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Couldn’t Attend Shirt Lab Ft. Worth 2021? Here’s a Cheat Sheet

A medley of industry experts comprised the speaker lineup.




Couldn’t Attend Shirt Lab Ft. Worth 2021? Here’s a Cheat Sheet
Author Jeffrey Gitomer offered counsel on how screen shops can differentiate themselves from the competition.

THE GOALS FOR Shirt Lab Ft. Worth 2021 were simple: Have an open mind, take action, and remember what you learned. The two-day sales and marketing event for the decorated apparel industry took place Sept. 13-14 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. If you missed the event or are having trouble with goal No. 3, we’ve got you covered. See below for speaker highlights from the conference.

To join Shirt Lab Tribe, visit

Tom Rauen
Ultimate Marketing Plan

“What does your business bucket look like?” asks Rauen, founder and CEO,, and co-founder of Shirt Lab. “Are you adding to it? Is it full of holes? Is it leaking? Can you catch what’s leaking and pour it back in? How do you keep it full?”

To begin, figure out who your dream client is. “The riches are in the niches,” says Rauen. For example, he’s a trail runner, so he finds trail races that need shirts. “Find the person you connect with. I get the job because I’m part of their tribe,” he says.

So, you’ve figured out your client. Where can you find them? Blogs, podcasts, Facebook groups, tradeshows, live events, supply stores, rental centers, etc. Rauen says advertise, see if you can partner, buy a post on Facebook, buy their email lists, and/or be the expert for this industry. If your dream client is in construction, be a guest on a podcast and talk about safety apparel or shirts they can give their teams as a thank you for their hard work.

What bait will you use to attract them? What results do you want to give them? “We’re trying to sell them T-shirts” is not the answer. You’re selling them brand recognition, brand/product awareness, corporate identity, PR and goodwill, customer retention and appreciation, sales and referrals generation, new customer acquisition, and how to hire employees or retain great employees.


Rauen says do a printed sample with their logo already on it. Take the time to do this. Be intentional. Make personal connections. Share your origin story, and make sure your staff is just as passionate about your origin story so it shows through when they’re sharing with prospective clients. Your potential customers been down the same road as you. “People do business with people,” he says.

Here’s your onboarding checklist: Set up account, add to database, send welcome card and swag bag with those personalized products, email post-order follow up, add on social media, send a survey, send a testimonial, and add to newsletter and drip campaigns. You can also set up a rewards program to keep them in your bucket just like Delta or Marriott. Be creative. Have a product showcase, their own mini tradeshow, an intimate experience with top 10 clients or directly to their company. Automate your reorders. Retrieve lost clients by reaching out, making that connection, and finding out what went wrong.

Michelle Moxley
The Future of Hybrid, Digital, and Shop Automation

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel, and Moxley during her presentation on hybrid printing. Hybrid printing allows for volume-based decision-making and is a solution for personalization and customization needs.

Myths Debunked

“Yes, you can print with plastisol inks,” says Moxley. “Print with white ink and spray digital ink on top, no flashing or curing, just melting of the product.”

  • Pros: larger volumes, reduces need for highly technical separation knowledge, automation in underbases, expanded screen print ink systems, and variable data (different image data with same cost).
  • Applications: face masks, gloves, polypropylene bags, safety vests. “Any garment can be printed with a hybrid machine – you can even print on a tortilla,” which Michelle tried, successfully. “It makes us courageous to try anything,” she says.
  • Hybrid + special effects: you can add special effects anywhere on the press and you’re able to enhance techniques.

