Marketing Monday: Publicizing Properly Pays

megaphoneThere’s an old saying “any publicity is good publicity”  which some people take to be truth but which is really quite misleading.   Yes, word of mouth,  advertisements,  press releases, posts on social media and other forms of publicity can help drive sales and raise awareness of your business,  but poorly done publicity generally will not help and may do your business harm.

The truth of the matter is that publicity that is well done can be a great help, both in boosting the notoriety of a business and in boosting sales.   The opposite is true of poorly done publicity.   This sort of publicity tends to reflect badly on a business,  or may be entirely ignored by venues that might otherwise be helpful in spreading the word.   If you want to be sure that your publicity helps and not harms your business,  here are a few things to keep in mind.

Quality Counts – Whether it’s photos or white papers or a press release,  make sure everything you put out is the best quality it can be.  Poorly done,  out of focus photos,  or poorly written press releases or social media posts make it look like you don’t care or you’re not paying attention.   From a customer’s point of view,  putting out poor quality work on your own behalf may make them wonder what kind of work you will produce for them.

Learn the Proper Formats – There are established formats for things like press releases.  Take the time to learn how to write such things properly.  Templates are generally available online,  and the formats have most likely been established as they are for a reason.   Following the formats makes it easier for those who might want to use or read your content to be able to do so.

Make Connections – Sending a press release to “Editor” may get it noticed,  but sending a press release to a specific editor will get it read.   Take the time to do the research and find out to whom you should be sending press releases or ideas for stories.  Once you find out to whom such things are properly addressed,  you can also make connections with those people on social media.   Don’t underestimate the value of having a friend at a magazine or television or radio station.

Keep Trying – Every press release you write and send will not get used.   You may not get any comments on the blog post over which you’ve slaved.   The perfectly crafted social media post that made you laugh for an hour may attract no attention at all.   Keep in mind that there is a lot of competition out there for the same audience you’re trying to attract.   Your goal is to build a loyal following and to generate more engagement today than you did yesterday.

Time Travel Tuesday: Hand vs. Machine

Hand_vs_Machine_AssemblyIn the history of quilting and embroidery,  there has probably been no bigger debate than that between those who chose to embroider or quilt by hand, and those who use machines to embroider or quilt.   When the disciplines of embroidery and quilting began,  there really wasn’t a choice,  in order to create an embroidered garment or a quilt to warm the bed on a cold winter’s night,  the piece in question had to be created by hand.

Those who continue this tradition maintain that something made by hand is more special,  more personal,  and should therefore be more treasured.   The process of hand embroidering or piecing and quilting a quilt by hand will most likely be a longer process than doing the same things with a machine, which proponents of the slow stitching movement say is to be desired.   Quilting or embroidering by hand also brings the satisfaction of creating something with your hands,  handling fabrics and threads,  and the ability to pay close attention to every facet of the process.

As time moved on and technology developed,  new machines were invented to do some of the tasks that were formerly done by hand.   Huge, often two story high Schiffli machines created laces and embroidery.  In later decades,  the Schiffli machines were joined by multi-head and single head embroidery machines,  giving the option of machine embroidery to anyone who could afford to purchase a machine.

In the quilting world,   sewing machines offered the ability to piece quilts using a machine.   Instead of hand sewing pieces together,  they could be stitched on a machine,  allowing the creation of a quilt top in less time.  The advent of long arm quilting machines provided the ability to quilt a top by machine,  sometimes finishing in a single day or week what had previously taken weeks if not months to complete.   Machines made the process of embroidery and quilting faster and easier but,  some argued,  the machines also took away the skill and the personal nature of the disciplines.

Today,  while the debate is still ongoing,  both sides seemed to have reached a detente.   Some people hand embroider or quilt,  others use machines to accomplish the same goals,  and yet others switch between one method and the other,  doing whatever best suits the needs and time requirements of the project.   In the end,  what matters most is not how a thing was created,  but that it was created at all.  Whatever method is used quilts and embroidery that bring beauty to the world are being made and that’s the thing we all must remember.

Featured Friday: 11/20/2015

iStock_000012611933MediumThis is the inaugural Featured Friday for the new blog,  so I thought, first,  I would remind people that Featured Friday is really just a renamed import from the old blog.   On EmbroideryTalk,  Featured Friday was called The Friday Blog Round-Up,  but regardless of what it’s called on either blog,  the idea behind it remains the same.   This post is where I gather up the best ideas,  tips and hints, and blogs posts I’ve seen lately and share them with you.

