Some of my loyal readers might find this post repetitive. In other words, I’ve written about this before. Maybe even used the some of the same exact words. But just as we work at continually explaining the benefits of heat printing to people, many of whom have been in the industry for decades, we encourage you to do the same when it comes to promoting your business, at explaining what it is YOU do. No one can afford to get in a rut, no one can afford to rest on their laurels. No one can afford to assume that people understand the products and services you offer. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of people in your town who have no idea what you do or even where you are located. As a business owner, you know there is something you could be doing better. Many of the people we speak with on a daily basis say “we need to work more on growing our business.” “We need to find new customers.” “We need to focus on selling and not production.” Sound familiar? Do you want to sell more T-shirts? More jackets? More sweatshirts? More caps? You can. But you have to work at it. As Yoda says, there is no “try.” Do or do not.
THINK BEYOND THE JERSEY OR T-SHIRT ORDER
You should feel confident that you can print almost anything if you have a heat press. Because you can. Even if you don’t get the t-shirt or team jersey business, there are a lot more items you can offer to local schools, teams and businesses. Here are just some ideas:
1. Team uniform sales can be very competitive at the school level, but don’t forget that you can provide “non-uniform” items to players (off playing field shirts, caps, water bottles, banners, etc.) and all the items you can provide the fans (more graphic/bling type apparel, seat cushions for bleacher seats, scarves for cold games, window decals to “ride with pride”.
2. Find out which schools have Student Stores –visit the store and show them some up to date cool samples of what you can offer.
3. Ask if you could set up a table at sporting events – baseball games, football games, hockey, basketball, etc. All you need is a table, electricity, and
heat applied products for the event and to offer the service of personalized names on existing shirts. If you want you can donate a portion of the proceeds back to the team.
4. Homecoming & Proms – all the kids have shirts with the theme and the date of the dance as a parting gift – it is the norm now.
5. Keep track of who is winning in what sports –all championship games need a shirt commemorating the BIG WIN! Most schools hold assemblies the first school
day back from a BIG WIN – hundreds of shirts could be sold.
6. Swim teams and meets need not only t-shirts, but tote bags and towels that can be personalized for each team or each member. Think of items that other sports need in addition to uniforms.
Find your niche. Do you have a niche? To be successful you need to find a need in the marketplace and fill it. Make a list of the services you offer on one side of the paper. Now think of all the possible customers for each of your services and products. Some thoughts to get you going…church groups, club sports teams, school pep club, local cupcake store, local colleges, community colleges in your area, local pizza place…you get the idea. If you live in a larger metropolitan area, your niche might have to be something REALLY different. If you live in a smaller area, your niche can be a bit broader. Find a need. There is always a need for custom t-shirts and other custom items. But what are you offering that your competition isn’t? Who can you target that your competitors aren’t targeting? Make a list. If you need help, here is a list of possible niche markets you should consider servicing.
Ideas for Add-On Sales
You may already be customizing and personalizing uniforms for sports teams. Why not offer the following as well?
- Items for parents and boosters, such as T-shirts, personalized jerseys, seat cushions, blankets, and jackets
- Stickers and decals, such as player number car decals or team bumper stickers
- Customization of equipment bags
- Team jackets and warm-up garments
- Team logo coffee mugs, pens, mousepads, and coozies
- Banners advertising team sponsors
- Team caps, visors, and socks
- Items commemorating tournaments or special events
Charities and organizations that may already be using your services for signs or T-shirts may also be interested in:
- Caps, socks or other apparel
- Pens, mousepads, binders, bookcovers, etc.
- Golf accessories (ball sleeves, towels, tees, etc.)
When a cheer or dance team orders uniform or outfit customization, why not suggest:
- Dance bags
- Garment bags
- Camp outfits
Family Events (birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions):
- Hats or visors
- Family vacation T-shirts
- Tote bags
- Picture gifts for grandparents
There are even opportunities associated with weddings, such as:
- Bachelor/bachelorette party T-shirts
- Bridesmaid memento garments (such as T-shirts, hoodies, etc.)
- “Save the date” magnets
Around the holidays offer customers personalized gift suggestions, such as:
- Christmas stockings
- Tree skirts
- T-shirts (for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.)
- Reflective or glow-in-the-dark materials for application to Halloween costumes or trick-or-treat bags
Personalized items can be great ideas for kids, too. Try suggesting personalized backpacks, lunch bags, binders, and book covers.
And don’t forget that people love their pets. Items that can be customized for pets include:
- Dog apparel
- Life jackets
- Pet beds
TAKE 10 MINUTES A DAY
If you’re like most business owners, you’re busy everyday with all kinds of small details. When do you have time to work on marketing ideas or find new customers? My advice? Set aside 10 minutes each day to spot a local business that you would like to gain as an account. Put some thought into what type of custom printed item they might need–they just might not have realized it yet! Jot down their address and send a flyer with a hand written note (maybe with a printed mini-t inside it) letting them know that you can provide them with custom printed shirts and more.
