Read Time - 4 Minutes
Custom Awards Aren't So Scary
My daughter is fearless, as most 10-year olds are.
But I take solace in knowing, due to my keen parenting skills, it will prove to be a passing phase and I’ll have her scared of her own shadow before you know it.
While I agree you should not take candy from strangers—that’s how the lotion ends up in the basket—we probably go overboard with letting fear shape and govern our behavior.
Fear is a conditioned response for many promotional products distributors when it comes to custom projects. And I get it. But if you can discharge your own fears, that same fear in others becomes your ally. (Dang, I should write that down!)
Here are common bumps in the night that can become bumps in your business:
1. It’s Just Too Expensive
This is a quick one: Properly executed custom awards are designed to the given budget.
Aligned with the right supplier, you can focus on making the hole fit the peg, rather than searching the planet for the right peg. And the funny thing about budgets is they can suddenly become elastic as the client discovers what they really want. And that’s where you come in—open their eyes, without fear, to the possibilities.
2. I Don’t Have The Time
You’re right—you don’t have the time. And I don’t have time to paint the house, which is why I hire someone to do it. As a distributor, you’re a general practitioner in a very broad and challenging field—you need to hire specialists to do the heavy lifting. That’s what we’re here for.
It doesn’t take long for a supplier partner, in the span of just a few questions, to zero in on the best solutions to meet your client’s objectives. Because of the annuity nature of awards, the time you spend now in the development phase may be the only time you’ll need to commit for several years running. That’s time well spent.
3. Clients Don’t Care
I never really cared about the plastic tie thingies on a loaf of bread. Until someone broke the code for me. Enlightened, I now care quite a bit. Maybe too much, as dictated by my borderline-clinical OCD. The color of the ties tell us when that particular loaf was baked—EUREKA!
The point is, I couldn’t care about what I didn’t know. Maybe your clients are baked the same way. They’re not loafing, they just may not know about the best thing since sliced bread. (Okay, I’ll stop.)
It’s entirely possible the scope of their product knowledge is limited to what they see in catalogs and online search sessions. Don’t mistake what they don’t know as not caring. Show them what’s possible—they will thank you for it. And you can earn some extra dough.
4. Custom Projects Involve Too Much Lead Time
Okay, so the bad news is you were late to the party this year. But a vast majority of awards programs repeat—our rate is about 80%—so that means you can be first in line next year. If you position yourself as the subject-matter expert who can provide the best value with unique solutions, you can cultivate seeds now that can be harvested later.
It does take time to germinate and grow, but the other guys probably won’t even try—or they’ll bow out early—so you can be the lone farmer outstanding in his field.
5. It’s Too Risky If Something Goes Wrong
I have to admit, this is a good excuse—but not a good reason. Yes, awards are highly visible within any organization. And you have lots of other good business there, so why risk something going wrong and endangering the entirety of the business? Right?
Sure, if you’re comfortable with someone else stalking your customers. The fact is, 89% of all organizations have recognition programs in place, according to the 2017 WorldAtWork survey of over 450 companies. So if you’re not serving the awards category, someone else most assuredly is. It might be risky to participate, but it might be riskier if you don’t.
So Don't Be Deceived
These fears, as it turns out, are excuses that activate our fight/flight/freeze instinct. You can fight through them. And while your competition flees or does nothing, you can win the business.
As a distributor, find supplier partners that will support and foster your newfound fearlessness. You will distinguish yourself as an indispensable can-do/go-to for your customers.
But be sure to look both ways before crossing.
Dave Miller is VP of Sales & Marketing at Bruce Fox, Inc. and a professional writer by virtue of the fact his company is paying him to write this blog. He has been with Bruce Fox since 1990, which somehow sounds more palatable than 26 years. He has seen “Shawshank Redemption” 164 times, but never from beginning to end in one sitting. The goal of his blog is to “edu-tain” (educate + entertain) promotional products distributors, with a focus on custom work. Dave also finds it very awkward to write about himself in the third person.