Samples can be a great way to show off your work, learn how to make the most of them!
Samples are a staple for marketing your screen printing business, attracting customers and nabbing new orders. However, there's a fine line between samples increasing your business and overdoing samples and eroding profits.
The key to making samples worth your effort is to have a planned approach to providing samples: Know your objective when you create samples, set limits on providing samples, make sure your customers know expectations regarding samples, put your best foot forward and know how you’ll factor samples into your overall profit strategy.
Know Your Objective
Before you print your samples, you have to have an objective for those samples. Are you printing samples for a customer who isn’t sure which fabric they’d like to use or wants to be sure that their graphic will turn out well? That’s a fairly straightforward objective that can be completed by providing a few samples of your customer’s desired screen print. Are you trying to lure new business by showcasing your work to local companies, clubs or events? Before you start printing, you have to consider what items they would be likely to order, which items best showcase your work and which products would reap the most profits for your shop.
Even we equipment manufacturers like to
show off our samples every now and then!
Whether it’s a simple objective or a more complex one, you have to know your endgame for printing samples before you move forward to avoid wasting time and money by producing samples that won’t lead to sales.
Too often, screen printers who are eager to show their work overdo it on samples, making it difficult to profit off of the time and cost of producing those samples. Make sure you set clear limits for your customers and yourself to avoid this trap. Printing a shirt or two at a customer’s request so they're sure of their order quality is good customer service. When the customer starts requesting five or six samples, that’s a costly proposition. Have a clear policy in place so customers know how many samples you will supply for free and what the charge is for providing additional samples. Similarly, have a policy in place for yourself, or your sales team, of how many samples you will create when trying to attract a new customer to avoid overspending.
Make Sure Your Customers Know Your Expectations on Samples
When you do provide samples to customers or potential customers, make sure they know your expectations. If you will be charging for samples, let them know the cost up front. If you will provide samples that can later be used to fill their exact order quantity, let them know how that process will work. If samples must be returned by a certain date to avoid a charge, have that date clearly established, and attach a written reminder to the sample order. If you're providing samples to prospective clients, make sure they know whether those samples are gifts or whether you expect to have them returned if an order isn’t placed.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
It can be tempting to cut costs on samples by running prints quickly on your manual press or by using leftover items that you have in your shop’s inventory. But remember the purpose of create samples is to attract sales. That means putting your best foot forward when presenting samples to customers and potential customers. If a customer has requested a sample ahead of an order, make sure you provide a sample that looks like their final product. If you’re providing samples as a way to attract new customers, you want them to see the best you have to offer. Make sure simple prints are done well, and consider having a sample that showcases a specialty ink or product that might help you earn an upsell. They may take more time and money, but quality samples are more likely to earn you more business.
Know How Samples Fit into Your Bottom Line
As a screen printer, samples are an important part of your business. Make sure you know how samples fit into your business plan. That means knowing whether you’ll charge for samples, factor the cost of “free” samples into the prices you charge or provide customers will free samples that you will right off as a normal business expense. Regardless of how you execute samples in your shop, you can make samples worth your while by incorporating them clearly into your business plan.
Looking for more tips on ways to grow your business and attract more sales?
Check out 7 Ways to Grow Your Screen Printing Business!