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EnMart Extras – New Products

17th July 2015

EnMart Extras – New Products

new product coming soonOne of the things that any company that wishes to grow needs to do is to add new products and enter new markets.   EnMart is always working to expand our product offerings,  but 2015 has been/will be a banner year when it comes to adding new products and entering new markets.   We’re very excited about what’s coming and what will be added to our website.   We hope you will be too.    Here are some things that are coming soon.

Screen Print Supplies – EnMart’s parent company, Ensign Emblem,  has a screenprint department,  so we’re familiar with screenprint.   It made sense to use that knowledge and expertise and add some screenprint items to our existing inventory.   We’re starting out with screen print test sheets in 14″ x 16″ and 16″ x 18″ in blank and white.    We’re also planning to add spray adhesives and screen openers and other screenprint related products as well.   We’re currently in negotiations with well known suppliers and hope to have additional products in the screenprint area to offer to you soon.

Craft thread and hand embroidery supplies – Hilos Iris,  the company that manufactures the machine embroidery thread we carry,   also makes craft thread, perle cotton and floss for hand embroidery.   We’re excited to be able to offer these products to our customers as well.    This is another area in which we’re also connecting with other suppliers to bring in tools and accessories that will be useful when crafting or doing hand embroidery.

Additional quilt thread colors – Hilos Iris is planning to bring out 12 new solid color quilt threads in 2015.   We’ve been working on putting color choices together and finding swatches of the right colors to send for dye testing.   We’re excited to be expanding our quilting thread palette with these additional solid colors.  And yes,  for those who have been asking,  we are working on seeing if it is possible to get some additional variegated colors as well.

Embroiderable stuffed animals – Cubbies and Embroider Buddies are well known names in the industry.   EnMart is excited to announce we now will be carrying both lines.   We will also be working with some friends of EnMart to create some new designs and potential new uses for these adorable embroiderable animals.   The animals will also be available in our trade show booths at the 2016 shows.

New products, or products we’re considering adding to our store will always be announced on social media and here on this blog.   If you have a suggestion for something you think we should carry,   you can leave it on our Facebook pageTwitter feed,  or in the comments on any post from this blog.

 

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10th July 2015

Friday Blog Round-Up 7/10/15

Happy-Friday-Carnival-FIHappy Friday everyone!   Since I promised you two Friday Blog Round- Up posts a month,  I figured it was time I got one done.   Luckily,  I can always find good content to share in these posts.

First up is a post from the Designs in Machine Embroidery blog about how to stay relevant in the marketplace.   It discusses some resources for finding new customers,  and some ideas for what you can sell those customers.    Staying relevant and thinking about events that are coming up  – back to school,  off to college,  for which your customers might need or want the goods you can make is key.    This is a good reminder that we always need to be aware of what’s happening around us.

Second on the list is a post from Joyce Jagger which details 9 ways to sink your decorated apparel business  and gives you tips on avoiding these hazards.   One of my favorite pieces of advice from this post is when she talks about not depending on a small pool of customers.   One of the reason EnMart is constantly adding new products and reaching out to new markets is because we want the broadest customer base possible.   It’s good advice for any business – don’t put all your eggs in one basket,  because if that basket fails,  it’s your bacon that’s in the fire.

Third at bat is a post from Erich Campbell about why smaller customers and smaller orders matter.    I was just having a conversation with an EnMart customer this morning on this very topic,  so this post is very applicable.     Erich makes several good points in this article,  but the one that really struck home with me is the point that you never know who,  or what,  is behind a small order.    Yes,  small orders might be annoying or a pain at times,  but they can also be the path to big orders.    This is a terrific post,  and a great way to think about what some companies might consider an imposition.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Sadia Sews about multi-hooping.   Since I would probably have trouble lining up one design,   I’m in awe of people who can stitch out multiple designs and have their line up properly.    This is a nice tutorial on one way to make that happen.

