Why Isn't Your In-plant Selling Promo Products?
What if your in-plant could help your parent organization strengthen its corporate identify and brand recognition, while improving the perceived value of your operation and generating thousands in additional revenue? Would you take action or just let the opportunity pass to some other department?
These are exactly the benefits in-plants are realizing by selling promotional products to their customers — items like pens, caps, mugs and magnets, personalized with logos or group names. In-plants take the orders, buy the items from outside suppliers and add a slight markup. Already 25% of in-plants are doing this, according to IPI research.
“It’s very lucrative,” reports Theresa Hatcher, who manages Print and Promotional Sales at University of Oklahoma Printing Services. The in-plant now generates $1 million per year from promotional product sales, while still saving the institution thousands of dollars annually. Beyond university departments and groups, the in-plant sells to state agencies and other Oklahoma universities. And the popularity of promotional items is only growing, Hatcher says.
Selling promo products is such a great opportunity for in-plants that IPI is hosting a free breakfast forum on this topic during PRINTING United in October. (Register here.) Already this session is almost full, so great is the interest in learning about promo product sales. We will have a panel of managers discussing the benefits of selling promo products and telling you how you can get started in this lucrative, value-adding business. The forum is being sponsored by premium crafted apparel manufacturer Bella + Canvas.
Promotional products is already a $23.3 billion industry, according to the 2017 Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Sales Volume Study. According to the report, 82% of those who received a promotional product had a more favorable impression of the brand. By providing products that bring this level of recognition to your organization, your in-plant becomes directly involved in the promotion of the brand, an enviable position to be in.
According to the PPAI report, the top buyers of promo products include industries like education, financial, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, and nonprofit — a list that covers just about every in-plant’s parent organization. Right now, groups within your organization are likely ordering those items themselves. Your in-plant could coordinate the process, make it easier for them, and save them money.
One benefit of having the in-plant in charge of ordering promo products is that it can better ensure those products follow organizational branding and licensing standards. An outside distributor won’t be as vigilant and will likely put that responsibility back on the customer. The in-plant is already familiar with branding and can easily take on that burden.
Also, payment is much easier for customers when the in-plant orders promo products. “We make the internal payment cycle easier because most are internal transfers, so you don’t have to get a check cut,” points out Hatcher.
Offering promotional products also makes the in-plant more visible to customers, some of which may not be aware of all of the services it offers. This leads to more print jobs, sometimes for the same event the customer is ordering tote bags and coffee cups for.
“If you sell them a promo item, you have the opportunity to sell them printing,” affirms Hatcher.
While interested in-plants could simply order through a distributor, this limits the markup they can add as well as the savings. OU and other organizations have found it more advantageous to become the distributor. Hatcher recommends joining a promo products membership organization like SAGE or ASI, which allows you to order products directly from manufacturers. As a distributor, OU Printing Services can add a modest markup and still save the university a ton of money. Those organizations may require proof that you will sell to customers outside of your organization, so Hatcher recommends providing a list of your in-plant’s outside print clients.
If you haven't yet registered for our free breakfast forum on promo products, taking place during PRINTING United on October 24, 8 a.m., you can register here.
But do it quickly.
Related story: Brand Consistency Fuels Promo Product Business
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.