Last month, one of my top clients came to me with a personal project. She said she just needed 15 mugs to give to participants in a program. When I said our minimums are 72 or higher, she told me how she found a website where she could buy 20 online.

If you are like me, the first thing you think when you hear something like that is, “The internet again!” But wait! We do have a way to sell against those low quantity online sellers.

First, you need to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If she’s talking about a plain, boring white, 11 oz. C-handle mug and you’re talking about a cool, 15 oz. cafe mug, then you need to get on the same page. Either get the client to consider the more desirable mug (how many white 11 oz. mugs can people want, after all?) or confirm that the client will only do that mug. Once you are both are comparing the same exact item, it’s time for a little math.

Your client may not realize there’s a price to pay for getting such a small quantity. The online companies focus on short-run printing and charge higher prices for the privilege. If you sit down and calculate your set-up and other costs with a much more cost-effective mug from one of your best suppliers, you might be surprised to find that your client could spend just a little more and get 72 mugs for the money instead of 20. That money will be well-spent because now they will have a lot more items to promote their business.

If you have clients who want to order small quantities, show them the math. Once they see the value you bring to the project, the online low-quantity seller should be out of the picture. Getting the best value for their money is the selling point you want to bring to the table when working with small orders.