In our last blog post we highlighted a few of the business related things you will want to consider to ensure your business has a successful year. So for this post, we’re going to highlight sales and marketing. You need both to build a successful, sustainable business, because they will balance each other out and work hand-in-hand.
The sales and marketing checklist is really all about creating new business and how to focus those efforts.
Take a look at your last year’s sales (and even the year before if you have it). What were the trends of when you were the busiest and when you had slower weeks?
Depending on the niche of your embroidery or custom tees business, you may find it follows the seasonality of that niche. As an example if you work mainly with schools doing their embroidery, you’ll probably find you’re busiest in the fall when everyone is ordering their school and team apparel, and then slow down when summer hits. Knowing this information you can ensure you plan for that rush – ordering enough supplies and blanks ahead of time.
It also gives you opportunity to build your off-season business. Whether this be taking on special projects, reaching out to prospects who might need your services in the summer. You can also take this time to attend trade shows, revamp your website, or even learn something new for your business, such as expanding your services to include heat press. Your down time is a perfect time for personal and business development.
You should be building a week-by-week calendar so that you know when your customers need orders done by, when do they typically place their order, when events are so you can ensure proper time to prepare, and also when you need to send out any mass email communications to your customers.
We’ve talked before about the importance of Facebook and social media – it’s one of the major social media tools your customers use everyday. So if you haven’t yet created a Facebook business page, now’s the time to start. If you already have a Facebook page and you’re comfortable with using it to engage your customers, now’s the time to consider branching out into a 2nd social media channel, whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Take the time to learn about how the social media tool works, what and how people engage with the brands and companies they like, and then create your business page/profile. As an example Instagram is all about the images and so it’s a great platform to use to show off your finished products, and to share those images with your customers. You can use YouYube to make small clips of you making an order.
You’ll also want to use them to start creating a network – groups that you can participate in, whether it be specific to the embroidery business, custom tees or your niche market. When you engage with other pages, they will see that and potentially engage with you back, expanding your reach to their followers.
We cannot emphasize the importance of the customer experience enough. Think back to all your interactions with your customers – this includes in person, on the phone, email, social media. Everything from your first contact with the customer to the final delivery of their order. Was every interaction handled in the best possible way? How were complaints handled?
One way to review your customer experience is to go through the flow yourself. Write it all out in post-it notes on the wall. Analyze each step and think: is this the best experience I can be providing my customers? Even if it looks great, there’s always ways to improve, so what is even one way you can make that experience 5% better? The better the customer’s experience, the more likely they’re going to be a repeat customer and provide you with referrals.
Here’s a few of the things to think about when you’re reviewing your customer experience:
- What do you say when you pick up the phone?
- How do you sign off on all your emails?
- What’s the tone and language of the emails?
- What does your invoices and packaging look like?
- What’s the follow-up with customers after they’ve received their order?
Overall think about some of the companies that you do business with and really take a look at what they do to make you feel like your business is valued. Then consider how you might be able to adopt similar techniques.
Update your Website
Your website is part of the face of your business. Even if a customer is referred to you by an existing customer, they’re most likely going to do some research before committing. Make sure your website is up-to-date. This includes contact information, operating hours, any terms and policies, etc.
But you’re also going to want to do a thorough review of all the content. Spelling and grammar can actually have quite a negative impact on your business. If you’re not confident with your writing skills, hire a writer/editor. They can do a review of all your copy, make sure everything is spelled properly, but also make recommendations on how to make the content more interesting.
Lastly update any images on your site to show off your best products. Updating your website consistently every month will have a positive impact on your SEO. Search engines are less likely to display websites that haven’t been updated recently because Google and Bing are less confident that they’d be sending the user to the page/content they’re looking for.
Create an Email List
When you were going out and growing your business last year, you should have been collecting email addresses from prospects. And you should also have emails from all your existing customers – and if you don’t, next time you talk to them, ask for it.
Your email list will allow you share information with customer (and potential customers) all at once. And using a mail service such as MailChimp will allow you to brand the emails and make them visually appealing, so they’re more likely to get read.
Your emails can be about promotions you’re running, events/tradeshows you’re attending, or even a non-business related email to wish them Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, etc. You never want to spam your customers because it’s likely your email will get ignored or unsubscribed to, but sending an email out even once a month keeps your business in front of them, so if/when they do decide to order, you’ve already established some kind of relationship with them.
Your Sales and Marketing checklist is really just focused around 5 things:
- Seasonal Budgeting
- Social Media
- Customer Experience
- Updating your website
- Building an email list
As we mentioned in Part 1 of the checklist, create a sales and marketing checklist and give yourself a deadline to complete each task. And if you keep reviewing your checklist throughout the year and repeating the tasks, your embroidery or custom tees business will be sure to grow this year.