The news about Walmart entering the promotional products industry was the hot topic on various forums a few days ago. From fear of losing market share, to “my clients won’t go to Walmart”, to jokes about their customer service at the stores, many shared their views.


Whether you are afraid they’ll take a piece of your cake, or you think you have nothing to worry about, the big lesson is that the market is changing. You must have your eyes open to make sure you make the right moves so your business evolves. Especially if you are in a growth phase.


First off, never take your competition lightly. Especially the big ones. Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and has been competing with Amazon as it has expanded into the e-commerce space.  To enter the promo products space they have partnered with a company who will handle this part of the business.


However, I do believe that the buyer that will go to Walmart – or any other big online seller – is not the same that will prefer to work with a small distributor. That said,  we live in an age where your potential clients will go online to search for solutions. There are studies that show that when buyers contact a company, they have pretty much made the decision to work with them. That’s because they have already done their research ahead of time.


In today’s world, your ideal clients are turning to Google and using the promo sites they find to do their due diligence. Once they figure out pretty much what they want, they contact the chosen company.


Being a Small Business Is Your Competitive Advantage

The promotional products business is an account based, relationship business.  Additionally, because clients are more educated, they have higher expectations from sales reps as far as their expertise. As a small business, you can provide a much higher level of personalized service the big ones simply cannot. 

Studies back this up:  

72% of decision makers say the sales rep’s ability to help solve their business objectives is a major influence on their buying decision.

– Harvard Business Review


This is where your opportunity lays. And it’s huge.

In order to attract your ideal buyers, these 6 things will take you on the right path:


Know Your Ideal Clients Well

Find out who your clients are, what their jobs are like, what they care about, and what they need to do to succeed.  In order to gain deeper insights, you can use surveys and interviews. This will give you the deep understanding you need to make your interactions relevant and meaningful.


Know What Your Ideal Clients Value in Working With You.

Why do your clients choose to work with you?

Chances are, your clients value your insights and guidance through the buying process. The product ideas or creative use of products you bring to the table. You want to know, in the greatest detail possible, what they value in working with you.

By knowing what they care about you’ll build the certainty they need to be confident that part of their job is taken care of.


Target Those Clients Where You Deliver The Most Value.

Focus on the client types where you deliver the most value. Those where you’ve had the most success with the least amount of effort. Walk away from the rest.


Go The Extra Mile.

Streamline your processes so you deliver a consistent experience that sets you apart from the rest of your client’s vendors. Make it easy for your clients to do business with you. Build a culture of continuous improvement to help your team grow strong.


Become Their Trusted Partner

Ask yourself, what else is there? Consider that just like every other business, your clients’ businesses are also evolving. By becoming more involved at a higher level you will uncover opportunities to add both value to them and sales to your portfolio.


Market Your Business Online

Online giants invest in marketing and advertising. Just like any business on earth, you need to do the same. No one will find you when they are looking if you are not there. Set a reasonable budget to market your business online so you have a presence where your ideal clients are hanging out.


The Point

There are many great potential clients looking for providers just like you. Your challenge is to be found by them. This won’t happen by chance. Make it a point to be where they are spending time online.

Be proactive in building your business culture, online presence, and operating procedures.

The good news, very few distributors are doing it.