Factory Direct Promotional Products 2021

the end of promo as we once knew it

Factory Direct Promotional Products 2021

In 2021 and as we get to a post-covid business world the idea of business returning to the “same old, same old” is both highly unlikely and not particularly a sound idea.

When business is going on about it’s merry way in the normal course of events it is obvious there are some problems with the business model, any business model, this is normal. In the promotional products world the problem prior to covid was that for an industry whose reason to exist is to come up with new and creative marketing ideas it has become increasingly tired and boring.

Why is this?

The main business model for the promotional products industry is a bloated old school idea that we must fill up giant warehouses with blank goods that can have a logo slapped on them. This has been the course of events since the mid 1990’s.

The problem with this idea is several fold, let me do my best to outline them.

Lack of Innovation: Effective marketing is all about creating a unique brand identity. If everyone who is looking to make a mark with their brand or marketing message is then putting their logo on the same thing (or very similar) or same idea as their competition, how have they differentiated themselves?

Price is a bad marketing driver: A big part of the move to the warehouse concept was the need to drive prices to their lowest point. On one hand this makes sense. You get more for less money. However, you also get less impact for the investment. In this business how many times have you seen a business marketer with a desk drawer full of swag that no one wants? That is a direct result of a product being boring and too cheap.

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Greed: The rush to profit as a distributor over the value you offer the end user is endemic. The bar to getting into the promo business is so low that other than a phone number and a laptop there is not much else stopping anyone from getting in as a distributor.

During the past decade when business was rocking many distributors made a decent living by simply playing the numbers game. Convince enough local businesses to put their name on some crap they bought and resold from a big warehouse supplier and they made a living. The end user was so busy that they didn’t really know if their business fortunes were attributable to the promotional product or not. In short many distributors got away with doing very little to help the customer build their business.

Loss of focus: The real reason the promo business exists is to help build a businesses brand identity through the use of swag. It’s that simple. However, more and more distributors forgot that and instead were more focused on their needs for sales than their clients needs for results.

Others: There are lots of other issues at stake here with the business model. Lack of innovation, lack of product knowledge, no tracking of results. The list goes on and on. Suffice to say, the old business model is flawed.

The really bad part of this is the end user has figured it out as well.

Yup, the internet is great for a lot of things. However it also lets people find out things that you did not want them to know. Like coded prices as an example. The idea that distributors were making 70% on items they sold to the end user is easy to now find on line. The end user is questioning the value that their local distributor brought to their business, for 70%!

The other issue of course is the end users ability to buy the boring stuff online from 4 Imprint etc. Why would they come to you when they can go on line?

This is why importing direct from the source factories is such an important step forward for the promo business.

When you go direct to the factory it takes longer. Yup, it does! But that’s a good thing. It gives you the distributor the more time to learn about your client, their needs and what will drive business to them using promotional products.

If you simply try and slam them into a sale because it benefits you, there will be no residual results. Either for you or for them (most importantly).

Importing direct gives you and your client greater selection. We are part of the PPD network. This network works with over 150 source product factories in 10 countries that produce over 10,000 promotional products. 

This is a very important tool for the distributor and their clients as it gives the end user access to an almost unlimited selection of ideas for their logo not found anywhere else! It also give the distributor tools to show the client that they can actually bring value to the transaction.

You look like a Pro not a Schmo! Don’t know what a Schmo is? 

If you get involved with your clients branding needs and more importantly their process and understanding of what makes their business unique, you will instantaneously gain pro credibility. If you continue to sling crap at your clients, especially post-covid, you will look like a Schmo.

Finally, Post-Covid.

We are coming out of what has to be the most significant economic and social disruption since world war 2. Things will not be the same. They may be somewhat similar, maybe a little familiar, perhaps even a glimpse of the old ways. But, it is not ever going to be like it once was.

With all of this in mind, isn’t it time you at the very least, reconsidered your options? Your clients are going to.