Open the Door to New Revenue Streams

Whether you realize it or not, promotional products play a huge part in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the pen at the bank we used to sign a form. Maybe it’s the little stress ball we clutch during meetings to keep our cool. Maybe it’s our favorite T-shirt we picked up from a brewery tour in Colorado. Or maybe it’s just a sign telling us where we can park our car.
Promotional products are applicable to many different situations and buying verticals, making them a natural complement to traditional print offerings. Not a substitute. If you’re a print service provider that hasn’t considered adding promotional hard goods or apparel to your product line, now is a good time to start. It’s a way to create new revenue streams for your business without leaving money on the table.
Responding to Customer Needs
For Choctaw Print Services, the connection between print and promo wasn’t immediate. But after speaking with customers, the Durant, Oklahoma-based company learned promotional hard goods could be key to a project’s success. That was more than a decade ago.
“We found that our print customers had just as much demand for promo products as they did for printing,” says Kolton Prince, executive director of Choctaw Print Services. “It has been a great choice for our company to increase revenue, diversify the products we offer, and increase customer retention by being a one-stop shop.”
Promo products like these BIC Grip Roller pens from Koozie Group can be personalized. | Credit: Koozie Group
Since the onset of the pandemic, the trend of kitting together products has only grown. Companies onboarding employees for remote jobs want to find ways to make new hires feel like a part of the family — even from afar. They might send a package with a branded box, drinkware, a T-shirt, writing instruments, and more.
Also, as Prince mentions, end-buyers want to minimize touch points in their orders. Having a print partner that can also handle promotional products and decoration alleviates a ton of stress from the buying process, and sets the distributor up as a valuable asset.
Providing real partnership and expertise sets you apart from the competition. By attending industry trade shows and educational events, you can get a greater sense of what products are available and how they can be paired with print products, or any other order your customer may need.
Prince says Choctaw doesn’t necessarily specialize in any particular product category; rather, the team listens to what their customers need, keeping options available, and covering “the entire gambit of promotional products.”
If that sounds daunting, keep it simple. Writing instruments, for example, can easily pair with print offerings. From there, you can expand into bags, or technology items like power banks or smartphone accessories.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the industry and products available, your goal as a distributor should be to act as a consultant for your customers, the same way you would guide them through a print order.
“We try to be proactive with our customers in their planning phases of a project, to make recommendations of the printing and promotional products we could offer, to help them achieve what they are envisioning,” Prince says.
Finding Opportunities for Repeat Orders
Items like stickers can be a great choice for creating repeat orders. | Credit: Gill-line
One of the best things about the printing industry is how certain items lend themselves to repeat orders. The best thing for a distributor of print or promotional products is a reliable group of customers who place orders regularly.
Items like stickers can be a great choice for creating repeat orders, according to Cindy Scardino, marketing project manager for Gill-line, a G7 Master Printer in Lenexa, Kansas.
“Remember to research repeat order percentages,” she advises. “Over 50% of Gill-line orders are currently repeated. Envision a parking permit that changes the year and color annually, or a sheet of different stickers used to onboard prospective college students, or political signs for a candidate seeking election, then re-election.”
The same goes for other promotional products, too. Notebooks with calendar inserts aimed at students or businesses can be re-upped annually. Or, maybe there’s a local recreational sports league whose T-shirts say the name and season or year. That would mean orders more frequently than once per year.
Promotional products are meant to last, sure, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to when the product lends itself to re-orders.
Identifying the Right Audience
Here’s the easiest part of all of this: The print customers you work with already likely need promotional products, too, and will be glad that you can now handle these types of orders.
Scardino specifically mentions sales verticals like health care, construction, and education for products like custom stickers, signs or labels.
“A simple go-to is a Stock Shape & Size #182302 3˝-diameter sticker printed in a brilliant full color on white vinyl with permanent adhesive,” she says. “This single item can be utilized in a wide variety of markets, such as health care, construction, or education. It can be placed on a laptop, water bottle, helmet, or industrial equipment. It can inform, instruct, promote, identify, warn, or protect.”
Apparel offerings for customers can include a Gildan adult-size hooded sweatshirt. | Credit: Bel Promo
Within those product categories, items like pens, notebooks, apparel, or bags are also good ideas. Think about your last visit to the doctor. You probably noticed the office staff were wearing more than just scrubs. Maybe they had zip-up jackets or vests with the office’s name embroidered on the chest. Schools could use items like decorated backpacks with the team logo or school’s name. Construction companies could use items like carpenter pencils, pens, or high-visibility apparel. They could also use items like folders or pad folios to complement print products like brochures or other informational pieces.
The Final Word
If you ask Prince, adding promotional products to his business was not only an easy move, it was a vital one. It injected a new source of inspiration and revenue to his business, and allowed the company to pivot in different directions depending on buying habits.
“If you have customers that have a need for promotional products or if you are needing some more diversification in your print business, I would strongly consider adding promo products to your product line,” he says. “Our business would not be the same without it.”
After all, who wants to be the salesperson who says “no” to a request? When a print customer comes to you seeking a promotional products order, you want to be able to say, “Sure, we can do that.”

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