How Promotional Products Professionals Can Make More Money With Premiums, Incentives and Recognition
If you are not selling premiums, incentives and recognition programs, products and services—you are missing a HUGE opportunity. These markets represent a $45 billion market (more than double the size of the promotional products industry). Your existing customers are probably already buying premiums, incentives and recognition so why not claim your share?
Who buys these products? Marketing departments, sales organizations, human resource professions, safety and quality management, and even the C-suite executives. They are buying at retail, on Amazon, from incentive houses, through gift cards and through any channel they can find to get the right product to motivate, recognize, appreciate, commemorate and grab share of mind and share of action.
Why should you learn more about this marketplace and how to develop programs and strategies for your clients? In their masterpiece bestseller, The Experience Economy, Jim Gilmore and Joe Pines identified two big ideas that can help you move your business out of the commodity space and into the value space. You must differentiate yourself from your competition, and you must make yourself more relevant to the needs, wants and desires of your customers. When you become a promotional professional who can sell programs, strategies and results-based ideas instead of a product sales person, ironically will sell more product and sell it more profitably. When you become the expert in the incentive and recognition space, you've just differentiated yourself from your competition and made yourself more relevant to the needs of your customers.
Playing in this marketplace allows you to open new markets and provides a means for you to sell more and deepen relationships with existing clients. It also gives you a strong value proposition that allows you to target new high potential prospects. By selling on-going programs, you can also level out some of the peaks and valleys in your sales cycle.
Is it easy? No. Is it worth learning new skills and how a new industry segment operates? Yes. Or at least it was for me. By becoming an expert in consumer sales promotion, sales incentive programs, trade incentives, dealer premiums, channel partner programs, employee recognition and engagement, I was able to generate consistent annual sales of over $2 million with major brands and corporations. These programs also resulted in extra promotional products sales to support the efforts, reinforce key messages and in many cases to act as the premium or incentive items in the promotion.
There are some key differences between the premium incentive and the promotional products channels. These differences can cause some friction and misunderstanding, so it is important to know about them and decide if you can accept them or not. Many premium incentive companies are branded product with a strong retail presence and often times direct to consumer advertising and marketing. Their strongest channel loyalty will be to their retail partners just as a promotional products supplier's strongest loyalty will be to their distributor partners.
Promotional products professionals should also be aware that branded product for retail often changes styles, models, colors and may have seasonal availability. This can make planning challenging and should be discussed and planned for up front. The promotional products industry is an event-driven sale with a built-in sense of urgency that a branded retail company may not understand, appreciate or have logistics in place to accommodate. This makes communications critical. Expectations need to be established in the planning stages, reinforced and many times, the delivery or fulfillment issues should be resolved well before the product is needed.
There are other issues one needs to be aware of—to decorate or not, lower margins, selling direct, trust. All of these issues can be bridged through communication and understanding.
Is this market for you? More and more distributors are finding this channel to be a resource for new revenue, new profits and new opportunities. They are finding that it helps them differentiate themselves from their competition and makes them more relevant to the needs of their customers.
Paul A. Kiewiet MAS CIP CPC will be presenting "How to Make Money With Premiums, Incentives and Recognition" at The Motivation Show at McCormick Place West (W475) in Chicago on Thursday, October 6 at 9:00 a.m. This free presentation is part of Distributor Day presented by PPAChicago and includes free parking, free exhibit hall admittance, free lunch, a chance to win great name brand products and a personal appointment scheduler. For more information, visit PPAChicago at www.ppachicago.org.
Paul has sold premium and incentive programs to Whirlpool, Krylon, KitchenAid, Kellogg's and Borden among other top brand companies. He has earned certifications in both the promotional products and premium incentive industry and has served in a leadership capacity for associations in both industries. He is a speaker, coach and consultant. For more information, visit www.create2bgreat.com.