Sales dragging and you need some customers? Guess what? The good news is that they are out there…you just need to lasso them into your world and get them to notice you. How to do that you may ask?
Using the power of of social media. Not just any-old social media though. Content rich, powerful, and accurate to what you do in your shop every day. The goal is to directly connect your post with the needs of your audience.
But first, let’s talk about what social media is and isn’t. For a lot of busy shops, they’ve tried to post things on Facebook or maybe even Twitter with little success. It just sits there like yesterday’s pizza. Nobody wants to touch it.
First, ask yourself if these social media outlets are even the ones your business demographics even use. Are you in the right place? If you cater to businesses, which has more B2B presence for you…Facebook or LinkedIn? Which channel do your women customers use more: Instagram or Pinterest? The short answer? You have to find out yourself by doing some snooping. That means you need to get busy and start following your customers (or target customers) by asking questions, taking surveys and keeping careful notes. It’s the only way to know where they hang out. Once you have this figured out, you can tailor your message to them on the right channel. Half the battle is in this important step, so make sure you do your homework. For best results don’t skimp.
Next comes the hard part. Actually building your promotional content. This is going to require some thinking. Do you just want simple brand awareness? Do you want to show off your skills? Do you want to drive your audience to your website? Is your goal to link your post to selling something? Before you just fire off a post, think about what you are trying to achieve. Then, decide how will you know if your post is a success. What does success even look like? Can you track it? Let’s discuss these more in depth.
What is that exactly? Brand awareness is the idea that when someone thinks they need your product or service, your shop instantly comes to mind. In fact, there is a term for that called “Top of Mind” placement. This is is super important to remember, as brand awareness is driven by frequency and meaningful engagement. It isn’t necessarily driven by having a sale or discounting your services. You just want people to remember you exist, so when it comes time to get some shirts printed or embroidered, they will think of you.
Here are some tips to use for your posts to drive Brand Awareness:
- Make it visual. People like action photos of things happening. Just delivered 1,500 hats to a client for a big event? Take a selfie and post it with the boxes. Makes sure your logo is prominent on your staff’s shirts or your delivery van. Get the customer involved too! Have them share pics of the event with everyone wearing the hats you produced! If you are using Instagram or Twitter, drive that home by getting them to use a special hashtag. #thenameofyourshop or #awesometees or #somethingthatisfunky.
- Solve a problem. A customer just asked about putting foil on a shirt. Post a pic of how this looks to your feed. Every time a customer poses a question to you, that should be a prompt to answer it in general terms on your social media feed.
- Schedule it in advance. I use Buffer for all my social media posts, and generally have things scheduled out a few weeks in advance. This is a great tool to use, as you can push out your content on multiple social media streams and channels at once.
- Post relevant content. Your posts shouldn’t always be about you. Share content that you feel others would enjoy or benefit from. Articles, videos, infographics, whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s relevant, quality content that your network will enjoy. Better yet, share your customer’s posts when you can, as that drives engagement with the people that matter most.
- Develop your brand strategy. Are all your marketing efforts linked with your logo, information and identity? Do you look professional, or just hacked together? Your brand aesthetic is your calling card, so if it looks tired and out of tune customers may go elsewhere before they even give you a chance. Develop your standards and stick to them.
Show Off Your Skills
For the most part what we do in the decorated apparel industry comes off as magic to most people. How many times has someone asked you “How do you embroider a hat?” or “What’s the secret behind printing across a hoodie zipper?” How many times have you explained what a “satin stitch” is or the difference between a “vector and raster file”? What type of detail can you get using a DTG printer on a black shirt?
The great thing about social media is that there are a few channels that are perfect for pictures or videos of you demonstrating your knowledge. Just using your camera phone these are really easy to take on your production floor as you are walking around. People want to feel at ease that their order will be handled properly, and nothing says that I know what I’m doing better than a hundreds of photos, or even a short video demonstrating that point.
- Create a Pinterest page for your shop. Have one main page where all photos are shared, but also place copies of photos into segregated content boards for easier viewing. Some example board titles could be “Puff Embroidery”, “Simulated Process”, “Skull Art”, or “Shop Staff Pics”. Be strategic and show off what you do best.
- Once or twice a month shoot off a link to your shop Pinterest page and call it a “Virtual Shop Tour” or similar title. New photos! The idea is to drive visitors to your page to see and understand your skill level and creativity. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to a customer that I sent to see a printed shirt example and their response was, “Hey, I didn’t know you did embroidery? I just saw that on Pinterest too!”
- Instagram is also great for shop floor pics, but lacks the ability to categorize topics. You can also use hashtags to drive engagement and make your pic more searchable. When creating one, think about how someone would type in a search query. I once got five new customers from one Instagram picture.
