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14 11, 2009

Confused or Lost at a Promotional Products Website? Move On!

By | November 14th, 2009|Promotional Products|Comments Off on Confused or Lost at a Promotional Products Website? Move On!

Sometimes a good way to understand the sensation of smacking your head against a brick wall is trying to shop for a specific promotional product. The industry is always looking for and discovering new products to stamp a corporate logo on, which means more things to choose from every day. The catalogs you need to sort out get bigger almost every day because of the constant growth in our industry.

Inarguably, your best bet is to find a seller with a website and not trying to track down manufacturers directly. The manufacturers that create the promotional giveaways you’re looking for won’t be selling to the general public, but through distributors that are equipped to complete a sale. What this means is that companies that sell promotional items to you are far more interested in giving you pricing and information than the manufacturers will be! These distributors can be so free with information it can actually feel a little like information overload sometimes. This is because, as you will discover, that there are many different things to decide on besides price. Some companies will offer a million products for you to choose from separated into a hundred different categories, which can seem worse than flipping through a catalog.

Millions of promotional products out are out there, making easy to navigate sites absolutely critical to you. Don’t settle for the first company you find, shop around. Online retailers are a dime a dozen, and a significant amount of those web sites are members of various networks that provide catalog information. What you will frequently find are online stores that are, more or less, an uninspired random catalog of tons of items and a shopping cart area to purchase them with. Some online “stores” will even make it difficult to find phone numbers or customer service e-mail addresses!

The good promotional websites will have easy to understand categories that anyone can understand, and not wording that only people in the industry would. When you find what you’re looking for or trying to pick from several different items, prices should be up front and the materials and sizes should be readily available. The words used should understandable and help you find what you’re looking for fairly quickly, and not force you to try to decipher marketing lingo about the product you’re considering.

You should note that a company that puts effort into making an easy to navigate website is also probably putting some time and effort into good customer service, which is the most important aspect of your purchase. Not to mention if the website has more than just things to purchase, like blogs, informative articles, etc. Your promotional product order can seem like a simple thing at first, but if you’re planning to see your logo on a promotional product you need the customer service a good company will provide. There are several steps between placing an order and getting it shipped, and each step means potential mistakes that can happen. Most of the steps are behind the scenes and won’t involve you directly, so even someone who has placed orders before might not realize the minefield an order taker has to navigate an order through. Don’t make the mistake of dealing with a second-rate company where you can expect less care taken during potential trouble spots.

Compared to a heavy paper catalog, the Internet is definitely the way to go. Not only will you find the promotional product you want more quickly, you’ll find it at the price you want and the shape or style you want.

1 11, 2009

Save Headaches by Getting Promotional Products Early

By | November 1st, 2009|Promotional Products|Comments Off on Save Headaches by Getting Promotional Products Early

Society by and large looks down on procrastination for good reasons but you will still pretty much find it everywhere you look. You will discover that there are many costs generated by procrastination and of out of all businesses, this is particularly true in promotional products. If hunting for some promotional products for a branding effort becomes your responsibility, make sure you get started early.

Streamlined planning and prioritizing of tasks is of utmost import in business. Multi-headed hydras like branding initiatives gain a great deal from making some venues a larger priority over others when time is a limitation. Change promotional products selection towards the top of the list! Just about every promotional company has an express alternative for orders, but there are almost always limitations and it isn’t an across-the-board pledge.

There is a metric ton of pieces out there that explain why promotional products are an important aspect of branding efforts so I won’t go into it in this space… at least this time! Keep promotional item acquisition at the top of the priority list because the procedure to go from placing an order to getting your order can end up being a complex one. You might place your order with one company, but the assembly of the item itself usually happens down the at another company. The promotional products company is the one making sure everything gets done, but they don’t usually have their own plants for making the items you purchase. Getting to the point where you can observe a proof, an example of what your logo or company name is going to look like on the finished product, is an important step. Your order won’t get past the proofing phase until there is approval because of how complicated the process is, and your order will have to go through several steps before it gets to that point (artwork approval, artwork formatting, etc). Any graphics mistakes mean starting over and trying again, or rolling with the punches and handing out an incorrectly colored logo.

There can be busy time of year during which that you aren’t going to be able to convince a manufacturer to work on your order before everyone else’s orders. What can be known as “busy” will differ from producer to producer, but for the most part they operate on a “first come, first served” basis. Manufacturers deal with orders as they arrive, and with an extra payment to cover the extra effort, you can rush an order through this system. In rare cases the production of seasonal promotional products is completely halted except for specific times of the year. The last thing you want to do is find out that the rush time you were relying on in your scheduling isn’t available because you didn’t check beforehand.

When you put off a complex process like this, things that go wrong are going to cost you. It might cost an organization a great deal, and not just cold hard currency. Things that require a complicated procedure, like promotional items, are the last thing you want to put off to the last minute just because the costs of waiting vastly outweigh the benefits. Although you by and large aren’t going to be spending a lot of money on each individual item, when you’re buying a few hundred it will add up. If you have to rush your purchase order, it gets even worse. Then let’s add some rush transportation in addition to that! If you really waited too long, you may end up with a bunch of promotional products that you end up not using for what you wanted because you ran out of time. This could mean a lost sale, or worse, lost customers.