If you read what normally is in this space, you've seen a lot about the protocol it takes to manufacture...

Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
Measure the ROI at Trade Shows (Using the Right Mix of Creative and Promotional Products)
Dec 30, 2014

Every year more and more products are being introduced into the market, and after a while it all looks the...

Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
Mar 5, 2013

The Super Bowl has also become the Ad Bowl, where brands duke it out to see who has the funniest,...


Kyle Richardson
The Best Laid Plans
Jul 11, 2014

Why it's always smart to keep a planner with your schedule and important documents, and why it's never smart to...

Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
5 Soccer Promotions for After the World Cup
Jul 1, 2014

Studies show that Americans prefer soccer to NASCAR. Here are five items to sell to soccer fans....

Mike's Blog

Michael Cornnell
Interview with Jason Black, CEO of Top Distributor Boundless Network
May 19, 2014

Ranking #19 on the Top 50 List, Black shares his thoughts on the future of the industry and what has...

The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
"How It's Made" Can Make You More
Jun 11, 2014

The show "How Its Made" is celebrating its 22nd season on television. How can we be a hit, season after season,...

Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Got Control Issues?
May 14, 2014

Does chaos define you? How you respond to certain situations says a lot about your character. Here are five quotes...

Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Oct 24, 2013

Promotional marketing is at its best when it empowers a client’s brand, meets his or her objectives and fits within...

My Two Cents

Rick Brenner
For Promotional Product Sales, Protect Your Client's Brand
Jun 3, 2013

Whether you are selling to a global brand like Nike or to your local YMCA, no single asset is more...

Friday Sales-thought of the Week!

Dale Limes, MAS
Reverse Engineer Your Sales Success
Mar 18, 2013

Steven Covey reminds us that when setting goals ... "Start with the end in mind." That is to visualize the...

The Sales Challenge

Bill Farquharson
Think and Succeed
May 29, 2012

What would happen if you woke up in the morning and your first thought was, "I am never going to...

Creating More Purposeful Sales Conversations

Lisa Leitch, CSP, MAS
Under 100 Days to Achieve 2011 Goals
Oct 20, 2011

It's hard to believe, but there are fewer than 100 days left to achieve 2011 goals! Are you on track...

Guest Rant: Is Specialization the Dying Trend?


In an effort to practice what I preach, I've been away from the FreePromoTips World Headquarters spending some quality time with my family. This rant has been put together while we are on The Big Island of Hawaii. If you are interested, I've posted a few images on the FreePromoTips Facebook Page and have tried to stay away from sharing our more typical business oriented content.

Most of you are unaware that there is a brain behind my Rant's. That is my friend and industry colleague Glenda Stormes-Bice, MAS. Glenda cleans up the grammar and structure of what I write. We seem to be on the same page regarding most of topics I cover. She does help guide me should I get too far off track. Glenda is a great writer and with me lounging on amazing beaches and having a great time in Hawaii, it's appropriate to share this piece that she recently wrote for her own company. Enjoy!

Last month a cover for The Economist magazine featured a photo of Rodin's "The Thinker" sitting on a toilet with the caption "Will we ever invent anything this useful again?"

Having spent the past two months surfing through catalogs and going to shows big and small, I am thrilled to report that innovation in the industry is not dead. There are some great new products this year. But the industry has changed. There are not as many new products as there used to be. I don't think its invention fatigue; I think it's a tougher economy. The cost of invention is high and the risk/reward is uncertain. Everyone is more careful now.

The smartest (and my favorite) suppliers make up for this by creating improvements on products that are successful already, and also being more innovative on the most important part of any product...the DECORATION.

But there is a supplier trend out there that doesn't impress me. I call it the "Look-we-now-sell (insert product here)!" trend.

There are some great supplier lines that have a diverse set of products. For the most part, those suppliers have years of experience knowing what imprinting processes they are skilled at and continue to develop/source products that work with those skills. Those suppliers are good at what they do and I turn to them regularly.

I also use a lot of suppliers who are experts in a specific product. For instance, I only sell pens from suppliers who manufacture pens. With them I can have an educated conversation on why their pens are better quality, where the cartridges are sourced, and what the write-out is on the ball points vs. roller balls. This is valuable information that helps me sell their product more effectively and more importantly, gives me the knowledge I need to best meet my customer's needs. But I ask those same questions of a supplier who just happens to have expanded their line by adding pens, and all I get is a blank stare or a fumbling of ums and uhs.

This year the addition seems to be bags. And beyond the "Look-we-now-sell-bags!" sales pitch, you will find a lack of any real knowledge about materials, construction, or detailing—all very important factors to know when trying to meet a client's needs. If you can't tell me WHY your bag (or pen, or whatever) is better or different then someplace else, how can I feel a level of confidence with offering it?

I don't fault suppliers who are looking to increase their revenue stream. My issue is with the "me-too" method. An attempt at grabbing market share by trying to sell everything just dilutes a supplier's worth as specialists in anything. There is no value with suppliers all doing the same thing. Who is an expert in that situation? No one.

In this job, I often need to become knowledgeable on any number of topics in order to be successful. I appreciate being able to turn to the experts in our industry to get the understanding I need. From now on, when I see product and line experts, I am going to stop and thank them for being so good at what they do.

I am also going to tell them I hope they continue to invent cool new things and improve methods to print on them. I just hope none of them try and add toilets to their product line next year.

Glenda Stormes-Bice, MAS is the head zookeeper at Glendandy Marketing, Inc., an Iowa distributorship proudly partnering with Banker Advertising Company. She can be reached at and on twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Jeff Solomon, MAS, MASI is affiliated with a large distributor company. The website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook and follow them on twitter. Jeff can also be found on Linkedin.


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