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Tips for Going Live on Facebook

Facebook live

If you’re like most of the world, you’ve received notifications from Facebook alerting you that one of your friends or the pages you follow are going live. Jump in on the action with these tips.

Promoting your Facebook live

Video is becoming more popular, and live videos get 3 times more interaction than other videos on social media. Promote your Facebook live event before it takes place, and post about it across all social media channels.

When you chose a date and time for your event keep in mind what works best for your followers. Looking at previous engagement data should help you make this decision.

Try a test run

Test run your Facebook live event before the scheduled date and time so you can avoid formatting problems. Try to get this right as watchers will stay on the video three times as long as they would other videos (nobody wants watchers to leave for silly reasons, such as shaky video).

Some things to consider include: lighting, production quality (will you be shooting in your store? Or in front of a blank wall to minimize distractions?), and whether or not you should shoot vertically or horizontally (vertical shooting can sometimes make you look too close to the camera).

Interact with your followers

Remember, Facebook live is to engage with your audience. This means you should be adding context constantly throughout your video so any new followers who jump on know what you’re speaking about.

Interact with followers by addressing their comments as they appear. This will make your stream feel like a two-way conversation, which may explain why live videos drive ten times the amount of comments compared to other videos.

Wrapping up the event

After the event is over, check your data. How are the results compared to other posts? Take the time to respond to any comments you may have missed, and encourage people to continue to comment if they’re catching the video after the event is over.

Interested in learning more? Use this checklist to help you get started with your first Facebook live.


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Visual Merchandising for Your Quilt Shop

Visual Merchandising

With the Holiday shopping season right around the corner, now is the time to switch up your visual merchandising to optimize your sales floor.

Whether you know it or not, we make subconscious decisions all the time. Shoppers decide within the first 10 seconds of entering your store if they want to spend time in that space. Read on to discover how visual merchandising influences your customer.

Basics of visual merchandising

Fixtures, a simpler term for shelves and wall units, should look nice in your store but should never distract from the product. Also keep in mind that the American for Disabilities Act (ADA) requires 3 feet between fixtures.

Also include a speed bump front and center of your store to feature new items, tell product stories, and place irresistible items.

As for messaging, shoppers should be able to consume your message within 5 seconds or less. And remember, color is important. No matter what color scheme you chose, be sure to stick with it.

Some other interesting changes include replacing a metal display table with a wooden one. This simple switch will automatically increase sales. Also, profits increase the better your store smells. Grapefruit gives a burst of energy, vanilla calms, and cinnamon attracts money.

Layout options

The way you set up your store can also influence sales. Check out these layouts to find out if your store has room for improvement.

  • Sight line: Allow shoppers to view the entire sales floor upon entering. Place shorter items at the front and taller items at the back.
  • Vertical displays: Because we read left to right, placing items vertically guarantees your customer will view an entire selection in one glance.
  • Visual Curve Merchandising: Using slanted shelves or waterfall brackets will increase your customer’s visual strike zone. Without even realizing it, this layout forces the customers gaze forward, up, and down the product.

What are you waiting for? Make some changes in your store and watch your profit margins rise.

Inspiration for this post came from Visual Merchandising for the Holidays be Rich Kizer and Georgeanne Bender.


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The Holidays: Social Marketing Guide

Holidays Social Marketing Guide

There’s a reason why Q4 is referred to as the “Golden Quarter” in the retail industry. Make the most of the lull before the Holidays by beginning your social media marketing strategy to plan the best content at the right time.

Rules to follow

Facebook and Instagram are essential. Posting frequently on both of these channels is just as important, but don’t worry, you can repeat what you post on these platforms.

Think of social media as an extension of getting customers to your store by word of mouth. If all you’re posting about are sales, you’re going to have less online engagement. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule of content, meaning 80 percent of your posts should be unrelated to products or deals.

Further, stay engaged. The highest times of social media engagement are at the beginning and end of each day, which means checking your social media content frequently between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily is a safe bet.

On top of that, you should interact with your followers. This means liking their posts, replying promptly to comments, and following similar services to what you provide.

Content for the Holidays

Update your website to include a gift giving guide. Take it even further by incentivizing customers who visit and utilize this page with a discount or gift card.

Also update your social media profile photos with something that reflects the season. Throwing in holiday related hashtags and reusing words like “Christmas,” “Holidays,” “Santa,” and “Hanukkah,” will help with your content engagement as well.

We’re well into October; what are you waiting for? Get a head start on Holiday planning today.

Inspiration for this post came from Social Marketing for the Holiday Season by Rich Kizer and Georgeanne Bender.


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Fall Virtual Blue Bag

Virtual Blue Bag

This year has been full of adaptations. In lieu of Fall Quilt Market, we’re continuing our Virtual Blue Bag event! Check out what goodies are in store for the rest of the year.

