Have you ever had a little voice in your head whispering to you that you might have outgrown your current branded merch provider? Were you so busy doing other things that you just pushed it to the back of your mind promising yourself you would give it more serious thought just as soon as things slowed down – even just a little?
Did you justify it by telling yourself that things were going “fine?” That the vendor you were working with was doing a “decent” job of delivering on what was promised? But were you still unable to completely dismiss the fact that maybe your program was just a little bit stale? Perhaps your merch sales had even dropped off a bit from where they were previously. Did it feel like there were advances you should have been able to make, but you were not quite sure what they were?
There is a way to know if the feelings you were having were real or simply part of a bad day. Here are 3 key signs that you have outgrown your branded merch provider.
Notwithstanding you have been using them for more than a little while through multiple branded merch order cycles, you still don’t feel like your provider knows who you are, what you do, and what your goals are. This is not uncommon.
There are many branded merch providers who really don’t know that much about the branded merch itself. They are software programmers looking for the next big wave they can jump on, and then off of, once they build their businesses to a certain size. They put together snappy websites for selling merch and “cool-looking” do-it-yourself design tools for you to use, but creating the merch itself is not part of their DNA. They put together a cookie cutter approach that may not include much more than on-demand screen printed items. They “allow” you to present your merch on their site.
It is entirely possible that your provider is not set up to give you assistance with ideas of what is going on in the branded merch industry as a whole, and how those trends can be adapted specifically to your brand. They are not equipped to develop fresh new ideas that will catch your customers’ fancies. Not only do they not have employees skilled in these areas; their entire business model may be an impediment. If they work in only one particular niche, they have no way of seeing what is going on elsewhere and then adapting it to you.
For example, your provider may do screen printing, but only in one or a handful of ways. When they do provide other types of merchandise it may all be outsourced. This significantly limits the types of merch they can provide. The room to be custom and different does not exist.
If the thoughts in this post so far are ringing true, it is very likely you have outgrown your current branded merch provider. There is nothing wrong with that. You are not the first to reach this pivot point. Start by knowing there are providers available who can join with you as you move your branded merch program to the next level.
To re-energize your branded merch program, find a partner, not a vendor. Find an organization capable of collaborating with you, not just on what you want today, but on where you can go in the future. Find a partner with custom branded merchandise production deep in its DNA - a partner that is more interested in the craft than they are in saving pennies anywhere they can as they prepare for a hoped-for disposition of their company to the highest bidder.
Find a partner that is big enough and diverse enough to be working across multiple industries with branded merch programs. Only then will they have the critical mass to be well informed about cross-industry trends and what they might mean for you.
Find a partner that can produce any type of custom branded merchandise you can think of. Not only that, but a partner that can also offload any function you want them to as you up-level your branded merch program. A partner that can free you up to focus only where you want to. This includes a partner with a full art department, and offerings including warehousing, fulfillment, and even creative financial arrangements to fit the way you would like to run your branded merch program.
Your branded merch can still be everything you dreamed it would be when you established it in the beginning. Don’t you owe it to yourself to see what the possibilities still are?
At Huge Brands, we are often approached by people just like you who want to take their branded merch programs to the next level. If you are interested in learning more about what can be done, give us a call at (801) 355-0331 or shoot us an email at email@example.com. We would love to chat.