How to Leave a Lasting Impression with Your Customers

How to Leave a Lasting Impression with Your Customers

Tips to help you increase visibility with your customers and win more business.

Customer A:  

I need to order some signs. It’s actually a large order of double-sided 4-color process, corrugated signs and stakes. I was at the Midwest Brewers Show last month and I know I met someone there who sells signs. Who was that? I can’t remember her name. Oh well, I guess I’ll just do a google search of sign shops and find the one closest to me. 

Distributor:  

What?? No!!! This is not how it’s supposed to go. This customer is supposed to remember that they met ME because WE had great conversation at that Midwest Brewers Show and made a real connection. Now they’re going down the road to Joe’s Sign Shop to have their signs printed and I am a distant memory.

Is this a bad dream? Maybe. Could this happen to you? Definitely. What can you do to make sure this bad dream doesn’t become reality? Read on.

Let’s face it – there are a lot of people who do what you do. Sign shops, embroiders, printers, trophy shops – your customers have plenty of choices when it comes to finding someone to fulfill their printing and promotional needs. How do you compete? What can you do to stand out in the crowd? 

Leave a lasting impression. It’s a simple sentence but it has big implications. You leave a lasting impression and Customer A’s corrugated sign order comes your way, not Joe’s. And when Customer A needs to place a decal order next month, they come to you. The next month it’s their t-shirt order, and the next month…….you get the picture.

Let’s try this again, this time from the Distributor view.

Distributor:  

I’m at the Midwest Brewers Show and I meet a potential customer. We have great conversation and make a connection. I immediately ask for the customers’ business card. I use my lead retrieval software (or just a pen and paper) to jot down what we talked about. When I get back to the office, I enter them in my database. I will forever be connected to them now. 

I send an email thanking them for stopping by my booth. I include a coupon to use on a future order. I also include something useful for them to use like my digital brewery brochure (the one I got from Stouse and branded with my name). Now my customer can see what else I can help them with. 

I follow up on any to-do items from our conversation. 

I also look for their business on Facebook or Instagram or for their profile on LinkedIn. I connect with my customer there too. 

I do all of this in the first few days after meeting my customer. I’ve left a lasting impression that I can start to grow into a lasting relationship through targeted marketing, email campaigns, phone calls, great customer service and more. Customer A is now My Customer A and my bottom line is growing. 

Who knows, maybe they’ll refer Customer B to me too!

 

After surviving snow, sleet, rain, high winds, and even hail, the recent thunderstorms caused the staples to finally give way after close to five months of use.

How Long Will They Last – Glued Posters vs. Stapled Posters – UPDATE

Glued Posters vs. Stapled Posters

It was a dark and stormy night…  Two of them actually.  On Monday we saw rain and thunderstorms with winds up to 34 mph.  Wednesday had similar rain and thunderstorms.  This time the winds were 32 mph.  No we didn’t see Dorothy, Toto, or the flying monkeys.  Those of us who drive yellow brick roads of Kansas are used to this kind of weather.    But when you see the destruction for yourself…  when it hits this close to home…  it still breaks your heart.

Yesterday, an employee here at Stouse found a dead sign in the parking lot.  It was in a puddle of water.  Tears were shed as we gently lifted the poor sign up.  It held on for a long time.  It braved sleet, snow, multiple rain and thunderstorms, high winds and even hail.  The poor thing no doubt held on until the bitter end, when the last staple gave way.  My scientific analysis (with respect to real scientists) showed it lasted from we think it was December 15, 2015 until May 11, 2016.  It was just a few of days shy of 5 months.

After spending at least a day if not longer in a puddle of water this Stapled Poster took a very tough beating.

After spending at least a day if not longer in a puddle of water this Stapled Poster took a very tough beating.

Glued Posters vs. Stapled Posters

After surviving snow, sleet, rain, high winds, and even hail, the recent thunderstorms caused the staples to finally give way after close to five months of use.

Questions are being asked? Did we loosen the construction when we moved the frames and sign location just last week? Was this our own doing? Are we responsible for this loss?  …We think we ARE responsible, and by “we” the author of this blog is pointing to himself.  I moved the signs.  I may have caused the failure.  But just like that, I’m over it because there is positive news as well.