Fifth in the queue is a post from the Stitchworks blog listing some dos and don’ts when it comes to press releases.   In my opinion,  press releases are a publicity tool that many small businesses overlook.     This post offers a lot of good tips for a businessowner who may be writing their first press release.    My two favorite tips are the one about not sending your release to everyone – having worked at television stations and newspapers in the past I can tell you from personal experience how annoying that is,   and the one about making sure the photos you include with your release are high quality and suitable for print.    There are several great tips here so you should check this post out.

Finally,  we have a post from John Morgan about six things on which business owners should stop focusing.   While some of what he says seems counter-intuitive to most business advice that’s out there,  his advice really does make sense.    I especially like the advice about being a trendsetter,  not focusing on staying up with current trends,  and the reminder that we all need to stop focusing on our fears.

 

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9th July 2015

Generating Word of Mouth Advertising

telling secretsEvery once in a while,  during an otherwise ordinary conversation,   something that really makes you think will be said.   That’s what happened to me this morning during a conversation with one of our West Coast customers.   We were chatting a bit after he placed his order and he told me he was amazingly busy,  pretty much running to capacity.   Then he told me that the only advertising he has or does is word of mouth.   Satisfied customers tell other potential customers about him,  and when those that have received recommendations come to him,  he provides such great service and product that they don’t want to go anywhere else.  The new customers become satisfied customers and,  in their turn,  tell other people about him and his business.   The cycle just keeps rolling on and on.

What got me thinking is the fact that most business owners would probably kill to have achieved that sort of customer recognition.  For many business owners, word of mouth is the holy grail of ways to bring in business.    On the surface,  it doesn’t cost anything.    There are no magazine ads to design,  no flyers to print,   no product displays to create and hang on the wall.   Word of mouth does not require worrying about hits on a website,  or landing pages for banner ads  or maintaining social media accounts.   All you have to do to generate word of mouth advertising is to provide a product and service that is so inspiring that your customers are compelled to talk about your business.   It’s that simple.   Really,  what could be easier?

Sadly, pretty much anything.

Like the marketing and social media “gurus” who say they can make your video “go viral”,   there are those out there who will sell you a lot of tips and tricks for generating “buzz” or taking your company “viral”.   It’s tempting to think there is an easy way to generate positive word of mouth,   but that isn’t really the case.   If you want people to talk about your company for the right reasons,   you have to do a lot of things right.     Generating positive word of mouth is an ongoing process,  one that may take years to provide full benefit,  and it can easily be destroyed by the surly counter person who provides a customer with a bad experience,  or the production employee who doesn’t pay attention one day when creating embroidered polos.

If you’re looking to generate word of mouth for your business,  the first fact with which you need to make peace is the fact that you can’t force anyone to talk about you.   People generally talk about something for one of two reasons,   either they’re amazed and astonished by the experience they just had or something about the experience has made them annoyed and angry.    Obviously,  most business owners are shooting for amazed and astonished,  but many often miss and score a bullseye in angry and annoyed.  You don’t want people talking about you for the wrong reasons,  so one of the first things you need to do if you want to generate positive word of mouth is to make sure your customer service and production processes are as good as they can possibly be.

Another thing to keep in mind when working to generate word of mouth for your business is the fact that you can’t force people to talk about you positively,  but you can ask them to do so.   It might be as simple as a sentence on the end of an invoice “If you like our work,  please tell your friends”.    You could simply ask current customers for referrals to new customers,  which can be as easy as saying “Do you know anyone who could use our services?”.  You might also consider offering a discount or a rebate to those who recommend you to others.   If you are already providing an experience that amazes and delights,  there’s nothing wrong with asking people to talk about it.   Just be very sure that they are amazed and delighted before making your request.