Jonathan Tynes
Print Broker or Broke Printer

If you’re considering becoming a broker, here are the thing you need to know:
• Brokering isn’t for everyone
• Have a solid retail customer base
• Be able to downsize your entire operation (you likely can’t be profitable and keep the same overhead) and help your employees find jobs
• Treat your vendors well
• How much money you’re making per shirt needs to be the focus, not how many contracts you can gain
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help
• Don’t be afraid to ask for money upfront

Erich Campbell
Selling Embroidery: Beyond Stitch Counts and Commodities

Looking to expand your offerings? Consider embroidery, says Campbell, an award-winning embroidery digitizer/designer. “It evokes values, it looks luxurious, and it catalogues experiences.” Remember, coverage does not equal visual impact. There are ways to create interesting contrasts and provide a large design than just adding density.


Unique values of embroidery: aesthetic (dimensionality, surface quality, material variability, multimedia potential, creative execution), utilitarian (durability and versatility).
Application: suited for mass production and individual personalization, fits into almost any market segment, traditional and trending.
Personalization: no decoration is more essential than a name.

Campbell says ask the tough questions when selling embroidery: What problems can my work uniquely solve? What about my work delights and surprises? What about my work/my shop can bring to the process that no one else can?

Brittany Long
Launch It Today

Want to earn more by working less? Want to make sales without having to be “on” all the time? Long, CEO of Win with Systems, an email sequence agency, knows how to write emails that bring in revenue. “Most brands should be generating 25 to 35 percent of their total revenue from email,” she says. “If you have leads coming in that you aren’t consistently nurturing, you are losing sales because people who buy products through emails spend 138 percent more.”

Things You Should Know About Email Marketing:

  • Don’t let your clients forget about you. Send consistent emails once a month, ideally once a week.
  • If you have a low month, send out that email.
  • People want relevant emails on things they want. Show them what they’re interested in. Ask what they’re working on, ask for their feedback on a shirt idea, give a referral (say “Can I refer you?” in the subject line), ask for a referral (plus a discount), share stats they’ll care about, highlight the shirt/style of the month, feature one of your clients, or give a discount or coupon code.
  • In the email body, make sure you have clickable action items, benefits to completing the action item, and an urgency/timeline for the single call to action.

Tips on subject lines:

  • Use interesting subject lines. Thirty-three percent of email recipients open because of the subject line
  • If you have a comma in your subject line, it will lower your open rate so leave it out
  • One word in caps raises open rate, more than one lowers it
  • Be specific. For example, 5 BEST Shirt designs for [name of client]
  • Use non-round numbers. For example, “Top 4 reasons to… ”
  • Capitalize the first letter
  • Capitalize one word and one word only
  • Use the word “you” or “your”
  • Run your subject line through

Marshall Atkinson
Idea Generator SCAMPER Method (Editor’s Note: For more on SCAMPER, stay tuned for Atkinson’s column in the October/November digital edition)

  • Substitute
    Discover something new and see what happens. Only way to get better is to change. If it doesn’t work, that’s ok because that’s data.
  • Combine
    Jerzees may have supplied the hoodies, but Stahl’s did the emblem. What can you combine to have a different result?
  • Adapt
    Adapt something for another use, for it to work. For example, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck the screens. They’re not made for that purpose, but it works.
  • Magnify or Modify
    Make things bigger. Weight makes you think it’s worth more. Think of the case your iPhone came in. It doesn’t need to be that big, but it gives the effect of being worth more.
  • Put It to Another Use
    Think of sustainability. Use the bags you get from a supplier as trash bag liners.
  • Eliminate
    What can you get rid of to make things faster? Think of order process, workflow, or how someone fills out a form on your site. If it takes 10 steps, can you do it in eight, six, or remove it altogether?
  • Rearrange or Reverse
    What can we do to make it better by changing the direction of how we do things? What if we did it backwards, what results would we get? Attendee Alison Banholzer says, “Design for the garment aka pick out the garment first.” Jeffrey Gitomer says, “Charge your clients first.”

Kerry Egeler
How to Blow Up Your Business with Facebook Ads

The best way to spend your marketing dollars in today’s world is by purchasing Facebook ads, says Egler.


