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20th January 2015

What to Expect in 2015

to-do-list-padIt constantly amazes me how fast time flies.   At the end of this month I will have been Director of Marketing for Ensign Emblem and EnMart for 9 years.   This blog is just over seven and a bit years old.    This will be post # 572 on this blog,  which adds up to quite a lot of words.

In the time this blog has been around,  our goal has always been to educate people,  both about machine embroidery and about EnMart, who we are as people and who we are as a company.   We’ve given you inside looks at why we sell the thread we sell,   why we do (or don’t) offer specials and sales,   and even the story of how EnMart came to be.    We’ve also published posts that we hoped would help embroiderers do what they do better – whether it was translating print into embroidery,   embroidering on specialty materials,   or   simply providing a round-up of helpful and interesting posts from the blogosphere.    Our goal has always been to educate as much as it has been to entertain,  with the side benefit of helping you to get to know us and EnMart a little better.

Although I like to think we’ve met our goals for this blog,  I do want to keep it fresh and new.   So,  since we’re now seven and a bit,  I figured it was time for some updates.  The look of the blog may change,  that hasn’t been decided yet,   but I do know some other changes will be happening soon.   Here’s a preview of some of what’s coming:

  • Updated blogroll –  There are many good blogs on our blogroll,  but there are also many good blogs not currently listed.  We’re going to sift through the blogroll and try to make sure we’re including the most up to date and interesting blogs about our industry
  • Return of the series – I’ve written series about embroidering on different fabrics,   using different backings,  and even how to market your business.  Most of those were written back in 2010 – so it’s time for them to be updated.
  • More business, marketing and social media tips – It would be lovely if running a decoration business was just about decoration,  but it’s not.   A business owner must also know how to marketing,  provide good customer service,  manage their business and, these days,  manage social media.   We’ll talk about that here too.

I am open to suggestions as to what you’d like to see here,  and when you’d like to see it.    You can either comment here,  contact me on one of our social media platforms,  or simply send me an e-mail.   I’m looking forward to revitalizing this blog in 2015.   Hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.

posted in About EnMart | 0 Comments

31st December 2014

Happy New Year!

happy new year2EnMart will be closed Thursday, January 1 in honor of the New Year’s Holiday.

We will return to work on Friday, January 2, 2015. 

All orders placed on Thursday, January 1 will be shipped when we return on Friday, January 2.

Happy New Year and here’s to a prosperous and creative 2015!

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26th December 2014

Friday Blog Round – Up 12/26/14

roundupSince it is the day after Christmas,  and the end of the year will be here before we know it,  I thought it might be nice to do a blog round-up and spotlight some of the great advice that’s out there.    I have to confess,  a round-up is also a great way for me to do a post without having to think of a topic.  I’m all for that today!

First up is a post from All Things Embroidery about fonts.    I sometimes think fonts are the bane of everyone’s existence.   Finding a font you like,  finding a font that works with your software,  finding a font that matches something the client saw once on Facebook three years ago,  finding the right font can be a chore and a challenge.    This post gives you some helpful vocabulary and explains a bit about the types of fonts available and how they can be used.

Next up,  I’m pimping one of my own posts,  which I don’t usually do,  but I think this one has a good message that is applicable,  particularly at this time of year when people start new things.   The post is about all those people who,  with good intentions,  will tell you not to try to follow your dreams.   My advice –  don’t listen.   You have to follow your path,  and all those people who are telling you it won’t work just don’t know what you know –  you’re willing to do your absolute best to prove that it will.

Third on the list we have a post from Retail Minded,  which details four characteristics of a great manager.    I agree with all of these,  particularly number four,  holding people accountable.   I’ve seen workplaces suffer because the rules and responsibilities aren’t the same for everyone.   I think this post details a good basic blueprint for what makes a good manager.

Fourth at bat is a post about the lending site Kiva from Tim Andrews of ASI.    I love this sort of stuff,  and I think sites like these can make such a difference.   I know, when I was struggling,  there were people who helped me out,  and I always believe we should pay that sort of help forward.  Kiva, and other sites that do similar things, are a great way to help others.   Keep in mind,  you can also pay it forward by sharing your knowledge and experience.  If you’ve had success,  share a bit of it with someone else.

