Meet AFCI’s New Executive Director


We are pleased to introduce you to Peter Finn, the Association For Creative Industries’ Peter_Finn(AFCI) Executive Director.  Peter will lead the organization and execute the newly defined strategic priorities.  We had the opportunity to talk to Peter about his prior experience and what he is looking forward to most in his new role.

Congratulations on your new role as the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) Executive Director.  What initially drew you to our organization?

The potential growth of the organization is what initially drew me to the opportunity of Executive Director–AFCI has a fantastic value proposition. It became apparent during the interview process that AFCI has a passionate membership, strong leadership in its board of directors, and programs that are well positioned for success. Additionally, much of my work for the last 11 years has been in STEM but I’ve become increasingly interested in the intersection of the arts and STEM–or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) initiatives and activities. The chance to work for an organization that supports a global community of creators and artists of all ages is very appealing.

Can you give us a taste for what you hope to accomplish as the new executive director of AFCI?

At the start I want to listen and learn from members and stakeholders, while also looking at opportunities to work on expanding AFCI’s digital footprint, developing a content roadmap that informs the programming for Creativation and other activities through the year, and develop new educational programs for our membership.

What are some of the important initiatives for AFCI this year and next?

As the new Executive Director, I want build on the past success of the Creativation conference and identify new strategies to better engage conference participants onsite. I look forward to working with the events team and volunteers to source some new ideas and elevate the overall experience for everyone at the conference. We will also examine and audit the AFCI’s current content and generate ideas for new content and education through the year.

What type of creative activities do you like to do with your children?

My wife works at the Art Institute of Chicago and oversees a number of their educational programs. The kids and I will often participate in the family festivals that she runs on the weekends. There are often a number of activities going on from print making to drawing to textile arts.  Both of my kids go to fine and performing art magnet cluster schools (Chicago Public Schools) in Chicago so invariably there is some kind of creative project in the works on any given week.

What excites you most about the future of the creative industry?

What excites me about the creative industry is its impact on people in helping them cultivate their creative practices whether it be at home or as a professional.  There is also so much opportunity for the AFCI when you take into consideration that the US craft industry is estimated at $36 billion.

What is one thing about you that might surprise our members?

The first conference I helped organize early in my career was in Cape Town, South Africa about 6 years after apartheid had ended. I was able to meet many of the people involved in the anti-apartheid movement. I was about 24 at the time and it was a truly life changing experience to be around so many inspiring people. We had over 10,000 attendees and Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama were our keynote speakers.

Meet the AFCI Board of Directors – URSULA MORGAN


Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry. Today we introduce you to Ursula Morgan.

AFCI:  Congratulations on rejoining the AFCI board. How long have you been a member of AFCI, and what initially drew you to join the Association?

URSULA:  In 2006, I became a member of the Association and attended my first AFCI ursulatrade show with Future Publishing as the publisher for Simply Knitting magazine. I didn’t initially know much about the Association, but I had heard the event was a great place for inspiration, information and new contacts that would help build our magazines and websites.  As I worked my way up to vice president at Future Media’s U.S. operations, the Association continued to be an integral part of our growth strategy.

In 2013, I joined Creativebug. While at Creativebug, I was lucky enough to serve on the AFCI Board of Directors. My tenure as president and CEO, as well as my AFCI board role, ended in April 2017 when we were acquired by JOANN. Now, as SVP of Digital Innovation at CSS Industries, I get to lead the Digital Innovation team designing and building the absolute best software and experiences in the celebration and life event space.  I’m excited to be joining the AFCI board again and bringing the knowledge I’ve gained.

AFCI:  What do you hope to achieve by serving on the AFCI Board of Directors?

URSULA:  My motivation is the same as it was back when I first served. I have a deep love and passion for the industry, and I want the Association to be an important part of people’s craft business.  The Association was vital in helping me build my career in this industry. It has helped me stay relevant and introduced me to people whom I adore. The industry is rapidly segmenting and changing, making it as important as ever for the Association to be relevant for its members, and I see myself aiding in that process.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

URSULA:  You will get out of it what you put into it. Utilize every aspect of your Association. It provides great business intelligence, such as the research, networking and support.

