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Separate Yourself From the Rest

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When considering a new special-effects technique, ask yourself, “Can a customer distinguish our products from those from the guy down the street? Or are we just another in a long line of the many screen printers they can choose from, for no other reasons than convenience or price?”

When considering a new special-effects technique, ask yourself, “Can a customer distinguish our products from those from the guy down the street? Or are we just another in a long line of the many screen printers they can choose from, for no other reasons than convenience or price?”

The hard fact about this industry is that if you are not moving forward in developing new products and more efficient procedures, then someone else is. If it isn’t you, that means the competition is one step closer to rivaling your hard-earned reputation. Most special-effects printers I know have a few common traits: persistence, confidence, and commitment. Each of these traits will help you overcome the roadblocks involved in developing new product concepts.

Sometimes, the hardest task can be deciding which of the many available special-effects techniques to pursue. Spend some time researching national trends and your local market to narrow the options to a workable list. Knowing what your competitors are doing will help you decide which techniques to prioritize.

Track what competitors are doing by creating a map that has two circles in a bullseye fashion. Your company is in the center. Within the smallest circle are companies within a 20-mile radius. For most companies, this is the most important circle because most of the custom work will come from here, and reputations are made or destroyed in the local market. Study this target area and the types of work other printers do with an eye to catering to what the consumers are buying, as well as giving them designs they have never seen.

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The larger circle reaches out to nearby cities where many more screen printers are operating. Whether you compete against them or not, this circle can spawn innovations by showing you things that aren’t being done in your local market.

Twice a year, I challenge myself to produce two new products that are not currently available in my local market. They could be as simple as changing the high-density print on an old design or swapping a plastisol ink for a discharge water-base system to produce a completely different feel. The most challenging projects usually involve products that are fashionable at the time and not yet available in my area. This is the niche market and if you can become comfortable experimenting with new techniques, you’ll have your customers wondering what products you’ll be developing next. This will be what separates your company from the rest.

(Read Castro’s full article on developing a culture of innovation here.)
 

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