Finding new business for your print shop can be tough, but persistence and planning can go a long way towards boosting your sales.

To keep your screen printing business growing, you need a strategy for drumming up new customers. Without a strategy, new customers are unlikely to find their way to you. Unless you are constantly and consistently marketing your business, you will see your sales fizzle and maybe even disappear. Here are some of our best strategies for finding new clients for your screen printing business.

Actively seek referrals

Referrals are by far the most effective way to drum up new business. In one study by the Advertising Specialty Institute, 82 percent of small businesses cited referrals as earning them new business, far exceeding the next method of earning new clients, organizational groups, which 29 percent of businesses reported as helping them earn customers. You will, of course, earn referrals by doing your job well and providing your customers with top-notch service. But to make the most of referrals, actively seek referrals from your existing customers. You can take advantage of referrals by doing something as simple as asking customers who were pleased with their orders to suggest you to their friends, either verbally, through a follow-up email or with a note on their receipt. You also can encourage referrals by offering an incentive program to customers who make referrals; give them a percentage off or a free gift with purchase for any referrals they make. (For more strategies to help you build customer loyalty, check out this blog)

Have a cold-call strategy

As much as many business owners and sales staff hate to admit it, cold calling is one of the most effective ways to drum up new customers. Most people despise cold calling, however, because it can seem awkward to force your sales pitch onto someone new and a high percentage of cold calls end in rejection. The conversions created by cold calling makes it well worth the effort. The key to getting the most out of your cold calls is to work out a cold-call strategy. First, know that in-person visits are nearly always more effective than over-the-phone interactions. Even if you don’t have time to visit all of your prospects, pick out a handful of your most desired clients to cold call. Visit them with a packet of information on your business, and consider printing some sample products to gift if it’s a customer you’re really hoping to bag. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of a cold call isn’t to close a sale right there; it’s to introduce your business and form a relationship with a prospective client.

Follow up

One of the biggest mistakes people make with cold calling is that they consider it a one-off interaction; they leave it up to the potential customer to reach out after the introduction is made. To turn a cold call into a sale, you need to follow up. Set yourself up for follow up during your initial cold call of visit: Introduce yourself, share your materials and share your elevator pitch, then try to set an appointment for further discussion, or ask if you can follow up after they’ve had time to review your products and services. This will allow your potential customer time to evaluate your business and how your business can meet their needs. You’ll be able to sit down with that potential customer when they have time to ask questions and express their needs. A cold call does put a potential customer on the spot; without enough time to think, they’ll be inclined to give an automatic no to your sales pitch. Your follow up provides the window for your sales pitch. Even if your prospect doesn’t want to set an appointment, send a follow-up note or email thanking they for their time and expressing your delight at meeting them.

Go social

Social media has become so prolific when it comes to marketing that it now ranks as high as cold calling in its effectiveness to convert customers. Just like cold calling, you should have a social media strategy. Tailor your social media presence to your target audience. If your target market includes local businesses, you’ll want to be active on LinkedIn. If you appeal to a younger audience, Instagram is a must. And every business should be active on Facebook. Be sure to post regularly on your social media channels, and focus on relationship building, rather than selling. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 ratio: 80 percent of your posts should be providing interesting content to your customers, such as sharing tips they would find helpful or giving a behind-the-scenes look at your shop; the remaining 20 percent of posts can be sales driven.

Finding new clients for your screen printing business comes down to strategy. You should have a clear strategy for reaching out to prospective clients, and that strategy should include seeking referrals, cold calling, following up with all of your contacts and employing a social media strategy. If you have a strategy and commit to working that strategy on a regular basis, you will be able to find the clients you need to run a thriving screen printing business.

Want some more tips on increasing sales at your screen printing shop? Check out these blogs:

Boost Your Sales: Strategies to Help You Sell More Screen Prints

7 Ways to Grow Your Screen Printing Business

Building a Fanbase: Tips for Creating Loyal Customers at Your Screen Printing Business