Promotional Products: A Great Fit
WHAT WOULD you say if you learned you could earn a 40 percent margin on a product you wouldn't have to manufacture or inventory? And what if we told you that this product would be desirable to the customers who are already purchasing your printed products?
As much as this sounds like the intro to a cheesy cable television informercial, it also happens to be 100 percent true. The products we're referring to are promotional products—cups, clothing, pens, bags and other similar items. Many in-plants and other printers sell them to supplement their other offerings.
This is hardly a well-kept secret, as different organizations estimate the industry at around $20 billion per year. But for those not actively selling promotional products, there are some obvious questions. Are they easy to sell? Is there a learning curve? How do you sell them? Must you go through a distributor? What are the hottest products?
We'll try to answer as many questions for you as possible, drawing on some prominent experts from the promo products industry.
Are Promotional Products Easy To Sell?
This is one area where printers can add a profit center without any capital investment, notes Gregg Emmer, vice president and chief marketing officer at Battavia, Ohio-based Kaeser & Blair, one of the industry's master distributors.
"It's a natural because printers are typically involved in the early phases of a client's marketing/advertising campaign," says Emmer, who himself joined Kaeser & Blair after a long stint in the printing industry. "Being able to coordinate a promotional component, along with a graphic component, puts you in at ground zero."
Theresa Hatcher, who sells promotional products for The Vernon Co., based in Newton, Iowa, counts many in-plants among her clients.
"Promotional products are a natural product line for most in-plants to add to their list of services," she observes. "It gives you an opportunity to become a true one-stop shop for your customers. You want your customer as well as your administration to think of your in-plant first when they need something printed or reproduced, whether that is a brochure, stationery, pencil, mug or T-shirt."