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Will Your Business Survive?

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character… Would you slow down? Or speed up?”

Chuck Palahniuk

The production in which we are all actors called the Promotional Products Media industry has had a rewrite and many of the characters have been written out of the script! Although some might make a cameo appearance, for the most part they will never be what they once were. Say goodbye to conventions, trade shows, air travel, restaurants, corporate meetings – maybe even schools and churches as we know them!

If you were fortunate enough to simply wait for the phone to ring and the orders would magically arrive at your desk, I hope you enjoyed that while it lasted. If your new business model is based on selling face masks and hand sanitizer- your business will not likely survive the crisis.

As in the theatrical reference to writing a character out of the script, you better remain relevant if you want to continue to be part of the story. The first step is getting ready for whatever the new normal is going to be. If you have suffered financially and find most suppliers are requiring prepayment, you will never get back the momentum your business needs. Think of partnering with one of the large distributors that provide order financing and administrative services. Next, get working on your own marketing!

Remind every one of your clients that you are ready to help them restart their business. Use our amazing Promotional Products Media to get your message out. If you can’t afford to contact them all at once, pick the top 10 or 25 that were most valuable to you and work on them. Don’t let what could be the new normal sideline you.

For the past two months or more most businesses that could, figured out how to keep operating remotely. They have established communication, altered production, changes procedures, and learned how to source just about everything online. Many people doing the sourcing are in their first decade of business employment and have never been without the ability to find whatever they need online! It is just the natural thing to do for them.

But as I say quite often, marketing strategies, concepts, programs, and tactics can’t be purchased like rock salt or light bulbs! If you allowed yourself to become a commodity seller in the past; if you are currently wanting to jump on the PPE supply train to turn a quick buck, that train will crash! Nothing separates you from anyone else and no loyalty is possible as your source will go away as fast as it came.

What makes you relevant to your clients? The simple, accurate, and the only real answer is that you and what you propose brings value to your client. And it is the client that determines what the value is – not you! I can assure you that buying things to give away is not what a business leader is thinking about. Your job is to find out what he is thinking about.

Once you understand the client’s thoughts (hiring back his best employees, reaching out to his clients, establishing new health policies, etc.) you can make your conversation about supporting that objective. You want your client to see you as an investment not a cost. Discussing the price of a sports shirt is not what you want to be doing. Rather you want to be explaining how Promotional Products Media will provide the specific messaging that will take the client’s business in the desired direction.

It is not too soon to get going! The best marketers continued to present relevant messages throughout the business shutdowns. As America continues to ‘open’ again, they will be in the best position to acquire new business, not simply the business they had before. Many businesses will not reopen. Their customers will be looking for others to work with. Prospecting now will bring you business as this year plays out. This is what you should be discussing with your clients as well.

The quote by the novelist and journalist Chuck Palahniuk at the beginning of this article is the perfect question for everyone in our industry (and pretty much every other business) to be considering. It just might be the time to change costumes!

About the Author:

Gregg Emmer is the chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations, and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at gemmer@kaeser-blair.com.