Shirt Lab Portland: Perfection in Sasquatchland

Shirt Lab Portland: Perfection in Sasquatchland

You knew this blog post was coming. It’s the recap of Shirt Lab Portland.

Which is actually a misnomer, because it was actually in Vancouver, Washington at Clark College. Tom and I discussed what to call it, and if we had used Vancouver then tons of people would have possibly booked a flight to Canada. Not that there is anything wrong with Canada, but you know what I mean.

So that’s why we chose the airport name for the event. Portland.

Portland/Vancouver didn’t disappoint. The air was crisp and clean. Craft beer on tap at every ten steps. Delicious food and engaging people.

Some sample brew from The Thirsty Sasquatch

What more could you ask for?

I’ll tell ya’.

Education. And we had plenty of it.

This can be encapsulated by a quote from Todd Tomlison with “We Print Your Shirts” that he posted on Facebook in a group chat afterward:

“I have been going to industry events for 30 years (outside of screen printing) and the takeaways from yesterday’s event were the most valuable that I have ever taken away. Someone mentioned that ShirtLab’s were their MBA program and I can see why. I have an MBA and what I learned wasn’t taught in school. Outstanding event. 5 squeegees!”

That’s right. He rated the event 5 Squeegees.

Here’s why:

Shirt Lab Portland Friday Night Networking

Our traditional Friday night networking event was again sponsored by the awesome folks at InkSoft! (Thanks!)

Tremendous craft beer at the Heathen Feral Public House

This is growing to be one of the best networking mixers in the industry. Everyone comes in and of course, they flock to folks they already know. Which is plenty because a good chunk of any Shirt Lab event is comprised of veteran Shirt Lab attendees.

Thanks, Inksoft for sponsoring our Friday night networking event!

However, we can’t let that just sit like that so we have a Rock Paper Scissors tournament to help introduce people to each other. Folks get paired up completely at random, and then they have to find their opponent. Hilarity ensues. Of course, a trophy is awarded.

This time it went to Artem Ionitsa from Logo Unltd who blasted through his opponents to claim victory.

Shirt Lab Portland: The Main Event

People flock to Shirt Lab workshops because they are getting a concentrated dose of the best practices and tips for sales and marketing for their shops. You aren’t getting this level of quality, completely curated content anywhere else.

Mark Coudray and Story Brand Starts the Day

The day started off with some networking over breakfast and then we kicked into high gear immediately with a fantastic workshop segment from Mark Coudray on how to implement the Story Brand SB7 framework into your marketing strategy and thinking.

This talk was based on the best-selling book “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller. Mark has completed his Story Brand Guide Certification and was a dynamic choice to bring this to our attendees.

What made Mark’s workshop sticky was that he married the clarity lessons from Story Brand with our industry and made the connection easy to understand.

Marj Easterling with Big Lick Screenprinting asks Mark a follow-up question.

It’s one thing to read the book and think you know what to do. But when an industry veteran like Mark guides you through the process step by step, it’s on another level.

Remember this, “If you confuse, you lose.” Your goal is to seek clarity in your messaging and target customers.

Sam Sprague on Instagram for Lead Generation

Next up with Portland native Sam Sprague with Sprague Media on effective tips on using Instagram to create more leads for your shop.

His segment demonstrated how you can utilize Instagram for business development, prospecting, and lead generation.

The first step for this process, and in any marketing program for that matter, is to define your audience. Who are they? What do they like? Where do they spend their money? Who do they trust?

What I like is the concept of the customer “Reality Bubble”. Instead of thinking about you or your business, get your head wrapped around what who is your customer? From when they wake up until they go to bed, what’s their day like?

Sam defined some suggestions for turning Instagram into a lead magnet for your shop. These were short, sweet, and easily digestible ideas.

  • Use a checklist. Easy to consume, great for beginners.
  • Quizzes. Engaging. People love these, and you can capture their information.
  • Scorecards. For the more advanced user. “Where do you rate?”
  • Webinars. Awesome to use, especially if you are B2B.

His biggest nugget though was breaking things down into his 5-3-1-1 method. It’s fairly simple to put into practice.

Find a customer on Instagram that you would like to pursue. Like five of their posts. Leave three comments. Follow their page. Then, send them one direct message.

It’s all about engagement. This is how you get noticed and create more leads for your business.

Social media is about being social. Not just posting stuff all the time. Get involved!

Jorge Vasquez with Clickfunnels

Next up was Jorge Vasquez with Clickfunnels.

I have to admit, I have been lurking at Clickfunnels for some time now and it was good to have someone walk through how they work and the best way to use them. There are many shops that use Clickfunnels, and I know my Shirt Lab business partner Tom Rauen has several.

One nugget that Jorge shared that I thought was incredibly relevant was, “Marketing IS the business. It’s not the THING that you sell. It is the marketing of that THING.”

