4 Strategies to Gain Customer Reviews for Your Business

When deciding whether or not to buy a product from a brand online, do you take their boasting statements seriously? Or, do you sift through online reviews from fellow peers and ask friends about their experience before making a decision?

Chances are, you chose the latter option, and statistics agree.
Since consumers’ trust in brands is diminishing, they’re turning to family members, friends and peers to help them make purchasing decisions. In fact, a recent study by Bright Local found 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses, with that number jumping to 95 percent for those ages 18-34. And, people read an average of 10 online reviews before deciding to trust a local business. So, what does all this mean? Consumers now have more power than ever to decide the fate of your business—and in today’s digitally savvy world, that means consumer reviews can make or break you.
Not only do 86% of consumers read #reviews for local #businesses, they also read an average of 10 online reviews BEFORE deciding to trust them. Click To Tweet

To push past the competition, get in consumers’ good graces and grow your company, we’ve rounded up four strategies to help you gain some solid reviews!

1. Be Where Your Customers Are  

Before customers can leave reviews or form an opinion, they have to be able to find your business. However, we want them to find you without having to go to your actual website. You need to show up on sites, where people can recommend your services, like Yelp, Google and Facebook.

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The Marketing Strategy Your Brand Shouldn’t Ignore

As consumer trust of brands continues to plummet, shoppers look toward recommendations from friends, family and peers—leading more companies to invest in influencer marketing on social media.

More than just a marketing buzzword, the digital age has allowed businesses of all sizes to partner with trusted online leaders (or “influencers”) to drive a brand message to a dedicated audience—opening the door for smaller brands and budgets.

From fashionistas to hypebeasts to techies, there’s an influencer niche for pretty much every market. Yes, even “kidfluencers” exist.

Brands looking to partner with kidfluencers (influencers under the age of 13) must be extremely cautious. Sometimes known as “spawn con”, there are a lot of ethical debates concerning companies who partner with kids and their behind-the-scenes parents for social media marketing.

Currently, there aren’t any definitive laws protecting insta-famous children and their ad earnings like the Coogan Law does for child actors.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to start a kids’ streetwear line and want to work with kidfluencers, we recommend reading this article by Adweek for tips on how to ethically engage partnerships.

If you’re not ready to work with the complexities of child influencers, there are plenty of older influencers out there to help spread your brand’s message! Read on for how to build a brand partnership with influencers.

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5 Characteristics that Successful Business Leaders Share

The success of a business is only as good as the people leading it. Bad leaders produce unproductive work environments and stagnant growth. In contrast, great leaders can develop trust, engage employees and fast-track success.

When it comes to successful business leaders, these are five of the top identifiable characteristics they commonly share:

1. A Clear Vision

Renowned business executive Jack Welch said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

If you don’t have a clear and engaging vision of where you want your company to go and what you want to accomplish, you can’t expect others to follow suit. Employees need a common goal that they can get behind to feel a sense of belonging and usefulness.

If you don’t have a clear and engaging #vision of where you want your company to go and what you want to accomplish, you can’t expect others to follow suit. #goals Click To Tweet

Here’s how you can get started:

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Why Funny Tees Work: The Top 3 Comedy Theories Explained

In case you haven’t noticed, funny tees have been extremely popular as of late, with no indication of slowing down. In fact, on Etsy alone, there are over 93,000 results for ‘funny graphic tee’. If you haven’t considered adding the style to your custom apparel offerings, now is definitely the time.

Now, we know what you’re thinkingwhat exactly makes something funny? Is there a formula you can easily recreate for your own tees?

As it turns out, scientists and philosophers have been pondering several theories behind humor for hundreds of years. While it may not be an exact formula, understanding why people think situations are funny can inspire ideas for your creative new apparel.

To help provide some direction, we narrowed it down to the top three comedy theories. Let’s take a look!

