Fast Forward - December 2016
Back To School
Five Minutes With Lisa Terry, SanMar Communications Manager
Suppliers spend every day getting up close and personal with promotional products, so when it comes to generating ideas for how to use those products, this segment of the industry can be a gold mine for ideas. SanMar has mined its own knowledge to create SanMar U, an online sales ‘school’ to help distributor clients make the most of the supplier’s apparel offerings, and Communications Manager Lisa Terry has been at the forefront of getting SanMar U up and running.
PPB What conversations or events led to the development of SanMar U? Who are your target audiences?
Terry SanMar has been wanting to create an educational website for customers for a few years. The idea stemmed from conversations with customers and their need for shareable, easy-to-access information about apparel, trends, product education and decoration. SanMar U is meant not only to help educate those new to apparel but also to give decorators and salespeople in the industry the expert knowledge and inspiration they need to best help their clients.
PPB How did you begin promoting SanMar U to your audiences and team, and what has been the response so far?
Terry We quietly launched SanMar U this past spring through mailings and emails to our customers. We have also worked with our internal training team to educate our own sales team about how the site can help them and their customers. So far, the response has been great. People appreciate the variety of content and the ease of sharing the blog, videos, trend reports, webcasts and case studies. They also appreciate that we are developing content for both new and seasoned people in our industry.
PPB Have you made any adjustments or modifications to the program, or are you planning any changes, based on feedback?
Terry SanMar U is definitely evolving. We take the feedback we receive to heart and are working to develop more content as quickly as we can. Currently, we’re working on expanding the information in our Decoration section—look for more videos, logo placement charts and more for that. We’re also looking at the possibility of creating courses for those who need to train new staff. There’s a lot we want to do!
PPB What resources (people or otherwise) have you relied upon to develop the content for SanMar U?
Terry We rely a lot on the experts we have here at SanMar. From our trend experts and product designers to our internal training and decorator relations teams. It is definitely a team effort to create content for the site. We are also working with partners like Stahls’ ID to help us cover their areas of expertise.
PPB Are you aware of any other resources in the industry like SanMar U?
Terry To my knowledge, SanMar U is unique in the industry. There are some really good sites out there that speak to certain decoration techniques and some great publications that cover specific aspects of the industry, but nothing quite like SanMar U: a one-stop-shop for apparel-related information.
PPB If another supplier is interested in following your lead to create education resources for its clients, what best practices or do’s and don’ts could you recommend?
Terry The best thing you can do is talk with your customers and ask them what they want and start with that. You may think that you know what your customers need, but you may be surprised what you find when you start talking with them—I know that I was. The worst thing you could do is hurry to create a resource just to have one. Take the time necessary to create something that both you and your customers can be proud of.
Engineer Your Behavior To Ensure Success
MIT mentor shares six ways to achieve entrepreneurial goals
When eight out of 10 businesses are failing within the first year, and 96 percent are doomed to close within a decade, the idea of building a lasting venture can seem daunting to many entrepreneurs. But Inga Stasiulionyte, a mentor at the MIT Global Entrepreneurship boot camp, has a handful of tips for business owners who aim for longevity, all focused on developing behaviors that will lead to success
1. Challenge Everything You Know.
Want to think outside the box? Hack your knowledge base. Challenging what we know, why we do things and how we do them is at the core of what drives change and innovation, says Stasiulionyte. But hacking isn’t about flying in blind or working from gut instinct. You’ve got to understand the rules by which systems and businesses have been built in order to break them.
- Condense Your Timeline For Achieving Goals.
You may have been taught that life is a marathon, not a sprint. But when it’s time to crank out a new idea or product, it behooves you to put everything you’ve got into reaching or completing a goal successfully in a short amount of time. At the elite level, says Stasiulionyte, quality and speed exist side by side rather than working against one another. To achieve success in a set amount of time, you must master your thoughts, actions, discipline and planning.
- Collaborate With Experts.
To achieve the best, you must work with the best. Finding subject matter experts and field experts helps you challenge your limits as you learn how they break through theirs. Collaborate on a project that may not be in your wheelhouse, and you’ll likely discover hacks and strategies that can be applied to your own challenges and goals by watching others address their own.
- Work On Your Weaknesses.
Pushing your limits and learning new behaviors is one way to strengthen personal and professional weaknesses. Put effort into mastering the skills you’ve never been “good” at. If selling is your strength but budgets are your weakness, take a finance class. Every skill can use a tune-up, and exercising weak muscles only helps strong muscles get stronger.
- Pursue Your Purpose.
Do you take a goal-oriented approach to your professional and personal endeavors? Shift your focus to purpose first, and you may see the solutions fall into place. Ask yourself why you’re spending every waking hour bringing an idea to fruition, and you’ll start to see how it can best be achieved. Ask yourself why you only take one hour a week to exercise or tune into nature, and you may discover how to make the most of that time.
- Test Every Idea.
An idea is only profitable if it becomes a marketable, usable product or service. To ensure ideas come to fruition, you’ve got to test them out in the real world—your customers and your market. If audiences don’t respond well, take the idea back to the drawing board.
Try Before You Buy
Sample subscriptions build yarn makers’ business
We love free samples, and we love getting them on the regular. In the vein of beauty-sample subscription companies like Ipsy and BirchBox, a couple of former software engineers have bolstered a loyal following for their online yarn business by shipping samples and patterns on a prepaid subscription basis.
For $10 a month, subscribers receive Beanie Bags from Reno, Nevada-based Jimmy Beans Wool that contain curated samples of yarns and expert tips as well as knitting notions or accessories. In addition to gaining new customers, the subscription service has allowed Laura and Doug Zander, the owners of Jimmy Beans Wool, to collect valuable data on consumer preferences that help them curate customer-centric samples.
Of course, with growth comes growing pains. Doug Zander was tasked with developing software to manage customer data and employees worked overtime to fill subscription orders, but the result has been a steadily growing bottom line. Jimmy Beans also has embraced social media marketing, relying heavily on Instagram and on Facebook advertising. The company won a Facebook advertising award in the Small Business category this year for its work on a promotion for the 2016 movie Eddie the Eagle.
Just Dropping In
Uber sends drones into Mexico City for a promotional fly-by
How do you get the attention of solo drivers in a smog-filled metropolis? Drop a drone in their laps—or at least, in the case of Uber, into the air right over traffic. In October, the ride-sharing company flew drones into Mexico City traffic (the Central American city is the company’s busiest location) holding signs that said, “Are you going alone? For that reason you’ll never see the volcanoes #UberPOOL.”
The note is a subtle dig at the smog created by traffic congestion, which obscures the view of neighboring volcano Popocatépetl, and urges drivers to instead take advantage of the company’s carpooling service.
The drones themselves were used as a one-time stunt, and the company did not measure the results, but UberPOOL is the latest offering. Uber has previously offered UberYacht and UberChopper, and there are whispers of plans to launch UberBalloon in China. Up, up and away!
Safe And Sound
New app lets users post emergency notifications, find help and stay safe.
Mobile technology might have its drawbacks, such as taking our attention from the world around us, but it can also be a lifesaver. A new, free app called MyPanda is latching onto the latter by allowing users to not only report and identify the location of suspicious or dangerous activity, but it also allows them to locate nearby law enforcement agencies and notify friends and family via social media once they are in a safe location.
MyPanda founders Cyril and Guillaume Assentio worked with a team of researchers and computer engineers for a year and a half to develop an app that would provide single-click access to local police, quick routes to safety, news updates and the ability to report and respond to suspicious activity. MyPanda was launched in June and is available for both Apple and Android devices. It is usable in the world’s largest cities, including New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and others.