As far as niche markets go, Mary Ellen Bailey of Logorific has a couple of very loyal customers responsible for feeding her business from all over the country. You may know one of them yourself, in fact – he goes by the name “Uncle Sam.”
“Government offices account for almost half my business, and the construction industry makes up almost the other half – and I’ve found that when you become an expert at meeting and exceeding the needs of a particular audience, it creates such loyalty,” Bailey, who has been in business since 1998, says.
In fact, Bailey’s consultative selling skills have proven successful no matter how narrow the niche at hand.
“I have one client company that recruits nuclear troubleshooters for the nation’s nuclear power plants. They were looking for a tool to attract candidates to their open positions,” Bailey says. “We came up with a $50 can of cookies, inside of which we placed a $100 Amex gift card. That was a big hit with the candidates.”
Bailey’s creativity and consultative selling skills go well beyond a simple can of cookies, though.
“I also have a construction company client who rents a plane for 200 people and takes them to an island,”
Bailey says. “We do all kinds of things as a package for the folks on the trip: Beach towels, flips flops, bags,
everything. Of course, that kind of sale is fun, but it also gives you the opportunity to work closely hand-in-hand with the client, and that’s where the originality and creativity you apply turns into loyalty on the part of the client. They don’t forget that extra effort you put into making these things special for them. It turns into a long-term relationship and repeat sales.”
Having made a (very successful) career of servicing niche markets, Bailey also takes a personalized approach to servicing her accounts, providing just-in-time order fulfillment.
“I try to pass through things as quickly as possible, and as a result, I never see 95% of what I sell,” Bailey says. “I work with two embroiderers, one for small jobs, one for everything else, and I also try to work with suppliers that provide their own embroidery. I build the same relationships downstream with my suppliers that I build with my clients, and I work with my suppliers to provide this type of quick, just-in-time product and service for my clients.”
By outsourcing all the embroidery and not maintaining an inventory in-house, Bailey’s time is concentrated on staying up-to-date on industry trends relative to the niches in which she operates, – a must when your business is focused on a particular industry or industries – and working on consultative selling, putting together the creative programs that her niche clients expect and that make her own bottom line expand.
“Specializing in these industries and having worked with them over this length of time, my clients do depend on me to know what’s going on in their categories, what’s important to them, what’s new – whether that’s new regulations on things like eco-friendly, American-made, what have you,” Bailey says. “Also, they depend on me to anticipate their needs and be ready with solutions, with ideas. For me, that’s the fun part.”
Bailey also takes the initiative with her perennial clients, providing a little extra TLC when she can.
“I’ll do the little things that no one else does, just because,” Bailey says. “I’ll go in and buy closeout clothing for all the people at the company as an investment in the business relationship. That’s an expense, but I can guarantee you that kind of thing shows back up in my bottom line in the long run.”
Speaking of the Logorific balance sheet, Bailey says her relationship with Universal Unilink has been crucial to developing the total package that has helped her business thrive through two decades.
“Universal has played a huge role in the success of my business. I just cannot say enough good things about the company,” Bailey says. “The first year, when I initially went into business, I grossed a good amount, but I thought, man, I am never going to make any money – the product cost was eating into my margin.
“Then I discovered Universal, and that made all the difference,” Bailey says. “This organization has allowed me to be competitive against the big guys. It’s that simple.”
“Universal Unilink has played a huge role in the success of my business… I discovered Universal, and that made all the difference. This organization allowed me to be competitive against the big guys. It’s that simple.”