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Overcome These 4 Fears About Selling Apparel Right Now

When Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, first started his decorated-apparel business, he operated from a 15-foot-by-15-foot room in his house. “In the beginning, I sold apparel mostly from catalogs and ordered samples to show customers only when I needed them,” he says.

As his business grew, he increased his showroom space—from 8 feet on a wall, to an 8-by-10 area, and then to a large 20-by-20 showroom. “We created a better layout and experience for our customers to view products,” Potter says. “But when we didn’t have tons of space to show actual garments, we didn’t let that become a block to stop us from selling.”

Potter focused on a couple of things: showing clients the most popular and effective mid-level and up styles in a variety of colors, plus recommending apparel and decoration unique to each client’s needs. “We want them to know that we aren’t trying to make them look like everyone else,” Potter says.

Many distributors and decorators, who’d like to sell more apparel, need to overcome their fears about selling it (even more so than overcoming their customers’ objections).  Luckily, we’re here to help you get past the four most common challenges we’ve heard about.

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Work With Your Fashion Tee. Not Against It.

Do you want to sell more fashion tees, but haven’t had much success getting the right printing results when using them? Are you defaulting to selling basic cotton tees as a result? The problem could be that you’re working against your garment, and not with it. Times have changed and the “one style fits all” approach to screen printing just doesn’t cut it anymore. What works on basic 6.0 oz./ 100% cotton tees doesn’t necessarily work on lightweight fashion fabrics like 3.7 oz triblends or 4.2 oz 100% ringspun cotton. So what’s the difference?

Basic T-shirt Printing vs Fashion T-shirt Printing

Think of the 6.0 oz basic shirt as a really thick paper towel. Because of it’s heavier weight and rough surface, it can absorb a thicker layer of ink. On the other end of spectrum, the 3.7 oz triblend shirt is like a thin tissue that can’t absorb the same amount of ink. 

When printing on a 6.0 oz shirt, a coarse mesh like 110 is used to lay down a thick opaque layer of ink. If we looked through a loop and magnified the surface of a basic 6.0 oz cotton tee, the cotton fibers have a rough texture that looks like a bale of hay (see the “Carded Open End Cotton” image on the left). Because of this, it’ll require a thicker layer of ink deposited onto it for you to get a fully opaque print. Otherwise, much of the ink will fall in between the fibers, since there isn’t a smooth, tightly knitted surface for it to be evenly distributed on.

Image from article “Fabric Type 101: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know” @ bellacanvas.com

Using this same thick stencil technique wouldn’t be as effective on a 30 singles combed ringspun cotton shirt, though. Why? The tighter weave (see the “100% Combed & Ringspun” image on the right) allows the ink to easily sit on top of the fabric and be evenly distributed across the surface of the shirt. A thick layer of ink on top of a shirt like this will feel heavy and rough. The ink will rise off of it and defeat the whole purpose of using a softer fabric in the first place.

Why pay extra money for a soft fashion tee if you’re going to apply a thick, sandpaper-like design on it, taking away from its softness? It’s like putting cloth seats in an expensive luxury car. It just doesn’t match the product. Offer your clients decoration techniques that best compliment the garment.

The Right Tee For The Right Job

When your customer wants an opaque bold logo on a fashion tee, go with a 100% cotton ringspun tee. If they’re looking for a vintage look, with distressed artwork or logos, use blended heathered or blended solid tees. These work best because the texture of these fabrics can be blended into the artwork, helping to emphasize that vintage style.

Looking to #print a bold opaque logo on a fashion #tee, go with a 100% cotton ringspun tee. For a #vintage style, with #distressed artwork or logos, use blended heathered or blended solid tees. Click To Tweet

The Right Ink For The Right Job

Below is a list of inks, along with how and when the best time to use them is:

For Printing On 100% Combed Ringspun Cotton Fashion Tees:

Regular Plastisol Ink – When using this kind of ink, simply use a higher mesh count like 156 or 195 and add reducer to it, so it’ll to thin out a bit. (Keep in mind once you go over 10%, it will start to affect your ink color) 

Plastisol Discharge Ink – Great technique for achieving bright whites that have very little hand, but can be a little chalky when it dries, compared to water-based discharge ink.    

