Successful Sourcing of Branded Promo Products

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1 Successful Sourcing of Branded Promo Products 9 Insider Tips for Getting the Support Your Agency Needs The goal of any successful marketing campaign is to truly connect customers and endusers to brands in a positive way, and advertisers all over the world are taking a renewed interest in branded promotional products as an increasingly viable way to accomplish this goal. No longer regarded as merely tchotchkes, promotional products boast impressive impression rates and have the ability to stay with the consumer long after a marketing campaign or event has finished. They are traditionally low-cost and provide the opportunity for a brand/logo to be viewed consistently (sometimes daily!) as the target engages with the product, be it a pen, notepad, mug, or any of the countless other items that are able to be branded. However, navigating the murky waters of branded product sourcing can be tricky and full of potential pitfalls. With the wide proliferation of e-commerce webstores, a mass of below-average suppliers have entered the marketplace in an effort to make a quick buck at the expense of their customers time and money. Typical issues range from poor-quality products and lagging communication to missed delivery dates, inflated prices, and everything in between. So how can you be sure you re sourcing the right products from the right suppliers at a fair price? Read on for some tips and insight culled from years of research and practical experience with the world s top brands. continued on next page... 1

2 tip #1 tip #2 tip #3 Check for Capabilities As you will read later, there are many benefits to condensing as much as possible the number of vendors you use for any given project. The more you can keep under one roof, the better. So before your project starts, search for a company that can offer the majority (if not all) of the services you will need to complete the task-at-hand. It will make the entire project smoother for all involved, especially for yourself! Check for Industry Experience and References If you are unsure about a particular supplier at the beginning of your project, make some inquiries as to their qualifications and client list. Have they worked with national brands? Do they understand the basic principles underlying the successful pairing of a brand with a giveaway? Does they have a sufficient amount of staff and resources to make sure your needs are appropriately attended to? Do they proudly display testimonials and positive reviews from past clients/projects? Are they able to provide you with convincing case studies? If a supplier is able to impress you with what they know and what they have done in the past, then it is safe to assume they can give the necessary support to help you impress your client. Watch for Early Warning Signs As the old saying goes, Price Is King. But what price will you ultimately pay - in both lost time and client trust - when a vendor fails to deliver that great idea you spent hours and long nights creating? Fortunately, promotional product suppliers often give hints early in the process as to whether they can be trusted to deliver your products on time and correctly; you simply have to know what to look for. Starting at the very first point of contact, you can use a few different factors to determine if you are safe to proceed past the initial quoting stage. Are you receiving quick responses? What is the overall level of professionalism? Are they providing you with advice and suggestions based on your individual project s goals? This is the point in your timeline when you should focus on eliminating certain vendors and retaining only those that offer a superior level of service. Chances are, the longer you work with a vendor who goes against your gut feeling, the greater the possibility of ultimately wasting your company s time and resources. Take special care to eliminate sub-par suppliers at the start of the project, and your efforts will always be rewarded in the later stages of production. 2

3 tip #4 tip #5 You CAN Turn Your Ideas Into Reality It s 2:00 a.m. and your designer has a dream about the perfect product for your upcoming campaign. Renderings are made to show what this product could potentially look like, and it is pitched to an equally enthusiastic client. You have the go-ahead to produce and everyone is extremely excited about the project. Your only problem? You find out the product doesn t even exist, or that the design concept in not achievable using the medium you ve selected. It is at this stage where your vendor(s) will have the perfect opportunity either to shine and pull you out of a difficult spot, or to reveal themselves as nothing more than a typical supplier. The promotional products industry is quite a large one, with thousands of factories in operation to help solve issues just like these, but often times it takes dedication and persistence on the part of your supplier to find what could be only one, singular location that is able to adequately complete the task at hand. So the next time someone tells you your idea is impossible, just remember: very few things are truly impossible to pull off, and your current vendor simply may not be willing to work hard enough to earn your business. Added Values? Give more to your clients by partnering with vendors that have added values built-in to their entire project timeline. Let s face it, there are many companies in the world of branded marketing products. So the question is, what are your vendors willing to do to earn your business and, most importantly, your partnership? One of the easiest ways to answer this question is to find out the added values the company offers to make your job simpler. For example, some companies provide free virtual samples of the products you are considering. In the promotional products world, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and if you can offer your client the ability to see what their product might look like with their logo printed on, it will go a long way towards helping secure a potential project. Also, consider asking these questions: What do your vendors offer in the area of project management? Will they follow-up consistently from start to finish to make sure all the logistics are in order? Will they proactively look for possible problem areas in the production process and bring any concerns to your attention? What is the history of the company? Do they have experience working with the types of clients you do business with? 3

