A Place to Hang Your Hat
As with ice cream, race cars or free money, it's hard to find someone that doesn't understand the appeal of promotional headwear. Day-to-day signs of its effectiveness are everywhere, from the local skate park to McDonalds to the baseball field. You would think that with such a wealth of cultural evidence to draw from, convincing clients to buy hats would be the easiest thing ever. "Pepsi does it. Susan G. Komen for the Cure does it. If you'll just sign this order form, you can do it too."
Sadly, it isn't always that simple. No matter how great, sometimes promotional headwear will go unsold, just as sometimes great ice cream goes uneaten and the best race cars are left collecting dust in manufacturers' garages.
There are a lot of reasons great product goes unsold, from limited client budgets and poor economies to sales flubs and other missed opportunities. One thing you can do to increase your chances of a sale is knowing how to work within the needs of your clients' markets. It's no silver bullet for sales woes, but understanding the ins and outs of your clients' markets is an easy way to go from the guy with a metaphorical truck full of melted ice cream to the guy who does well because he knows what streets prefer strawberry over chocolate.
Both Tony Karlicek, president of Headwear Professionals, Frederick, Md., and Jason Krakow, vice president for Caps Direct/Design Resources Inc., Overland Park, Kan., pointed out automotive markets as major buyers of caps and headwear. And while "automotive" is an admittedly large umbrella category, covering such buyers as race teams, towing companies and audio installation stores, Karlicek was able to offer some broad advice on working with this demographic. "The simplest way to sell into this market is to be honest—do the cold call armed with ROI and a few visual samples, and explain what you do and how it will grow their business," he said. "For example, if you Google your area for racing shops, grab their logo and have visuals made, most often the customer will hear you out."