The Footprints of Fabric Wholesale: Azam Cloth Market

The shopkeepers of Azam Cloth market pride themselves on, and they like to stress this vehemently, being a part of ‘the biggest cloth market in Asia.” While snaking your way through the many winding alleys lined with shops of various sizes you do tend to lose track of both time and space. The market is a collage of many small interlinked bazaars where the daylight doesn’t always seep in and the damp musty odor of history prevails.

Situated in the walled city of Lahore, the Azam cloth market is the hub that has been handling wholesale distribution of cloth and ready-to-wear for the last six decades. From khaddar to silk, ready- to-wear to clothing fabrics, casual wear to bridal wear, the market has something for every apparel retailer.

According to Mohd Amjad Sheikh, who has been in the wholesale apparel business since 1974, the Azam cloth market caters to a wide customer based both in Pakistan and abroad. “Retailers from all over Pakistan, Dubai, and UK visit us for their stock purchases. However, the recent security issues have had their impact on the business. Our customer base from India and Afghanistan has dwindled to almost zero. We hope once the situation improves retailers from all neighboring countries will find it comfortable to visit us.”

The merchants of the market are well versed in the history of the place, and every shopkeeper can recount how when the market was created and named. There was a small market near Wazir Khan Mosque; in 1953 when a road had to be widened the market was shifted to its current location by General Azam who gave his own name to the market. Over the decades, the small market extended and now has numerous interlinked blocks or bazaars all dealing in wholesaling of various types of clothing fabrics and lines.

How many interlinked bazaars are there in the market? There is no consensus as such but gathering from the comments of various shop owners the number must be somewhere between 15 and 20

‘It’s an Institution.’

All the bazaars of Azam market are linked and managed by a board of directors. “You won’t find a more well managed institution in Lahore. We have our own constitution with a specific set of rules. Every bazaar has its own president who in turn is answerable to the president of the board. Elections of the board are held every three years to elect resident of the board. Security and administrative decisions made by the board are binding upon the market community,” the business community of the market proudly spells out details of the ‘institution.’ Fire extinguishers, security guards and clean lanes show an active involvement of the board that runs on self-help basis. Every shop owner pays monthly charges of about 200-300 rupees to form a combined pool that helps meet the maintenance expenses.

Nawab Bazaar: The oldest block of Azam Cloth Market

While it is difficult to explore every bazaar in a single visit, every first time visitor should stroll in the Nawab bazaar to get a feel of the place. Nawab bazaar is the first and the oldest block of Azam cloth market. Its open cool spaces invite the customers to linger and shop at their own pace. The shop owners are friendly and there is an overall ambiance of good cheer.

‘What’s in the name?’

Two different versions prevail in the market about the history of block’s name. One interesting story traces origins of the name to the first generation of business men who started their businesses in this market.

According to this version, this first generation of wholesalers liked to arrive late in the markets and opened their shops around noon. So people started calling them nawabs (nawab connotes a laid-back almost royal attitude) and the market came to be known as Nawab bazaar.

Javed sahib, the president of Nawab bazaar, however, strongly disagrees: “My, father, Haji Nawab Deen, was the first generation of wholesalers who established businesses in this block, and the bazaar is name after my father,” he states.

Whatever the real history of the name, the different versions add to the aura of antiquity surrounding the market.

It’s a Man’s World

The wholesale business is dominated by men. Not only there are no female shop owners but you encounter female customers. Occasionally you can run into a lone female retailer traversing the narrow alleys of the market. Razia is one such brave woman I met while combing through the glittering, colorful shops of women’s apparel.

“I have nine children and my husband is a ‘home-tailor’ who works at his clients’ places. To make ends meet, I have started this business. I purchase ready-to-wear female kurtis from this market and my husband takes them to his clients’ houses and sells them. We get to save 100 to 200 rupees on every kurta. It isn’t much but it helps,” Razia explains her ‘business model.’

