Using Photos to Make the Sale

One of the basic tenants of sales is that people have to know what you have to sell if they’re going to want to buy.   It’s so basic that people often forget that knowledge is part of the equation.  Particularly when selling something like a decorated garment,  a picture can often be worth a thousand words.  The question is where do you put those pictures so your customers see them,  and how do you use those pictures to impart a sense of your expertise and what you can do for those who choose to work with you?

One way to get the message out about what you can do is Pinterest.   As I’ve said before,  Pinterest is about aspiration and getting ideas for items that you want to make or buy.   Having Pinterest boards for your company (these are EnMart’s boards) allows you to showcase different aspects of what you can do.  You can create boards around a certain event or theme,  or make boards that feature a particular product decorated in different ways. If you have Pinterest boards,  make sure they’re featured on your website and social media feeds,  and refer your customers to them in your printed literature.

Another way to help spread the word about what you can do is to share pictures of what you make with your suppliers.  Or you can use a supplier hashtag (#IrisThread, for instance) to alert your suppliers to a picture that might interest them. I know,  here at EnMart,  we love getting pictures of products that were made with supplies purchased from us.  We also share those pictures on our Facebook feed (22,000+ fans) and our Twitter feed.  Granted not all the people who like any of your suppliers are going to be in your potential market spheres,  but some of them might.  Plus,  having your work shared by your suppliers gives you a bit of decorator credibility.   Your work is good enough that it’s being presented as an example of what can be done.

As a writer for industry magazines,  I know I’m always looking for photos to illustrate the pieces I write,  so this can be another fertile ground for pictures of the items you create.  Most of the time,  when an article writer needs pics for a piece,  they will put out a call on social media,  asking for pictures of work that centers on a particular discipline, type of garment or theme.  If you are planning to submit a photo for publication,  remember it needs to be at least 1 MB, and 300 DPI.  Magazines can work with less,  but the odds of your picture getting used are better if you stick to those guidelines.

One last bit of advice,  which goes for any photo you use anywhere.  Make sure your photos are the best quality they can be.   Yes,  you can take a good photo with the cameras on most phones these days,  but it still might be worth investing in a camera,  especially if you’re offering your products for sale online.   Pictures are often the first impression a customer forms of your products, so make sure you are, visually,  putting your best foot forward.  Taking quality pictures may be more time consuming and perhaps more costly,  but the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.

No Sale, Just Low Prices

If you’re anything like me,  you’ve probably gotten roughly one million Black Friday e-mails by now.   First it was teasers.  Then it was doorbusters.   Somehow Black Friday the day became Black Friday the week (or several weeks),  and it seems that everyone wants to offer you a deal or a special or a once in a lifetime can’t miss opportunity.

One of the things we get asked quite often is why EnMart doesn’t offer free shipping or do more sales.   There are a lot of reasons why we don’t,  but the most basic one is this – we don’t because everyone else does.   It’s not that we’re contrarian,  it’s more that our goal is to offer our products at prices that produce a profit for us while still being budget friendly for our customers.  Also,  when there’s a blizzard of offers already out there,  standing out from the crowd can be tough.

Still,  we get that free shipping and sales are expected and desired by a lot of our customers,  so I wanted to address in more detail the reasons why we don’t offer either of those things on a regular basis.  One reason we don’t tend to offer free shipping more often is the fact that,  in our experience,  when we have offered it,  orders have not increased.   If we offer a free shipping coupon for orders past a current price threshold,  customers often neglect to use it,  even if they meet the threshold.  Order size also doesn’t tend to increase when we offer free shipping.   Since the whole goal of offering something for free is to encourage more people to buy,  when that doesn’t appear to motivate the behavior we want,  we try something else.

EnMart also does a lot of work to keep shipping costs and product prices budget friendly for our customers.   We offer a variety of shipping options,  including allowing customers to ship via the U.S. Postal Service or on their own accounts.  Our shipping costs are also based on the shipping rates offered to our parent company.  Since that company ships a large number of packages daily,  EnMart customers benefit from rates that are lower than they might otherwise be.