Virtual blue bag fabrics

  • Beginning Fabrics Gallery has updated their collections. Check both the old and the new as they’re all beautiful.
  • Northcott is continuing their re-ordable Essentials that includes fabrics of all color schemes including light, dark, warm, cool, and more. Check out the Lustre line that includes more colors of their iconic paisley pattern.
  • Continuing with the Northcott theme, Bandana is a collection filled with rich palettes of “bright reds, bold blues, and saturated grays.” Also included are patterns to make your own patriotic themed quilts.
  • Christa Quilts is giving you a free pattern along with their breathtaking fabric (we never get tired of looking at their supply).

Projects, products, and more

  • RNK Distributing: Has been working hard to keep their dealers stocked. Check out their YouTube channel to stay up to date.
  • New Leaf Stitches has you covered for any upcoming classes. Get everything you need including fabrics, patterns, notions, and more; New Leaf Stitches has it all.
  • It’s pumpkin spice time! Head over to Puppy Girl Designs to check out her new line of Postcard Patterns including fall themed patterns.
  • Have you checked out Martingale’s Sew-A-Sample shop program? If you haven’t, you need to. At no cost to you, you can download any sample pattern to have ready to display the day your Martingale book arrives in the mail.

Stay tuned for more Virtual Blue Bag goodies in next week’s blog.


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Register for AQR Academy

AQR Academy

Have you heard the news!? American Quilt Retailer is hosting AQR Academy; a one day virtual event for quilt retailers. Regardless if you have a brick-and-mortar store or are solely online, this event is for you.

Join Editor Heidi Kaisand on Tuesday, October 27 for a day full of fast-paced classes focused on topics needed to be a successful retail owner. Subjects include: employee relations, propelling your business forward in the digital world, increasing profits and revenue, inspiration for the stuff we sell, and strategies for public relations.

In addition, the event will also include opportunities for virtual networking with industry professionals. We all know this year has been unpredictable; tune in for tips and strategies as we enter 2021.

Academy Pricing

Registration for AQR Academy opened yesterday. Early bird registration prices (if you register before October 6) come in at $75 for subscribers and $155 for non-subscribers. After that, prices rise to $95 for subscribers and $195 for non-subscribers. (In other words, become a subscriber today to take advantage of the lower rates!)

And we forgot to mention; AQR will mail a swag back to the first 200 participants! Next week we’ll highlight some of the goodies that may be included during our Virtual Blue Bag series. What are you waiting for, sign up for AQR Academy today.


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Emptying your Inbox

Emptying your Inbox

If you think emptying your inbox is impossible, think again. Check out these tips and tricks to get an inbox completely free of things to do.

The first step

The first step to emptying your inbox is setting up time to go through your email at its current state. There are three methods to tackle this approach.

  1. Delete everything. If you haven’t done anything with the emails already, then they might not be as important as you think=. This is the quickest way to get a clean slate.
  2. Take time to go through every single email. That’s right, take a day (or two) to open and do something with every email. Plan on spending 15 to 30 seconds on each email.
  3. Do a combination of both. The most common method; plan on deleting every email more than three months old, and then take the time to review what’s left.

Processing your inbox

After taking the first step to cleaning out your inbox, come up with a system to make sure it stays clean. This means making folders, template responses, and unsubscribing to newsletters and promotions you don’t need or care about.

If you create a folder to place emails you need to come back to, make sure you set aside the time each week to address that folder (and stick to it).

Another method is to address the email as soon as you open it. Whether this means scheduling a task, making a phone call, or replying with a brief message, taking care of the email immediately can help to maintain productivity. And remember, you should never treat deleted emails as its own folder.

Inspiration for this post came from “The Path to Emptying Your Inbox,” by Gwen Bortner.


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Managing Markdowns

Markdowns

Hesitant to markdown your products? Check out these best practices to know when and why you should mark those prices down.

Rule of thumb

The second sales drop on a product is the exact time you should lower its price. Customers vote on your products early, but will often wait until a better price becomes available. That’s why the timing of the first markdown is critical. Luckily, this first markdown can also have the smallest change in price (since customers will already have their eyes on it).

If markdowns are difficult for your business because you have an emotional attachment to the product, try viewing products as a pile of cash. That can help turn a subjective opinion into something more objective and help your profit margins.

Timing

Timing is another important factor. Some businesses markdown products at 60, 90, and 120 day increments.

Another way to look at markdown timing is with seasonal products. For instance, Halloween decorations aren’t full price at Christmas time. On the same page, marking down Halloween decorations for the first time a week before the holiday is just as wasteful. Customers will get better deals at other stores and this line of thought will hurt your return.

Managing inventory

Markdowns and inventory turnover are directly correlated. A lower inventory turnover means more markdowns. This helps to keep new, fresh, and better looking products in your store.

