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A Guide to Copywriting

A Guide to Copywriting

Copywriting may seem easy on a surface level, but the best copywriters spend hours trying to come up with the perfect line.

So what is copywriting? Copywriting is the art of writing copy (or the words that go on your website, products, advertisement, etc.) that make your services compelling and initiates your customers to take action.

Sales people reach customers one at a time, and a copywriter reaches them all at once. Although it may just seem like words on a paper, copywriting is a critical part of your business.

Understand your product or service

You should know your product or service inside and outside. If you don’t spend some time with it, researching it, using it, and whatever else you can do. This sets up the baseline and gives you the sales advantage; you should be the service expert so anytime someone asks you a question you know more about it than anyone else.

Create your product/service description

A good way to start this is to answer these questions:

  • What makes the product or service unique?
  • How would you describe the product or service?
  • What benefit does the product or service provide?
  • Is their pain the product or service alleviates?
  • What are the product or services features?

By knowing your product or service better than anyone else, answering these questions should come easy.

Know your customers

Knowing you customers, and what they want, can take some trial and error. One thing that will make this trial and error easier is through research. Here are some questions you should find the answer to:

  • Who currently buys your product or uses your service?
  • Who would you like to buy your product or use your service?
  • What does your typical customer look like?
  • What do they love?

Knowing your customer means you can cater your copy to make it more compelling. Remember, copywriting should be unique, specific, and convey urgency. The combination of these may not seem easy, but with a little work you can become persuasive in 20 words or less.


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Shoppertainment: Hosting events at your store

Events

Hosting events can be tough; it takes a lot of planning and organization to execute them well. If you’re hesitant to make events at your store a regular happening, look no further than American Quilt Retailer to help you through the process.

Check out our step-by-step list to guide you through the moves to make sure your first event (and every event after) is a success.

Evaluate

Determining what type of event your store should throw takes some evaluation; will the event attract current customers? Will the event attract new customers? How can the event encourage new customers to come back to your store? If the idea you have in mind addresses all three points than it’s a safe bet to follow through with the plan.

Three to Four Months Before

  • Send letters to vendors requesting merchandise for giveaways (many stores incorporate this into their budgets, you’ll never know if you don’t ask).
  • Ask for in-store help preparing classes and goodie bags.
  • Plan your advertising—what outlets will you use and when do you plan on contacting them to promote the event?
  • Choose your entertainment. DJs are always a good place to start.

Two Months Before

  • Check with staff weekly to make sure everyone is on par with getting their tasks done.
  • Follow up with vendors and entertainment. Check if they have any special needs (electricity is always a big one).
  • Put in your catering order.

One Month Before

  • Schedule social media posts promoting event.
  • Draw layout of sales floor outlining where everything will be day-of.
  • If this is invitation only, design your invites.
  • Start handing out fliers of the event to customers at check out. Be sure to train your staff on a 30-second pitch promoting the event as they put the flier in the bag.

Two Weeks Before

  • Check with staff to make sure everything is going as planned. If you find out things aren’t going as you’d think, you still have time to correct them.
  • Send your invitations.

One Week Before

  • Send press releases around town.
  • Prepare a list of in-store specials (grand-prize drawing 7:15, demo #1 at 7:30, etc.)
  • Talk about your event in your company voicemail.
  • Follow up with entertainment to make sure they’re ready for day-of.
  • Double check refreshment order.
  • Make “jar of beans” for guessing game. Not only do attendees love it, but it’s a great way to get names and contact information.
  • Start to get your sales floor ready for the event.
  • Adjust window displays to go with theme.

Day Before

  • Finalize floor plan.
  • Hang all decorations before you leave for the night.
  • And of course, check your master plan again.

Day-Of

  • Schedule pre-breakfast meeting with staff.
  • Distribute copies of schedule to staff and place by register, cutting areas, etc.
  • Greet guests at door and encourage them to sign a guest book, this is another great way to get contact information from the attendees.
  • Take photos.
  • And have fun!

