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Friday Blog Round-Up 2/11/11

11th February 2011

Friday Blog Round-Up 2/11/11

Anyone who reads the Friday blog round-up on a regular basis knows that a lot of the blogs that get mentioned here frequently come from our blogroll.   In this edition of the Round-Up, however,  I wanted to spotlight some blogs that maybe haven’t been seen here before, or get seen less regularly.   It’s fun to read new things, and there are a lot of blogs out there with thought provoking posts.  It seemed like a good idea to share some of those.  (Plus, the people that I regularly read (you know who you are) aren’t writing new stuff.  Get on it guys!)

The first post in the round-up today is by a writer called Bridget Pilloud, and is called “Stop Sucking Up“.  I love this post for a number of reasons,  but the main one is the fact that she calls it like it is.  Sucking up is detrimental to you and to the person to whom you are trying to suck up.   Nobody benefits from sycophantic behavior, so just don’t do it.   There is a lot to think about in this post and I highly recommend it.

The next post in the round up has a weird title, but some sound advice.   “3 Marketing Lessons from Drug Dealers” doesn’t advocate going out and finding a drug dealer from which to learn,  but it does recommend learning from how drug dealers do business.    Creating value,  getting people hooked on your product or service and making sure your brand doesn’t get diluted are all great ways to make sure your business grows.   As the blog post says,  we can learn business lessons from the most unexpected places.

Third on deck today is a post about packaging and how you can make yours more green.  This is something we’re working on at EnMart,  where we try to be green by reusing boxes and packing materials to cut down on waste.   This post has some other ideas for making packaging green.    If you ship product on a regular basis,  you might want to consider implementing some of these ideas at your company.

Fourth in the line up today is a post from John Morgan called “Attention Doesn’t Equal Trust“.   This is another post that goes on my favorites list because it speaks to something I say all the time,  your audience can’t be “everybody”.  You have to target your customers and speak to them.  John says this much more eloquently than I just did and he makes a very good point.

Fifth in the round-up is a post from Peter Shankman listing ten things that will get you unfollowed/unfriended.    Read this list.    He makes some very good points about things that you should not do on a Twitter feed whether it’s business or personal.    I think my favorite tips are 2,3, 5 & 6.  I especially like the bit about keeping your feed positive.  No one needs to listen to someone bitch about how crappy their life is.  Asking for advice is a different thing, of course,  but if you feed is a constant stream of negative comments,  I’m opting out.

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 3 Comments

9th February 2011

Advanced Preview – NNEP 2011

I’ve been talking about this for weeks now,  so most of you probably already know that EnMart will be exhibiting at the NNEP show in Ohio next week.   We will be in Suites 326 and 327,  and we have lots of fun and exciting things planned.

In Suite 326,  we’ll be talking embroidery.   Our National Sales Manager will be manning this suite and he’s got years of experience in working with thread, bobbins, patches and embroidery machines.  He knows his stuff,  and he’s always ready to offer advice.    If you’re just starting out with embroidery or are looking for some new supplies,  stop by and talk to Tom Paquette.

In Suite 327,  it’s all about sublimation.  Tom Chambers, our resident sublimation guru will be demonstrating the wonders of sublimation and ChromaBlast.    You can see printed samples,  get a look at some of the printers we offer,  and ask all the questions your heart desires.  Tom is one of the people who was instrumental in bringing inkjet sublimation to industrial laundries,  so he has years of practical sublimation experience.    If you’re starting out with sublimation,  or looking to upgrade your current set up,  or if you just need supplies,  Tom is the go to guy for sublimation.

To round out our little trio of EnMart worker bees,  there’s me.  I’ll be at the show filling in where needed.  I’ll also be live blogging, Tweeting and posting on Facebook from the show.    I’m looking forward to seeing all my NNEP buddies,  so please do stop by and say hi.

As if the three of us being at the show weren’t enough incentive to stop by our suites,  we’re also bringing a lot of inventory with us this year.   If you need embroidery supplies, we’ll have Iris Thread, backing and bobbins.  If you’re looking for sublimation supplies,  we’ll be stocking Sawgrass Inkprinterspaper and assorted blanks.   All items will carry a show discount,  with a deeper discount available for those NNEP members who spend $100 or more.   Of course, since you’re carrying the items away with you,  there will also be no shipping charges.  Buying at the show is a great way to stock up and save!

