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A Distributor Asks: How do you handle requests for mock-ups before receiving an order? Some of my clients ask for two or three mock-ups before even placing an order through us.

That’s how I actually close/used to close deals. Virtuals sell. My SAGE presentations were customized with artwork before going to the client. Little extra work, but a lot more effective.

Charity Gibson
National Account Coordinator
Peerless Umbrella Co.
Phoenix, Arizona
PPAI 112666, S10

If it’s a new prospect, we learn their brand manual, and if they do not have one, we determine appropriate and consistent usage as part of discovery. Once that is set, the product we select is in part based on what will best carry their brand. We automatically offer multiple layouts to show why we picked the one we think they should use. Once they are a customer and have purchased a couple of times, we typically just do one layout and tell them why this layout is being used. After years of service to some clients, they don’t even need proofs but rely on us to determine what it should look like. Upfront work and showing them the thought process we use early in the relationship builds trust and shortens the order process for the long haul.

Bruce Reissaus, MAS
Advertising Specialties Alliance
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
PPAI 273999, D2

I have been in this industry 30 years. Some people cannot visualize the print on the product. I will send a virtual as much as possible. It really helps close the sale. Also, if we do different renditions when the order goes in, we have the art the way we want it and there is less of a chance for error in production.

Lisa Shaffer
Sales Partner
West Minister, Maryland
PPAI 751994, D2

If they request a quote/presentation, I ask for their logo. Sometimes, I’ll snag it off their website. But I automatically put the logo on every presentation. The extra work is minutes and the impact is greater. See it with your logo and fall in love with it. I don’t do free graphic work or alter the logo in any way, but I will save and upload their logo—no problem. If a client were to ask me to do a custom virtual during the quote process that required actual graphic art labor, I would tell them upfront there is a fee for it and begin an invoice, but if they order, I’ll remove it from their total invoice.

Daniel Reardon
President and Founder
PlexKey Promotional Marketing Group
Millis, Massachusetts
PAI 786476, D1

If you have not done business with them, I explain that they will get one to their satisfaction once the order is placed. I have done a few and no order, so we have adopted this policy and not lost any business.

Gary Rugoff
Dallas, Texas
PPAI 135000, D3

Invest in some time to learn. It’s really not too difficult. Skillshare and other YouTube videos give you enough to do the basics; you just have to get the program. I’m self-taught. Virtuals are what make you stand out. They help the client feel more confident in and excited about their purchase. A lot of vendors offer free virtuals, too. Starline has a nice program for creating your own on their website. It’s really cool. I use it a lot for their products.

Amanda E. Roll
Account Manager
Pinnacle Branding
Cincinnati, Ohio
PPAI 612960, D6

As a supplier, we understand the importance of virtuals. That’s why we offer free same-day mock-ups. However, we have to think about it in the perspective of the client. They’re investing a lot of money in a product in hopes to create some type of success for their business. It makes sense why some want to explore several options before placing an order, so we can empathize with their process. If you’re working with a person who overthinks, like I do sometimes, I would suggest to reassure their decisions and/or start small. We find that many clients order small quantities at first, but then come back with much higher reorders. It’s sometimes about the long game.

Stephanie Morales
Digital Marketing Manager
Miami, Florida
PPAI 536045, S5

You should provide them at no charge. That’s our role and our differentiator against the other guys. Always be of service.

Christian Pfrommer
Wunderspoke Marketing (an iPROMOTEu Affiliate)
San Jose, California
PPAI 709123, D1

I’ll do quick mock-ups for free, kind of. If it’s custom art or if it takes more than 10 minutes to mock-up, I’ll say I want an order commitment or charge an art fee.

Joe Gresham
CG Printing
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
PPAI 785652, D1

I’ve always done mock-ups for free for 17 years. I think it helps sell the product and sell the client on seeing their logo displayed on something they want.

Kendra Phelps
President and owner
Enterprise Essentials
Reno, Nevada
PPAI 357859, D1

Depends on who’s asking. For good clients, we will usually accommodate one or two prior to an order. For customers who we can’t depend on to actually place an order or for new contacts, we don’t generally do mock-ups without an order that has been paid for. If they really want one before placing the order, we charge them an art fee per mock-up, and tell them that amount will be applied to an order for that item placed within 30 days. If the client places and pays for the order and we did the mock-up/proof for them and they cancel, our wording on their order approval states that they can get a refund less the art fee if the order has been cancelled prior to being put into production. Since no order goes into production without them signing off on the art, it’s not an issue.

Rama Beerfas, MAS
Lev Promotions
San Diego, California
PPAI 218331, D1

I do them myself or ask my vendors as most offer to do them for free, but I send them to clients as a JPG [file] with my name and company name clearly listed along with a watermark, making it difficult for someone to duplicate or reuse.

Holly Wollins Schotz
Brand Consultant
All Wrapped Up
Columbia, Maryland
PPAI 197888, D2

A Distributor Asks: I am looking for suppliers’ perspectives. If I close my distributorship without selling it, is there a way for my loyal customers (who place exact repeat orders) to transfer their existing screens, debossing dies and hot stamp dies to a different distributor, so the customer does not have to pay a new setup fee? (Assuming each customer would select their own new distributor.)

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.