Best Supplier Self Promotion - Outdoor Cap Co.

Despite 41% of U.S. consumers owning promotional hats and caps, headwear can be a difficult product for distributors to sell. It can be perceived as having a higher price point than most products, and the levels of personalization available can delay the production process.

However, Outdoor Cap Co. (asi/75420) set out to help distributors change such perceptions by developing a marketing strategy that would make headwear a more effective category for top segments.

The Arkansas-based supplier created business development kits that provided a blueprint for selling headwear to certain demographics. Each kit contained custom cap samples, an industry-specific white paper, customizable flyers and a PowerPoint sales presentation. For example, to target the education market, a kit would include a cap with fictitious logos, along with 20 pages of information on how to effectively sell it to sororities, colleges or youth clubs.

“Headwear has gone through a renaissance in recent years because people find more value in higher quality, higher brand value items,” says Ben Roberts, senior VP of marketing at Outdoor Cap Co. “With headwear being one of the most visible ways to represent a brand, more distributors should get versed in headwear, lean on a great supplier to help them through the details, and help consumers understand the value of headwear is extremely high.”

Since launching the promotion a year and a half ago, Outdoor Cap Co. has expanded its kits to 11 different markets, each one available in three custom programs: seven-day domestic decoration, 21-day overseas express, and 75-day maximum custom creation. The company offered an online signup form for distributors to request a free kit.

Roberts says the results have been amazing: More than 1,500 distributors have requested one or more kits based on industries like education, healthcare, construction, food and beverage, technology, agriculture, automotive, nonprofits and real estate. “Our beverage kit is the most requested due to the growth of specialty beverages, new wineries and microbrews,” Roberts says.

In feedback forms, 40% of respondents said a kit directly helped them generate new headwear business. About 28% of distributors polled said the samples either helped close a sale or said that they were in the process of closing a sale thanks to the kits.

The kits have also boosted the company’s own business. Roberts says Outdoor Cap’s domestic embroidery operation is up by 33% over the previous year when the promotion hadn’t started. “When you’re getting that kind of conversion rate, you’re doing something special,” he says. “We’re going to keep doing it, and we’re going to keep updating the kits so they stay relevant to what’s happening in the marketplace.”