We look forward to seeing everyone next week.

posted in Trade Shows | 1 Comment

8th February 2011

5 Questions about Merrow Floss

If you’ve ever visited our website,  you probably already know that we sell a variety of threads.   Most of the thread we sell is Iris Thread,  and it is meant for machine embroidery.   EnMart does, however,  offer a few kinds of specialty thread,  and one of those threads is merrow floss.   For those of you who aren’t familiar with merrow floss,  I thought I’d use today’s blog post to list and answer some of the most common questions we get about this type of thread.

Question 1:  What is merrow floss? –  Merrow floss is a type of thread that is typically used in a merrow machine to create the colorful border you see on many patches and emblems.  Our merrow floss is 300/4 and 100% polyester thread.

Question 2:  Can you use merrow floss to do regular embroidery? – We’ve never tried it,  but our tentative answer would be probably not.   Merrow floss requires special needles and is thicker than regular machine embroidery thread.  If you were to try embroidering a design with it,  you would certainly need to have your design specially digitized to take into account the increased thickness of the thread.   It is also uncertain how well merrow thread would run in a standard embroidery machine.

Question 3:  How tough is your merrow floss? - The Iris Merrow floss is regularly used by our parent company, Ensign Emblem.   Ensign creates emblems for industrial laundries, so the materials used in those emblems need to be tough enough to withstand an industrial wash and dry.   Iris merrow thread is wash fast and color fast and stands up to an industrial laundering with ease.

Question 4:  Is this the merrow thread used on the blank patches EnMart sells? – We’ve said it before and will most likely say it again,  EnMart and Ensign Emblem use the products that EnMart sells.  The merrow floss is no exception.   The colorful borders on our blank patches and our custom sublimated patches are all created using Iris merrow thread.

Question 5:  Do I need a special machine to use merrow floss? – Merrow floss is designed to be used with a merrow machine.    We recommend running your floss in this machine.  We have not tried running the floss using a standard embroidery machine and have no knowledge of how well or not well that would work.

posted in Thread | 1 Comment

4th February 2011

Friday Blog Round-up 2/4/11

In what seems to be becoming a trend for this series,  we start off with Kathleen Fasanella and Fashion Incubator.  This week she’s writing about mistakes people make on their About pages.   She’s got some good tips.   I especially like tips 4 and 8.   If you’re working on your website,  or thinking about giving it a revamp,  check out this blog post first.  It will give you some things about which to think.

Next up we have a challenge from the Stahl’s ID Blog.  Danielle Petroskey is challenging everyone who owns a business to take 30 minutes each day to market that business.   I like this challenge and think it’s a good one.  When you own and run a business it’s easy to forget the small tasks that help get your business recognized.   Moving marketing to the forefront for 30 minutes a day is a great way to start the marketing habit.

Third on deck today is a post from Nicole at Retail Minded.   Selling wholesale is a dream for many small business owners,  but how do you know if you’re ready to take that step.   Nicole offers a checklist of questions that will help you determine whether or not your ready to take the step of becoming a wholesaler.

Fourth in the batting order today is a post from Seth Godin about what is unreasonable.  I like Seth’s posts because they make me think.   This one is no exception.  What will you do that is unreasonable today?

Fifth up today is a post about customer service from a blog called CustomerLove.   I adore this post.  It targets all the points that I try to make about what good customer service should be,  and what often is called good customer service but isn’t.    If you run a business,  you need to read this post.

Finally,  I just wanted to remind everyone that the NNEP Conference in Columbus, Ohio is coming up in about a week and a half.   EnMart will be there in booth 326 and 327.   If you’re going to the show, please do stop in and visit us.  If you’re not going to the show and you’re in the area,  why not?

posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

3rd February 2011

Tooting Your Own Horn

Everyone knows that if you don’t talk about your accomplishments and what you do well, particularly in the context of your business, no one else will,  but promoting yourself  is still a tough thing to do sometimes.   I think part of the difficulty is the idea that praising your own accomplishments or talking up your own skills will sound like bragging or make you seem conceited.   Another part is simply that running a business requires a lot of time and effort,  and promoting yourself can seem like the last thing on which you want to spend your precious time and effort.  I also think sometimes people simply don’t know how to promote themselves, and so miss out on opportunities that could be of benefit to their businesses.

Since I promote Ensign Emblem and EnMart for a living,  I often get asked for ideas about how a small business could promote itself.    If you’re looking to generate some additional promotion for your business or for yourself, here are some simple ideas that can get you started.

