Friday, April 18, 2014

Should You Advertise Your Business on the Radio?

With numbers going down across the board for traditional advertising, there is one segment that is still surprisingly still able to hold its own within the changing landscape – traditional radio. The rise of iPods, streaming sites like Spotify, and satellite radio would make it seem the death knell has already been rung for old-school radio but interestingly enough, research tells a different story. Despite the growing variety of alternatives to choose from, 90 percent of Americans still listen to the radio at least once a week, with an average of two hours each week. Whether for news, top 40, or sports radio, people are still tuning in to hear the most widely available free broadcasting medium on the planet.  Does radio advertising work for embroidery shops?

Despite lacking a visual component, hearing the spoken word through radio can be very powerful thing even on its own. It has a magnetic quality that makes it seem personally directed to every listener.  For many people’s daily commutes, sharing their drive time with the radio is as much of a daily ritual as morning coffee. Unlike television ads, which are now often skipped over through DVR playback, radio spots can’t be overlooked as easily.

Targeting a radio audience is not always as easy as it may seem. Rather than going on your own gut assumptions, utilize information gathered by companies such as Neilsen Audio, who conducts comprehensive polls that provide insight for advertisers trying to target specific audiences. They survey listeners by age group, what time they listen and where they listen to the radio.

When choosing a station to broadcast your ad, be sure you're not choosing it because it reflects your own personal tastes, but the taste of the larger audience you are trying to reach. Take the time to actually listen to the stations you’re considering.  If you decide to go with more than one station, you may need to consider tailoring separate ads for each to match their demographic.

Where and When?

Your budget is obviously going to have a direct influence on the frequency and placement of your ads. Realize that you do not have to be on the air every day for people to think you are, however. If your audience hears the same ad several times over the course of the week, it will seem to them a though they hear it daily. Focus your budget towards getting spots when you know your audience will be listening, rather than putting money towards a higher number of ads that are only shown during off-hours. For example, assume your audience is mostly commuters traveling to work in the morning and back home again in the afternoon. Consider running two of these ads close together during these hours to improve your chances of hitting your target (and possibly some of them twice).

Advertising rates

Just like with most other types of advertising, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all ad rate for radio. Costs are based on the length of the commercial, how often it airs, the time when it will to be broadcast and the station's reach.  Don’t hesitate to ask the station or network questions about rates, and be sure to compare them with competitors. If the station knows you're shopping around, they could cut a deal with you for special rate to fit your own needs.

Making the ad

Choosing the subject matter and producing an ad is best done as a joint venture between the business, advertising agency, and radio station. You know your company better than anyone, so the ideas need to start from you. From there, the advertising agency and station can then take your basic idea, trim the fat, and come up with a concise script. Try not to pack too much information into a limited amount of time.  Keep your message simple and easy to remember.  Focus on a few key points which to reinforce, like a website address you'd like listeners to check out. Phone numbers can be hard to remember unless the number itself is simple and memorable. I can't think of anyone who would actually want to try writing something down when they're driving.

Who is going to speak in the ad? Will it be someone from the company or a professional voice over artist?  Hiring a pro can give your script a slick-sounding delivery, but at an added expense. Going DIY can give an ad a more down-to-earth delivery, but if you're is hesitant in front of a microphone, recording may take quite a bit of time in the studio to get right. Another option is to have a station DJ talk about your product or services in a conversational tone along with the rest of his show.

Radio advertising obviously may not work for every company.  It usually requires a longer commitment than other options for it potential to come to fruition. Building listener awareness takes time. You’ll need to be financially able to stick with it until it begins to work for you. If you do a one-time slot, you’re really not going to see much response. That said, when used in conjunction with other visual formats of advertising, radio ads have the ability to reinforce preexisting images in the minds of listeners.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Keep an Open Mind About Change

As individual business owners, policy makers and employees, we must keep an open mind about changing to meet the needs of our respective employees, customers and employers. No longer can we continue to produce the same products at the same prices and expect to stay competitive while meeting the needs of our customers.

