Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Selling Printed Apparel in a Resistent Economy

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

The numbers are coming in from the retail holiday season and it looks like it’s the worst season in forty years. More bad news today, retailers Eddie Bauer, Talbotts, and Williams and Sonoma look like they may be the latest large chains to join the list of bankruptcies that so far include Linens and Things, Mervyyns, and Circuit City. All of this negative news has put a chilling effect on the market. Small businesses and business in general have pulled back and are holding on to their cash. But does this mean we can’t sell our services? The answer is: Absolutely Not.

When business takes a conservative position, one of the very first areas to go is advertising and promotion. The reason is because it isn’t trackable and the business can’t relate new revenue to their efforts. Do they still need to advertise and promote? Yes! What will it take to get them to let loose of their money?

This is a complex question and there are several directions to consider. The very first is to have some method to measure tangible results. If the use of printed apparel can be directly traced to new business, or returning business, we can do the math and justify the purchase. Long gone are the days of unqualified advertising. Today the emphasis is on direct response marketing. We must be able to show a return on the dollars AND time investing in the promotion.

The second aspect is simple, what’s in it for them? Our efforts must be entirely directed to the benefit of the client. Whatever they receive as a return must be a multiple of what they put in. On the promotions I design, I look for a minimum of five times the return. So put another way, one dollar invested with me on my promotion will generate five dollars of new revenue for my client. That is a 500% return. If I design a promotion as a self-liquidating offer (pays for itself with no out of pocket investment,) even better.

Now this may seem ridiculous when we consider banks today are paying well below 2% on saving accounts and money markets. How is it possible to achieve such high returns? The answer comes from the design of the promotion in the very beginning.

The key to high returns is understanding and targeting. We have to understand the business of our clients so we can design an effective promotion. We have to target the right clients for it to work for both of us. In other words, our promotions need to be tailor made for specific situations and specific clients. This will almost always result in the client coming on board with us and achieving the desired result.

To summarize, in a contracting economy fear drives the purchasing cycle. No one wants to take a chance on a speculative purchase or make a purchase unless it’s absolutely necessary. Our role is to position our offer in such a way that it provides a massive return for the money invested in the promotion. It must be trackable. To achieve this type of promotion means we need to know and understand how our clients market. Our efforts are tailored to specific situations AND to the specific clients who will benefit most from our efforts.

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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

Baby Steps Lead to Big Gains

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

With the fear and anxiety swirling around the current economic situation, many decorators are trying to figure out just what to do to jump start their sales. Having talked to dozens of deocrators in the past two weeks, the general concensus is you’re either slammed to the wall busy, or sales are off 30% - 35%. There doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason to this. Very solid companies are off as are marginal ones. It doesn’t seem to be focused on any specific segment(s) either.

With that being said, there are some things you can do right now to get going.

First off is to pull all of your past sales records for the last two years. Look at who you did business with this time last year and the previous year. Are you overlooking anyone?

Second, look at who hasn’t ordered from you in the last three months. These are the people you’ve done business with, but didn’t do business with this year. They may have  been too busy to call, or they may feel like they need to cut back to save money.

Third, list everyone you’ve done business with in the last three months. These are the customers/clients where your services are still fresh in their mind.

Action is what gets people in the door. I’m amazed at how few decorators actually get on the phone and talk to a real person. They seem to be waiting for them to walk through the door with an order. In slow times, this approach leads to only one thing, starvation! Get ready to make some calls.

Rule number one, give them a reason to talk to you. If your base is feeling like everyone else, they’re not going to be in a mood to spend any money with you. You need a compelling reason for them to place an order. There are two main approaches.

The first is some type of sales promotion/money saving offer. This is the most common approach, but not necessarily effective. When you cut your prices and discount, you’re giving up margin overall. If you are still making a profit (eg business hasn’t slowed so much you are in the red,) a special offer or discount may be attractive.

The second is to tie the use of your product to improving THEIR situation. In other words, how can the use of your product create tangible, real sales for your customer? As an example, if your customers are schools and organizations, how can they use your products to increase their fundraising efforts?

The second approach turns the tables from your work being a cost or expense to one of investment with an expected return. To accomplish this, you need to be thinking ahead. Think about what other customers of yours have done with your shirts. How do they use them? Is there anything you can borrow or build upon that will have universal appeal?

When you know who has and hasn’t purchased from you, it’s easy to quickly zero in on known and proven sales producers. Take some time to think beyond just printing or embroidering images on the garments. Think about how you will make the lives of your prospects better through the use of your work and the programs associated with them.Share/Save/Bookmark