No Single Raindrop Believes it is to Blame for the Flood
Our industry has been much maligned. We may dislike it, but the proven effective branding strategies we offer have been devalued in many ways. We've embraced terms like swag and tchotchkes, because the terms are so commonly used. It may be argued this contributes to the image of our industry as trinkets and trash.
I might offend some folks, but in my opinion the promotional products industry is missing the opportunity to show the power of our branding medium. Is the perception some have of our marketing medium our fault? Does the blame lie with us? Clearly, there are suppliers and distributors who are creative and innovative in how they reach the marketplace, but are these the exception and not the rule? As a flood of bad PR has come to devalue what we do, it seems we all can share a bit in the blame.
What appears to be missing is the solutions provider mentality that we could have. Most communications between suppliers and distributors tends to be focused on product and price—not how the products offer a promotional marketing solution. The solutions provider focus has been taught for years, but perhaps we need a refresher course?
When we first added promotional products to our apparel decorating business many years ago, I was impressed with the promotional products industry's focus on education, networking and creativity. When I started publishing FreePromoTips in 2005, it was with the vision of helping others as I was helped. This came from my experiences that started with that first PPAI Expo in Dallas many years ago. The goal has always been to showcase promotional marketing solutions while covering relevant topics that affect our businesses.
Our industry and its association are so good at education, why do we appear to drop the ball when it comes to learning more about the products we offer so we can teach our clients about their value?
But let's face it, even with our best efforts; the fact is that much of our industry is based on product and price. Can we do a better job of showing how what we sell is a powerful and effective awareness-building tool?
In the distributor side of my business, I love when I have the opportunity to work with a client where I can be creative and show them the benefits of our medium. Sadly, in many cases it's about providing a product and the opportunity to be creative is not always there. The level of creativity and innovation we can offer of course varies with each client. It's been rewarding though when I can convert a "stuff" buyer to someone who wants to be innovative and wants to take advantage of the creativity I offer.
A while back, after taking my wife to a trade show, the info@ e-mail box I used to register her received a barrage of e-blasts focused totally on price. I know e-blasts are commonly used and I'm not against them. I use them myself to promote our SuccessTracks Education Experiences and special things FreePromoTips.com has going on.
Receiving those product- and price-focused e-blasts following my wife attending the trade show created an "Ah Hah" moment for me. Our industry in many ways is based on product and price. While many of us understand the solutions provider focus, the reality is that out industry is driven by product and price.
To address this, we ended up creating a new section on FreePromoTips.com, which we've dubbed GP2: Good Products - Good Prices. Here a supplier can feature their current product e-blast or sell sheet. Keeping with our mission to help people be more effective in their sales efforts, video can be included that offers selling suggestions. It's simple, inexpensive and allows a supplier to extend the reach of their current promotions.
Here's what a Jetline GP2: Good Products - Good Prices Promotion looks like. (Suppliers, if you would like to be featured, let me know.)
Programs like GP2 help to meet a need to show good products at a good price, but also offer a bit more of that creative information. This enables suppliers and distributors to be more effective talking about the promotional value of the featured product. Might I suggest that we all start thinking this way in promoting our businesses?
If we take every opportunity we can to educate our clients or just remind them that there is more to this industry than meets the eye, eventually we will convince them that promotional products are more than just trinkets and trash. We all know nothing will change overnight or with one conversation. But by consistently sharing beneficial information to them, we might just find we have changed minds!
Innovation or the lack of innovation in how we showcase our marketing medium is a topic that we can continue to discuss. Feel free to comment below and/or e-mail directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your thoughts on this are welcomed! We would love to include your input as we cover this topic.
To further this discussion, we have a great SuccessTracks Education Experience coming up September 26. Perhaps you can relate to the term, Entitlement Consumerism? End-users have a plethora of information available at their fingertips, with the click of a mouse. Buyers come to us "knowing it all" (or at least thinking they do) wanting the best quality, fastest production and lowest price and this is where we are able to be a valuable resource.
We've shared some interesting information in the past, but I'm very excited about this session. We've put together two savvy suppliers and two savvy distributors who will lead this lively discussion. In this short video, I share my excitement. Frankly, I have no idea where this will go. Click here for more information and the link to register.
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook and follow them on twitter.