- Networking in the niche – including events
- Where what you do – all the time
- Actual Sales – Active Word of Mouth
- Like approaching the owner of an archery range/store
- Visiting your niche directly – if you sell to hair salons, for example
- Advertising locally
- In Print
- Facebook Marketplace
- Local FB Groups and Meetups
- Facebook Page/Group Marketing
- Facebook Dos and Don’ts https://customapparelstartups.com/episode-26-facebook-business-dos-donts-facebook/
- Getting Found Online: https://customapparelstartups.com/episode-19-getting-found-online/
- Growing FAST
- Images are King
- Searchable # are great for niches
- Google Ads – paid search is hard and can be expensive because you’re competing with big sellers
- Facebook ads can be a big win
- Platform Ads:
- Etsy Promoted Listings
- Amazon Ads
- Listings in local group sites / boards
- e.g. Florida Fishermen’s Forum
Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!
Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!
Mark S: Hey, everyone! Welcome to episode 102 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast. My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. Today we’re here to talk about advertising and marketing to your niche.
Mark S: Right. Basically, this is the “break out your wallet” episode. We do our best to kind of educate everybody on the free things that you can do. But when it gets right down to it, when you are ready to grow your business, you’re going to either spend money or time. We’re going to talk about both of those, in relation to doing advertising and marketing.
Marc V: In the last episode, we talked about the steps to take, how to find a niche, how to determine if something has potential for growth, for your business. Once you’ve found them, you really want to employ a plan that you can replicate in the future, on how to reach that niche, how to get them to essentially buy your products, become your customers.
Mark S: The spirit of this episode, or the main point I want to get across up front, is that marketing and advertising is an ongoing experiment. You’re going to try a bunch of different things. If you are persistent and strategic – I was going to say lucky, but that’s not true! – if you’re persistent and strategic in your approach to it, you’ll win. Right? But you’re going to not win, up until you win. Does that make sense?
Marc V: Because what’s going to happen is you’ve got a great idea for whatever it might be, for whatever your marketing is going to be.
Mark S: And you’ve vetted that, according to the last podcast we did.
Marc V: Yeah. And you’ve got a great idea for a marketing concept. “I’m going to take a shirt, and I’m going to do this, and I suspect people will want to buy them.”
Sometimes, whether it’s luck or skill or both, or timing, that idea just works out right away. Here’s a great idea, and people start buying it, and you’re really excited. But more often than not, the idea is not going to skyrocket off and be great.
You’re going to have to replicate, repeat, try different things, alter it; whether it’s pricing or promotions, or just the shirt design, whatever it might be. So, the purpose of this podcast is to help you work through what to do next.
Then, after you take these steps and you start doing these things, you do them again and again and again. You try them differently. You look for results. Then, you win! Then, you make money!
Mark S: This is episode 102. Episode 101 was kind of the beginning of the business plan setup. So, this is episode two of that.
The first thing that we want to start with is before you do any marketing or advertising, you’ve got to, at some level, know what your numbers are. Because the idea behind, like creating an ad or doing marketing, is to measure your ROI. Is it worth the effort? Is it worth the money?
You’ll never know if it’s worth the effort or the money, if you’re spending money on advertising, but you don’t know how much money you might potentially make, or are making. So, you’ve got to know your numbers.
Marc V: Yeah. Knowing your numbers is the key for this stuff, because it’s tricky. It’s hard to not get into it, in this podcast.
Mark S: Yeah. We’re trying really hard.
Marc V: But just a concept of a story that it reminds me of – I believe we were at this conference together. We might not have been. But there was a gentleman talking about how he started a dog food delivery. Do you recall this?
Mark S: Yes. I know what you’re talking about.
Marc V: I think you and I and Scott went, a few years ago. But anyway, he took the time to know his numbers. He knew different things; how much he expected people to order, how often.
Mark S: It was “Buying Customers.”
Marc V: Yeah. How much he expects people to order, how often they would order, how much money they might spend, all of these things. He took the time to know the value of a potential customer. Therefore, he did advertising.
In the end, that first order made no money. Zero. He probably even lost money. However, he knew that based on the numbers, that even though order number one was a loss for the company, in six months, it would pay off bigtime.
Making those decisions in your business means you have to know the numbers.
Mark S: That’s right. So, we’ve got a whole podcast devoted to that, which is episode 17, “Know Your Numbers.” I highly recommend it. We did it a long time ago, but we’re still right! Still consistently right.
Marc V: That was almost a hundred episodes ago!
Mark S: Almost a hundred episodes ago! That’s terrible. So, definitely listen to episode 17. We’re going to link to that episode, and I think on that episode there’s a link to a spreadsheet that you can use to figure out the long-term value of a customer.
Marc V: Really, the point, now that we’re getting further into the episode, is that you actually have to do some marketing and advertising. You’ve got to put some effort into it. And like you said, it’s either time or money or both.
Mark S: Yeah. No matter how hard you stare at the phone, it won’t make it ring.
Marc V: A great niche is wonderful to have. Making sure they know who you are and where to buy your stuff, is the next step.
