April '23

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M A P R I L 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 5 5 Artists and creatives Artists and creatives are always look- ing for new ways to showcase their work, and sublimation merchandise can be a great way to do that. By specializing in this niche market, you can create unique designs that really capture the essence of each artist's work. You can also offer a range of products such as mugs, mouse- pads, pillows, blankets, aluminum photo panels, keychains, jewelry, and bags, which can help artists expand their brand and reach new audiences. Plus as a trusted partner you can even help with the fulfill- ment so the artist can stay focused on cre- ating and nurturing their audience. Finding a niche The importance of f inding a niche applies to a ll businesses, including dye-sublimation decorators. With the rise of digital printing technology, the competition in the dye-sublimation mar- ket has become more intense than ever. To stand out from the crowd, dye-subli- mation decorators should consider find- ing a niche market that aligns with their interests, skills, and values. Let me share a story that a friend of mine shared on my podcast several years ago that will illustrate how being the very best in your space will have other people outside of your niche seek you out. My friend, Brett Bowden of Printed reads in Fort Worth, Texas, was telling us how he came to do the printing for the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team. If you have ever met or seen Brett, you will immediately know he is a band guy. If there were a picture in the dictionary next to the words band guy, it would be Brett. He has long hair, is slender and cool, and just looks like he should always be holding an instrument. When he started his com- pany, he didn't go out and try to go after anyone he could think of. He focused his efforts and his passion of playing in a band and solving the problems that all small bands have. How do small new bands get into the "merch" game without hav- ing to buy more shirts than their family and groupies could ever use? So he figured out how to help them with short-run dark shirts, taking care of the logistics and, as he puts it, "having rad designs." And as he slowly developed his business around his ideal customers and their needs, the word started to spread. Before he knew it, he was doing work for larger and larger bands. And he became known as the band merch guy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Soon after, the Dallas Mavericks came calling as they wanted to make some shirts with more of a band/rock n roll feel. ey heard he was the guy, and he ended up printing the project for the professional basketball team. Here is the real secret sauce. In doing that project, they also held true to their commitment to great customer service, and after doing such a great job, the Dallas Mavericks kept returning. Still, to this day, if you go to their "about us" page, you will see a bunch of people in black shirts, some long hair, and just really cre- ative types that I'm sure every band wants to work with. To Brett, the Dallas Mavericks project was just another fun challenge to add to his portfolio. But it ended up being much more than that. It opened doors to new opportunities and gave his business a huge boost in exposure. He learned that being the best in your niche can not only help you gain a loyal customer base but can also lead to unexpected collaborations and partnerships. Finding a niche market for your dye- sublimation business can help you achieve greater profitability and success. By focus- ing on a specific group of people with a particular need or problem, you can become the go-to expert in that field and attract more customers through word of mouth and referrals. You can also charge a premium for your services because you offer specialized expertise that others don't have. But to gain that specialized exper- tise, it is going to take time focusing on one or a very few things. e next time someone asks you who your ideal customer is, what will you tell them? If it is not a specific niche audience you can focus on and become the very best in a relatively short time, then you have some work to do. GP

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