Top three reasons why:

  • Money loves speed
  • Takes much less time to do
  • Campaigns can run forever without much time

Facebook ad stats:

  • 2.79 billion active users on Facebook, 73 percent are on Instagram (owned by Facebook)
  • 80 percent of the US are on Facebook, 73 percent of US users login daily
  • 86 percent of internet users who make six figures are using Facebook
  • Average user clicks on 12 ads per month
  • Facebook provides the highest ROI and the lowest barrier of entry
  • You can reach 1000 for $5 v $1500 with direct mail

Three fatal mistakes business owners are making:

  1. Boosting posts – This is not the same as running a Facebook ad and you don’t have control, so don’t take the bait. Always use Facebook Ads Manager.
  2. Bad sales copy and creative – Have value add, with a hook, a clear call to action, and an offer. Don’t use industry jargon and write at a fifth-grade level. Keep it super simple and don’t be offensive to the public.
  3. Image/video – Have less text in the photo, use a high-quality photo, communicate clearly, have a hook, have a call to action, and get them to stop the scroll.

Simple strategies to effectively use ads to get more sales:

  • Instead of trying to sell on the first touch point, identify who you want to target. Look at who your past customers are, split them up into different groups, and approach customers differently for each ad so you can speak their language.
  • Educate or entertain – don’t sell. Introduce your company or provide value. Give away a valuable freebie. Educate on a subject related to your niche.
  • Run a 60-second or longer video, and then find the people who have watched at least 50 percent of it. This is who you want to target.
  • Turn Facebook traffic into your own traffic; make sure you get those emails and save them to your own list.
  • Make a killer offer. Don’t sell products because it becomes a price war. Sell an offer because it differentiates you from your competitors. Core product plus a value add.
  • Now you can make the sale. Make your audience an offer so good it’s impossible for them to say no. You no longer have cold traffic; it’s warm.

Pro tip: Use all your reviews for all of your products on your site. Look at Etsy as an example.

Richard Greaves
Growth Culture Communication

Top quotes from Greaves:

  • Embrace continuous improvement, continuous change.
  • The problem is rarely the problem, it’s the response to the problem.
  • Companies see training as an expense, not as an investment. (Pro tip: Create a library of old mags or audio/visual training docs or a guidebook for all employees.)
  • Do not become comfortable.
  • Your job is to improve the process, and production will take care of itself.
  • As an owner, get rid of the parts of your job you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do like cleaning the shop.

Mark Coudray
The Physics of Profit

What does physics have to do with screen printing? If you ask Coudray, he’ll say everything. Using his old physics books from high school and college, he compared formulas to running a screen printing business. “We can use the laws of physics to grow your business,” he says.

It’s all about the basic laws of motion: mass, inertia, energy, friction, force, vector, acceleration, momentum, velocity, and leverage. “Your business is mass and if it’s sitting there, you have to apply force, and when your sales grow you accelerate,” he says.

Profit = revenue – expenses*.

Coudray’s law of inverse effort profit equals 1 over effort. 2x profit with ½ the work. If you want to quadruple your business, you can only work a quarter of the time. 10x profit with 1/10 of the effort. Less effort = more profit.

*Expenses = sales, admin, labor, art, prep, materials, fulfillment, overhead, spoilage, production, etc.

Jeffrey Gitomer

Gitomer, speaker, author, podcaster extraordinaire, spoke on the need to differentiate yourself from the competition by bringing better ideas to the table. Don’t wait for the customer to call you. Go to the customer with innovation and demonstrate to them that you can provide something the competition can’t or won’t. “There is margin in better ideas,” he says.

Main takeaways from Shirt Lab Ft. Worth 2021:
• Your business can grow two to three times faster if you collect money upfront
• Download “2 Second Lean” and read page 77. – Richard Greaves
• Put the highest-level jobs at the beginning of the month, change the order of the sequence of the jobs, zero effort involved, hit green on day 13 vs. day 18. If you’re in pure profit at the end of the month working on smaller jobs, you have time to look for bigger jobs.




Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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