I have a great product but I need to establish a route to market in the UK Promotions Market?

We recommend you first come and meet with us and if you are not already a member of the BPMA, then start with that as our advice and support over this area is extensive. There are so many options for you to consider. We will give you an honest opinion of what we think of your product and where it will best work. We will also give you invaluable feedback if we think its not quite right either.

I need to establish an export policy and want to explore new markets overseas, where do I start?

We are members of the Institute of Export and have a very close relationship with the Government UK Trade & Investment dept which provides expert advice and funding. The BPMA also run workshops in this area and would be more than happy to help with any members individuals needs

I need to know how big the UK promotional merchandise market is?

Its by far an exact science and the best estimates are driven by Sourcing City who put it at around £860m (July 2014) but this does not include much of the clothing decorator community and not all printers that have recently expanded into the sector. Nor does it account for direct sourcing agencies, so the BPMA would conservatively put the market closer to £1bn.

Can I have a meeting with the bpma to review my strategy? 

Of course and we are delighted to offer you an hour of our time with Gordon Glenister, the Director General who has extensive knowledge and insight in the Promotional Merchandise industry. We have a questionnaire that we send out in advance for you to complete ahead of that meeting. If you want to book an afternoon or a whole day, this is possible £350, for half a day or £500 for a whole day and if you want that at your premises then travel costs will be added.

What are the most popular selling items?

It's still the common categories like pens and bags which lead the table. USB sticks and other electronic items particularly phone chargers are leading the way. For a full list of the top 20 products, please ask us. 

Who are the top distributors?

We can give you an idea of who these companies are by turnover but will not release their full contact details as its against the Data Protection Act.

Have you an industry terms and conditions template?

We do, ask us and we will send it to you free of charge – you will need to register with the Law Club too.

Where do I find information about the Bribery Act? 

This information is in the Resource area of the website. It should largely NOT affect this sector even though when the Act came into force the BPMA were concerned the ambiguity may have caused some organisations not to use corporate gifts for their clients. Some companies do have a limit eg upto a maximum spend of £50 per recipient, this therefore may affect some of the more expensive gifts in our market.

Sourcing enquiry – where do I find a supplier that does X? 

The BPMA has a trade supplier directory on the website. We do help members where we can source unusual products or where they have struggled to find a supplier, although this is not a mainstream service we provide.

I want to sell my business, can the bpma help?

We have in the past, helped our members through our Director General, Gordon Glenister. This can be a sensitive area. We have information in the bpma about active purchasers should companies come up for sale and we put those people in touch with each other. We have in the past also advertised this in our newsletter.

My supplier is suggesting the goods they have printed match the proof we agreed but it's different from the pdf? 

It should always be borne in mind that the proof is the final part of the transaction, and should be checked very carefully. The proof is there to protect both parties and ensure that the product is satisfactory to the end user. If the final product does not match the proof however, then there is an obligation on the supplier's behalf to make good (unless the proof stipulates opportunities for variances then the distributor and/or client makes a value judgement on whether or not to proceed)

My customer hasn't paid me for over 3 months and its affecting my cashflow what should I do?

Your customer might be holding payment due to an invoice query. Your customer may have a 90 day payment policy and unless you re-inforced those terms when you accepted the order, they will assume theirs applies. You may like to consider using our benefit provider BPMA Account Assyst.

I am losing more tenders that I am winning, is there something I am not doing?

Tenders is a competitive arena and unless you analyse what's not working, you may continue to use this. The BPMA has an array of support in this area and has run many workshops in this field. We suggest you consider coming along to one. 

I am being told I need to be compliant in a whole area of measures, yet I am dependent on my suppliers for this, and not all are, what can I do?

Suppliers in our industry can vary greatly in terms of certification and compliance. Please check before you place an order to ensure the correct certification is available on the products you wish to put forward. Should your chosen supplier prevaricate, or confirm that the chosen product does not comply/conform, then you need to seek an alternative. Proceeding in the hope that something can be arranged post-production normally results in problems for all concerned.

What is the law on labelling for USBs and other electronic devices?

