Tips For Selling Political Promo Products

Want to sell political products to campaigns? Here’s some advice.

What Do Campaign Managers Want?

Trust level is most important when working with vendors, says Brendan Gill, president of BGill Group and Essex County freeholder, who has both advised and run successful re-election campaigns for the likes of U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker and U.S. Senator Frank J. Lautenberg. “I want to know not only that you can deliver on time, and meet the orders you’ve promised, but also that you can pivot and make design and production changes quickly,” he says.

Joe Fuld, founder of The Campaign Workshop, has run numerous political campaigns over the years. He relies on a core group of vendors. These are the traits he values most from them:

  1. Tells me “yes they can,” but also says no, if they can’t.
  2. Provides clear idea of shipping costs.
  3. Produces high-quality work.
  4. Delivers the product on time – makes sure it’s there when we need it.

Be Sure To Get Paid In Advance

In politics, things move quickly and people drop out of races without notice, says ASB’s (asi/120075)  Danielle Lum. “If your candidate hasn’t paid you for something and he or she drops from the race, chances are good that you won’t get paid,” she says.

Lori Ferber Collectibles’ owners learned that the hard way eight years ago. The firm had done work for a Senate campaign they’d worked with before and felt was reliable. “We delivered the product, the campaign signed for it, but then the candidate pulled out and we didn’t get paid,” says Steve Ferber, co-owner. It was a $4,500 order, which was significant at the time. “Now we either get paid in full or a significant portion paid up front."

Remember, Politics Is A Year-Round Business

Obviously 2016 is a big year for elections, given there’s a presidential race, but there are also other 2-year, 4-year and 6-year political cycles to take into consideration, says Gill Studios (asi/56950) vice president of marketing Carl Gerlach. Even in the odd years, there are a large number of smaller local campaigns which need printed collateral. “We see political business year-round,” he says.

Logomark’s (asi/67866) Scott Edidin, the supplier’s VP of sales in its Eastern division, has provided VIP gifts like padfolios, coasters and leather goods for campaigns. For one mayoral client, he developed a high-end Bettoni pen engraved with the mayor’s seal and signature, presented in a luxury gift box, to be presented to dignitaries and guest speakers. Typically, this client orders 50-100 of the pens at a time, he says.

Lum says one of her political clients does philanthropic activities, like beach cleanups or food drives, during the off-season. “We’ll supply canvas bags or hats that identify him and his people doing the project, and give them out as thank-yous,” she says.

Jansco Promotional Products Inc.’s (asi/233420) Patricia L. LaSpesa finds government and political clients are loyal. “When you do a good job and give them quality products in time frames that seem nearly impossible, they come back to you,” she says. LaSpesa does many projects for the city of Chicago and referrals have led to her working with aldermen, senators, governors and the NATO G8 conference.

Even when campaign season is over, the sales cycle continues. “The candidates you help today tend to come back for future campaigns,” says Ferber. Plus, once elected, politicians need to decorate their office. Lori Ferber Collectibles provides presidential seal rugs, resolute desk photos and other types of memorabilia that a candidate might want to order after the election is over.