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We recently opened a full service screen printing business in Carlisle PA.

We have taken out an ad in the yellow pages, put a professional sign out front of the shop and have designed a initial website.

My question is what is the most cost/time effective way to gain exposure in the local market?

Would cold calling on the telephone or in person be more effective?

What industry or service group purchases the most t-shirts?

Our shop is located on my property so we have the advantage of under pricing most of the shops in the area. My partner has 15 years as a graphic designer and produces excellent artwork.

Which bullet would you lead with price or quality?

Any advice anyone can give on marketing a start up screen printing business would be greatly appreciated.

 

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I would say quality beats price any day! If you have a quality product AND you are able to beat the competition’s prices, you are definitely in business!



On to the marketing…Schools, schools, and more schools! With the schools (especially colleges), they probably already have a local source that they are loyal to, but if you can show them quality at a better price, I’m sure they would jump on board. Also try local restaurants (mom & pop shops). Offer big discounts since you can under price the competition.



Again, if you have quality AND can offer a better price, the war is over!



I would print up some samples and give them to them. Show them how good your quality is, and quote them prices that you know the competition can’t beat. You will have so much business you just might HAVE to find a bigger shop!



Good luck to you and welcome to the forums!;)
 

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Lots of people still use the yellow pages to find local businesses. It's good to have some sort of presence there.

Getting listed in Google/Yahoo locally is also a good idea though! Any other local online resources/communities you can find might be a good place to hit as well.
 

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OK...I'll bite. When is the last time you used a phone book to look something up? Be honest now. Everyone I know hasn't touched one for years.

Spend the same amount of money on local Google and Yahoo listings as the Yellow page ad. I'll bet you the leads through the Internet come in better than 30 to 1!

BTW - which Yellow pages would you suggest? In LA there's 4 different Yellow Pages. Most places have at least two different competing Yellow Pages.
 

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Ok I am listed on Yahoo, msn, and google. There is only one yellow pages (Verizon) I also have the business listed with their online yellow pages. It cost me a total of $44 a month.
When approaching the schools who do I ask to speak with? Or would it be better to attend a school board meeting?
 

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bocajon said:
Ok I am listed on Yahoo, msn, and google. There is only one yellow pages (Verizon) I also have the business listed with their online yellow pages. It cost me a total of $44 a month.
When approaching the schools who do I ask to speak with? Or would it be better to attend a school board meeting?
Do a local Google search for screen printing in Carlisle PA. That's where most of the unsecured business is going.

As for schools, ask for purchasing and they will usually tell you exactly how they work and what you need to do. It also dosen't hurt to get in w/ the athletic department. Also Little League, town Soccer leagues, etc.
 

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CoolHandLuke said:
You're rare! The one in thirty.
I definitely think you have it 100% backwards - it's more like 1 in 30 dependent on the internet.

While it's true that I much, much prefer to do business with a company that has a good website unless I don't have a choice, that's not yet the norm. Most businesses in the yellow pages don't even have websites, and there are a lot more businesses in the pages than there are web businesses not in it.

For end-product printed t-shirts there is a large web presence, but for trades (such as screenprinting services) it's still an off-line world.

If I was looking for a screenprinter I too would look to the yellow pages, because I know not many of them can be found online. That does mean having a website gives you an edge, but one would ignore the real world at their peril.
 

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OK… I just went through our data base since the beginning of the year and looked at the lead source for every new job and the dollar amount of the job. Granted, we don’t get a lead source for every job, so I even threw all those into the “phone book” category.

Also keep in mind… for our print shop website, we only market it locally on the Internet. Also, we only have a tiny ad in one of the Yellow pages, and I’m assuming that’s Pacific Bell. So… after all this, if you want to make the argument; a bigger phone book ad would equal more leads… I’m still going to disagree!

Here’s the deal… 67 new clients, 13 were referrals, 11 are considered “phone book” (but only 3 are marked as true “phone book” sources), and 43 from the Internet. So I was a little off on the 1 out of 30. Take the total gross, referrals made up 28%, “phone book” 4%, and the Internet was 68%.

Not only does the Internet bring us more business… but better business! I just looked through the true phone book source leads and all expect for one is at our minimum order amount.

Maybe this is unique in my area and more people search online than use the phone book in WLA? I think the older you are, probably the greater chance you’re going to pick up a phone book? I’m not that young… so this is interesting to me.

I guess where I live there are probably more homes wired for the Internet. My friends will Google at my kitchen counter before they’ll ever ask me for a phone book… of which I have about 90 sitting in the garage.

So I admit I’m off as far as a national average, but right on for my area… which is really all I know.
 

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Solmu said:
I definitely think you have it 100% backwards - it's more like 1 in 30 dependent on the internet.

While it's true that I much, much prefer to do business with a company that has a good website unless I don't have a choice, that's not yet the norm. Most businesses in the yellow pages don't even have websites, and there are a lot more businesses in the pages than there are web businesses not in it.

For end-product printed t-shirts there is a large web presence, but for trades (such as screenprinting services) it's still an off-line world.

If I was looking for a screenprinter I too would look to the yellow pages, because I know not many of them can be found online. That does mean having a website gives you an edge, but one would ignore the real world at their peril.
I'm not talking about having a website, that has nothing to do w/ local Internet advertising.

If I do a LOCAL Google search in LA for screen printing... over 80 percent do not have a website. You DO NOT need a website to advertsing locally on Yahoo or Google. I'm not talking about getting found in the natural search engine results. ONLY the local listings through search.

