So, you’re an expert in the sign and print business. You’ve studied the industry, learned from the masters, and have applied what you’ve learned to create positive and memorable customer experiences.
That’s all great, but what about when it’s time to market yourself? That’s the primary way your sign shop is going to grow, and yet lots of owners don’t like to think about marketing.
Why? Because it usually involves a money investment of some kind. Note, however, that an investment is different from a cost. Investments are meant to return something to you over time.
Given that, what are five affordable ways you can market your sign and print shop?
Be Active in Your Community
Many sign shop owners are members of the communities where they work. The shops themselves are probably located in the middle of their communities.
It makes sense, then, that shop owners should strive to be active members of those communities. But that means more than just holding a chamber of commerce membership. It means doing everything you can to get your business’s name and your identity out to your community.
Some of these methods cost money, but others are free!
You can participate in local activities or sponsor events. You may also want to establish a rapport with your local building department. Your city’s building inspector, for instance, controls a lot of what happens to businesses in the municipality.
It might be a good idea to be friendly to these individuals to see what kinds of opportunities it can afford your shop.
Be Active on Social Media
When we talk about marketing your business on social media, we don’t actually mean creating social media ads (although that’s one great way to go, too!). We’re actually referring to creating and growing your brand presence on social media by posting frequently.
The logic here is that the public loves to get inside looks at what’s happening behind the scenes of your sign shop.
What does this mean for your social posts? Take a photo or quick video when your printers are hard at work making shirts or whatever you sell. Educate your customer base on what you do and how you work.
That insight helps people to engage with your brand story and become interested in who you are. This is why posting consistently every week can be so beneficial to you.
You’ll probably also want to promote some of your products here and there on social media. While Facebook and Instagram are primarily B2C audiences, a platform such as LinkedIn is more of a B2B setting.
You can decide where and how to post, but remember that social media brings in billions of viewers every single day. That fact should make creating a brand presence on social media a vital component of your marketing strategy.
Participate in Virtual Networking Groups
This marketing strategy might cost you some money, but virtual networking groups are there specifically to give you referrals every time you attend an event.
Networking can definitely be fun, but you’ll still always get something out of them and have the opportunity to give something back, too. That’s because other attendees will be looking for referrals from you. You can see how this is a fantastic way to build business relationships in your community.
Remember that there is often a cost to join these groups, but the leads you get could lead to all kinds of sales opportunities. There’s really no telling what kinds of successes you can have here, so be sure to try out some networking for yourself and see what happens.
Develop Power Partners
The fourth tip is to develop power partners, which will be your key to taking your business to a whole different level of growth.
What are power partners? These are businesses that operate independently but still refer out vendors for their own benefit.
Take a commercial property manager, for instance. Property managers want to care for their new tenants so they will want to stay. For that reason, those managers will refer their tenants to certain businesses that they trust.
Other power partners could include contractors, schools, commercial real estate agents and brokers, and general commercial builders.
That last category could be huge for you. Commercial builders who want the construction jobs from property owners will include signage in their proposals. In those cases, most general contractors will seek bids for that signage, but if you have a healthy relationship with those builders, you have a chance to get consistent referrals from them.
For all these reasons, the business development manager at your sign shop should put some time into this kind of networking so your store can build these crucial relationships.
Consult Your Existing Client Base
Whether your sign shop has one year or ten under its belt, you have a client base. However, ask yourself: how many of those customers are responsible for your total sales? How many are repeat customers?
If you have a client base of 100 people, and 10 of those have ordered from you more than once, this is something you can exploit. Check your shopVOX print shop software to access your customers’ order histories and contact information.
Then, go to the other 90 customers and see what they need from your business going forward. There’s a good chance they are continually ordering from shops like yours. It’s then your job to become the business from which they always want to order.
This is something many businesses overlook: when you’re always trying to get new customers, you can tend to forget about your existing ones. Ask your customer base how else you can help them, and you may be surprised at where that leads you.