Our in-house marketing guru, Andrew, is here to share some tips of the trade. He left his marketing career after finding true love with his Pfaff machine. Since then, he's ran two successful quilt shops and a retreat center, and wants the same success for the backbone of the quilting industry--you. Want to double your shop's profits with this year's Row by Row Experience? Read on.
1. Design a dynamite block
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we think it should be added to the list nonetheless. Great quilt design isn't measured by how intricate the pattern, but by how it makes the customer feel. So....how do we achieve good quilt vibes? Madi Hastings, pattern designer, gives her take on great design. Here's what she said:
1. Use contrasting prints
Low volume prints stand out against bright or dark fabrics, creating emphasis and wow factor. I love how Franklin Mill Store used low volume prints and sashiko stitching to creative negative space and an overall, aesthetically pleasing block (see above). Alternately, use a dark solid against bright batiks, like Stitch n' Snip did in their 2015 Row by Row Experience block with these laser-cut silhouettes (see below).
2. Catch your customers' attention with asymmetry in color and pattern.
Madi said that asymmetrical design is IN and looking fabulous. Don't be afraid to imbalance your block to make it stand out and catch customers' eyes. I love how Wombat Quilts' "Glass Half Full" and "Sew Peachy" by Red Hen Fabrics used progressive objects in their asymmetrical blocks.
3. Look at everyday objects in new ways.
Don't confine yourself to squares and triangles, or rehash rinse-and-repeat themes of years' past. Think outside the box. Check out how Johanna Masko from The Workroom used her block, "Bottled Up" to illustrate this principle perfectly. Find something in your kitchen, your garden, your quilt shop, or your bedroom, and make it into an art piece.
Have too many items on the to-do list? Let Madi design a laser-cut block for your shop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Offer kits, preferably in multiple color ways
We've met too many shop owners that don't capitalize on this event like they ought. The Row by Row guidelines encourage participants to complete their quilts quickly. Picking out tasteful (read: non-clearance) fabrics for multiple color ways ensures that participants that have already collected kits/fabrics from other shops can color coordinate.
Piece by Piece Fabrics from Eugene, Oregon, used last years' theme in two different ways: They offered a pieced text block that read "HOME," and a modern applique block featuring the forests of their home sweet home.
3. Laser Cut your Applique Block
Offering your block as a laser cut kit increases your margins, adds value to your customers (wanting to finish their quilts asap), and saves fabric, labor, and kitting costs. The process is surprisingly affordable. The kit below, a 20x25" wall hanging, would only cost a shop $14 per kit to have laser cut. Plus, Laser Cut Quilts doesn't require any minimum quantities. Bingo. Click HERE to request a free quote or learn more about the laser cutting process.
"Scandi Kettle" by Madi Hastings
Confirm that you're a qualified retailer to order wholesale: www.lasercutquilts.com
4. Offer embellishment kits
Row by Row Experience offers customized quilty license plates to embellish participants' quilts...but why stop there?
In their 2015 Row by Row block, Quilter's Fancy offered embellishment kits that included Aurifil threads, beads, silk ribbon, metallic threads, crystals, Swarovski stones, and Mother of Pearl fishes for their "Purple Mermaid" pattern by Carolyn Pytlik.
5. Give your customers multiple finishing options
You'll likely have customers that love your block but don't want to commit to a full Row by Row Experience...or event participants that buy more blocks than they need in their quilt. Display your block inside your shop with multiple finishing options--a bench pillow, coordinating quilt blocks, a wall hanging, rug...the options are endless. Then, come November 1st, after the event has died down, you can easily sell your kits. After all, there are oodles of quilters that rely on online shopping to participate in the post-experience of Row by Row.
This "Quilters gonna stash" laser cut kit is available at wholesale pricing as a quilted bag, pillow, or wall hanging. Order them for your shop here.
Note: You must be a qualified retailer to order our products.
6. Pull all of your marketing "strings"
Event marketing is almost non-existent in the quilting industry--not because it's ineffective, but because shop owners don't take advantage of it! There's the old adage, "Build it, and they'll come." Well, that's false. If you're wanting a high turnout, a high demand for your block, and add-on sales, you're going to have to work before the event starts to make that happen.
1. Email Marketing
Get the Row by Row hype started in April or May. In your monthly or weekly newsletter, mention something about the event. Offer a prize for the subscriber that can guess what your block is all about. Highlight the block designer's quilty journey. Give your subscribers a route map around your state. Remind people throughout and after the event about deadlines, and once November rolls around, put that kit and pattern up on the website.
2. Instagram Marketing
We've found that most social media outlets are useless in the quilting industryexcept Instagram. If you have the app and have NO idea how to use it, ask your daughter, grandson, or neighbor kid across the street. It's fairly simple: post a picture with a caption. Instagram tactics will be similar to your email marketing scheme...you'll just want to post pretty pictures that make your buyers do a double-take.
Before Row by Row ever starts, post an enthused "block reveal" video or sneak peek. Post a feature on the block designer. Offer giveaways for the 1st person to walk through your door on opening day, 1st person to purchase your kit, etc, and post about it. Instagram is also a great venue to show off your multiple finishing options. Be sure to have a link in your profile that goes directly to your online shop.
Remember that you can feature your block on your website, but don't sell them online or enter any inventory til November 1st. Read all the shop owner rules for Row by Row Experience 2017 here: http://www.rowbyrowexperience.com/row-by-row-experience-shop-owners.htm
3. Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Your employees and regular customers are a huge asset in your marketing efforts. Be sure to let them know the goings-on and include them in the planning stages. If they're excited about it, they'll talk about it, and your sales will increase accordingly.
An old man once told me, "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity." So GOOD LUCK preparing for the upcoming Row by Row event! If you have any marketing or ordering questions, don't hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. That's all, folks! Happy quilting!