November '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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1 8 P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 1 8 P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 EMBROIDERY Stitch Solutions J e n n i f e r C o x Become One with Your Customers actual products. Take a minute and think about the last five orders in your business. Do you know why the customer placed the order, specifically? As you recall the conver- sations that led to the order being placed, I suspect that there was more to it than they needed something to wear. Embroiderers who think about what the underlying reasons for ordering decorated goods might be are the business owners that will succeed, even in today's highly competitive marketplace. When you ele- vate the conversation with your customers from "how many" to "what do you have in mind?" you open the door to discovering much more about your customers' needs. Once you have a more in-depth under- standing of what the customer is trying to accomplish, you can then recommend a selection of products that will directly ad- dress their needs so that they accomplish their true objective. Here are some examples and different ways to identify and then meet your cus- tomers' needs: • A customer requests a quote for shirts for their sales force working at a trade show. o Normal response: Offer them a clas- sic golf shirt or dress shirt with a left- chest logo. o Better approach: Ask about the trade show. Where is it being held? Is there a theme at the show? What does the company's exhibit booth or space look like? What colors will be prominent in the show or in their booth? When you have a better vision of the envi- ronment, you can propose shirt colors and styles that will either help their staff stand out (contrasting bold col- ors, larger logos, atypical logo place- ments) or complement the setting D eveloping new customers requires that you do more than plop your catalog in the mail or shoot someone a "Buy my stuff " email. To stand out from your competition, to be heard through the constant background noise of "the sky is falling" from the traditional media channels, we have to think about our marketing processes and our messages differently. If your first, best, or immediate response is, "We sell apparel, what else is there to say?" you can move on and keep doing things the way you have always done them. If that was your response and you then asked yourself, "What is she talking about?" please read on, as you are the person with whom I want to connect. "To be a successful marketer, you must be a conceptual thinker. Like method acting, you have to get inside the head of your prospect and BECOME the prospect. Think how your prospect thinks… Feel what your prospect feels," says Lew Smith, a marketing expert and author. And, guess what? Mr. Smith is 100% RIGHT! We are creating and selling decorated apparel and products. But what if the customer was really trying to create team spirit or help their customers be able to spot their service staff? Were they actually trying to recognize a sales team that performed above expectations? Could that order of work shirts really be about safety for the workforce and not about the shirts? Orders for decorated apparel and products are nearly always about much more than the When you elevate the conversation with your customers from "how many" to "what do you have in mind?" you open the door to discovering much more about your customers' needs. (Images courtesy Kathleen Jones, Jones & Co.) Left: By recommending and then providing product solutions designed to meet customers' specific needs, you are functioning at a level well beyond that of an embroiderer. (Image courtesy Crystalee Hoge, Creations by Cris) Right: Dick's Moving is a local moving company that the decorator hired to move large furniture and embroidery equipment. The mover was so fascinated by the embroidery ma- chines, he placed an order for caps that day! (Image courtesy Shari Pfannenstein, Pfantasy Originals)

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