8 Suggestions & Tactics for Selling Direct-to-Garment Printing

8 Suggestions & Tactics for Selling Direct-to-Garment Printing

Jay Busselle

For more than 20 years, Jay Busselle has worked in the design, production, and sale of advertising, decorated apparel, and promotional products. He's the marketing director at Equipment Zone and possesses industry-specific experience, business ownership, and a graphic design background. 

Are you trying to keep it a secret?

Stop doing that! You can’t afford to wait for the phone to ring, you need to make the phone ring. You need to be more proactive. If you own a direct-to-garment (D2) printer and you don’t have enough orders, I know what the problem is. The problem is you.

One of the points I make at all the D2 training sessions I’m involved in is to flip the model from asking for an order and traditional selling to the “Surprise and Delight” marketing method. Don’t tell people what you do or what kind of printer you have. They don't care. Show them by printing something for them. Make it a game. Try to print one T-shirt, one tote bag, one golf towel, or one affordable blank; something every day for three weeks and deliver it. Yep, that’s 21 items. The worst thing that will happen is you will become more familiar with your printer and better at your craft with a bunch of new friends. The best thing to happen is all of that plus orders from happy, new customers! Stop telling them what you do and show them.

Here are some ideas and suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Happy birthday! Facebook and LinkedIn are reminding you every day that somebody you know is having a birthday. Find a silly photo of them on their profile and print it with a “Happy Birthday” message and theme.

2. The good old days. How many times do you and your friends or family take a stroll down memory lane? Print that location, that memory, the score of that winning high school football game, that college spring break location, one of those embarrassing family photos from 1977, 1987, 1997, and beyond.

3. I spy an impressive local logo. See it? PRINT IT! Don’t ask for permission. Surprise and delight. Let the business owner know that you were genuinely impressed with the building, or the logo, or both and you felt inspired to print them a T-shirt, a tote bag, or a golf towel.

4. THANKS! Write a thank you note. Except instead of buying a card and writing a note, print a tote bag! You have the opportunity to be silly or serious. You also have the technology to handwrite a message and print it!

5. “This Is My Favorite _______” fill in the blank. Team, bar, church, teacher, coach, air conditioning repairman, plumber, etc., and you can add a picture, a mascot, even a logo. I adapted this idea from Next Level Apparel who routinely has their T-shirts printed with the text, “This Is My Favorite T-shirt.”

6. You had to be there. Sometimes it’s only funny to those that were there. Funny shirts, joke shirts, sarcastic shirts will always fuel direct-to-garment printing. Print that joke.

7. Quote them. This works great with social media influencers, authors, business leaders, speakers, and trainers. Did they say something meaningful, funny, inspirational, or educational? Find a good picture of them online and use their quote to make a shirt or bag. Take a picture of the finished item printed and show them via social media. Explain that you were impressed to make this and if they would like one to share their shipping address via a DM. I’ve done this several times and trust me when I say they will be blown away and quick to share their shipping address.

8. Locals only. Anytime you’re impressed with a product, service, or an event on a local level take a picture. Go to a farmer’s market and take photos of things you are passionate about. Perhaps it's vegan food, pet rescues, fundraisers, car clubs, taco trucks, or local live bands. Go to events and capture those memories and print them.

As you surprise and delight local business owners, artists, musicians, teachers, social media influencers, friends, and yes, even family with the power of one decorated apparel item, you’ll earn the right to tell them your story, share your company’s purpose, and build a relationship. You will be breaking down defensive walls, giving value and proof first. Then it’s your job to ask for more business.