Friday, October 17, 2014

Are you thinking about subcontracting DTG Printing?

If you are looking to expand your business with a new form of decoration such as DTG printing, it does not necessarily mean you have to go out and purchase an expensive printer for your shop immediately. You have a number of options. Doing it yourself can have its benefits, mostly, you have direct control over artwork and quality but subcontracting might be a good way to test the waters.

Subcontracting is probably the best route to take when it i not economical for you to produce the product, or until you can handle the additional production responsibilities. Finding a subcontractor may not seem like a big deal but it is a decision you should make carefully. Here are some things to look for in a subcontractor:

  • Find a contractor located in the same town as your business. This can eliminate a number of potential problems because the contractor is within reach. If there are delivery problems or quality questions, they can be solved by simply making a trip to your contractor's shop.
  • Go with someone you trust. There are a lot of fly-by-night companies whose quality isn't so great. They're the "here today, gone tomorrow" companies. Interview prospective subcontractors and compare prices, quality, scheduling, anything you feel will affect the quality of the product. Work on developing a positive relationship with the subcontractor you choose.
  • Find a company who is willing to work with you. You don't want someone telling you how your customers' products should look. Set the rules, but be fair.
  • Find a contractor with a good reputation. You can't tell whether a company's work is good by simply looking at the end product. Don't be afraid to ask for references. The best way to judge a company's reputation is by its customers' testimonials.
  • Find a subcontractor who will be honest and up-front with you. Can they guarantee delivery dates?
On top of these points, you need to find someone who has the technical know how to produce DTG prints of a consistently high quality.  Anything a subcontractor prints for you is going to have your company's name on it once it reaches your customers' hands.  Learn enough about the actual process to enable yourself with the ability to answer customer's questions confidently and to know how to provide your printer with artwork that you'll know will print well!

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.