Fifth on the docket is this hilarious post – told in gifs,  from Urban Threads.    The subject is Christmas crafting and it’s hilarious.   I especially like the “Hulk Smash” gif, because who hasn’t felt like that on occasion?  I know the Christmas work is probably over for most everybody now,  but I still think this is worth sharing.

Sixth in the batting order is a post from Peter Shankman about how your business can be better than everyone else’s this holiday season.   I think most of these tips apply whether it’s the holiday season or not.   I especially like the advice about knowing your customers –  since this is something I preach in regard to social media all  the time.   He also makes a really good point about the fact that customer expectations have sunk so low that just doing what’s expected can be a win.   A great deal of good food for thought here.

 

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 0 Comments

23rd December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas We wish you all a happy and safe Christmas.

EnMart will be closed on Wednesday, December 24 and Thursday, December 25, 2014 for the Christmas holiday.   We will reopen on Friday, December 26, 2014.

All orders placed on 12/24 – 12/25 will ship on Friday, 12/26 when we resume normal operations.

posted in About EnMart, Uncategorized | 0 Comments

23rd September 2014

3 Tips for Dealing with Changing Plans

whyAs some point in every workday, it seems,  I say to myself or sigh to a co-worker “I wasn’t planning on doing this today”.   Now,  I’m not rigidly married to a plan or a schedule,  but I usually have three or four things to get done planned out for each day,   and I try to stick to my list.  Despite my best intentions, however,  at some point in almost every day,  the plan gets derailed.  I’ve learned to take that in stride and to adjust to the situations the events of the day dictate.   It wasn’t always that way.

When you create and run your own business,  the tendency is to want to create a plan and stick to it.   Having a plan and a direction is, after all,  how most businesses are built,  and sticking to a plan is how you set a direction and keep the business on track.   Every business should have a plan,  it’s a guidebook for where the business is headed,  and a checklist for keeping things on the right path,  but the plan can’t be followed too rigorously.   Allowances have to be made for the fact that daily life will cause the plans to change,  and acceptance of the idea that a change in plans does not spell disaster has to be cultivated.   If you’re like me,  achieving that state of acceptance may be difficult.  Here are a few ways to achieve the zen of plan flux for yourself.

1. Acknowledge there are big plans and small plans –  Everyone probably has some sort of plan for their workday,  but not all plans are created equal.  If you’re on deadline,  then certain tasks must be done.   If you promised you’d get something to a customer by a certain date,  then that package should go in the mail.   Those are big plans,  with specific requirements and specific consequences if they’re not completed.   Planning to clean out your e-mail box is a small plan,  and the world won’t end if it’s not done today.   Big plans take priority.  Small plans can be postponed if circumstances require it.

2.  Allow yourself some time to be irritated –  You had a plan,  which you made because you thought it was the best way to proceed,  and it got changed,  often through no fault of your own.   This is irritating and you have the right to be irritated.  Allow yourself some time to feel annoyed,  but make sure it’s a set amount of time,  fifteen minutes at most,  and once your time to be annoyed is up,  you drop the subject and move on.

3.  Accept what you can’t control – The one sure thing we can control is our reaction to the events and people around us.    Everything else may or may not be in our control depending on circumstances.   If your plan gets changed and you have no control over that change,  all you can do is accept what’s happened and go with the new flow of events.   You control your attitude and a positive attitude will make any change of plans easier for you and those who work with you.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 0 Comments

29th August 2014

Friday Blog Round – Up 8/29/14

roundup2Since I posted on the EnMart Twitter feed asking where people look for inspiration this morning,  I thought that it might be a good idea to do a blog round-up and point out some of the inspiring things I’ve found lately.