Today, more than ever, the customer knows what to expect with embroidery. He has seen it used for many years. Ten years ago embroidery was new and the customer mutely took what was available. Today, embroidery is everywhere on almost everything, and the quality is the very best. We are now dealing with a very knowledgeable clientele and we must do so accordingly.

Look what the equipment manufacturers are selling these days. Aren't some of these items ones that we were wanting some years back when we were customers? These manufacturers have listened to their customers and today, more than ever, are producing equipment to handle the needs of embroiderers. The accessories and all the other sideline items embroiderers need are now available. Thread, hooping tables and even hoops for shoes are now available. Punching equipment, once thought to be only the computer genius, is now manufactured for the beginner and is used with a great deal of success.

When many of us get started in business, we look all over the internet to information we need. After a time, and with a certain amount of success, we become complacent and no longer keep up with the new products, equipment and items being produced. We seem to fall into a comfortable niche and stay there until something like an irate customer wakes us up by storming off. By then it's too late and we must again start looking in the magazines to discover all the wonderful items being produced by newer companies with newer methods, products, equipment and accessories. This does not mean that you have to purchase all new equipment to stay competitive.

However, being informed of trends, new products and methods of producing these items will be essential in the future. There is now and always will be a place for the small in-home embroidery shop with less formal staff structures. However, larger shops will find that employees have greater demands for health and dental insurance, and other benefit packages that have been available in the past from only the very large companies and now expected from almost every employer. The industry is changing gears. For the past few years, second and third gear was sufficient. Now you've got to get into overdrive if you expect to make it into the future with a good strong company.

Make every effort to keep informed with what is available in the market. What kind of embroidered products are being produced and what kind of customer is buying them? When was the last time you went to the local mall and looked at the products being sold? Did you see T-shirts with 10,000 stitches on the front selling for $60? Did you see caps with logos and designs selling for $25.95? These discoveries can be major eye openers. People are willing to pay kind of money for a T-shirt with a 4-inch embroidered design.

When is the last time you spoke with another embroiderer in your area? Talking to the competition does not mean that you have to give away your company secrets or discuss your customer list. It is always good to remain friendly with your competition so you can call them when you need help-or when you can offer them help. You may run into an unresponsive person, but you might also discover a real friend and fellow embroiderer willing to discuss common problems and solutions.

When was the last time you contributed to an industry web forum or blog with a helpful production shortcut or hint on making a task easier? Taking the time o pass on your experience will also get you more involved in learning and trying new things.

Get involved with the industry on the convention and conference level, too. Many embroiderers start going to conventions because they needed to find products and equipment. After a few years and all the equipment has been found, interest in attending as frequently can decline. What these folks many not realize is that they are missing the potential exchange with other embroiderers. Just talking, listening and learning how they have made their businesses work can give you many new ideas.. Meeting these people can be an invaluable tool. Not only are you likely to become friends with many of them, but you will also learn many valuable lessons. Even a beginner can teach you something if you listen.

The embroidery industry, like any business or industry, is getting more sophisticated all the time. We must keep informed of the latest news, products and to succeed. Getting involved and extending yourself is a sure way of keeping informed.

Friday, August 30, 2013

10 Tips for Successful Business Calls

  1.  Identify yourself with your name and your company. Playing "guess who?" (even with people you know well) is unprofessional and wastes time.
  2. Tell people how you got their name. Whether from a mailing list, phone book, or friend, people feel more at ease when this information is offered.
  3. Smile into the phone. Believe it or not, people can tell if you're happy, angry, disappointed, or disinterested over the phone.
  4. Ask if this is a good time to talk. If not, arrange for a convenient time to return the call. Remember, phone calls, no matter how anticipated, interrupt the work day.
  5. Make notes before the call and take notes during the exchange. Scripts tend to sound artificial. so just look over three or four questions or points you want to cover. Always write down the name of the person you're talking to and verify the spelling.
  6. Vary the volume, tone, and speed of your voice. Forty percent of accurate communication lies in the tone of your voice, and you have to compensate for the I ck of body language and facial expression to convey your message.
  7. Choose your words carefully. Again, in the absence of body language, words playa more powerful part in communicating the message. Be specific, and briei when talking on the phone.
  8. Divide your phone calling into manageable chunks, say five or 10 calls a day, so you're not overwhelmed (and discouraged) by the task.
  9. Under promise, then over deliver. As you wrap up the call, tell the client what you're going to do, and how and when you're going to do it-then do it! ''I'll get those sewn samples to you by the end of the week, and I'll e-mail the quote to you by tomorrow."
  10. Say "please" and "thank you" a lot. Good manners never go out of style.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Word of Mouth Marketing for Your Embroidery Business

