There are over 23,000 promotional products distributors in the U.S., according to PPAI, the largest and oldest non-profit industry association. Like any other industry, there are great companies and there are not-so-great companies. Last week we shared the 6 Steps to Choose the Right Promotional Products and one of those steps was to choose an experienced promotional products distributor!
Using an inexperienced distributor can be a big mistake. It is important to use a reputable and knowledgeable distributor to avoid wasting time, costly mistakes, and devastating delays.
Not all distributors are created equal!
Distributors of promotional products are just a few clicks or just a call away. So, how do you choose the right promotional products distributor? Read on to find out!
10 Ways to Choose the Right Promotional Products Distributor
- Check out their website. Does it look professional and easy to navigate? If they have a great website; they are likely concerned with quality. On the other hand, if their website is filled with misspellings, poor grammar, irrelevant content, or a lack of information, red flags should rise. Poorly designed websites or those with very limited information may be a sign of minimal knowledge of the industry. It may also indicate that company is antiquated and out of touch with the modern ways of advertising, marketing and general business.
- Review their social media. You can learn a lot about a company by scrolling through their social media. Check the most popular networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Do their social media shares line up with your personal and company goals? Do they seem to have the knowledge and expertise regarding promotional items that your company needs? A lack of a social presence points to a corporate mindset that lacks focus on personal relationships.
- Distributor Experience. How long has the distributor been in business? There are many fly by night companies that are here today and gone tomorrow. You want to make sure your distributor gets to know you so they can best help you. A stable company is important so you can develop that long-term relationship. That’s not to say all new distributors are a bad choice. Every distributor starts as a new distributor, but only the great ones succeed long term.
- Full-Time or No-Time. There are many part-time promotional product distributors in the industry just trying to make a quick buck. There are a quite a few down sides to using part-time distributors. Because most of these types of distributors have full-time day jobs, they are not able to efficiently manage the process of the promotional products ordering process. This can lead to production delays and late deliveries. Additionally, a part-time distributor is much more limited in experience since they aren’t doing the job on a full-time basis. Using a full-time distributor is nearly always the best option for a smoother process.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau. Distributors who put customer service first care about managing complaints and disputes. In any business, various steps of your business processes can go wrong, however, the biggest tell tale is how the business responds to those complaints. Hopefully they make them right with the customer by responding with a fair solution. Search company prospects in the BBB online database before doing business with them and check their rating. Look for at least an “A” rating. Also, read through their complaints to make sure they have been solved in a fair manner and that there are not too many complaints.
- Are they involved with industry associations? You can bet that companies involved with industry associations are more educated about current industry trends, laws, and regulations. Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) is the most prominent industry association for promotional product distributors. They provide research, education, tradeshows, product safety info, and a wealth of other information that is critical for the success of distributors. Membership by the distributor shows they are serious about offering their best to their customers. There are also dozens of other non-profit, regional associations, such as Promotional Products Association of Florida (PPAF).
- Responsiveness. There’s nothing worse than trying to check off a task on your to-do list, but you aren’t able to due to a slow-to-respond distributor. Your distributor should be readily available to help you meet your marketing goals. Phone calls should be returned promptly. Emails should receive responses in a timely manner. You should be able to receive presentations, quotes, order acknowledgements, and proofs quickly.
- Willingness to listen. An experienced promotional products consultant will advise his/her clients as necessary. However, he always knows when to shut his mouth and truly listen. Expect a few probing questions followed by silence while he listens your goals for the project. If he tries to push items on you that don’t fit your goals, you’ll know he is not listening to you. However, those distributors that listen are likely to suggest great advice to create an even more riveting marketing campaign!
- Community involvement. If a distributor is all about making a sale and has no community involvement, look out. A well-balanced promotional products distributor should be involved in their local community. Are they active in their local Chamber of Commerce? Are they involved in leadership of non-profit organizations or their church? Do they routinely sponsor their local school activities? A high level of involvement shows they put others ahead of themselves, which translates they will put the success of your campaign above the almighty dollar.
- Trust your gut. Sometimes you just get that feeling. You know that weird feeling that just doesn’t sit right. Trust your instinct. If you don’t feel comfortable with your distributor about their level of knowledge or experience, find someone else. If you can’t completely trust your promotional products distributor, don’t use them. If you question their ethics, stay away from them. There are plenty of great distributors who have your best interest at heart and strive to exceed your marketing goals.
For the best results for your promotional marketing items, it’s best to choose a distributor that cares about your success and desires to develop a long-lasting relationship. With just a little research, you can ensure the best success for your promotional products campaigns.
Perfect Imprints is a creative marketing firm with experienced promotional products marketing experts who strive to meet and exceed your marketing goals. Our dedicated professionals are concerned with the end goal of your marketing efforts to maximize your investments in promotional items and help grow your company.
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