First up is an post that makes you think from All Things Embroidery.   The question being discussed is whether or not you would do embroidery work for a company or organization with whom you don’t agree or who’s aims you don’t support.   The blogger comes down on the side of “business is business”,  but I know other business owners who have refused work because they didn’t like the business or organization that was offering the work.   If a business or organization that didn’t coincide with your particular beliefs came to you,  would you do the work, or would you decline?   It’s an interesting question.

Second at bat is a post on speed techniques for handbags.   Since bags are a big seller for many people,  particularly with a monogram,  getting them done quickly is always a benefit.   Creating handbags in less time is also a very good thing,  the faster you make them the faster they can be sold. There are some very cool ideas here,  and the finished bag is quite nice.

Third on the list is a post from Retail Minded about how to make decisions decisively.   The one tip that got me in this list was “embrace ambiguity”.   I always want to know what all the possible consequences are and how things are going to work out.   Ambiguity is a tough things for me.    I also like the advice about slowing down when you’re making decisions.   Sometimes we’re so caught up in getting things done that we simply jump to a conclusion and a decision too quickly.   All these tips are useful.

Fourth in the line up is a post from the Stitchworks blog about why businesses fail.   This echoes the article in Stitches Magazine on the same topic.   I have to agree that lack of marketing is definitely one reason why businesses don’t succeed.   You have to let people know that you’re out there before they will buy what you have to sell.   I also agree that underselling your work is dangerous and can be a big problem for this industry.

In the fifth slot we have a post that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.   I think the issue of creative people undervaluing their work is an epidemic,  which is why I love the “We are $ew Worth It”  movement.   Creative people,  whether they quilt, embroider,  draw,  sew or write,  need to value their own work before anyone else will.  It’s also up to us to change the public perception that handmade is easy or isn’t worth that much.   We’re artists and should be treated as such.

Sixth on the docket we have a post from John Morgan about asking the right questions not the easy questions.  As someone who is passionate about helping people learn and grow their businesses,  I love this post.   I think he’s right,  so often we don’t ask the questions that will tell us what we really want or need to know because we’re afraid of looking stupid or vulnerable,  or of being too personal.   The only way to learn is to ask,  and the better the questions you ask,  the better you will become.

 

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 1 Comment

25th June 2014

Changes

change ahead 2When EnMart first became a company,  in late 2007,   we had one plan,  to supply the best thread,  stabilizer and other embroidery products to the commercial embroidery marketplace.   Fast forward to today,  and some six and a half years (give or take) since EnMart began,  what we do and what we are has changed.   We now sell sublimation supplies.   We sell quilt thread and FabricMaker and are looking at expanding into other quilting related items.    We are exploring new markets and encountering new customer types and the simple site that started it all is beginning to need a bit of an upgrade.

In the next few months we will be making upgrades and changes to our website.  If you want the quick version of what we’re doing,  here are the bullet points:

  • EnMart is splitting the store in two.
  • One site is for businesses, and the other for everyone else.
  • Businesses must use a login, and get custom pricing.
  • Everyone else can buy from us now from the public site.
  • If you already have a login you can still use it.
  • Always go to www.myenmart.com and choose the login option that applies to you.
  • If you are a business and don’t have a login, you need to contact us to get one.
  • If you are not a business, you can shop with or without logging in.

Log-ins will still be required for all customers checking out,   but you will only need to log-in before shopping if you are a customer who is eligible for special pricing.  The front end log-in option will be implemented soon.  Pricing structures will be put in place some time after the log-in option goes live.  You can find a complete description of the changes we’re making and the reasons behind them on our FAQ page.

Making these changes  will benefit everyone involved.    The log-in and customer category functions will make sure that every customer receives the proper pricing for their type.    It will also allow a wider group of customers to purchase from EnMart which means some people who were previously turned away will now be able to buy.   This structure will also help us ensure that we’re not trespassing on the territories of any customers who buy from us to sell to the end user.    The changes will also allow us to keep everything on one site, instead of having different sites aimed at different categories of customer, which would have gotten confusing for everyone.

