Five of Our 2019 Fastest-Growing Distributors on How They Grew, Top Business Tips
There's no such thing as too much advice on how to grow your business—especially when it comes from companies that have walked the walk. So, we asked a few standout promo distributors from our Fastest-Growing list for two things: 1) the story behind their success and 2) their top tip for other distributors looking to grow. Below, in their own words, they gave us the details. When you're done reading, don't forget to check out the full Top 30 Fastest-Growing Distributors list here and read our in-depth story on two more companies from the list.
Deborah Gaspar, director of business development and marketing, Vanguard Direct Inc.
Growth: 150 percent ($2 million in 2017 to $5 million in 2018)
1. We made a significant investment in our e-commerce website—we re-platformed it and did a complete site redesign as well as made some significant investments in SEO initiatives and pay-per-click advertising. In addition, we made some key hires in the department over the past two years that have changed the way in which we do business and market and sell promotional products.
2. Invest in technology and in people that will keep you at the forefront of the industry—and have great ideas! Learn your customers’ challenges and be the solution. Anyone can sell a branded pen or a bag. In such a competitive environment, you need to offer your customers solutions. Understand their challenges and pain points and offer innovative solutions.
Stephen McFadden, president, Perfect Promotions & More
Growth: 32.56 percent ($2.15 million in 2017 to $2.85 million in 2018)
1. We can attribute our growth to a few areas, but mainly two: our clients and our team. We have spent lots of time focusing on clients we truly can provide marketing value to, help to elevate their brand and meet their marketing objectives. By focusing on clients that are willing to get creative and have fun with their promotions, we have helped them to grow their own brands and thus have helped us gain more clients through referrals, based on our clients’ experiences. Over the years we have been developing a strong and fun team, and we are blessed with an amazing group. Our team has allowed the sales team to be more successful, our operations to run smoother and our finances to be tighter, resulting in strong growth.
2. Not all growth is good growth. For a long time we focused too much on adding a new client that may or may not have met our company’s strengths. Finding clients and companies that you match well with, can provide true value to and have fun with will help to form partnerships—and not transactions.
Jenna Banks, founder and chief branding officer, Brand Spirit
Growth: 47.44 percent
1. Brand Spirit is a 100 percent online-based distributor (no local sales reps). Our growth last year was attributed to our concentrated online marketing strategies, our focus on innovative and unique products, hiring the right people who fit with our brand message and vibe (our trademarked tagline is “Share The Brand Love”), and our celebrated customer service procedures and processes for gaining new clients and client retention. Giving back is also important to us and our clients—we give back by donating one life-saving vaccine to children in need for every $100 in products sold, as well as supporting our charity partners with our services.
2. My biggest tip for growing distributor sales would be to figure out your company’s unique brand message, and build your marketing, processes, policies and customer service experience around that message. Create and maintain a client-centric brand experience that can be indoctrinated and consistently carried out by all team members.
Karie Cowden, founder and president, Connect the Dots Promotions
Growth: 61.54 percent ($260,000 in 2017 to $420,000 in 2018)
1. I was honored to participate in a program that Arizona Public Service, our local utility, offered, called DSTP (Diverse Supplier Training Program). Over an eight-month period I received coaching, mentorship and support from other small-business owners. The program was geared towards digging into 11 different businesses to help and guide for success. Connect the Dots Promotions secured office space and brought on a new salesperson as a result of the coaching.
2. My advice for distributor owners is to work on the business and not in the business. Our industry can be reactive and create inertia, pulling owners away from making sure things are in order. I personally started out with Connect the Dots as a technician, but now I’m focused on things that build a company.
Kirk Graves, CEO, Concord Marketing Solutions
Growth: 21.46 percent ($26.1 million in 2017 to $31.7 million in 2018)
1. Concord specializes in online store programs for large corporate clients. We have continued to invest in our technology through our on-demand e-commerce solution. Eliminating inventory risk while broadening our clients’ in-stock product choices seems to be exactly what the customer is looking for. This enabled us to win 10 new store customers last year. It has also allowed us to have a very strong client retention rate as well as a 58 percent win rate in RFPs. We have also built a very strong team philosophy with sales and account management to ensure the best service.
2. Build the best possible team and stay focused on your goals.