Oh yeah.

How you market your business is what drives more sales to your door. Exactly. I think that that notion gets lost in the noise sometimes.

Clickfunnels don’t work like traditional websites

Jorge then broke down that Digital Marketing is just two ideas.

  1. A Sales Funnel sells your thing.
  2. Traffic is made up of people who buy your thing.

He then explained step-by-step how a Clickfunnel works differently than a traditional website by illustrating his points with some funnel examples from our industry.

Kevin Oakley with Stoked on Printing asks Jorge a question

Ryan Moor on Social Proof

Want more business? One way to constantly develop that is to deliver the “proof” to your customers that you are the right choice.

Ryan with Ryonet & Allmade, besides being a major sponsor, has helped us with each Shirt Lab by developing a custom video workshop that is tailored to each Shirt Lab event. They all have been different, but I think maybe this one was my favorite.

It’s in this sentence. “What’s the value of a claim without the proof to back it up?”


I see so many shops tout their expertise and skills in statements, but often there is a lack of solid evidence to support those claims. They come off sounding hollow.

Ryan brought Marcus Harvey from Portland Gear onstage to share their video

Ryan shared three ways that you can develop social proof for your shop.

  1. You Tell Them – which includes these ideas: Show and tell, data, a guarantee, some special ingredient, or a head to head taste off.
  2. Testimonials – I really like these and they include testimonials, referrals, and reviews.
  3. They Sell You – this is when your customers are your evangelists. It’s the most powerful and includes stories, endorsements, or borrowed equity.

Since Ryan’s segments all deal with using video, he backed up his segment with several engaging and well-produced videos from the industry. Including this fantastic video that was from Levi’s.

Can you relate to this video? Could you film something similar?

Don’t you just love that video? It makes you want to ride a bike and print some shirts!

Challenge: Create and film a fun video and share it!

Brad White and Creating a Sales Team

We surveyed our attendees and this by far was the most anticipated workshop segment.


Because everyone wants to get to the mythical “next level”. Adding a sales team to the mix is a question that a lot of shops wrestle with on a constant basis. It’s not so much if they want to it, it’s the “how” to do it that is the problem.

Brad shared best practice tips and tricks from the trenches in building sales teams in many different types of companies. His workshop centered on four main points.

  1. Recruiting and hiring – finding the right people to help you achieve your goals.
  2. Compensation – creating a model that works for you and motivates your sales team.
  3. Training – setting a path for success…or in his words, “get in the kitchen”.
  4. Structure – building a focused plan to drive growth and keep your reps on track.

Brad had a dynamic talk and probably some of the best questions from the audience for the whole day.

Ken Seidl on Closing the Deal

We brought Ken back because he is such a fun and entertaining teacher. As a sales leader for many years, he has the experience to back up what he is talking about.

He didn’t disappoint.

For his segment, he had everyone divide up into small groups and then Ken walked everyone through some role-playing exercises regarding using “Need-Payoff Questions” to close the deal.

Can you identify the difference between your customer’s wants and their needs?

Essentially this means breaking down the customer’s interest into if it is a “want” or a “need”. It was a great exercise and some of the answers that the crowd gave were fantastic.

Stump the Panel Roundtable

One of the best things that we’ve added to Shirt Lab is the Roundtable discussions as the end of the day.

For this, we bring everyone up on stage and pepper them with questions submitted by the Shirt Lab attendees.

What would you have asked these guys?

What I really enjoyed more than anything was one of the questions that were asked where each speaker had to point out their favorite thing they learned from one of the other speaker’s presentations. As everyone is a business owner and learner themselves, it was fun and enlightening to hear their responses!

Shirt Lab Atlanta

For 2019 we have slated four Shirt Lab events. We’ve had three. All have been incredible and unique learning events.

The next one up will be on September 28, 2019, in Atlanta.

I have a good feeling about this one and think it might just be potentially the best of the bunch. Which is a hard thing to say as Shirt Lab St. Louis, Washington DC, and Portland all were fantastic.

Why should you go?

For starters, the entire workshop is going to be about sales and marketing for apparel retail lines. So if you have your own brand of clothing that you are trying to market to stores or a webpage this is for you. If you have customers that are doing the same, then this is for you. Maybe at one point, you have even thought about doing this as a way to diversify your client base…you guessed it…this is for you.

Atlanta is easy to fly into and we have secured rooms at the Springhill Suites next door to the venue for $93 a night.

If you haven’t been to a Shirt Lab before you owe it to your shop to develop better sales and marketing skills. Veteran Shirt Lab attendees…we want you back to close out the year!

Take action today and develop a better future for your company.

Don’t be that person sitting at home with a major case of FOMO when the videos and images start filling up your social media feed.

Be there.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

What have you learned today?

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