3 Drivers of Change in the Promotional Products Business
The digital transformation has reshaped every industry and every aspect of our everyday lives.
While it has been a gradual process over the years, the pandemic accelerated technology adoption, changing the way nearly every industry operates almost overnight, so they could continue to be open for business. For some distributors, especially the more traditional, it can be hard to accept that these are not temporary changes, but instead a major transformation.
The basic difference between change and transformation is that change is a modification that can be reversed, and transformation comprises a series of changes over a period of time to a point where there is no going back to the way it was before.
Transformation eventually causes a change in behaviors, and at this point in time, new buying and communication habits are forming.
As you plan to make changes in your business, it is important to consider the three major drivers of change impacting our industry.
1. Technology Adoption
The integration of digital technology into all areas of business has fundamentally changed how businesses operate and deliver value to their customers.
Consumers had been progressively adopting new technology over the years. With the shelter-at-home mandates, people turned to the digital space to get everything and anything they needed to a point that it has become the norm, and new buying habits have formed.
As the business landscape is changing, new promotional products buyers are coming to the market, and they, too, are turning to the digital space—mostly Google—to research and find vendors. If your website is not at the top of results, you’re out of the game.
Investing in SEO is a must if you have growth ambitions. Just like every other business, you want your potential clients to find you when and where they’re looking.
2. Demand for New Business Models
The traditional generalist distributor no longer fits the new market landscape.
In today’s open access-to-everything world, promo buyers want to do their own research, not only to find products, but also to find a vendor they can go-to for the long term.
E-commerce companies big and small provide the self-serve experience the new buyer seeks when looking for specific products, especially smaller-type companies.
For certain types of buyers, specialization is an important criterion in vendor selection. Focusing on a particular industry is the fastest way to become a specialist in that market, with opportunities to expand the business by adding ancillary services to offer one-stop solutions for that particular industry.
A perfect example is offering company stores, which will require adding web development and fulfillment services, that will lead to long term contracts and added sources of income.
Another example is to focus on one particular line of products, such as cannabis, a growing market.
3. The Value of the Customer Experience
A lot of people think that customer experience is all about providing good service. But, there is a whole lot more to it. It has to do with how easy and convenient it is to do business with you. Amazon has set the standard of the buying process, from research of products to evaluation, to shopping, to delivery.
So how can you be more like Amazon?
What are the gaps in your process right now?
What can you streamline and automate to simplify your clients’ placing and tracking of their orders?
How can you make it more convenient for clients to communicate with you?
All of these are things to think about.
If you are a traditional general distributor, it’s time to make changes in your business.
It starts with understanding your clients.
Right now, your clients are undergoing major changes that are affecting their needs for promotional products. With events out of the equation for an indefinite period of time, employees working from home and staff reductions, companies are using promotional products very differently.
Understanding these changes will help you provide the right solutions for your clients making you a valuable partner.
For more business and marketing articles, webinars and guides specific for distributors, visit the resources section of ActionMarketingCo.com.
This article was originally published on Action Marketing and has been updated for publication here.
Gloria Lafont is a mother, grandmother and business owner. Throughout her business career she has started, bought and sold a dozen businesses in the branding and marketing field, including a distributor company. She’s currently president of Action Marketing Co., founded in 2007. Her company focuses on helping distributors increase visibility, generate awareness and drive traffic so they can connect with more of their ideal clients and generate more leads and sales.
Gloria is a big fan and supporter of education and the cultural arts, volunteering her time and donating marketing support over the years to help various organizations grow in membership and revenue. She also enjoys the South Florida lifestyle mix of business, beaches and arts.