What your business can do.
The most successful promotional product distributors are those who build relationships with their clients. Possibly the easiest and most beneficial way to build such relationships is to offer useful solutions and ideas to your clients. Help your clients find ways to connect with their clients using promotional products. You have to become more than an order taker, and show them how your products and services fit into a greater marketing strategy.
You know you need to make a connection with your clients to achieve the greatest success. This is possibly even more important when prospecting. Did you realize you can connect with clients before you’ve even had a conversation with them?
There are so many tools (many of them free!) that you can use to develop relationships with your clients. It’s amazing how many distributors fail to take advantage of the tools available to them. Especially the basics like listing their business information online.
Mirror, mirror on the wall – what do I look like to online searchers?
Even if new clients are finding you via referrals, EVERYONE searches for you online first. Your online presence needs to accurately and positively reflect your business. This not only comes down to consistent branding, but sharing information that will help to build a relationship.
Knowing more about you, your business, mission, value proposition, products and services, can happen before you have a conversation. It’s a bit like online dating – your potential client gets to check out your profile before you start forging a (business) connection.
Things that affect your online business that you can influence (for free):
- Business listing and appearance on Google
- Search result rank
- Business Ratings and Reviews
- Social media
Google, Search Results & Reviews
One of the most basic and quick things you can do to showcase your business online is to claim your Google My Business account and update EVERY POSSIBLE FIELD with your information. Images of your physical location, goods and services, and branding help to legitimize your business with online viewers.
You can even craft your own profile with posts, pictures and social links. Make sure to include your business hours and list all your methods of contact.
Did you know that the information in all of these fields also contributes to your search result ranking?! The more business information you share, the easier it is for people to find you. Sounds simple, right?
Another way to improve your search ranking is through business reviews. If Google knows people have used purchased from you in the past (and especially if they were happy clients), the search engine will bump you up in ranking. The terms your reviewers use will also help you to rank for your products and services.
Have a happy client? Encourage them to leave you an online review on their favorite platform – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Make this a part of your post purchase and branding strategy. Shoot to have at least a couple of new reviews per quarter or one each month. As with all branding, it’s important to have a consistent online presence. It will look suspicious to prospective clients to see several reviews in one week and then nothing new for several months. Show your service is consistently reliable and thriving.
We’ve identified three key strategies for social media success – these work particularly well for small to mid-sized businesses. 1. Choose your platform, 2.Consistency, 3. Planning
Choose your platform
There’s no need to be present on every social media platform. Think about your audience. Where are they more likely to hang out? Do you think they would be receptive to your communication style on that platform? Choose the platform that makes the most sense for your marketing strategy.
Don’t spread yourself thin and become ineffective. Are your clients on Facebook, LinkedIn? You should probably be there too. Do you have the resources to devote to constantly create content for Snapchat or TikTok? If not, you should focus your efforts elsewhere.
Definitely think about how much time you have available for social media marketing and if it matches the commitment that will be necessary to develop relationships on the platform.
There are a lot of attributes that contribute to consistency. Every single thing that represents your business in any way impacts customer experience. From your intentional communications to the interactions a customer has when they call you or interact with your website.
Quick case study: Take 90 seconds and think about every place you’ve seen or interacted with the Coca-Cola logo EVER. These memories are a part of your customer experience with them.
Now take 90 seconds and think about every single possible place a customer could see your brand or interact with a representative of your brand. Do every one of these experiences line up with your vision for your brand?
Start working on presenting a consistent experience for your clients. If you want them to rely on you – be reliable! If you want them to know you have great ideas and experience – show them what you can do!
Before you do something subpar or rushed, be sure to decide if it’s worth doing at all if it won’t support consistency in your branding efforts. Beyond just your logo, be consistent in your message, imagery and tone. If can help some businesses to use their mission as a guide in regulating their tone.
Consistency also is important when sharing information about your business. Don’t post on social media a few times, then allow the space to become a ghost town of outdated posts. Don’t start a blog and never update it again. This shows lack of care and planning. Don’t let your client’s question if you’ll drop the ball on their order, just like you did online!
