October '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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When I tell customers I need to charge them to have their logo digitized, they exclaim "It's already digital!" and become quite reticent to pay for the setup. What should I do? First and foremost, the word itself is a little confusing. If you digitize a document in the work world, all you are doing is scanning it. Instead, we communicate to customers that we have to 'program' the design to drive our machines. That word alone carries with it a sense of difficult labor that tends to bring expectations back in line. If that doesn't work, we educate the customer a little more completely about the process, explaining how the digitizer places stitches and selects stitch angles and the like. Failing all else, I've had salespeople bring customers in to watch me digitize, or send customers to watch a video of digitizing online, but I don't suggest that for just anyone. Erich Campbell, Black Duck Inc. I don't have the skills, time or money to develop a website. I earn a lot of good business without it, but feel like I'm "behind the times" without any online presence. Any advice? Studies show that more and more people resort to the Internet when looking for goods and services. Local search is rapidly rising in popularity. Those companies who aren't online are missing out on potential sales and customers. However, an online presence doesn't necessarily have to consist of a company- owned and -created website. If money, time or skills are keeping you from creating a site for your company, you're not completely out of luck. There are a number of ways to create an online presence without creating a corporate website. Here are just a few: •Social Media: Facebook has business pages, as does Pinterest. Twitter is now offering business accounts as well. Create accounts for your business on the social media sites you know your target market uses. Make sure your pages and feeds are full of interesting and useful information and updated regularly. You should also be responsive to those who contact you through these venues. If you have a brick-and-mortar store front, make sure to include address, phone number and business hours on the page. •Sales Sites: Sites such as Etsy and others allow users to sell goods on their site. Depending on which site you choose, there may be some cost involved, and there will be work uploading pictures and creating content. But, the work of creating the base site and hosting it is handled by the site owner, not you. These sites often will do a lot of marketing as well, which helps drive traffic. It's still your job to get customers to your store, but you have someone helping you generate the initial round of visitors, which is a huge timesaver. •POD Stores: Sites like Big Cartel, Zazzle and others will allow users to create a store and even, in some cases, provide fulfillment of the orders. Again, there will be work involved in uploading artwork, creating the look of your company site, and developing the content, but the hosting and the basic template is provided by the company that created the site. Most sites of this sort will have some limits on how a store can be designed and the templates that are offered, but the lack of flexibility can be outweighed by the relatively simple setup and maintenance. Any online presence you have should be as professional and complete as you can make it. If you're not great at grammar, have someone proofread your text. If you're not an expert at creating great product photos, have a graphic designer help you. Being online won't help if your presence is sloppy or looks amateurish. Take the time to make your online presence—whatever it is—shine. You'll see the result in sales. Kristine Shreve, EnMart 2013 October Printwear PW_OCT13.indd 77 | 77 9/18/13 11:53 AM

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