How One Distributor Seamlessly Combines Print and Promotional Products for Customers' Online Store Programs
E-commerce and online stores have been growing for a while, but they exploded starting in 2020. Customers are looking to cash in on the branded merchandise market or get promo items to recipients who might be missing out on in-person trade shows or working remotely. And distributors have figured out ways to deliver. Jacki Suckow, president of NorthStar Printing and Promotions, Flowery Branch, Georgia, is one of those distributors. Here, she tells us how she handles these types of online store programs that include both print and promo, and how she makes sure her customers get exactly what they want.
Can you tell us about a campaign you’ve worked on that blended both print and promotional products?
Jacki Suckow: Most of our online web stores incorporate both print and promo. We have many online programs for companies’ sales staff that need both brochures and marketing pieces, as well as signage, and they are able to order all of their trade show, client gifts, etc. all in one site. We are able to keep brand continuity, as well as provide a full marketing plan all in one stop. We have both variable (by location) and standard print pieces done on demand, as well as stock inventory on higher usage items.
One promotion we did, they wanted to send a drill along with print and promo items. We customized a full-color printed box and insert to fit the drill—along with a custom-printed folder/brochure that opened and was cut along the drill. We added a tape measure, stainless mug with a QR code printed on it, [and] a construction-related stress ball. This was sent to very specific prospects and had a great return on investment. This past two years we have also had to work with what is in stock and turn times.
How do you choose the particular collection of products for these applications?
JS: Working together with our clients’ goals, we suggest different types of brochure layouts, as well as new and exciting promo items depending on who they are targeting and what their current promotion is. This usually entails, in the beginning, presentations with lots of ideas, and then we narrow down from there.
On the promotional side, we are able to work with them to keep things fresh by ordering new items quarterly, as well as ordering larger quantities on the “favorite” items that the team likes to give out. Our team works with the customer’s marketing team by sharing calendars so we know when events are coming up and handling all the logistics on their print and promo items for those events, ensuring inventories and deliveries.
The past two years, we have moved to shipping to clients’ homes and larger gift-type packages because of the cancellations of trade shows, so it has worked well to have all under one house to package together easily. We have also added more sites for all of our clients, incorporating employee appreciation-type sites because of them working from home and companies trying to keep their teams. This too we have done several printed cards and boxes, and then adding the promotional products in as well.
How does the combination of print and promo solve the customer’s needs in these programs?
JS: Sales teams were having to order from two different sites, or corporate marketing teams were having to manage the ordering and shipping of the collateral and promo materials from all different vendors. The one-stop shop makes it easy to manage inventory, less stress on the marketing team, and much better buying power and costs as well.
What advice would you give to distributors looking to work on a similar project?
JS: I just always try to find out what are the client’s growing pains and how can I find a solution to help them. I also don’t always feel the need to start with the biggest program. Find a smaller program, knock it out of the park by servicing them above and beyond, and let your customers be your sales team with the rest of their company!