Shop Improvement Series: How to Market Your Company

I think that we can all agree on one problem everyone in this industry has right now. We need more business. More customers. To ramp up sales. Kickstart the biz.

Whatever you want to call it, this comes down to one thing.

How you market your company.

In this article, I want to discuss three basic tenets of your marketing toolkit.

  1. Your website
  2. Your social media
  3. Your drip marketing

These are the basics.

Are there more that you should be doing? Of course. But this is a blog article, not a book. Let’s keep it simple today.

Why Your Website Isn’t Working

We can get all fancy with analytics and talk about conversion rates, but I’ll save that for another time.

I regularly go to decorated apparel industry websites on a daily basis. Yep. I’m that guy. Lurking around.

I’m just nosy that way.

Mostly what I see is a mix of outdated aesthetics and backward thinking. It’s the thinking part that I want you to dive into here.

In a new tab, I want you to open up your website right now so you can compare my thoughts with what you have for your business.

Got it? Good.

The 10 Biggest Industry Problems For Websites

  1. Your website is all about you, and not the customer. Your site now is built about what you can do. Your equipment. Employees. Skills. That you print with waterbase ink or have embroidery. Here’s the problem: Your customers don’t care about any of that. What they care about is that they have a challenge and they are looking to you to solve it. Your customer cares most about solving the problem they have in front of them. Not about anything else. Why else would they be on your site? Redesign your site to build trust that focuses on solutions to customer problems.
  2. Lack of compelling call to action. What do you want your potential customer to do? Get a quote? Schedule a call with a rep? Download something in exchange for their info so you can add them to your drip marketing? Buy something from your store? This needs to be “skillet to the head” obvious and front and center. You need absolute clarity in what your customers should be doing with your website the moment they jump on. Ask yourself this, “What is the number one goal that I want my website to do?” That’s the first they should see.
  3. Too many words. On a lot of websites that empty space must scare whoever created it because it is completely filled with text. Nobody is reading that. Do you read tons of copy when you personally go to another website? Nope. Why do you think your website visitors will?
  4. It takes too long to load. Ideally, your site should load in under two seconds. From your customer’s phone. On a desktop. With an iPad. Have you tested yours? Click here and test yours.
  5. It looks like 1987. Seriously. Is that the best you can do? I thought you were a design professional?
  6. The links don’t work. Sure, I’d like to follow you on Instagram. Oh, wait, that’s not hooked up yet. Bummer.
  7. Measuring. If your website is built to sell, how are sales? Are you happy with the outcome? If not, what are you doing about it on a daily basis? Do you have a Google Analytics dashboard set up? Are you tracking your results?
  8. Storytelling. Are you sharing customer testimonials or stories of how you helped similar customers with solving their problems? This builds trust. Good selling techniques are not about the buying process, but about relieving the customer of the anxiety that accompanies the selling process. Stories are powerful. Use them. Blogs, videos, eBooks, whitepapers, photos, podcasts. Where is this stuff on your webpage if someone wants to learn more? Show off a little.
  9. Weak SEO – a website doesn’t work unless people actually view it. What are you doing on purpose to drive more eyeballs to your website? Do you use long-tail keywords? Are you creating and updating content on the site on a consistent and regular basis? People need a reason to visit. Blogs or videos are great for that. If you don’t know what to create start with your origin story, and then do the top ten frequently asked questions you are always answering, one post at a time. If you post a blog a month, that’s almost a year’s worth of content right there.
  10. Social media engagement. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest…all can drive people to your site if you build it. Plan your social media marketing out six to eight weeks in advance. Every day, what are you posting? Create templates to make it easier. Use automated tools to schedule and post for you. Keep track of what days of the week and times work the best for your audience. Rinse and repeat. Engage with people and be social. Invite them over to the party that is happening on your website.

Why Your Social Media Isn’t Working

First and foremost, social media is about people. It is human to human engagement.

It is not, “Hey, follow me so I can sell you stuff.”

The best people on social media are themselves 100% of the time. They post regularly with their voice, their personality, and do it in an engaging and infectious way. People want to connect with them because they are real.

If your shop’s social media is only about the products you are peddling, that’s why you only have a limited number of people following you, liking your posts, sharing your stuff, or buying it.

People are interested in other people. Not used car salesmen.

Social Media is a Cocktail Party

You’ve been to a party before, right?

Have you ever introduced yourself to someone you’ve never met before? More than likely.

But, some people are shy. They don’t know what to say. It’s awkward.

The same is true on social media. It’s sometimes awkward.

Here’s a tip: Just be yourself and ask questions. Just like at a party.

Why talk about yourself, when the number one goal is to make friends? Ask questions about the other person. Compliment them on something. Just be sincere and genuine. It’s really not that difficult if you look at it that way.