Board nominations are now being accepted through May 15.  Nominate yourself or someone you know to serve on the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors before the deadline. 

Do you need more reasons why you should serve?  Check out our recent blog post “The Top 4 Benefits of Serving on the AFCI Board of Directors”.

Meet the AFCI Board of Directors – LAWRENCE HOFFMAN


Serving on the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) Board of Directors is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI. The individuals serving represent diverse backgrounds and have significant experience in the arts and crafts industry.  We recently had the opportunity to speak with board member, Lawrence Hoffman on his experience and why he chose to serve.

AFCI:  We’d love to hear more about your time in the industry and the role you play in your current organization.

Lawrence_Hoffman_Instagram

LAWRENCE:  My experience with arts and crafts started at 12 years old in Richmond, Texas, working for Mike Dupey in his Michaels store. My job was cleaning restrooms and breakrooms for $1.00 per hour.  From that point, I had the opportunity to work in almost every facet of a retail organization from stocking shelves to managing departments. After college, I worked for 12 years managing the POG department for Michaels/MJDesigns until MJDesigns went out of business in February 1999.

From there, my career took a different turn.  I went into the staffing business selling engineering and IT staffing along with IT solutions.  Four years later, the familiar retail itch needed scratching. I became a Visual Merchandising Manager with a retailer by the name of Gadzooks, creating store layouts and designs, merchandise presentations and advertising campaigns.

When Gadzooks sold to Forever 21, I got back into the craft industry working for Randy Putnam and Associates (now known as CSC). I helped manufacturers design, develop, sell and market products to retailers primarily in the arts and crafts/home décor retail channels.

My tenure at RPA gave me the opportunity to work with world-class manufacturers and retailers. Now, I’m the vice president of Sales and Marketing for Uchida of America, leading and directing the sales and marketing operations, product development, packaging development, social media and email marketing, trade show management, catalog and sales sheet production and more.

AFCI:  What do you hope to achieve serving on the AFCI Board?

LAWRENCE:  I have been involved in the arts and crafts business for more than 30 years in many different capacities. With my experience on the retail side, the representative side and the manufacturing side, I feel that I have a well-rounded perspective and have a lot to offer the board and organization.

I have also had the opportunity to experience other industries, such as junior apparel, IT and staffing. I can tap into this experience to provide creative suggestions and direction. I love this industry (it is in my blood) and feel that I can make a positive impact on helping create a sustainable future.

AFCI:  What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Association?

LAWRENCE: I would say that it is vital to join the Association. Things are evolving quicker than ever before. It is important for people to get involved with the industry that they are in. You need to know what is going on but also be an active participant. There is so much we can learn from each other. There is a wealth of experience and information available, and not tapping into that will definitely make the path more difficult.

Board nominations are now being accepted through May 15.  Nominate yourself or someone you know to serve on the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors before the deadline. 

Do you need more reasons why you should serve?  Check out our recent blog post “The Top 4 Benefits of Serving on the AFCI Board of Directors”.

The Top 4 Benefits of Serving on the AFCI Board of Directors


TOP 4_REVISED

We often get asked, “Why should I consider serving on the board for the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI)?”  We’ve put together the top four reasons why you should nominate yourself or someone you know to serve on the 2020 AFCI Board of Directors before the May 15 deadline.

(1)    REWARDING EXPERIENCE

Serving on a board can be both professionally and personally rewarding.  It is a unique way for members of the organization to give back and help steer the future direction of AFCI at this important time in our industry.  AFCI members are its best advocates.

When you join, you are immediately connected to a global community who you can engage with to exchange ideas.  You are also exposed to new industry opportunities that develop and may potentially grow your business.” – Jim Thielen, Chairman, AFCI Board of Directors

(2)    NETWORKING

If elected to serve, you will join an influential network of industry executives and volunteer committee members. Every board connection you make expands your network and increases the potential to further your career.

“The time spent listening and learning from my fellow board members is invaluable.  Their expertise, knowledge and understanding of the industry makes me more informed and a better board member.” – Brad Beck, Secretary, AFCI Board of Directors

(3)    NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Board service provides you with a break from the norm. You will have the ability to participate on committees or in discussions that may not relate to your current job.  As a board member, you will develop, review or monitor AFCI long-range plans, such as budgets, investments and strategic business plans.

