International Art Materials Association

    eNews:  September 25
, 2019


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YOUR PASSING PERCENTAGE

by Tom Shay

I recently had a couple of experiences with local businesses that caused me to think about quarterbacks . . . after all it is football season.

The percentage of passes completed is an important statistic for any quarterback. The higher the percentage, the better the quarterback is thought to be.

With these experiences the interaction began with either a phone call or an in-person visit. It was not too long in the conversation that I was being passed to another department or individual.

As a customer you ask a question, and without any further interaction, you hear, “please hold." Hopefully the appropriate person takes your call in a timely manner. Sometimes you are left on hold and have to dial back in. Sometimes they do not put you on hold correctly and you are disconnected.

Of course, you have to start the conversation at the beginning with each person and hope you are not passed again.

My experience with passing on the phone call was a bit different but still discouraging. The call was made to the local homeowner insurance agent to discuss policy updates. I know the agent on a first name basis as we have done business with him for years.

Instead of a person answering, an automated system goes through all the names and extensions including telling me that if I want to file a claim I should hang up and dial a toll-free number to speak with someone at a call center.

After pressing the number for the agent, I go to hear the traditional message of not being in the office and leaving your name and number, followed by the same message about filing a claim.

This bothers me. If I were to have a claim, I want to talk to the agent whom I know instead of someone sitting at a screen in a call center. It seems to me that the agent is getting their commission for selling the policy and so they should also be engaged in any resolution. At least they should express concern for their customer.

The experience made me reflect on our businesses.

How often do we pass a customer to someone? Granted the person we pass them to may be better qualified or have more knowledge to help us. But it is the manner with which we make the pass.

Years ago I remember my father visiting the headquarters of a new wholesaler. What he remembered most about his visit was the way the employees helped him. No one told him to go down the hall to see someone else or any other type of directions. Instead in every instance, the person listened to my father and then asked him to sit tight for a minute.

While he was sitting there, they placed a call to the individual that was in the same building. They told the individual who the customer was that was sitting at their desk and what his concern was. They asked the individual if they were the appropriate person to help my father. If not, they asked for input and the sequence continued with another phone call.

If it was the correct individual to speak with, my father was walked to that individual’s office and introduced. That is not passing but represents a customized customer service experience.

Similar experiences occur when a customer walks into a business. When asking where an item is located, a salesperson either points in the direction of the item or tells the customer which aisle it is located on; still a form of passing. A customized customer service experience would include walking the customer to where the item is located and pointing it out. You don’t have to stand over the customer; you are simply eliminating the possibility of frustration by making sure they arrive at the right spot.

Every quarterback wants a very high “pass completion” rate. But in our business, we should strive for a low pass completion rate because that demonstrates a genuine interest in the customer and a willingness to help them get what they want.

Who knows, there might be an “add-on” sale or an opportunity to up sell.




Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – namta.org. His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here - www.profitsplus.org


 


FAKE ONLINE REVIEWS

from STORES - National Retail Federation Magazine
by STORES Contributor - Detroit-based Paul Vachon writes for various trade publications, in addition to feature stories for consumer magazines and books on Michigan history and travel.



Remember the old adage “don’t believe everything you read”? Today the axiom remains true: Despite more effective policing, in many ways the internet still resembles the wild west, with scamsters peddling snake oil in the form of bogus reviews. Products and services that are actually inferior are given false four- or five-star ratings to trick the trusting consumer. This digital sleight of hand can also be used to trash competitors with deceptively negative reviews, robbing a quality brand of hard-earned business.

The problem of fake reviews is almost as old as the internet, but one that has intensified over time.

“It started out on a much smaller scale,” says Rob Gross, COO at Fakespot, a data analytics company dedicated to detecting and pointing out fraudulent evaluations. “Let’s say you develop your own product and list it online. You might ask a few friends for a favor to post a few positive reviews to help get your business started. That’s all pretty innocent.”

But the growth of third-party ecommerce beginning around 2005 changed things. “When Amazon developed the third-party marketplace system, it incentivized the gaming of the system,” Gross says. He says ranking algorithms like Amazon’s consider both the number of reviews and the distribution of their star ratings. To exploit this, an unscrupulous vendor could produce an inferior item (perhaps a knock-off version of a popular product), create a third-party seller account, then post dozens of fake reviews. This will move the item up in search algorithms virtually overnight. “We’ve seen situations where a product will start out with zero reviews one day,” Gross says, “and the next day it’ll have 3,000.”

Manipulation of this kind proved highly lucrative — and affected everyone, including the honest merchant. With virtually every business having an online presence, from large retailers to the corner bakery or locksmith, maintaining a strong star ranking is essential to capturing business. “If any business has less than four stars, consumers have been trained not to even look at it,” Gross says.

