Breath of Fresh Air
After a long winter full of sleet, snow and below-freezing temperatures, end-users (and magazine editors) are ready to go outside. Spring is the perfect time for distributors to start thinking about outdoor-themed promotional products. With outdoor products, distributors can provide clients with ample opportunities for logo visibility on products that will be used repeatedly. Promo Marketing spoke to Cheryl Gallagher, director of marketing for Starline Inc., Grand Island, N.Y., and Naomi Berkowitz, business development for Picnic Plus, West Chester, Pa., about the opportunities outdoor promotional products offer.
What's in for Outdoors?
With a wide range of products, such as chairs, toys and water bottles, there are plenty of options for distributors to give clients exactly what they want. Berkowitz said allowing clients to attach their logos to related products is smart because of the popularity of outdoor activities like camping and picnics. "I think you'll see [more seats and tables]—anything that people can take with them to a beach or patio or to a fireworks display for the summer," she said. She also said that when people go to outdoor events, they usually prefer to sit on their own chair or blanket, rather than a park bench or the grass. When the item can fold up and be stored in a car, that's an additional draw for the user.
Berkowitz mentioned the Scrimmage Tailgate Table from Picnic Plus as an example of a versatile outdoor item that can be easily carried and stored. "You can take it outside and stand it up for parties and tailgating, but the neat part of it is that it folds up in seconds and goes into its own carry bag," she said. "You can take it anywhere you want and you can store it quickly."
Gallagher said that the interest in active lifestyles has created sales opportunities. She mentioned hydration packs, water bottles and headlamps as potential big-sellers because they fit into healthy lifestyles. She added that by giving out these items, clients' brands become equated with health and outdoor fun. "For corporate events, like picnics or golf tournaments, it doesn't matter what industry you're in," she said. "Giving outdoor products shows that you support an active lifestyle."
Identify Your Audience
Berkowitz said that there is one industry in particular that is underutilized by distributors selling outdoor items. "I think [distributors] should go after restaurants," she said. "Restaurants are now building outdoor areas, as are wineries and breweries." She added that when selling to events, such as a golf outing or company picnic, distributors should focus sales efforts on the facility at which the event is held. The facility, such as a country club or resort, could use promotional products as add-ons to incentivize guests to go there. "I think the actual resort could benefit from them too," she added. "[Distributors] never seem to go after the market where the actual event is held. I think that's an untapped resource they should be going after."
Know What You're Selling
Since many outdoor products—like folding chairs, tables or game sets—are large, Berkowitz said that distributors should know every detail about their products before they sell them. "Distributors need to understand what the components are," she said. "The weight of the products, they need to know about the durability or if there's a warranty on them. A lot of times distributors will want to buy tables and they need to get freight estimates because they need to take into account how much it will cost to ship it to the customer because we're not talking about a T-shirt or a pen."
Aside from the physical components of a product, Gallagher said that distributors should get some hands-on experience with their products so they know exactly how they function and can give potential customers a better idea of how end-users will respond. "Have a product that you're comfortable with that you've used before," she said.
Outdoor products are personal items. When a distributor can provide a firsthand account of the product, they can persuade potential customers to buy them as well.
Be a Competitor
Through providing clients personalized items at an affordable rate, distributors can get a competitive edge over retail outlets because they are getting their clients the exact product they are looking for to fit their promotion or event.
Berkowitz said that with personalization and a price advantage over retail, the supplier, distributor and client all win. "Distributors can take advantage of volume pricing and [clients] can take advantage of having the items logoed for their event or promotion," Berkowitz said. "The distributor definitely has the advantage over retailers with the turnaround, and delivery and personalization that [customers] can't get elsewhere."