“The benefit you get out of your experience is directly related to what you put in.  The business intelligence, networking and support you gain from serving can be used to grow your own business.” – Ursula Morgan, AFCI Board of Directors

(4)    LIMITED TIME COMMITMENT

Board members attend four in-person meetings throughout the year, one of which is held during Creativation, with occasional conference calls added as needed.  AFCI pays for three in-person meetings for board members but not for attendance at Creativation. This includes airfare, hotel, ground transportation and meals.

“The rewards you receive volunteering for the Association outweigh the limited amount of time you spend at Board meetings and on committee calls.   I’ve gained so much professionally and personally from this experience and I look forward to helping the Association grow throughout the rest of my term.” – Ashley Smith, AFCI Board of Directors

We hope we’ve inspired you to join the AFCI Board of Directors.  Board nominations are due on May 15.  For questions or further information, please contact Janet Rapp, Interim Executive Director at jrapp@afci.global.

How to Measure ROI in Social Media


By Leanne Pressly, Stitchcraft Marketing

MEASURING ROI IN SOCIAL MEDIA

In today’s world, a compelling marketing plan must include social media. While social media platforms have transformed the digital advertising landscape, the metrics key to successful campaigns are still elusive.

For most businesses, seeing high numbers of followers or likes is an easy metric to decide how well their social media campaign is doing. However, in the long run, these numbers are meaningless, especially when it comes to your return on investment (ROI).

So, with that in mind, we want to take a closer look at social media marketing and help you create a better method for measuring ROI.

Step One: What Are Your Goals?

Whenever you start a new social media campaign, you should have a clear and definitive idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, commonly called SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Examples include growing overall sales on your website, increasing your conversion rate, raising brand awareness or building your newsletter list.

Knowing specifically what you’re trying to measure will help you successfully measure your ROI in social media. So, whatever your goal, make sure that it’s quantifiable. Site visits, sales numbers and email subscribers are all hard numbers that can then be calculated into money earned. If you have a nebulous goal in mind, figuring out your ROI will be next to impossible.

Step Two: Learn How to Analyze Your Numbers

One of the greatest tools at your disposal is Google Analytics. This online platform allows you to track data from a variety of sources, including social media. Additionally, many social sites like Facebook provide stats for your profile.

There are several great resources to help you make sense of this data such as A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Analytics from Hootsuite and the Google Analytics for Beginners course from Google Analytics Academy. Overall, the purpose of using these tools is to provide a foundation for measuring ROI quickly and accurately.

Step Three: Determine Your Investment

To make sure that your time, effort and money are paying off, you should first understand what you’re putting into your social media campaigns. Consider the following factors:

  • Hours Worked: The more time you or your team invest in setting up, managing and monitoring your social media campaign, the more it affects your bottom line.
  • Content Creation: In many cases, you may outsource your content to third-party services. For example, hiring a professional photographer or copywriter.
  • Social Software Plans: While it’s free to set up social media accounts, there are many time-saving apps and management tools that cost money.
  • PPC Ads: Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an excellent way to budget your marketing campaign. Since you only pay when someone clicks on your link, you can manage your investment and ROI more easily.

Step Four: Calculate Your Earnings

Now it’s time to put everything in terms of dollars so you can determine how your goals will impact your bottom line.

Keep in mind that unless your primary goal is sales, then you’re working with projections, not actual stats. Here are some examples to help you get started:

  • Lifetime Value per Customer: How much do you earn from your average customer? This will be a benchmark when converting leads into sales.
  • Average Sales Visit: When people shop on your site (or in store), what’s the average sales ticket?
  • Conversion Rate: How many leads turn into customers?

No matter what your social media goals are, the end result should be money spent with your company. To do this, you’ll need to find a way to quantify how many of your social leads and engagements turn into paying customers or clients.

For example, a promoted Facebook post that drives traffic to your website can be expected to net you a specific number of sales per click. If you get 100 clicks and have a 5% conversion rate, each post should gain you five new customers. If your lifetime value per customer is $85, then your promoted post should generate $425 in sales per every 100 clicks.

