Steps To Start a Promo Product Company

Promotional products are a lucrative business, with the industry hitting $25.8 billion in 2022. Businesses and organizations continue to find value in distributing items imprinted with their logo, and the average person enjoys receiving them (how many logoed tees do you own?). You can easily enter this industry and start selling products like pens, phone chargers, and tote bags to places like banks and hospitals. Here’s how you can get started.

Step 1: Register Your Name
Come up with a name for your business. The best names are simple and make it clear what you’re selling. If you opt for a cleverer name, keep it on the shorter side. After all, you want it to be easy to add your business name to your promos! Once you select a name:
Visit to register your business with a county or city.
Apply for a vendor’s license from your county admin office.

Step 2: Connect With Suppliers
In the promo products industry, manufacturers and wholesalers (companies that make or warehouse physical products) are called suppliers. Finding good suppliers will be your key to doing business and getting quality products for your customers.
If you don’t mind doing a lot of legwork, you can research online to find your suppliers. While this is free, it will take a lot of time and you won’t have the luxury of knowing how good the supplier is (since you’ll be taking their word for it).

It makes more sense to join a promo products membership company to find good quality suppliers. Once you become a member, you’ll have easy access to the company’s supplier members. Membership companies have online marketplaces and catalogs where suppliers list their products. The suppliers are also rated, so you can filter based on the quality of the supplier. Membership companies also hold trade shows and other events where you can network with suppliers.
As the saying goes, never put your eggs in one basket. You’ll want to develop relationships with multiple suppliers so that if a supplier is out of a certain product, you can quickly go to another one to fulfill an order.

Step 3: Set Prices
Most suppliers provide pricing grids that include the suggested final cost of the item. Often, the cost to you is 60% of the list price, giving you a 40% profit margin, but you have flexibility beyond that to set whatever price you want. The average profit margin for promos in 2022 was 36%. You want to be very careful when setting prices to not go too low. Profit margin is everything, so while it’s okay to discount a little to close business, if you discount too much, you’ll be doing more work than you’re getting paid for. Shoot to remain competitive, but always make it worth your time. You can visit other distributor websites to try to get a feel for the pricing they’re charging.
Keep in mind that your profit margin will be higher on special orders, like small orders or orders with custom packaging.

Step 4: Launch a Website
Of course, you can set up a website on your own, but it’s much easier if you belong to a membership organization that provides websites. You’ll simply select a template, add your logo, select your brand colors, customize the contact info, and launch it! Some of these websites even allow your customers to order directly from you!
Add your web address to all business collateral (business cards, invoices, etc.), email signatures, and social media profiles.

Step 5: Reach Out to Prospects
Your customers can be just about anyone, but good businesses and organizations to reach out to when you’re getting started include schools, hospitals, banks, restaurants, real estate firms, and small businesses. A good contact to ask for is the person in charge of marketing (although other contacts like human resources and principals might also be point people). Tell them you sell promotional products and ask if they need any branded merch. Schedule appointments and come prepared to show products.

Step 6: Present Products
If you have an idea of what the customer is looking for, you can prepare a presentation with promo ahead of time (and wow them when you digitally add their logo to products). If you don’t have any idea what they’ll need, bring catalogs and be prepared to pull up a promo marketplace on a device.
After your appointment, you should know what your client needs. Create a presentation with items, add their logo digitally, and send it to them.

Step 7: Get the Order
Once your client has had time to review the presentation, ask if they’re ready to place an order. Then, include all the necessary info on the PO for the supplier, who typically drop ships to your customer.

Step 8: Follow Up
Be sure to talk with your customer to make sure their order was received and is in the condition as expected. You can even ask for them to send you a picture to post on social media! If your customer is pleased with their order, don’t forget to ask for a referral.

Step 9: Market, Market, Market!
Don’t forget to market your business:
Advertise your business wherever you know your prospects are looking!
Order self-promos and hand them out to local businesses.
List accurate contact info on search engine business listings.

Starting a promo products business is easier than you think. Want a little support? Take a look at becoming an ASI member, which will give you access to support and resources that will grow your success.