‘Last Line of Defense’
Fakespot was born to root out these deceptions. In 2016 company founder Saoud Khalifah became frustrated with the rampant quantity of misleading or even fraudulent reviews online and decided to take action. Fakespot functions as a consumer service, operating through Fakespot.com, a Chrome extension and a mobile app. Each analyzes reviews that appear on the sites for Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, plus hospitality sites TripAdvisor and Yelp. The proprietary technology the company uses was developed internally and consists of several closely guarded algorithms. “By maintaining our secrecy, we stay one step ahead of the sellers (who sometimes use fake reviews) and the fake review farms,” Gross says. “Every night we see people trying to game our system.”

Effective security also prevents would-be competitors from reverse-engineering Fakespot’s intellectual property. Fakespot’s system analyzes reviews inputted by consumers and runs them through its artificial intelligence-based algorithms. The algorithms are trained through machine learning, which draws from a database of some 3.7 billion reviews. Natural language processing enhances the procedure, helping to discern common word patterns that often appear in fake reviews.

After the analysis is completed, the system assigns the review a letter grade, “A” through “F.” The higher the grade, the more trustworthy the review. Unreliable reviews are removed from the site, and the star rating of the reliable reviews is reevaluated in light of the findings.

Fakespot also offers other information — a product overview, details from the most positive and least positive vetted reviews, a representation of the most and least authentic reviews, review count history, price history and comparisons with similar products. “We like to look at Fakespot as a one-stop shop for consumers, and a last line of defense before the customer hits the ‘buy’ button,” Gross says. As Fakespot continues to evolve technologically, the business model changes along with it. When the company began, the consumer site was supported by advertising and Fakespot charged for the Chrome extension. It recently received $1.3 million in venture funding, however, which enabled the company to remove the advertising and make the Chrome extension free.

“Soon we plan to introduce a B2B product which will help brands better understand what’s going on within their reviews,” Gross says. That will allow future clients to obtain a clean view of customer sentiments once the influence of incentivized reviews is removed. “People are moving toward more authentic experiences on the internet, and we want to promote that for all honest players.”

Legal Remedies
While the people at Fakespot have done the public a favor, what about the unfortunate merchants negatively impacted by fraudulent online appraisals? What recourse do they have?

“If a business owner or company perceives a problem of fake online reviews, there’s a full gamut of legal remedies that can be used to obtain relief,” says Matt Cavanaugh, partner in the Cleveland office of the McDonald-Hopkins law firm. “The best method to use will depend upon the nature of the problem. How big an issue is it? How large and influential is the offending party? An unscrupulous vendor could produce an inferior item, create a third-party seller account, then post dozens of fake reviews. “Also, is the source of the problem in the U.S. or is it abroad? If it’s a rogue actor in Russia, U.S. law can be of limited usefulness.”

Within American borders, it’s a different story: Cavanaugh says every state has laws prohibiting individuals from engaging in deceptive conduct in commerce. Lawsuits can be filed on grounds of commercial disparagement or false advertising. On the federal level, suits can be brought under the Trademark Act, which covers false advertising. If the plaintiff is successful, the court can order injunctive relief, which will force the offending party to take down the fraudulent review. Monetary damages may also be ordered. In order to prevail, however, it may be necessary to prove causation - the plaintiff must demonstrate a particular review was directly responsible for the merchant’s lost business. Such proof may be difficult to show.

An especially effective strategy may involve some diligent investigative work. “Try to find the hub,” Cavanaugh says. “Look for companies that use a network of reviewers. The group is approached by the unethical company which makes an offer to pay them to boost their ratings on Amazon or Trip Advisor. They have their minions post phony positive reviews, or negative reviews to bash a competitor. Finding the hub allows the plaintiff’s counsel to use the subpoena power from filing a lawsuit to undercover and expose many of the spokes in that network.”



DID YOU KNOW



This data is from the Namta Artist & Art Materials Survey 2018 - Tables & Trending.

The popularity of acrylic paintings increased in 2018 from previous years while the popularity of oil paintings decreased. Nevertheless, acrylic paintings, watercolors and oil paintings finished in the top 3 all 3 years.

Drawings using pen, ink, or markers moved ahead of mixed media/collages. However, overall, the relative ordering of favorites is very similar across the years.

