Being a good listener is a skill that is often overlooked. We focus on communicating our own ideas and concerns, jumping at the next opportunity to talk and demand attention, even though effective listening is essential for meaningful interactions and building relationships. By constantly competing for the center of attention, we run the risk of missing opportunities to solve our own problems and challenges.
I owe my career as a Promotional Products Marketer to the art of being a good listener.
Let me take you back to an era where fax machines ruled and print distribution services were the primary focus of Delta Marketing Group – selling forms and the like. Our client base consisted entirely of print service customers. The first hint – or insight – to my future career came with the simple, yet reoccurring question I began to hear more and more frequently from clients:
"Does Delta sell pens or coffee mugs?"
Essentially, becoming a Promotional Products Marketer wasn’t a planned venture of mine. I adapted to the role by listening to the concerns of clients. My evolution into this role was only natural – our clients didn’t know where to go for promotional products, and they trusted us. It was a perfect fit.
Why Promotional Products?
After beginning with pens, we started selling drinkware - very limitedly, might I add. The real transition from a company that provided pens and some types of drinkware to a company that provides the wide array of products we do today came after joining ASI – The Advertising Specialties Institute – as a distributor in ASI’s Promotional Products Membership Organization.
Though ASI gave us – and our clients – access to thousands of promotional products, I quickly realized that being a distributor in the promotional products industry wasn’t just about selling product. It’s about servicing the needs of clients, and in turn finding the perfect product for their event. Most of the time, clients aren’t just looking for products. They’re overwhelmed in their day and want basic help; they’re usually tasked with so much more than just ordering promotional products.
For example, clients come to us when they have a trade show coming up. Many times, they know what the job at hand is (getting everything their company needs for a trade show), but they just don’t know how to tackle it. We provide everything companies need for trade shows: booth set-up, banners, table cloths, embroidered apparel, and of course, promotional products. This way, I can help the client by digging deep into their tasks, and instead of having to talk to a bunch of different companies to get what they need, we help them tie it all together.
Here’s where the promotional products marketing comes in: many clients come to me with the assumption that they can just hand out pens without giving their promotions any thought. It’s my job to help clients understand that their promotional products are a direct reflection of their company. Pens certainly have their place, but they’re not a catch-all for every event. I sell promotional products because I’ve witnessed firsthand the benefits they bring to companies – and I know that being creative in marketing is important now more than ever.
A Day in the Life of a Promotional Products Marketer
I can break down my daily responsibilities into three main categories:
Sure – it’s nice when clients come to me knowing they need 500 of a certain item, but often, that’s not the case. One way we educate our clients about the process of ordering promos is through blog posts. I create educational blog articles that are helpful for clients, because it’s important for them to trust the agency they’re working with. Once they absorb this information, they come to me feeling more comfortable about starting a conversation about their needs and pain points.
Once the initial education piece is out of the way, it’s time to help clients by catering our services to their specific needs. Whether they’re looking for promos for a trade show or other event, I want to make sure I help them pick the product that’s a perfect fit for their cause. Effective consultation is achieved through phone calls and having meaningful conversations with clients. Phone conversations create a meaningful and trusting relationship between the client and I. From there, I maintain client relationships via email and phone. I never underestimate the power of a phone conversation.
Case Study: Trade Show Marketing with Promotional Products
A lot of the consultation process requires providing expertise combined with creativity on my end. For example, a client came to me looking for items for an upcoming trade show. Specifically, they wanted to utilize promotional products as a means of attracting more leads to their booth. Instead of just selling products and sending the client on their way, my strategic recommendation was to purchase a small number of higher-priced items, like promotional Bluetooth speakers, in addition to a standard amount of lower priced items (trade show giveaways typically range from $1 - $3 each), like a Smart Wallet. The small amount of higher-priced gifts were to sit on the booth, so when prospects came by, the client could speak to them briefly about the Smart Wallet, thus peaking the prospect’s interest in the higher-priced item on display. To receive the higher-priced item, the prospect was asked to provide credible information, like their name, job title, and contact information, to qualify them as a true lead.
This strategy successfully achieved my client’s goal of attracting qualified leads to their booth. With creative thinking and effective consultation, my client could see the value of promotional products in action, and my role as a Promotional Products Marketer helped better their business.
Though ensuring that design specifications for promotional products are met takes place behind-the-scenes of the client’s awareness, it is equally as important as effective consultation. I must make sure that their logo will fit on the product, and then provide these design specifications to the manufacturer of the product. Though it may sound simple, this takes a quite a bit of time – I want to make sure it gets done, and that it is done right.
What I've Learned
One lesson I’ve learned as a Promotional Products Marketer? Never say no. Anything is possible in this industry, and it’s my mission to help clients achieve their goals. This involves maintaining a regular correspondence with clients to stay on top of their events and time line for the year. This way, I can better understand the client’s expectations and help them in the best way I can (knowing about the need for products in advance helps things go more smoothly). In addition, I maintain the skill of being a good listener – the quality that landed me in this position in the first place. After all, the more successful my clients are, the more successful I will be as a Promotional Products Marketer.