If your sales aren’t as good as your product

I see a lot of products that need a bit of polish. Great products but the execution is not as good as the idea -and they could be. Easily. Some affects are downright heart wrenching. On any number of sites, people have posted photos of products and all 10, 50 or 100 comments will say how great it is but nobody notices mentions the item could be perfectly professional with the addition of a bit of fusible, top stitching or a spot of strategic pressing. Worse, the party involved is usually frustrated they’re not making headway and think they need a sure-fire sales strategy or sales reps to bring it in but in most cases, that’s cart before the horse.

So that’s what I want to do in this new series. I want volunteers to submit their projects for review. It will be kind, not the sort of meanness or cattiness you see on Project Runway, no critiquing someone’s taste or style. You can remain anonymous. I would say that preference will be given to parties willing to remake the item with the suggested corrections but nobody has taken me up on the offer when I’ve made it before so it’s silly that I throw in the caveat but I will anyway.

I need volunteers. Email me photos of product shots if you’re interested. I’m especially interested in people who think their products are great or nearly perfect already. Most of the people I’m thinking of have a lot of experience or education, maybe that’s why they don’t ask? Alternatively, if I don’t get any volunteers, I would like some advice as to what I should say to people who are seeking sales advice when their products are not ready for the marketplace.

The rest of you, help me name this series! I dug up some synonyms for product enhancements if that will help: tweak, polish, refine, sharpen, cultivate, finesse, finish, and refine. Thanks everybody.

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  1. I like sharpen. Sharpen My Line, maybe?

    Finesse is what we do to numbers that the boss doesn’t want to see, to make them say something the boss does want to see. Sounds weaselly, not what we want.

    What about Getting Market-Ready?

  2. Cindy D says:

    I like “Refine My Line” because it rhymes and because you typed it twice. I think your subconscious was hinting at something :-) Also, it sounds like fun. I think people are more receptive to constructive criticism during lighthearted activities.

    It reminds me of a concept in the book “Big 5 for Life” where co-workers voluntarily submitted ideas for the weekly “Make Me Better” forum. At the forum someone’s idea was chosen and everyone openly and politely shared ideas on how to make it better. I wish worked at a place like that!

  3. Angela says:

    Hey Kathleen

    It’s been awhile and I’ll catch up with you shortly, but this post tickled my fancy. I’ve been doing things the same way for so long I think it is probably time for a critique.

    I like ‘Refine My Line’ too because it says everything at once and rhymes to boot.

    PS: Hi Esther!

  4. Jay Arbetman says:

    Just a couple of things that might not be apparent. None of this has much to do with fusible, top stitching and pressing but it can kill a potential sale just as quickly as an incomplete product.

    Generally, smaller sizes show better. If you use a large size, use a larger hanger.

    Speaking of hangers, you line should be hung on uniform wide shouldered hangers. No hangers from the dry cleaners please.

    Don’t cheap out on the labels and hang tags.

    Here is a thought. In most businesses, you are strong as your weakest link. the the apparel business you may be as strong as your strongest link. Drop your bombs early. Show the good stuff first. Once the pencil is moving it is a lot easier to add on additional items.

    Take care to make sure belts, buckles and other enhancements are shown to their fullest advantage.
    Some garments show poorly on a hanger. Get them modeled. Show a picture….do something….just don’t show your fine efforts at a disadvantage.

  5. What a great idea! I’m looking forward to reading the assessments. I haven’t any products at the moment, but I think I could learn a huge amount by the critiques of others’.

    I like Sharp, Sharpen, Sharper. Perhaps Sharper Lines? I think that harks back to the fundamentals of better drawing and cutting, as well as improved products.

  6. “Sharpen My Line” also carries the implication of sharpening a pencil (rolling up the sleeves and getting some elbow grease involved). Nice connotations.

    “We sharpened our pencils and looked at our price points.”

  7. Kathleen says:

    uh oh, do we need a vote now? I like Cindy’s suggestion best (refine my line) maybe because it rhymes? Sharpen my line is also good being a play on words. Decisions decisions.

  8. I have three volunteers so far (JM, ST and JSH). Maybe more but my email was wonky so I didn’t get them.

    I think I will do the last one first for two reasons. One, it’s so well constructed and fitted that 95% would say it didn’t need anything. And it is great, it needs the lightest touch, a fine gloss or patina if you will. My favorite!!! Two, she’s a forum member and I think that people who financially underwrite this site have every reason to expect consideration whenever it’s in my power to do so.

    You’re a member Patricia, just renewed in fact. Take advantage of it and send something in. Remember, you can be anonymous. Alternatively, you can come out of the closet afterward once you see all the feedback and realize it’s not bad at all. Could be good exposure for your line too.

  9. Irma says:

    My vote is for “Refine My Line”. I would like to submit photos for critic on a product set I’ve been working on. But I presume that you’ll be posting the pics with your critique, right? Or, what did you have in mind?

  10. Benita says:

    Hi Kathleen, love the name Sharpen the line and the idea, too often the designer is on the right track but the buyer walks out after looking at the collection and the designer is frustrated as they worked so hard….Sometimes its as simple as adjusting a waistline 2 inches up or down which makes the product from not to hot.

    Sometimes its a great line but for such a small audience that the collection will always be…(sorry) small, its up to the designer then to decide, small and custom or larger and mainstream…
    There is no wrong or right in the market, the consumer decides, fit, value for money and hot are the key words but not every designer is going to be the next Alexander Wang or Marc Jacobs…

    Would love to help out designers sharpen their collection.

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