Estimated Read Time: 9 Minutes
The summer tends to be a “dry season” for many distributors. Between your staff’s vacations and your client’s, it feels like orders are stalled during this time.
Why does everyone want to take off right before the flurry of back to school season?
However, there are still a few things that you can do instead of gazing out the window dreaming of the lake or beach.
7 Sales Ideas to Keep Busy During Slow Times
- Start prepping for the winter holiday gifts. If you know you’re going to have repeat orders or if your clients will want unique items, go ahead and get this started so you won’t feel rushed and end up paying a fortune in rush and shipping charges.
- Develop your marketing and business plans. Often called mid-year reviews. Alright, this might seem boring, but your future self will thank you if you took the time to be introspective and adjust to meet your goals or to get yourself aligned. You hear about this during the beginning the year all of the time, but look at your sales tactics and planning before you get into your busy season.
- Talk with current customers about growing their programs. If you are currently doing your client’s uniforms, talk about their tradeshow handouts or their employee recognition programs. Don’t be afraid to research your clients and see if anything major is coming up, then you can offer your assistance in areas they might not have known you’re capable of.
- Discover new products and upselling ideas. Yes, you go to events to find the latest products, but why not pick a product category that you want to grow in and research ideas? If not a certain product category, why not look at what you can upsell with current products?
- Use this time to research new, but similar markets. Are you an expert in dental promos? Why not expand your knowledge of the target audience to similar but different practices, such as optometrists or orthodontists? Do you see the easy pivot that can get you some great clients?
- Research new potential clients. This is obvious, but since not all companies are the same, it’s good to research the company, industry, and other aspects to be informed and knowledgeable before you make your pitch. Start prospecting or building your prospect profiles. We’ve written an article providing some promo selling tips.
- Dig into a new, profitable segment. You have plenty of suppliers vying for your attention. Many sell everything, from shirts to light-up mugs, but unless you get into the high-quality objects, it tends to be a price game that is a race to the bottom. Consider looking at segments that are more unique and high-quality that allow you to sell with better margins and shows that you can bring more value to the table than your competitors.
Grow Your Sales and Value
Each of these points can assist with growth and providing value to your clients. The more value you can provide and the more helpful you are, the more they’ll likely grow their business with you and recommend you to others – all positives, right?
Plus, these are smart strategies to use during this “down time” wisely.
Dig into a New, Profitable Segment
All the ideas listed above are self-explanatory except one. Number 7: Dig into a new, profitable segment, which can come off as vague. That’s why I’m going to focus on this topic for a bit.
With the rise of the promo industry being commoditized, the smart move is to find a unique and non-commoditized product. Which means looking beyond the countless red mugs or black pens; and instead, looking at the custom segment.
Custom means designing from scratch a piece that suits all of your client’s needs, fitting into their culture and branding perfectly.
Yes, it could mean more effort and more conversations than the majority of your other product lines, but with the more conversations with your client comes a more unique product, which is completely “your client’s.” That’s not including the deeper understanding of your client’s company and culture, as well as the trust you will build with them.
Furthermore, with the custom aspect, comes an understanding that there is a higher price tag, higher quality product, a “wow factor,” and trackable results, if necessary. All of which set you apart from others; hence, building your value even more with your clients.
If you mention a custom option to a high-end client, they instantly understand that it means designed completely for them and it will be high-quality. So, you’ll be stepping out of selling the everyday transactional products to the high-demand luxury goods that people are willing to splurge for.
Think about it this way, there are the people willing to buy the bargain-based purses from Walmart and then there are the people willing to spend more for the Coach or Gucci purses. Those name-brand and luxury goods have a certain high-end prestige and expectations.
Want another example? When remodeling a kitchen, some people buy the cheap or standard cabinets. Then there are the people who opt for the custom cabinetry. Similar to the custom cabinets, Bruce Fox’s custom work is designed to the client’s needs and our craftsmen in our shop build from scratch.
Growing Market Segment: Custom
Custom is a growing market segment in the already large awards category, around 5% of the promotional products market. According to the 2016 Counselor magazine, the annual revenue for the promotional products industry was $22 billion; which is about the same as the annual revenue of the NFL and MLB combined. Meaning the awards segment is around $50,000 of every million.
Custom awards are more in demand due to the clear delineation of value, uniqueness, meaningfulness, and personalization. Learn more about what is required for an effective award here.
With that comes the increase in custom demand for custom trophies, awards, commemoratives, signage, lobby art, and other displayable products. We wrote a blog about how we make more than awards (which is what we're known for).
Take a few seconds to consider which of your clients recognize the value of custom.
When you bring products or ideas to the table that fit exactly what your client has been looking for, you’ll be a hero. Combined with the unique profit margin and ROI that comes with custom work, it’s a growing segment that will only benefit distributors and your clients.
Custom: What is it used for?
That’s the beauty of custom; it can be designed to fit what you want for whatever reason you want it for. However, here are some popular custom categories:
- Recognition Awards
- Commemorative and Event Gifts
- Honor Walls and Lobby Installations
- Identification and Signage
- Point-of-Purchase Displays
- Emblematic Seals
- Marketing and Promotional Products
- Mission Statement Displays
- Architectural and Decorative Elements
- Product Replicas and Miniatures
- Corporate and Lobby Art
So, since you have the time before the flurry of the fall busy season, go ahead and identify target prospects or current clients that might want a custom piece; such as a custom award for an employee recognition program or a custom partnership commemorative for a big event celebrating the company’s partners, stakeholders, and other business influencers.
Any of these are custom projects that can help your business grow. Also, there are plenty of reasons to become a custom recognition specialist, but in the end, adding custom to your portfolio will allow you to develop your business in multiple ways and get ahead in this growing market.
Learn more about custom by checking out our distributor tools, a sampling of our work, or our blog. We also provide 9 unique services to Promotional Product Distributors - view the list on our website. We’re always happy to help and guide, so reach out and start a conversation sometime. We’ve been doing this for 80 years, so we have a firm grasp of this market, demand, and quality craftsmanship.
Kristina (Mobley) Hublar is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. She’s new(ish) to Bruce Fox, but is an Indiana native. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, spending time with loved ones, or with her nose in a book.