I recently read the results of a study done by ASI (the Advertising Specialty Institute) that says 93% of promotional product buyers use catalogs to generate swag ideas.
Frankly, that percentage surprised me because we very seldom get requests to mail out catalogs here at Swag Connection. But, as I read the 'fine print' it started to make more sense - their study defined "catalogs" as including both traditional paper catalogs and online catalogs.
Personally, I think online catalogs are the way of the future for the promotional product industry. Online catalogs have a TON of advantages over paper ones:
- Online catalogs can be accessed anywhere, any time
- Online catalogs are easier to share if your swag decisions are made by committee
- Unlike paper catalogs, they're easily searched by keyword or price point
- They make it easier to price-shop and compare similar items
- You never need to worry about online catalog prices being out of date
- The product selection of online catalogs is always current
- Online catalogs often offer special deals on discontinued items
- They're much more eco-responsible, saving trees and other resources
- No postage required!
We have two websites with searchable promotional product databases - Swag Connection.com for 'traditional' promotional products and Ecoswag.com for eco-responsible promotional products. The sites function as our company's "online catalogs" and they are both a great resource for anyone who is searching online for swag ideas.
Even so, I got to wondering if I could deliver an even better tool to help people who are looking for swag ideas online. At the same time, I wanted to take the blog in a a new direction because it seems to be getting a bit stale. So here's my great idea: Let's build an Online Catalog Library with links to the online catalogs of our favorite product lines!
So, you ask - how would this be different from our current searchable product websites?
To answer this question, you need to know how the promotional product industry is structured. Basically there are two types of players: Distributors (like Swag Connection) and Suppliers (which are the companies we Distributors source our imprinted promotional products from).
When you, as a promo buyer, start looking for swag ideas online you're most likely going to wind up on DISTRIBUTOR websites like Swag Connection, Branders.com, 4Imprint, Promopeddler, etc. You'll quickly see that all of these sites are quite similar, and that each offers a varied & seemingly endless selection of product choices. The one thing these sites all have in common is that they're all just collections of products that come from the Suppliers in our industry. If you ever thought we all pretty much have the same stuff on our sites, you're exactly right. All of us distributors just pick the products we like from various suppliers and put them on our websites. No wonder they all look like "the same thing only different"!!
What I'm planning to do is build you an online library of SUPPLIER catalogs. As a promotinal product professional, these are the catalogs that I go to when I'm looking for swag ideas for my clients. The cool thing about supplier catalogs is that many of them specialize in one particular area - for example, we have one supplier who just sells stress toys and has every shape and size you can imagine. So if you're looking for stress toys, it is much easier to go to that supplier website instead of visiting all of those sites above and searching each one for stress toys. Hope you're with me so far.
The other part of it is a change in the blog focus. Instead of being PRODUCT focused, I'm planning to become more SUPPLIER focused. Essentially, as I add new catalogs to the online library I will also write a "review" about that supplier on the blog to introduce you to their product line. I'll let you know what our company's experience with them has been, point out favorite products, tell you what I like about their product line, tell you where their products come from and where they ship out of... and whatever else I think is interesting.
Best of all - any swag idea you find - from ANY catalog in the library - can be purchased through Swag Connection at the prices shown.
Next week we'll create the link to the Catalog Library on Swagqueen.com and feature our first supplier reviews... stay tuned!
The Swag Queen