Idea 1: Look to the media – local or national – Local media, newspapers, television stations, radio stations or local magazines are often looking for local experts.   They’re also looking for filler, so a well written press release will often get published.    National magazines are also often looking for business owners to interview for articles.  Make sure you know the media players in your industry both locally and nationally and keep your name in front of them.  Sometimes doing that is as simple as sending a letter saying who you are and what your areas of expertise are.   The worst that can happen is your letter gets ignored.  At best,  you have a source of good publicity that may only cost you a little bit of time.

Idea 2: Facebook and Twitter – Facebook and Twitter can be very useful if you are mindful about who your follow and you make sure your feed is updated enough so that it stays interesting.  Post pictures of your latest work.   Answer questions from customers.  Give people glimpses into the day to day life of your business.  Be human,  but be professional.   Remember this is a business feed, not a personal feed and craft your posts accordingly.

Idea 3:  Testimonials – Testimonials from satisfied customers are a great way to promote your business.  Some people simply have a page on their website that shares comments from customers who like their work.  Other people ask customers with Twitter feeds or Facebook pages to post their positive comments to their feeds.   However it’s done, the idea is to let potential customers know that present customers are satisfied and happy.

Idea 4:  Post pictures of your work – A lot of the work that a decorator does is visual.  Sometimes, though it pains me as a writer to admit this,  words just don’t tell the story.   Post pictures of your favorite pieces.  Share pictures of just completed work on your Twitter feed and Facebook page.  Don’t just tell people what you do,  show them.

Idea 5:  Help others promote their businesses – Part of being a success is knowing how to network.  Whether it’s online or in person,  always be ready to help other businesspeople spread the word about their businesses and their successes.   Do it simply to help,  not with the idea of there being some sort of quid pro quo situation.  Odds are some people won’t ever offer the same sort of help to you,  but the larger majority most likely will.  Soon, without even realizing you were doing it,  you’ll have built a network of people who will be happy to promote you simply because they like you and think you do good work, and what could be better than that.

So, those are five of my ideas for how to promote a small business.  If you have any additional ideas I’ve missed, please share them in the comments.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 2 Comments

2nd February 2011

5 Good Things About Snow

EnMart headquarters, where I work, is based in Northern Michigan, so I’m pretty familiar with snow.   It can start snowing as early as September up here,  and it can keep snowing through to May.   There have been winters where we haven’t seen the ground for months on end,  just piles and mounds of white.   Since I’ve lived with snow all my life,  I’ve gradually comes to see the up side to snow.  Despite what some people think, there are several good things about living in a snowy climate.    Since I’m feeling a bit whimsical today,  and since we’re dealing with yet more snow,  I thought today might be a good day to remind myself, and all of you,  what a few of the good things about snow are.

Good Thing #1 – SNOW DAY – O.k., not for us, of course,  but for the rest of you.   As I’ve mentioned, once or twice, on Facebook,  we don’t get snow days up here.  We’re the hardy, or maybe foolhardy, types who trek through blizzards to make it to the office.  For the rest of you, however,  an unexpected day off means you can rest and relax and enjoy being safe and warm while it’s cold and blizzarding outside.   There are definitely worse things to do with a day.

Good Thing #2 – Cold Weather Apparel – When it’s cold outside, people need to wear jackets and fleeces and hats and gloves and scarves and sweaters and sweatshirts and long underwear and socks and so on if they want to stay warm.  All those things can either be embroidered or sublimated.   That’s a lot of opportunities to put your machines to work and a lot of your work walking around out there in the world.

Good Thing #3 – Snow is Pretty – O.k., it’s not all that pretty when it’s blowing straight at you in a blizzard,  and it’s not all that pretty when you’re shoveling it off your driveway,  or out from under the wheels of your car so you won’t get stuck,  that I’ll admit.  If, however,  you’re out cross country skiing or snowshoeing or riding your snowmobile,  or just sitting in your house looking out at a freshly snow covered lawn,  snow can be quite beautiful.

Good Thing #4 – Winter Activities – Wooshing down a hill on a toboggan.   The peaceful swish of your skis as you cross country ski through a snow covered woods.   The roar of the engine as you race along a snowmobile trail.   Ice skating on a frozen pond.   The warmth of an ice shack contrasting with the cold of the ice as you ice fish.  There are a lot of fun things that can only be done while it’s cold and snowing outside.

Good Thing #5 – Snow is Good for the Water Levels – Water levels have been a perennial problem up here in the last few years,  and I know they have been in other places as well.   Snow is frozen water which , when it melts,  helps raise the levels of lakes and streams and rivers.    This could be good news for areas that have been facing drought conditions.

posted in About EnMart | 1 Comment

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