As for sales,  we like sales as much as the next company,  and have tried,  over the years,  to come up with some fun sales that offered good deals.  Still, as with the free shipping scenario,  we find that sales don’t tend to increase the volume or size of orders we get.   They also don’t seem to be a prime motivator for those who are placing orders.  So,  we end up back at our basic premise,  that good service,  good products and budget friendly prices are a larger motivator for our customers.

Please keep in mind that we do offer sales and specials when the mood strikes us.   The best way to keep up to date on what sales and specials are available is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook,  or to sign up for our mailing list.   If we have a special offer running,  we will send out an e-mail and announce it on social media.

Also,  if you have any comments or suggestion for a sale you’d like to see us offer,  or a thought about our current policy,  we’d love to hear from you.   Feel free to comment on this blog post,  leave us a comment or a message on social media,  or contact us through any of the available methods.

Marketing Monday: The Art of the Upsell

Everyone who’s ever sold anything has probably been told,  at one time or another,  “You have to upsell if you’re going to make money!”,  which is good advice if you’re comfortable with selling and not so great if you aren’t.   Basic selling can be difficult for those who work in creative fields,  so upselling may feel like trying to do advanced algebra when you’ve just mastered 2 + 2 = 4.  Fortunately for us all,  upselling isn’t as difficult as it seems,  and mastering the technique can bring huge benefits to your business.

First,  let’s talk about what upselling means.   Upselling is essentially convincing your customer to make a larger purchase than they had planned to make.  If the customer planned,  for instance,  to spend $50,  you can use upselling techniques to get them to spend $75.  The idea is to offer the customer such great options in such an honest and helpful way that they can’t resist purchasing based on your suggestions.

Let’s say, for example, that you own a quilt shop and primarily sell fabric.  Customers come in and buy fabric and go home and make quilts,  which is great,  but if they’re only buying fabric from you,  they’re spending money other places to get thread and needles and rotary cutters and all the other supplies and equipment they might need.  So,  start small.  Bring in some thread you really like. (This,  for instance, is a good choice.)   When your customer comes to the register with their fabric,  ask if they’ve heard about this great thread.   Talk about why you sell the thread you sell.  Pick out a color that works well with the fabric and hold them together.  Talk about how thread can add or detract from a quilt,  and how poor quality thread can ruin a quilting experience.  Don’t be pushy,  just be helpful and be an evangelist for whatever you’re offering.  Not every customer you upsell will leave with fabric and thread,  but more will leave with both than would if the thread was simply sitting on a shelf.

One thing to remember when upselling is this:  relevance.  The thing you’re upselling has to make sense with whatever the customer has already committed to buy.  Relevance is why McDonalds asks if you want fries with that burger,  or the oil change place asks if you need a new air filter.  The trick is to add value with the upsell,  giving the customer something that will enhance what they’ve already decided to purchase.

Understanding what the customer’s goals are is also important when you’re attempting to upsell.   Time can be at a premium for any business owner,  but it’s often worth taking the time to chat with customers.   Ask why they’re making the purchase they’ve already decided to make,  and what they hope it will accomplish.  Try to pinpoint any needs they have that aren’t being met,  or goals they’re pursuing with which you can help.   Yes,  doing this takes time that could be spent on other tasks,  but it will hopefully result in a bigger sale.  Upsell enough customers in this manner and the extra time more than pays for itself.

One thing to keep in mind when upselling is that the focus has to be on helping the customer,  not on generating more profit.  Pushy upselling will get the same reaction any kind of pushy sales technique does,  an unhappy customer who may not come back.  Successful upselling comes from a place of service,  you’re letting the customer know about something that will enhance their existing purchase,  not just mentioning something you want them to buy because it will increase your sales total.