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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.

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By Heather DiPrato

“We have grown our business significantly by adding ad specialties,” said Judy Brumley of PIP Printing and Marketing Services Triad, a franchisee in Burlington, NC that offers a variety of branding services, including signage and graphics. “Along with helping clients to brand themselves in a professional manner, corporate gifts are another very profitable addition.”
Corporate gifts are a big segment of the promo-products industry. ASI’s annual corporate gift-giving survey, released in November 2013, showed spending on employees and clients was the highest it’s been in four years. The popularity of products like food and beverages (such as food baskets, wine bottles, or even a tequila shot glass carved from Himalayan pink salt or a gourmet surf-and-turf meal sent in a reusable bucket and branded with a company’s logo) rose nearly 9% over the previous year.

Just how does this industry work?
The promotional-products industry has four primary channels:
• Suppliers who import or wholesale products
• Distributors who have relationships with end buyers
• Manufacturers with primarily overseas factories who are making the products
• Decorators who embroider or decorate apparel or other promotional items

When someone wants to promote a company, product, or event, they first contact a distributor for ideas. The distributor provides the end buyer with product suggestions and when the client makes a decision, the distributor contacts a supplier to place the order. As the owner of a printing or signage company, you could enter the channel as a distributor or a contract decorator, or possibly both, depending on the types and volume of goods you can (or want to) print in house.

If you’re a contract decorator and want to start or pump up your promo business, you need to set yourself apart from the competition. Provide fast, reliable turnaround. Keep your damage rate at 1% or less. Provide quality decorating and know what works best on which fabrics and substrates. Improve your design services and expertise. You know the old saying, “The devil is in the details?” In this industry, paying attention to the details is what will quickly separate you from the pack.


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