Posts Tagged ‘Customer Engagement’

Building Your Kits Program, Step By Step

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, MacPherson’s Account Manager

liana Martinez assembles a beginning drawing kit. She is the main kit builder in our Reno distribution center, and also works to pick everyday orders.

In my time as a buyer and retail manager, before I came to MacPherson’s, a dedicated member of our retail team actively worked on building and maintaining kit business for at least five months out of every year. From reaching out to teachers and following-up, and following-up…and following-up, to picking brands and price points for professors unfamiliar with the options available, to ordering and finding appropriate replacement items, to assembling, spot checking and labeling kits, to distributing them to students and their parents unfamiliar with the uses or costs of materials…it’s tough work. With every kit success comes many (many) failed attempts at cultivating that business. Based on my experience, I have compiled a list of best practices for building and maintaining your kit business.

Your Value As An Expert

First, remember that you are a valuable resource. Your staff is knowledgeable, you have access to a breadth of materials, a familiarity with the pros and cons of different brands and a store full of inspiration and opportunity. Approach your conversations with confidence: you are an expert who can provide a professor’s students with the tools for success, not just for a semester but for their entire college careers, and after graduation as well.

Pitching The Kit

You’ve given yourself a pep talk, identified a target and you are ready to dive in. Now what?

Establish A Connection

  • In the store. If a professor is in store, have a generic completed kit handy by the register that you can pull out and show off, or have displayed behind the register. Gauge their interest and follow up right away, when their interest is piqued.
  • Reach out to every professor you can on an infrequent but consistent basis. A simple message or “friendly hello” explaining that you’d like to help them ensure their students have what they need in class can mean success down the road. Be sure to avoid busy academic times like midterms or finals while communicating.
  • On their turf. Connect with the art department chair and ask to attend an upcoming staff meeting to introduce yourself. Bring samples, goodie bags, your business card and recent sales flyer. Send a heartfelt thank you note for the invitation and follow up on a consistent yet appropriate basis. If you are unable to make a connection, consider a mailing to each professor’s physical inbox. Be careful to avoid spamming email inboxes, as a lot of university e-mail systems have a spam block in place, you can blacklist yourself without even realizing it.
    • Tip: Share our kit flyer with your professors!
    • Don’t be discouraged: Some universities have established connections and required resources to get their students supplies—this information is a gift. You can put your energy elsewhere.
  • Create your own opportunity. A professor who has never heard of your store has no reason to entrust their students to you. Consider hosting an in-store “teacher appreciation event” with goodie bags, try-it stations of the most common kit items, and even wine. Attend school fairs and create a “class-list database” in store by requesting course materials lists from local schools. Collecting class lists prior to the semester is not only a great way to ensure you are properly stocked, it will add value to students shopping with you for the first time; you already know what they need, and this knowledge allows you to provide an exact kit quote to that professor for an upcoming semester.
    • Curious about the most common kit items? We’ve compiled the top kit items coming out of our DCs on this list.

Keep The Conversation Going

  • Authentic and personalized. It is very easy to identify mass-emails—which can be a turn-off. Be sure to personalize your communications, do your homework; check for course lists and materials lists on the school’s website, remember what materials they’ve used in previous semesters or send them a “new product” list relevant to their classes.
    • Foster a sense of community throughout the year by going to, or sending your staff to, student and professor art shows at your local universities—artists supporting artists!
  • Short, sweet and to the point: make the process as easy as possible. In my experience art professors hate their email. They neglect it and sometimes ignore it completely. Providing a two- or three-step solution from expressing interest, in person or online, to ordering a kit will make everyone’s lives easier.
    • If the professor knows what courses they are teaching, tell them “All we need is your course materials list, and we’ll get back to you with a quote.” If they don’t yet have their courses set or their materials list, provide them with a generic Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, etc kit worksheet—digital or hard copy—and ask them to indicate brands or items they’d like to add or remove.
    • Send a quote with suggested replacement items to either drive up the quality or drive down the cost. Because this conversation is often COST motivated, keep your willingness to support their students’ financial needs at the forefront of this conversation.
    • Confirm the date that materials are needed by, the number of students, and provide the professor with a handout that directs their students to your store with a clearly labeled materials list complete with pricing and total cost.
      • Tip: When ordering your kits, allow yourself a week long window before classes begin to account for any last minute changes from your professor or an adjunct suddenly assigned to this course.
  • Timely. In today’s world of instant gratification, it is inappropriate to have more than 24 hours go by without a response to an inquiry. Always return a quote within 24 hours of receiving a list; no exceptions. Same goes for delivering kits. Stay in communication with the professor or department chair on any and all delays. If you have a smaller staff, consider assigning a senior staff member this task as a priority before the BTS season begins.

