A Breath of Fresh Air
HOW TO GET 'ER DONE
While outdoor markets tend to hold up well in tight financial times—because they cater to within budget "staycation-type" leisure time activities—there is still skill required when it comes to making the sale. "[Distributors] need to make sure they know the products they are selling and the market they are selling to," said Bernie Trowbridge, vice president of Dallas-based Redline.
Lines noted the importance of seasonality. "Spring is the time to close sales. Sell to this market early in the year, while inventories are plentiful and opportunities abound," he said. But spring isn't the only time to seal the deal. "Late summer is the other popular time for these products, primarily in the picnic and tailgating arenas," Lines said.
Mehta agreed that spring is prime selling season for outdoor products, but urged distributors not to forget the biggest selling season of the year. "One shouldn't underestimate the holiday season as well. Someone who enjoys the outdoors will be excited about the right gift in any season it is given," he explained.
By far the most important educational point in selling outdoor promotional items is finding products that will stand up over the test of time. Distributors don't want to have an end-user in the middle woods have a product fail or fall apart on them, because sometimes a memory can last a lifetime. "For the maximum benefit to the gift-giver over the long term, it pays to pick quality products with durability, high potential for brand exposure and universal appeal," Mehta stated.
Regardless of economics, employment statistics and budgets, outdoor products are still in recovery mode. Lines explained, "The leisure/camping market has struggled along with the rest of the industry. However sales are rebounding this year, and we look for further gains into next year. This market niche is great because it gives the distributor an opportunity to think outside the box and stretch their product offering."