4 Do they understand the importance of all the details involved, such as color accuracy, the best imprint method for your logo, and final delivery dates? Do they offer assistance with graphics so you do not have to go back to your design team for minor changes? These types of added values could save hours (if not days) in the production timeline, with the end result being quicker delivery and increased productivity all-around, which only serves to make you look better. To stress one more time: you work extremely hard bringing in new clients and even harder keeping them happy, so don t be penny-wise and dollar-foolish when choosing your branded marketing product specialist. tip #6 tip #7 Simplify, Simplify, Simplify Thoreau said it best! The more vendors you utilize for a project, the more potential headaches you create for yourself, because the chances of error increase exponentially with each supplier you add into your production process. Make your job easier and partner with a vendor who can do more than just one part of the project. Many suppliers are willing to work hard to earn your business and will go above-and-beyond to make sure not only that you are satisfied, but also that you look good to your clients as well. If you find a product of interest from a source other than the vendor you are currently working with, simply ask if they too can get the item you found. Most of the time, suppliers have access to the same products, and they may even be able to provide additional options for the product you are interested in. Sometimes, the right vendor might even find a better product, at a lesser cost, with better imprint options and a faster delivery time, depending on your requirements. Be Good To Your Vendors This point should go without saying, but is actually overlooked quite often. The best vendor-client relationships are those built on a foundation of mutual respect and trust. If a good supplier is treated as a partner and not just an order-taker, your consideration will pay off in spades over the course of the relationship, meaning the one who will benefit most from your kindness is you! Always keep in mind that there is a large amount of attention and follow-through necessary to make a promotional product campaign successful and, sometimes, errors are unavoidable. If your vendor is one who consistently demonstrates they will do whatever is necessary to keep your project on-time and looking good, then return the favor by extending a measure of understanding and flexibility if problems occur. You never know when you might need a supplier to help you out of a tight spot in the future! 4

5 tip #8 Stay Organized A quality vendor should always take on the responsibility of overall project organization. You should be able to reach out at any time and quickly receive a detailed project status report, and ideally this should be sent at regular intervals without ever needing to be requested. This points back to the earlier tip about looking for warning signs. Are their s concise and well-organized? Do they respond quickly to your requests? Do they demonstrate an acceptable level of proactivity? Do you have an overall feeling of being taken care of? A good supplier will always leave you with a sense of satisfaction and confidence that everything is being handled professionally. This tip becomes all the more important for projects where you are producing multiple products across various genres for one particular event or campaign, i.e. giveaways, signage, apparel, and brochures, all for a trade show. How are you to make sure that all item/logo colors match appropriately and that your message is communicated uniformly across all mediums? A quality vendor should provide overall project updates via spreadsheet or other easily update-able format. Revisions should be provided to you on a regular basis and any discrepancies cleared up in a timely fashion. An organized supplier is a good supplier! tip #9 Find Partnerships As a closing note, always keep in mind: none of the things mentioned above should ever need to be demanded of your vendors. A high-quality supplier will exhibit all of the above traits and more from the very first point of contact. If you find yourself having to follow up constantly or feel otherwise neglected, do not hesitate to walk away and find a company that will attend to your needs properly. There are still good vendors out there! Agency Promo Group (formerly Prewards Ltd.) is located in Chicago, IL with a satellite office in the greater Baltimore, MD area. APG has assisted the nation s biggest brands with their promotional marketing goals for over 35 years. APG is a certified woman-owned company and has been officially recognized as a Nationally Approved McDonald s Supplier of promotional products (one of only 4 companies to earn the distinction). For more information on how Agency Promo Group can help you achieve your or your client s promotional goals, call or at to set up an initial consultation and needs assessment. Visit us online at: 5

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