Consumers’ expectations are evolving as technology changes, and it will affect the promotional products industry. Help your potential customers find an easier solution: Put yourself in their shoes for a minute.

Dear Promotional Products Distributor:

I am a 28-year-old project coordinator at a large tech company. I juggle many responsibilities including purchasing your products. I am very busy, often work very late hours, and this is not my top priority. I am writing to you today in an effort to make both of our lives easier. I talk to a lot of your competitors and I often ask myself, could any industry be more complicated? Why does it have to be that way? Why can’t we make all of our lives easier? Here are some suggestions to make things easier on both of us:

  1. Consistent Order Experience. I order a lot of product. Why does every order experience seem like the first time I have ordered? Sometimes I get proofs, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I hear about the status of an order, sometimes I don’t. The list goes on and on. Can’t we find an easy, repeatable experience every time I order?
  2. Technology. The world has come a long way in just about every industry with technology; why can’t you be the same? Can you give me easy tools to look at products, load my artwork and see my logo on products online, and see my order history? Can I order online without talking to someone if I don’t need to? How about a dashboard with all of my needs that acts as my command central for my promo needs? Is that too much to ask?
  3. Salesperson. I don’t need a salesperson; I need a project manager or team of them to help me with my projects. I want creativity and responsiveness from them. And great service! I want to be able to chat with them, text them, call them, email them and skype them. And when I want them, I want them now! That shouldn’t be too hard. I want a relationship, don’t get me wrong, but I want it my way and on my terms.
  4. Pricing. Sometimes I do go out and get bids on projects, but only because I don’t love anyone I am working with. I understand you need to get a fair price for all I am asking, so I ask for great service and a fair price, but it doesn’t have to be the lowest.
  5. Make It Easy. I’m busy. Update me on the progress of my orders, make it easy to reach your people, and give me great tools to find products. And what’s up with all of the extra charges for larger sizes, PMS matches (what is that?), run charges, etc.? Can’t you just give me one price to make it easy for me and you? While you’re at it, have you ever considered free shipping? Everything else I buy has free shipping. How about just pushing a button to reorder something instead of trying to track you down?
  6. Product Safety. I don’t understand all the rules and regulations but I expect you to. Don’t get me fired, and keep me and my company safe. Period.
  7. Don’t Sell Me Products. Every time I buy something, I am trying to accomplish something. Help me find better solutions to achieve my goals. Ask me and let’s talk about it. Make me look good!
  8. Consultant. Occasionally I work on some really large product launches and projects. In those cases, I really need you to make me look good. I need great concepts, reworks, lots of discussion and action. I need you big-time when these things come up. Will you be there for me?

Thanks for listening. I hope I am not coming across as harsh. I just wanted to share this in the spirit of partnership and understanding. I don’t think I am alone in looking for the above items. Can you provide them?

All the best,

Your Client

Chuck Fandos is CEO of FacilisGroup, a business platform for promotional products distributors that helps them grow through technology, community and supply chain.

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