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Sorry If This Offends You Part 2

After experiencing the two major January trade shows and talking with dozens of industry professionals, in this commentary I ask the question, "Is YOUR distributor or supplier business relevant?" Sorry if this offends you. This is a follow up to my first commentary, Sorry if This Offends You.

Before blowing off the question, seriously, take a close look. What are you doing differently than you did a few years ago? (News Flash! The market is different.)

The reason I ask is based on what I’ve been hearing. The market is being challenged in many ways. That’s a good thing! Change is healthy for the industry. Those who rise to the challenge will succeed. Those who don't won't.

Many seem to be lost as to what to do in our evolving marketplace…so they don’t do anything differently at all. Is that going to be effective going forward? I don’t think so.

Distributors who have built a business based on selling promotional “products” should think past products and consider what it takes to be relevant in today’s marketplace.

Suppliers who have built a business by showing up at trade shows, along with all the other suppliers who sell promotional “products” should consider what it takes to be relevant in today’s marketplace.

What communication tools are you using to share your value proposition? Communication delivery methods are changing.

FreePromoTips reaches a large audience through our E-Newsletter and we get a good open rate, but this “classic” communication method is being challenged. We share relevant industry content along with easy to share, end-user safe video from some quality suppliers. FreePromoTips features products, which is the core of our industry, but we also offer the valuable selling tool of short, end-user safe video. That’s a win for distributors and suppliers.

Is focusing on products without offering promotional solutions relevant today? This is what many distributors and suppliers do. Sorry if that thought offends you.

FreePromoTips has worked diligently to build a significant social media following. We’ve done it by sharing a variety of content. Love it or hate it, social media is a relevant communication tool. Social media exposure has little or no cost. What positioning do you have online?

Distributors and Suppliers, what are you sharing online that makes you relevant in today’s marketplace? If you are posting a steady stream of product specials, you are missing the opportunity to create meaningful engagement, which is what ultimately will drive business relationships.

We get an amazing, tangible result directly posting videos to Facebook, because of how their algorithms work. Some may “reach” well over 1000 people with hundreds of views. That means HUNDREDS of people watched these videos. In many cases, we are showcasing a company, as we offer useful, relevant content. SUPPLIERS take note, what does it cost you to reach hundreds of people?

Ah…but the social media landscape is changing. What’s working now won’t work forever. If you desire to be relevant you need to be aware of what’s happening. FreePromoTips will continue to monitor these changing trends. Those who don’t won’t be relevant. Sorry if that offends you.

Product safety is SO important; I find it amazing that suppliers and distributors are not using it as a selling tool. At a recent industry event, two suppliers that I know have a focus on product safety, made a presentation to a packed room of quality sales people. One mentioned their focus on this as a reason to sell their line, the other didn’t. Our industry seems to be more focused on the product. The product is important of course, but in today’s business climate product safety is also important.

Obviously, everyone can choose how they want to run their business. As an industry, I believe we have a responsibility to protect our clients brand. Despite the significant efforts of PPAI in this area, it seems many still don’t get it…and they lose the opportunity to be Product Safety Aware.

The Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) is made up of a group of suppliers who have made a significant investment in delivering quality, safe products.

I think suppliers and distributors are missing the boat not focusing on this important issue because this is just good business. Sorry if that offends you.

The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) has done a great job with Promotional Products Work! Week. Their Get in Touch initiative encourages advertising buyers to recognize the power of promotional products and allocate a larger share of their marketing dollars to the promotional products industry. Are you taking advantage of the tools our association PPAI has invested in?

In candid conversations with many seasoned industry professionals, we’ve discussed an apathy and lack of joy that seems to be more common these days. One colleague noted that people don’t laugh anymore. Some are not happy and are tired. I get that. While there are many who love what they do, for some the joy is gone. Sorry if that offends you.

We are in an amazing industry with powerful tools that help our clients in many ways.

With the launch of the sales generating SuccessFit4Life! a select group of savvy distributors and suppliers will bring something of real value to businesses and organizations. It’s no secret that health care costs are rising and a focus on wellness is hot.

We’ve created SuccessFit4Life! WELLNESS PROGRAMS and EVENTS that are driven by product sales. If your focus is just on selling “stuff” this is not for you. Sorry if that offends you.

Sorry if any of this offends you, but as a seasoned veteran, I see the changes, struggles, and opportunities we have. If you want to build your business and be relevant in the marketplace you can think differently and make it happen.

© 2017 Jeff Solomon, MAS


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