by Braeden Rogers, Director of HR, Delegate CX
Finding skilled hires in the Promotional Products industry is something we’re all feeling very keenly right now.
Yes, there’s an ongoing labor shortage fuelled by the so-called ‘Great Resignation’. There’s also a shift in the market whereby employees have the upper hand when it comes to job, salary and cultural requirements.
For Promo Products in particular, there’s an additional challenge - the breadth of skills you need to master to be successful in the industry.
It’s why so many companies are falling into the trap at the moment of piling more and more work on to their superstar employees, because not only are they finding it impossible to track down talented new hires, but they also can’t afford the time to train up less experienced team members.
Part of the problem is that distributors and suppliers across the sector aren’t taking the time to step back from the day to day and understand the exact skills needed in new hires.
Well fear not, we’ve taken this task off your plate and done it for you!
In fact, we recently designed and developed a whole training program for the Promotional Products industry.
Check out our guide to ‘Promo Academy’!
Why we developed the only formal training program in the Promo Products industry.
The program is for entry-level hires and we call it ‘Promo Academy’ - designed to not only address the short-term need for skilled labor, but also the bigger gap in the market for longer-term skills training.
The great thing is that as we were developing the program, we were able to identify the key skills you need to succeed in Promo. We’ve listed them out below.
Top 5 Skills for Promo Products
1) Attention to detail
The clue is in the name here – Promotional Products! That means using tangible, real-life products to promote your business. And with that comes the need for great attention to detail – being able to spot typos in copy, adhere to brand guidelines, and get that PMS color just right.
Then there’s the client-facing communications for customer service teams and the like. Here, you also need great attention to detail – the ability to pick up on requirements from an email brief or make sure you haven’t missed anything in order to hit that ‘in-hands date’.
Attention to detail doesn’t just end with the client-facing roles though. It also extends to back-office tasks such as Accounting and Data Entry. When the lifeblood of your business is based on getting your numbers right each week, then having an eye for numerical errors is absolutely critical!
2) Communication and responsiveness
Global supply chain issues are top of everyone’s minds at the moment. Being able to handle these issues requires very high levels of communication and responsiveness.
Whether it’s confirming an order quickly so that the customer doesn’t miss out on stock, or responding to last-minute swag needs for an upcoming event, juggling comms on both sides of the customer/supplier table is key.
These same supply chain issues have recently bubbled up another key skill in Promo Products - that of resourcefulness! Think of the ability to find replacement products for your customer when their first preference is no longer available, or the capacity to quickly navigate stock issues across multiple suppliers.
The thing with the Promo industry is that it’s extremely cross-functional. It’s where the digital meets the physical when it comes to omni-channel marketing. It’s also where multiple different players feature across a complex, international supply chain. Being able to draw upon lateral thinking skills and the ability to be resourceful will put team members heads above the rest.
Looking to fill your open roles and skills gaps?Learn more
Linked to resourcefulness is the ability to think creatively about solutions.
This could take the form of providing valuable ideas to customers for virtual events or employee gift bags. It could also mean handling fulfilment needs for on-site conferences. Or it could be helping clients see what products are available that will meet their needs.
Again, it’s about thinking laterally and beyond the day to day to come up with innovative and interesting solutions whatever the brief!
5) Client relationship skills
Last but by no means least are client relationship skills. In fact, these probably feature at the top of the list depending on the type of role you’re advertising for. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what we mean when we say ‘client relationship skills’, but it’s generally the ability to remain level-headed and calm when dealing with clients. It’s also the capacity to draw upon the other skills we’ve mentioned above such as resourcefulness and creativity, using these to provide credible solutions, at the same time as making the process fun and stress-free for clients.
With all of these skills, the important thing is to devise questions and tasks in your interview process that will test them out. It’s not enough to ask a candidate if they believe they are creative, for example – you need to get specific examples from them to demonstrate this skill.
It’s something we leverage in all of our candidate screening interviews – can the individual back up what they say with real-life examples, outcomes and results?
The great thing with these skills is that they are transferable, i.e. you don’t have to have used them within a Promotional Products setting to be able to demonstrate them. And if you’re experienced at using them in another sector, they can very easily be transferred across to Promo.
That said, Promo does have its distinct features and applications when it comes to using all of these skills – hence why we created the ‘Promo Academy’ program!