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Chessie Rosier-Parker

How Arnold Schwarzenegger Can Help You Sell More Shirts

Here are eight marketing tips that screen printers can take from the memoir of “The Terminator.”

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WHILE READING Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was struck by the importance of follow-through in marketing after a launch. Schwarzenegger’s drive to promote his films went beyond the bare minimum of interviews and articles. He actively participated in the production process, gathered feedback from audiences, and worked to avoid being typecast in certain roles. His goal was to earn $1 million per film and double his salary with each subsequent film. Having proven its worth throughout Schwarzenegger’s diverse career in bodybuilding, business, film and politics, a proactive approach to marketing can provide similar benefits to garment decorators and other screen printers. Below is a list of a few key points from the book, followed by a more detailed explanation of each item.

  • Define small milestones toward larger goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Be a profitable partner.
  • Encourage action through education.
  • Squeeze the juice from every job.
  • Strive for meaningful connections.

Define Small Milestones Toward Larger Goals

Just like Arnold, you can benefit from regular reflection on clear, achievable goals that are defined in writing. Break your goals down into action items and dedicate time to achieving them. You might aim to increase your customer base in the events industry by 300 percent this year with a larger goal of becoming the largest event printer in the state. Working incrementally toward smaller targets can make such ambitious goals easier to achieve.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

This advice applies beyond the core skills needed for screen printing. You might also benefit from assistance with areas such as accounting, photography, content writing, and creating advertisements. Seek out mentors or other resources that can help you succeed.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Becoming the first-choice printer and increasing your event customers by 300 percent requires addressing any sources of friction in the ordering process. Did a customer choose cheap shirts only because they didn’t know your range? Did their designer choose a crazy, multi-colored design that required DTG instead of your preferred screen print? Was the deadline so tight that you were stressed and had stock issues?

Learning from previous customer interactions can help you get out ahead of such obstacles. You could produce a few designs for them. You could mockup the designs on your preferred garments. You could stipulate a discounted rate for longer lead times. You could reexamine the marketing of the event, seek out other sponsors and participants, and sell your shop as the leading printer for event merchandise in the state.

Be a Profitable Partner

Arnie had to sell himself across lots of different industries. He attributes his success to researching what the new audience values, then making sure he fits in. Examples might include learning a few words in another language to be polite or even re-applying proven strategies to new markets. In the latter case, a screen printer might find that providing embroidered patches for distribution to fans can be just as effective for a band as for a sports team.

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One way to increase profit margins for both you and the customer is offering products beyond traditional T-shirts. You might propose a package that also includes hoodies, beanies, and patches, complete with mock-ups and breakdowns of the costs and potential margins for each item. One effective technique for upselling is to include the additional items in your mock-ups but mark them as “not applicable.” This can prompt customers to ask about pricing and availability, which can open new opportunities to communicate the benefits of purchasing a wider range of products. This approach can increase both the value of an individual order and the overall profit margin of the job.

Encourage Action Through Education

Arnie often provided free training manuals with the goal of enticing fitness enthusiasts to become fans of his movies and books. Screen printing businesses that use templates to streamline the ordering process can do essentially the same thing.

Rather than allowing customers to provide their own artwork for Leavers Hoodies, you could request an Excel spreadsheet of names to input into one of your own templates. This shows customers you can handle the job, and it eases the collection of design data for both parties. Offering templates on your website can help generate warm leads by providing opportunities to reach out to customers who have downloaded them to see if they’re also interested in hoodies or other products. Overall, templates can help you effectively communicate your capabilities and streamline the ordering process for your screen printing business. Offering free templates also gives people a reason to visit your website.

Squeeze the Juice From Every Job

Arnold knew that avoiding career complacency and continuing to improve would require seeking out and addressing criticism. He understood this was the only way to avoid sleepwalking through his work and remaining oblivious to areas in need of improvement.

Similarly, staying engaged with a customer – even after an order has shipped – can help maximize the potential of every screen printing job and build long-term relationships with customers. Rather than simply hoping for repeat business, reach out to customers a few weeks after their event or project to ask how it went and if they were satisfied with the shirts or other products they ordered. This not only gives you the opportunity to address any concerns, but also opens the door to potential reorders if the products sold well. Follow-ups also open opportunities to pitch other services, such as embroidery. Additionally, ask if you can use the job as a success story for your social media and email marketing to boost your credibility

Strive for Meaningful Connections

Arnie married into a political family that was very good at making people feel important and special in conversations. He learned about the importance of researching people you’re going to do business with to establish common areas of interest.

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For you, this approach can entail more than just tracking details about each job. Personal information about the customer can be used to build meaningful connections in future interactions. Examples might include the date of their event or the name of a son whose band name appears on the shirts you’re printing. Making a conscious effort to remember and record this information can help you show the customer you value their business and are interested in building a long-term relationship. You could send a text or email after their event to ask how it went or mention specific details about the band in future conversations. These personal touches can help customers feel heard, remembered, and valued by your business, and can help to strengthen your connection with them.

If you would like some impartial insight into your own marketing, let me know and we can set up a call. [email protected].

Chessie Rosier-Parker is the studio owner of Squeegee & Ink and also Blind Maggot streetwear brand. As a screen printing teacher for 10 years, Chessie has built a presence on a range of social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube and has an active blog, podcast, and email newsletter. Chessie reveals the steps to making a marketing ecosystem that once built will funnel your ideal customers to your business. Check out free resources on the squeegeeandink.co.uk website and subscribe to the Youtube channel for notifications of new videos.

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