How to Use Promotional Products to Brand Your Business, Stand Out, And Stay Top of Mind

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Tommy: So, we could run the same green in the ink fountain and we only have to run one plate for the green instead of two. It was a solid image where it was a hundred percent and then a screened image to print a 70% to give it that dual look. The reason I explain that to you is other than paper, you can’t print a screen. We go back to this where if you don’t know your PMS colors, the calibrations of other machines will not allow your colors to match. So, what was happening was, anything other than printing projects that they were also doing, items like aprons, hats, pens, tape measures and anything else not on paper, was not consistent and matching.

Tommy: So, they call me in, and they sit me down and they show me these items on the table. None of the greens match. And they’re like, why aren’t none of these greens matching. And I’m like, I can tell you why, because you’re trying to print a screen and whoever you’re sending these files to is not telling you that it can’t print screens. Therefore, the system they use is reading it as a green and printing the green it is calibrated to on that particular machine. So, when using five different companies, you will get five different greens because they’re all reading that green totally different. Even though it’s the same green in all the files, the calibrations aren’t the same.

Tommy: And so, they ask, how can we fix that? I tell them, what we got to do is assign that screened part of green an actual PMS color. It can’t print 70% green. So, I brought my PMS book out to them and I already did my research and had found two greens that were very close to that 70% match. So, I let them tell me which green they wanted to use, we assigned it a PMS color and now when they print on paper, it’s still only a two color, which keeps their costs down. But when they print on anything other than paper, it’s now a three-color job and that screened part of the green, is a PMS color. Because of that service, they literally called me and were like, you can do all of our work now because you’re the only one who has ever explained that to us and actually told us what the solution was. So huge, huge success for me. And I’m still doing work with them to this day. 12 years later.

JC: Definitely solved a problem.

Tommy: Yes.

JC: And how do you get involved in the promotional items business? What was the spark that got you started?

Tommy: Being involved with printing from back in the early 90’s, when I got started on the small presses and learned to mix ink and cut paper, I just loved it. Then when promotional products became part of our sales, it was so much more I could sell because I would walk into clients and they would say, hey, can you do coffee mugs? Nah, we don’t do those. Can you do pens? Nah, we only do paper. So, I would go back to my company. I’d be like, we need to get involved in this. And it took about a year. But now the crazy thing is JC, you cannot walk into a printing company today without them offering you promotional items. And none of them do it on the spot. So, I was at the start of that trend, not that my company LZP started, but I was with a company back then at the start of that trend where promotional companies were now becoming part of printing companies.

Tommy: Prior to the year 2000 it was printing companies and promotional product companies and they were separate. Printing companies didn’t touch promotional products and promotional product companies used printing companies for their print needs. Printing shops didn’t want nothing to do with promotional products as they had to keep their presses running. They didn’t care about coffee mugs and pens and other things that didn’t keep their presses running. But then what happened was printers got smart and were like, what the heck, this can be another stream of income and more options for our salespeople to offer to our clients. We can sell their products too. Then I decided to step out on my own and started my company back in 2012. I knew that I did not need equipment or anything in order to bring my customers their final product. I could be a sales rep for all of these companies for free representing their products and services while bringing a quality product at an affordable rate to my customers. This allows me not to be tied down to any one process or press and I have NO limitations on what I can get for my customers.

JC: So, tell me about something that you learned, a lesson that you learned earlier in life, you still apply today to your life or to business?

Tommy: Something I learned was to ask questions. I learned to let the other person talk. If I talk and I’m doing most of the talking, I’m losing, I learned to listen and become a problem solver instead of a seller.

JC: Okay. So let the other person talk and ask questions and be a problem solver instead of a seller.

Tommy: Yep. If you’re a salesman I believe anyone can sell, but can you solve a problem? So yeah, I want to solve, I like to solve problems.

JC: So, what are some tips for someone who wants to find a company like yours, to start doing the branding and get their items out there and brand their company when they want to find somebody like you, that can help them get all that stuff organized.

JC Soto

JC Soto is a Best Selling Author, host of Business Innovators Radio and contributor for Small Business Trendsetters covering Influencers, Innovators and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Finance and Personal Development.