Glued Posters vs. Stapled Posters

This Glued Poster has seen it’s share of weather abuse, but it is still standing doing it’s job for almost five full months.

The Stapled Poster lasted a long time AND look at how well the Glued Poster looks!  It is kicking butt out there.  It doesn’t have a warm sheltered place to do its work.  It was in the same conditions.  It was moved just like the other sign. It’s tough and it is still going strong!  Remember, these are temporary signs great for the Political season, craft fairs, vacation bible schools, pancake breakfasts, etc.  (If we really want to go long term, I can pull out some Corrugated Signs.  They are super strong, look great and are built to last.)

With the Glued Poster still standing, our adventure continues.  I promise to keep you posted with how the Glued Sign performs.  Don’t cross your fingers and wish the sign luck.  I’m confident it will continue to do the job and have no worries, even if the Kansas weather isn’t pulling any punches.

Glued Poster vs. Stapled Posters

How Long Will They Last – Glued Posters vs. Stapled Posters

Back in the middle of December of 2015, our production team at Stouse gave me a sample of our new Glued Posters. I promptly went outside and along with a Stapled Poster, placed the two signs in the lawn outside my office. This was the start of my independent “test” to see how they would hold-up outside in “real world” weather conditions.

Two Signs in Lawn

The present “angled stance” was caused by a really big wind storm, but the two signs, Stapled Posters and Glued Posters, look great.

In the past four and a half months, our location near Kansas City as has seen snow, sleet, high winds, rain, and even hail. The two signs have held up incredibly well. In March, the individuals responsible for our grounds asked if I was going to take them down. I was asked, “How long is a typical yard sign used anyway?” That question got me thinking… How long could it last? I told him not to touch them; we were doing scientific analysis (my apologies and respect are of course given to all real scientists, but permit me to be grouped with them here in this project.) So, our journey continued.

Fast forward the calendar to May 2, 2016. While walking into the building one couldn’t help but notice the now very tall grass around the signs, and the noted angle of their stance. This “angle” was the result of some seriously strong storms that later produced tornadoes in the Midwest. No tornadoes were here, but we had some strong wind gusts of 60-70 mph. I decided to photograph their location and edges and move them to another area of our lot.  This would allow the grass to be mowed and the signs to remain undisturbed by man until they fail. We will photograph and log the whole journey.

Glued Poster in lawn

The glued edges held up nicely in the 4.5 months of weather, but the tall grass around the sign means it is time to find a new home so it wont be disturbed.

Stapled Poster in lawn

The Stapled Poster is showing just a bit of weathered wear on the edge, but like the Glued Poster, after snow, sleet, rain, hail and heavy wind it is ready to keep working.

 

Two signs in a new location

The two signs have been relocated to an area that will not be disturbed by grass mowing or people. They will stay here until we determine when they will finally fail.

At 4.5 months and counting I’m pleased with the results so far. Weather-resistant poster board is used to make both of these yard signs. (The stock is similar to paper milk carton containers.) Both products require no tools for installation. Simply slide the poster over the frame and, while holding the edges, insert the frame into the ground.

Signs inside for comparison

Because I am “playing scientist” I thought I would keep a “control” set of signs in my office safe from the harsh weather realities of being outside.

Stay tuned for more updates on the progress, or rather demise, of these two products.  As we enter the warmer months of Spring and Summer, I’m expecting the changes to be compared to watching paint dry.  Only in the case of paint, the drying process is much faster!

The Life and Times of a Stouse Order

…as told to Kelly Hickman

It seems like only yesterday I was a Stouse Quote, hoping to someday become a real live order and now here I am, a gorgeous 4-Color Process Bumper Sticker with a valuable coupon on my liner.

People constantly ask me how I got to where I am today. It is really very simple.

First I was emailed to Stouse along with my artwork. My art was evaluated and found to be vector artwork, perfect for any print method that Stouse might use. I was handed over to the Stouse Order Entry Department where I was logged into the Stouse system so that if anyone had a question or wanted to check up on me, I would be easy to find. This also gave me a reserved spot right at the front of the line so that another order that arrived at Stouse later than me couldn’t try to cut in front.