Most of the promotional products distributors we know are strapped for time. There’s always one more way to promote your business and they want to do them all!
The best way we have found to help them succeed is by encouraging them to plan out their online communications quarterly. You can get a lot done in 2 hours each quarter. Just like with our perfect day program for salespeople, create a structure and stick to it.
Set aside a time block each month or quarter to create and schedule your posts, blogs, etc. This will help you to be consistent in creating quality content to help you connect with clients.
Your online presence can lay the groundwork for the relationship you cement in person. Don’t leave it to chance!
A couple years ago, people started discounting the impact email marketing could have on the sales process. Some even said it was dead! Rest assured – email marketing is most certainly not dead. It’s just as effective as it ever was if you follow best practices for effective targeting.
Do your clients care what you have to say? Are you only selling to them? Don’t be the friend who asks them to help you move every single weekend.
Send emails to people who want to hear from you. Better yet, make them look forward to opening your email. How? Create an experience they want to be a part of. Offer valuable information. Give them something special. Be direct in your asks of them.
“The internet is full of marketing messages. But mailboxes aren’t.” – Neil Patel
In 2016, The Data & Marketing Association reported that the direct mail customer response rate increased by 43%. Even better, the prospect response rate increased by 190% compared to 2015.
Stand out from the digital crowd by being creative with direct mail. Have you tried calling or emailing a prospect with no response? Send them a promotional product coupled with a memorable direct mail piece get their attention.
Why not show how you can help them amplify their brand with a customized spec sample. You could even pair it with a product with your logo on it to illustrate how great your partnership would look.
You could also imprint a higher-end retail-style piece with their logo and then get creative with how you present it – think social media or ask them to schedule a meeting.
Don’t forget to tie in custom packaging – logoed tape, a hand-written note, etc. – to ensure they remember you when it’s time to place an order.
The key to success is to follow up systematically and consistently. Be sure to email, call and/or drop by their business to follow up as a part of your campaign.
Cross Platform Marketing
Here’s where you become a true promotional master – use cross platform marketing to tie your creative ideas together and show your clients what’s possible.
Cross platform or multi-channel marketing refers to using the same marketing strategy across several platforms – basically combining all the suggestions we’ve given you so far. Our partners have had excellent success with combining email marketing with direct mail. And social media with promotional products.
We’ve already mentioned the need to follow up systematically and consistently if you choose to use direct mail.
Here’s a couple of more specific ideas on how to complete this as a campaign:
- Social media coupling – Identify a business you want to do business with (ideally one with an active social media account.) Choose a nice promo product that they are sure to want and customize it with their logo. Tag them on social media offering the item to them as long as you are allowed to hand deliver it to them.
- Direct mail drip campaign – We’ve received rave reviews and awards for our direct mail drip campaign that includes emails and phone calls. Use this for hot prospects that you just can’t seem to get on the phone. Choose a couple of nice products, customize the packaging and create a schedule of alternating gifts, emails, and phone calls. If you send a nice enough package with creative messaging, you WILL get your prospect’s attention long enough to get them respond.
The key to these ideas is communication. Maybe you don’t know for sure which platform your prospect wants to communicate on. They may love email and hate talking on the phone or vice versa. Receiving a gifted promotional item, then follow-up email and phone communications lays the groundwork for them at least responding. Most people are kind enough to be willing to give a few minutes of their time, even just to acknowledge your unsolicited gift.
Likewise, giving your customer a reminder about your business on several platforms helps to provide brand recognition and recall if they have a need for your business in the future.
Sales reps have told us they have been having success with sending a marketing email, then a customized spec sample, and finally following up with a phone call. Even if your prospect declines to do immediate business with you, at least you have an answer and can put your energy into a worthwhile pursuit!
As will all marketing, you’ll be most effective if you follow the golden communication rule – communicate with your audience when and how they want to be communicated with.