Top 10 Biggest Industry Problems for Social Media

  1. Lack of a clear overall Social Media Strategy. Just to remind you, a strategy is an overarching goal that you want. Eisenhower wanted to defeat Hitler in WWII. That was a strategy. Tactics are how you actually do it. Like the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Your social media strategy is what? Drive more visitors to your website? Build your brand awareness? Get people to schedule an appointment and ramp up your lead generation? Buy something from your online store? The tactical ideas you deploy on your social media channels should support whatever goal you are trying to achieve. Be crystal clear between the two. It isn’t about just posting stuff.
  2. Not being human. These days the most human company wins. On your social media channels are you articulating that? Are you showing your vulnerability? Emotions? Victories? Defeats? People respond most to other people. Guess what? Your company is staffed with people. Break that third wall and inject some human personality into your marketing. We like smiling faces.
  3. Customer Service with Social Media. Have you ever received negative comments or posts about your company online? Are you monitoring this? When there is a failure somewhere with your business, sometimes a frustrated customer posts online and vent to the world all about the injustice of it all. You need to immediately follow up and not inflame the situation but address it. Trust me, people are watching.
  4. Lack of original content creation. One of the greatest things I learned along the way is the social media 90-9-1 rule. 90% of your followers will read, watch, or listen to whatever you post. 9% will actually like, share, retweet, comment, or do something with it online. But only 1% of companies out there are actually creating the content that everyone enjoys. Be in the 1%.
  5. Promoting your business constantly. I hate to break it to you pal, but nobody cares about you. People care about them. They are the hero here. Every time you post about your company, you are that person at the party that just blathers on about themselves. “What a schmuck,” is what people think to themselves. Instead, can you create content that is about your customers? Solving their problems or challenges? That is more impactful. How can you help other people solve a problem they are having right now?
  6. Spamming. Just don’t do it. It’s the easiest way to get banned, barred, or even fined for your actions. You can do better.
  7. Content that is directed at the wrong audience. It’s great that you just received a shipment of shiny new frames or some triple durometer squeegee. Thanks for posting. Your customers don’t care or even understand that. Instead, connect the dots for them with the information they can use. Or, at least be entertaining.
  8. Buying followers. C’mon. The number of people that follow you is a vanity metric. I’d rather have a lower number of followers and fans that buy from me, than a thousand times that number that won’t ever spend a dollar. Engagement is what you are after here.
  9. Inconsistent posting. When shops connect with me, I usually look them up. Their website and all the social media channels. Curiosity and a desire to understand them takes over. Here’s a tip: if you want social media to work for you posting on the channels is a must. Use an app like Buffer and make it easy to schedule things out. I normally have two to four weeks of posts scheduled at any given time.
  10. No lead generation strategy. Social media for your business shouldn’t be about sharing pretty images or funny posts about cats and cucumbers. It’s about sales. Getting new customers into your lead generation pipeline. Activating older customers to buy from you again. Keeping current customers engaged and happy. What are your goals here with what you are doing? Have you mapped that out?

Why Your Drip Marketing Isn’t Working

First, what is Drip Marketing anyway?

Imagine a leaky faucet. It is slowly dripping water droplets, one at a time, into a bowl in the sink. Over time, if left unchecked, that bowl will fill up with water.

Now pretend that the water droplets are automated marketing messages that are constructed to go out to your customer base or other lists.

Got a new customer? Great! They get added to the list. The first sequence of the drip marketing starts without you doing anything.

You can be communicating to your customers automagically.

Are you doing this? Most shops are not.

Here are the top things that you should be doing with your Drip Marketing:

Top 10 Drip Marketing Posts You Need Right Now

  1. New customer on-boarding. Did you just take a new order with a customer? Before you get started, shoot them a message about the expectations of what happens next. This can be built to automatically go out with the information or even a video. Make them feel special.
  2. Lead nurturing campaigns. This is an automated sequence of information emails that are sent to your list on a constant basis. Every month, or maybe even six weeks they get a new message from you or your company. Show off a skill or aspect of your business that helps solve a problem for them. They get these until they buy from you, and then they are moved into a different drip sequence.
  3. Welcome new contacts. In business, we meet people all the time. In-person, online, in social media groups. Some become contacts with your company along the way. Build out a welcome sequence that starts them understanding what you do, and how you can help them resolve a pain point they are having.
  4. Engagement with your best customers. We all have our VIP customers. What are you doing for them that constantly engages with them and makes them feel special? Be on-purpose about this.
  5. Educational content. Start a “Did you know?” campaign. Maybe introduce your customers to the team members on your staff. Use video and illustrate the processes in your shop. Show the behind the scenes magic.
  6. Abandoned cart. Did someone go to your website and not complete the order or transaction? Get them to finish! There are plenty of tools to use for your website to help with this function.
  7. Reactivation of customers. I’m sure you have customers that ordered from you a few years ago, but you haven’t heard from them in awhile. You can automate the process of getting them fired back up by sending them messages and asking them some questions. Customers want to hear from you! Make them feel special. If they don’t re-engage, you can move them to another list, or purge them.
  8. Cross-sell and up-sell products. Are their complimentary products or services you offer to what someone just ordered? Your customers need to know about it, and having a Drip Marketing campaign that focuses on this is one tried and true method of increasing sales with related items. Ask for the sale!
  9. Follow up after the order was delivered. You know when things are shipping and when they will be delivered. Target your customers with a “Hey, how did we do?” campaign and ask for feedback.
  10. Ask for a review or referral. Have the campaign built to sync with your Google or Yelp account so they automatically can leave a review. Make it easy for them. There also is software that redirects anything less than a stellar review to the company owner so you can resolve it quickly and quietly.

Marketing is Creating Customers

Remember, the act of marketing is creating customers. Branding is creating an emotional link to your customers.

For most shops in the decorated apparel industry, they spend the majority of their time actively producing the work. Not much thought or effort goes into the sales and marketing processes. As sales are the lifeblood of your business, this needs to be a priority, especially these days.

You can build this out for your shop by simply writing out your goals on what you want to happen. What’s important? Develop the strategy that you want to create to better your business. Your marketing plan serves that.

Improving this simply take effort and the willingness to change.

You can do it.


“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

“Optimist: day dreamer more elegantly spelled.” – Mark Twain

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightening that does the work.” – Mark Twain

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