First Time visitors

Whether you are a retailer, a casual visitor, or a customer who wants to get good bargains, try to heading for the market between 9:30 am to 10:30 am. This is the time when the traffic is not too heavy and it is still quiet in the throbbing, congested lanes of the market. Visiting the market early will save you half of the hassle of long traffic jams. The other half, while going back, you will have to bear. Another advantage of visiting the market early is that once you are there you can shop at leisure and will even have time to haggle with the shopkeepers. As the day advances the business activity picks up pace, the market gets too crowded.

Parking your vehicle is now easy as there is a huge parking plaza near the market. However, the plaza doesn’t have a lift and once you park the car you will have to walk all the way down and then walk all the way up to get the car. It is bit of an exertion and would help if you are in the mood for some exercise.

Azam Cloth Market is surrounded by many other wholesale and retail markets, and while you are there you can have quick round of the other markets and schedule your next visit to one you like.

9 Reasons Why B2b Manufacturers Are Investing in Digital Marketing

Manufacturing marketers shifted gears in a big way this year, turning their attention toward sales as a primary goal for content marketing, according to a recent article in Content Marketing Institute (via Joe Pulizzi, @JoePulizzi), featuring research from Fathom. The article explains some of the changes that B2B manufacturers are making in their marketing programs, and the results may be surprising to you! They were to us, which is why we’re detailing out 9 of what we think are the most important findings in this report and sharing them with you in an easy-to-read blog:

  • 82% of B2B Manufacturers Use Content Marketing

The report details that only 18% of B2B manufacturing marketers do not use content marketing. Wow, that’s a low percentage, meaning that 82% do use content marketing, which is defined by the article as: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

If 82% of B2B manufacturing marketers are using content marketing as part of their strategy, there must be a reason, right?

  • 26% of B2B Manufacturers Say that “Content Marketing is Effective”

According to the report, last year, 30% of B2B manufacturing marketers said they were effective at content marketing. More importantly, 53% of those B2B manufacturing marketers that have a documented content marketing strategy say they are effective. So what’s the key here? Having a strategy and a plan, and executing against the plan.

  • 37% of B2B Manufacturers Have a Dedicated Content Marketing Group

And not only 37% already have a dedicated group of marketers that focus on content marketing, but 19% plan to have one in the future. This number, according to the report, is growing rapidly. The most effective among them are much more likely to have a dedicated group (67% vs. 37%).

  • 89% of B2B Manufacturers Say that Brand Awareness is the Ultimate Goal

The report shows that in comparison with other B2B peers overall, manufacturing marketers are much more focused on sales as a goal (85% vs. 75% overall). In addition, far more manufacturing marketers cited sales as a goal this year than they did last year (up to 85% this year vs. 56% last year).

  • 65% of B2B Manufacturers Are Creating More Content

According to the report, the percentage of marketers creating “more” content is down 4% from last year, but still remains high. 21% of respondents are creating “significantly more” content and 44% are creating “more” content than years past. If 65% are creating more content than ever before, then something must be working for these marketers.

  • 87% of B2B Manufacturers Use Video

The report shows that an overwhelming amount of content marketing for this industry is focus on video production. Other important tactics include eNewsletters (85%), Social Media Content (85%), Website Articles (84%) and Illustrations/Photos (82%). The use of videos increased from 80% last year to 87% this year moving up to the #1 tactic from it’s spot in 3rd last year.

  • 89% of B2B Manufacturers Use LinkedIn

The article shows a breakdown of how these marketers use social media platforms. While 89% use LinkedIn, 83% use YouTube (which makes sense as, according to our last stat, 87% use video). “Even though more manufacturers are using YouTube this year (83% vs. 81% last year), LinkedIn has surpassed it as the most often used platform, over a 16% increase from last year.”

  • 27% of B2B Manufacturers Post Daily or Multiple Times Per Week

For B2B Manufacturing Marketers, frequency is important (at least for 27% of the respondents)! But comparatively, these marketers are behind other peers in differing industries where 42% post daily or multiple times per day. Only 14% of B2B Manufacturing Marketers said that they post “less than once per month”.

