5 Essential Ways to Create Customers for Life

Every employee of Eastlake, OH-based wholesale printer Blue Moon Promotional Inc. is involved in providing their customers with exemplary customer service and CEO, Pierre John Jamnicky, makes sure of that. “Every person knows what we’re after and is dedicated to making it happen,” Jamnicky says. “Yes, some are more into it than others, as is the case with all employees, but the reality is we’re all on the same page.”

Any business owner will tell you that, while bringing in new customers is certainly important, retaining your existing customer base is the real key to surviving in any industry. It’s the loyal customer who returns to you time and time again or refers you to other clients because of your ability to meet their product or service needs

But, don’t take our word for it—let’s break down the numbers showing how important returning customers can be:

You have a 60% to 70% chance of selling a product to a returning customer as opposed to a 5% to 20% chance of selling to a new one.

( Matt Mansfield, smallbiztrends.com )
  • Your returning customers will provide you with 65% of your company’s sales.
  • The average business will lose about 15% of these returning customers each year.

Since it’s so important to cultivate a close-knit relationship with your returning buyers to run a successful business, let’s look at exactly how you can keep these customers coming back for more.

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5 Proven Content Marketing Strategies You Can’t Ignore

Is a video worth 1,000 decorated-apparel orders? Jonathan Ornelas, owner of Success Print Shop, thinks so. On the regular, he shoots short videos of his screen-printing process and posts them to Facebook and Instagram to connect with customers and prospects.

“We show how we decorate t-shirts, and that we’re experts,” Ornelas says. “Our customers can also see that we love what we do and have a lot of fun.” For example, he plays his team’s favorite music in his videos, like Vistas’ song “Like an American.” 

“These days, the most human company wins,”

– Marshall Atkinson, Owner of Atkinson Consulting

As a result of the pandemic, 7 in 10 (69%) CMOs asked their staff to get more active online to promote their company and what it offers. And it makes total sense: Half of U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more time taking in online content this year, according to Media Frenzy Global. Buyers are also looking to brands for inspiration. That means many companies are making their messaging and content strategy their highest brand-related priority. Are you?

The most important component of your shop’s messaging is to be human first, according to Marshall Atkinson, a decorated-apparel business coach. “These days, the most human company wins,” he says. “Are you showing your vulnerability? Emotions? Victories? Defeats? People respond to other people, so inject some personality into your marketing. We all like smiling faces.”

The great news is that It’s not too late to kick your content strategy into high gear for 2020. Here are five ways to dive right in.

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“Creating Impactful Apparel Designs For Clients” – SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 4 (feat. Jeremy Picker of AMB3R Creative)

How do you tie creative art development into more sales? 

On this edition of the Success Stories podcast, we’ll dig into that by discussing how Jeremy Picker and his team of creative professionals have found success by going the extra mile when developing ideas for their clients. 

We’ll also touch on AMB3R Creative’s approach to developing impactful designs, that’ll get end users choosing to wear their clients’ promotional apparel over and over again.

AMB3R is a Colorado-based apparel design firm that brings fashion to people by creating products that people love. They serve non-profits, churches, restaurants, corporations, and other businesses with their team of talented designers and project managers that takes a kernel of an idea from start to finish. 

We’ll learn how they use t-shirts for everything from an entire clothing line, to a merchandising campaign for promotional products. 


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Are You Dealing with Employee Mistakes the Right Way?

At Printed Threads in Keller, TX, the laid-back El Capitan, Brett Bowden does a lot of measuring. “We track the amount of work everyone gets done each day,” he says. “We track all errors.” Why? “Mistakes happen, and we try to coach through them. Since we track the different types of errors, we see if there’s a pattern.”

For example, if there’s a misprint or mistake on a job, a Printed Thread QC (Quality control) staffer fills out a slip and turns it over to the rep managing that account. The rep then uses Google Sheets to record the job name, type of error, cost of the mistake and the person responsible.

“We keep a running tally and make sure that misprint errors don’t exceed 1% of our monthly sales”

– Brett Bowden, Printed Threads

Madeira USA, out of Gilford, NH, has a similar approach to monitoring mistakes, where process operations are metrics-driven, depending on the role. “We hold employees accountable to success metrics like customer satisfaction ratings or order fulfillment rates,” says Sam Young, vice president of marketing and sales. “We track performance so we can deliver the highest-quality service for our customers.”

