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Tip of the Day - Capitalize On Government Spending

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Like most customers, government agencies seek vendors that can clearly define why they are a better choice than the competition. The ability to articulate a value proposition is an important element to success in government contracting, and with an annual budget of $500 billion and an additional $787 billion in stimulus funds, no business owner can write off the opportunity to capitalize on government spending.

We talked to Lourdes Martin-Rosa, American Express OPEN advisor on government contracting, to learn about her three strategies that companies can implement in order to stand out:

  1. Rebrand to promote a specialty. Perform a self-audit and figure out what makes your business better than others. “Find out how you can improve your business,” Martin-Rosa says. “Your best source to find this out is a customer. Ask them what they liked and disliked about their most recent purchase from you. If there are no complaints, you can ask them to write up a testimonial to post online about something specific they enjoyed about your services.” 
  2. Look beyond existing core competencies. Monitor www.fbo.gov for trends in government spending. As the government shifts focus from one area to another, figure out how your business can fit in. “You have to get your company ‘contract-ready,’ ” Martin-Rosa says. “F.B.O. stands for federal business opportunity and that’s exactly what it is – an opportunity for your business. The Web site is great because it will post any contract over $20,000. And if a contract is posted over $100,000, a federal agent will award you a no-bid simplified acquisition.”
  3. Seek ways to solve customers’ emerging challenges. Keep in tune with key issues and propose a new solution. “If you have a critical problem at your business, discover a way to solve it,” Martin-Rosa says. “Let’s say there’s a management problem or someone is not operating your machine properly; hire someone that can execute that job the right way and it will increase your revenue. By having a shift in focus, you’ll leap ahead of your competitors.” 

From Wearables Style


Tip of the Day - Growth Strategies

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Five steps to build your business:

  1. Through client referrals. Referrals aren’t just a passive business-building technique where you’re at the mercy of your customer, according to Gino Ventresca, general manager of National Embroidery & Transfer Services Ltd. (asi/299298). “Start with your own customers and ask them for referrals directly,” he says. “The best way to grow your business is building through referrals from your present customers and developing a strong bond with them.” You can ask your clients to refer you informally, or, consider developing a client loyalty program that offers some minor incentives to your clients who bring in referrals. Either way, client referrals are one great way to help your business grow.
  2. Through service professional referrals. “I think about who the companies are that can send potential clients to me,” says Don Tillquist, owner of Coastal Embroidery. “Before they come to me, they need a logo and signage for their business, so I develop relationships with graphic artists and sign vendors in town to establish a referral relationship.” According to Tillquist, the beauty of these relationships is that they aren’t just one-way. “They refer their clients over to me, and I send clients over to them,” he says. “You work symbiotically.” Take a look at the artists and other vendors your clients work with and develop a relationship with those other vendors; then watch the referrals come in.
  3. Through groups and organizations. “We’ve done very well from the networking we get to do from belonging to the chamber of commerce,” McGinn says. “I also belong to the local home builders association. We try to partner with other groups or organizations that will promote us.” It may seem like a been-there, done-that idea to join your chamber of commerce, but people do it because it works. Today there are more networking opportunities available than ever before, from Business Networking International to groups that are specific to your community. If you’re looking to add a new networking group to your schedule, consider the American Marketing Association or a Small Business Association-type group. These are great places to meet prospective clients.
  4. Through local events. “One way that we market and expand our business is that we’re involved in a yearly convention of sorts,” says Meredith Kowalsky, owner of Prestige Monogram. The event is a bluegrass festival that serves as a homecoming event for the town, with people coming from across the nation and overseas. Every year Kowalsky designs an event graphic and embroiders it on blankets and other items. “People collect the blankets to show that they’ve attended every year,” she says. Participating allows Kowalsky to show her capabilities and make numerous connections, such as the connection she made with her biggest client, who is located many hundreds of miles away. “We never would have connected with that client, except through the festival,” she says. Local events and expos (business or otherwise) can be a great place to build your business. Scope out some of your local events and consider offering to design the logo each year. This puts you in a unique position to meet new business and support your community.
  5. Through the Internet. How do you go about finding a service professional if you need one? Generally, and especially in this economy, you might start by trying to get a referral from friends, family and coworkers. If you can’t find anyone via word of mouth, where’s your next stop? Google (or www.yahoo.com or www.msn.com). The Internet is definitely the new Yellow Pages. Does your business have a Web site? If not, you could be missing out on a number of clients who are searching the Web to find a decorator. Starting a Web site can be as easy as getting a free site from Google or starting a free blog on www.blogspot.com, or as sophisticated as hiring a Web developer to build the site of your dreams. Regardless of how you approach it, getting your name on the Web is a great way to grow your business and connect with new customers.

