The Inevitability Of Change
Since the current political and economic times appear to be accelerating changes within our market, it's time to take a very hard look in the mirror. We must start taking actions that position our industry to weather the onslaught—or better yet, add so much value that we preempt these occurrences.
There is way too much time spent maintaining the status quo, which, in fact, actively undermines the potential we have to put our industry in a better light. Instead, we must demonstrate how the promotional products industry can help build and protect customers' brands so governments and corporations do not think our effective advertising medium is wasteful spending. In order to rid the vernacular of terms such as "swag" or "trinkets and trash," we must add value.
Because there are such low barriers to entry, it is almost too easy to become a supplier or distributor in our industry. Perhaps this is how we got into this mess in the first place. At any rate, the absence of legitimate companies that have developed secure supply chains has put our customers' brands-and the industry as a whole—in danger. The absence of some type of prequalification to become part of our industry furthers the risk.
Before industry practitioners can claim unfairness or that we are misunderstood, we must get our respective houses in order. How? Well, a good start would be making sure we add value to our customers. This value can come via creative solutions instead of commodity purchases.
In the current regulatory environment, our value proposition also better include a supply chain that protects our customers' brands. Having a fully vetted, transparent and controlled supply chain actually adds value to both industry companies as well as their customers. Having a full understanding of the product safety requirements for the products we sell also creates differentiation. After all, we can't claim to add value when a client's brand is put at risk due to an under-developed supply chain. And that's something that won't change.