Stouse OrderI now had an official Stouse job number and went to an order entry expert to be entered. Ooops! That is when we discovered that my quantity was missing from my purchase order. No problem though! They whisked me away to an order specialist who called to get the information.

After we got this figured out, I went back to the same Stouse order entry expert to finish being entered, checked thoroughly and my acknowledgement sent. I immediately went to the Stouse Graphics Department to an artist who specialized in my type of product. I didn’t need a proof so the artist got me ready for production and sent me straight to the Stouse Order Layout Department. They looked me over and ganged me with a few other similar jobs so that we could all be printed at the same time. Stouse is always looking for ways to be more efficient so that orders move as quickly as possible. My gang was sent right out to production where the Stouse evening shift moved us to the press that would do the best job with our artwork.

We were printed that evening and were sent to the Stouse Finishing Department where we would have our liners slit for easy removal and each of us would be cut to our correct size. I was sad to see the other orders go their separate ways but at Stouse, there is no time wasted so we all went to the Stouse Packaging Department where we were counted and quality checked to make sure that all the instructions on our purchase orders were followed.

One of the jobs in my gang needed to be shrink wrapped in 100’s but I was OK with being bulk packed and went straight from being packaged to the Stouse Shipping Department. Very shortly after that I was on a truck and on my way to my destination with my own tracking number.

Now I can sit back and enjoy all the compliments and know that when it is time to order more, all we have to do is contact Stouse and say, “Exact repeat, please!”.

Price it Right: Using the Selling Price Calculator

Customers ask us all the time how much they should markup our products. Some customers use a standard 50% across the board, some markup more or less. We built the Selling Price Calculator so that you can easily see the margin potentials on your orders with Stouse. You can find the Selling Price Calculator located under the Sales Tools tab on our website.

How it works:

Simply enter the total net price (including optional services and freight) then click calculate. Five margin percentages will populate and calculated totals will appear showing you how much you will profit based on different margins.

selling price calculator

The margin you choose will be influenced by many variables. For example, history with the customer, the possibility of reorders, perhaps this is a new opportunity and a lower margin will help you get a foot in the door. Only you can determine what you need to make on a project, but we think our Selling Price Calculator is another great sales tool to help you make the most of each opportunity.

As you use the Selling Price Calculator, you will see that our recommended margin percentages will vary based on dollar amount. For example, going in with a low margin on a high dollar quote could help you win that job.

A mistake we see from time to time is someone confusing margin with markup. Keep in mind that:

Margin = Sales – The cost of goods sold

Markup = The amount by which the cost of a product is increased in order to determine your selling price

Confusing the terms can lead to setting your price too low or too high, which can result in losing sales or profits.

On your next quote with Stouse, be sure to use the Selling Price Calculator.  Let’s win that order together.

Be sure to visit www.stouse.com for additional sales tools.

Insider Tips on How to Submit Orders that get Placed First (in 5 easy steps)

At Stouse, our Order Entry department is in charge of getting all orders entered into our system correctly.  They translate hundreds of different PO’s each day and enter that many orders.  Our Order Entry Specialists take a lot of care to ensure that your order is entered with accurate information.  When a job is submitted with good art and the PO, or online order, has all the relevant information, that job will get entered and moved on without delay.  However, when jobs are submitted with incomplete / incorrect information, this requires extra time to correct the errors.  Below are 5 easy steps to ensure that your job gets entered accurately and on time.

  1. Order online or use a PO

Placing orders on our website is quick and easy.  Any catalog quote can be converted into an order on our site.  Simply type the item number in the search box, scroll to the Price It Now function, complete the quote, and then click “Order this item”.  You will be taken to an order entry form where you will give all relevant information.  If you prefer to use a PO, that’s ok too.  Just make sure the PO you use includes all of the information on our order form (see image below).

