Expanding the Brand of Your Screen Printing Business
One of the more challenging aspects of any business is defining your brand in the mind of your customers. This is certainly true in the screen printing business. In screen printing there are primarily two type of customers, those whose primary interest is price, and those who primary interest is quality. The price driven customer is often a first time or infrequent customer. Someone who is on a strict budget, or an educational or government institution. They are often likely to, or required by law, to take the lowest bidder for their order. In contrast, the quality driven customer is often a repeat buyer or someone experienced with buying screen printed or embroidered merchandise. For them, the presentation of the goods (and by transference their brand presentation) is far more important than the price. Often times these are businesses with very specialized or unique brands, or scholastic Greek organizations.
Many screen printers make the mistake of specializing and catering to only one of those two customer types. They believe that their business can only be a “value” or a “high quality” shop. This is a mistake as it effectively limits their customer base by about half. Many larger industries today overcome this issue by co-branding their products according to their customer bases. This practice is very common in business lines such as retail and car rental. The company offers a lower end value brand that is offered for the cost conscious or deal based consumer, and a high end brand that is focused (and expends extra effort or cost) into customer service.
While it may seem unrealistic to think that a small sized screen printer can support two separate business brands, it is entirely possible to change your business approach to cater to both of these market segments. In order to garner price driven business you need to get your business name in front of decision makers and become a part of the bidding process. A great place to start is to meet with or call the administrators of local school districts and asked to be added to the list of vendors that provide bids on screen printed and embroidered apparel. This will guarantee that on a semi-regular basis your business will be provided the opportunity to submit bids for orders. If you are chosen to supply the shirts (even at a low profit margin) you will be surprised how many other parents or sponsors will then use you at a later date when they need apparel.
Getting into the quality driven market is harder, but not impossible. Most business and Greek organizations already have a contact that makes screen printed goods for them. They are likely satisfied with the quality (and secondary consideration – cost) or they would have already switched to another company. However they may not be fully satisfied with the customer service they are receiving. They are unlikely to switch to your company without seeing proof of your quality. So the best way to make inroads with this group is to make a great shirt and give them a sample. A great way to prove both your screen printing and artistic abilities is to digitize a five color shirt with the logo of your business on it. While everyone loves a freebie, this will also show these customers that you can produce high end, detailed apparel.