How To Use Self Promos To Win Business

Marketing collateral and self promos for distributors

by | Mar 31, 2022

When it comes to marketing materials for a distributor, self promos are a no-brainer. Most suppliers offer good self promo deals and what could be a better way to show the world what you do than by giving out a branded product?  But it’s not that easy and many distributors struggle with the decision of what to get, or what to do with the products after they get them. 

The reason for the struggle is that the product is thought of as standalone, when it’s really a part of a marketing strategy, so you need to think of this first. Start by asking yourself two questions: how will you use them and whom do you want to impress. 


Four Self Promo Must-Haves

We’ve taken what worked for us back in our distributor days, along with what’s working now for our clients to create this guide of sorts. It’s based on how the materials will be used within the propsecting and sales funnel.

Let’s take a look.



As mundane as they are, pens are something you should always carry with you. How many times have you been at an event where someone needs to write something and they don’t have a pen?  And there you are, your piece of advertisement saves the day!  Make sure you go beyond the plain contact info and add an intriguing call to action, use your imagination! 

Use a quality pen you know people will love – we are big fans of javelinas, everyone wants them! 

You can donate handfuls for registration tables at community and business events, local charities. Leave them casually behind here and there when you attend conferences and networking meetings. You’ll be surprised how quickly you become well known in your town!


Business Cards Printed on a Business Card Sized Item

When I first opened my distributor business, I went to every single networking event I heard about, as many as 3 per week. I used a credit card-sized mint dispenser from Lanco as my business card and handed it out everywhere. It was an instant conversation starter. I also gave them out when I was at a luncheon or dinner function and happened to be seated next to someone I wanted to have a business conversation with. I politely offered a mint, and then said “keep the box” when the person handed it back. 

These little things were some of the most effective lead generation tools I ever gave out. I received calls from people I gave these to, months after I met them. They were wowed by them and made sure they saved them because they knew they would be needing my services at some point in the future.

I tried other similar-shaped products later on, but the mints were the most effective by far. Experiment with this idea!


Promo Box 

Swag boxes have become a big thing in the last 2 years. Before the pandemic, companies had already started using boxes to kit their branded products. But the trend certainly took off with the pandemic and has become an everyday thing.

As a branding expert, having your own kit makes you an instant authority in the matter. It provides you with the opportunity to stand out and show “how it’s done”.  From the creative concept, to the design, to the products used, a well designed swag box it’s a sure fire way to wow a potential customer. It will make them want to work with you, discarding any competitors that might be after their business. Whom most likely all look alike.  

It can also be an exceptional way to show an existing customer that they’ve made a good decision in choosing you as their provider. They won’t even look at your competition. Plus it shows what else they could be doing in terms of their marketing. 


A custom-designed box, with a well thought out selection of products wrapped in custom printed tissue paper, will elevate your game as a creative branding company.


It will require an investment of time and money but It can be a game changer. It’s well worth it and will give you high returns.

If your budget is tight, you can do a simpler box. It can also be a good way to start without overthinking every component.  In my distributor days, the first package I sent consisted of a bunch of self promos I had laying around. The idea came about because I had ordered pads that had a calendar along the side, and here it was the month of May and I had about 50 of them left. So I made a package with those plus a couple of Javalina pens, a water bottle, lip balm, and sunglasses. I called it “summer fun package” and included a romance card with “instructions” to tie in the products to a vacation in a silly way. 

I sent it to our preferred clients, and much to my surprise, every single one emailed or called to say thank you. Orders came in for some of the products, along with new project discussions.

We also called these “sample packs” when sent to prospects mostly connected through LinkedIn.

We continued this practice every year until I sold the business, putting a lot more thought in the planning, packaging and product selection every time.  It was definitely a fun way to promote our business using the products we sold.


Trade Show Exhibit Kit

Event marketing is at the heart of the promotional products business. There are many opportunities for distributors to have a space at a local business or community event and you must always be ready.

Rule No. 1: Don’t skimp! You have access to the best exhibitor products at incredible prices, as well as their design services. Use these resources to the max! 

Here’s our suggested list:

– Table throw

– Table cover

– Backdrop banner

– Roll up banner

– Inexpensive but fun unusual giveaways everyone wants

– Trade show games

– Large canvas bag with fun message in big letters: we copied this one from a supplier at an ASI show: I saw the coolest swag at “ company” name


Other Helpful Marketing Materials


There are opportunities to participate in business events by providing a marketing piece to be included in some sort of packet or collective display. In such cases, generally speaking, a promo item wouldn’t make financial sense.  For example, if you belong to the Chamber of Commerce, they usually let you have brochures at their office for people to take. 

A company brochure comes in handy in these situations. It gives you the opportunity to expand on your services beyond the commodity, show your brand, and separate yourself from competitors. Make sure you describe everything you do to help your clients, such as graphic design, kitting, drop shipping, and company stores. Be sure to have a professional graphic designer create it for you, your brochure design will speak for itself. 



It takes 8 touches before you get an appointment. Or maybe 12…? A company postcard is a very inexpensive way to create some of those touches. And it won’t go unnoticed! You will stand out, because very few are doing this!.  

Here are a few ways to use them:

– You meet someone at a networking event, you send them a “nice to meet you” message.

– You send samples to a customer or potential customer, you include a “your samples have arrived” note on the postcard. I assure you, they will keep the postcard!

– You make a connection on LinkedIn, you send a “thanks for connecting” note.

– Thank you for your order, signed by the team.

– Mail to select businesses in your area.

– Welcome to the Chamber of Commerce.

I used postcards in all those ways, and I was always amazed to find them on my client’s or prospects’ desks when I went to visit. Over time I printed different ones, they were always very effective.


Slidedeck Company Presentation

This is a simple powerpoint presentation. Perfect to introduce your company in front of an audience or to email as a pdf to a prospective customer.

Think of it as your digital brochure.  Include your USP, some of your clients, a couple of case studies, testimonials, a description of your services, photos of your team, and of course, your contact information, including links to your social media pages.


The Point

You are in the business of branding and production of marketing materials. Your job is to show by example how print and promotional products can be used to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to a website or store, and increase sales.  

Make sure your self promos are memorable!


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