iconnet keeps Jane Greenoff’s cross-stitchers happy from Iceland to Hong Kong

For more than 15 years, digital agency iconnet has helped Jane Greenoff’s Cross Stitch Guild delight and inspire cross-stitchers from around the world. Over several iterations of the Guild's website, Gloucester-based iconnet has developed and refined an increasingly sophisticated online presence that makes it easy for Jane to do business with thousands of enthusiasts…

What really struck us was their enthusiasm and the welcome we always got when we visited. It’s been lovely working with them ever since.
Jane Greenoff

In 2000, a few years after founding the Cross Stitch Guild, Jane, a prolific writer and cross stitch expert, attended what she describes as ‘internet lessons’ with the now defunct BusinessLink. Having realised that they needed a website as they grew the business, Jane and her husband Bill were directed to iconnet by BusinessLink.

‘iconnet hadn’t been in business long when we first met, at their original office in Gloucester,’ explains Jane as she recalls the early days of the relationship.

‘What really struck us was their enthusiasm and the welcome we always got when we visited. It’s been lovely working with them ever since.’

The relationship strengthened

Over the next decade and a half, the relationship between the two growing businesses strengthened with every evolution of the Cross Stitch Guild website. From the first simple site to its current fifth-generation manifestation, the Guild’s online presence has change markedly. What started as a simple informational site is now a sophisticated ecommerce website complete with forums, members’ areas, downloadable resources and video, in the form of Cross Stitch TV where Jane’s fans can watch her reveal the secrets of counted cross stitch.

Responsiveness

Asked for her thoughts on what makes iconnet different, Jane describes their ‘all hands on deck’ approach, responsiveness and willingness to go the extra mile to understand the needs of an organisation predominantly addressing women, many of whom are of ‘a certain age’.

‘I’ll never forget how Ben, their young designer, bought and read an armful of womens’ interest magazines to understand our marketplace,’ says Jane. ‘That was really impressive, as was his intuitive understanding of what we were trying to achieve. Looking back, it’s typical of the lengths to which iconnet go to look after me, my customers and my followers in the UK as well as overseas locations as far apart as Iceland and Hong Kong.’

Whether they’re sorting out my typos, advising me to change impulsively added, not-best-quality images, or we’re negotiating fees, we do so with honesty and a sense of humour.

We know and trust each other

According to Jane, she and iconnet have never reached an impasse in 15 years. ‘We quickly got the relationship to where we knew and trusted each other and could talk frankly about any issues until we resolved them. Whether they’re sorting out my typos, advising me to change impulsively added, not-best-quality images, or we’re negotiating fees, we do so with honesty and a sense of humour.’

An easy-to-use content management system

Over the years, along with a members’ area and the website’s ecommerce functions, one of the most valuable enhancements for Jane, a prolific creater and uploader of new designs, has been an easy-to-use content management system.

‘When I get going on a new idea, I can have drawn the design, stitched it, made it up, photographed it and uploaded it to the website before going to bed. And almost without fail, within minutes of it going online, someone, somewhere around the world is buying it!’

As well as speaking volumes about how attentively Jane’s followers watch for new designs, such responses highlight the importance of a slick real-time banking function behind a website that exudes Cotswold charm and the timeless appeal of a centuries-old craft.

One tiny hiccup in 15 years

Just as most cross-stitchers will admit to occasional mistakes, surely iconnet must have had a few slipups during the 15-year relationship with Jane? After a moment's thought, she recalls a minor incident: Jane visited her site on a weekend, not long after an update went live, and was surprised to see a 404 error message. However a quick phone call to Ben got things sorted. ‘Apparently,’ Jane recalls, ‘there was a server issue, something to do with a Microsoft update. That's really all I can think of over the years we've worked together.’

Once again, it isn’t so much the occasional ‘hiccup’ that’s notable. After all, both Jane and iconnet work in the real world where things occasionally go awry for the most conscientious organisations. More important is the way a business such as iconnet quickly takes responsibility and puts things right for their customer.

We wouldn’t be here without them

Jane Greenoff repeatedly highlights her working relationship with the iconnet team, and the difference an increasingly sophisticated website made for her as the Cross Stitch Guild grew. However, the ultimate compliment to her digital agency comes when she says, ‘we wouldn’t be here without them’.

‘As well as making the growth of the Cross Stitch Guild possible,’ she explains, ‘James [Chance] and his colleagues have given me valuable strategic input and advice that will help us plan and execute our eventual exit strategy.’

Not that Jane’s website users need worry about that happening for a while. Her exquisite designs keep appearing online, Jane regularly wows audiences on Craft TV (a not-to-be-missed monthly highlight in the iconnet offices) and her standing as a worldwide authority on her craft just keeps growing. And all supported by the reliable, attractive, functional website that iconnet built and maintains.

Praise for the website

Asked about the response of customers and others to the latest website, Jane is full of praise for iconnet and characteristically to the point: ‘We love it, our customers love it and we’ve never received a single criticism; except, perhaps, for the fact that there’s a bit less than there was about me and the dogs as we subtly shift emphasis away from me, my animals and my garden and re-focus on the Cross Stitch Guild brand.

‘I can see us needing to do a “Jane’s Diary” feature to re-dress the balance soon,’ she says. ‘That will be another job for iconnet.’

I’d recommend iconnet without hesitation.

Deep affection and respect for the team

Talking with Jane Greenoff about the growth of her online business and iconnet’s role in her success, it’s impossible not to detect her deep affection and professional respect for James, Ben and the rest of the team.

‘I’d recommend iconnet without hesitation,’ she says, and have done so.’ Then she pays them the greatest possible compliment when she reveals, with typical candour, the full extent of their involvement in the Cross Stitch Guild’s success.

‘They are so inextricably linked with our success, and we are so close, that, without iconnet, I’d probably look into getting rid of the business. They have been that important to where we are now.’

Trustworthy, creative, they listen to what you say and they offer value for money

Trustworthy, creative and value for money

That’s got to be a hard, maybe even impossible, endorsement to follow, and one that even Jane’s summary of iconnet as ‘trustworthy, creative, they listen to what you say and they offer value for money’ can’t quite match!

www.thecrossstitchguild.com

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