Head of Her Class
PM: Besides the standard resources of the Internet and supplier catalogs, what are some creative ways distributors can educate themselves about promotional products?
RM: Attending industry trade shows is a must. It’s an opportunity to meet suppliers face to face and get some great selling ideas. There is great free education at all the national industry trade shows. I’m a life-long learner, so I can never get enough education.
I also recommend joining industry trade associations. Networking with your fellow promotional products professionals is a great way to get educated. This is a friendly industry and there is a lot of sharing that goes on. We can all learn from each other.
Also, study what’s hot in the retail market. MP3 players like iPods will soon be as ubiquitous as televisions. Technology is changing at warp speed. What you see happening around you will be mirrored in the promotional products industry. We already see hundreds of products for holding cell phones, iPods and PDA’s. If you regularly read the business section of your local newspaper, follow national trends and are aware of what’s going on around you, you’re educating yourself and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
PM: What services do you provide that can help distributors “shorten their learning curve?”
RM: This is an easy industry to get into, but not an easy one to be successful at unless you’re knowledgeable.
There are three problems that I generally see with most new distributors and even some established ones: they’re new to the industry and just a bit overwhelmed by all the products, suppliers and new lingo they need to know; they’re not sure how to differentiate themselves from the competition; they’re selling a lot, but their profit margins are low and consequently, they’re not making the income they desire.