Here’s a terrifying fact: most print shops don’t make it past the 5-year mark.
Because staying in business requires two things.
The first is simple: you need paying customers.
The second is more complicated: you need to grow your base of paying customers.
The way you do that? Drive sales to your print shop.
To be successful, you’ll need to develop sales skills. To stay in business, you’ll need to sustain your sales over the coming years – and grow your business to match your ambitions.
For some, sales come naturally. They’re outgoing, friendly, personable – with an eye on closing the deal. For the rest of us, sales can be painstakingly difficult.
At Printavo, we’re always looking for ways to boost our exposure and broaden our user base. When I started my own screen printing shop in 2012, I implemented a ton of different strategies to get the sales numbers I needed.
Since partnering with a few thousand print shop owners through Printavo – and holding dozens of candid interviews with industry leaders and experts – I’ve learned that there are a few simple and realistic ways for anyone to drive more sales to their screen printing shop.
No matter how good of a salesperson you are, you’ll eventually need help.
This is simply the most effective way to bring in business: give the job to someone who can focus entirely on making sales.
Free your time and expand your operations with a dedicated sales rep.
But, you’ll still need to consider how you’ll use your sales reps. The best way to approach your sales rep placement is to consider where you wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to gain business. Remote sales reps can be just as effective as a rep that’s based in your shop.
Consider these great opportunities:
The goal with a sales rep is to place someone in areas and around people that you can’t reach when you’re running your business. Your print shop can stay local, but harness previously unreachable markets.
Marketing is what drives sales. If your brand isn’t highly visible, you’re going to work much harder to introduce your brand to potential customers. The ideal customer is already familiar with your brand!
Toyota doesn't sponsor this arena in Houston because they think it's fun. They do it because it's valuable.
The easiest way to increase your brand recognition is to boost your visibility on a local scale. Place your name directly in front of your target consumers.
How? Sponsorships. The #1 community marketing tactic!
Evaluate where your typical customer comes from. Do you lean on a local sport, a big race, or a particular type of person? Drill down and find out where your customers go to have fun.
The easiest way to get an overview of local events is simply to check Facebook’s Events section and see if anything interests you. Talk to your customers about what they’re doing and why they’re ordering custom printed items from you – there’s always a story there.
Some examples of sponsorships that can yield tremendous visibility are:
You don’t need to shell out big bucks and be the primary sponsor for an event to get value from sponsorships. Just getting your logo and your image out to where your people are is a high-value activity (and a lot of fun).
You can even track the effectiveness of your sponsorships by offering a small discount code or referral coupon.
You may have to pay to play, but the familiarity you’ll introduce to your target market is worth every penny.
Creating and retaining a customer base for a print shop is a huge long-term challenge.
If you’re staying in contact with your customers, then who is?
Build real rapport – and keep the conversation going.
A newsletter is a simple and affordable way to maintain your customer relationships and keep yourself in your customers’ mind.
Why a newsletter? It’s a pressure-free, non-solicitation forum to keep customers up to date about the latest happenings with your company.
Some things you can write about in newsletters:
You can use your newsletter to show what your brand focuses on. Is your shop’s brand silly and fun-loving, or more serious and dedicated? Do you have a sharp and simple design scheme – or one that’s complicated and artistic?
Customers want to do business with brands they feel a personal connection to. A newsletter is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to start building that connection.
To build your newsletter list, you can use a service like Sumo or Unbounce to create a popup on your website. You can customize the popup’s settings so it’s unobtrusive and doesn’t appear to customers more than once a month.
From there, you can leverage a service like MailChimp or intercom to carefully curate how often you email your customers, determine whether they open and click on your emails, and even A/B test different subject lines and content to find out what’s most successful with your audience.
Building a newsletter and mailing list is one of the simplest and highest-value activities you can do. It keeps customers coming back, keeps the conversation rolling, and gives you a chance to show off your unique branded voice.
Think pharmacies that offer discounts when you use their card, your local grocery chain’s rewards card, credit card companies that offer cash back, restaurants that offer repeat diner discounts, airlines that offer frequent flier miles, and even hotels that give free nights to repeat customers. Large businesses of all types love rewards programs!
How can you incentivize your customers to return to your business?
Small businesses have yet to jump on this bandwagon. There are plenty of reasons not to offer discounts and rewards, but it’s obvious that this is a powerful tool for retention and loyalty.
You can enroll customers in a rewards program that doesn’t need to be intricate or expensive. You don’t have to offer steep discounts or unreasonable price breaks – instead, offer complementary merchandise or a few extra garments. The rewards can be as simple as a low-cost Amazon gift card or a sample of a more expensive t-shirt. You don’t have to break the bank just to offer rewards.
The goal of a rewards program is actually simple: you demonstrate to the customer that they win in the long run by sticking with your print shop.
Positive word of mouth referrals are the most valuable advertisement you can get – and you don’t have to pay for it. What you want to do is make it easy for your customers to refer their friends, family, and co-workers to you.
Let your customers do the selling for you.
When you send your follow-up email or do your follow-up phone call after you’ve finished a print job, always mention that you’d love a referral (this is also the time you should ask your customers to leave a positive review on Google, Facebook, and Yelp).
You can offer incentives for positive recommendations. Some businesses give a small ($10 to $20) discount if customers leave a good review. Give customers a branded card they can give to their connections. If it’s used, issue a small credit for your shop. You take it to the next level and offer rewards to customers that refer new clients – gift cards or small discounts are common.
The simple way to drive more referrals is to use branded stickers and swag with their orders, or just hand out business cards and fliers whenever you interact with customers. It should be obvious that you’re always looking for new clients, that you appreciate their positive referrals, and that you’re thankful for their business.
If you project professionalism, you’ll gain trust far faster. Remember: trust is difficult to acquire and very easy to lose. Even one poor showing can damage your branding.
You know the brand, and what it stands for, without a single word.
What does professionalism look like for a print shop? The key is long-term branding consistency.
It goes back to simple principles for branding:
What's worked for your shop? If you have a tip or a great idea for how to drive more sales, post a comment below!
Next Post: Who To Sell Custom Printing To: 101 Ideas
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