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Why ‘Chartered’ businesses stand out

Andrew Hill, Managing Director of Senator in the UK and head of the Charter Committee at the bpma.

“We don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone”, a recent correspondent of mine proclaimed. “Our customers get the best deals and the quickest service, so if that’s not good enough then they can lump it.” Yet with an increasing demand for compliance and conformity within our industry, it is becoming clear that this price-driven commodity trading attitude will soon be a thing of the past.

The promotional products landscape covers a vast range of items with hugely varying levels of quality and service, of which little is regulated. Whilst bpma members at least provide a safety net of operating within a trading Code of Conduct and can prove it to their customers, the rest of the industry is a virtual free-for-all.

Is this such a bad thing?  Well, frankly, yes it is. Anecdotes of people being put off promotional products because of bad quality and service abound in our discipline. The “sell it quick and move onto the next thing” traders really don’t belong alongside many of our credible and long-term advertising product practitioners, yet they vie with them to influence uninformed end users, often with discouraging results. 

So, with reference to the earlier quote, my correspondent might be surprised to learn that a discernible gap is beginning to open up between credible, results-driven distributor and supplier companies and those just taking a sale whatever the consequences. Undoubtedly, the bpma “badge” offers credibility to those within its ranks and is a “must have” for aspirational companies, yet it has become ever more apparent that there is now a further demand for recognition at a higher level. 

This is where the bpma Charter comes into play. Arguably, Charter members are, de facto, made up of some of the best participants in the industry. They can now “prove” this and are taking the fear out of the “knick-knack jungle” by not only elevating themselves to prospective buyers but also strengthening and developing current relationships. Charter is, admittedly, not easy to get, but that’s the point. It confers a complete absence of ambiguity, along with openness, trust, compliance, and proven client-driven processes which undoubtedly gives its members a huge edge in the competitive stakes, especially by those who use its status frequently. Certainly, distributor members who use Charter to influence and win new business rarely talk about prices being an issue – the overall value offering is clear to see. Consequently, Charter membership is growing fast as companies who are in it for the long term are looking to distinguish themselves from everyone else.

I would advise all good companies to take a look at Charter, whatever your size and whatever level you are operating at. If it’s going to take a while before you get to a position where you think you can apply then that’s great because once you start the journey, you need never look back…

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