Finally,   you need to remember that generating positive word of mouth is a marathon,  not a sprint.   It isn’t about providing great product and a stellar experience one time,  it’s about providing great product and a stellar experience time and time again.   Yes,  one good experience may make a customer talk about your positively,   but a consistent string of positive experiences will generate the kind of recommendations and buzz that will keep your shop humming for years.

posted in Making Your Business Grow, Marketing Monday | Comments Off

7th July 2015

How Do I: Provide Good Customer Service

customer service blocksSome people might think this post should be presented on a Monday,  as customer service generally is thought to fall under the Marketing umbrella,  and they wouldn’t be wrong,  just a bit incomplete.   When done correctly,   customer service is about marketing your business,   but it’s also about a lot more than that.   Providing good customer service requires being part swami,  part teacher,  part disciplinarian,   and part butler.    Your goal is to provide not what your customer wants,  but what they really need which requires the swami to read minds,   the teacher to educate,  the disciplinarian to steer them away from things that won’t do what they need,   and to be firm about why they don’t need them,   and the butler to provide that little extra touch of luxury that allows your customer to walk away feeling pampered and appreciated.   Providing good customer service is a lot about being aware and alert,  and much less about mouthing some tired platitudes about “how your business matters to us”.  Good customer service doesn’t tell your customers they matter to your business,  it shows them they matter.

Peter Shankman,  who gets a lot of things right when he talks about customer service,  says that these days,  great customer service doesn’t require being stunningly awesome every second.   Being better than the rest just requires elevating your game a little bit.   Sadly,  most people are so accustomed to being treated like an inconvenience and enduring terrible customer service that they’ll react to even a modest effort like you’ve offered them a Godiva chocolate in a solid gold box strapped to the cutest puppy in the universe.   Even being seen to make an effort while being unable to deliver can win you points.   We’re all so beaten down these days by companies that basically treat us like ATMs that simply being treated like a human is a refreshing change of pace.

So,  given that we know most companies are providing rock bottom customer service,  and realizing that it only takes a little to be a lot better than average,   the next step is to harness your inner swami,  teacher,  disciplinarian and butler and take your customer service to the next level.   Here’s how that works:

The Swami – You don’t have to read minds,  you just have to listen and be observant.   Customers aren’t always the best at expressing what they need, so you’ll need to read between the lines on occasion.   Being a swami also requires thinking about the orders that come to you and paying attention to what’s being ordered.   If you have a customer who orders consistently,  and their orders are generally the same type of thing,  and then they order something completely different,  it’s worth checking to make sure the order was placed correctly.   Even if they did order properly,  they’ll still appreciate that you knew them well enough to know this wasn’t their usual order.

The Teacher – Teachers educate,  and many of us in the industry talk often about what customers don’t know and how it’s our responsibility to teach them.   Your customers don’t expect and probably don’t want a college level seminar,  but explaining a few basic details can help them better understand what you can and can’t do and why.   Educating customers about the value of what you do,  both in creativity and in dollars and cents is also worthwhile.     You don’t have to lecture,  but taking advantage of a teaching moment is always a good thing.

The Disciplinarian – Anyone who has ever been around a child has probably had the experience of telling them no,  or stopping the kid from doing something they really wanted to do but which was dangerous or not good for them.    I’m not saying customers are children,  or should be treated as such,  but there are times when you,  as the expert,  will know better than they do.   At those times,  it’s your job to provide information that will allow them to make the correct choice,  and to steer them away from the wrong choices.   Sometimes that requires being firm.   The traditional rule is that the customer is always right,  but that doesn’t mean they always make the right choices.   Your job is to help them see where they’ve made an error and to provide them with good choices that will help achieve their final goal.

The Butler –  We can’t all be Jeeves,  but we can provide that little extra touch that makes our customers feel spoiled and pampered.  Whether it’s a handwritten note to say thank you for an order,  or a little extra something thrown in with finished garments,  letting your customer know you appreciate their business doesn’t have to be fancy,  it just needs to be sincere.

Sincerity is probably,  in the end,  what matters most.   If you genuinely appreciate your customers, truly want to provide them with the best products and service you can,   and are willing to put some effort into doing so,  it’s likely that your customer service will be way above average.   It’s also likely that your customers will recognize that,  and continue to be customers for years to come.

posted in Making Your Business Grow, Marketing Monday | 2 Comments

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