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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had my machine for a while now, I do this at home and have had steady work till a few weeks ago now. It comes in by cutting prices and still customers are saying they arent buying now. Does anyone have ideas how to drum up business through these times? I am willing to try anything that will get my foot in the door (LEGALLY!!) I have talked o other printers and they say that they are doing ok for now.
 

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my first word of advice is to NOT cut your pricing! Things aren't that bad, nor do I think they will get that bad!!

Drumming up business on the cheap........hit the networking meetings in your area. Work them and work them hard. You would be surprised what comes out of it.

65% of our clients are found thru networking (2007/2008) This year (2008/2009) will have a little different ratio, we seem to be picking up alot from our website and walkin traffic. So.......because you are home based, you need to get out there and be seen.

Do you have your vehicle lettered/advertising/magnets?
Do you have a website?
Do you have a blog?
Are you on facebook/myspace?
Are you involved in your community?
Are you part of any networking groups?
Have you attended any speed networking events?
Have you attended any grand openings or open houses for businesses?

You dont need to spend alot of money to get the word out, but you do need to spend time. Dont cut your prices. If you are offering a good quality product people will by it. When times get tough, I dont want some cheap $.99 shirt that is going to fall apart in the wash. I'll pay more for quality, and something that is going to last. Yes people may be spending more wisely, but I think they are looking for quality too. If they are going to spend it, they dont want to waste it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply Robin. It isnt that I am advertising price cuts, I am just giving a better deal on some of the bids. I have been networking and meeting others. I do not try and base my pricing on a "cheaper quality" product. Actually I am very picky on what goes out the door. I wouldnt want an inferior shirt, even if a friend made it. I am just curious on how others were getting new business. I do have to say I LOVE your thinking. SIMPLE, BASIC BUT RIGHT TO THE POINT, nothing like good ole fashion leg work. I do alot of things mentioned but I will get out there more. Time for some new sneakers.
 

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If you don't have a website, get one. Even if your business isn't really about selling on the web. I haven't even done anything but throw up a place holder with contact information, but it has helped me with giving customers an easy way to find me and helps legitimize my business as I'm a part timer like you. I have all the business I can handle right now and a lot of it has come through telling people how they can contact me through my website.

For example, I did a small order of 20 custom cut vinyl shirts for a yearbook staff at a local high school early this school year. No big deal right, probably not even worth the time to do it. Well, I did make a little profit on it and the teacher had another teacher ask about where she got the shirts. She referred her to my web site where she emailed me about doing a shirt for an event they were going to do where they normally sell about 200 shirts. That sounded great to me until I found out that the event had over 1k people normally, but they always just order a certain amount of shirts and hope to sell out. I explained we could print up a couple of hundred shirts and then make transfers to be sure we could cover even higher demand if it was there. Well last weekend I did 450 shirts for the event and had three new contacts from people attending the event. I went ahead and got a second press for it the event to be sure I could keep up (which the event paid for) and ordered a bunch of stock transfers to have some other things to sell.

Now I'm starting to get custom orders through the website (which I seriously need to develop) for those stock transfers. Keep in mind, I'm only heat pressing plastisol transfers and vinyl. I really only started this business to help with fundraising a few times a year, but I have been busy since day one and there are tons of screen printers in my town. I haven't even had time to work on the sign/decal side of the business yet. I originally thought I'd just do some inkjet transfers for small orders. I'm still trying to work out the details on the transfers as I ran into some problems with the Claria inks that set me back.

All that being said, the only thing I can see that I'm doing differently than the full time guys is embracing smaller orders and giving good customer service. I try to be reasonable on the prices, but I'm not slashing prices to beat other bids to get business. I know for sure I've been as much as $1 higher per shirt on a few bids that I got anyway because of my customer service.
 

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Hi Guys!

Another idea might be to partner up with local screen print shops etc, let them know you can do their small runs or direct to garment orders, in return they can print the really large orders you cannot fulfill and even get a cut from the deal.
-Rod:)
 

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Of course, you don't want to overlook the most obvious, and most powerful sales technique in any industry: impulse, add on items.

For example: Your customer orders 72 shirts with their logo. When they receive the goods, they open the box to find not only their shirts, but also a hoodie with their image printed on it, as well as an embroidered or digitally printed cap with their logo on it. In the box, they also find a very simple price list, as well as a "quick order form" to make it as easy as possible to convert their sense of "Wow, this is neat!" into "I'll take twenty."

