As someone who has worked in the branded merchandise (also known as promotional products) industry for over 19 years, I can tell you that I have seen a major additional option in client buying behavior. There was a long period of time where those of us in the industry could only make a sale by visiting a customer in person or by speaking over the phone. Now with the availability of online shopping, clients can select goods for an event with the click of a button. While that may seem appealing to some, there are a multitude of reasons as to why it may be short-sighted and clients should think twice before purchasing branded goods online rather than consulting a promotional products expert. For starters, clients are probably not paid to shop for branded merchandise and don’t have the resources we have to ensure they are receiving the best merchandise for their money; therefore, it may be a better use of their time to let someone in our industry do the work for them!
While researching this topic, I came across a list from the Promotional Products Association International which touched on every point I wanted to make. If you’re uncertain on whether or not you should work directly with a salesperson, this list should make your decision much easier!
Reason #1: Promotional consultants go beyond just selling products.
Successful promotional campaigns don’t happen by chance. To realize goals, promotional programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained. While it’s true that you can buy some products from multiple sources, an experienced promotional consultant can help you solve problems, plan programs and get results.
Reason #2: Professional promotional consultants have access to vast product research resources, including an extensive database which contains more than 700,000 products.
Yes, you can find a mug online, but a promotional consultant can find hundreds of mugs, in a multitude of colors, sizes, shapes, materials, designs, etc. Have you saved money if you purchase mugs that are not the right color? Is it worth the extra savings if you get mugs that break due to inferior quality?
Reason #3: Promotional consultants are in tune with the latest trends, including hot items and the newest products.
A qualified promotional consultant can add creativity, innovation and imagination to your overall program to achieve your desired goals. Many online services show you the products they want to sell; a qualified promotional consultant will listen to what you want and help you find the right product for your needs.
Reason #4: Your promotional consultant is more than just a salesperson.
Chances are you will buy promotional products more than once in your life. Once a company uses a promotional consultant, this relationship often continues for years—and even decades. Your promotional consultant is someone with whom you have worked, someone you know and trust. In many cases, companies use the promotional consultant as part of the creative team, even including him or her in marketing meetings.
Reason #5: Personalized service is the role of a promotional consultant.
When going online, your selection is what the internet company decides to make available. When you work with a promotional consultant, product selection is determined by your needs and goals, enhanced by the experience, creativity and recommendations of the promotional consultant who has your best interests at heart. Online, you’re a faceless, nameless buyer. With a promotional consultant, you’re a client with your own personal shopper, receiving service along with ideas and prices. When you order online, who monitors your order and your deadline? Your promotional consultant has your interests in mind. Seldom do you receive this kind of personalized, “hand-holding” customer service from an unknown online company.
Reason #6: Industry promotional consultants can offer experienced advice on how to imprint items.
You may have found the perfect key chain, but will your logo imprint on it? Will it be recognizable? Some things don’t work or there might be something else that will work better. A qualified promotional consultant can explain the best printing process for your program, your imprint and the product you’ve chosen.
Reason #7: Trained promotional consultants can save you money in the long run.
Often, a price you see in a generic catalog or on the internet does not cover many hidden costs, such as set-up, imprint duplication, shipping, etc. A promotional consultant can help you avoid unexpected and unbudgeted costs by quoting the total price upfront.
Reason #8: Promotional consultants will work with you to get your artwork imprinted properly.
Say you want your company’s logo embroidered on a golf shirt. How do you insure it will be done properly and with the correct colors? A trained promotional consultant can work with you to insure accurate transfer of your artwork, including correct fonts, size, spacing and many other important factors. And your promotional consultant’s commitment to quality customer service will guarantee your satisfaction with the finished product.
Reason #9: Professional promotional consultants can assist you in developing a workable distribution plan for your products.
Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products. But what if the cost of distributing your product is more t
han the product and more than your expected ROI (return on investment)? A promotional consultant can help you avoid unexpected problems like these.
When you’re sick, you want a doctor who has the specialization and training to help you. PPAI promotional consultants meet the highest qualification standards in the industry and display “The Mark of a Professional.” In addition, the MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) or CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist) designation after a promotional consultant’s name means the consultant has earned the industry’s only official certification. There’s no need to spend all your time on the internet or searching through catalogs. Your promotional consultant will come to you—like a doctor who makes house calls!
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