This article should be titled “If you can’t make a sale you only have a hobbie.”
Create a Plan and Set Goals TODAY!
True! If you can’t make a sale then you are just having a lot of fun with your hobby. I hear time and time again that “things are slow” or “there are too many screeners out there.” Both statements are probably TRUE. Things are slow (for you) and yes there are a lot of screeners – BUT there are a lot of screeners who have a great hobby! There are also a LOT of screeners who have a GREAT business because they know that the SALE is everything.
Work on the Package
If, in fact, “things are slow” and “there are too many screeners” then you must act now to get out of your negative slump and empower yourself to get into marketing and selling mode.
First, you need a plan or goals. The first item on your plan should be to upgrade your package. This means to develop a comprehensive and easy-to-understand price list. Buy a generic catalog and have your logo printed on it. Get a toll-free number (they are real cheap). Build a simple website. You can get a Website Tonight for $5.00 per month! Improve your letterhead and business cards. Get away from one-color printing on white paper.You can get full-color cards for $29.95 (or less) from Vista Print.
Develop Short-Term Goals
Make 20 Calls Per Day
O.K., you need sales NOW to help pay the rent. Since “things are slow” you have lots of time to spend letting your fingers do the walking. Set a goal of making 20 phone calls per day to prospective customers. Don’t start off with large companies. They will take too long to make a decision and will not pay right away. Work local companies. Where do you get the names? It’s easy. Look in the newspaper. If they are advertising then they know the value of getting their name out.
Here’s how it goes. Just pick up the phone and ask to speak to “the person who orders employee uniforms and shirts or who orders promotional products.” Yes, some people will be nasty and hang up on you. Perseverance pays off. If you make 100 calls (in less than a week), and you get two or three good leads that turn into orders then things won’t be so slow.
Now, you have the leads and they say “can we see some samples?” or “can you print just one shirt so we can see how it looks?” Remember, things are slow, so why not take the time to personally drive out there and get a copy of their logo – or better yet have then fax you copy that you can do a quick trace of it (if it’s good enough) and print a shirt or two. You’ve got the time.
Read the New Business Listings
When we moved our business from Scottsdale to Tempe, AZ (suburb of Phoenix). We had to get a City of Tempe business license. Over the next few months I received over 100 pieces of mail welcoming me to Tempe and offering discounts on products and introducing local companies. I even got an offer for a free trial subscription to INC. Magazine. Do you really think that INC. Magazine actually pays someone to read the new business listings in my local paper? YES.
I decided to track down the listing and looked in my back issue of the Phoenix Business Journal. There it was – over 30 new companies “moved” to Tempe – and I was one of them.
Sounds like work. Make over 20 calls per day and mail the package to 30 new businesses per month. No one said owning your own business was easy.
Read “the News”
Do you read the newspaper? Do you see those little two inch articles about grand openings, special events, local promotions, people who make the news. These are all candidates for a letter (personal is very nice) telling about your company. Yes, another 50 packages a month out the door. Maybe one or two will fall into the right hands. Things won’t be so slow.
Set Medium and Long Range Goals
Market Today for Tomorrow
I preach this over and over. You have to market today for tomorrow’s business! I like to tell the story that years ago I was called a Piranha by a local screener. I was always just one step ahead of him. Actually, I was months and years ahead of him. He thought you got the big account by asking for it a few weeks before they needed the shirts. I knew that you had to get there months before!
Contact Major Corporations
Along with your 20 normal phone calls, add 5 per day to major corporations. Ask to talk to Human Resources about employee products. Ask what Ad Agency do they use for promotional products. Find out when the annual company picnic and Christmas Party is. Find out how you need to get approved as a vendor. Talk with Purchasing about anything they may need. These will NOT be overnight sales. These things take lots of time and follow up. They will probably want to see samples with their logo on them – for free. Yes, we can do it. Things are a little slow.
Contact the Convention or Tourism Bureau
In Arizona, the Office of Tourism publishes a quarterly book listing all of the special events going on for the NEXT SIX MONTHS! The Visitors and Convention Bureau does the same thing. If you want to know what’s happening in the near and not-so-near future you just look in one of these books. It’s amazing. They even give the phone number and contact name! These things are a goldmine of contacts for special event shirts.
Contact the Chamber of Commerce
A few years ago a former student stopped by to say hi and told me he had just done his third order for the local chamber of commerce and was now bidding on a job for 1500 shirts with them. I asked him how he got in with them and he told me exactly what I wanted to hear. He picked up the phone and called!
Contact the City
The City of Scottsdale (where I live) always sponsors events. Whether it be a rodeo, food festival, art gallery night, chili cookoff, mighty mud mania or just a street dance, they do it. They also make sure all of the Parks and Recreation employees and city employees wear printed shirts with the city emblem. Who prints them? Call your city and find out and ask if you can bid on these items.
Frankly, I could go on and on. The “Piranha” knows that marketing is just using common sense and lots of leg work to hunt out potential customers. They are there and a handful of “all those screens” get the majority of the business. Remember the 80/20 principle? 20% of the screeners do 80% of the printing. You want to be in the 20%!
The Salami Principle of Marketing
Anyone who has ever taken one of my classes has heard this. Marketing can be overwhelming. You get bogged down with too many leads. Think of marketing as the salami. Just do “one slice per day.” If 20 calls are too much then do five. Just do it and do it every day.