May '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 M A Y P R I N T W E A R 2 1 Third, a key differentiator is your creativ- ity. Your willingness to understand their 'why' so that you can then brainstorm with them or for them to provide the best pos- sible product suggestions to directly address their need is a far cry above the next per- son who comes along and says, "Buy my shirts…" If you can create original graphics or outsource designs, that is another way to bring your creativity into the equation. For example, play with colors both with the thread colors and the product colors to show the customer ways to think about us- ing their logo that might be new to them. If you are really feeling bold, ask your customers when they pick up their orders from you why they ordered from you. Vid- eo record their answers, with their permis- sion. Use these videos and quotes as part of your story. At the end of the day, knowing that you are different is not going to make you stand out. Being different comes from the percep- tion of your customers. Their perception is the only one that matters! PW Jennifer Cox is the president and co-founder of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), a professional organization for apparel decoration business owners. NNEP supports the success of NNEP members with best practices, ideas, sources, solutions, volume- buying benefits, and services. Cox was recognized as a Top 50 Small Business Influencer and Community Choice Leader by Small Biz Trends in 2013, is recognized as one of the industry 's "Most Creative Thinkers," and repeatedly ranks in the top 40 on the industry 's "Power List." Reach her at or go to By displaying your offerings and showing what the others don't, you can stand out. (Image courtesy Kathy Thomas, Village Stitch) SURPRISINGLY, BEING DIFFERENT CAN START WITH THE OBVIOUS, EVERYDAY STUFF. Phone calls: Are your incoming calls an- swered by a happy person? Does that person always know that they are the first impression for your company and work at making it a great one? Does your system route the caller to a real human first or into a 'press 1 for menu'? Voicemail: Do you have a generic, snoozeworthy message, or a great message? Create something that is not boring, and it will be memorable by default. Snacks: Make good coffee and offer fun sweets. Serve the best, not the cheapest. It is noticed! Emails: Add a tip of the month or week to the bottom of your emails. This can be some- thing about garment care instructions, a fun factoid about something local, or an invita- tion to send you a photo of them wearing your goods to be featured on your website. Website: Is your website homepage all about you or all about how you help your customers? There is something very powerful about videos, photos, and quotes from satis- fied customers singing your praises. Unique displays can help intrigue potential buyers. (Image courtesy Kathy Thomas, Village Stitch)

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