After the Event

  • Send an anonymous survey to staff to get their opinion about how the event went.
  • Record sales, customer count, advertising process, number of vendors, and even the weather for the day. Keep this on file to compare to other events.
  • Send follow-up press releases of event with images.
  • Send personal letters (not emails) to everyone who helped.

We recommend hosting four major events a year and one to two smaller events a month. The smaller events can be classes, demonstrations, or make-and-takes.

Events can be fun and will become easier to manage with time. Hopefully some events will be such a success they turn into an annual endeavor.

Inspiration for this post comes from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer. You can find out more about them and their product offerings at their website.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Social Media Video Guide

Video Guide

We get it, video marketing is intimidating. But with 81% of businesses using video marketing in 2018, it’s time for your company to join the trend. Check out this guide on tips and tricks for two of the biggest video platforms out there.

Instagram Video

Even though you can shoot videos from the Instagram app, it’s better to have your video prepared rather than shot in the moment. But, the days of having fancy equipment to shoot a high quality video are over! There are plenty of video-editing apps available that make your phone the only needed piece of equipment.

Videos can be anywhere from 3 to 60 seconds, and figuring out the length that’s best for your audience will come after some trial and error. Be sure to pick a compelling cover photo, and remember that sound is optional on Instagram video. That means your video should make sense even if there isn’t any sound. The options of what you can shoot are limitless—time lapses of projects, tutorials, and clips from events are all good options for this platform.

YouTube

Best practices for YouTube are more traditional. Audio is important on this platform, so make sure the microphone is close to your subject and they speak slowly and clearly. Cue cards can help, too.

Quality is important also. While you still don’t need fancy equipment for YouTube, the video should be stable and tastefully filmed. That means subjects shouldn’t be straight on and the video has a purpose.

There are so many technical aspects about video that make filming just the beginning. What apps does your business like to use? What websites helped you dip your toes into video?

Video has some of the best engagement rates for social media; the trick is finding out what your audience wants to see. Remember, practice makes perfect and the best way to get good at video is simply by doing it.


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Keeping Up With the Jones’s

Keeping up with the Jones's

It seems like every time you get good at something new, it changes—trust us, we’ve been there.

What do you do to stay fresh and make sure you’re keeping up with the Jones’s? Check out these conventions and strategies to keep your store up to date.

ASD Market Week

ASD Market Week is held twice a year at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The most recent Market Week ends today, and includes nine shows in one. Plus, it’s also home to the Independent Retailer Conference that hosts 15 minute presentations by vendors who typically don’t attend conferences.

After you attend these presentations and start seeing merchandising differently, you’ll begin to see booths at the trade show differently, too. What are common themes? What were the best displays, and what made them pleasing to the eye?

Also take note of the booths that have a lot of people at them. Is it because they are having a good sale, or their products are that in demand? This is the perfect opportunity to strike up conversations with independent retailers just like you to get new ideas and questions answered.

Other Observations

You can take advantage of everything new you learned when you return back to your normal life as well. Continue to start conversations with customers; what do they like about your store? What products would they like to see? Another good insight is which influencers they’re following. Follow up after the conversation to see what the influencers are pushing and try to guess why your customer likes them.

Once you see trade floors differently, you’ll see malls differently too (especially the shoppers in these malls). If you’re hesitant about trying something new, utilize Facebook and email surveys before launching a product.

Be sure to have a running note in your phone to keep all these great ideas organized. You’ll never know when a fleeting thought will strike gold!

Inspiration for this post came from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer of Kizer & Bender. You can find out more about them and their product offerings here.


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Selling Fabric on Shopify

Shopify

Having an online store can be tough. Keep reading to find out how to sell fabric on Shopify.

Your store probably has hundreds of different fabric options for customers. Managing a site that’s also easy for customers to navigate and order these fabrics can prove a difficult challenge. If you’re serious about selling your products online, there’s no better time to jump on the ecommerce bandwagon than now.

Sew Much Commerce

Shopify is the biggest ecommerce site on the internet with over 600,000 stores. Shopify is known for having a box of core functions; when they stay in the box they do these functions really well. Anything outside of the box will need some assistance.