The results for Favorite Artwork to Create from US respondents:

Top 10 Responses 2012 2015 2018
Acrylic paintings      31% 30% 36%
Watercolors 26% 27% 27%
Oil paintings  25% 27% 19%
Drawings using pencils, graphite, charcoal 22% 22% 19%
Drawings using pen, ink, markers 17% 17% 19%
Mixed media/Collages 20% 21% 17%
Colored pencil drawings 13% 10% 12%
Three-dimensional art 12% 12% 9%
Books, cards, art journals 11% 10% 7%
Fiber art, quilts, fabric art 12% 9% 7%

 



ART ADVOCACY - ART MATTERS


     
2019 Grant Program sponsored by
           


Recipients will be announced October 1

   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
  

The Arts help kids accept criticism. A well-run Arts Education program is a place that encourages success through a safe environment. Within that tolerant ecosystem, children can learn that criticism is not a bad thing, nor a reason to give up something they enjoy. In fact, as they implement criticism and see the tangible result, they are learning that correction can be a good thing.

from WeTheParents.org

Read more Facts on www.namtaartadvocacy.org




THE QUESTION IS . . .

Members - answer this question before October 6 to be in a drawing to win an Art Matters T-shirt.

This member's company has been serving artists since the summer of 1960 when they opened their first store on 58th Street in New York City, in an apartment building aptly named "The Picasso."  The owners prided themselves on their promise to deliver art supplies anywhere in Manhattan within an hour, no matter how big or small the order. Through the mid-1980s, they focused on providing supplies to commercial customers in the New York tri-state area.

In the early eighties, the second generation of the family continued the legacy of the founding partners and began to expand down the east coast and into the Midwest.

Today, this Namta member and the team continue to carry on the store's name and his father’s mission to provide one of the most comprehensive selections of product available and deliver the best possible customer service.

Who is this Member?

Hint: This member led the Namta Board of Directors in 2009 and is a Namta Hall of Fame recipient.


At the end of the year, whether you've won a bi-weekly drawing or not, everyone who has answered correctly will be entered in a final drawing to win a $100 Gift Card.



The Last Question was in September 11th eNews and the answer is the lovely French couple from San Francisco, Maureen Labro-Guidetti and Pierre Guidetti. In 1981, they founded the Savoir-Faire company and became Sennelier’s exclusive representatives in the United States. Maureen currently serves on the Namta Board of Directors and you can follow Pierre on https://pierreartventures.com/.
Savoir-Faire is a 2020 Namta Art Materials World Exhibitor





The winner of the drawing for an Art Matters T-shirt for submitting the right answer is Tim Hopper from HK Holbein.
HK Holbein is a 2020 Namta Art Materials World Exhibitor


 


MEMBER NEWS

 


'BLACK IS A COLOR' is an exhibition of paintings by artist Susan Roth to be held at the Sam and Adele Golden Gallery, 188 Bell Road, New Berlin, New York, on Saturday, October 12, 2019 with a public reception for the artist between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  

Susan Roth, a self-described non-objective painter who has had the opportunity to work closely with Sam Golden to create new products.  Apropos of the title: 'BLACK IS A COLOR', Roth has used black in her paintings as a through-line for emphasis on the consideration and emphasis on drawing in her working method.  The richness and depth of black pigment provide an assertive way for her plumb the compositional depths. The title 'BLACK IS A COLOR' reprises that of the post-World War 2 inaugural exhibition held in 1946 at Galerie Maeght in Paris entitled 'le Noir est une Couleur'. Susan Roth has held close the idea of that exhibition as being one of the touchstones of modernism.

Gallery hours for visiting are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. at the Golden Artist Colors factory. BLACK IS A COLOR continues through March, 13, 2020.



MEMBER PROFILES - IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Something that we heard from you in the recent Member Survey was that you like to see Member Profile stories in eNews.

Here's a form that you can fill and submit and we'll put you In The Spotlight in an upcoming issue. You don't have to answer every question, just what you want us to know. The only requirement is that you are a Namta Member.

2020 Exhibitors

Being In The Spotlight is a great way to keep your company on the minds of eNews readers.


A NOTABLE QUOTE


“Make a customer, not a sale.”

Katherine Barchetti, "the American upscale retail queen of the 70s and 80s."







Namta Staff recently found these business articles on the Web that may be of interest to you and your staff.



Market  Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget

from Inc.com

Advertising is big business - and it gets bigger every year. Global advertising spend has exceeded half a trillion dollars annually since 2016, and brands are projected to spend more than $560 billion in 2019.

In an increasingly global economy where competition is fierce and consumer loyalty is fleeting, creating demand is a top priority for most brands. But if you’re a small business with a limited marketing budget, how are you supposed to get the attention of consumers or take market share from competitors with deeper pockets?



As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to do that. Successful marketing can certainly be amplified by a big budget, but it doesn’t depend on one. The truth is that good marketing always contains one key element that entrepreneurs tend to have in abundance and many big brands wish they had more of creativity.

