5 Ways Decorators Shake Up T-Shirt Marketing
5 Ways Decorators Shake Up T-Shirt Marketing
Decorators are revamping their t-shirt and apparel marketing in light of a pandemic-stricken economy. Here are four areas where they’re finding key ways to serve customers’ new and morphing needs.
1. Balance virtual and in-person service.
“We’re moving toward more digital marketing strategies and away from physical catalogs and face-to-face meetings,” says Emmy Handen, owner of Colorado Springs, CO-based Bravo Screen Printing & Embroidery. “Of course, we’ll never be able to replace color swatches and physical T-shirt samples with an e-version.”
Despite pivoting toward digital marketing, Bravo will always maintain a hands-on showroom for locals. “Our customers like to touch and feel the actual garments,” Handen says. “It just means we’re cleaning and disinfecting more often.”
Anthony Corsano, COO and Operations Manager at Brookfield, CT-based Bolt Printing & Embroidery, agrees that shops need to discover the right mix of digital and traditional marketing channels for customer touch points. For example, his shop has a website and a social media presence. However, after deciding that he wanted to drill down to local customers, his team added a showroom. “We have also done direct mail pieces,” he says. “It’s a mix, and it’s never all or nothing. We try different things and analyze the results. Sometimes, we don’t end up where we thought, but we’re still successful.”
2. Meet your customers on social media with useful content and videos.
Marian Hinebauch, owner of Las Vegas-based Logo Droppers, is doing something totally new in her business: She hired two full-time employees to redo her website and social media presence, along with creating compelling blog and newsletter content. “We’ve never focused on this in the past, but now it’s really important,” she says.
And Jen Badger, owner of Jefferson, IA-based ShineOn Designs, ramped up her shop’s social media efforts even more during the lockdown. “Suddenly everyone had time on their hands to spend on social media,” she says. “We increased our posting frequency and added new content like videos and links to our online stores.”
Learn more: Use Instagram to Turn Followers into Loyal Customers
Badger reports videos had the biggest impact and reach, but online store links got the most shares. “We did three unique promotions with our online store that targeted different segments of the population,” she says. “This invited different people to our page and garnered more likes and follows.”
Panama City, FL-based Garment Gear started filming educational videos to fully explain the printing process. “When people engage with our content or buy from us, many of them want to understand the start-to-finish process,” says Dan Strickland, president.
Learn more: Creating engaging online content for your print shop.
Strickland points out that Garment Gear opened back in the day when companies placed an ad in the Yellow Pages and considered their paid marketing done for the year. “And we worked referrals and word of mouth really hard,” he says. “You have to remember now that Yellow Pages are no more, and social media is the new space where you announce a new product, new colors or styles, and when your shop adds new equipment and services. You need to market daily on social media.”
3. Prioritize the customer experience.
Garment Gear has adopted the idea that traditional wholesalers must transition to a higher level of customer service. “Now, our B2B clients expect white-glove service and to be treated like B2C customers,” Strickland says.
That can include revamping your customer service experience or providing your customers with specific tips to bounce their business back from the pandemic lag.
In addition, decorators are pitching creative ways for their customers to use decorated apparel, or new products. To cross-sell clients on new items, Hinebauch suggests offering free samples with orders. For example, when a client orders a certain product volume, they score a free mask, polo or T-shirt in a new brand or style. “Or if a business like a dance studio is opening back up, offer a free mask or T-shirt when they place their first order,” she says. To up the ante she suggests sending thank-you cards to customers and offering special coupons or discounts.
To find new clients, you can either broadly pitch to different markets or drill even further into the niche market your shop already serves. “For example, help your clients realize missed opportunities with different body silhouettes,” Hinebauch says.
Learn More: 10 Industries to Pitch Decorated Apparel to Right Now
4. Think nationally and locally.
Corsano recommends pitching new services, either nationwide or locally. “Don’t make assumptions that any industry or customer base is gone,” he says. “We’re getting a boatload of new orders from schools. Don’t assume that because a school is closed they’re not doing remote team spirit events or giving every graduate a T-shirt.”
Corsano also sees smaller print shops focusing on a regional sales and marketing strategy. “Do you own your territory?” he says. “You should be on the radar of any business within a 100-mile radius. Even if they don’t buy from you, you should be on their short list.”
5. Market online store management to all your customers and prospects.
Almost any business now can benefit from an online store, since more people are comfortable with shopping online. For one, Hinebauch says, if a lot of employees are working at home or need uniform pieces, it’s easier for companies to distribute goods.
If you’re working on a cool or meaningful effort with a client, this is the time to share the news with the general public. “Always look for those chances to partner with your clients on co-branded announcements,” Strickland says.
Ultimately, you can survey your customers to learn what’s most important to them. Then, adjust your communications and how you deliver products and services to meet their up-to-the-minute needs.
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