The demand for low volume, full custom printed t shirts has completely revolutionizing the garment decoration industry. There have been significant improvements in the technology dedicated specifically to DTG as seen in the Epson SureColor F2000.
Because of Epson’s recent advancements in reliability and quality, it’s hard to question the viability of DTG. The demand for reliable 1-off capability is so strong, the question is no longer if you should invest in DTG, the question now is how to compete and ensure the success of your investment.
To market your direct to garment business you do not need an intense marketing budget. I argue easily acquired industry relationships, a website, basic knowledge of SEO and analytics, strategic social media, and creative prospecting, can be just as effective as big time marketing budgets.
CREATE A WEBSITE
A well laid out site is an essential for highlighting your services and promoting your business. Do not fear the creation of a website. Today websites are incredibly easy to acquire and are often free or extremely inexpensive to host. There are numerous template based, drag and drop sites, that will work beautifully for your needs. I use Wix for my portfolio site, and WordPress for my blog. Whatever you choose, the learning curve is relatively easy, you could have a site up in a few hours.
ADVERISE NO MINIMUMS!
You can confidently advertise low minimum, full color prints, on light and dark garments. Better yet, you can advertise no minimums. That’s right, NO MINIMUMS! Take a look at your competitors online, how many of them are advertising no minimums? Very few I can almost guarantee. The reason they don’t dare, is because they do not have the confidence to reliably produce 1-off custom printed shirts, that is unless they have the SC-F2000. Put NO MINIMUM, FULL COLOR PRINTS! big and bold on the home page of your website.
You might say “But John, there isn’t any money in 1-off’s” and I agree, to an extent. Doing 1 custom shirt, with custom art, and customers often wild requests, can be a hard way to make a consistent profit. Our goal for offering no minimums is not to do 1-offs regularly, it’s to capture the market who want low volume and save them from the pain of searching and contacting other screen printers who cannot deliver on their low minimum custom request. You’re making the customers decision to contact you easy by eliminating doubt, complications, and fear. Most customers don’t want just 1 shirt, but there is peace in knowing they can order 1 shirt with a full color print, especially for reorders or fill-in needs.
SAME DAY TURNAROUND
What screen printer in their right mind would offer same day turnaround? Not many, because it’s a monumental feat to set up a job with short notice. Not with the Epson F2000. Set up is minimal and a complete shirt can be done in minutes. This is another opportunity for up-charge. It’s not hard work to have a shirt done same day, but you should charge the customer a rush fee and sell it as a connivence fee.
Consider setting up an inexpensive e-commerce page. Many are free, like BigCartel, and can link to your website. Use 1-off capability to increase revenue by showcasing your own custom designs, and only produce product when you receive an order.
You could take this concept a step further by creating “shops” for your regular customers. For example; a local school regularly orders spirit wear. Make it easy by hosting all of their designs and styles in one “shop”. They can confidently and easily re-order 1 or 100 pieces. This goes a long way with customer service and encourages loyalty.
Capitalize on the bulk of new business and develop a relationship with competitor printers in your area. Introduce your direct to garment capabilities, bring them samples and enticing contract pricing. If they don’t have an SC-F2000 DTG printer they are struggling to service low volume orders. Eliminate their struggle by giving them an easy solution to pass off low minimum jobs.
TRACK AND UPDATE
Just having a site does not mean instant recognition on search engines, you will have to take efforts to make it visible to searchers. The higher up in Google search, the more traffic your website will see. Learning how to achieve a high Google ranking is a complicated and expensive business in its self. Below are a number of budget conscious steps you can take to help increase your placement.
I argue you should signup for and engage in everything Google. By that I mean, open every possible Google account you can in your business name and add content or update these sites regularly. To name a few: Blogger, Gmail, Google Maps, Adwords, Google Analytics, Google +, Youtube, Google Domains, Google My Business, AdSense. Do everything you can that is relevant. The more your business name and location is seen by Google, and the more you update your content, the more Google will engage with your business.
Spend some time learning simple SEO and Keywords theory. Keep track of all your activity with Google Analytics. Analytics is imperative for understanding which keywords and search terms are most relevant to your customers searches, and how users engage with your site.
DOMINATE YOUR LOCAL MARKET
Try to pick a business name that is available for a .com address; it’s best to have your company name match your URL. Better yet, try and tie in your region. seattlecustomshirts.com for example will immediately pop up for anybody searching for custom shirts in the Seattle area.
Ensure all of your marketing keywords include your area of operation. You want to narrow down searches to your region rather than compete nationally. For example, instead of paying for the keyword “custom shirts” narrow it down to anybody searching for your services in your region, “custom shirts seattle”. If national acclaim is your focus, go for it I encourage you, but be prepared to pay heavily to be seen.
Social media marketing can be as expensive and complicated as standard SEO work. My philosophy for social media is to contribute but don’t obsess. Spend money elsewhere. Part of the beauty of social media is it’s free, take advantage of that and don’t get suckered into expensive ad-campaigns. I find the most value in Facebook and Yelp. Yelp, like Google, is imperative because of customer reviews. I cannot over emphasize how important customer reviews are. Encourage and entice your customers to leave you good reviews.
HIT THE STREETS
The relationships you develop with your competitors is essential for gaining referrals and capturing your target low minimum market. Your website is capturing data and leads 24-7. Both of these are critical to the foundation for growth but it may not be enough. You might have to physically get on the phone with businesses or go door to door and promote your services.
To get your name in front of businesses, you have a distinct advantage over your competitors, you can make custom samples quickly and for next to nothing. Find companies in your area that need apparel, create a custom logo or borrow their existing logo from the web and make them a sample. Take the sample to their location with special pricing, sell yourself, and your shops capabilities. Be proactive and use 1-off printing to your advantage by offering personalized custom samples that will wow your prospects.
With more time and dedication than money, you can professionally promote a credible and visible DTG service. One thing to remember, just having a printer will not guarantee business, you have to go sell it. Have fun, make money, and happy printing.