As always, we encourage you to offer us your feedback about these changes.   You can comment on this post, send an email to info at myenmart dot com, leave a message on our Facebook page, send us a message on Twitter or call us and let us know what you think. We appreciate any feedback you can give us, and it will certainly be considered as we move forward with these changes.

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9th June 2014

Why EnMart Sends E-mails

mailing listWhy is EnMart sending you email? Are we spamming you? Did we buy a list? We get these questions sometimes, so we thought it was time to explain ourselves, and let you know why you just might want to keep on receiving the messages we send.

EnMart, as a rule, sends out three types of email messages. They are:

  1. Order confirmations/updates, sent out automatically by our online store
  2. Direct correspondence, such as quotes, information, notifications, questions, or answers
  3. Mass emails, such as special offers, sales, or other general information

For the purposes of this post, we are addressing the third type of email.

First off, we would like to emphatically state that we do NOT buy lists to send mass emails. We don’t like those kinds of emails either. Our emails are ONLY sent to three groups of people. Those who have:

  1. Placed an order with us at some point in time in the past
  2. Attended one of the trade shows where we exhibited
  3. Indicated in some other way such as via our Facebook signup page that they are interested in receiving our emails.

A lot of people don’t realize it, but when you attend a trade show, somewhere in the papers you sign or in the information you receive is a statement that you are giving permission to the exhibitors to contact you via email. After all, that’s one of the main purposes of a trade show – to connect vendors with existing and potential customers.

Trade shows are mutually beneficial. As a customer, you want to find new products and vendors, information, or meet with your current suppliers. As an exhibitor and vendor, we want to meet with you, our customers, and we want to gain new ones. Sending emails out to trade show attendees can sometimes reach people we missed, or people who may have stopped by and forgot about it.

As an advertising medium, email lets us keep costs low and also offer occasional discounts, product offerings, or other potential benefits to you. Since mass email and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are the ONLY methods EnMart uses to notify you of these special offers, if you are not following us or receiving our emails, you will miss that limited time free shipping offer, or the % discount, etc.

We’re not machines auto-emailing you. We are real people, and if you reply to any of our emails, you will reach a real live person and not one of those “do not reply” mailboxes that drops your message in to a bottomless black hole. We do our best to keep the number of emails down to a minimum of around 1-2 per month. If you don’t want to receive them, it is very easy to stop them and we honor your unsubscribe requests.

We use Constant Contact to send out all mass emails, and there are very strict rules that we must adhere to. All these emails have a very convenient “Safe Unsubscribe” link at the bottom. With a few clicks you can unsubscribe from any or all of our lists, and we’ll never email that email address again. We couldn’t even if we wanted to – Constant Contact prevents it. In fact, if you later want to start receiving emails from us again, you’d have to either go back to Constant Contact and change your settings, or come up with a new email address.

While we do make every effort to reasonably target our potential audience with relevant email content, it can appear to be a bit of a shotgun approach at times, and you may receive something that doesn’t pertain to you personally. For those emails, we apologize and beg your indulgence.

Sincerely,

The EnMartians

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16th May 2014

Friday Blog Round-Up 5/16/14

roundup2Haven’t done one of these in a while,  but got the urge today.   Let’s see what’s out there for me to share that’s useful and/or helpful.

First up today,  I’m spotlighting one of my own posts, mostly because I think it touches on a topic that is problematic for a lot of people.   In this post I discuss the art of the unfollow,  and how to determine when and why you should unfollow someone.     I know from the seminars I did this year that figuring out who to follow and who to unfollow can be tough,  and I intended this post to provide some guidelines and advice for the times when you realize that someone doesn’t need to be cluttering up your feed.   If you’re using social media for business purposes,  you have a specific reason for being on whatever platform you’re on,  and that reason should extend to who you do, or don’t, follow.

Second at bat is a piece from Erich Campbell about educating your customers.    I like this post because it points out that you can’t assume that customers know what you can do, you have to show them.    The show and tell shouldn’t, however, only involve what you can do,  it should involve information about what you can’t do and why.   The more educated your customers are,  the better able they are to appreciate your expertise and understand your pricing structure.   There’s a lot of meat in this post and Erich makes some very good points.

