To achieve any measure of financial success as a screen printer, you have to put maximum effort into marketing your business. So you’ve got a user- and search engine-friendly website, active social media channels, a content marketing strategy and some local advertisements – but you’re still falling short when it comes to generating new leads. What else can you try?

If you’re giving your all to the more traditional marketing techniques and still not getting the results you’re after, it may be time to think further outside the box. Here are three ways you can market your screen printing business and attract new customers that might not have crossed your mind:

1. Put together a sample pack

Samples are one of the most effective ways to market your screen printing business; they give you a great opportunity to show off your capabilities in a tangible way. You might already be printing one-off samples for your customers to give them a better idea of how their designs will look on certain fabrics or with different special effects. To streamline the process, consider standardizing your samples with packs of your most popular items and print styles. You might include printed shirts in combinations of a few of your biggest-selling colors and materials, along with other promotional items like hats or stickers. If you offer additional services besides screen printing, you might include samples of the same designs created with embroidery or heat transfers.

Think carefully about your target market and decide what samples will be most effective. Does your business specialize in printing for corporate clients? Polos, button-down shirts and jackets might be attractive options for companies looking for a cohesive look. Are local sports teams your bread and butter? Think about offering a pack of samples including different jersey and numbering styles, and maybe additional items like hoodies or sweatpants. Putting yourself in your target customers’ shoes and choosing sample packs that they’ll find most interesting will help you convert more prospects to sales.

For more on making effective use of samples, check out Providing Samples for Your Customers: How to Make it Worth Your Effort

2. Sponsor a local event

Sponsoring an event in your community can be a great way to gain exposure for your screen printing business. While it can be costly depending on the event, sponsoring an event that appeals to your target market can increase your business’s visibility and help attract new customers. Printing shirts for an event with your company’s name as a sponsor means the participants get an attractive souvenir from a memorable experience, while you get essentially walking billboards advertising your business. If it’s feasible with your printing equipment and appropriate to the event, you might even consider printing shirts live right there at the event. Giving potential buyers a first-hand look at the work you do is a creative way to pique their interest; if you’ve got a portable manual screen printing machine or a small heat transfer press, you might be able to take your printing on the road.

When selecting an event to sponsor, try to find events that align with your target audience and marketing goals. Print a lot of band merchandise? A music festival might be a good sponsorship opportunity. Is athletic gear a popular seller? Sponsoring sports tournaments and races can get your items in front of the athletes in your community. Looking to build some good will and appeal to other local businesses? Sponsoring a charity event can be a very effective way of marketing your shop while building positive word-of-mouth advertising. There are plenty of events big and small that you can take advantage of, so always be on the lookout for new opportunities.

3. Run a contest

As a screen printer, you have no shortage of options if you decide to run a contest or offer special giveaways. You might choose to enter your customers in a raffle when they make a purchase, with the chance to win a credit towards their next order or some free shirts or promotional items. Contests can help boost your social media following and engagement; you can award prizes for likes and shares of your social posts to help spread the word about your business. Contests and giveaways can be as big or as small as you like – just a few free shirts can go a long way towards getting your business’s name out there.

The key to running a successful contest is to offer prizes that your target market is actually interested in, while trying to maximize your return on investment. First you have to decide what goals you want the contest to achieve. Do you want to grow your Facebook or Twitter following by a certain amount, or increase the engagement of your existing followers? Do you want to add subscribers to your email list? Do you want to offer coupons to give your sales a quick boost? Once you’ve determined your goals, you can plan the most effective way to run the contest to achieve those goals. It’s important to set a budget, so you can track exactly how much the contest will cost; you don’t want to go overboard with giveaways and end up costing your business money. A budget will allow you to compare the expenses to the results your contest is bringing in and judge how successful it is. Most importantly with a contest, remember to keep it fun!

If your usual marketing efforts aren’t quite getting the job done, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and give something new a try. With careful research and planning, you’re bound to hit on some winning strategies. Promoting your screen printing business is almost a full time job in itself, so always keep an eye out for new ways to re-energize your marketing!