Here’s another idea…have you noticed the increase in valet parking services lately? It seems that the aging baby-boomers don’t want to (or can’t) walk long distances from the parking lot anymore. What does that mean for your business? How about approaching valet service companies with the service of reflective logos on caps or vests. Volunteer vests are another great custom item that people don’t know where to purchase. How about letting schools and businesses know that you have volunteer vests available for their next big event?
Become An Expert: This is easier said than done, especially if you are just getting started in the business of custom printing t-shirts. But no matter what you sell, cars or t-shirts, strong product knowledge can help you win more sales. If you know your product’s features and benefits, you can better overcome objections and fit your product to the prospect’s needs. As a heat print specialist, you should know that there is a heat printing product available for decorating just about any type of item. Whether the logo is one color or a complicated full color design, there is a heat print graphic that will work on the t-shirt, nylon jacket, canvas bag, polypropelene bag, cap or whatever it is your cusotmer is looking for. There are also heat transfer films (CAD-CUT® materials) that will stretch enough to be used on swim suits, leotards, and performance wear. What’s my point? Understand your options, know what’s out there and be able to assure your customer that you are the expert they need to get the job done the way they want it. (that means you are buying DIRECT from the manufacturer) website with more how-to videos, and how-to information, like this handy heat printing materials chart. This chart gives you the product knowledge you need to talk like an expert. Need more information? Click here for a material comparison chart.
Know your competition. Not only should you know who you are competing with, you should know what they sell and how they sell it. Get out your pad and paper and make a list. It always helps to write things down. You can even keep track of pieces of information you gather over time, such as specials you hear your competition is offering, or new services. Your goal shouldn’t be to copy a successful competitor. It’s more about understanding what your competition is doing and seeing how you would compare in the mind of your customer. You can gain a competitive edge with customers by proactively eliminating perceived advantages that the competing company may have. Sure, your competitors might have a slight edge in some areas, but by building your sales presentation to combat those advantages and removing them from the customer’s mind, you can win. Don’t wait until the prospect brings up a competitive advantage that the competition has sold them on and have to answer it. Eliminate the advantage right upfront. A big advantage you have with a vinyl cutter and cad materials is the ability to do short-run, fast turnaround. A small order can be turned in an hour if necessary. Be sure to emphasize this versatility and flexibility when making a presentation. Not sure about whether you should add a vinyl cutter to your business? This handy chart might help you decide.
THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER
Whatever you choose to do to market your business and promote your heat printing products and services, keep these questions in mind: Am I thinking like a customer? Am I answering their concerns? Am I making sure
they know why they should buy from me instead of from someone else? Your customer will never come into your place of business and directly ask you “why should I buy from you?” So that’s what you need to be telling him/her in everything you do. Your pricing needs to be clear, any concerns they may have about quality and reliability need to be addressed in your marketing pieces or store signs. You also be have to be able to imagine that your customer doesn’t really know what they want to buy. They don’t know what color their logo should be, they don’t know how to get their logo to you, they don’t know how many shirts they will need. Make it easy for your customer. Create a binder that shows examples of your one, two and full color designs on all the colorways you carry. Explain the difference between one and two color lettering or numbering on a sign or with a real-life sample. Create seasonal displays and put out flyers with a monthly special on them. Even if the customer doesn’t want that particular special, they will be made aware of your heat printing and apparel decorating services. It’s not easy making flyers, which is why Transfer Express has created a range of generic marketing flyers that you can use to promote your custom printing capabilities. Click here to see all of them.
Increase Your Exposure–Consider Low Cost Advertising Alternatives
What do I mean by exposure? It means letting people know what you do. You need to make sure people know who you are and what it is you do. What are some ways you can do this?
1) Always carry a supply of business card with your contact information. Give them out to everyone you meet. Everyone needs t-shirts at some point. Or they know someone who needs t-shirts.
2) Consider low-cost advertising in places where business owners might congregate. How about a church bulletin? On a bus bench outside a courthouse or city hall.
3) Print up flyers and tuck them under windshields of cars parked outside the office supply or quicky print store.
4) If you know the owner of a printing shop and he/she doesn’t mind, ask to put a stack of flyers or a “drop your card” in this bowl to gather names of other businesses.
5) Post your card at the car wash or on other information boards that have exposure in the community.
6) Sponsor a local sports league that includes the privilege of putting a banner with your store info on the fields. Different levels of sponsorship come with different perks. You have to find the leagues you want to sponsor that will give you the most exposure.
7) Approach stores that sell performance wear, such as bike stores or running stores, and let them know that you have the ability to add their logo to the items they sell.
Do you already have a sign in your store window that says “We Print Custom T-Shirts!” If not, that should be the first thing you do after reading this. You might think the name of your business makes it obvious as to what you do, but you would be surprised. You can also add words such as “No Minimums” “Overnight Services” ”Custom Printing While You Wait”. “We Print On Anything” is also a good one. You want to make sure you tell the world what it is you do. DO or Do not. There is no try.