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What Trends Do We See In The Specialty Advertising Distributor Industry?

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I think if there are going to be any new trends, one will be the women are going to add a nicer touch to an old, hairy business. It use to be in the days of old-and I wasn't around then-that the general public's idea of an advertising specialty man was someone in a suit that badly needed cleaning, an old cigar and a crammed briefcase, peddling those matches and calendars. Today we are getting a lot more your people. I think the education level of the people entering our field note is a lot higher. Again, going back to the days of old, it used to be business where you almost had to be retired to get into it because of the commission schedule. There really wasn't a lot of money to be made in it, because items were being sold as products, and nobody at those times saw the need to have an advertising vehicle to carry a message in order to get the word out.

I think that specialty advertising distributors have to start adding on services within their organizations: writing services, art services or even some sort of a production facility that may be nothing more than a hot stamping machine or silk screening operation. At our company w have a production facility that includes printing, a direct-mail capability and fulfillment, and a warehousing capability. I think a specialty advertising company should get into the position to offer many services to client. This will enable a client to literally function with them as one-stop shop. By adding services in-house, they can become a more important cog in the wheel of the overall client's everyday promotions As I see it, the more services that a specialty advertising company can offer, the more valuable it becomes to the customer or the client.

Q - What advice would you give someone looking for a career in specialty advertising?

A - I think the best thing they could do would be to go to work for someone else for a while. They should find someone who would hint them with the understanding that they would work for them for just one or two. They should tell them right up front that they are interested starting their own business. The best thing to do would be to work for me one who is getting a little older; maybe they would even allow them to buy the business out after a period of time. Personally I had a lot good background in advertising sales. I was the advertising manager a small newspaper, and I had a lot of background in planning promo-m sales. I think that is a very valuable thing to have. I would say the list thing to do would be to make an application to a distributor, and work for someone who would give them a well-rounded experience. I ink probably the one most important thing, the biggest advantage our industry has over any other, is that a person can start out from almost anything, just like we did at $7,000 to $8,000 worth of sales the first jar. There is no one initial investment required. You don't have to have $50,000 inventory and a prime location downtown.

Most specialty distributors are very small companies, and most of them are looking for salespeople. The problem is that it is very difficult to bring someone fresh out of school and throw them into our kind environment. I see a lot of specialty advertising companies changing i offer more services such as writing, art, and design work; they are getting into fields that complement the specialty advertising business. I have always preached to salespeople in this business not to build a promotion around a product, but to build a promotion around the client's objectives, and then to use the product to enhance the promotion. That approach gives them a lot more punch and a lot more credibility.

I see the industry changing a little bit. I think they should specialize in marketing, advertising, and some journalism classes, and in addition like some straight business administration courses. A person who has a strong marketing and business background has a much stronger appeal to me than someone who comes out of a straight advertising school, because I think that type of school is too limiting.

I feel that for a long time specialty advertising hasn't revived the respect it deserves. I think a lot of the students coming out of college would like to get into some facet of advertising but don't consider specialties because who wants to go sell those widgets and trinkets? Really, it isn't like that at all. There are some very creative individuals in our industry who have won awards for putting together great promotional packages. I think specialties can be just as interesting and relative as any form of advertising. In the past ten years our industry has come a long way, but I still think it deserves more recognition than it has received.

There would be a waiting period of about three years before they would really be able to make money at it. That discourages a lot of people, and that is why there continues to be more and more opportunity in this industry. While in college, prospective distributors should get together with a respectable distributor. Call the association (Special Advertising Association International), ask for a list of distributors their city, and actually spend some time with them. Sit in their office and listen to some of the phone calls. See some of the problems. Take couple of the catalogues out and try to sell, but start out doing it on part-time basis. Try it for a couple of summers, because it takes two to three years to really start making any money in it. There is a large drop-out ratio, a lot of discouragement, and a lot of doors slammed in your face when you start. Basically nobody is going to give you an account. You are going to have to go out and ring doorbells, and the chances are 100 to 1 that you are going to make one pitch and get an order. The best way is to start out on a part-time basis to learn all the supplier catalogues. There is a lot of homework to do to learn them well. With all these suppliers out there, you are going to have to learn who he what. There might be thirty companies that have T-shirts and silk screening. Who do you use? I would go out with a senior salesperson, ask what problems they are having, and study that person. Then, put your how uniqueness into selling when you go out yourself.
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