Guest Rant: Is Specialization the Dying Trend?
But there is a supplier trend out there that doesn't impress me. I call it the "Look-we-now-sell (insert product here)!" trend.
There are some great supplier lines that have a diverse set of products. For the most part, those suppliers have years of experience knowing what imprinting processes they are skilled at and continue to develop/source products that work with those skills. Those suppliers are good at what they do and I turn to them regularly.
I also use a lot of suppliers who are experts in a specific product. For instance, I only sell pens from suppliers who manufacture pens. With them I can have an educated conversation on why their pens are better quality, where the cartridges are sourced, and what the write-out is on the ball points vs. roller balls. This is valuable information that helps me sell their product more effectively and more importantly, gives me the knowledge I need to best meet my customer's needs. But I ask those same questions of a supplier who just happens to have expanded their line by adding pens, and all I get is a blank stare or a fumbling of ums and uhs.
This year the addition seems to be bags. And beyond the "Look-we-now-sell-bags!" sales pitch, you will find a lack of any real knowledge about materials, construction, or detailing—all very important factors to know when trying to meet a client's needs. If you can't tell me WHY your bag (or pen, or whatever) is better or different then someplace else, how can I feel a level of confidence with offering it?
I don't fault suppliers who are looking to increase their revenue stream. My issue is with the "me-too" method. An attempt at grabbing market share by trying to sell everything just dilutes a supplier's worth as specialists in anything. There is no value with suppliers all doing the same thing. Who is an expert in that situation? No one.