Create interest with creative designs

Upsell Ideas

Josh Ellsworth

Josh is the VP of sales, dealer channel for Stahls'. He deals in the sales and implementation of heat-applied, apparel-decorating systems with a focus on customization. He holds skills in the production, sale, and marketing of customized apparel. He presents seminars at trade shows and contributes articles to trade publications, like Printwear magazine.

The concept of taking a sale from a basic design to a flashy piece of artwork is not a new one. Increasing bottom line profitability by up-selling is one of the easiest ways to make more money. The customer is already captivated and interested in making their design, saying or logo into a wearable item, so why not try to upgrade the graphic to make it wow those who see it?

The flash, pizzazz, bling or whatever you want to call it, has been on full display in a variety of ways over the past few months. Consider the past summer’s roll out of various uniforms, leotards and more for the Olympic Games—we saw a multitude of ways to take stars and stripes from basic red, white and blue to over the top, attention-grabbing designs.

But before the Games even commenced, my three-year-old daughter was drawn to watching the gymnasts in the trials and was really captivated by the flips, rolls and amazing athleticism displayed. Having been so captivated and so little, I wanted to capture her enthusiasm for her first Olympic Games with a T-shirt that she can keep forever. Who knows—she may even become a gymnast, in which case the shirt will mark a huge memory.

Generate interest

To fuel sales, heat transfer films include some products that really pop. True glitter materials (those that contain actual flakes of glitter) are at the top of this list. Incorporating several of these glitter flake finishes across a range of colors and graphics creates interest with consumers. In fact, in the example I created for my daughter, we hear tons of comments as well as requests on how to get one of the shirts.

Part of the interest was also because of the foil element involved. The unique design placement in the example of stripes coming up from the bottom hem of the garment grabs attention, but even more so when using another high-sheen finish such as foil. The electric shade of red is perfectly suited, in this case, as a compatible background to the silver glitter-flake stars. Note here that, when mixing media, it’s important to find compatible products that can be layered with durability, as in the example.

Finally, take advantage of all the real estate. In our example, the back of the shirt features more glitter. In certain markets, a garment can never have too much bling and each additional placement and color only stands to increase the value and attention the garment draws.
Suggest a back decoration or personalization element to increase the value of your sales and effectively brand the garment from all angles.

That’s part of the beauty and profitability of upgrading a graphic. Creating a conversation piece brings in word-of-mouth referrals a lot faster—for both you and your customers. Consider how many folks ask about that basic one-color printed shirt you sport? It’s a no-brainer that the flashy stuff generates more buzz, interest and ultimately, questions and referrals.

Mixing types of media within the same decorating discipline is often more popular than combining varying technology sets together, and it is certainly easier to execute.

Wear your work

Before venturing into special effects or a sales strategy to upgrade print finishes, it’s important to put a plan together. One of the most important parts of that plan should be finding a way to clearly display all of the finishes available. A unique way to do this, as well as a way to make it a forced part of the sales conversation, is to “dress to win.”

Wear your own creation and showcase the success of special effects. Create a shirt that shows the variety of effects and styling available. Even so, be on point with your audience and tailor looks to suit tastes from subtle to glam. Glitter may not be appropriate in all cases, for example, but effects such as flock, carbon fiber, reflective, electric diamond plate, extreme washes and more may well work for the customer. Or draw inspiration from sports such as soccer and racing where logos and this type of allover design work is the norm.

Finally, become an up-sell machine by ordering samples of various special effects materials from suppliers. Learn the proper material combinations, institute a price structure to upgrade orders and equip your staff with a new wardrobe that tells the story. Turning ordinary graphics into extraordinary pieces of wearable art can be very rewarding—it pays off in happier customers, an increased bottom line and more referrals.