Guest post by Dave Miller

Are you aware that the clouds of Promogeddon are gathering? And not on the horizon, but directly over our heads?

Scores of people in our industry will soon be vaporized.

So why am I channeling Chicken Little, you ask? It’s simple: Cultural and market pressures will reduce our industry’s current supply chain from B2B2B2B to just plain ol’ B2B.
People have figured out that they can go online, where there is a wide enough selection of easily-prescribed and searched products. And a known price. And an easy order interface. And free shipping. That’s called commoditization.

Try it for yourself. Conduct an online open search for the last stock promotional product you sold, adding “with custom logo” to the product keyword. (By the way, that’s known as a longtail search, which is how we all find stuff online. The big boys already have these longtails completely surrounded by algorithms and SEO schemes you can’t possibly imagine. Or afford.)

Buyers will eventually bypass us all—distributors and suppliers alike—and get the commodity promo stuff they need at factory-direct wholesale prices that are less than a supplier can net to a distributor. These same buyers are plugged-in consumers in their own lives—buying pet food and toilet paper online—and their behavior as B2B channel buyers will be no different.

“But, Dave, our products have logos on them.” So do theirs. Next!

“But, Dave, I add value because of my relationship with them.” Transacting orders is not a relationship. If it was, my best friend would be that one dude at Taco Bell. (The emergence of relationship-free transactions are why we don’t have Blockbuster, travel agents, payphones, or alarm clocks anymore.)

As an industry, we can’t offer quicker, cheaper, more accurate, or better quality. And a very large part of what we do is purely transactional. As a result, our diminished value proposition has left us vulnerable to the gathering storm.

Survivors? Unique items that are directly relevant to your client’s business. Not novel or trendy, but unique—as in design & build custom work. It’s the only safe harbor from the commoditized world of widgets that is fueling the imminent Promogeddon eruption. Go see your customers in the flesh and offer them something they have never seen before because it hasn’t been invented yet. Go collaborate. Go talk to them about their business, not yours.

Or at least go to say goodbye.

Hope You Survive.


Guest post by:
Dave Miller
VP Sales & Marketing
Bruce Fox


Editors note:
The photo was taken in the western region of Venezuela, featuring a fascinating lighting phenomenon that occurs daily, the Catatumbo Lighting. It appears every night, with average 28 lightning strikes per minute and up to 10 hours at a time. Just like you wouldn’t dear navigate the lake in that area, you can also avoid being a casualty by not ignoring the business reality, and proactively be looking for the opportunities.