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The Friday Blog Round-Up 1/27/12

27th January 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 1/27/12

First on the list today is a post from Stahl’s about a little trade show they had recently, for their employees.   First of all, how awesome is this idea?  Second,  I know from experience,  as EnMart has seminars where we bring in suppliers and allow our customer service people to get hands on with the products we sell,  that people who understand the products are better able to offer service and support.  I wish more companies did this sort of thing.  I think it’s a great way to make sure you have an educated customer service and sales staff.

Second on the list is a great story from Bonnie Landsberger.  While it’s not specifically embroidery related,  it does tell the tale of how she found some treasured family heirlooms that she feared had been lost.   I think we all have a memory of a treasured plaything or a memento from a loved one that has since disappeared.  It’s really heart warming to read about Bonnie and her family getting some of their treasures back.

Third at bat today is a post from Erich Campbell about educating your customers.     He explains the right way and the wrong way to approach educational opportunities when they occur.    Sadly,  I’ve probably been guilty of the bad execution myself a time or two.  I’ve also seen examples of the ugly execution as well.   Hopefully,  after reading Erich’s post,  we’ll all stay on the good side of the line when it comes to educating customers.

Fourth on the docket today, in the “yes, I would like a few of these please” category,  is the latest in the Urban Entrepreneurs series from Urban Threads.    This time, the company being profiled is Magical Monk Bags and More.     By the way,  did I mention it’s my birthday next week?   If someone were looking for a gift…., but I digress.   I love this series,  love these bags and really enjoy seeing how creativity and hard work can create a business.

Fifth on the list,  we have a post from Redhead Writing called My Entrepreneur Can Beat Up Your Politician.   I love this post because it points out the fact that people with an entrepreneurial mind set can get things done,  while politicians seem to be about anything but getting things done these days.    Mostly I love this post for the last paragraph, which is so true.

Finally,  we have a post from Brands on Fire about emotional marketing.   This post talks about a campaign by Dawn dishwashing soap,  but it could apply equally to any brand that has used some sort of emotional tie to market their product.   I think in some cases, these emotional appeals can work,  but I also think, in some sectors,  people are starting to use this type of ploy to sell product not because they feel a real connection to the cause, but because they think it’s good marketing.    To me,  that smacks of opportunism, and I don’t like it.  What do you guys think?  Does emotional marketing inspire you to purchase a product you might otherwise not purchase?

 

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25th January 2012

Information, please

At EnMart,  we strive to treat each customer like they are the only customer.  That’s good customer service and it’s also helpful, for both our company and yours, to have customer service people on staff who really know the people with whom they speak.   Still, as the company continues to grow and our customer base continues to expand,  remembering every fine detail does become more difficult.  You can have the best CRM and customer service staff on the planet and some details will slip through the cracks.  That’s just a fact of life.

Given that our customer base is always growing and changing,  we do have a few occasions when we will verify or request more information from a customer than what our site might request.   We do this to ensure the validity of the order and to protect both you as the customer and ourselves as the vendor.   Credit card numbers do get stolen and Paypal accounts do get hacked,  so we’d rather make an extra phone call to confirm rather than risk a fraudulent charge.

We also ask that, should you have a special request or need something particular (faster shipping,  expedited turn time,  samples), you either call to alert us or put a note on your order with your request.   Please don’t assume that we will process things faster than published turn times,  or that we’ll understand that you have a special need based on your order.   We’re happy to accommodate special requests when we can,  but we have to be aware of them.   The time to inquire about a faster than normal turn time or expedited shipping is when the order is placed,  not just before you need the item.

EnMart also encourages our customers to talk to us about what they want and need.   You can leave a comment here on this blog.   You can contact us through a variety of methods.    Friends, fans and followers  can also talk to us directly on Facebook and Twitter.    We try to reply quickly to any comments we receive and we do enjoy a good suggestion,  so please feel free to make them.    In the end,  a good customer – supplier relationship is all about communication,  and the more both sides exchange information,  the better and more smoothly the relationship will work.

 

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20th January 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 1/20/12

First up,  we have a post from the Retail Minded blog.   It deals with topics that should be covered at employee meetings.   While the slant is toward retail,  the message I took away from this post really applies to any business,  you need to be prepared.   Getting all your employees together on a regular basis  to go over procedures and processes is one good way to do that.

Second on the list today,  I have to thank Urban Threads for pointing out that Vogue Patterns has a  great list of questions to ask before buying an embroidery machine.   We at EnMart are often asked what machine people should buy, and the answer depends on a lot of factors.  If you’re thinking of buying a machine,  it might be worth purchasing a copy of this issue online.

Third on the docket today is a very important post from Peter Shankman.   I’m always very aware of my surroundings, and I’m very sensitive to changes in atmosphere or potential danger,  but many people are not that aware.   Peter’s post lists ways you can keep yourself safe and points out some common sense things you can do to reduce your risk.    Keeping yourself safe is your responsibility, so please read this post and take it to heart.

Fourth at bat is a post from John Morgan about under promising and over delivering.   He maintains there is an issue with this philosophy which is the fact that under promising is pretty weak.   His theory is that you should over promise and then deliver on what you promised and then some.   If you promise someone something awesome and then you deliver the awesome and more,  you’ve created a business that people will talk about and support.

