Why You Should Avoid Using Office Supply Stores as Fulfillment Vendors

Recently I was at a business event and heard a stress filled story from a man who runs his own small business. He was talking about the struggles he’s faced getting marketing collateral together on short notice.

Every aspect of a small business is under immense pressure.

As a small business, every aspect of it is under a lot of pressure. Its website is asked to gain and keep a following from scratch. The same can be said for its social media channels. Every person hired needs to be on top of their game to make sure business is good and keeps walking through the door. All signage, marketing collateral, and its in-store atmosphere need to reflect the exact values of the business. Why? Because unlike a big business where an error feels like a bump in the road, a mistake or a missed opportunity to a small business feels like an earthquake.

Small businesses have to deal with things like a limited cash flow or overworked staff whose time and energy are often stretched too thin. On top of all that, there’s little room to worry about things not going right, when you’re trying so hard to keep everything in order.

Let’s get back to the story…

So, when this associate of mine told of how he was out of his wits trying to get collateral for a tradeshow I understood his struggle. He told of how he was trying to get things in order for a tradeshow that he heard about only a week prior. Part of the problem was, because he runs a small business he cannot house an inventory of marketing assets. Most often he orders them on a need by need basis, especially because he is trying to get the word out about his business, and attends many types of events, each of which attract a variety of vendors and audiences.

This means that he requires a multitude of collateral tailored to each event.

Unfortunately for him, going to a coprorate owned office supply store as his marketing fulfillment vendor wasn’t cutting it. He tried to order very audience-tailored collateral to be printed by this vendor; however, because the office supply store receives requests similar to his own by the hundreds, they couldn’t meet his timeline. The poor fellow had an extremely stressful week and ended up attending the tradeshow without any marketing assets.

For many small businesses, it’s difficult to house, track, and manage marketing collateral for many reasons. They often don’t have a large staff that can tackle this task, their space is limited, they need to rely on a need by need ordering basis, and they often need a large variety of collateral to meet their needs.

Lots of small businesses turn to office supply stores.

A lot of small businesses turn to office supply stores for help, but there are problems that arise with that. In my associate’s case, these stores serve the masses and it often will take them longer to print and deliver the marketing assets. Another issue to consider is these stores aren’t in the business to serve small businesses. They’re in the business to make money.

As a large scale corporation they serve hundreds of busienssess, and yours to them is just another drop in the bucket. Becuase they attend so so many busuinesses they aren’t likely to give as much attention or care to your marketing collateral as a private vendor would. As a small business owner, this can be hard to deal with. Your business is your life. You dedicate everything you can to and deserve a marketing fulfillment vendor who does the same.

Now let’s be clear, not every marketing fulfillment vendor out there is able to work with the needs and the budget of a small business, but there are those that will. Consider saving yourself the headache, like the one my associate dealt with, and investigate this route. It may be one of the best business decisions you make.