From Stitches’ 2009 State of the Industry


Tip of the Day - Add Five Hours Of Weekly Selling Time

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Four tips to ensure you’re spending more time selling, from Scott Gingold, CEO of consulting firm Powerfeedback (www.powerfeedback.com):

1. Get up early. A lot of businesspeople you deal with today are starting earlier. A lot of times, people have to get out of the mindset that the business day starts at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. It doesn’t. It starts earlier than that. I try to schedule myself a 6:30 a.m. coffee, 8 a.m. breakfast, another 10 a.m. coffee and 12:30 p.m. lunch.

2. Don’t sit at the computer all day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of checking e-mail every two minutes rather than setting up a schedule for it. Have selling time, whether it’s on the phone or face-to-face.

3. Consolidate appointments. If I’m getting in the car and have to drive 10 miles, I’d better be looking at that map and saying, “Who else can I see?” even if it’s just a courtesy call. If you’re right there, you might as well meet a current customer.

4. Reinforce a positive attitude. If you’re getting doors slammed in your face, pop in somewhere that loves you and loves your company. You’ve got to keep pushing that rock up the hill. – Shane Dale


Tip of the Day - Retool Your Web Site

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Is your Web site looking tired and out of date? Wonder what you can do to enhance your online presence the way the superstars do? Consider these best practices and advice to make yours a site worth seeing.

  • Rotate content for freshness. This will draw visitors back to your site again and again, to see what’s new.
  • Visit award-winning industry Web sites to see what works well.
    Keep designs simple and elegant. A degree of sophistication indicates a professional, solid company and not a mere hawker of goods.
  • Add customer conveniences, such as self-ordering and color views. People tend to want to shop for themselves these days. It also cuts down on calls to the office, tying up your time.
  • Customize your site to suit your clients. If your customers are large, corporate entities, have a Web site that mimics those of your customers and the sophistication of their own brands.
  • Continuously examine Web site hits, and tweak organic key words. It may be that you’re using the wrong words in headers and content and are failing to appear high up in the search engines.
  • Consider using paid search with the major search-engine companies, to assure that your site appears as high as possible in the search results.
  • Keep multimedia offerings subtle. Avoid music.
  • Avail yourself of analytics tools, to know where visitors are coming from, what other marketing efforts are successful in driving them to your site and which landing pages capture visitors’ attention the best. 

From Advantages magazine.


How Well Do You Know Your Designers?

Filed under: General, site updates

For the December 2009 issue of Advantages’ magazine, Editor Kathy Huston ran a story that was all about designers and some of the interesting things they do. From sparkling logos to coffee-scented inks (no kidding!), designers today really have to be a creative bunch. It’s a great read and I highly recommend checking it out, but then we here at ASICentral started to to wonder, How well do we really know the designers and some of the things they’ve done?

I mean, I can count on one hand the designers I know and the items they’ve designed. Let’s see, hmmm, there’s Ralph Lauren and the classic Polo shirt, and, umm, well OK I’m drawing a blank … maybe I should’ve said one finger?

Anyway, doesn’t matter what I know, it’s what you know that we’re interested in! So, we created a neat little Designer Match Game that poses your knowledge of designers with some of the brands they’ve done work for.

Think you know designers? Then prove it with the …

(click on the image above to play!)

– DeezZINER Central


Tip of the Day - Artwork Acronyms Worth Your Time

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Alphabet soup is what you might think once you begin discussing artwork creation and transfer with clients and decorators. Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help clarify the jumble.

  • DPI (dots per inch) is the unit of measurement for resolution, communicating the density of dots in a print image or on a computer screen. It is helpful to remember that as the dpi doubles, the number of dots within a square inch quadruples. Therefore an image that’s 300 dpi will have 90,000 dots per square inch. Remember, the higher the dpi, the better the resolution of your image.
  • CMYK color: This is the color method based upon pigments. “CMYK” stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Using these four colors, most other colors can be achieved.
  • PMS (Pantone Matching System): This is a printing color method based on a list of specially mixed colors by Pantone Corp. These colors are considered to be “pure” and “true” based on their exacting specifications.
  • BMP (bitmap) is a map of dots or pixels, which typically comes in file formats such as .gif, .tif, .jpg or .bmp. Each dot can specify a color. The larger the resolution the better, but these files generally aren’t the best choice for imprint artwork.
  • GIF (graphics interchange format) is often the format used for the photos you see on the Internet, because the files are small and download quickly.
  • JPG or JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a standard compression format for high-resolution color images. They too are created by pixels. The higher the dpi, the better the image of the jpeg.
  • TIFF (tagged image file format) is a file format for exchanging bitmapped images.
  • EPS (encapsulated postscript) is a type of graphics file written in postscript language.
  • PDF (Adobe portable document format) offers an easy way to share files and to illustrate what you want your artwork to look like. However, these files aren’t always the best from which to have your garment imprinted.

From Wearables magazine


Tip of the Day - Going Green

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Want to go green but not sure where to start? You’re not alone. Here are a few tips to help distributors get started.

Start small. Make little changes first – changing lightbulbs, turning off lights and computers at the end of the day – then work up to more aggressive measures, such as going paperless through electronic invoices.

