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Sourcing P&I: 10 Questions You Need to Ask

10 key questions you ought to ask, or at least think about, when sourcing a promotional product.


As 2011 unfolds, you will undoubtedly start to purchase promotional items for your events, whether it’s for a trade show giveaway, an executive gift or an incentive item.

The promotional products industry is quite complex, as are the distributors. If you were to ask 10 distributors to show you a white mug, each one would show you their version of a white mug.

My point is, the promotional-products industry is jam-packed with interesting products.

To help you navigate the crowded field, I’m providing 10 key questions you ought to ask, or at least think about, when sourcing a promotional product.

1.  Can you rely on your current supplier for creative recommendations?

2.  How current are the product ideas? Some clients think the metal travel mug (which is at least 13 years old) is the best product they’ve ever seen. (This is a red flag!)

3.  Does your supplier visit trade shows to keep up-to-date with the trends in the industry (YOUR industry and his)?

4.  Why are you giving away a promotional product? Do you have expectations or a return-on-investment associated with this giveaway?

5.  Would you be pleased to receive your selected product if someone gave it to you?

6.  Will this product appeal to all your recipients?

7.  Will the recipient use it? Is it practical? Is it colourful?

8.  Is the product a good fit with the event theme and the brand? Sometimes the two will be at opposite ends of the pole.

9.  Do you read material sent to you by your distributor or do you delete the e-mail blast? Do you ask for catalogues?

10. Does your distributor walk you through a sales process answering your questions and describing the benefits of a product? This makes your life a whole lot easier.

Promotional products are an important part of the execution of any event and can literally make or break it.

The phrase “trinkets and trash” no longer exists; the industry has evolved to a more sophisticated level.

Choose carefully and be your own devil’s advocate.

Happy shopping!



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