Word-of-mouth exposure can mean the difference between the success and failure of any business. That's why the connections you make by becoming personally involved in your community can be so beneficial; the more you do, the more people will start talking about your company. Opening yourself to opportunities in your own backyard increases your exposure, which always increases your odds for new business opportunities.

Networking within your community is an easy, inexpensive, yet extremely powerful marketing tool. You never know who is in need of embroidery services, just as you never know who knows who. And because the retail business is especially dependent on referrals, being visible in your community helps promote your products and services.

The following suggestions are sure to generate positive remarks about you, your embroidery and your company. But these tips are only starting points, because the list of possibilities is limited only by your imagination. In fact, it's usually the more creative and more outlandish ideas that get people talking!

Hold a sidewalk sale to improve
your products' visibility
  • Hold a sidewalk sale once a month, and display some of your merchandise on racks or tables outside your shop. You could even hire a barker to stand on the comer and tell passersby about your business!
  • Donate a prize (embroidered polo shirts, custom digitizing, a free monogram, etc.) to a charity auction or other philanthropic event. (Carefully weigh the "presentation" options, however: While a gift certificate will bring the recipient into your store and possibly spur additional sales, the exposure may be more far-reaching if your embroidered item is viewed at the event.)
  • Hold an open house and exhibit your most impressive embroideries, either framed or in attractive displays. For an extra-chic touch, hire models for the event, and instruct them to mingle with customers, describing the embroidery they're wearing.
  • Team up with a local department store to sponsor a fashion show (held either in the store or in the mall area of the shopping center) and feature embroidered apparel and accessories. Themes such as Back To School, Here Comes The Bride, Happy Holidays and Summertime Fun have wide appeal and are sure to attract a crowd. (Many shopping centers and large department stores have special events committees that work on fashion shows and similar attractions. Your interest and willingness to participate will be much appreciated.)
  • Partner with an antique shop and dry cleaner to co-sponsor a community seminar on heirloom embroideries where to find them, how to assess their value, how to preserve them and how to create unique heirloom pieces. You can also invite the vendors that provide you with table linens, christening gowns, bridal accessories and religious products to participate in the event
Sponsor a local sports team and provide
custom uniforms
  • Sponsor a local recreational sports team (little league baseball, corporate bowling, college intramurals, etc.) by providing the players and coaches with embroidered uniforms, gear bags and/or jackets.
  • Invite local sewing groups to tour your shop and learn about the latest technological advances in sewing and stitching. Ask your machine rep to speak at the event to lend industry perspective and answer technical questions. (Your rep may even be willing to help defray expenses, because this is a business opportunity for him, as well.)
  • Send embroidered apparel to local celebrities (TV talk show hosts, news anchors, sports heroes, government officials, etc.) in hopes they wear and mention your "gift" on the air or in public.
  • Offer free tours of your shop to school groups, retirement centers and special interest clubs, then give each visitor an embroidered sample (and your business card) to take home. 
  • Allow a community group (Boy Scouts, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Overeaters Anonymous, etc.) to hold its after-hours meeting or event at your shop.
  • Donate your damaged goods to local needy organizations (homeless shelters, centers for battered women, children's hospitals, clothing drives, etc.). Not only is this a tax write-off, but it also rids your storeroom, attic or basement of potential fire hazards.
  • Take part in as many local events as possible (food drives, craft fairs, parades, charity walkathons, etc.) and always wear an embroidered outfit to the event. Be sure to take along a stack of business cards, too!