Fifth in line is a post about taking back your attention and why doing so will improve your online and social media experiences.   This post reminds us that we only have a finite amount of attention to give and that we ultimately control our online experience.  If you’re mindful about who you’re paying attention to and why,  you experience will be more valuable and better.   This post also makes a good point about the value of quietly removing your attention.   If enough people just quietly decide to stop paying attention to the annoying or the meaningless,  that annoying or meaningless person or thing has a much smaller megaphone.   It’s a good point and a good post.

Finally, last up today we have a post from The Bloggess.  This one isn’t particularly meaningful,  it just made me laugh like a goon.   I’m hoping it will add a little laughter to your day too.

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17th January 2012

Think Outside the Box – Trade Show Samples

Later this week,  EnMart will be doing our first trade show of the year.    In years past,  when we’ve done a trade show,  we’ve loaded up samples of our main embroidery products into bags emblazoned with our logo and that of Iris Threads and handed them out at the show.  In theory, this seems like the smart thing to do,  we all know that one of the reasons people come to trade shows is to collect samples of products.    A trade show is definitely an efficient place to collect samples from many different companies.

When EnMart goes to a show,  we collect scans of the badges of those we’ve talked to and who have received samples.  A few weeks to a month after the show is over  we call those people and ask if there are any questions we can answer and if they’ve tried the samples they received from us.   In a lot of cases,  we’ll be told that people have not tried their samples,  and often receive that same answer when we call again six months to a year after the show.   Based on these phone calls, tt appears to us that handing out bags of samples at the show may not be the best way to get potential customers to try our product.

While trade shows are an efficient way to collect samples for those who attend,  they are also an efficient way to meet a lot of people for those who exhibit.  We do want to get our samples in as many hands as we possibly can,  but we don’t want to be one bag of samples among many,  or a bag with samples that never get tried.  EnMart wants our samples to stand out,   and we want giving out samples to be something that makes economic sense.   EnMart is, after all, known for keeping our prices reasonable, and for having the lowest prices in the industry on some items.  Part of how we keep our prices reasonable is by making sure we get the biggest bang we can for every buck.   Handing out samples that never get tried doesn’t help us do that.

So, in order to make our samples stand out,  and to make sure we’re spending money in as smart a way as we can,  EnMart has changed our trade show sample policy for 2012.    Instead of handing out samples at the show,  we’ll hand out postcards.  On one side of the card will be a list of ways you can request samples,  e-mail, QR codes that lead to a form on our website,  snail mail etc.   There will also be a list of the samples that you can request.  All you carry away from the show is a postcard.   The samples will be sent to your mailing address,  at our cost,  once you request them.    This way our samples stand out and stay memorable,  and people who are interested in trying samples can get them, at no cost,  and without having to carry yet one more heavy bag around a show.

We think this is a more efficient and more useful way of offering samples,  both for us and for those who attend the show.  What do you guys think.  Please leave us a comment and let us know.

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13th January 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 1/13/12

First off today,  I have to point out Erich Campbell’s great post about how he created the awesome cover art for the January issue of Stitches Magazine.    This cover and the embroidery are both works of art and it’s interesting to learn about how it was done.   From what Erich says, it took a staggering amount of work but, in my opinion anyway,  the end result was well worth it.

Next up,  just because I’m kind of on a scarf kick at the moment, plus it’s cool,  we have this scarf tutorial from Urban Threads.   The scarf is very pretty and it looks like a good accessory for almost any outfit.

Third on the list is this post from Seth Godin.    Basically,  it tells us all to stop waiting for better times or better opportunities,  to seize the day and make the most of what we have right now.   You’ve got to love a blog post that has this quote in it “It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment — just one second — to decide.”

Fourth at bat is this post from John Morgan about managing your brand.   This is really a common sense sort of post,  but it points out something that business owners often miss.  Your brand isn’t just your collateral material or your website,  it’s everything you and your employees do, whether you’re on company time or not.   It’s a good reminder that very little we do nowdays is invisible and we need to be aware of that.

Fifth on the list is a great post about the value of Pinterest for brands.  I have to confess I haven’t spent a lot of time, in fact almost none, on Pinterest, but after reading this post I’m going to investigate it further.   I can definitely see the value of this site for embroidery and sublimation companies and it certainly seems worth a closer look.

Finally,  to wrap things up,  we have another post from The Bloggess.  It’s an older post,  but it resonated with me,  and I figured it might with some of you.  This time she’s talking about allowing you self to pursue the not sensible option, and what can grow out of that when you do.  It’s a great post,  and it inspires me to think about what my “red dress” would be and why I’m not allowing myself to have it.

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10th January 2012

A Trade Show Question

Any of you who have been following EnMart for any length of time know that we do several trade shows every year.   In the past we’ve packed up tubs of sample bags and brochures and booklets and set up our booth and worked at doing one of the things I think we do best, educating people.    In the last few years,  we’ve also sold product at many of the shows we attend.    Our booths have, in a way,  become a sort of combined university and store,  and we’ve enjoyed that.    Trade shows are fun and energizing and it is lovely to meet our customers.