It is easy to get a quote of your cost and kit MSRP through the Kit Center on MacPhersonArt.com. If you have questions on using this tool, reach out to your account manager.

Forward-Thinking Sales Strategies

  • Be cost friendly. Consider adding a blanket discount to all kit items—even 30-40% off MSRP. You may not turn a huge profit on all items in the kit, but gaining the business and getting students in your store should be a goal. There is always the opportunity for impulse buys or add-on items along with the kit purchase.
  • Expand your community. Be sure to include any relevant marketing material, upcoming sales or classes, a coupon, or a freebie into your kits—you’re creating a customer for possibly years to come, so start off on the right foot.

Questions? Reach out to your account manager, and we’ll be happy to help you come up with a gameplan.

Products By Personality: Customer Gift Guide

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, MacPherson’s Account Manager & Catherine Monahon, MacPherson’s Copywriter

The classic question this time of year: “My cousin/sister-in-law/friend/neighbor is an artist, what should I get them?” Gifters may not be familiar with the supplies and mediums their giftee prefers; providing an endcap or featured table in the form of a “Gift Guide” helps point customers in the right direction—without needing a staff member to walk them through the entire world of art supplies in three minutes. In an effort to encourage and inspire, we’ve created a selection of products for five creative personalities your customers might be shopping for: The Dedicated Artist, The DIY Crafter, The Young Creative, The Organizer and The Traveler. Peruse these profiles and consider putting together an end table or countertop display to spotlight the best products for each archetype.

The Dedicated Artist

The first personality to come to mind is the most difficult to shop for—the dedicated artist who knows what they like, has a studio, and has been creating for some time.

If you offer classes and workshops, let customers know that they can gift someone a class.

First, make sure your class titles are as engaging as possible—click here for some helpful titling tips inspired by Artisan Expo. Offer a “class in a box” with a festively designed schedule of upcoming classes and a helpful note pointing out where the gift-receiver can find more classes online. Wrap it in a paper mache box tied with ribbon for extra effect.

Gift cards are another valuable gift that will drive traffic to your store—keep them on display to remind customers they don’t have to do all the legwork. If you’re able, offer to gift-wrap the card in a creative way like in a handmade envelope or small box with tissue—these small gestures matter.

For customers set on purchasing a gift, try these go-to products:

Handy storage for brushes or pencils:

Fine paint sets:

Inspirational books:

The DIY Junkie / Crafter

This person is someone who revels in custom furniture, homemade tea cozies or upcycling thrift store treasures. They are all about transforming the ordinary and adding artistic flair to just about anything. Here are some all-purpose goodies every DIYer will appreciate as well as some fun, whimsical supplies for crafters of all ages and mediums:

Fun surfaces:

For the lovers of color:

Tying it all together:

Add to their library or coffee table:

The Young Creative

Self-expression is an important outlet for all ages, especially for kids who fall into the broad category of “adolescent.” Family members may be unsure of what exactly to get the teens and tweens in their lives. Art supplies are empowering; consider tools for organizing their own schedules, trendy items or sets that encourage self expression:

A sketchbook they can bring anywhere:

Trending sets for exploring and expressing:

Creative books for inspiration:

The Organizer

For the person in your customer’s life who is wearing multiple hats, juggling responsibilities and in love with color-coding. Maybe they are an entrepreneur, a college student or a parent. Whatever the case, their personality is organized, forward-thinking and creative. Here are some great products for the organizational powerhouse:

A proper journal to keep everything in line:

Fun pens to stay on point

Tools for organizing a bullet journal in style:

The Traveler

For that friend or family member who is always scoping out flights, plotting a road trip or scheming the best way to see all the National Parks in one go. Travel-friendly art supplies are thoughtful gifts that invite people to share their passion with others, whether they are an artist on the go or an everyday observer:

The right sketchbook:

Pocket-sized treats:

Pack it in, pack it out:

I Saw The Sign

If you don’t have the space for a display or designated endcap, create signage guiding your customer through each personality. For instance, “I am an acrylic painter, I like textured surfaces, painting knives and different kinds of expressive brushes,” “As an artist with a studio, I probably already have <insert item of your choice>, but would be excited by a new or a gift card!” Have your staff members share their mediums and provide a “wishlist” that your customers can use as a guide. Get creative!

