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Jeff's Rant

By Jeff Solomon, MAS

About Jeff

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

Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
Draw Your Attention to Drawstrings
Oct 17, 2014

I guess it has something to do with the time of year. The weather in much of the U.S. begins...



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,...



Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
How Appreciative Are You? 5 Easy Ways to Stand Out and Say Thank You: Part One
Oct 14, 2014

In today's highly competitive promotional products business environment, you have to distinguish yourself from the competition. Here are five ways...



Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
The Dash Between Two Dates
Oct 6, 2014

Let's face it. We're all busier than ever. Most of the busyness is dashing—dashing here, dashing there. Sadly, many people's lives...



Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Going Direct
Oct 13, 2014

I thought that would capture your eyes today because it’s a perennial hot topic in our industry. Today, we’re going...



Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
Why Are You Doing This?
Oct 9, 2014

Do you have a clear understanding of why you are in this business? And please, don’t tell me you’re in...



Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Yes, We Should Be Scared About Bad USB Drives
Oct 7, 2014

Due to recent USB exploits available online (although not yet proven to cause any damage), sales of USB drives in...



Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
Setting Annual Sales Goals are a Waste of Time
Sep 24, 2014

How about that shocking headline? Did it grab you? Well, there is some meat behind the sensationalism. Buckle in and...



Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
Playing the Price Game: It’s a Choice. Choose Wisely
Sep 22, 2014

The Internet, the obvious low barrier to entry, unskilled salespeople, the economy—each of these drive price wars and ultimately erode...



Embellished

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...



Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
The Anatomy of Emotional Marketing
Apr 11, 2014

You've probably heard the old adage: "It's the thought that counts." This could not be any truer, especially in business. When...



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...



I Love the Smell of Steer Manure!

 
One great thing about Southern California is the weather. It's sunny most of the time and we don't get intense storms like many parts of the country do.

I'm kind of a gardening nut, always planting flowers and I like to keep my grass healthy. Each year at this time, we put Winter Rye on our lawn. It's a simple thing to put down the seed with many bags of steer manure. Some find the manure smell disgusting, but being a bit odd, I kind of like it. I'm not sure why, but part of it is I know it helps the lawn stay healthy.

In the spring, I put on weed and feed on to kill of the weeds and fertilize the grass, making it stronger in the hot, dry months of summer. I liken my gardening skills to growing a strong, healthy business. Nurturing fruits, vegetables, and flowers is rewarding for me as is having a thriving business.

The landscape of the promotional products industry is changing. To have a fruitful business these days you need to be aware of what's happening so you can fertilize your business for growth and be proactive about killing the weeds that threaten it.   

What are these weeds that are choking our business growth and how can we fertilize where we need to? Here are a three emerging trends, or "weeds", that are worth noting along with suggestions as to how you can fertilize them and grow your business. You may not love the smell of steer manure like I do, but I'm pretty sure you love the green as you build a successful business!

The Economy
It's no secret that things aren't what they used to be. The experts say the recession is over, but from where I sit in California, things don't look so rosy. Clients I've worked with for years are either out of business, or just aren't buying as much. However, I still think the weather is great for growing a healthy business; we just need to work a bit smarter.

What's the fertilizer?
Take very good care of the clients you have. Ask them for referrals. Be active and engaged in your community. People like to do business with people they know. Get back to the basics. Take advantage of self-promo items because the best way to tell someone what you do is show them what you do.

Bad PR for Promotional Products
Our industry has gotten a bad wrap lately. In California, the Governor announced a ban on purchasing promotional products, referring to them as "these kind of plastic gewgaws." What's interesting is that the Governor himself used promotional products in his successful election campaign, so he must know they work. And of course branded products played a key role in the recent national elections. Why the badmouthing of our industry?

What's the fertilizer?
Offer value. Promotional products are a very cost effective, powerful marketing and branding tool. Become the go-to source for creativity and marketing ideas. If this isn't your strength, get help from your preferred suppliers. Go to trade shows, take advantage of education opportunities and learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power.

Product Safety and Liability
Product safety is a complex topic having a profound effect on our industry.  Unfortunately, it isn't an exciting subject and keeping up with it all is a challenge. Many suppliers and distributors don't quite realize the drastic implications of the new rules. It's hard to get fired up about cadmium, phthalates, or understand terms like ppm (parts per million) for lead? We've all heard about massive recalls of toys in and out of our industry. One supplier was hit with a 10 million dollar judgment for having too much lead in the ink used to imprint bags. Still, many people just don't realize it really COULD happen to them.

What's the fertilizer?
Rick Brenner, CEO of supplier company Prime Line, has by necessity become an expert in this area. Rick notes: "In our industry, concern about product safety is an important thing that is going on and a problem that could easily become your opportunity. Ever since the summer of 2007 and those massive recalls of Chinese toys containing too much lead, the world of product safety and regulatory compliance has been turned on its ear. Complicated and sometimes ambiguous laws have been passed at the state and federal level, testing labs have been swamped with new business and corporate America has been put on notice that cheap products imported from China can be risky.

No shortage of problems here: Complex new product safety regulations sometimes different from state to state, uncertainty and confusion from buyers, an industry scrambling to learn compliance and even the experts trying to wrap their heads around this juggernaut. Problems however, can be golden opportunities for enterprising marketers.

Corporate America needs promotional products. And because of the risks, because of these problems, they need a knowledgeable and conscientious distributor to guide them, protect them, to act as a fiduciary for their most valuable asset - their good name - to ensure that it only goes on quality products that are safe and compliant and is never put on a product that might cause risk or embarrassment. In short, they need a trusted advisor. You."

A Changing Business Environment
The traditional Supplier/Distributor relationship is being challenged. These days your clients can buy anything you sell online and probably for less. Larger companies are buying direct from overseas sources. In the same way larger distributors are bypassing suppliers and purchasing direct from the factories. Some suppliers also sell direct to end-users and earn higher margins. The distribution lines are being blurred.

What's the fertilizer?
A changing business environment isn't the end of the world. Challenging marketplaces create opportunities. As I've noted, providing value to clients is critical. Savvy distributors are thriving and others are dying. Just like a dead garden, some businesses will never bear fruit again.

Look at ways to distinguish yourself for competitors. Be engaged in social media, build beneficial online relationships, but don't be selling. Be helping.

Now is the time to start thinking about the things you can do to keep growing a strong, healthy and fruitful business!

Jeff Solomon, MAS- MASI is affiliated with a large distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com 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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