In-plants Pack the Room at PRINTING United to Discuss Promo Product Opportunity
When it comes to in-plants selling promotional products, “you can’t get in fast enough.” That’s how panelist Richard Beto (University of Texas at Austin) put it during an in-plant breakfast forum hosted by In-plant Impressions on the second day of PRINTING United.
With IPI Editor Bob Neubauer moderating, Beto shared the stage with two other in-plant managers — Sherri Isbell (University of Oklahoma) and Melynda Crouch (Texas Tech HSC) — who each oversee a profitable business selling promotional products for their universities. Each detailed how this opportunity has strengthened his or her in-plant while enhancing the operation’s value.
Isbell pointed out that selling promotional products can be “a great revenue stream without a capital investment” when in-plants become distributors, as opposed to producers, of popular items like pens, mugs, and clothing. The panelists have done it by working through SAGE, ASI, and other promo market facilitators, which connect distributors to product suppliers and provide services such as online catalogs.
The rewards, according to the panelists, speak for themselves. Beto said promo products had brought his in-plant $450,000 by the end of August. The total for Crouch’s shop in its last fiscal year was $534,000. Isbell reported that her in-plant, with $800,000 in promo booked this year, was on track to closing it out at $1 million. Profit margins, the panelists agreed, hovered around 30%.
Another plus for promo product sales by in-plants is that the shops can act as brand guardians, assuring that suppliers faithfully reproduce school colors and other critical visual elements. What those who attempt to buy direct often find, said Isbell, is that “the vendor only cares about the dollars – the vendor doesn’t care whether the brand is protected or not.”
— In-plant Impressions (@IP_Impressions) October 24, 2019
Other advice for in-plants wishing to become promo product distributors included finding qualified CSRs to handle this end of the business, since it doesn’t always come naturally to print personnel. SAGE, ASI, and their counterparts may also have rules about prepayment and other procedures that in-plants may have to comply with.
The panelists also recommended showing off available promotional products in display cases, offices, and other places where customers can see what their in-plants have to offer.
It was noted that excellent resources for anyone interested in exploring the opportunity are the NAPCO Media portal Promo Marketing (www.promomarketing.com) and its publication Print + Promo (www.gopromomarketing.com).