How One Distributor Doubled Her Sales in the Financial Market (and How You Can, Too)
The financial market is certainly appealing for promo distributors. The obvious reason is, well, the money, and not just the kind in the bank vaults. There are seemingly countless numbers of banks (with numerous branches all over the country), lending institutions, credit unions, you name it—and if you approach them the right way, it could be a huge source of business. That’s what happened with Linda Miller Seder, principal for Innovative Promotional Concepts, Watertown, Mass., who doubled her sales through some savvy networking and a focus on providing value. Here, she gave us the details on how she pulled it off—and how you can too.
Promo Marketing: When you’re selling to customers in the financial sector, what are some of the products they typically go for? What are your go-tos?
Linda Miller Seder: Power banks, speakers and drinkware have been big.
PM: Those are all pretty popular overall, regardless of the client vertical. What do you think makes them so appealing for financial buyers
LMS: Well, I think drinkware, the way I present it to people, is that drinkware is like a fashion accessory now.
PM: Could you elaborate on that a little bit?
LMS: Everybody is always walking around holding some kind of drink. I read that it’s a fashionista thing. It’s a fashion accessory! I think that it gives great visibility to brands. What I like about it, with the drinkwre, is that a lot of the vendors give the opportunity for custom packaging, so you can very nicely take this item that gets used every day, has a long shelf life [and] has a great visibility of brands, and you can customize it and have the packaging as like your real estate to tell your story. Actually, after the event, the Power Meeting event when I met with High Caliber, I did exactly that. I used their S’well style bottles, and I used the packaging—I custom designed the packaging to tell my story. And I gave them out at an event that I sponsored, which was for Massachusetts Society of CPAs. I got one order doing that, and I’ve gotten a few new clients doing that.
PM: What’s the best way to find these clients? How can new distributors add them to their customer base?
LMS: Honestly, I think it’s very similar for any target market: If you focus on your market and people start getting to know you, then you work to try and get people to give you referrals. I was able to find somebody that is very active in their marketing industry in the financial arena, and she’s helping to introduce me to people. Because what I’ve done, and again, I think this is generic to any target market, I present myself as what value I bring to the table. It’s not even about what products I have to give them. It’s more about the value I have to give them by making sure that the marketing dollars spent are going to reach their target market, it’s going to resonate with them, and it’s going to get a return.
I take the time to figure out that for one company in the financial sector, it would be great to do the water bottle or the drinkware, and another it might be great to do the Bluetooth speaker. [...] But I take the time to listen to them and ask what are their goals, who’s their market, what are their challenges, who’s their competition, what are their differentiating factors? And then, by making yourself invaluable in a sense—when I present to people what I can do with custom packaging in addition to just the product, I stand out as different than a lot of my competition. And I certainly stand out from the online market.
PM: Is there a specific time of year that you find more success with these financial clients? Is there a “busy season” so to speak?
LMS: I don’t know if it has anything to do with the time of year as much as that I’ve been really working it to get myself more known in that marketplace, and doing things to touchpoints and stuff. I mean, clearly, this time of year, with the holidays, a lot of these companies do holiday stuff. But you have to reach out to them by late August or September, because you want to catch their attention before they’ve already started doing them.
I’ll tell you another very definite way that has helped me, actually. The biggest thing that helped me was LinkedIn. I was watching LinkedIn, and I saw that somebody in an accounting firm connected to somebody else that I knew, and I reached out and said, “I see that you just connected with this person. I’ve worked with this person. I also know somebody else that you’re connected with. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.” And shortly after that, I did a $33,000 order with her, and she’s the one that’s really helping me get into the financial industry.
A lot of people come back to you, and I’ve had this happen many times. When I say, “Well, who are you working with? What is your distributor like?” Especially when they say they work with online people, I then just do my whole thing about asking them, “Who’s your competition?” They realize that I’m trying to get to know them, and then I bring it back and say, “So, has anyone asked you these questions before?” And typically they say “no.” Let’s put it this way: I doubled my sales this year.
PM: So this is definitely good advice for people looking to learn more about finding these customers.
LMS: If you had had this conversation with me last year, I probably wouldn’t have been able to talk so off the cuff in this confident way. When people ask me what it was, I really think that, first of all, I don’t waste my time on little jobs or people that I don’t think appreciate what I bring to the table. But I think really believing in the value that you bring to your clients like I do now, they hear it. It helps to strengthen your relationships.