  • 47% of B2B Manufacturers Plan to Increase Spending

Something must be going write for these marketers! According to the article, 47% of these marketers plan to increase their spending on content marketing within the next 12 months. While peers plan to increase 55%, this is still a high number for the industry. Last year, 46% of manufacturing marketers said they planned to increase spending, so the trend continues.

Manufacturers, while in the past more traditional in terms of marketing using tactics like print and direct mail, have upped their digital marketing and content marketing efforts in almost every way.

How Do You Promote Your Business? Answer: Promotional Marketing

You know that you need great marketing to get your company and its product and services in front of your target market or ideal customer. Creating an effective promotional marketing program will lead customers right to your door, website, inbox, or phone and entice them to purchase what you have to offer.

What is Promotional Marketing?

Promotional marketing is one aspect of your marketing program and includes the specifics of how you’re going to entice customers to take action. The advantage of a promotion is to create some buzz for your business or enterprise, to get your business to be noticed for standing apart from competition and to get your business noticed by your target market – as many people as possible.

Some businesses take promotional marketing to the next level by using promotional products (also known as advertising specialties, swag, or giveaways). What makes this type of marketing so effective is its ability to influence customer behavior, to encourage action, to create goodwill, and to be remembered long after the promotional event. Promotional marketing, if done well, has a lasting benefit beyond other forms of advertising.

Who Uses Promotional Marketing?

Every business can use promotional marketing. A company offering a bonus, gift, or additional benefits with a customer’s normal purchase is benefitting from using promotional marketing techniques.

How can we get more customers into our store? TV commercials, print ads and direct mail offers are the most common methods to offer the promotion to the target market. Think of the mailer envelopes that arrive at your home, filled with coupons and special deals. A restaurant, for example, may have TV commercials that offer a free drink with a lunch order. Or, cosmetic companies offer a free gift with purchase or a department store advertises a 50% off sale for a select type of item. The promotion calls attention to that extra element or benefit, which companies hope will encourage customers to visit who otherwise wouldn’t.

Other companies utilize a technique known as point-of-sale marketing. This helps increase the sales of products of sales that may be difficult to sell on an individual basis. For example, mobile phone companies may offer peripheral items like chargers and headsets at a reduced price if they purchase a cell phone with that item. (“Buy a phone, get a headset for half price.”) Since the customer is already there and has committed to the larger purchase (the phone), they are more likely to buy the extra item because they are enticed by the savings.

Creating Your Promotional Marketing Program

Step #1 – What is the Plan?

Careful thought and planning is the first step of making the promotion effective. What is the objective? What results are you looking for? Increasing revenues, building brand awareness, or launching a new product are just a few strategic goals of promotional marketing. Your business can also promote from within with team building, employee recognition, or safety awareness programs.

Step #2 – Who is the Target?

Before you begin, you’ll have to identify your target audience. Who is the ideal customer? Who is best suited to buy what you have to offer? What are their needs, and how can your products and/or services meet them? Then generate your sales materials with this target audience in mind. The goal of any promotional marketing program is to make people buy your product or service by creating an appealing proposition that requires timely action. You may want to come up with different messages depending on which communication methods you’re using. Remember that this is a work-in-progress, so don’t be afraid to change your strategies depending on what is working and what isn’t.

Step #3 – How to Make the Promotional Offer?

There are dozens of ways to actually get your message out, including social media, internet marketing, custom web landing pages, promotional products, and direct mail. Remember that your target audience will dictate the method of advertising. For example, if your target market is those over age 65, you may want to rely more heavily on direct mail or a print ad; however, if your market is under age 25, you’re definitely going to want to take advantage of newer technology methods, such as online marketing, social media, and text messaging.

Step #4 – What are the Results?

In order to judge the promotional campaign, it is critical to measure the program. How many did you offer to? How many actually used the offer? How much new sales revenue was generated from the offer? Without measuring the promotion, there is no way to improve and set the bar higher to make the next promotion better. Promotions are a way to test the market. Does your promotion generate more sales with a discount, a free gift, or bonus? Promoting your business helps generate excitement about a current service or launching a new product.