In 2012 we will be doing 8 trade shows.  They are as follows:

We are planning to have our big booth at each location, and it will be stocked with product.   We would also, however, like to bring some new, fun stuff to our booth and that’s where you come in.   What would you like to see in the EnMart booth in 2012?  What would you like more information about?  Would you like more demonstrations?  Would you rather have literature you can take away and read at your leisure?

Our presence at a trade show is always about helping our customers.  We want to provide the information and assistance you need to get the most from your EnMart products.   Obviously,  we have our own thoughts about what can do that,  but the best people to tell us what is useful and helpful are the people who will visit our booth.   If you have a request or would like to see us do something or provide something at a show,  please let us know.  You can leave a comment here,  or contact us and make a suggestion.

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6th January 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 1/6/12

First up today is a plea for some old school communication from ASI’s Michelle Bell.   She’s talking about holiday cards and gifts,  but her point is relevant at any time of year.   Sometimes a handwritten note or a thoughtfully chosen gift is the best way to go and the response you get to such efforts may be very surprising.   Tweets and Facebook mentions and e-mails are nice,  but sometimes the most effective way to say thank you or I appreciate you is a handwritten card.

Second on the docket today is a helpful post about the small batch exemption from CPSIA.   I have to confess, I don’t know as much about this as I should,  but I do understand there is a lot of concern and fear about CPSIA among people who make items for children.    There apparently are a lot of parts to CPSIA,  but this post will give you some links to places where you can find more information and an explanation of the small batch exemption,  which might well be useful for a lot of the readers of this blog.

Third at bat today is a post from Stahl’s about printing on food.  The food in question in this case is pizza and there is apparently a company that makes transfers that can be put on your pie.   Now,  people have been customizing birthday cakes for a quite a while,  so it probably isn’t that surprising that the process has moved on to other foods.  I’m not sure I want a graphic or a logo on my pizza though.   What do you guys think?

Fourth on the list is the announcement that the Embroidery Stabilizers E-Course has been released by the NNEP.    This is an awesome overview of stabilizers and how they should be used.   In all fairness, I have to admit that I contributed to this e-course,  as did others in the industry,  and I think the NNEP has created a great resource that many embroiderers will find useful.   They are offering a discount on the cost of the course right now,  so if you’re interested, stop by their site and place your order.

Fifth in the order today is a post I wrote for the DecQuorum blog.   It may be a little controversial,  but it does address a trend that I’ve seen more and more recently,  the idea that small businesses are somehow more deserving or more worthy of customers than a large business or an online business.    To me, this seems to be focusing on the wrong thing.  Don’t focus on what advantages other businesses may have, or how they do business, focus on the advantages you have and how you’re doing business.   I’ll be interested to hear what you guys think about this one.

Finally,  I have to link to a post from The Bloggess.   Normally the posts from her blog that I mention here are the ones that make me snort and spit water at my computer screen.  This post is not like that.  It’s about depression and how it feels and what it’s like and the fact that there’s somewhat of a stigma about it.  As someone who has suffered with bouts of depression since I was a teenager, and who lost a year to depression in my early 20s,  I can so identify with this post.   I wear the silver ribbon and the scars,  and I’m mentioning the post both because it resonated with me and because it might strike a chord with others out there.

 

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4th January 2012

EnMart in 2012

Since I didn’t put up a Happy New Year post on the actual day,  I thought I’d start out 2012 with a blog post about what you can expect from EnMart this year.   Of course,  what I write here may change in the months ahead,  and new and fabulous things that I don’t even know about right now will certainly appear,  but,  as of today,  this is what’s on tap for EnMart.

Trade Shows – Hilos Iris, manufacturer of Iris Thread and EnMart will be exhibiting at ISS Long Beach and ISS Atlantic City.   EnMart will be exhibiting and selling product at all three DAX Shows and at the NNEP functions as well.   If you will be attending any of the DAX Shows or the NNEP show in Nashville,  and would like us to have something special there for you,  please let us know.   As always,  we’re looking forward to seeing everyone and helping people learn more about embroidery and sublimation.

Videos – Instructional and informational videos are still on the agenda.  The problem right now is that someone (who also writes this blog) needs to write some scripts.   The plan is to get  some scripts written and some videos made this year.

Social Media – If you missed it,  EnMart has a Twitter feed and a Facebook page and we love having new people join us in either place.    Our social media outlets, like these blogs,  are another place where we talk to our customers,   announce new products and specials and occasionally get silly.   If you haven’t already followed us on Twitter or liked the EnMart page on Facebook, please do.   I promise it will be worth your time.

New Products – We talk about new products or new iterations of current products all the time.   Some things are in the works for 2012,  we just have to wait for all the pieces to fall into place.   I can say this,  those of you who have been asking if we carried this or that particular product,  we have been listening.

Most of all, we’re working to make 2012 the biggest and best year ever for EnMart.   We sincerely thank all of you who were customers, followers and friends in 2011, and we hope you’ll stick with us in 2012.   It’s going to be an awesome year!

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