In today’s digital world the first thing we do when we are looking for information is turn to the internet, and that is exactly what your prospective clients do when they have an event coming up, are looking for a provider for the company uniforms, or are putting together a recognition program. Studies show that over 90% of consumers visit your website before contacting you, and your site only has a few seconds to grab their attention. As critical as a website is in a company’s marketing, and considering that branding is the very reason promotional products exist, it is kind of paradoxical how many distributors’ websites miss the branding mark.

In an attempt to help you assess and improve your website I have listed the 10 most common mistakes I see in distributors websites:

Pay Little To No Attention To Their Website

When distributors first get into the business they must join one of the major industry organizations in order to be able to purchase from the industry supplier network, and as part of their membership they get a “business in a box” type of package that includes, among other things, a full-featured ecommerce website loaded with products that are constantly being updated, which constitutes, undoubtedly, a highly valuable marketing tool. These sites can be customized to a degree, including limited SEO.  However, most distributors don’t get past plugging-in their logo and contact information, leaving the rest as is…forever.  Some don’t even install their own domain.

The result is that your website doesn’t make it to any search results, and when someone comes in contact with you in any way and goes to your website, it looks exactly the same, has the exact same graphics and same marketing message as thousands of your competitors. It also has no information whatsoever about you, your expertise or what you stand for. So when you approach a potential client, who is also being approached by a few other of your competitors who’s websites are likely to look very similar to yours, the only differentiator left for them to compare providers is price.

Bad Design: Either DIY or Outdated

Some distributors recognize the need to differentiate but don’t really want to invest in their websites. Let’s face it, a professionally developed website is a rather high ticket item, and understandably, with so many free templates out there, it’s tempting to do it yourself and save a nice chunk of cash. However, while some of you might have the required knowledge and skills, most don’t, so they will look for a free template that appeals to them, fill in the blanks with their information, and call it a day. The issue here is that the sites do look like a DIY job, many times even displaying the website provider’s logo and screaming: “I’m a free website”.

Another common issue, is not updating the DIY site. Issues like the platform itself becoming obsolete, broken links, or not working properly in all browsers or on mobile devices, will affect the user experience in a negative way.
The thing is that being in the branding and image business your website kind of shows that you don’t pay attention to your own brand, and therefore don’t understand branding. So when your prospect sees this, you are categorized as a rather unprofessional commodity seller, not a branding expert. And you know what happens when you sell commodities…

Talking To Everyone

If your website talks to the general public who’s looking for any promotional products, you are positioning yourself as a commodity provider, so you must do something about it quickly. The best way to tackle this starts with being clear who your ideal client is, which is likely not to be a quick process, but once you have this well defined it will drive your marketing message and make you money. I’m sure you’ll agree there are several types of people who buy promotional products. Defining those you want to work with will help you stop wasting time with those who are not as profitable for you. So when that ideal client goes to your website, your marketing message must speak to them and make them feel that “you get it”. This is the secret formula to make them feel that they found the right provider and lead them to take the next step in working with you.

No Value Proposition

A frequent mistake is to dedicate your home page to tell the visitor how great you are… they don’t really care. At that point, all they’re looking for is what you can do for them and if you are the right provider. To that end you must avoid:

• Using common place phrases that every distributor business can say, such as “I can put your logo on anything”, or that they can “search for thousands of products” or that you provide the “best service”. These statements are true for every promotional product distributor, so it won’t differentiate you in the least.

• Give them a list of reasons why they should use promotional products, this is just not the time for that, they are way past the consideration stage and already looking for ideas and quotes!

• Listing your credentials, talk about your track record, or how long you’ve been in business.

What to do instead: tell them how you will make their life easier, that’s what they want to know. Think about their challenges and address them, that’s how you differentiate yourself and become the right choice.

Not Showing Their Expertise

Having been part of high level mastermind groups for years I know for a fact that there are many seasoned promotional products distributors that have a wealth of knowledge about decorating methods, lines of products, industries, compliance, licensing, and other very specific and important aspects that can affect product sourcing. However, in looking at their websites there is absolutely no sign of their expertise, that would instantly differentiate them from the pack, and quickly show a first time web visitor how valuable of a partner they can be.

Not Showcasing Their Work

Your own work is the best way to show your track record, the quality of your work, and your creativity. It does’t take much to request an extra piece to be sent to you when you do an interesting project, and all you need is a decent portable (not expensive) lamp and your phone to take a decent photo. Make it a habit to take photos of completed projects and show them on your website.

Ignoring The About Page

Research shows that the About page is the most visited page after the home page. As it turns out, people want to know who they would be dealing with. Interestingly, most distributors just have some generic copy and not any information about themselves, many times, not even their names…If that’s you, start writing your story!

Not a Proper Contact Form

When people find your website and have looked through it, they are more than half way through their buying process, and having a contact form that asks for relevant information will show that you understand that process, and it’s more likely to prompt them to fill it out and contact you. Include things like “event date”, “event theme”, “approximate quantity”, and a space that instructs them to provide more details about the project.

No Call to Action

This one you’ve probably heard before many times, but since most distributor websites just don’t have one at all, it’s worth repeating. You basically need to tell people what you want them to do, in a clear, blunt way, and have it in every page of your website. Making assumptions that they’ll know where to click is just not going to cut it.

Not Taking Advantage of Google Analytics

Google provides a whole suite of free tools to track your site performance, that will give you a wealth of knowledge of who your website visitors are, what interests them, and what are your sources of traffic. Not taking advantage of them is a huge missed opportunity. It does take some time to set these up, but once in place you will be able to see what’s working and what’s not, and the adjustments your website needs in order to improve your results, turning your website in the sales tool it should be.

The Point

The bottom line is that in this highly competitive environment were potential clients turn to the internet to look for solutions, your website is your most important marketing asset and you must take it very seriously. Your website is open for business 24/7, and it must quickly communicate to your ideal client that you understand their needs and wants, that you speak the same language and they can trust you with there projects. Otherwise those valuable potential clients looking to discuss their projects beyond just the promotional items, will not find any reason to contact you. If you get mostly calls from price shoppers it’s time to take a hard look at your website and do something about it. Your potential perfect clients are also searching the internet for a provider like yourself. If they happen to find you your website doesn’t sell your expertise and value added, they’re quickly leaving your website and going to your competition.

If you would like to have an introduction call and discuss your website feel free to get in touch here. We’d love to hear from you and help you out!


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