Third on a list is a story mentioned on a blog (Stahl’s) but I chose to link to the full article from the New York Times instead.   I like getting behind the scenes glimpses of how things are done,  and this glimpse of how the shirts are made for the NFL draft is very interesting.   It never occurred to me that shirts would have to be made in the small space of time between when the draft pick is announced and when the person hits the stage.   It’s interesting to read about how that’s done.

Fourth in the queue  is another behind the scenes piece,  this one from Urban Threads.   I’m an unabashed Urban Threads fan,  so getting to see how a design goes from concept to finished embroidery file was interesting to me.    I especially like seeing all the different ideas they start with before narrowing it down to the design that will be used.  I remember going through that process when designing what would be come the EnMart logo.    Winnowing it down from many to one can be torturous.

Fifth in line is a piece in praise of reading.   I taught myself to read when I was four and I’ve been devouring the printed (and now digital) word ever since,  and I can’t say enough about the benefits of reading.    This blog discussed two myths about reading,  one that people are reading less (not true) and one about finding the time to read.     The post points out that we make time for the things that are important to us.   Staying informed and educated is important, so make time to read!

Sixth is a post about what makes you memorable.  In this case,  the post is asking in a social media context,  but it’s a good question for anyone who is building a personal brand or a brand around a business they own.   What makes you stand out,  what will stick with people after they’ve left your business or your presence,  what is the first thing people will mention when they speak of you?   It’s a good question to ask and something to consider.   These days everything contributes to a person’s brand and reputation,  so you need to be aware of what you want your brand and reputation to be.

Finally, just because I think it’s cool, this  piece from the blog for Designs in Machine Embroidery Magazine,  which turns a multi-needle embroidery machine into a work of art.   I love when ordinary items that we use so often we don’t even see them anymore are examined from a different perspective.

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 0 Comments

10th April 2014

Why We Don’t Offer Free Shipping

free shippingAs it does several times a year,  the question of free shipping has come up again.   It’s a perennial question,  and one that we’ve generally replied to with a resounding no,  except in the case of an occasional special offer.   It’s also a question that has been debated in the halls of EnMart several times.   Our conclusion has always been that offering free shipping wasn’t that much of an incentive.   Here’s why we think that’s the case:

  • Free shipping doesn’t increase orders, in our experience. When we’ve offered free shipping in the past,  we haven’t seen a substantial increase in orders.   What seems to increase orders much more is when we offer discounts on buying multiple items or offer special packages from a particular product category.
  • Free shipping at an order cost threshold doesn’t increase orders, in our experience. When we’ve offered free shipping if the order meets a certain price level,  we haven’t seen more orders occurring on that level.   From what we can gather,  the free shipping offer doesn’t necessarily entice people to buy more than they would have purchased anyway.
  • When we’ve offered a free shipping special,  many people neglect to use the code or meet the threshold to get free shipping.   We have tried free shipping specials in the past in an effort to see if this type of offer spurs a greater percentage of orders.  We often find that people either do not use the free shipping code,  or neglect to purchase at a level that will get them free shipping.   Other types of specials that we’ve offered seem to have much better response rates.
  • We work hard to keep our shipping rates low.   We have deep discounts from Fed Ex (our primary carrier) and have introduced USPS Priority Mail as a shipping option as well.   Our shipping rates are, so far as we can determine,  reasonable,  and we do adjust the rates if shipping estimates are higher than what we consider reasonable.
  • We offer our customers the option to ship on their own accounts.  Customers can select the “Use my account” shipping option and ask us to ship on a corporate or personal account.

All that said,  the free shipping question does pop up pretty regularly,  which leaves me wondering if it’s worth examining the whole idea of free shipping again.    So,  I wanted to ask all of you who are EnMart customers,  what do you think about EnMart having some sort of free shipping program?  Would it motivate you to buy more or buy more often?   If we did have such a program,  how do you think it should be structured?

EnMart always is willing to listen when our customers speak,  so we’d really like your feedback on this.   Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

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