It might be a good idea to include a SPECIAL PRICE, found only on the price lists in orders you send out, which is good for 5 business days from the day they pick up their order. You could have a small field on the forms, where you stamp or write the date, so you know how long the special lasts for each customer. This would add a sense of urgency to their desire to buy a few hats, sweatshirts or alternative items.

I find that, most of the time, people don't order more variety of products, simple because they never take the time to conceptualize their image on anything other than a t-shirt. If you SHOW them their logo on a sweatshirt, they are more likely to buy them than if you simply offer them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
THANKS for all your imput. I have printed this before and lost it. Might help others too. I need to re-read #7!!!!

8 "Killer Steps" to Attracting New Business in a Lagging Economy

1. Broaden Your Perspective
What business are you in? Redefine and reinvent yourself. Determine how you can create a leap in demand for your products and services. Build new alliances and consider alternate distribution channels. Don't go solo. It's important to assemble a group of advisors and get their input and creative ideas. Include people who have differing points of view from you. Not easy, but critical.

2. Be Nimble and Innovative
You'll never have all the facts. Make quick decisions. Be fearless and make tough choices. Create new uses for your products. Why not a new business model?

3. Dazzle Your Current Customers
Your current customers need care and feeding. Don't ignore them at the expense of new business, because they are your best source for new business.

4. Prioritize Wisely
The most important activity for any salesperson is to do what's "closest to cash" the first thing every single day—whether it's following up with a prospect, writing a proposal, or closing a deal.

5. Become an Expert
Companies hire experts because they can't afford to make mistakes. Position your company as the expert with a specific product or in a specific market niche. Become an expert and people will be more likely to refer you.

6. Stay Connected
If you want to get more referrals you have to network like crazy. Attend a minimum of one event a week. You never know who you will meet and what you will learn. Never let your network go down. Networking is an essential referral marketing activity. So go make connections and build your business.

Talk to people and find out how you can help them. How is their business doing? Are they impacted by the lagging economy? How? Don't email, call. You make connections by talking to people and by spending the time to have a robust conversation.

7. Don't Cut Prices, Increase Value
There's a lot of chatter about cutting prices in a lagging economy. Many small business owners think businesses are cutting back, so prospects don't have money for their projects. But, by cutting prices, you're cutting your profits even further. Instead, consider how to "get in and get started." Divide your offering into smaller chunks, get results, and create traction. Or, give more value. When you offer high-value products and services, people will refer you and you will get more sales, even in a recession economy.

8. Commit to Building Your Referral Business
Referrals are always terrific, but they mean even more in a lagging economy. Don't let the lagging economy trickle down on you. Take charge and make your phone ring again! Let your prospects know how much you care about them. Tell and show just how much you appreciate their business. Inform them that you'd like to help people just like them. And, don't forget to thank your prospects and clients for their referral.
 

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Very good points and all are so true. Even though we get alot of our business via web and email I always make a point of ringing the customer during the duaration of the job and after the have recieved the product even if it is 1 T shirt and costs me a toll call. Over 80% of our customers are repeat customers or refered to by someone that has had a print done or design done by us. I do find that the personal touch of a voice phone call or face to face converstaions has been lost these days with the web and emails etc. It is the way the world is going and we will loose touch with customer service if we do not talk to them. I find they like it and they come back again and again. Remeber also that a small customer of 1 shirt can become a big customer as well. Some of the biggest customers start with 1 print to try you out (speed, service and quality) then they order big and frequintly. Anyway I wish you all the best and hope you do well.
 

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Do you have any special interests that might be represented by a school club?

We have printed a small quantity of shirts for a school music program to give away with a receipt in the box- maybe 10-12 shirts with the normal order price and then at the bottom - donation to _____ (make sure half are adult sizes to fit the teachers!). That was all it took to immediately get an order and repeat orders from them which absolutely made the give-aways worthwhile.

My husband was in the school office when an embroiderer walked in with a design on a few adult polos and just handed them over, without saying much. They said it all, running down the hall and getting on the phone to call teachers to see them. He walked out with an order.

This might work anywhere where there are a lot of people on staff who can quickly get a visual of your product.
 
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