- Quality photos work best, so try to create a fantastic visual when you are snapping a photo. Color, lighting, angles and textures are all interesting. Experiment with how to take a shot. If you are showing off a skill, try a close up instead of the entire design.
- You could also try creating your own infographic and pushing that out on your channels. Create one with topics like “5 Best Shirt Colors for Halloween”, “How High Density Printing Works”, “Save Money on Your Embroidery with Better Digitizing”, or “Quirky Hoodie Placement Ideas”. Tailor these to your target demographic.
Drive Your Audience to Your Website
Online, your website is your identity. Websites are created for different functions. Some are just placeholders or an information delivery system. It’s where customers go to look up facts or answers to their questions. Other websites function as a store, and should be driving business to you with orders. Which platform describes yours?
Either platform should function easily and perfectly on multiple devices. If your website doesn’t work on a cell phone or tablet, you are in big trouble, and probably losing customers by the second. When is the last time you updated your site? I click on industry shop websites all the time, and a good many are in serious trouble with this. They look outdated, irrelevant, and untrustworthy. If this is you, think about prioritizing your website effort. No excuses pal, as this was due yesterday.
- On your website, you should have multiple tabs or pages that have different content ideas. You could have an online quoting system, shop gallery of actual orders, facts about your sustainability program, or even philanthropies you support. If they are on different tabs on the website, these can be included in individual social media shares. Make each tab something that is important to your shop.
- If you have a blog on your site, included hyperlinked references to other posts, pictures or videos. This drives more engagement. Make sure you choose the “open in another window” option so they won’t leave your main site to go see what you have referenced.
- If you are selling something on your site, make sure that the user can order easily and quickly and not get bogged down with too many steps. The number one reason why people abandon carts is that the process takes too long or is too complicated. Think about how you order online and what drives you nuts. Why do you not have the same mentality with your own website? Think like your customer.
- Make sure you encourage users to follow you on all of your social media channels by including the appropriate social media button icons. Occasionally you should post this on your channels to get more followers.
- Create the content that links to the appropriate pages on your site. This content can be anything. Hysterically funny. Thought provoking. Informative. Educational. Just don’t make it boring. Push your content constantly, and schedule creating it well in advance so you actually do it and it isn’t a last minute half-assed effort. People that do social media well work at it all the time. Early is always better.
It’s All About Selling Something
There is a famous quote that I like that goes “Nothing ever happens in business until something gets sold.” I’m positive you’ve heard that before. It’s true in our business too.
All of your social media efforts have to be based on this fact. Your efforts must be linking you to the customer, and the customer to the sale. At the end of the day, are you asking for the sale?
This doesn’t necessarily mean you are discounting anything or giving something away either. A lot of shops just constantly chant the mantra of Sale! Sale! Sale! with their social media efforts. All that does is either become so much white noise that your customers tune you out, or you are training your customer base that if they wait around long enough they can get whatever you are marketing far cheaper than yesterday. Remember, value is long term, price is always short term.
A better approach is to demonstrate your value in the selling proposition with your social media posts. For your shop, what is that? Here are some thoughts:
- Sell your creative team’s strengths. Got a fabulous art staff that can create some awesome graphics? Show their stuff! Interview them on video. Show the process from thumbnails to the final print. Include your customer going bananas over the awesome art that’s on the shirt! Post this on your social media on a regular basis. In fact, do a few of these and rotate them. Remember, as your social media follower count grows, the new people following you didn’t see that video you posted last November. Share it again!
- Show how you solve your customer’s pain points. For example, let’s say you cater to local school systems. Who has time to come down to your shop to start the order, approve everything and then pick it up later? Demonstrate how your company makes it easy with the system you’ve developed. Soccer Mom’s and teacher’s can get the results they want with less time commitment. You make it simple and hassle-free!
- Give examples of your stellar customer service. Won any awards? Got some testimonials in your pocket? Did your team solve some challenging issue for someone lately? Launch this out into the social media stream and reap the rewards of other customers! Customer service always resonates with people. Use that to your advantage in your selling proposition.
- Make it personable. People don’t do business with their enemies, people do business with their friends. Create a video, podcast, blog or even a gallery of pictures that demonstrate your friendliness. Your shop is here to help, and is staffed with happy, awesome people. Show what’s behind the curtain. Include your staff’s social media links and contact information. With one click underneath that smiling photo, they can be ordering from the customer service manager or salesperson.
In closing, remember the 90-9-1 rule. 90% of the people that use social media will view, read or watch your content. Only 9% of the people that view the content will actually like, share or repost the material. The people that create the content only make up about 1% of the online community.
This means it pays to be in that 1%. Create your content. Get noticed and drive more business your way.
You can do it!