As I mentioned yesterday, there can be a great deal of value in attending a trade show. One of the greatest values is the education you can receive from a show. Every time we go to a show, even though I usually attend as an exhibitor, I learn something, either from someone visiting our booth or from taking the time to talk to another vendor. The more I learn, the more valuable I am to my company and the better able I am to help our customers. That same equation applies to all of you.
Say, for instance, that you’re selling sublimation services in your shop. You can sell those services better if you’re fully aware of the capability of your machines. If you have a printer which only handles 8 1/2 x 11 paper, you don’t want to promise to print a 13 x 19 design. If your heat press is only capable of doing flat goods, you probably don’t want to promise to get an order of mugs out by next Tuesday. Knowing what your equipment can do and how fast it can do it can save you a lot of stress and allow you to provide timely service to your customers.
As another example, let’s suppose a customer comes to you looking for a great Christmas gift to commemorate the anniversary celebration of a local landmark. The customer doesn’t want shirts or hats, but rather something that people will display and keep as a memento of the occasion. If you’re conversant with the type of products that can be sublimated, you could offer key chains, or ornaments, or jewelry/keepsake boxes. New sublimation blanks are entering the market every day. Keeping current with your favorite vendor web sites and keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry will help insure that you have the right product available when your potential customer walks in the door with a question.
Learning and understanding the latest techniques is another way to provide the best service to your customers. Sawgrass Ink provides a variety of educational seminars and webinars that will help you learn the latest techniques for sublimation, and can also teach you how to enter various markets. Forums like T-shirt Forums or the Apparel Decorators Forum are a great place to ask questions and get tips and help in mastering the latest sublimation processes. Trade shows also generally offer classes and seminars on a variety of topics, so you can learn a new discipline from the ground up.
Of course, you should also stay current with the blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite suppliers. These social media venues are a great place to ask questions and get answers in real time. They also tend to be the places where announcements about new products, new services, and special offers are made. Staying current will allow you to be the first to pass the latest trend or the greatest savings along to your customers.
What it all comes down to is this: the more you know the better able you will be to provide service and support to your customers. You will also be more aware of all the options available to you, which gives you more chances to make a sale. Time spent learning is never time wasted, and it can often translate into increased revenue.