No matter your industry, you’re working with more competition and tighter margins. It’s important to make your marketing dollars stretch further so you can impress clients and smash the competition.
But that’s a daunting task, to say the least.
Promotional products are a great way to stand out in a world that markets from behind a screen. This marketing strategy isn’t new, but it’s still a great way to build excitement and create positive experiences around your brand. To do promotional items right, though, you’ll need to partner up with an experienced vendor that will be a good steward of your time and resources.
The stakes are high: choosing the wrong promotional product partner can burn through your budget and hurt your brand. You don’t need to be an expert in promotional products, but you still need to be informed enough to make an educated decision. Use this five-step checklist to find a promotional products partner that will support you for the long haul.
1. You can afford their pricing
Sure, budgets can be a bit of a downer, but they’re essential if you want to see ROI on your promotional products. It doesn’t matter how fancy the vendor is or how well you get along: you need to agree on pricing. The key is to set your budget first and then look for a partner so you don’t spend beyond your means.
Make sure you request quotes from 3-5 potential partners so you can compare your options before you commit. You should also ask each vendor about:
- Account management fees
- Minimum spend requirements
- Shipping costs
- Payment terms
You aren’t necessarily looking for the cheapest provider possible, but you need to make sure you’re getting a fair deal for the money.
2. They have a good track record
A simple Google search will reveal a lot about your promotional products partner. You want to look for a partner that has a solid track record. After all, you entrust your promotional products partner with your reputation, so make sure they’re in good standing, too. That means:
- Read testimonials from past customers
- Look for their creative stories and project portfolios
- Check the provider’s references
- Ask for creative stories with compelling before-and-after results
Not every promotional products provider will have all of these things available, but you should still be able to verify their legitimacy and experience. If you can’t find anything online or on social media, that likely means you’re dealing with a new or less-proven vendor.
3. They can grow with you
You’re using promotional products to grow your business, right? That means choosing a promotional products partner that can grow with you. As you host more events, reach out to more customers, and offer robust employee rewards, you’re going to need more capacity from your promotional products partner.
Sure, they might be able to fulfill the occasional 500-unit order right now, but can they consistently provide products or online solutions as you grow? You need to partner with vendors that can meet large orders without compromising on quality. Ask a potential partner how they prevent delays or out-of-stocks if you ever need to scale up.
4. The product quality and selection are top-grade
If you give away headphones that snap in half after two uses, it’s going to do more harm to your brand than good. You’re putting your company’s name on promotional products, so they need to be high-quality.
The right promotional products partner will help you choose quality products that fit within your budget. They should also be able to show you product samples so you can see the product quality in person.
But product quality is just the tip of the iceberg.
Your promotional products partner also needs to offer a varied selection of products. Variety matters because it gives you more ideas to pull from. Since your promotional campaigns will change depending on your audience, season, or event, a more extensive catalog of products means you have room to change things up over time.
Some marketing is perfect for desk toys or pens, but it’s a good idea to choose a partner that offers more creative products, too. In a crowded convention hall where you have seconds to get a client’s attention, you need products that make a statement. Ask for a potential partner’s product catalog and check to see that their products, colors, and patterns change at least a few times a year. If they give you a catalog that hasn’t been updated since 1999, run.
5. They offer impeccable customer service
Relationships are everything. You need a promotional products partner that will shepherd you through the process with a smile.
You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get in touch with a living, breathing human being. Ask a potential partner about their process for interacting and communicating with your team. They should be able to tell you how quickly they reply, their preferred method of communication, and who you should contact.
Keep in mind that vendors are on their best behavior during the prospecting phase. If a promotional products company takes two weeks to reply to you right now, it will not get better over time. Make sure you choose a responsive partner that will back you up when time is of the essence.
Choose a trusted promotional products partner
You’re in it for the long haul with your promotional products partner, so choose a vendor that’s strong enough to be your ride-or-die. Assess potential partners with this five-step checklist, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Promotional products still need to garner ROI for your business, and choosing the right partner is the first step.