When someone says the word “marketing,” what first comes to mind? Online ads in quilter's magazines? Direct mail coupons for your shop? Money flushing down the toilet?
Marketing companies, sales reps, magazines, and even other shops bombard us with what gets customers to buy more fabric and notions. What they're really doing is trying to sell their product. Our in-house marketing guru, Andrew, worked as a marketing and SEO specialist and quilt shop manager for several years before jumping in headfirst with us at Laser Cut Quilts. He'd like to share tips on a marketing tactic that has a longer shelf life than most: Promotional materials.
Promotional materials...you know...like the silk-screened pens that have “Jon's Autobody Care—nobody cares like we do,” printed on the sides. It's like a utilitarian business card, giving your customer a reason not to automatically head to the trash can. Promotional materials are just branded items that you can give away (or sell). They can include t-shirts, bags, pens, water bottles...you name it.
At this point, I can hear your hesitation....no one ever remembers the business name on the sides of pens! But according to a study conducted by Schreber & Associates, 39% of people who have received a promotional product in the past 6 months can remember the associated company. Louisiana State University found that 71% remember (no timeline was given on this stat).
Other studies have found that using promo materials significantly increases the amount of business you do! Baylor University conducted a study which drew conclusions that companies that used promotional products did 22% more business than their competitors.
Now before you jump on the promo product bandwagon and blow your marketing budget, let's talk about how to use this strategy successfully.
Don't go silkscreen 500 pens with your business logo. Pens are great for boring businesses and salespeople like insurance agents that want you to fill out paperwork until your eyes bleed.
Be smart about what you choose as a promotional product. If an autobody shop utilized promotional materials wisely, they'd get their own branded car deodorant that would hang off your rearview mirror so that EVERY time you get in your car, you see their logo. The same principle applies in the quilting industry.
Quilters have gadgets and gizmos aplenty. Think of all the possibilities to show off your brand! Rulers, scissors, fabric pens, bags, luggage, shirts, sweaters, mugs, craft boxes-- to name a few.
Just a note on branding apparel: Before emblazoning your logo on 200 t-shirts, remember that (besides you and your team at the shop) few people, besides your most loyal customers, will want to buy a branded shirt or sweater. Instead, follow suit with companies like Wendy's (“Where's the Beef?”) or the American Dairy Association (“Got Milk?”), and print shirts with a catchy slogan or image (in addition to your logo). Here's a few examples:
This technique can actually ensure you don't spend a dime on marketing, as people will be willing to purchase the shirts you've branded.
Don't opt for something with a short shelf life, like sticky notes or thread. Once your customer uses it up, your marketing dollars stop taking effect. Choose something that they'll use over and over...something that can last a lifetime.
Before you remember that Sally at the quilt shop down the street has magnets with her company logo and conclude that would be the option for you, think outside the box!
Don't copy what other people are doing. Instead, ask yourself, “What would get people's attention? What would my customers use the most? What would they take with them to quilter's retreats where others might see the promo product with my brand?” Once you feel confident, research who might have the product you'd like engraved or silk-screened. We recommend 3 Degree Promo for any generic or custom promotional products. We've worked with them in the past, and they're accurate, timely, and have great customer service.