And if Bowden notices that a particular press keeps logging errors because there’s not enough glue on the pallet, he knows the operator needs more training. “But look, inevitably there will be someone who isn’t good at their job,” he says. “That leads to a conversation of, ‘Maybe it’s time for you to find another company or position to make you happier.’”

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“Lessons Learned from ‘Here For Good’ Campaigns” – SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 3 (feat. Jarrod Hennis of Rockford Art Deli)

During and after the coronavirus pandemic, many screen-printing shops found success by developing a local “Here for Good” campaign to help surrounding businesses in their community stay afloat during these difficult times.

In Rockford, Illinois, Jarrod Hennis developed a “Here for Good” campaign and assisted businesses in his area to raise money by selling t-shirts.  Each shirt sold helped that local business, but also kept Jarrod’s shop, the Rockford Art Deli in business as well.

On this edition of Success Stories, we’re going to discuss the Rockford Art Deli’s “Here for Good” campaign and learn how it worked, what Jarrod learned, and how this idea is laying a solid foundation for a successful future in his community of Rockford, Illinois.

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“The Clinic Your Website Can’t Live Without” – SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 2 (feat. Shelby Craig of Rocket Shirts)

COVID-19 has shifted a lot more business online recently and with great uncertainty ahead, you’ll need to make sure people can find you online.  In this episode of Success Stories, we’ll help you get ahead of the competition and make sure you’re set up to drive new business to your website.

Shelby Craig with Rocket Shirts will be sharing his knowledge of what you’ll need to get optimized, and how it’s helped his business.  We’ll be touching on web design, search engine optimization, and tools that you can use to bring out your best results.

Shelby is a serial entrepreneur, marketing junkie, home chef, coffee connoisseur, and girl dad times three.  He’s also a t-shirt snob and is the founder of Rocket Shirts in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Join us on this podcast as we explore ways to make your website work for you and drive more sales to your door.

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8 Ways Decorators Are Keeping Their Shops Safe During COVID-19

Across the country, businesses small and large have had to figure out how to operate, while keeping employees and customers safe. Like many shops, during the pandemic’s early days, AZ-based decorator, Print & Stitch, closed for several weeks. When it reopened, the management team introduced a lot of new safety procedures for staffers and customers. “Now our employees work staggered shifts,” says project manager, Hilary Gardner. “Plus, our techs clean their equipment and work areas at the beginning and end of every shift.”

In this new normal, Print & Stitch also requires every employee to take their temperature before clocking into work. “And, it’s mandatory to wear a mask at all times in the building,” Gardner says.

Making customers feel at ease is also important, which is why back in March, Howard Potter, CEO of Master Your Image in Utica, NY, took to social media to let his customers know how he prioritized their safety. “They had choices when placing or picking up an order,” he says. “They could order online, and then opt for in-person delivery, shipping or curbside pickup.”

Some people have even found that they’ve benefitted from these changes, in ways they wouldn’t have thought of before. In Ann Arbor, Jeanne Fitzsimons, owner of FitzStitch Embroidery & Monogramming, heavily steered her customers toward online ordering, which made client interactions and collecting payments much easier. “That’s been a bonus, since I never wonder when I’ll receive a payment,” she says. “I also do Zoom videos with customers. It’s been more productive and time-efficient.”

How’s your shop keeping employees and customers safe? Here are eight ways smart decorators have adjusted their operations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their shops.

1. Be open about COVID-19 with your staff.

At A&P Master Images, Potter was ready to answer his employees’ most pressing questions: Will there be work? How do we handle customer interactions? Do we need to wear masks?

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4 Ways to Increase Your Order Sizes During COVID-19

Does it feel like, while decorated-apparel orders are still coming in (or are starting to pick back up), the order sizes have decreased? You’re not alone. Here’s a look at the range of experiences we’ve been hearing about from across the country:

  • Kris Howard, Urbandale, IA-based, KSH Design Studio: “Our volume has greatly decreased during the last three months, since our gym customers were closed. We also lost orders from canceled run/walk and car club events.”
  • Tammy LeMieux, Lake Stevens, WA-based, Ink It Your Way: “With our primary business of spring and summer youth sports coming to an abrupt halt, we started offering sublimated face covers and apparel to essential businesses. We also branched out to signage for reopening businesses. We actually flourished and hopefully will retain some great new customers.”
  • Alexa Cary, Frenchtown, NJ-based, In-House Prints: “Fortunately our business is booming! We have a lot of emergency service clients, so they’ve been keeping us busy. We also work with YouTubers who continue to push products online.”
  • Jennie Livezey, Shelbyville, IN-based, Z Shirts Custom Printing: “We came to a screeching halt with schools closing and spring sports being canceled. We’ve picked back up but aren’t back to full-time production yet.”

