Counselor Commentary: Get Your Growth On

Throughout the American economy, and in the ad specialty industry specifically, the sense of optimism is palpable.

Throughout the American economy, and in the ad specialty industry specifically, the sense of optimism is palpable. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported last week that small-business confidence reached an eight-year high in December. In fact, the NFIB said its much-followed Small Business Optimism Index increased 2.3 points to 100.4 last month, the highest reading since October 2006. The index, which is back at its pre-recession average, was bolstered by a surge in sales expectations as well as hiring, capital outlays and business expansion plans.

Further, a new survey this week showed similar sentiments. The report from Endurance International Group showed that 66% of owners of companies that employ 10 people or fewer believe 2015 will be a better year economically than 2014. Buoyed by such belief, more than a quarter (27%) of owners said they intend to hire new employees, while 54% stated that they plan to make financial investments, such as developing new products, in their businesses.

The feelings are similar to those seen in the promotional products industry, too. The Counselor Confidence Index hovered near an all-time high in the fourth quarter, as distributors reported that their outlooks for 2015 were extremely bright. Even at the first two industry trade shows of the year – ASI Orlando and PPAI Expo – speaking with both suppliers and distributors, you got the sense that most companies in the ad specialty market are planning for a big year.

“It seems like clients are prepared to spend on bigger promotions and campaigns than they have been in previous years,” the CEO of one Top 40 distributor company told me last week in Las Vegas. “It’s a different feeling right now. They’re not just doing one-off buys. They’re planning out campaigns. That’s a better environment for all of us to operate in.”

Indeed, 2015 may be able to be named The Year of Growth. Are you prepared to capitalize? You can’t just go to market with the exact same plan as in previous years and expect to win these kinds of big deals that are available. You might need more salespeople to take advantage of the additional opportunities. You might need new capabilities – like e-commerce and mobile marketing – to connect with a new wave of buyers that aren’t used to the traditional modes of purchasing. You might need new offerings – such as website design and on-site decoration services – that expanding corporate customers could call on you for.

The business climate is ripe for growth right now. Are you? Is your company set up to capitalize on expanding and new opportunities that clients are sure to present this year? The time is now to really begin focusing on growth and uncovering new business. It’s there to be had. The most prepared companies – with the most diversity of service offerings – are the ones that will be able to capitalize.