Promo items have been a tool in the marketer’s toolbox for over 200 years, and they are only becoming more prevalent as businesses look for new ways to thank and engage their employees and customers and reward their loyalty. The first promotional item in US history was a commemorative button made for George Washington in the election of 1789. After his campaign, promotional almanacs and calendars appeared, and the rest is history!
For those who are interested in becoming promotional products distributors, the barrier to entry is low, and the capital investment is minimal. Profit margins are strong, and schedules are flexible. The promotional industry offers not just revenue and wealth opportunities, but professional development growth. For example, customer service, sales, and budgeting are core skills necessary for a career in promo. Working in the promo industry provides valuable opportunities to utilize and improve those skills, making you a more competent and well-rounded business owner.
If you are good at customer service:
You will take your skills to a whole new level in promo. Customer service is the price of entry for any business owner. It is difficult to run a successful business without effectively engaging and serving those who are buying your product. In promo, you have the opportunity every day to align branded products with the brands they represent, and develop your marketing savvy and strategic thinking skills as you fulfill the promotional product needs of a diverse array of organizations who come to you for ideas.
Then promo is for you! It will teach you how to sell not just product, but solutions. As a promotional products distributor, you can expand service into solutions by truly listening to customers and taking a keen interest in their business. They might ask for T-shirts, but with thoughtful questions about their goals, you might suggest an entirely different item or set of items that align with their brand and provide them with a better solution than they ever dreamed was possible.
If you are the master of the budget spreadsheet:
That is terrific because managing the bottom line is important in promo. You will also learn to forecast and scenario plan because the promotional products industry is ever-changing. While the pandemic was challenging, the industry quickly pivoted to PPE and health-related items and is now experiencing a healthy rebound with long-term projections for meaningful growth. Just like any industry, we relentlessly track macro trends and incorporate the potential impact of labor, supply chain, and other costs into short- and long-range forecasts. This requires business acumen and stewardship that go far beyond a budget spreadsheet, making promo an exceptional industry for entrepreneurs with solid financial skills.
Whether you excel in customer service, sales, financial planning, marketing or something else, there are opportunities to use and expand your skill set in the promotional products industry. Research and insight from industry associations like ASI and PPAI is there to support you, and you can affiliate with knowledgeable communities like AIA. In this industry, all are welcome.