So, let’s go ahead. We decided to divide this up into local and online. Right? Or did we say it should be different than that?
Mark S: It’s offline and online.
Marc V: Offline and online, because then we decided that actually there’s a lot of great local advertising online.
Mark S: That you can do digitally.
Marc V: Yeah, so it’s really offline and online advertising and marketing. We’re just going to go through the steps of these right now.
Mark S: We’ll start with offline, because a lot of people that don’t live in the digital world, like we do, they aren’t as comfortable with online digital advertising.
Marc V: When we recently did a survey, more than 60% of our customers said 75% to 100% of their business was local. So, it’s probably going to be a big portion of your business, as well.
Mark S: The goal of offline marketing, and online, to a large extent, is so that everyone that’s in your niche – because we went through the last episode and we picked a niche – is that everyone in your niche, in your chosen area, knows who you are and what you do. That’s it.
Marc V: For example, extremes. Coca-Cola’s niche are people that drink liquids. So, everybody knows who Coca-Cola is. Right? That’s what they have to do.
Now, if you sell – an example I’ll go through later is if you are a direct-to-garment printer. If you have a direct-to-garment printer and you do direct-to-garment printing, we’d like you to know who Colman and Company is.
Mark S: I know for printers, everyone knows who ColDesi is.
Marc V: Yeah. So, that’s the concept of that. In the last episode, we talked about possibly having a niche of Florida bow hunters. All of the bow hunters in Florida, hopefully, will know who you are.
Mark S: Who you are, who your business is, and what you do.
Marc V: That’s the goal. It might seem like a lofty goal at first, but you can get there if you do some of these things.
Mark S: The first one that we want to recommend and discuss is networking in your niche. That’s not just local, but it’s your personal activity. What that entails is if bow hunting is your niche, that you’re involved in any local community that has anything to do with hunting. Right? Because you want to participate with those people.
You want to go, if there is a market in your area, or even outside your area, if you’ve got the time and the inclination and the budget. Maybe it turns out that, like you had brought up, going to a conference close by. You know, traveling to the big national archery competition somewhere might be a good fit for you to actually physically network, and get out and meet people.
Marc V: You’re looking to meet various people. You’re looking to meet your direct buying customers. You’re looking to meet somebody who says “Oh, cool! You sell those t-shirts? Where? Do you have an online store? Great! I’m going to buy one!” You’re going to meet some of those people.
You’re going to meet people who have authority in the community. Maybe they’ve got social media authority that they’re willing to share your information. Maybe they own a store. Maybe they are the chapter President of a local club.
Mark S: They’re running the conference that you attend.
Marc V: Yeah. They’re running the conference, or they’re speaking at the conference, or they’re a bow manufacturer, or they sell a book that’s a hunting guide.
Mark S: All of those are great.
Marc V: Meeting all of these people is great, because they’re going to connect you with other people. They’re going to get your name recognized, and hopefully, they’re going to tell their fans or their customers about you.
Mark S: And this is a purely “who you know” kind of thing. If most of our customers at ColDesi and Colman and Company, if most of our customers make most of their money through word of mouth, then the math says that the more people that you know, the more people that you meet, the more you’ll sell. Right?
Marc V: Absolutely. So, networking within your niche. We also talked about cycling could be one.
Mark S: Yeah. That’s a good one.
Marc V: If you do cycling or bike riding. The coolest way to say it is probably cycling, now.
Mark S: The difference is the pants. If you’re wearing the tight pants, you’re a cyclist.
Marc V: Or mountain biking, trail biking. These are all things you might do. If you do this and you decide this is a niche you’re going to be in, then you participate in the events, too.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: Maybe there’s not 500 people going out into the woods in a big group, to bow hunt together.
Mark S: Not safely!
Marc V: It seems dangerous! But there might be a group of 60 people that cycle every week together, or every month. They do a particular trail, they go ride the trail, and then afterwards, they go out to eat together or go to a smoothie shop, something like that. You go to these events, you participate with them, you are a member of the community.
Mark S: It’s a great idea. The key to this, I think, and one of the most fundamental things that you should be doing, that no one does, is you should always wear what you do. You are a walking billboard for your products and services.
This applies, almost especially, if it’s a side hustle. If your side hustle is custom t-shirts, and you’re in a particular niche, you should be wearing that bow hunting or cycling shirt to Walmart, every time you go. Any time you’re out in a group, you want someone to be able to look at you and say “Hey, I need a t-shirt that’s just like that. And I can see that you make those, because it says I Make These T-Shirts on the back of your shirt.”
Marc V: That might be you.
Mark S: It would be me. I’m a little obvious.
Marc V: It’s just true that if you’re going to the cycling event or whatever it might be; you’re going to a fishing tournament and you make fishing shirts, then you should be wearing one of the shirts that you make. Right?
Because, it’s a couple of different things. During the networking portion of it, you meet somebody, “Hey, what do you do when you’re not fishing?” “I’m an accountant.” “Oh, I make shirts like this, and I sell them online. I also do custom orders, too.” So, you get to say that, and you get something to point to.