Compensate With Creativity
Reaching the right consumers is critical if your budget is limited. “Small brands with big ideas can do little to no advertising, relying instead on creative below-the-line tactics (like influencer marketing, experiential events, seeding products, and others), to break into the market,” says Mary Lee Sachs, co-founder, and CEO of Brandpie, a brand, and creative consultancy. “This way, when an entrepreneur spots a need in society for a new product, he or she doesn’t need millions of dollars to get the idea off the ground and into the right consumers’ hands.”

While category leaders typically develop campaigns aimed at reaching as many people as possible, small businesses and startups should focus on reaching highly targeted niche audiences. Grassroots marketing efforts on social media can allow you to insert your brand into relevant conversations organically, but social media isn’t your only outlet.

Use the following three tactics to drive awareness and build credibility with potential customers without putting your business in a financial sinkhole.

1. Bring the buzz to you.
In-person events bring people together and create opportunities for memorable interactions with customers. There are many different types of event marketing, but in general, you want to use events as a way to deliver value to audiences. This could be in the form of entertainment or education, and the latter is especially valuable if your product is hard to understand.

Docker, which offers a software platform that lets developers create and run apps on different operating systems, knew that its product wasn’t all that fun to talk about or easy for customers to grasp. So in 2017, at its annual at DockerCon developer conference, it unveiled a unique product demo called Docker Dash. Docker Dash gave attendees a video-game style simulation of the product and made them “players,” challenging them to create an app together and solve a variety of fun puzzles. The event created a buzz that continued long after attendees went home. While Docker likely has a nice chunk of change in its marketing budget, the company’s gamification approach is in reach of marketing departments with fewer financial resources.

2. Don’t go it alone.
There are probably brands in other industries that you respect and admire. Why not tell them? Chances are, you could help them -- and they could help you, too. Joint marketing allows partner companies to increase their visibility, ward off competition, and reduce overall marketing costs. No doubt that’s why it’s a tactic used by some of the world’s most successful brands.

You can even partner with your customers to create a referral program that incentivizes positive word-of-mouth marketing. Back in 2006, Google wanted to spread the word about G Suite, its newly released suite of productivity and collaboration tools. Customers willing to help were paid $15 in cash for each new user that signed up through their referral links. You don’t need the resources of Google to pull that off, though. For instance, the Morning Brew newsletter offers readers gifts such as a free beer glass in exchange for getting a few friends to sign up.

3. Get your name in the press.
For companies looking to gain traction or build credibility before a funding round, PR is an essential component of marketing. A good PR initiative will help you define your brand and build relationships that can benefit you far into the future. Think your brand would benefit from some positive coverage in national magazines and major online publications? On HARO (an acronym for “Help A Reporter Out”), brands can register for free and respond to relevant media queries.

For instance, Job Rack founder Neil Napier and his team have used HARO to build exposure by submitting pitches to journalists who send out calls for sources on a particular topic. When signing up for HARO, you can select different topic areas that make the most sense for your industry. While you’ll need to devote some time to monitor reporter inquiries that show up in your inbox and fostering relationships with reporters who have contacted you previously, this approach is otherwise free for you. By taking full advantage of HARO, you can boost your marketing reach without significantly increasing your spending.

Marketing on a limited budget isn’t impossible. With a little creativity and a focus on the tactics above, any business can go from unknown to unstoppable. And when that happens, your budget problem disappears.

 

The Keys You Forgot to Customer Keys
Unfortunately, really great customer service is hard to find. Yet as consumers we say we want a wonderful customer service experience but have come to expect something much less than wonderful...

How to Handle Internal Communication with a Young Staff
Making sure you and your youthful charges are on the same page…

Recession Warning Signs are Flashing. 4 Tips to Protect Your Small Business During a Downturn.
Three out of four economists predict that the US economy will enter a recession by 2021. Some economists are predicting that the next recession could be deeper and more severe than the previous one...

The Pros and Cons of Instituting a Customer Loyalty Program
Now with many business owners facing more competition than ever, how can your business stand out???

 

 








 Check out these Links during Half-Time
 
Call Rick at 704-651-9825 to talk about getting a booth,

 

 


NAMTA'S NEXT GENERATION


Do You Know About the Next Generation Reception?

The Next Generation Reception is held every year at Art Materials World to provide a way for our under 45 members to network and share ideas. 

Tickets will be available to purchase in advance when registration opens and also may be purchased at the show. Heavy hors d'oeurves, beer and wine will be provided at no additional cost. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet and exchange ideas in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with your peers at Art Materials 2020 Chicago next April!




FREE FOR NAMTA MEMBERS


List your available jobs with this form.

Listings will remain on the Available Jobs page on Namta.org until you want them taken down.

Contact Karen with questions.


 


THE SAVINGS ADVANTAGE



Namta Members get access to special pricing and more with a Store Purchasing Card. Click here for more info.

Namta Members Can Save on FedEx® Shipments - and More! Visit PartnerShip.com/NAMTA for complete program details.