Marketing Your Heat Printing Business Part II

Part II continues  my list of ideas and tips to help you boost sales of decorated apparel.

7. Prospect everyday. If you train yourself and your sales staff to find new prospects through cold calling, you keep your sales pipeline loaded with potential customers. In addition to cold calling, samples are another proven tactic. Using your vinyl cutter and cad materials, it’s quick and easy to custom an inexpensive T-shirt to show customers what you can do. Always carry business cards, put magnetic signs on the vehicles you drive advertising your services…and wear your own personalized shirts. This will show people the power of personalization and give you a conversation starter. Don’t be afraid to start up casual conversations with people in line at the post office, the super market, the gas station. You never know where your next big customer will turn up!

8. Ask for referrals. Some of our best prospects come from existing Stahls’ customers, all of whom have friends and acquaintances in similar businesses and other relationships. What can you do to leverage your relationships with clients to increase your sales volume? Hand out cards that say “Referrals Appreciated.”  You can even take it a step further and give some kind of discount on a future order when people refer new customers to you.

9. Be enthusiastic. A good definition of selling is passing enthusiasm from the salesperson to the prospect. If you are not enthusiastic about your products, how can you get someone else excited about it? Do you love the way flock feels? Do you appreciate the way 2 color numbers look more interesting than one color numbers? Are you amazed at the way metallic full color digital transfers look? Make sure you have lots of printed samples on hand so you can go over the wide variety of heat printing looks that you are able to create. Once your customers see how excited you are about your products, they will have more confidence in making a purchase.

10. Qualify. A viable prospect for your product meets three requirements. He has an interest in your product, a need, and can make a buying decision. Qualify the prospect by asking questions that find out if he fits these three criteria. One industry that takes full advantage of this old marketing adage is the insurance industry. Most insurance sellers won’t even meet with you if you’re not the decision maker. They won’t make an appointment without the spouse being present, since that is one of the oldest excuses not to buy in the book–“I have to ask my wife, or I have to ask my husband.” You don’t have to go to such extremes, especially when you are not that busy, but just make sure you don’t waste your time speaking with people who really have no intention of purchasing or who have no authority to make a purchase. This would be especially true when selling to schools or teams…find out who is going to be making the final buying decision…the coach? Or the team parent? The booster club?

11. Sell benefits, not features. It’s not the list of product facts that makes the prospect buy, but how your product will help him. Stress the versatility, the ability to go on a wide range of fabric types, fast turnaround, and no minimums.

12. Never sell on price alone. The price of your products, while important, is not a benefit or a feature, unless it is the lowest-priced product in the market. Only one product can be the lowest priced, so unless you can maintain that price point and be profitable, sell your product on its merit, customer service, or any of a dozen other reasons.

Don’t forget to stop and have a cup of eggnog with a friend sometime during the holiday season! The rest of the tips are coming soon and after that, I have a a series of blogs from my GroupeSTAHL colleagues from around the world who are going to share their predictions for 2010 with us. There’s some good stuff coming up, so keep checking back. Better yet, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed and you’ll automatcially be updated whenever there is a new blog posting.

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  1. Dave Harkness says:

    Dear Ted,

    In researching ideas regarding my interest in starting a small business from my home (to supplement my income during my upcoming retirement), I discovered your Internet site. I clicked on your site hoping I might find more information about T-shirt heat presses, and how to make an informed decision when buying one. It was some minutes later as I read your blog page I realized that I once knew your family. Years ago when I was an aspiring young baseball player My father, Harry Harkness, managed a little league team called the Alwood Indians in Warren Michigan, and your father Ernie sponsored our team providing beautifully lettered bright gold uniforms, and all the equipment. I remember visiting “Stahl’s Felt Stamping” on Frazho Road, and your house on the lake where a real big Great Dane stepped on my foot. I also remember your father sponsored our Boy Scout Troop, and was well respected by anyone who knew him. I can still smell the cigar smoke. I see that you have done your family proud, and hope there is yet another Stahl to follow in your footsteps.

    Best wishes and a prosperous New Year…

    Dave Harkness

    Ps. Any hints on heat presses would be appreciated.

  2. Ted says:

    Hello Dave,
    Thanks for the kind comments and memories about my father Ernie. It is really wonderful to hear that you remember his support of your team, the uniforms, our Great Dane and of course, the cigar smoke!

    The fastest easiest way to get started in the t-shirt printing business is by purchasing a heat press and using custom transfers. But first you need to find the right press. Josh Ellsworth has produced a video on choosing the right press and you can find it here:
    He also has a lot of other informative videos that will give you great information. There is also the website which also has videos and info on how to choose a press. You should also contact Transfer Express, another GroupeSTAHL company, for information on their marketing kit or request their booklet on how to get started printing t-shirts…it’s got all the information you need. I wish you the very best in starting a t-shirt business…there is still alot of business out there for people who are willing to go after it! Good luck and keep me informed on how you are doing and what you decide to do. I appreciate your feedback and your comments about my dad. He is no longer with us, but my mother Ricki is still around and she will be thrilled when I share your comments with her.

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