June '23

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7 4 G R A P H I C S P R O • J U N E 2 0 2 3 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S T I T C H S O L U T I O N S | J E N N I F E R C O X Ready to Tilt? You need to set yourself apart from your competitors A P P A R E L D E C O R A T I N G Jennifer Cox is one of the founders and serves as president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), an organization that supports embroidery and apparel decoration professionals with programs and ser- vices designed to increase profitability and production. You can contact her at I n today's world of information overload, it is challenging to make yourself stand out. Let's face it, embroidered and dec- orated apparel is no less of a commod- ity than promotional products. In fact, promotional products distributors are out there talking to the same people that you are, hoping to land that next order, whether it is for magnets, pens, coffee mugs, or logoed apparel. You will struggle to succeed against them or any other competitors if your only edge is the fact that you are will- ing to give up a few more pennies, nick- els, dimes, quarters, or dollars than the next guy. When the way to win a job is a race to the lowest price, the only per- son who comes out ahead is the customer. Even more concerning to me is that we are teaching these probably new custom- ers that we will cut prices to win busi- ness. ey are learning that our custom logoed products are only worth what they are willing to pay for them. When our only tactic is to engage in price wars, we have no cause to lament about the state of the industry, how hard it is to win business, how tough the mar- ket is, how low the profit margins are, and how rough we have it banging on doors as we struggle to find the next customer and close the next sale. ere is good news — there is a way to change the environment in which you are competing. ere is a way to set your- self apart, to make doing business with you different from doing business with the other apparel decoration profession- als and promotional products distribu- tors in your area. What if you had an advantage? The tilt advantage I'm calling this advantage your tilt. is is not my term; it comes from the mar- keting realm. I contend that by tweak- ing your approach to sales, you can create a compelling tilt; something that makes you and your apparel solutions unique and better. When you offer something unique or better, it propels you far beyond the reach of your competition. Every embroidery shop can drop a logo on a shirt — that is an everyday, run of the mill order. An embroiderer that is tilting their business may offer multimedia applica- tions, such as sublimating images on top of the embroidery threads, to create an entirely new look for the customer's staff at their upcoming tradeshow. ey may recommend new color combinations that look fresh and in line with today's fash- ion palette. ey may have a suggestion about how incorporating an appliqué into a logo could reduce the stitch count and cost while creating a new, modern look for the client. By our very nature, embroidery profes- sionals tend to be creative people. We pur- chase the equipment to make stuff as the base of our business model. is differ- entiates you from promotional products distributors. ey jumped in the sales side of the business because they are comfort- able with the people and sales side of the equation. And yet… You sell a basic logo on a basic shirt, and your customer needs it yesterday, for a dollar less than they paid last time. See the problem here? is is a slippery slope to closing down your business due to lack of profits. When our only advantage is engaging in price (Image courtesy Barbara Hayward, Absolutely Specialties)

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