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Old Jokes Get Less Humorous the Closer they Get to Reality!

It is time to help your clients focus on the value of YOU!

There once was terrible river flooding and people went door to door warning of the coming flood. But Seth said “I’m a religious man and God will take care of me”. A short time later as the water got deeper a boat arrived at Seth’s house to take him to safety. Seth said “I’m a religious man and God will take care of me”. That afternoon a helicopter hovered above Seth’s house with a rope hanging down to take him to safety but Seth shouted that he was a religious man and that God would take care of him. Then a torrent of water swamped Seth and his home and he drowned. When Seth arrived in heaven he questioned God asking why after being a religious man his whole life, did God forsake him. God responded “Seth – I sent you a warning, a boat and a helicopter!

A little more than three years ago, December 2017, I wrote an article for PromoCorner MarketingMatters: (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1drrJZ30BDZ4yJty0GWuaFU53OA1ajXngSxjAiUHV2zA/edit)

that mentioned Amazon had received a patent for on-demand decorating systems – that didn’t even exist at the time. I suggested (warned) that the potential for extraordinary competition for our industry was very real.

In September 2020 Amazon struck a deal to purchase $400 million worth of on-demand digital printing/imprinting equipment! In addition, Amazon has built and is building thousands of square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate its printing operations.

For now, it appears that the focus of Amazon is on individual retail on-demand products such as single unit or small quantity apparel, tote bags and other consumer goods. But the inclusion of commercial imprinted “specialty promotional products” is now simply a marketing decision as the infrastructure will already be in place.

We can’t compete with Amazon on their battlefield! They have the commanding position of pricing, advanced order processes, sourcing, financing, production, and delivery! If we try to go “toe-to-toe” on this battlefield we lose, war over, total defeat.

Stop Selling Promotional Products!

Loyal readers of this column may have realized that I refer to our industry as “Promotional Products Media”. That is our business. Amazon, when they decide to, will be selling promotional products. The difference is huge. Amazon sells a staggering variety of dental tools but I suspect that people are not doing their own drilling and filling! Generally, people prefer to have a trained professional behind that high-speed drill.

That is the message everyone in the Promotional Products Media industry must encourage our clients to embrace. They will always be more receptive to investing in appropriate message delivery rather than buying stuff with their logo!

It is easy to gauge the direction of the marketplace. If you are getting more requests for quotes on specific items rather than questions about clients objectives, you are already competing on the wrong battlefield. It may not be Amazon yet, but early online activities are paving the way for them to dominate the market.

Covid-19 has been exceptionally successful for Amazon. Their revenue has doubled YTD (September) due to the explosion of the digital marketplace. Virtually every consumer, business or individual, Millennial or senior – are now very familiar with shopping online. Buying those things that were purchased from grocery stores, hardware, home furnishings and other sellers has become an everyday experience. But some things really do not fall into the “do-it-yourself” category. Certainly, the reference to dentistry was easy to see as being beyond obvious, but business owners and many of their employees think marketing and advertising is a do-it-yourself activity.

It is time to help your clients focus on the value of YOU! Without you to recommend appropriate messages, the best media (promotional product) to carry the message, a delivery method that reaches the exact target audience and the ability to be budget-friendly, their advertising and marketing will certainly be less effective and, therefore, more costly.

As we move further away from “selling stuff” and closer to professional recommendations for great marketing outcomes for our clients, it also becomes appropriate to have more formalized agreements with our clients. The very real worry that a client will go online and ‘shop’, once you have provided all the information and recommendations, can only be addressed through an agreement. Let your client know that the cost of your services is included with the media (promotional products). If they then choose to source the media elsewhere, you will simply invoice them for the work you did on their behalf.

Any mid-sized or large business that works with ad agencies or directly with media outlets will already be familiar with similar arrangements. Smaller businesses that object are simply identifying themselves as the ‘shopping’ customer you really don’t want!

I think the warnings are clear – don’t wait for the rope!