Trendy Thursday: 6 Industry Trends That Need To Die

For whatever the reason,  I seem to be having a “you kids get off my lawn!” sort of day,  in which I’m finding everything a little annoying.   Given my state of mind,  it seemed like a good day to write about a few trends within our industry that I think need to end,  immediately.   Some of these are social media related, and some deal with the industry as a whole.

Trend #1:  Posting multiple pictures in a row of the same design/your work  – This drives me nuts,  mostly because it tends to reduce the impact of the work,  which may be great,  but isn’t going to hold people’s attention if they have to scroll past 13 pictures of the same or similar things.  Don’t flood people’s feed with images of your work.  Choose one picture that you think represents your best work, and provide a link where people can see more examples if they’re interested.

Trend #2: Under charging – This is a particularly insidious trend for new business owners.  Often people don’t really know what they should be earning per job or what they need to be earning per job.  Some decorators (women seem to have a particular problem with this) also undervalue their work because it’s “sewing” or “a hobby”.  If you’ve invested time and money in equipment and learning your craft, you’re a professional.  Set your rates accordingly.

Trend #3: Changing artwork to avoid copyright infringement – There is a long-standing myth that changing copyrighted artwork by a certain percentage will negate the possibility of copyright infringement,  but that’s not so.  There is no such rule.  The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to get permission to use artwork that you did not create,  or to create your own original works.

Trend #4: Video because you can – Facebook Live,  Snapchat, smartphones and sites offering video creation tools mean that almost anyone can be a star.  That’s great,  up to a point.   The thing, however, to ask yourself before making a video is whether or not you should.  Do you have a plan for content?  Do you know what you want to say?  Are you comfortable on camera?  Particularly for businesses who are talking to customers,  videos need to have a reason to exist.  Just because you can is not that reason.

Trend #5: Hard selling on social media – As I’ve said before in seminars,  the first word in the phrase “social media” is “social” for a reason.  Social media is not about selling,  it’s about creating community.  Despite this,  some decoration companies insist on setting up profiles where all they do is post links to product and pricing.  In order to sell on social media,  you have to build trust and a community.  Social media is about soft selling,  where the sales messages are mixed with value added features.  Doing nothing but a hard sell on your profiles will soon insure that you’re selling to no one.

Trend 6: Complaining about the “guy down the street” – It may literally be the competing shop down the street, or it may be an online site,  but there’s always that one business that seems to inexplicably do well while either using underhanded tactics, or doing shoddy work.  It’s tempting to blame those companies for the state of pricing,  or the fact that you didn’t get the big job,  and it’s equally tempting to complain that those companies should change. The reality is they won’t,  and another reality is that there will always probably be people who will buy from them.  What really matters,  however, is not what the other guy does,  it’s what you do.   If you do your best work,  offer fair pricing, and treat your customers honestly and with respect,  who cares what anyone else is doing?  Focus on how you can be better,  not on stopping these other companies from being worse.

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Trendy Thursday:Gifts that Give

morts moose munchies copyWe’ve talked before on this blog about what can be done with an embroiderable stuffed animal but,  given the holiday season is now upon us,  I thought it would be fun to talk about using these animals as gifts.   They do,  of course,  make great personalized gifts all on their own.  Almost any child  or adult  would love a cuddly friend emblazoned with their name or commemorating a special location or event.   What makes these animals really fun, however,  is that their gift potential doesn’t stop with simply embroidering a name or a logo on them.   There’s so much more than that which can be done.

The secret to the embroiderable stuffed animal’s gift potential is in its construction.  In order to be suitable to be embroidered,  a stuffed animal blank has to be filled with a stuffing pod or something that can be removed.   When the pod is removed,  the animal can be hooped and embroidered.   Once the embroidery is finished,  the stuffing is replaced and the animal can be gifted.    The fun part of the whole thing is that the animal is constructed so there is extra room in the body where the stuffing pod fits.   This is the perfect space to turn a gift that people love to get into a gift that gives something extra.

Maybe it’s a bear embroidered with a few lines from a favorite love poem,  with a beautiful piece of jewelry tucked inside.   It could be tickets to a hockey game inside a penguin embroidered with the logo of a favored team.    Perhaps it’s a sonogram picture tucked inside a lamb that commemorates baby’s first Christmas,  a perfect gift for grandparents to be.   Like Mort’s Moose Munchies,  pictured above,  the stomach compartment could be the perfect place to store a favorite treat before it makes its way into your stomach.     The animal becomes the gift and the wrapping for the gift,   creating a unique packaging opportunity that allows the gift giver to say something special about the gift they’re giving.

One of the trends in gift giving in recent years has been the giving of sustainable gifts,  presents that are environmentally friendly and which cause less waste.    Using embroiderable stuffed animals as both gift and wrapping completely supports this trend.   There will be no wrapping paper or bows to throw away,  and no cardboard box to recycle.   Instead the recipient and the giver get two gifts in one.   The recipient gets both an adorable stuffed animal and the gift that’s tucked inside,  and the giver gets to be both environmentally conscious and known as the best gift giver around.  Everybody wins.