Because you can’t sell 1/3 of a t-shirt or 0.5 of a shoe, Shopify does not have the ability to purchase quantities outside of whole numbers. That’s where Sew Much Commerce steps in. Sew Much Commerce is a code that goes along with Shopify that enables your customers to buy fabrics in 1/4 and 1/2 quantities. Adding this service can make your online store tailored with your customers in mind.

Shopify

Shopify has several functions that make it stand out from its competitors. It’s easy to build a site, multiple employees can work on the site at the same time and at different locations, and it can keep your inventory updated on various platforms (no matter if your customer bought in store or online).

If you’re ready to take ecommerce more seriously, making the move off Etsy is a good place to start. Switching to Shopify can help legitimize your place in the industry.

What platform do you currently use to sell your products online? Do other products have the same problem of only offering fabric quantities in whole yards? Leave your comments below to help other retailers like you.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Your Competitor’s Store

Competitor

Keeping up with your competitors can feel like Keeping up with the Jones’—a never ending process that includes keeping constant tabs on social media and websites.

As it turns out, comparing your business to your competitor’s requires more work than just stopping by. Check out this list for how to best approach an in-store visit.

Prepare

Start by making a list of everything you want to compare. This can include pricing and signage, and overall things like customer experience, first impression, appearance, customer flow, and in-person experience.

Let’s be honest, walking into your competitor’s store can feel uncomfortable. Pick a reliable and trustworthy friend to make the trip for you! Have them read your prep list so they know what to keep an eye out for, and make sure they stop by the restrooms and classrooms while they’re there, too. Better yet, chose a topic they have knowledge about to ask a sales associate while they’re scouting your competition; this is a tell-tale sign of both training and how your competitor is trying to sell.

Review

After you visit your competitor’s store, see how you stack up. Make a list of everything you need to improve on, and schedule it into your next few weeks. Every time you complete a task, cross if off the list.

Visiting your competitor’s stores should be done at least every quarter—trust us when we say your competitors are definitely shopping you.

*Inspiration for this post comes from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer. Check out their website to find out more about them and their services.


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Selling on Amazon

Amazon

How do you know if selling on Amazon is the right move for your business? This post will help answer some of your preliminary questions and give you a gist of the service so you can make the right decision before putting any money down.

Currently, 44% of shoppers start on Amazon and 40% of Americans purchase products on the site every month. This step-by-step breakdown will give you a preview of the process.

Pick a selling plan

As a business owner, you’ll likely chose the Professional Plan, which comes out to $39.99 a month. You can also chose to sell as an individual, and will be charged $0.99 for every item purchased through the site. Amazon recommends the Professional Plan if you plan on selling more than 40 products a month. This of course, is assuming the products you sell are approved to sell (you can check out a list of products that require pre-approval here).

Register on Amazon Seller Central

After you create your account, you can manage your products and start uploading photos. Batch options are available with the Professional Plan and photos can be uploaded one at a time with the Individual Plan. If your product is already listed in Amazon, the only other information required is the amount, condition, and shipping options. Otherwise, you’ll need to have the SKU ready.

Choose your shipping options

Speaking of shipping, the best way to go is to sign up for the Fulfillment by Amazon option. Fulfillment by Amazon takes away the hassle of packing and shipping, and even deals with returns. Through this you get a check every two weeks of the products sold two weeks prior, less Amazon’s fees. Fulfillment by Amazon also makes your product eligible for Prime, and helps your product to be listed higher on the search page.

Promote your products

There are multiple ways to promote your own products, including good, clean, and concise copy, encouraging reviews, and running ads on the site. The three factors that contribute to higher listings are price, feedback rating, and fulfillment method.

Analyze your performance

Similar to Google analytics, Amazon Seller Central provides interactive charts and numbers that help you compare your sales to other industry averages. Checking these statistics before and after making changes to your process can help you optimize the Amazon experience.

Does your store sell on Amazon? Have you found the service useful? Have your experiences been good, or bad? Share your comments to help your comrades in the quilt retail community.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Be Your Own Advocate

Advocate

Tired of customers saying they’ve never seen your store before? Sounds like it’s time to be your own advocate.

Do you ever go to an event and wonder how to hype your events up as much as the one you’re at? Well, one way is to create the buzz yourself.

