Printwear

October '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 8 P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 market or car show communities are the target, that's where shops should be. Farag adds, "Being present is arguably the most important part of being able to sell because in our business of custom goods, relation- ships are still super important." For shops looking to be proactive and at- tract customers, hosting events is an idea both Ackerman and Farag recommend for getting connected. It's easy to find where niche groups and ideal customers hang out, but business owners can take mat- ters to the next level by bringing custom- ers to the shop. "You want to be the host of the party—the cool guy that everyone wants to talk to," Ackerman says. He says if shops are looking for team sports clients, host a baseball tournament. If schools are a shop's target audience, put together a book sale fundraiser. By opening up shop space, hosting events or open houses, and offer- ing live demos, as well as some refresh- ments, businesses can reverse the flow and attract customers. BUILD A BLOG Another tactic to reach new customers is to build an online presence through blogging. Shops who create content related to the type of work they do have a better chance of reaching new customers via Google and organic searches. Additionally, it positions a shop as a knowledgeable resource and ex- pert within that topic. Ackerman argues that "content market- ing is king," but he knows how hard regu- larly creating content can be for the busy everyday shop, especially for those who don't have a knack for it. Cox says it's a useful tool for those that enjoy it. "If it is a struggle to write, then do not saddle yourself with this tool, as it will drag you under," she advises. Farag notes blogging is what Google is looking for when it comes to SEO and vis- ibility. A regularly updated blog on a shop's website can help boost its index in Google over time. Even if a shop blog doesn't gar- ner tens of thousands of followers, it still elevates and enhances a shop's brand. Shops should create blog posts around a topic that people search for like 'screen printing in (in- sert city/state here).' With those keywords used, Ackerman says leads will increase. In another example, if school decision-makers come across a well-written article on 5 Ways to Increase School Fundraising, they'll likely trust that shop as the expert on the topic and reach out seeking help. Beyond that, Cox says people enjoy a story and a look behind the scenes—simi- lar to social media. Videos of machines running, along with a short description, is an easy post to put together. Cox encour- ages shops to do this with each piece of equipment they own. This type of equip- ment roundup highlights a shop's offerings while using keywords people are typing into search engines. If shops can make time for blogging con- sistently, it can be a strategic and straightfor- ward tool to position themselves in front of their target audience(s). REQUEST REFERRALS & REVIEWS When it comes to utilizing the right tools to reach new customers, sources agree that current customers can be a shop's sharpest and most effective tool. "In gaining new customers, marketing is everything, and there is no better mar- keting material than word of mouth mar- keting from a happy, authentic, and sup- portive client. They can recruit, persuade, and dang near have your offerings sold before you meet your prospect," Harris argues. Ackerman agrees, stating that re- ferrals are a shop's ultimate weapon. Any shop can imply or explicitly say how great of a job they do, but if a good friend or acquaintance gives a potential customer the word, it's nearly a guarantee they'll reach out. The only catch: Shops have to perform well enough to earn good reviews and referrals, and then they have to ask their customers for the favor of spreading the NEW CUSTOMERS Social Media INCENTIVIZE FOLLOWS AND STAY RELEVANT I f a shop's ideal customer is hanging out on social media, give them a reason to like or follow. Jennifer Cox, NNEP, says this could be something as small as hosting a drawing for a free hat or shirt. Once they're connected, it's the shop's job to do the following: • Keep them interested enough to stick around • Be consistent about posting worthwhile content • Post behind the scenes footage of everyday operations Let a work-in-progress photo, an employee or customer highlight, or fun facts related to the industry do the job of telling the story. This type of engagement is what keeps the attention of current and potential customers.

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