In order to help them avoid succumbing to the ups and downs of the market, some distributors have started  upselling, cross-selling, bundling products and providing solutions vs. being just an order-taker. Using these strategies has helped them increase their order sizes and given their business new life, so let’s take a closer look at each.

Upselling Quality and Solutions

Upselling has been a sales mainstay of merchants for decades, but with the downturn in the economy, it’s more important than ever. For example, you might regularly sell employee work shirts to your customers. It makes sense to present three options:  a $5 “good” shirt, a better-quality shirt for $10, and a “best” item for $15. When the customer calls in, they may want to order 100 shirts at the lowest possible price. This would be a $500 order for you. But, if you upsell correctly, even just to the “better” garment, you’ve doubled your order total.

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How to Price for Profit, during COVID-19

Yes, decorated-apparel shops are dropping prices to win post-pandemic work. Lucas Guariglia, CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Rowboat Creative, has definitely noticed, and doesn’t think it’s a good idea. “While shops are using this as a survival tactic to get back above water, it’s setting the tone for us to be taken advantage of due to low pricing,” he says.

When you’re simply trying to survive the pandemic, it’s easy to justify taking orders without thinking enough about profit margin, fit for your equipment, or alignment with your goals.  Even before the virus, pricing was an issue, leaving decorators trying to find the “magic number” to appeal to customers, while still netting a profit.

“The decorators who’ll enjoy long-term success are those who’ve pursued new products and different imprinting methods to serve their customers’ changed needs, while reducing costs and maintaining a profitable position,” says Erich Campbell, program manager for the Commercial Division at BriTon Leap. “Rather than shift to a lower-margin pricing scheme, many retooled their equipment and processes to decorate new products and to serve markets that haven’t been as adversely affected.”

The Impact of ‘Low-Price Shoppers’ During COVID-19

In two months, the United States lost over 36 million jobs. This translates into much smaller budgets for buyers, especially on the marketing side. Because of this, many decorators are steering away from raising prices, even with increases in production costs and materials. “Ultimately, you get what you pay for,” Guariglia says. “We’ll always stand firm on wanting to provide superior products with superior service.”

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Should You Sell Licensed Collegiate and Sports Apparel?

With fall right around the corner, don’t miss out on a major merchandising opportunity—college team wear and Greek organization gear for the back-to-school and football crowd. Although, we’re still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CNBC article, “The Chronicle of Higher Education has tracked over 1,000 colleges since April and has found that roughly 65% of schools are preparing for in-person classes this fall. That also means that all signs point to students still needing some gear to represent their schools, which may now also include PPE.

If you’re already in the business of selling decorated apparel, the process itself for getting a license may look murky. So, let’s talk about what licensing entails, how to go about it, and the pros and cons of selling licensed merch (with a little expert advice).

Companies, schools, teams and organizations all want to protect their market brand. For example, The Walt Disney Co. doesn’t want (or permit) unauthorized Mickey Mouse prints on T-shirts. That’s where licensing comes in.

To legally print a branded product such as a college logo or sorority letters, a printing company must be licensed by the copyright holder to print the artwork. When you apply for a license, the owner of the image (known as the licensor) gets a fee in advance for allowing you to use their images. Usually, this can be a flat fee or a percentage of income from the sales of these licensed products.

As part of this agreement, the printing company (known as the licensee) verifies quality control and the licensor approves the image usage. “If a sorority wants its letters on a crop top that advertises a year-end keg party, the licensor usually won’t approve it,” says Steve Farag, co-owner of Urbana, IL-based Campus Ink Printing. “Ultimately, a lot of the responsibility falls on you, the licensee, to ensure you’re protecting the licensor’s rights and reputation.”

The Process of Getting a License

Getting a license to sell logoed products for colleges, Greek organizations or sports teams isn’t something you can do in an afternoon. It’s a complex, multiple-step process that takes time. But, it can ultimately lead you to a great opportunity to make more sales.

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