Creepy Faces

It’s Halloween, so today I’d like to talk to you about 5 things that terrify many distributors.

Happy Halloween! Today’s episode features all treats and no tricks as we discuss 5 things that terrify many distributors and how to overcome them.

Year after year, regardless of the economy, there are five things that seem to scare the daylights out of distributors more than any others. They are:

1. Websites selling promotional products
2. Other local competitors
3. Industry suppliers who sell direct
4. Large distributors selling in your market
5. Crossover distributors

I’ve discussed these threats many times in the past, and I’ve addressed them in-depth in my webinar The Five Biggest Threats Facing Promotional Products Distributors and What to Do about Them. But they keep popping up, so I figured I’d give you the quick, Readers Digest condensed version of how to handle them.

But before we do that, I just want to point out, that very often there’s a real threat and there’s a perceived threat. And very often the real threat is not nearly as “threatening” as we perceive it to be. So do yourself a favor and avoid catastrophizing. That is, don’t interpret an event as an epidemic. If you lose a sale to a website or a local competitor, don’t assume the sky is falling and that you’ll never sell anything ever again. Focus on addressing the real threats, instead of being paralyzed into inaction by the perceived threats or just the thought of a threat.

Okay, so let’s talk about the threats:

1. Websites selling promotional products.

First you need to understand that it’s a completely different business model. There’s a certain type of person who will go to Home Depot, buy a bunch of lumber and nails and build a deck onto the back of his or her house. This is what we call the “do-it-yourselfer.” There is another type of person who will hire a contractor to build a deck on the back of his or her house.

If a contractor spends a lot of time and effort trying to sell a do-it-yourselfer, he or she will likely starve to death. But if they target the people who don’t want to to it themselves, they will be far more successful. And it’s exactly the same in our industry.

If you target do-it-yourselfers, you will waste a lot of time, set yourself up for failure and you’ll convince yourself that you just can’t compete any more. Just understand, the people that are inclined to buy promotional products from a website are for the most part, do-it-yourselfers. And in the 21st century, they are, by and large, not your target market. So the best thing you can do for your business and for your own mental health, is to identify and disqualify them as quickly as possible and focus your attention on the non-do-it-yourselfer. The person who understands and appreciates the value you bring to the table. The people who value their own time enough to allow the people who are great at doing something to do it for them.

In the old days, the goal was just to sell to everyone we came into contact with. Today, the goal is to quickly qualify the likely buyers, disqualify the unlikely buyers and focus the majority of our time and attention only on qualified buyers.

2. Other local distributors.

The truth is, we’re not really afraid of other local distributors. At least, we’re not afraid of ALL of them. We’re really only afraid of the ones we think are better than we are. Or those who have more money or more resources. In order to overcome this threat, we need to be better. We need to focus on promoting ourselves more aggressively in the marketplace and on delivering based on our unique strengths. What is your unique strength? Are you more creative than other people? Are your artwork and graphic skills better? Are you more available and responsive than others? Can you deliver faster than your competitors? Whatever your unique skill is, think of it as your “superpower” and focus on promoting it and delivering it to all the clients who are seeking out that particular strength.

3. Industry suppliers who sell direct.

In my opinion, there has been way too much time wasted on this idea for decades. Are there suppliers who sell direct? Yes. But really, how much of a threat are they? How often do you come up against them? How much business have YOU actually lost to them over the years compared to the fear of what you might lose to them? Stick with reality and remember, we choose which suppliers we use, don’t use, recommend and don’t recommend. And once again, if it happens to you, don’t interpret that event as an epidemic.

4. Large distributors selling in your market.

The truth is, the largest distributors in our industry are actually made up of a lot of smaller distributors, just like you. Some are great and some are terrible. And while larger distributors may have advantages in terms of marketing, pricing and brand recognition, those advantages only really exist in the marketplace if the local representative takes advantage of them… promotes them. And in fact, in many cases, they don’t.

5. Crossover distributors.

These are the screen printers, pad printers, embroiderers, offset printers and ad agencies who often enter our industry. Since there are so many, we’re inclined to be fearful, but in fact, many never bother to fully learn the industry or promote their new capability. Essentially, they become dabblers and sidlers. In many cases, they just fizzle out and go back to focusing on their primary business. So once again, our only real competition are those who actually do it well.

The bottom line is that the distributor who wins is the one who is able to get and keep customers consistently. Those skills — customer acquisition and retention — are the whole ball game.

If you have the ability to get and keep customers, you make money. If you lack those abilities, you never will.

That’s why clients of my Top Secret of Customer Acquisition training have such a huge advantage over their competitors. Because they have a tested, proven, airtight process for bringing new customers throgh the door like clockwork.

If that’s something that’s missing in your organization, then visit and start a full year, risk-free test drive today. It will make your competition seem a lot less scary!

If you’re new to the industry and need to get grounded in the essentials of promotional products sales, visit us online at If you need to get clients now with no distractions and no excuses, visit Or, if you’re a smart, focused, independent distributor doing a reasonable volume of sales, join the AIM SmartEQP community today at that’s

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    2 replies to "5 Things that Terrify Many Distributors"

    • Henry

      This was very helpful…….
      Thanks so much

      • David Blaise

        Thanks for your feedback, Henry. I’m glad you found it helpful!

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