Archive for the ‘Brands & Branding’ Category

More on Establishing Your Value

Friday, February 6th, 2009

I recently read a post by one of my Facebook friends regarding establishing value:

What is a good way to guarantee high price services (such as graphic design) besides guaranteeing a membership fee?

We agonize over this. A great way to start is to make a list of how many things you do that add value, whether you are currently charging or not. When you are done, put a $$ amount next to each value item. My list has 24 items.

I used to think I worked primarily in a commodity driven industry (printed t shirts.) When all is said and done, our clients will have a much better idea of exactly what we do, how it will benefit them, and what to expect. It also acts to level the field between you and your competition because I guarantee none of your competitors are doing this. If your customers are shopping, you have now given them a comprehensive list for comparison of apples to apples.

Here are some of the things you use to separate yourself from your competition:

    All aspects of your product or service.
    Associated services related to your product or service.
    Payment terms.
    Your Guarantee or Risk Reversal.
    Quality practices (list the steps.)
    Material handling and check-in procedures.
    Your vendor resources.
    Overall resources (machines, building, space, etc.)
    Reputation.
    Association with your other customers and clients.
    Service policies.
    Client education.
    Bundles/bonuses

You get the idea. The list can be huge once you sit down and really start to think about the REAL value you provide to your customers/clients.

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What Are Your Customers Saying About You?

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Most small businesses rely on positive word of mouth as the primary way to grow their buisness. I think the reason is that it’s free and the person doing the referring is excited about what you did for them and they want to share their experience.

This can occur organically or we can have a systematic referral approach where the results are much more tangible and measurable. The organic way happens naturally and we really don’t have a good way of making this happen. The more contact you have with your customers, the more inclined they are to talk about you. Since most of us are too busy doing our own thing, this customer contact element of our business is reduced to the point of need. In other words your customer or you have a need to talk to each other about something of interest to the other party.

This can happen on a regular basis if you see the other party regularly. More likely, it happens gradually over time. If this is the case, there’s really no incentive for your current customer to talk about you unless the subject of t shirts comes up in a conversation. Even then you may or may not benefit depending on whether your customer remembers to mention you. Most likely, they won’t. It’s not because they don’t like you or have a problem with you. Rather, you simply aren’t in their mind at that time. You need to know how to get a positive referral. You have to have top of mind position.

As any marketing or advertising pro will tell you, your brand depends on repetition, repetition, repetition. Regular reinforcement of what you’re doing, what’s interesting/new, anything of value is helpful. The more benefit you can deliver to your customer, the better the chance they will remember to mention you. You need to give them a reason why when it comes to recommending you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I didn’t get the order because someone else “knew a guy who knows a guy who’s doing t shirts.”

To defeat this kind of situation you need to be positively positioned in the brain of your customer so they can recommend you. There are several ways to do that. Tomorrow I’lll outline one of my favorites.
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Defining Your Value in the Client’s Eye

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Sales come when your customers and clients determine what you have to offer is worth exchanging their money. It has to be fair in thier mind. If they’re uncertain or if money is tight, it makes the exchange process much more difficult.

We’ve all heard about defining a “Unique Selling Proposition” or “Marketing Message.” This is the single sentence or few words that differentiate you from all of your competion. It’s much more difficult to do than you might thing. Some people call this the 15 second elevator speech.  Whatever you call it, it’s critical you clearly define your USP in a way that’s catchy and memorable. This is how you want to be known by your base.

Your value is built upon the USP. The USP is the starting point for separating you and gaining the attention of your market. That attention is brief and you need to keep them engaged. Engaging them means focusing on the benefits of doing business with you.

After many years of studying my competition as well as those who are highly successful, I’ve come to a conclusion. That conclusion is the most sucessful companies go well beyond just the technical aspect of delivering excellent quality printing. They create a complete experience around their goods and services. I can’t tell you what that is for you, but it’s a sure bet you can go much further than you are right now. Here are some ideas.

Understand exactly how your customers and clients use your decorated shirts. The more you know about exactly how they’re used, the more opportunities you can find and expand upon. Focus on finding ways to make it easier to use what you offer. Think about how you can cut time or increase organization?

Are there any other items, goods, or services you can add that would make the experience more complete or easier to use? For instance, if you’re doing event shirts, provide a complete contact list of the local media so the group having the event can quickly get the publicity they need to maximize turnout. This is particularly important for fundraising events and nonprofits.

Think about WHO you know that would also be able to help your customers and clients. These are people, companies, and organizations that’re complementary to those using the shirts. They could be other suppliers. It might also be someone who would benefit from a successful t shirt promotion. An example of this for a fun run might be restaurants, coffee shops, and juice bars located close to where an event is scheduled to take place.

Defining your value goes well beyond just the basic product. Make it easy and fun to do business with you. The more involved you are in how your product is used by the customer, the more opportunites you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

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Obama’s T Shirt Success and Web 2.0

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Now the election is finally over, a few things are worth noting. I was particularly impressed with how the Obama campaign used printed t shirts along with their use of Web 2.0 in their campaign. It’s no secret the Dems have used social media very effectively in the last two presidential elections with a high degree of success. Howard Dean used it to mobilize his grass roots campaign four years ago and Obama absolutely killed it this time around. When combined with a targeted age group (young first time voters) it was a most effective one-two punch.

Not only did they raise almost $200 Million in donations through websites and blogs, they were equally effective using t shirts as premium items when soliciting $12 - $20 donations.  I traveled around the country quite a bit in the last three months and Obama shirts were noticeable everywhere I went. I don’t know how many shirts they printed, but I do know that a lot of printers took part by printing the official Obama logo and there were tons of other “unofficial” shirts printed as well.

The Obama campaign also took advantage of designer created images ala Threadless.com and Shirt.woot.com. This was especially effective as the images were created by peers in those demographic groups. A perfect match for a perfect delivery.

For the last two days I’ve been listening to the talking heads analyzing the Obama campaign. Everyone, including the Right, has been pretty much in awe of how effective and error free their campaign was. I’ve yet to hear anyone mention the role the “Media of Personal Expression” played. The shirts looked great and they acted as a conversation starter and as a viral word-of-mouth  vehicle. I would love to know exactly how many shirts were printed, but I would bet it was well over a million.Share/Save/Bookmark