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Whether you already sell screen-printed promotional products through distributors, or your shop has not yet expanded into promotional swag, consider new options to increase profits.

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Screen Printers Can Sell More Promo Swag with Online Tools and Distributors
OR YEARS, SCREEN PRINTING was the primary way to print graphics onto apparel and items such as drinkware, pens, toothbrushes, and keychains that were given away as corporate and promotional gifts. Buyers seeking info on available promotional products would turn to catalogs published by promotional product distributors.

Through these catalogs (and consultations with the distributors), buyers could order everything from branded notepads, notebooks, and calendars to T-shirts, embroidered hats, pens, and glassware. The distributor chose which items to include in the catalog and contracted with various commercial printers and screen printers to imprint them when needed.

But advances in B2B ecommerce and inkjet printing have changed the dynamics of how promotional gifts are selected, ordered, and produced.

Today, anyone equipped with a UV-inkjet, sublimation, or direct-to-garment printer is being encouraged to grow their revenues by producing and selling promotional products.

In theory, it makes sense. The digital printing equipment is versatile, and anyone can sell promotional products through a web-to-print store or marketplace such as Etsy.

Of course, offering new product lines is never that simple. In addition to figuring out how to efficiently make the new products, you must devote time and resources to marketing them.

This can be particularly challenging in the promotional products business. For one thing, buyers of promotional products for local schools, churches, breweries, and start-up companies have much different requirements than national brands, restaurant chains, or retailers. The types and quantities of products they order vary tremendously.

Second, consumer trends affect the types of products that organizations want imprinted with brand logos. The best way to make a lasting and memorable impression with a promotional product is to offer something unique or distinctive that the recipient will keep, use repeatedly, or prominently display. Vendors offer new products often. It takes time and effort to keep your offerings updated.

Whether you’re a retail screen printer that primarily serves local customers or a wholesale screen printer that already uses distributors, here are two creative organizations that offer innovative ways to expand your promotional product revenues.

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 "Swagforce supplies a robust white label ecommerce superstore website of branded merchandise and a US-based outsourced sales team to do all the work and help partners grow their bottom line," according to its website.

“Swagforce supplies a robust white label ecommerce superstore website of branded merchandise and a US-based outsourced sales team to do all the work and help partners grow their bottom line,” according to its website.

RETAIL SCREEN
PRINTERS

If your company uses screen printing presses to decorate apparel for groups within your community, your customers have probably already asked what other promotional products you could produce.

Often, attempts to fulfill these requests can be more time-consuming than the job is worth. Instead of hiring a full-time person to focus on choosing and selling promotional products, the promo-product experts at Swagforce can provide an efficient way for you to integrate promotional products into your sales offerings.

“Our parent company has been a leader in the promotional products ecommerce space for more than 20 years,” says Matt Barry, director of partner support at Swagforce. “We have deep relationships with all the major suppliers and have years of sales experience.”

The company’s goal is to help smaller print service providers grow their revenues without having to invest in the infrastructure required to sell promotional products effectively.

“Our partners include apparel screen printers, commercial printers, trophy and award engravers, and wide-format sign shops,” notes Barry. “We also work with ad agencies, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs.”

First, Swagforce will set up a robust white label ecommerce superstore website with your logo and branding that offers an expertly carefully curated assortment of some of today’s most popular promotional products. The Swagforce team will maintain the website, add new products, and update prices. The highly trained Swagforce sales team, under the guise of the partner’s business name, handles all the selling and customer service activities to make sure orders are sold profitably, produced to spec, and delivered on time to partner clients.

The online store will have your brand colors and logo, but all orders submitted through the site will be redirected to the appropriate Swagforce partner for production and fulfillment.

This means your shop will not have to set up workflows to produce and ship multiple types of promo products or worry about losing money by offering discounted wholesale prices. Your shop will receive a revenue share on every order that goes through your branded promo products store.

Your commissions can grow over time because the Swagforce sales pros will follow up with your promo product customers to encourage additional or repeat purchases. Barry notes, “We’re trained to look for building up customer relationships and finding additional opportunities to sell to them.”

If you prefer to maintain the customer relationships within your shop, Swagforce can act solely as your promotional products sourcing, production, and fulfillment arm.

For more information on their services, cost structures, and revenue share plans, visit swagforce.com.

Screen Printers Can Sell More Promo Swag with Online Tools and Distributors

WHOLESALE
SCREEN PRINTERS

If you already sell through distributors, you can expand your reach by promoting your wholesale screen printing services to a new generation of “brand solutions” providers.

As commercial printers have added online marketing and wide-format printing capabilities, the “print brokers” who once specialized in connecting brands with suppliers of distinct types of printing services have reinvented themselves as “distributors” and providers of brand solutions.

Unlike the promotional product distributors, these new types of distributors help brand clients execute integrated, omni-channel marketing campaigns.

A restaurant chain planning to open multiple locations might hire a distributor to line up a commercial printer/marketing services provider to produce the menus, direct mail pieces, and email marketing campaigns and a wide-format graphics company to print and install the signage and interior graphics. These distributors might also hire screen printers to make branded apparel for restaurant staff, drinkware, and items for sale in the restaurant’s gift shop.

Examples of new types of distributors include GO2 Partners, Smart Source, the Sourcing Group, WebbMason, and npn360.

Many employees of these companies are former print shop sales reps who have in-depth knowledge of specific types of printing processes and long-time relationships with key customers. They have worked hard to earn the trust of brand managers who prefer hiring fewer vendors for complex marketing projects.

Instead of sending all print elements to a single PSP, the distributors select which is best qualified to handle specific portions of the job. Many distributors seek partners that offer reliability, quality, warehousing and fulfillment services, and high-volume discounts.

In return for wholesale pricing, the distributor ensures the submitted design files meet all your production requirements. They will also minimize the number of hours your customer service and sales team must spend educating customers and answering questions.

Working with a distributor also frees you from outsourcing parts of the jobs you cannot do in-house and coordinating the delivery.

To meet these brand-solution distributors, consider joining the Brand Chain community. Brand Chain’s mission is to help distributors succeed in finding the expertise, services, and suppliers their clients expect for specific projects. The distributors who belong to Brand Chain can access Brand Chain’s directory of 2000 qualified suppliers of print, apparel, labels, packaging, promotional products, and wide-format graphics. Visit brandchaincommunity.org.

BUSINESS
MODELS EVOLVE

The digital transformation of printing, publishing, and marketing will continue to create innovations in way products are printed and sold.

At in-person conferences and tradeshows, you can meet some of these sales-process innovators face-to-face and candidly discuss how they can help your screen-printing business expand its revenues.

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Eileen Fritsch is a Cincinnati-area-based freelance writer who served as assistant editor of Screen Printing magazine in 1994 before being named a founding editor of Big Picture magazine.

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