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5 Ways To Grow Your T-Shirt Business

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Hey friends, Dave here with Transfer Express, and today we’re diving into 5 ways you can attract new customers to your small business.

While these tips will work for any industry or business, we’ll hone in on some specific examples for custom apparel decorators, clothing lines and t-shirt businesses.

Ready? Let’s go get some new customers!

So, I’ve been in the apparel decorating industry for just over 14 years, and one of the most frequently asked marketing questions I get is “How can we attract more customers?”

We’ll we’re about to cover some strategies you can employ to bring in new customers, but I want to ensure you have a target audience or customer defined for the best chance at success!

Your target audience is who is buying your products. This can be defined by demographics like age or location, interests, hobbies, lifestyles, markets or more.

Having a target audience in mind is going to help your small business out in more ways than one: from maximizing your marketing efforts with a relatable message, to understanding your customers specific needs and even maximizing the return on investment for your advertising spend.

Say just for example you want to sell to your local school districts, sports teams, churches and community organizations. If you’re showing band tees you’ve printed or maybe even some rad skateboarding apparel, those schools and churches are not going to be interested to the level that they would be if you were showing off the latest fanwear, school pride gear or uniforms you printed.

Focusing on one niche allows you to be the professional go-to source, too, helping you stand out amongst any competing businesses in the area. For the fanwear example you can recommend the right blanks that are popular for high school sports at the price point that’s right for your customer, or suggest related products that your customers may be interested in: cozy hoodies for those fall sports? You bet!

Ok, so with our audience in mind, let’s dive right into the 5 ways you can get some new customers for you business!

Starting with number 1, reaching out. This is as simple as it gets. From visiting local businesses in your area, to calling, sending emails or even in todays day and age, sending direct messages on social media. This is one of the oldest, tried and true ways to get new customers. This method helps businesses build relationships with their customers and learn more about their audience’s needs. Customers won’t be afraid to tell you if they need the lowest price or premium quality and what you learn from these conversations can quickly become tools you’ll use with the next prospective customer you’ll talk to. Be genuine, listen to their needs and solve their problems, don’t just push products. It’ll feel very salesy.

The downside to this method is that it’s quite time consuming and can get tiresome, especially if you don’t enjoy talking to people. Be prepared for a whole bunch of “no’s” but persistence, follow-up and networking definitely helps!

One good thing to keep in mind here when you’re selling business to business is you’ve got a much better shot to win the job if you’re also a customer of theirs. Like, if you’re looking to attract local restaurants and bars as your customers, go hang out there. Thinking of those schools? Donations to the athletic boosters or participation in PTA organizations can go a long way.

For number 2, we’re going to shift to creating content to attract your customers. This is where relevancy to your target audience really comes into play! Essentially here, you build and publish content that relates to your audience and attracts them to you. This is where you want to show off those custom band tees if you want to be printing for more bands!

These types of content range from everything from blog articles to emails, podcasts, social media updates, photos and of course, video.

Now, this is pretty easy to do as an apparel decorator- show off your services and the cool stuff you’re doing! But, if creating content seems daunting for you (not all of us are social media wizkids), here’s 5 prompts to help you get started with content that will  always be useful for attracting new customers:

1. Create a video or article touring your shop or showcasing your products and what you do.

2. Tell your story. Think of this as a video or article from your “about us page”. People love relatable stories and the human element behind why we do things.

3. Directions on how to order or where you’re located if you have a website or brick and mortar store.

4. Testimonials from previous customers, share reviews or comments you’ve received on your products or prints.

5. Answer questions you’re frequently asked. If someone asked the question, others are going to ask it too, so answer it for them: The “how much does it cost” or “can you do this specific thing?”

Utilizing these 5 different prompts can help you as a guide to create a ton of different pieces of content, all that will be worth the time you spend creating it.

Moving on to number 3, we’ve got, paid advertising. Paid advertising here is going to be your Google ads, your social media ads, print advertising, or banners or billboards to advertise your services.

This is also going to heavily rely on you knowing your target audience. You can blow through your entire ad budget real quick without a single purchase with wide-open marketing. Targeted messaging and ads work best here, even if it means standing up a few different campaigns: one directed at sports, one directed at schools, and on and on, whatever your target markets are. Facebook makes things pretty easy to target based on interests and demographics as you pay every time the ad is shown, whereas on Google, you’ll target based on search keywords and pay only when someone clicks your ad.

Paid advertising spans all of the digital marketing efforts as well as postcards, flyers and printed media, too. You’ll maximize your bang for your buck by marketing at events you know your customers will be. Got a local skateboard clothing brand? Handing out stickers or buying a sponsorship banner at the local skatepark is going to be a good bet.

Of course, the risk here with paid ads is there is a financial investment, and when not used properly that money can go down the drain quick. But like the old saying goes: “If done right, marketing is free if it works!”

In many cases just one purchase can more than cover the investment into paid advertising and more.

Next up, number 4, affiliate marketing. This is where you partner with another business or personality to help spread awareness of your brand. Have them talk about your services or products or sponsor a giveaway. Store credit or something like “12 custom shirt giveaway” can be something that’s easy to put together and show you whos interested in your products. Creative ideas like that typically work best as long as they’re mutually beneficial for both parties, in some cases you may have to pay a small fee or commission to the affiliate, so this can kind of cross over into the paid ads territory.

Of course relying on a 3rd party takes some control out of your hands, but in many cases the benefits outweigh the risks.

Last on our list here today: number 5, referrals. Here we’re focusing on word-of-mouth advertising. Incredibly powerful, referrals are typically more effective for a few reasons:

Trust: consumers tend to trust recommendations from friends, family members, or acquaintances more than paid advertisements. They perceive these recommendations as unbiased and based on personal experiences.

Authenticity: word-of-mouth referrals are genuine and not driven by commercial interests.

Personal connection: people are more likely to consider products or services recommended by someone they know or share common interests with, creating a personal connection that paid ads or content can't replicate.

Emotional impact: typically you’ll see word-of-mouth recommendations from people who have had a positive experience with your business or brand- which is what you should always be aiming for!

You can easily move some referrals along by including coupons for your customers to share discounts with their friends or referral codes. Include these on postcards in the box or on hang tags, boosting your marketing potential.

So what do you think? Surely you can employ some, if not all, of these strategies in your business today! I know you can go out there and absolutely crush it. Taking steps like these no matter how big or small is going to make a tremendous impact in your business. You got this!

Think we missed a strategy here or do you have a successful technique to get customers yourself?

As always, be sure to subscribe to the Transfer Express YouTube page to stay up to date on all of the helpful t-shirt printing tips, tricks, inspiration and education that we’re dropping every single week. Until next time, I’m Dave, Happy Pressing!

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