Make it a group effort. Going green is much easier with staff and customers behind your efforts. Make sure employees are on board – some eco-friendly distributors even suggest making the environmental pitch a personal as well as professional effort.

Get support. Virtually no distributor can make an entire supply chain go green on his own. Want to assure clients that your products and their manufacturing processes are green? Auditing firms can do just that for annual fees that, while not always cheap, can pay off by helping distributors land clients like corporate giants who demand spotless manufacturing measures.

Push the process as much as the products. Selling green products has been a smart business strategy for several years. Now, it’s as much about how distributors operate as it is about the products they sell. Distributorships already ahead of the curve are spending more and more time talking up the merits of green supply chains, in-house eco-friendly processes and other moves that help to not only green products but the industry as a whole. – Betsy Cummings

From Counselor’s Hot Trend: Green is the New Black


Tip of the Day - Gift Cards Can Pay Off

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Wary of gift cards because they represent low margin opportunities? Think again. Recent reports from suppliers point to solid margins (as much as 40% in some cases), making gift cards a potential jackpot for distributors. Read on to find out how gift cards can be a potential cash cow.

  • Vanishing fees. It used to be that end-users holding, say, an American Express card would find that an unused card lost value over time, thanks to monthly maintenance fees imposed by AmEx. Not exactly attractive to clients hoping to market through gift cards. But that’s no longer the case. AmEx said it will drop those fees now that it’s found a cheaper way to make the cards, plus the newly-passed federal Credit Card Act of 2009 limits companies from charging these types of fees.
  • Increasing popularity. A new study by Archstone Consulting reveals that gift cards are becoming more popular than ever, even if gift card values are declining. The key for distributors is pitching the popularity of low-value cards.
  • Breakage is good for business. It’s no secret that plenty of gift cards received by end-users never get redeemed. That may be bad for retailers, but it’s a positive for distributors, since suppliers can sell gift cards at reduced rates, knowing they’ll make money through breakage.
  • Personalization pays. Personalized cards are a new way for distributors to charge extra on gift cards when quoting pricing to end-buyers. Personalization also adds a high perceived value to gift cards that the product category can’t otherwise achieve. Clients will pay extra if they know their brand name will remain in front of their target audience for as long as possible.

From Counselor’s December 2009 issue.


Interactive Power 50

Filed under: site updates

With last month’s announcement of the annual industry Power 50, we here at Team Central thought, “Hmmm, how can we spice this up online?” After all, it’s just a list of names …

And Since Counselor magazine was doing an extended spread in their December issue on every Power 50 player, we figured it might be kinda fun to add an interactive element to the package. So, with a little creativity and some technological finesse, the Interactive Power 50 was born!

In this cool, new ASICentral feature, you can learn about each of the Power 50 players — including their rank, reasons for ranking, comments about important industry topics — just by clicking on their headshots! Best of all, you control the tool simply by moving your mouse left or right on the screen, so you can pick who you want to learn more about and click on them. It’s that easy!

So check it out by clicking here, or on the image above.

Hope you enjoy it, and don’t hesitate to let us know what you think by emailing us at feedback@asicentral.com.

– VINteractive


Tip of the Day - Expand Into Embroidery

Filed under: Tip of the Day

It’s a fairly common story among distributors who decided to become embroiderers: Either they couldn’t find a decorator they were satisfied with or they decided it would be more profitable to do the embellishment work themselves. However, the decision to be a distributor-turned-decorator is a big one, especially since a commercial singlehead embroidery machine can run you at least $5,000. Here are three steps to take before you make the tough decision to become a decorator:

Decide whether you can decorate. Not everyone is going to have a flair for running an embroidery machine or turning clients’ logos into good-quality stitch files. And, you may not have the time to do this if you’re also trying to land new clients. If you have the manpower to add embroidery services to your business, first attend basic embroidery and digitizing classes at trade shows or at local decorator shops to see if you have the skills to do better work than decorators you’ve used. 

Evaluate multiple vendors and types of machines before you buy. You’ll need to determine whether you should purchase a singlehead or multihead machine, based on the order volumes you anticipate. Plus, you’ll need to see if the machine and supplies you need (thread, hoops, trimmers and blanks) will fit in the space you’ve allotted for them. Most manufacturers will give you in-depth demos of their machines before you buy, and will offer training when you purchase a new machine or digitizing software. This kind of education is extremely helpful, as is attending trade shows to talk to suppliers and decorators.

Get ready for the learning curve. Most decorators and digitizers will tell you it takes about six months to really become proficient at running your machine and software. Deanna Duncan, president of Olympic Embroidery (asi/287459), says a beginning decorator “kind of just does it. You end up making a lot of stuff for yourself, your kids and neighbors” because of trial and error. Decide whether your business can handle that profit lag before you sign on. – Nicole Rollender 

From the 2009 Counselor State of the Industry


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