First up,  we have a post by Joyce Jagger,  detailing why watching your machine do a sew out can help your business and shorten your production cycle.  This post details a lot of small issues for which you should watch and explains why noting these issues and fixing them is important.

Second on the list and bringing some holiday cheer,   we have a post from Stahls with 10 holiday gift ideas.   I think my favorite is the Ho cubed sweatshirt,  although it took me a minute to get the joke.   I’m a writer,  not a mathematician,  so I forgive myself for not getting the math joke right away.

Third at bat is a post from StitchWork about how to run a successful family business.  Since EnMart and its parent company, Ensign Emblem,  are family businesses,  this article made a lot of sense to me.  Although I am not a member of the founding family,  I’ve seen how the owners of Ensign and EnMart negotiate working with relatives and keep family time and business time separate.   I think the tips in this article are spot on.

Fourth on the docket is not just one post,  but a series.  Anyone who has read the previous incarnation of Featured Friday knows how much I love Urban Threads designs.   This year they’ve created an entire gift guide which details gifts you can make for the different people in your life.  Definitely some fun ideas on the list already,  and it will only grow as the weeks go on.

Fifth in the rotation is a post from Peter Shankman about networking and how most people are doing it wrong.  I like the idea of approaching networking with a “what can I do for you” mindset instead of wondering “what can everyone do for me”.   This is a good article for everyone to read, because we’re all networking all the time, whether we realize it or not.

Finally,  we have a post tailor made for the marketer in me,  that asks a good question,  what do you want your content to do.  Sometimes we get so caught up in creating content that we forget to think about the message we want that content to send and the response we hope that content will get.   This post is a great reminder that just creating content isn’t enough,  we need to consider our intent too.

Marketing Monday: How Much Customer Service Is Too Much?

Customer service –  we all know it’s vitally important to the success of any business,  but it can be difficult to walk the path between perfect provider and patsy.   Most of us have heard “the customer is always right” and “there’s no traffic jam on the extra mile”  enough that we could probably recite those platitudes in our sleep.   The reality is, however, that what constitutes “good” customer service varies,   and it can be easy,  in the effort to provide exceptional customer service to your clients,  to slip over the line into providing customer service that may serve your customers,  but doesn’t serve your business.

The question is, where is that line?   Where does it become less about servicing the customer and more about a customer or potential customer taking advantage?   Is going above and beyond always the right answer?  Are there times when the best way to be of service and to be fiscally responsible is to say “I can’t help you”?

Our training and conventional wisdom may tell us that the right thing to do is always to go above and beyond,  but while we all have a responsibility to serve our customers to the best of our ability,  we also have a responsibility to our businesses.   The goal of customer service is to provide your customers with such a good experience that they return to you again and again.   The customer gets what they need and want,  and you get revenue which keeps your doors open and your machines running.   It’s a simple transaction,  but one that can quickly become lopsided and problematic.

Maybe it’s a customer who demands special treatment but doesn’t spend a lot with your company.  Perhaps it’s a customer that didn’t purchase a particular product from you at all but “just needs a little favor”.   You could encounter the potential customer who keeps you on the phone forever with questions and concerns,  but never quite pulls the trigger and makes a purchase.  In some cases it’s the customer who expects that you’ll remember every detail of their every order,  even if they only order once in a blue moon.

With some customers of the types described above,  the payoff is worth the extra time and/or aggravation.  Maybe the customer that “just needs a favor” buys other things from you regularly,  and this is an opportunity to remind him or her why he buys from you.   A customer who demands special treatment might be convinced to spend more if informed that special services are offered for premium customers.  A potential customer with lots of questions may be transformed into a customer simply through being asked to purchase (something a lot of business neglect to do because it makes them uncomfortable).  Customers who only order once in a blue moon could benefit from a schedule or perhaps a discount plan that encourages them to place orders more frequently.

The trick here is to figure out where the lines are for your company,  and then make an informed decision to cross them.   If there seems to be benefit to going above and beyond what might be considered “standard” customer service,  than do so.  If there doesn’t seem to be any benefit,  or if the benefits don’t seem to be worth the time and effort,  than politely let the customer know you’re sorry,  you can’t help,  and move on to assisting those who will help benefit your bottom line.   There’s no harm in telling a customer who is wasting your time,  interfering with your production and not making it worth your while that it’s three strikes and you’re out.