Printwear 2016 Shop Tune-Up: Day Four

Follow Erich Campbell in a five-part series as he consults with Regina Cassidy of It Takes a Stitch in the 2016 Printwear Shop Tune-Up. 

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Day Four: Erich

We started the day by reviewing Regina’s social media profiles and talking about accountability and accountability groups. Promising something publicly with a group of people who can mutually check in on each other, provide support, and regularly meet to enhance and motivate personal and business growth is important for all business owners, especially for small, home-based ones.

We briefly discussed that you design holistically and for the needs of your customer, thinking of yourself as a partner in their endeavors, and I extended that to include social sharing. If you share a photo of a great garment online, link to the customer’s business, group, or event that spawned the garment and give them a pat on the back for their part in the process. This promotes their interests and your work while giving both parties greater visibility to the public. If people see that you care and that you relate to them, you can be their “friend in the business.”

We talked a bit about being where your customers are, and with some stats in hand, I let Regina know that it’s important to have your site optimized for mobile devices. Many of us in the industry are not there yet, but much of her traffic is coming from mobile, so I explained that it should be part of her to-do list as she updates her website.

At this point in the day, Regina and I decided to head out for a whirlwind tour of the National Mall. Regina was incredibly sweet to drive me out to see the sights. Part of the reason I thought this was such a good idea is that while I’m all about making sure creative people understand the business side of what we do, you can go to the well of ideas and energy too often and empty your reservoir. It’s good to take a break and engage in some non-work conversation.

When we returned, it was time for social media automation to make it easier for Regina to post to her various profiles at once. We were able to devise a solution that started with Instagram and filed her images to specific boards on Pinterest as delineated by a very searchable set of hashtags. For example, when Regina Instagrams a picture of a veil monogram and tags it #bridal, that picture, with all of its description intact, shows up on her Bridal board on the It Takes a Stitch Pinterest page. The combination of curation and automation made for another win-win situation, since Regina could still maintain her focus on her audience while saving some labor. I pointed out that the key to social interactions is being responsive. You can automate if you interact when and where the customer needs you. The “set it and forget it” style of automation makes you look fake, and is a total non-starter.

With our social media talk well in hand, we wrapped to head out to our “Tune-Up Meetup.” I had put forward the idea of meeting with local embroiderers when we first started setting up the Tune-Up schedule, and Regina planned this out by reserving a large table at a local pizzeria and inviting people from a few social media groups of which we are both a part. In the end, we had about 13 embroiderers and friends around the table who had never met, despite being in close quarters.

Day Four: It Takes a Stitch

The morning started as usual with questions generated from my “homework” from the night before.

We talked about accountability groups for motivating and completing creative projects. I learned the most digitizing in a group of home embroiderers back in 2000-2002. The monthly lessons by the group leader and the incentive to receive everyone’s designs if you submitted the monthly challenge was a very successful way to learn. I’ve been wondering if I needed something like that now.  In the end, I think my Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest posts will serve that purpose for the time being. Plus, I don’t need any more work coordinating a group!

Erich reminded me to regularly give positive feedback to people who reach out and support me in social media circles. Public positive feedback! This doesn’t sound hard or different, except for the new venue for business talk. I think I can do this.

We then took my new business Pinterest page and automated some exchanges with free software (IFTTT.com) that makes posting over various platforms easy and selective. We also touched on BUFFER.com, Facebook Live, and YouTube for later along the road. We “toured” the back end of WordPress as a possible place for my new website after the new logo/branding work is done as well.

Instead of working right through lunch today, we took a break and did a little sightseeing in D.C. This was Erich’s first trip to D.C.!

We ended the day with a networking dinner at Pizzeria Orzo. A group of embroiderers and some spouses came. All the folks had small shops and it was fun and nonstop shop talk. I only wish that I could have been a part of all the conversations going on at the table. 

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Printwear 2016 Shop Tune-Up

Follow this year's Tune-Up, featuring Printwear columnist Erich Campbell and Regina Cassidy, owner of It Takes a Stitch. 

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