Water Based Ink – Good for creating a tone-on-tone print, when using light colored tees and it also has the softest hand of any print technique.

Water Based Discharge Ink – The discharge agent bleaches the dye of the cotton and replaces it with the pigment of the ink. This provides a much softer hand then a traditional plastisol under base on dark garments. Discharge agent only works on cotton though, so the garment will need to be 100% cotton for a fully opaque print.              

For Printing On Fashion Tees w/ Blended Heathers or Blended Solid Fabric:

Water-Based Ink – Works well on lighter colors for a washed-out tone-on-tone look. The ink blends in with the heathered coloring of the fabric, which makes it feel like part of the shirt.    

Fashion Based Ink – Best way to achieve the same super-soft hand as water-based ink does, but still gives you the ability to use plastisol ink and avoid using water based ink, if you’re not comfortable working with it.

Water-Based Discharge Ink – Great for tri–blends that contain cotton/poly/rayon only. The pigment in the cotton will be affected by the discharge, which produces a very vintage “washed out” look. 

Jason Peters

Jason is an Account Executive at S&S and has over 20 years of experience in the decorated apparel industry. These days he really enjoys using the knowledge he's gained throughout the years to help other industry professionals succeed.
Jason Peters

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Photo of Screen Printer Taken by yanalya / Freepik

7 Major Graphic Design Trends to Keep an Eye On for 2019

Whether you design your own graphics for your apparel business or work with a graphic designer, it’s important to stay on top of the trends to make sure your garments remain relevant and are meeting a market need.

Here’s a closer look at seven major graphic design trends for 2019 to help your ideation process:

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The Top 4 Fashion Trends for Summer 2019 You Need to Know

Fashion is like a boomerang: trends and styles always come back around. This is undoubtedly the case for the summer 2019 lookbook, from old-time grungy favorites to sporty-turned-chic statement pieces. Regardless of your opinion of high-fashion, what goes on the runway always trickles down to the mainstream.

We’ve sorted through the popular SS19 runway apparel and assembled the top four fashion trends for summer 2019 that your business should keep in mind:

1. Tie-Dye

Tie-dye made a comeback as a fashion favorite last year, and the psychedelic style is at the forefront of this summer’s trends—from blazers to maxi dresses to tees. Though now the resurgence of this hippie wardrobe staple displays a modern update. Luxury labels were seen mixing tie-dye and floral, experimenting with kaleidoscope patterns and trying more subtle design approaches across the runway. Everyone from your old art teacher to Insta-famous celebs will be rockin’ it soon.

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cotton

ComfortWash: Supporting the U.S. Economy and the Environment

Have you ever considered how agriculture and fashion are so intrinsically connected? Farmers grow the materials that go into the textiles, and thus they’re the foundation of every fashionable piece you see online or in a store.

Take cotton, for example. Textile manufacturers in the U.S. use an average of 7.6 million bales of cotton each year. As a leading cash crop, it aids in stimulating the American economy and provides significant environmental benefits.

Are you ready to start supporting the local economy and environment? Here’s why you should consider working more with brands who choose material grown in the U.S.

The Impact of U.S. Cotton

Growing the Economy

Of the thousands of cotton growers in America, many are family-owned farms whose rural communities depend on stable farm income. In fact, the crop is responsible for employing over 126,000 people and bringing in more than $120 billion in business revenue for the U.S. annually. Of the total annual yield, more than half is used for apparel!

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The Power of Networking for Small Business Growth

A common misconception is that you only need to network when in search of a new job. However, the reality is that networking and face-to-face interactions are crucial for any small business’ continued success. As an entrepreneur, connecting with new people is a necessary skill for growth.

We’ve listed out why networking is important and some best practices to help you get the most out of the experience.

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