The best advertising tools if you are a Promotional Products Supplier

Scott Lichtenstein and Ira Lichtenstein at The Mandalay BayWe have been selling custom logo bar stools for over 40 years.  We have been members of ASI over 20 years and we have been members of PPAI and SAGE for about 15 years each.  We have tried almost every type of marketing tool each of them sells.  We have been in ASI's famous Register.  We have done email blasts.  We have ads in Counselor and we have had ads in Advantages.  We have had ads in PPB.  We have had out item printed in SAGE's distributor catalogs.  We have showed at national trade shows and we have showed local trade shows.  Here is what I have decided works the best for us.

We show at PPAI and only PPAI.  The other shows are expensive and time consuming.  Our product isn't that interesting for  distributors who focus on apparel and pens.  We find that most of our customers have national accounts and sell our bar stools to large national accounts who have a dealer network all over the country or the world.  The distributors with the big national accounts go to PPAI Las Vegas.

As I mentioned previously, we used to do print and more trade shows.  We couldn't see a return on investment.  What we realized by going to all those shows was that a lot of people weren't interested in selling our product.  If someone gives me a few minutes I can typically come up with few good clients to give it a try.  Most people call on a few manufacturers.  Manufacturers often has a parts counter somewhere in their sales process.

We bought out every paid placement from both SAGE and ASI for the bar stool category.  We bought the top 10, side ads, display ads.  We bought every single ad in SAGE's search engine under the category bar stool.  We have also optimized our website and have Google ads running for keywords relevant to terms like customer logo bar stool, logo bar stool, and trade show logo bar stool.  Give it a shot and search for us using logo bar stool.  Hopefully, we are still showing up on the first page and even better possibly the first listing.

We figure that one way or another when a distributor is looking for bar stools for a client, they will come across our website.  We are trying to go all digital.  We stopped printing a catalog and price sheet other than the few hundred we need to give away at PPAI.  We redid our website so that we had bigger and better pictures on display.  We digitized our catalogs and created digital literature.

We have not looked very seriously into Distributor Central.  It looks like a good product from what I can tell.  We were always too busy to enter our items into their spreadsheet.  If someone would have offered me the service for $500 or $1000 we probably would have gone for it.

Keeping our items and prices current on the various portals that distributors use to search for pricing is not that easy.  We don't use ASI's ESP software very much and we don't go into SAGE's software more than once a year.  The programs require you to install them on a PC rather than let you use the Internet.  Each time we use them we forget our password and have to reset and then by the time we login, we realize that we forgot how to update things.

Not all suppliers have a marketing department and a lot of these tasks aren't easy to outsource to a marketing person.  A lot of this tedious work falls on owners. 

We are going to give ASI's new content creation service a whirl.  It is definitely on the expensive side but at least it comes with white glove service.  It has everything from writing the article to posting it and driving traffic to it.  Speaking of marketing services, whatever happened to Smartblast email blasting service.  I used to use them ages ago.  I toured their loft office in Chicago back in the day.

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