How Did You Get Started in Promo? / PromoJournal - Promo Biz Coach

How Did You Get Started in Promo? / PromoJournal - Promo Biz Coach

I’ve often been asked how I got started in promotional products sales? What attracted me to this business, what keeps me going and what factors contributed to my success?  Here’s my story, I’d enjoy hearing your story as well.  

Before I got started in the promotional product sales, I was a school teacher in Philadelphia. I enjoyed my career but I craved the freedom and flexibility of self­-employment and dreamed of starting my own business.

A colleague of mine spent her summer selling promotional products and did so well she won a trip to Rio (I love to travel, so that really caught my attention.) I didn’t know anyone in the business community – I had never even taken a business class in college – but I began selling promotional products on the side.

The person I worked for thought every business was a good prospect and every sale was worth taking. She called on pizza parlors and hair salons and other small retailers in shopping centers.

After a year of following her lead, I realized if I was ever going to make any money in this field and leave my teaching job, I needed bigger accounts – companies with the potential to give me large orders and repeat business.

I decided to focus on the healthcare industry because I had been a health and human development major in college and there were plenty of healthcare organizations in my backyard.

At a networking event, I met a woman in HR at a major pharmaceutical company. Next thing I knew, I had an order for $500 of employee awards in hand. I was on my way! That order led to hundreds of thousands of dollars of orders in the healthcare sector!

Within 3 years, I retired from the classroom to dedicate all of my energy to growing my promotional products distributorship. Not long after, my business was recognized as one of the 100 Fastest-Growing Businesses in the Philadelphia region. Equally exciting? I was earning more than twice the salary I received as a teacher. And even though I was recently divorced and a single parent, I was able to live a comfortable lifestyle and enjoy financial independence.

My story may sound a bit like a fairy tale, but it wasn’t. I dedicated countless evenings and weekends to working on my business. I didn’t have a mentor, so when I encountered problems or challenges, I had to handle them on my own. And believe me, I made my share of mistakes and dumb decisions in the beginning.

In 1998, I was hired to speak at the inaugural ASI Show in Las Vegas about my experiences and the secrets to my success. After several years of giving presentations and talking to hundreds of industry professionals, I realized that many promotional products salespeople would benefit from my actual experiences – not “pie in the sky” theory from consultants.

Since then, I’ve created numerous sales training programs, have spoken at dozens of industry trade shows and have coached hundreds in the promotional products industry helping them enjoy greater success! Today I continue to be active in the industry and share my experience and ideas in sales training webinars, speaking engagements, coaching sessions and blog posts.

My story may be unique to me, but I’m betting you have a story to tell as well. How did you get started in promo sales? What contributed to your success? Please comment below.

Rosalie Marcus, The Promo Biz Coach, is a promotional products business expert, sales coach and top-rated speaker. Combining her skills and years of experience in promotional sales, she helps her clients sell more at higher margins to better clients. Get FREE up-to-the-minute sales tips and a FREE On-Demand Webinar, Double Your Sales and Referrals with Current Clients at her website: Reach her at  

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