Now I'm begining to see why you guys are using the phone book!
 

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I was in the service business for many years and I can attest that when a machine breaks, the local yellow pages is where they go. If it is an answering machine that takes the call... its on to the next one. Now that is for service. I suspect that the lines can be drawn in the sand fairly close to each other for other types of local businesses. The younger generation is more adept to online searching but the customer (whatever age) will actually take the path of least resistance and if picking up the yellow pages for a finite list of local businesses and see the street address immediately then that is what will happen. I really have a foul taste for the yellow pages sales proceedures, but even just getting a one line listing will pay off. So a customer hasn't ordered for 2 years from you and can't remember your name. The pages can jog their memory. Exposure is exposure. I don't think one would need to have the biggest and fanciest ad in the yellow pages but the results can be analyzed and adjusted accordingly later on. Also the yellow pages will give your business credibility.
 

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Problem I'm having is I can walk into anyone of my friends home and ask them for a phone book. Very few would be able to produce one! A bunch of us actually discussed this last night.

So maybe I'm a few years a head of my time?

As for the Phone book providing credibility... now you're really searching!
 

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I recently used a phone book for some art prints that I had printed. Although, I live in DC I only use the Manhattan phone book. My local book doesn't interest me even though it would save on shipping.
 

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CoolHandLuke said:
OK… I just went through our data base since the beginning of the year and looked at the lead source for every new job and the dollar amount of the job.
Well, I can't argue with that. I'm surprised and would still expect different results with different companies, but maybe the world is catching up to technology.

CoolHandLuke said:
Also keep in mind… for our print shop website, we only market it locally on the Internet. Also, we only have a tiny ad in one of the Yellow pages, and I’m assuming that’s Pacific Bell.
It's possible that this is part of it: until this thread I had no idea there were regions with more than one yellow pages. It's a very strange concept to me.

Here there is one definitive Yellow Pages. With more than one, the market is splintered and they're not going to be very good. Here, it's the only source. They also spend a lot of money on advertising, I guess in an effort to convince people they're still relevant, but I think that probably helps.

If I had to choose which yellow pages to use... yeah, I can't see myself choosing any. When it's The Yellow Pages, it's a bit different.

CoolHandLuke said:
Not only does the Internet bring us more business… but better business!
That also surprises me - I would have expected the internet to attract more clients who want low minimums than the Yellow Pages. Proving again why it's better to look through sales records than rely on conjecture.

CoolHandLuke said:
I guess where I live there are probably more homes wired for the Internet.
I haven't looked at the stats lately, but historically Australia has one of, if not the, best technology uptake rates in the world. Computer ownership and an internet connection was well above worldwide average throughout the 90s. We are well behind on broadband uptake rates though, as our broadband providers have been gouging us for 2nd rate services. It's only really this year that that's changed (we've gone from 256kbps packages at USD $30/month and 1.5mbps @ USD $45/month to 22mbps for USD $45/month - I don't know how that compares to the US, but I'm guessing not favourably).

Anyway, my point is that internet access is taken for granted here. So most likely one of two things is happening, either 1) I'm totally misjudging local Yellow Pages vs. internet use and am completely wrong, or 2) The Yellow Pages is winning anyway (perhaps due to advertising, perhaps due to simply being a better product here).

CoolHandLuke said:
If I do a LOCAL Google search in LA for screen printing... over 80 percent do not have a website. You DO NOT need a website to advertsing locally on Yahoo or Google. I'm not talking about getting found in the natural search engine results. ONLY the local listings through search.

Now I'm begining to see why you guys are using the phone book!
Heh, yeah. This is one of those cases where early technology uptake might have harmed me. I've tried using the local search functions as they've become available (i.e. when the Yellow Pages online started I tried that, when Citysearch started I tried that, etc.) and they've always been crap. If I'd come along later when they were polished I might have been using them, but I tried them early and dismissed them.

Recently a company launched itself with an expensive advertising campaign (TV saturation + billboards), calling itself "the local search engine". I needed a local business, so I tried them. It was absolutely useless... I don't know what they're doing spending so much money on this product, but it's crazy. I definitely would have been better off with the Yellow Pages. The fact that they think they can launch that product, spending all that money, post dot-com burst, and expect to make a profit... it's kind of scary. Is their competition just that bad that they think they can get away with it? Perhaps.

I think what it comes down to is the local technology. In my area local search engines suck, and the Yellow Pages don't. In other areas it's the other way around, so results will vary.

That said, I definitely wonder now if I am underestimating the business gained from the internet (even in a more offline business type). I'm fairly confident Yellow Pages ads are still worth it here, but perhaps there's not as much as a monopoly as they'd have us believe (hence the advertising dollars being spent to convince us of that).

CoolHandLuke said:
As for the Phone book providing credibility... now you're really searching!
It certainly did once upon a time (and not that long ago even) but I agree that's probably no longer the case.
 

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I guess that all depends on the market area you are in. I live on the edge of a large city, but the local towns are pretty small. That is why the credibility thing came up. The local b2b and orgs are of the far past teen scene. Incidently we have 5 yellow page books. Picked the top 2, #1 goes to everyones house that has a phone, #2 is cheap with good circulation. Also a few of the small town books. Although the small towns will give word of mouth, good or bad. You need to get in their face 5-7 times to be remembered, so a variety of media is best. I'm not about to downplay the net or the future that technology has to offer.

Is any one setting up their site for the cell phone downloads?
 
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