If there is room to print the wheely bin and registration number on the product this must be done. Lot's of people in our industry do this poorly, partly through negligence and partly through the ill-educated view that people don't want other logo's on their promo products. it’s the law and should be on all packaging.
For the standard promotional market set up i.e. supplier > distributer > end user there will be no change. The liability/responsibility has always stood with the original importer of the product to brand the item with their WEEE Producer registration number. Regardless of whatever else is additionally branded at a later date or with a different supplier it must be the original importer number.

An independent audit with a factory has failed what's the next stage? 

Your supplier is obliged to a course of action encompassing remedial measures to ensure complicity to your manufacturing instructions. This will inevitably cause delay, but it is to the benefit of the whole supply chain per se that the correct specifications are adhered-to. The potential for this occurrence needs to be explained to your client at the planning stage (and time built-in accordingly) 

My imported goods are being held at customs, and its going to miss my customer's deadline, what are my options? 

If you know this in advance, you need to alert your customer immediately. No customer likes bad news, but worse still is NO news. If you have informed them early enough some corrective action can be taken. 

The goods have arrived late, customer refuses to pay what can I do? 

If the goods were needed for a specific event – eg Exhibition, then you have to look at why they were late. Did the customer extend deadline you gave them, did the Courier muck up the delivery, was there a problem at the supplier's factory (eg machine breakdown). It's all about ascertaining where the blame lie, as fundamentally that's where the recompense should come from. If you have failed to resolve this situation, then call the bpma for further help – we have a complaints procedure in place and if that doesn't conclude the matter, there is a mediation service by outside professionals. Failing that it's an expensive court case. 

The goods are faulty and my customer refuses to pay what should I do? 

You should ask to get a sample back immediately or ideally go and collect them yourself. If indeed they are, you should speak to the supplier and explain the situation with a view of getting new products reprinted. If its a small batch, then maybe you can credit these and reprint the balance. Either way immediate contact with the client and supplier is essential. The customer has a right of refund under the Sale of Goods Act 1973. You should also consider an apology gesture, flowers, chocolate, discount off next order etc for the "inconvenience" caused by the problem in the first place. If the gifts are part of a major promotion, you could find yourself being sued for Consequential damages, ie the loss of the promotional item, means that the campaign, has to be cancelled and this will have a substantive impact. Again speak to the bpma in the first instance, but we may suggest you speak to our Legal Helpline for further advice.

An ex member of staff has left the business and taken my customers with them what should I do?

Firstly, make sure every member of staff has an employee contract (we can provide an employee contract template for you free of charge) and that it's signed by them. In that you must ensure there are points that cover this area. The law states that you cannot stop anyone from earning a living and therefore it would be unreasonable to say that they cannot work for anyone else, so it might be that you have a clause that states you cannot contact clients within one year or something.

I want to limit my suppliers to key suppliers and ensure they work to my framework , any ideas? 

We have a key suppliers framework document, that may help you – this is free of charge and we are happy to send it to you.

Can you recommend a catalogue group? 

We don't recommend a catalogue group, but those that are members of the bpma are:
Promotional Union, The Advantage Group, Ignite Group, Envoy Group, The Page Partnership. They all have events, catalogues and websites. Pricing modules differ and therefore we recommend you consider all of them before concluding your decision.

I quoted for a specific product, found the price but when I got an agreement from the client, the stock had gone, now I have an upset client, what should I do?

Most supplier quotations will have the proviso 'Subject to Stock'. This is to cover sudden fluctuations in demand (i.e. large volume orders) which are not contemplated at the time of the quote. It is vital, therefore, that if the enquiry has some time sensitivity attached to it then a timeline is firmly established with the end user (i.e. 'in order to secure stock, your order must be placed by xyz'). You need to address these situations daily. Additionally, some suppliers will have limited stocks/colours/ranges and we recommend that you check all availability prior to quotation.

I want to get into licensed merchandise how do I do that? 

We have a very good relationship with LIMA (Licensed Industry Manufacturers Association) and we recommend that we field any questions you have to them through us. We invite some of our members to a LIMA event, where they can meet fellow licensees and establish contacts. Call Gordon Glenister for more information on this. 

Do I have to have ISO to get bpma Charter status? 

No, we recommend it, but it's not essential. The reason for this is that a lot of the documented procedures that you need for ISO, you will also need for the Charter Status. Our recommended ISO provider is the British Assessment Bureau and members get a discount on the standard rate card.