In today market you can find promotional products just about anywhere. And most vendors are pretty close in price. While shopping for your new vendor to purchase promo products keep in mind the price, quality, and reputation of the vendor. Its not always easy to simply do a search online and choose the first link that pops up. Some time goes into selecting who your funds will end up with.
I do suggest a few sights I’ve personally used, but do not let my suggestions become your deciding factor. Many vendors specialize in particular areas of products. One vendor might be a specialist in labels and only sell labels or other types of paper goods. While another may only sell items for giveaway promos like pens and t-shirt. And you do come across the larger companies that do it all but sometimes don’t always give quality for your dollar. Don’t forget the underdog company’s that tend to be local and should get a little more shine then most people give them.
Lets go over price! While price is a huge factor in your decision, its also not the only factor. Lots of people I know look for the cheapest business card or the least expensive way to purchase custom pencils. Although keeping your budget inline is important remember that quantity does not tower over quality. Keep your budget sound and don’t overspend in thoughts the return will pay off. In promo giveaways it almost never pays off right away.
Quantity and Quality always go hand in hand. Each business including yours, will have to make a decision to either sacrifice quality for quantity or vise versa. Its important to know anything you hand out to your perspective client is an extension of your business, not yourself. Take yourself out of the equation and think as a perspective buyer. The quality of a pen can determine how a person grades the value of your product or service. If your offering a $3,000 service and your pen looks and feels like cheap plastic they might think of your service the same way. But if you invest just a little more on a quality looking and feeling pen engraved with your logo on it, the customer reflects that value with how high quality your service or product is.
Keep in mind depending on your product or service cost determines the value of the promo giveaway. If there were a new organic tea on the market I wouldn’t expect a t-shirt with every purchase. Now I would expect a t-shirt or something of equal value from a company offering legal services. The quality of the promo product remains the same. The difference is not the quality, its the quantity and product item you can budget. A little tip is keep your marketing strategy within your promo product availability, do not over spend!
So, how do you know what company has better quality goods? Simple, call and ask for a few free samples of the products your interested in. There should be no reason a credit card should be asked for or any type of payment. All reputable promotional product vendors are more than willing to give out free samples and eat the shipping cost. If you do come across a vendor that asked for payment for shipping or deposits move on. Its better to say thank you, but no thank you, than to have a bad taste in your mouth. After receiving your samples from all vendors interested in (at least 3 or 4) compare the materials average cost per unit and make a decision. Also request samples that are relatively similar from all vendors. Don’t request a pencil from one vendor and flyers from another. There would be no way to compare the quality of material. Big box items wont come free as samples, sorry.
For new business men and women its very easy to calculate the total cost of each unit (promo item). Most vendors sell promo products in bulk 100 and up some do have lower amounts, usually no lower than 25. The lower the amount purchased in bulk the higher the cost per unit. First gather three bulk estimates of the same product. For instance, for the same pen you would create three categories of price; 500 unit price- 1000 unit price- 1500 unit price. Now you would have to ask the vendor for an estimate of shipping cost per unit size (500-1000-1500). And ask for the cost of each unit in bulk of 500, 1000, and 1500. Also you need to know the tax associated with each bulk order. Easy said. Then simply add all three numbers up and divide by the total unit amount. This is your total per unit cost.
Here is an example.
Custom ball point pens (Product)
Bulk 500 – Cost $625.00 – Shipping Cost $6.25 – Tax $50.00 (8%)
Bulk 1000 – Cost $910.00 – Shipping Cost $8.25 – Tax $72.80 (8%)
Bulk 1500 – Cost $1,425.00 – Shipping Cost $9.25 – Tax $114.00 (8%)
Add bulk cost + shipping cost + tax and divide by the total units in that bulk category.
- $625.00 + $6.25 + $50.00 = $681.25
- $910.00 + $8.25 + $72.80 = $991.05
- $1,425.00 + $9.25 + $114.00 = $1,548.25
Now divide by the unit amount and this is your total unit cost.
- $681.25 / 500 = $1.36
- $991.05 / 1000 = $0.99
- $1,548.25 / 1500 = $1.03
In this example it is most cost efficient to purchase in bulks of 1000. When purchasing in bulk your often have times when specific amounts of units is cheaper than others. Here the 500s are more expensive than buying in 1000s. This means more than likely buying 2000 is cheaper per unit than buying in 2500. Some vendors do have a setup fee for specific products. Calculate this into your final cost as well.
So were do I start my hunt for promo products you might say.
Personally I prefer local owned business than online. The cost is usually a few dollars more but the service is far better. With a good local vendor you have a personal relationship with your merchandiser. Compare to a new random person each time you call a 1800 number. And you can touch and feel each one of the products they offer in house. A good local vendor should not be pushy and would want your business based on the quality of their goods. They usually wont price match since they know what their products are worth. But Its free to ask for product cost in bulk and tax price. Local means no shipping cost either. Keep that in mind when calculating the total cost per unit. You also get the advantage of expressing in detail how to customize your product in person.
When online shopping a few things you need to look for is; were are they located? Do they have strait forward pricing?Are they professional over the phone? What certifications do they have? What is their return policy? Do they have any reviews? Location is important. I always choose companies in the USA the products may be created overseas but the company is in the states. This assures me Ill be dealing with a company that has to abide by our laws. And if they make their products in house, even better. Call the company for a brief chat, even if you don’t plan on buying anything. Ask average shipping times and were are they located. This is a great way to see how they treat their clients. Reputation is always the absolute kicker. Check if they hold any reputable certs. If they are a good online vendor they will want to show their certifications and awards. Look for logos on the main page like BBB, McAfee, Norton, SiteLock, etc. Even check out their social media pages for confirmation. My rule is confirmation, sample, purchase. Make sure you check them out first. Once they look good ask for a sample. If the sample has quality and the price is right, its time to purchase.
For local pickup in business cards the best value I’ve found is staples, office depot/office max and other supply stores. Vista Print online does have good prices and decent quality in cards however they do mark up the shipping cost a bit. Even though Vista Print isn’t my first or even second choice they are affordable if you calculate your cost appropriately and watch out for their shipping charges. Call them if the shipping is to high, they may give you a credit of some sort.
Online vendors for paper goods.
Uprinting.com, Printplace.com, Printrunner.com, Wizardlabels.com, Lightninglabels.com, stickergiant.com,
Promo Goods like t-shirt and pens.
4imprint.com, Customink.com, Pens.com, Amsterdamprinting.com, penfactory.com
Each vendor has their own pricing for each product. One vendor may have better pricing on a particular item than another may have. Call around, make lists and stay in budget. Its not the quantity that matters, its the impact you make on your client.
Best of Luck in your endeavors.