Placement

Items on sale should be placed at the front of your store, and items on clearance should be at the back. This doesn’t mean that the displays should be sloppy, though the same amount of time and care should be placed on all of your products.

What is your store’s policy for marking down products? Comment your best practices below.


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How your craft helps your store

craft

When work on your craft weans your business also suffers. Finding the time, money, and support to stay up to date on your craft can prove a difficult challenge.

Read on to discover ways to stay in the game, and how your craft helps your business too.

Time

How can we find the time to work on what we love? We get it, some days it’s easiest to come home, make dinner, and turn on the TV. You’re not alone in wanting to kick back. Try some of these hacks used by busy mothers and quilt shop owners to find the time to work on the hobby you love.

Enlist help. Consider working on something the entire family can join in on. Or, if you’d rather work on a project with people your own age, plan a retreat for your friends to work on a project with you.

If a schedule is something you need, write in time in your planner to work on your hobby just like you would a haircut or a meeting. Or, if your day is full of interruptions, put your quilt blocks in a room you’re always in. Perhaps the kitchen table, to pick up and work on while you’re making coffee or waiting for someone to arrive.

Money

Another major barrier to working on your craft is money. If some projects feel like they’re too expensive, think about it this way. If you make something fabulous with the most expensive products and hang it in your store, your store will benefit too. Customers will ask questions about what you used and will buy those products so their project can look as great as yours.

Support

Remember, it’s ok to ask for help. If you miss working on your craft, ask your spouse to help with child care one weekend afternoon. If you have a birthday or holiday coming up, consider asking for supplies or a retreat as a gift so you can continue your work. Everyone likes to see someone in their life thrive, and oftentimes asking for help is the easiest way to get there.

Inspiration for this blog post came from “Don’t be a hypocrite” by Beth Montpas published in the June 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


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Meaningful Social Connections

Meaningful social content

It seems like more and more people these days are doing a “social media detox.”

Social media companies are even getting rid of something known as “vanity metrics.” Take Instagram, who hasn’t shown the likes on photos since 2019.

Social media can be an effective tool to establish trust with your customers. These are some ways you can create meaningful content on your platforms.

All of the social medias

Your business likely has a variety of social media accounts. If you ever wondered why you have and maintain so many, think about it as a service to your customer.

On the flip side, if all of your focus is on Twitter, but your customer base checks Facebook twice as much, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect.

Knowing what social media platforms your customer base uses and frequents can help you to organize your social media schedule.

For loyal customers who connect more frequently, think email. If you’re communicating more frequently than that, consider creating a Slack channel to stay in touch.

Creating meaningful content

Creating meaningful content will help you to stand out of the crowd. If every post feels from the outside like just another way to complete a sale, you’re making your customer feel left out. The worst case scenario may even happen; they hit the “unfollow” button.

User generated content (content created by people using your platform) is a great way to create meaning. Start by encouraging your employees to post videos or photos on their social media, and share that on your company’s pages.

Stories are also a great way to experiment with what people do and don’t want to see. Consider posting stories that do well permanently, or revamping campaigns that aren’t getting much interaction.

The world of social is always changing, and so are your customers. Viewing social media as another touchpoint to communicate with your community will show in whatever content you decide to publish.

Inspiration for this post came from “Social Media’s Changing World” by Sommer Leigh published in the June 2020 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


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YouTube and Your Store

YouTube and Your Store

Do you ever worry about the future of the quilting industry? Thanks to the power of social media and the internet, there is concrete evidence that the craft of quilting isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Take Laura Coia’s YouTube channel Sewveryeasy for example. Laura’s channel has over 325,000 subscribers and over 31,000,000 views. If video editing isn’t your forte, here’s how your quilt shop can utilize Laura’s work.

How you can use YouTube videos

The best part about YouTube is that it’s free and accessible for everyone to use. In addition to that, Laura’s videos provide bite-sized pieces of education that make it easy for any quilter to consume.

Laura comes out with two videos each week. If you want to add videos to your social media feed, consider linking to Laura’s videos in your posts or newsletter.

To help legitimize certain products in your store, consider adding a sign that says “as seen on YouTube – SewVeryEasy” next to products featured in Laura’s videos.

Remote classes can be even easier too; use and pause Laura’s videos during a Facebook live event to complete a project alongside your customer base.

The best part about Sewveryeasy is that Laura’s videos provide a third-party opinion with no skin in the game. Referring to Laura’s videos can help reaffirm transparency with your customer so you can avoid making them feel like just another sale.

Stay tuned next week to find out more about the Power of Video, an article by Sommer Leigh featured in the August 2020 edition of American Quilt Retailer.

Inspiration for this post came from Ivo Coia. Visit their YouTube channel or Facebook page for more information.


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