Let’s say your goal is more nebulous, and you want to increase brand awareness. In this case, measuring ROI in terms of dollars and cents might look like this: First, determine how many of your current followers shop from your website on average — this will be your benchmark for determining ROI. From there, you can calculate how much ROI you should net from gaining X number of followers per week or month. If you’re not hitting those goals, it’s time to re-evaluate your social posting strategy.

Bottom Line: Know Your Numbers

Analyzing your social media marketing on a regular basis using SMART goals will help you determine what is (and isn’t) working for your brand.

If you have questions about calculating or increasing your ROI in social media, contact Stitchcraft Marketing today, and we’ll help you craft a better business!

The Benefits of Using Sponsored Content as a Marketing Tool


Sponsored post by Stitchcraft Marketing

Smart business owners are always trying to gain leverage in their respective industries. The best way to do so is through intelligent marketing efforts. One of the best marketing tools a business can use is sponsored content. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of using sponsored content as a marketing tool and how to negotiate sponsored post fees.

What is Sponsored Content?

Before you can understand the benefits of sponsored content, you need to have a strong idea of what it is. Sponsored content looks like ordinary editorial content that you might read anywhere online, including social media pages.  The difference is that the intent of sponsored content is to go beyond simply entertaining the reader and places a particular product or brand in a positive light. When sponsored content is done well, it reads like any other piece of content you find on the outlet. Its purpose is more to tell a story about a brand rather than to push a product. We’ve recently worked with Staci Perry of Very Pink to create video tutorials for our clients Appalachian Baby Design and Zen Yarn Garden. Currently, Vicki Howell’s Ask Me Monday series is partially sponsored by Knitter’s Pride.

Sponsored Content is Less Invasive Than Traditional Ads

Advertising is virtually everywhere you look online. Many companies have large banners that span across the top of a page, in between articles or down columns that are impossible to ignore and can be incredibly distracting. There are also ads that constantly move across the screen as people scroll through a web page, which can be quite bothersome. On the other hand, sponsored content is more subtle. Instead of being impossible to avoid, they allow visitors to focus on the content they are trying to read and only open if clicked on.

Ad Rates are Currently Decreasing

Web surfers are getting increasingly better at tuning out the ads they do not want to view. An increasing number of people are no longer clicking on banner ads to get additional information. Further, people are turning on ad blockers at an increasing rate, so many traditional ads are never seen. So, many advertisers are no longer reaching their target audience. Since sponsored content allows advertisers to reach their target audience with high-quality information, it is less likely to get passed over and ignored like traditional advertising methods.

Long-Term Relationships can be Created

Business is all about creating strong relationships. Not only do you want to have a good relationship with your current and prospective customers, you also want the same with other organizations with which you do business. When you use sponsored content, you enter into a relationship with the whoever is creating the content. Over time this relationship becomes solidified and makes you both stronger.

Keep Your Program Simple

When you decide to sponsor content, your best course of action is to keep it simple, especially when you are first starting out. If you overextend yourself and have too many content creators, they can be difficult to manage and keep track of. So, keep it small and manageable and do your diligence in who you’re choosing to sponsor to get the best results.

Negotiating Sponsored Post Fees

Now that you know the benefits of using sponsored content as a marketing tool, you need to know how to negotiate what to pay for it. Here is some some helpful information negotiating a fee that is fair for everyone involved.

Factors to Take into Account

Negotiating a price takes more finesse than simply blurting out an arbitrary number. Some factors you should take into considerations when determining a fair price include:

  • The amount of traffic the content creator gets.
  • The length of time required to create the content.
  • The size of the content creator’s social reach.
  • The content creator’s domain authority.
  • Any extra value the content creator is adding.
  • The niche market the content creator appeals to.
  • The size of your brand.
  • The amount you can afford to pay.
  • What measurable result are you seeking from sponsoring content with this creator.

Once you know the answers to these questions, you should be able to determine the best price to pay to sponsor content.

Our Program

Stitchcraft Marketing can help you navigate the landscape of sponsored content. We maintain an in-house network of reviewers who are eager to try new products in exchange for their testimonials. Our reviewers publish their content on blogs, podcasts and across social media platforms. We also have experience negotiating sponsored product reviews with influencers and big names in your craft-specific industry. If you’re interested in getting your product out into the world for review, contact us today to get started!