Inktober For Everyone!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

In 2009, illustrator Jake Parker set out to challenge himself for the month of October: create a work of art in pen and ink each day, and share it online. He dubbed it with the catchy name “Inktober” and got to work. Nearly ten years later, tens of thousands of artists are a part of the Inktober community. 31 drawings in 31 days, all under the hashtag “#inktober,” the artwork spans from fantastical to realistic, lettering to abstract. As long as it’s ink, it qualifies. Each day of #Inktober has a corresponding prompt to tackle creative blocks; see the list here for inspiration.

Inktober in Your Store

While Inktober reminds professionals to loosen up and have fun with their craft, it also challenges beginners and enthusiasts to push themselves and improve. It is a great opportunity for you to engage with customers who use pen and ink or those who would like to challenge themselves in new ways. So what supplies are your customers craving?

We’ve compiled a list of supplies you can feature in September to get your community excited for October 1st! In addition to featuring ink related products, you can also host in store competitions, staff artwork or have a gallery showing in November featuring the work of local Inktober artists.

Collaboration

Jake Parker, the founder of Inktober, is professional illustrator who has helped build the Inktober community over the years. If you would like to use the Inktober logo for promotions, please connect with Jake directly. He is open to collaboration; run an idea by him if you’d like to go beyond an endcap or demo and do Inktober events, gallery openings and more. He also offers online classes if your customers are interested. Please contact him and tag him in social media posts with #inktober @jakeparker.

Beyond October…

Monthly challenges have gained popularity in recent years and are a great way to engage with customers or showcase specific products. Check out Dynovember, March of the Robots or Sketch a Day May to learn more about what future months hold!

Powerful Engagement Tools: Art Demos Videos from Strathmore

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

When engaging with customers and artists, well-curated content and interactive video are the king and queen contenders. Strathmore is excited to share 3 new art demo videos made by professional artists Minnie Small, Lena Danya, and Graham Smith. These three artists have earned the title of influencer – someone who has access to a large audience and impacts purchasing decisions by sheer virtue of their authenticity. The best part? You are free to download these videos and use them in your stores, on your website and on your social media channels. This is a royal lineup of content and video that will drive engagement and ultimately help sell products.

The How and The Why:  Engagement with Content and Video

Good content is the backbone of driving interaction with your customers in today’s online and social world. Inviting, informative content helps answer questions, influences purchase decisions, gets people in the door, encourages loyalty, opens dialogue and sells products. You can never share enough relevant, quality content!

If content is king, video is its majestic queen. In the last couple years, video has become the powerful driver of relevant, engaging content:

  • The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video versus 10% when they read it in text form
  • Businesses who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users
  • 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social videos
  • Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined

(Source: Word Stream)

Overview of New Strathmore Videos & How To Utilize Them

Strathmore collaborated with professional artists who are also major social media influencers to create stunning demos on 3 of our newest papers.

1.) Toned Blue Mixed Media Demo With Artist Minnie Small

Download Video Here 

Minnie is a professional artist with over 267,000 YouTube Subscribers (Semi Skimmed Min) and 55,000 Instagram followers (@semiskimmedmin). She used gouache, colored pencils and white gel pen on the Toned Blue paper to show what it can do.

About the Paper

400 Series Toned Mixed Media

Paper Weight: 184 lb. (300 g/m2)
Surface: Medium

This heavyweight mixed media paper in NEW steel blue, warm tan and cool gray is toned specifically for use with light and dark media. It also combines characteristics of a watercolor paper and the finish of a drawing sheet, creating a paper that performs well with all wet and dry media.

Perfect for finished artwork, it is the perfect hybrid of two of our most loved papers: 400 Series Toned Sketch and 400 Series Mixed Media. These papers are 100% recycled with 30% PCW, acid free and proudly made in the USA.

