If you have been in the promotional marketing business for a while, you certainly know there have been an abundance of changes, and there are more to come. I can recall my early days when the morning started by unrolling the thermal fax communications on my office floor (I have now officially dated myself).
The rapid pace of change can be a challenge to some, and invigorating to others. I choose the latter, and feel it is what keeps our business fresh and exciting. Competition is more robust than ever, so to not embrace the winds of change is a subtle wave of the white flag in my opinion. So what are the top six influential changes you should all be in touch with? Let’s take a look:
- Communications It is highly recommended that everyone, supplier and distributor, survey their clients to understand exactly what their preferred method of communication is. A formal survey can uncover answers to many questions, but no question more important than this. Understanding how to use a multi-platform communication approach, and tailoring such to various clients, will earn trust, goodwill and more business.
- Educational Based Selling In today’s marketplace, clients don’t want to be sold anything. Rather, buyers now want to be educated into an informed decision. This can be accomplished by fully understanding their initiatives, being a part of their SWOT team and designing solutions with visible ROI. Teach, and you will EARN!
- Compliance Sourcing the right product today comes with a new level of responsibility around safety and social compliance concerns. You may think these are industry concerns today, but believe me, if you aren’t hearing it from your best clients today, you will by tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to discuss the McDonalds Shrek glass fiasco, or the California Department of Heath lead paint lunchboxes. Be on top of this topic, and give your client assurances that you have their backs.
- Proactive vs. Reactive Marketing Clients understand our business more than ever. They even budget for us. That is the good news. But here's the bad news: I have seen sales professionals in our industry spending nearly 100% of their time in reactive mode, responding to every client request. Everyone loses accounts, and that is the issue. Make sure you are scheduling time every week for proactive prospecting / selling activities such as spec samples, new mailings, e-blasts, etc. Plan it, do it and stay ahead of unexpected losses.
- The Branding Paradigm This has been an age old issue, but seems to be more pronounced today. Who / what are you to your clients? It is no longer sustainable to be known as a promotional product vendor. The way we brand ourselves today is more important than ever before. It needs to portray a powerful message (one you can back up), and it has to pique the interest of buyers at any level. I prefer to discuss “branding strategy” with prospects rather than promotional products. I prefer to see business cards that include the title “Brand Marketing Consultant” rather than "Account Manager." Think about your personal brand, and evaluate how powerful your message is--or should be.
- Technology Need I say more? We all know how meaningful it is to stay on the cutting edge. The younger our buyers get, the more the demand will be placed on your personal technological acumen.
Recognize and embrace change. We are in the greatest sales industry known to mankind….so long as you stay ahead of the curve.
Best of Success!