Marketing consultant and business book author Seth Godin believes sellers of promotional products are uniquely positioned for success today. “All other media is falling apart,” said Godin, the keynote speaker this week at the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas and creator of the popular marketing blog Seth’s Blog. “This is an advantage for your industry. This means that traditional media can be disrupted, just like so many other industries today, and a revolution can be out there.”
But to be able to really see that revolution coming and to capitalize on the opportunity, Godin said promo products companies need to break out of their comfort zones and approach their businesses differently. Today, he said, there’s a race to the bottom as far as price is concerned – and that will be a race that distributors lose if they don’t change how they interact with customers.
“Your challenge is that most people you’re trying to sell to don’t think they have a problem that only you can solve,” said Godin, who wore a gray suit with purple tie and striped shirt on the PPAI Expo stage on Tuesday morning. “That leads people to seeking out the lowest price when they’re ready to buy. The Internet has helped to expose this. All information is now free on the Internet, and when information is all you’re hoarding, you simply can’t win today.”
Instead, Godin suggested that ad specialty companies do better at connecting closely with their clients. They have to exchange ideas. They have to trust their customers. They have to provide campaigns, not just information, because that information can surely be found somewhere else and most likely it will come cheaper. “You don’t sell products,” Godin said. “Stop thinking like that. You solve business problems. You help customers connect to their audience. You have an ability to create connections through the products and services you provide. That’s valuable, and those are the types of conversations you need to have.”
And, Godin said, you need to have the guts to make this shift. “You have to be different today,” Godin said. “The RFP is not your friend. If your customer can write it down, then they can probably get it cheaper somewhere else. Yes, it’s a risk to take a different approach. But you need to embrace fear to be successful today. Fear’s poison is creativity. Don’t be afraid to change the conversation.”