A Distributor Asks: I’m having trouble describing what I do in a 60-second elevator speech. What are your “elevator speeches” and how do you explain your company to someone who is unfamiliar with the industry, or even to those who are familiar with it? 

I have always advocated my salespeople to drop the list. The best answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?” is not to recite the list. “Well, I print logos for my customers on pens and mugs and shirts and rulers and bags and blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum …” My response is usually: “I’m in the business of increasing sales and market share for your company.” Then, when they ask, “How do you do that?” it opens the door to shift into sales mode and answer that question with additional questions about their marketing approach, so I can tailor my responses to their needs.

The best elevator speech is not 30 seconds long—it is three seconds long. Fast, short and inviting more commentary. HALO’s company mantra is, “We connect people and brands to create powerful, lasting experiences!” This is another way of saying the same thing, which invites further discussion.

Rick Greene, MAS
Regional Vice President
HALO Branded Solutions
Chatsworth, California
PPAI 106462, D15

At BallyHoo Concepts, Inc., we do branded, logoed or blank promotional gifts, corporate gifts and branding solutions, from condoms to diamond rings and anything between this huge spectrum.

Andrea Davis
BallyHoo Concepts, Inc.
Calgary, Alberta
PPAI 273362, D2

You should have a core marketing message that describes what you do and who you do it for, so you say the same thing every time. It’s not easy to come up with, but it deserves proper thought. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”

Gloria Lafont
Action Marketing
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

It’s not about you, it’s about them. In my networking seminars, I teach that you ask what they do and what their top challenge is. You then explain your business is to help others like them meet those challenges with creative promotions. Then you ask them several other key questions to set up an appointment to build trust and learn more about them—not to make a sale. If you’d like to hear specifics, you can take my course online with PPAI or email me.

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
Marketing Coordinator
Hanover, Pennsylvania
PPAI 360359, S5

I’ll share my slogan with you. “If you’re not advertising with Chris “Gotcha,” it’s like winking in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but no one else does.”

Chris “Gotcha” Wilson
The Vernon Company
Newton, Iowa
PPAI 109323, D11

“My name is XXX. I am the owner of XXX and we’re the brand police. At XXX, we help all kinds of businesses and organizations promote their brand through fun, creative and affordable promotional solutions and gifts.” 

Karen Thieken
Forte Promotional Marketing
Dacula, Georgia
PPAI 601066, D1

“I help customers grow sales, retain employees and thank their customers with custom-branded products.” Then I usually give an example of a way in which I did one of those things. I’ll also pepper in some general specialties, seasonal advice, new products, etc. I try to stay away from product pitching, but cool products and unique ways they have been used are inspiring and memorable.

Brandon Samuel, CAS
Account Manager
Bellevue, Kentucky
PPAI 552077, A1

I ask what they do first, then I craft my response to their profession. Like if they say they are in real estate, I say, “I market items like house-shaped tape measures and gifts for referrals.” 

Karen Herzog
Adco Marketing
San Rafael, California
PPAI 217279, D5


A Distributor Asks: What are your thoughts on kitting with products from more than one supplier and with custom packaging? I see the benefits to providing recipients with a truly unique kit without having to compete on price, but there are other areas of concern, such as the process it takes to put these kits together, the high risk of error and the initial high price compared to premade kits that have me feeling a bit weary. Do the negatives outweigh the positives?   

One-hundred percent, yes. Totally worth it. The more experience you get, the less work it is. More suppliers are creating kits. (Peerless has a number of them now, too.) But even so, kits create an experience and demand a premium. Don’t compete on price, compete on creativity. Charge enough to make it worth it. Messaging matters as well. Don’t just slap logos on products. Tell a story! Where value isn’t a question, price isn’t an issue.

Charity Gibson
National Account Coordinator
Peerless Umbrella Co.
Newark, New Jersey
PPAI 112666, S10

We do these projects all the time. Just make sure you know the pricing of all the components of your project, from crinkle paper down to the shipping of all components to the place of fulfillment, so that you can more or less organize everything into one unit price for your client. Shipping can be a line item, too, if you prefer. To keep it organized, you can do a spreadsheet to keep track of costs.

Amy Arellano Williams, CAS
AB Unlimited Worldwide
Las Vegas, Nevada
PPAI 510995, D3 

Premium margins require premium effort. Do you want to sell schlock all day or be the guy who establishes his brand as doing one-of-a-kind, completely unique, tailored items that match perfectly with clients’ aura, ethos and DNA? I live for those assignments.

Craig Sahli
President and CEO
Graphics Network
Tulsa, Oklahoma
PPAI 670720, D1  


Do You Have An Answer?

A Distributor Asks: Has anyone experienced suppliers placing a competitor’s sticker on their orders? This has been happening to us for some years now where a larger distributor with a similar name supplies stickers to suppliers to be affixed to their packages, but the stickers get placed on our packages as well. The stickers are on samples as well as orders that go out to our clients. I’m not sure how much business we’ve lost because of this practice. What would you do?

What’s Your Answer?

Email your response to the question to Question@ppai.org for the chance to be featured in a future issue of PPB.


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.