Profile - 4imprint - A Global Impression (1,432 words)
4imprint marries direct response with promotional marketing
By Lisa A. Yorgey
Companies grow their businesses by expanding into international markets for one of two reasons—either to boost sales or increase profits. Which reason governs their approach. For example, a mature business experiencing flat profits and sales may enter into a licensing agreement with a company outside its domestic market to raise profits. A company with little or no room for expansion or growth in its domestic market can boost sales with a solo venture operated from either the United States or an overseas operation. Or, a company looking to increase its long-term sales can can acquire or merge with a local company in its target market. This was the strategy chosen by 4imprint, a multi-channel distributor of promotional products.
An International Journey
4imprint began its journey toward global marketing in 1986 when company founder Dick Nelson decided to sell premiums via direct mail rather than by the traditional method of selling face to face. He started with a small brochure, and began looking for capital to fund his fledgling business, Nelson Marketing. At the same time, the business products division of cataloger Miles Kimball was looking to grow its market share with an acquisition. Miles Kimball acquired Nelson Marketing in 1988; however, it was resold to Nelson a few years later when Miles Kimball refocused its attention and resources on the consumer side of its business.
Nelson was again in search of capital to fuel his company. Bemrose, a British supplier of promotion products with a large European sales field, bought Nelson Marketing in 1996, and the strictly direct marketing company instantly became a global distributor of promotional products.
"Only five percent of promotion items in the industry are sold via direct marketing channels," says Greg Iott, 4imprint's vice president, business development, who explains that "4imprint needed distributor channels to reach the remaining 95 percent of the promotion products market."