All Toned Mixed Media papers are available in glue bound pads in the following sizes:

  • 6″ x 8″ (SM462-406 Blue, SM462-206 Tan, SM462-306 Gray)
  • 9″ x 12″ (SM462-409 Blue, SM462-209 Tan, SM462-309 Gray)
  • 11″ x 14″ (SM462-411 Blue, SM462-211 Tan, SM462-311 Gray)
  • 18″ x 24″ (SM462-418 Blue, SM462-218 Tan, SM462-318 Gray)

2.) Oil Painting Paper Demo With Lena Danya


Download Video Here

Lena is an oil painter with 368,000 YouTube subscribers (Lena Danya Art) where she posts art demos, time lapses and tutorials. She also has 80,000 Instagram followers (@lenadanya) and is a great resource and inspiration for oil painters.  Lena creates a beautiful fine art portrait on the 400 Series Oil Painting paper and shows her process along with the features of the paper.

About the paper

400 Series Oil Painting

Paper weight: 215lb (350g/m2)
Surface: Linen texture

Strathmore’s new 400 Series Oil Painting paper in pads provides artists with a convenient alternative to canvases and boards. It is perfect for use with oil paints or oil pastels, with no gesso is required to prevent oil saturation. The paper is pre-primed in the manufacturing process so you can simply tear out a sheet and start painting. The linen surface mimics canvas with the right texture to help blend and hold layers of paint. Ideal for finished art pieces.

Available in:

3.) Heavyweight Mixed Media With Graham Smith


Download Video Here

Graham is a professional illustrator with over 20 years of experience in creating images for clients like Blue Moon Brewing Company, Boston Globe, Sony, Worth Magazine, General Mills and Levi Strauss & Co. He delivers a knockout piece on the Heavyweight Mixed Media paper, showing what this sheet can do.

About the paper:

500 Series Heavyweight Mixed Media

Paper weight: 350lb (570gsm), 3 ply
Surface: Vellum

Strathmore’s super durable, extra heavyweight 3-ply Mixed Media is a 100% cotton surface is internally sized for wet media and has a durable vellum finish for drawing techniques. It is excellent for watercolor, gouache, acrylic, graphite, pen and ink, colored pencil, marker, pastel and collage. It is archival, lignin free and made in the USA.

Available in 3 pad sizes with glue binding for clean and easy sheet removal:

  • 6” x 8” (SM584-6)
  • 9” x 12” (SM584-9)
  • 11” x 14” (SM584-11)

More Tools Available on Strathmore’s Website

Take advantage of this free content by adding it to your website and social media channels. You can also find more videos and lifestyle imagery to use for free in the Retailer and Distributor section of our website.

New Video Details Unique Product Application from GOLDEN

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Encaustic painting is popular, but somewhat complicated to set up. Achieve the look of Encaustics using GOLDEN Matte Gels and Mediums – no heating, fusing or waxy clean up necessary. Share this new video with your customers or follow along to create an in-store demo! Learn how with this new video in the Video Library. More videos coming soon, so please check back!

Achieving an encaustic look with Golden Matte Mediums from Golden Artist Colors on Vimeo.

New Videos Detail New Products from GOLDEN

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

This year GOLDEN has launched several new products and is excited to share some new videos with you! Four new videos have been added to the Video Library that your customers might find interesting and valuable. You can find them here and be sure to share. More videos coming soon, so please check back often!

Williamsburg New Colors

NEW COLORS from Williamsburg! from Golden Artist Colors on Vimeo.

Cobalt Teal

The Return of Genuine Cobalt Teal from Golden Artist Colors on Vimeo.

Benzimidazolone Yellow

NEW Benzimidazalone Yellows from Golden from Golden Artist Colors on Vimeo.

Light Value Colors

7 New Golden Heavy Body Light Color Values from Golden Artist Colors on Vimeo.

New Support Guide from GOLDEN!

GOLDEN offers a variety of items to help retailers support sales of GOLDEN Acrylics, educate customers and train staff. Our new Support Catalog lists these items with photos and descriptions, making it easy to select the items you need. The Catalog includes images and descriptions of POP Blades and Banners, Demonstration Kits, Product Guides and Literature, Merchandising Components and more.

The support catalog is available digitally as a PDF and can be downloaded from Marketplace.
Visit marketplace.goldenpaints.com/

Log in and navigate to the Documents and Media section. Click on the Information & Forms folder, then the Support Requests folder. The support catalog and order form are in the Golden folder.

If you don’t have a Marketplace user name and password, enter the New User information to set up an account.