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Growth Opportunities in Promotional Products

(April 2014) posted on Mon Apr 07, 2014

Ad specialties could offer a simple way to expand your sales — especially if you’re a garment decorator or sign company.


By Heather DiPrato

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Do me a favor. Take a few seconds and look around your office. Now, count how many logoed items you see. I’m betting you have at least one or two pens advertising your local bank or maybe your dry cleaner, as well as a stylish coffee mug bearing a company’s name and possibly even a T-shirt or cap branded by the sponsor of your kid’s soccer team or the last 5K you ran. Chances are you have a logoed USB, mouse pad, and calendar on your desk, too.

What’s the one thing that all these items have in common, besides the fact that you use them almost every day? Some organization gave them to you for free. Whether you call them promotional products, ad specialties, freebies, or “stuff we all get,” these items add up to a $20.5 billion industry—one that’s easy to join, especially if you’re already in the advertising business, as many readers of this publication are.

“One of the common traits of the most successful screen printers I interact with is their ability to sell much more than T-shirts,” said Ryan Moor, CEO of screen-printing supply company Ryonet. “When I ask them about promotional products, they often say it comprises 35-40% of their business. This is also almost always their favorite line of business because they make great money on it and don’t necessarily have to do any production.”

At ASI, an association serving the ad-specialty trade, we’re seeing a lot of new members from the screen-printing and signage industries. Many of them are small businesses or ambitious entrepreneurs who want to add promotional products to their existing line in order to make more money. Businesses are like sharks—they need to keep moving forward or they die. One way to keep your business in the black is by sensibly cross-selling more products to customers you already have. This delivers more dollars and positions you as a brand-management expert, while keeping competitors off of your playground.


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