Start by making or ordering signs to go in your store and front display. Send email blasts every other week about the event, and post in one form or another on your social media (actual posts, adding to your story, etc).

Press release

Another way to advocate yourself is through advertising. You already know how to advertise on Facebook and by purchasing an advertisement in your local newspaper, but have you considered writing a press release?

The best way to accomplish this is by writing the release yourself. Google “press release” to find examples of others, but the biggest thing to remember is to include the who, what, when, and where. Spice up the release by including some personal quotes, and wrap up the piece with your company’s typical pitch (the more impressive you can seem, whether it be the number of trade shows you’ve attended or the book you published, the better).

When submitting your press release, the best way to advocate your business is through a great headline. Try to say the point of the press release in 10 words or less—remember, the fewer the better.

Take photos

Any method you use to advocate for yourself—whether through a press release, advertisement, or sign—can be enhanced through photos.

As with anything, the more visual you can make your message, the better. We all know we live in a photo-centric society, but also remember to stay organized and catalog your images after each event.

*Thanks to Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer for the inspiration behind this post. Find out more about them and their services at their website.


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Product Photography

Product photography

I’ve learned the most about product photography from following vintage clothing accounts on Instagram.

You heard that right, I learn from an outside source that has almost nothing to do with the quilting industry.

But in a lot of ways, it does. These accounts are small businesses that have to set themselves apart from their competition. Assuming their brand is what separates them, they have to stay as true to that as possible.

When people think of product photography, I think people think of what they see when they shop online; a plain, bright white background that makes the product pop.

Don’t feel like you have to have this, and also don’t feel like you have to go out and purchase photography lights, backdrop boxes, or even an expensive lens for your camera.

Be Consistent

The most important thing to remember about product photography is to be consistent. Use the same device to snap the photos (so the quality is the same) and preferably the same place (to take out other inconsistencies, like lighting).

Keep in mind that the higher the image quality, the better for your customer. This is especially important when choosing which product photo to post on your website/Instagram/Facebook story.

If you haven’t invested in a tripod before, now may be the time to do so (even if you take photos from your phone). Being the same distance and height from the products each and every time is key to remaining consistent.

If you chose to edit your photos (which I recommend—photo editing can separate the boys from the men), make sure you use the same filter every time. Filters play into your company’s brand more than you realize, think about how some photos can soften a look while others can make them more sharp.

Lastly, consider mixing in-context images with your product-only images so the consumer can get the best idea of what your product is and does before making their purchase.

What time saving tips have you found to keep up with your product photography? Share your comments to help the quilt retail community.


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Quilting and Technology

Technology

Quilting has come a long way since it’s origins thanks to advances in technology and society. Like most other industries, quilting has made even more progress in the past three decades than the rest of it’s history combined.

Quilts can now now be much more elaborate and patterns much more varied thanks to the artistic freedom technology provides. Fabrics come in all colors and designs, and the number of tools available to quilters continues to grow.

On the flip side, dedicated quilters are also spending more time online. The amount of time they spend researching the quilting industry increased from 2.5 hours to nearly 8 hours a week since 2014. Further, “68% of dedicated quilters were buying fabric, batting, and thread online,” as of 2017.

Technology is disrupting the traditional business model that brick-and-mortar stores follow. In order to compete now you have to learn how to establish an online presence as well as make your product as easy as possible to get into the hands of the consumer.

Industry professionals feel like they’re behind in more ways than one. Common areas they want education include:

  • Product photography
  • Video workshops with best practices for Instagram and YouTube
  • Best ways to sell fabric on Shopify
  • The ins and outs of selling through Amazon
  • Copywriting for social media posts and online content in general
  • Shipping logistics
  • Email marketing with details on specifics like list segmentation and more

What’s Next?

The times are always changing and it’s up to us to keep up with them so our businesses stay relevant to our consumers. How is technology helping your business and how is technology making things more difficult? What tech-related skills do you want to learn?

American Quilt Retailer is dedicated to connecting you with like-minded professionals to help out with problems like these and many more. Share your tips about what technological advances have been the best moves for your business.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.