Order Form image

Stouse Order Form

  1. Address all specs needed to complete the order. Forgetting to address key information can result in jobs getting held up while we wait for answers.
  • Your name, company name, and all contact information
  • Stouse item number
  • Quantity
  • Colors – include names and either standard Stouse numbers or PMS numbers.
  • Size
  • Material
  • If printing on clear material, is white to print? If so, how should it print (i.e. back art only, halo art, or flood the entire background)
  • Is a proof required? What email address do you want that sent to?
  • Ship address
  • Ship method
  • Do you have an in hands date?
  • Do you have a coupon? 
  1. Double check your work

Make sure any sizes, colors, and pricing on your PO are correct.  Without a complete and accurate PO, the job could see delays while we contact you for answers.

  1. Submit high quality artwork

When you send in good artwork, your job will move through the art department smoothly without delays.  Good artwork means 300dpi or higher or vector art.  We accept art as PDF, ai, or eps files.  Customers should submit JPEG files for reference only.  Typically JPEG files are saved at a lower resolution and are not print ready.

  1. Refer to a previous job and/or quote if there is one.

This gets Order Entry pointed in the right direction quickly and cuts down on time spent researching your account for necessary information.

Our goal is to move your jobs through our system as quickly as possible.  When we have all the necessary information, your order will not get held up with unnecessary questions. 

Which Sign is Right for your Customer?

Back to school; upcoming holidays; political races….what do these have in common?  They are all events that bring customers to you to order signs.  With so many signs to choose from, how do you know which one is right for the occasion?  Read on to find out!

The most popular signs at Stouse are Fold-Over Posters (item #299), Stapled Posters (item #283), and Corrugated Signs (various item numbers, #8504 is ordered most frequently). These signs can all be used for any event, but depending on your customers’ needs, there are different points to consider.  Below you will find a summary of each sign detailing the pros, cons and most common use.  

#299 Fold-Over Poster

299 art

Made of 18 point weather-resistant poster board, our Fold-Over Posters are made for outdoor use.  Sold with or without frames, the posters are shipped flat but scored down the middle.  Light assembly is required to fold and staple the posters.  These posters are great for any event but are used most commonly for political signage for local and regional campaigns.  Fold-Over Posters are also used in retail settings to advertise an event or sale.

 Pros

  • Quick turnaround time – 6 working days for quantities of 2500 or less
  • Less expensive than corrugated for quantities of 250+
  • 5 standard sizes, including small stock sizes of 11” x 14”
  • Lightweight material
  • Available in 4-color process

Cons

  • Frames are extra
  • Smaller quantities are more costly than corrugated
  • Same imprint on both sides 

#283 Stapled Poster 

283 art

Our Stapled Poster is made from 18 point weather-resistant poster board and is the most cost effective sign for quantities up to 1500.  These posters are pre-stapled and ready to slip over the supplied frame.  Because no assembly is required, these are more commonly used for larger campaigns versus the #299 Fold-Over Poster.  These signs can also be used for local and regional campaigns, schools, and retail settings, but are available in one size only – a 22” x 14” finished size.

Pros

  • Quick turn-around time – 6 working days for quantities of 2500 or less
  • Frames are included in the price
  • Available in 4-color process
  • Signs are supplied pre-stapled – no assembly required

Cons

  • One size only – 22” x 14” finished size

#8504 Corrugated Sign (Various item numbers available)

 852 Corrugated

Corrugated Signs are the bulk of all sign orders at Stouse.  The reasons for this are cost, durability and range of sizes.  Made of all-weather corrugated plastic sheeting, this 3/16” thick material is also known as Corroplast.  This sign can fulfill any sign need but is especially popular for political campaigns, service industries and special causes.  This material is extremely durable and has an average outdoor life expectancy of one year.

Pros

  • Durability – average outdoor life expectancy of 1 year
  • Most economical sign for quantities under 500
  • Different images on different sides
  • Smaller sizes can double as a hand sign
  • 12 different standard sizes: 4’ x 8’ is the largest size; 18” x 12” is the smallest size
  • Won’t rip, tear or warp

Cons

  • Heavier weight than other sign options = higher freight costs
  • More costly than fold-over posters for quantities 500+

These are the most popular sign items at Stouse.  However, they are not the only signs we offer.  Please contact our customer service department for custom quotes if necessary.  Remember to make Stouse your sign headquarters!