How to Win Business With Self Promos: 4 Ideas for Distributors
When it comes to marketing materials for a distributor, self promos are a no brainer. Most suppliers offer good self promo deals, and what could be a better way to show the world what you do than by giving out a branded product? But it’s not that easy, and many distributors struggle with the decision of what to get, or what to do with the products after they get them.
The reason for the struggle is that the product is thought of as standalone, when it’s really a part of a marketing strategy. So you need to think of this first. Start by asking yourself two questions: How will you use them and whom do you want to impress?
To help you put your own no-fail self promo program in place, here is what worked for us back in our distributor days, and works now for our clients as we help them implement theirs.
As mundane as they are, pens are something you should always carry with you. How many times have you been at an event where someone needs to write something and they don’t have a pen? And there you are—your piece of advertisement saves the day! Make sure you go beyond the plain contact info, and add an intriguing call to action. Use your imagination!
Use a quality pen you know people will love. We are big fans of the Javalina pen. Everyone wants one!
You can donate handfuls for registration tables at community and business events, or local charities. Leave them casually behind here and there when you attend conferences and networking meetings. You’ll be surprised how quickly you become well known in your town!
Business Cards Printed on a Business Card-Sized Item
When I first opened my distributor business, I went to every single networking event I heard about, as many as three per week. I used a credit card-sized mint dispenser from Lanco as my business card and handed it out everywhere. It was an instant conversation starter. I also gave them out when I was at a luncheon or dinner function, and happened to be seated next to someone I wanted to have a business conversation with. I politely offered a mint, and then said “keep the box” when the person handed it back.
These little things were some of the most effective lead generation tools I ever gave out. I received calls from people I gave these to months after I met them. They were wowed by them and made sure they saved them because they knew they would be needing my services at some point in the future.
I tried other similar-shaped products later on, but the mints were the most effective by far. Experiment with this idea!
Swag boxes have become a big thing in the last two years. Before the pandemic, companies had started using boxes of branded products as part of their employees' onboarding process. But the remote work situation presented a challenge for companies that wanted to continue to give out promotional products for specific campaigns, and drop shipping swag boxes solved the problem.
As a branding or promotional products expert, having your own box provides you with the opportunity to stand out and show “how it's done.” From the creative concept to the design to the products used, a well designed swag box is a sure fire way to wow a potential customer and give them reasons to want to work with you, discarding any other distributors that might be after their business, who most likely, all look alike.
It can be an exceptional way to show an existing customer that they’ve made a good decision in choosing you as their provider and not even look at your competition. Plus, they can show what else they could be doing in terms of their marketing.
A fully custom-designed box with a set of color-coordinated products, wrapped in custom printed tissue paper, will elevate your game as a creative branding company. It will require an investment of time and money that will give you high returns.
If your budget is tight, you can do a simpler box. It can be a good way to start without overthinking every component. In my distributor days, the first package I sent consisted of a bunch of self promos I had laying around. The idea came about because I had ordered pads that had a calendar along the side, and here it was the month of May and I had about 50 of them left. So I made a package with those plus a couple of Javalina pens, a water bottle, lip balm and sunglasses. I called it “summer fun package” and included a romance card with “instructions” to tie in the products to a vacation in a silly way.
I sent it to our preferred clients, and much to my surprise, every single one emailed or called to say thank you. Orders came in for some of the products, along with new project discussions.
We also called these “sample packs” when sent to prospects mostly connected through LinkedIn.
We continued this practice every year until I sold the business, putting a lot more thought in the planning, packaging and product selection every time. It was definitely a fun way to promote our business using the products we sold.
Trade Show Exhibit Kit
Event marketing is at the heart of promotional products. There are many opportunities for distributors to have a space at a local business or community event and you must always be ready.
Rule No. 1: Don’t skimp. You have access to the best exhibitor products at incredible prices, as well as their design services. Max out these resources!
Here’s our suggested list:
- Table throw
- Table cover
- Backdrop banner
- Roll up banner
- Inexpensive but fun unusual giveaways
- Trade show games
- Large canvas bag with fun message in big letters: we copied this one from a supplier at an ASI show: "I saw the coolest swag at [company name]"
Make sure you are memorable! Always be ready to show by example how promotional products can be used to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to a website or store and increase sales.
This article was first published in Action Marketing blog. For more marketing articles, free webinars and guides specific to the promo business, visit the Resources section of ActionMarketingCo.com.
Gloria Lafont is a mother, grandmother and business owner. Throughout her business career she has started, bought and sold a dozen businesses in the branding and marketing field, including a distributor company. She’s currently president of Action Marketing Co., founded in 2007. Her company focuses on helping distributors increase visibility, generate awareness and drive traffic so they can connect with more of their ideal clients and generate more leads and sales.
Gloria is a big fan and supporter of education and the cultural arts, volunteering her time and donating marketing support over the years to help various organizations grow in membership and revenue. She also enjoys the South Florida lifestyle mix of business, beaches and arts.