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The way people buy merchandise of every variety is in a continual state of evolution. The music industry provides a great example:
1960’s – Singles (called 45’s) and record albums were purchased at a local record shop using cash or a personal check
1970’s – Two new formats – the cassette tape and 8-track tape – were introduced, but still mainly purchased at a store dedicated to music. Cash, check or charge please!
1980’s – One format died (the 8-track) and a different one emerged (the CD). Consumers continued to purchase music at record stores, through record clubs, and now through large big box stores like Target or Best Buy. More reliance on checks or credit cards to purchase.
1990’s – The CD became the king of traditional music delivery while upstart companies like Napster leveraged the internet to bring music to the masses. Credit or debit cards were the most common form of payment. Unless, of course, if you used Napster. That was free.
2000’s – The internet began to radically shift how music was delivered: traditionalists could still buy physical CD’s from places like while the introduction of the iPod and legal music downloading made getting music faster and easier than ever. Debit or credit cards only.
2010’s – Technology continued to advance allowing easier access to music than ever before. Streaming services such as Spotify allow subscribers to control content that is available only in a cloud-based format. Physical manifestations of albums in any format are slowly disappearing.
In just 50 years, how people want to receive music has changed at least 5 times. In that same span, the way people pay for music has changed at least 6 times. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that the way your target audience wants to buy and experience promotional products has changed as well?
Today’s promotional products buyer is far more savvy than even 10 years ago. They understand industry codes, usually have no issue bouncing around online to find ideas, and want to fully see what they are going to get BEFORE they order. Thankfully, there cost effective solution to this that will reach your audience on their terms: the virtual sample.
Virtual samples bring promotional merchandise to life. A T-shirt on a website that says “Your Logo Here” is just a T-shirt. However, when your client has the ability to upload their logo to see what their brand would look like, that same exact garment becomes a powerful sales tool. By leveraging a virtual sample to show your clients how their brand will look on specific merchandise, you begin to turn your ideas into a tangible client experiences and differentiate yourself from the competition content to show “Your Logo Here” products.
Promotional products are still a relationship business, because a brand is something that is personal. Technology can help your client make the connection between theory and reality, which will turn a customer into a client.

Bill Petrie
(615) 440-2155