Posts tagged ‘linkedin’

Steal This Idea

Recently Home Textiles Today asked their retailers at a series of roundtables what were their best and workable business ideas were.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; so borrow one or more of these ideas for your business in 2012.

1. Interior design services. An increasing number of retailers are saying they are thriving and surviving thanks to their interior design businesses. Sometimes it’s a design studio with a retail showroom, or a new design studio or gallery addition. Retailers are also moving from free services to fee-based with the addition of a licensed interior designer or two. Inviting customers to bring in their own digital photos, measurements and swatches is a great way to move more product. Accent Interiors, in Wichita, Kan., calls its design program Seymour Homes: “Seymour is the name of our digital camera that allows us to see more homes. We loan Seymour to customers who don’t have a digital camera to take photos of areas that they want to address. We print out the pictures, and with their swatches, our staff can help them with their projects without playing the guessing game of “it’s about this big” or “it is sort of this color.” They can bring their home to us courtesy of Seymour.”

Is your Retailer competition adding interior design services?  How can you make that threat an opportunity?

2.  Vendor trunk shows. Some retailers have told us their most successful store events and promotions featured a favorite product line, trunk show, or merchandising event hosted by the vendor or rep. Wyoming retailer Jody Horvath, owner of Reindeer Ranch in Cody, said one of her best retail ideas was a showcase of Pendleton Home. “We set three beds and merchandised blankets hung over the balcony railings. Pendleton is now my number two vendor.”

 What vendor(s) could you do an event with?  You don’t have to have a storefront- think unique venues or even online.

3.  Artists/author nights. Like vendor trunk shows, store events that bring artists and authors and their creative works onsite  are consistently bringing in first-time visitors. Why? Many of them actively blog and use Facebook to promote their products, as well as their upcoming appearances. “There’s added value in that the participating artists and authors are blogging and posting on Twitter and Facebook. It’s no longer just the store’s mailing list.  A percentage of sales went to a charitable organization, so they sent something out to their email list, and the artists sent something out, and it was really great for business.”

Selling custom products is a perfect fit for this concept- showcase artisans, workrooms and craftsnmaen and their stories.

 4. Focus on your brand. Now that marketing channels have grown to include social media, websites, blogs and YouTube, maintaining a consistent brand logo and personality is more important than ever. Susan Taylor, owner of Black-eyed Susan in Holicong, Pa., does it well with a simple line drawing logo (of a black-eyed Susan blossom) – easy for Facebook fans and Twitter followers to identify. She also plays off the theme with “Susan on Sale” promotions, a “Susan’s Pick of the Month” board showing new trends and colors, and an overall “Oh, So Susan!” merchandising style that sets her apart from her competition.

5.  Get personal.  Think local.  Get back to old school etiquette. Send birthday cards and thank you notes. If not by mail, then post it on the customer’s Facebook page, so all of the customer’s friends will see it. Mail gift certificates to new homeowners in the area. One California retailer sends a postcard and discount coupon to repeat customers, with the note: “I appreciate that you understand the importance of coming in and supporting your local shops. Instead of making a discount available to you during one event when it might not be convenient for you, here’s a little coupon to use at your convenience.” She says the response has been great.

6. Add categories. As a retailer said earlier this year, “Think Anthropologie.” Add interest with a few antiques, vintage, one-of-a-kinds and handmades. Mix it up with a few lines of books, accessories, jewelry even gifts.  

What would you add to shake up your product mix?

7. Let them take it home on approval. “We’ve seen a renewed interest in furniture, but we’re a very design-driven business. For a client who only buys the furniture, we drive a truck full of accessories and give it to them on approval. They often keep everything, and that easily adds several thousand to a sale.”  From letting clients borrow products for privacy and light control until their window fashions arrive or you offer accessories , accent furniture or soft furnishings on approval this could be a path to a new revenue stream.

8. E-commerce. Some retailers are successfully selling online, others say they are content keeping their online catalogs just that – online catalogs. If you want to test the e-commerce waters without investing a lot of time or money, check out Big Cartel, a company we first wrote about in 2008. It’s a good way to go if you only want to sell a few products (up to 100) and can’t justify the expense of paying a Web designer to customize and maintain an Internet storefront for you. Several companies also offer low-cost e-commerce platforms for Facebook, like one we wrote about last year called Payvment that lets your customers shop right on your page, by clicking on an “Ecommerce” tab.

Do you have an e commerce platform?

9. Mobile Technology. Mobile technology is changing the way products are sold at every level. We’re seeing design professionals begin to test tablets, smartphones and kiosks as mobile cash registers, catalogs, shopping alert and coupon delivery systems, and product customization tools. Within our industry, the iPad is making it easier for vendors and reps to show and sell product to dealers, and for designers to show and sell product to consumers. We just did a series on the iPad  and it was the best attended webinar of the year. It is pretty amazing how some designers are leveraging the iPad for their business. We’ll continue to monitor the burgeoning technology and report on it.

How can you use this technology to be more efficient, dynamic and surprising to your clients?

10. Use a rewards program. One retailer said: “We offer $10 back for every $200 they spend. With a rewards program, it’s easier to ask for e-mails; not tomention keeping them and turning theminto influencers and advocates, There are customer rewards programs in Quickbooks software – it’s all free, but people don’t know it’s there.” Another is Square.

 

11 December 2011 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment

Get on The Web

marketing-to-moms-top-10-activities-moms-online-july-2008Susan and I have been encouraging pros to get a web presence for some time in our seminars and discussions at IWCE, Showtime and NeoCon. Well, if you don’t think you need one or “you are working with a web designer and we should be up and running by September” – read this.

This study by Marketing to Moms Coalition found that American Moms with kids under 18, log an average of three hours a day on the internet and that their school age kids log only 2 hours. What’s interesting is that women (your target market) spend  nearly half (49%) of their time on the web- that’s 1-1/2 hours a day -researching and comparing prices. So if you’re not on the web they don’t know you exist! 

Run, don’t walk to your computer and do one or all of these things:

Build a blog ( WordPress is our blog platform of choice)

Join LinkedIn

Create your Facebook profile.

You can add content whenever you like without having to know a bit of HTML. You can show your work. You can tell your customers what you’re up to. You can establish you self as the expert pro you are.

 When you get on the web or if you are already; send us your address and we’ll link up.

28 June 2009 at 8:18 am Leave a comment


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