It’s also a conversation starter. If you have a good designed shirt – I make shirts for personal stuff all the time. I love to do it. And people say it all the time. I’m in the grocery store – “That’s a funny shirt! That’s a cool shirt!” I’m not specifically trying to sell a t-shirt printer in a grocery store, but to me, it’s an exact proof of concept. If I’m getting stopped for a shirt that I made, you absolutely will, too.
Mark S: Especially if you’ve got a popular niche, like we talked briefly before the podcast. If you shop at Walmart, and you go every week, they sell bows at Walmart. So, you’re wearing your bow hunting custom t-shirt business shirt, and you’re in the line every week at Walmart. You go 50 times a year.
What are the odds that someone, as you walk through the store, or standing behind you in the line, is going to go “Man, you bow hunt?”
Marc V: Yeah. “Cool shirt!”
Mark S: “Cool shirt! So do I!” “Great! We make 3XL shirts.” That’s what you would say!
Marc V: “Thanks for the compliment on the shirt. It’s actually my business. I bow hunt, but I also have a t-shirt shop or a t-shirt store online,” or whatever it might be, “and one of the things that I sell is bow hunting t-shirts. Here’s my card. Check us out!”
Mark S: I will tell you that I know that most of you don’t do this, because when we used to do open houses, we would do little marketing classes. I’d have 15 people in the room that literally already had equipment. No one would be wearing something with their logo on it, wearing a logo tee. So, make sure you do this, really, if you don’t do anything else.
Marc V: If you follow some other podcasts that we’ve talked about as well, where we talk about just networking in general, with your business. You go to, we talked about Chamber of Commerce and local community meetings, and things like that.
Mark S: Yeah. Active word of mouth. That’s in the sales series.
Marc V: If you go to these things often, you’re going to see that there’s going to be a woman, man, that every time they go, they’re always wearing their America First Mortgage shirt, their Realtor shirt. They’re letting everybody that they walk by know “I am a Realtor in this area.”
Mark S: I’ll give you another example. A good friend of mine runs a woodworking school here in Tampa. She joined the Downtown Tampa Partnership, because she’s downtown. So, everyone else that’s a member of that Partnership is wearing a tie, because it’s high rises and lawyers, and things like that. Everywhere she goes, she wears khaki shorts and her School of Woodwork t-shirt.
100% of the time, everyone in that room sees her and recognizes what she does. So, you can follow that example, and it will sell your shirts.
Marc V: I thought you were going to say clogs.
Mark S: No. Made out of wood! I’ve got to get her to do that!
Marc V: Or those Japanese sandals! These are good ideas. Write these down.
Mark S: I will. The next thing is, do actual sales. Don’t be afraid. We spent 99 episodes making up words and phrases, so we wouldn’t have to tell you to get in your car and go talk to people, and sell them stuff. But this is the time to do that.
These are what, in the beginning especially, these are going to be your lowest cost and your lowest risk ways to get the word out. Because it is advertising, if you’re wearing your shirt and you do active word of mouth, which means – we’ve already talked about – the number of people who know who you are and what you do, influences the number of shirts you sell.
Marc V: Yeah. So, what do you do? If we’re talking about the bow hunting shirts, as an example.
Mark S: Yeah. We’re in our niche.
Marc V: We’re in our niche. You find the archery places in your area, whether they’re stores or ranges or whatever they might be, hunting supply. You go to these places. You talk to the owners and the managers, salespeople, whoever you’re able to get in contact with there. You let them know what you do.
Then, you attempt to make some offers and some deals with them. “Would you be interested in reselling my shirts in your store?” “If you’re having an event, could I possibly set up a table at the event, and you can get a portion of the sales?” “Is there a place where I can put up a sign, that I can pay to have a sign put up?”
Or just ask nicely, “Do you have a place where I can put business cards here, or a little brochure of what I sell?”
Mark S: “Can I hang up a shirt?”
Marc V: Yeah. “Can I hang up a shirt?” You’ll talk to these people, and then every business owner, every manager you run into is going to have different things they’re willing to do. If it’s Bass Pro Shops, they might not do much for you, unless you get a corporate account. But if it’s a local small archery shop, they might just sell your shirts for you.
The guy might just say “You know what? I’ve got a board up front, with some other businesses. Stick your stuff up there, man.”
So, you’re going to go ahead and just actually go out there and try to sell.
Mark S: Here’s what I’ll tell you about approaching companies like this, because I did it for a while. I briefly toyed with the idea of selling martial arts apparel, custom martial arts stuff. So, I went around to some of the martial arts supply stores in the Tampa Bay area. You could tell it was not the situation that someone was knocking on their doors, trying to sell them stuff every day.
It’s not like people coming to your house, and knocking on your door. It’s not like they got the 10,000th email. No one is going by a lot of these places, and trying to sell them copiers every day. So, you’re not going to be bugging people. They’re going to be surprised and interested.
Like “What are you doing here?” “Oh, I sell shirts!” “What do you mean?” “Look! I’m wearing one. You guys do this. I’m wearing this. I sell these. What do you think?”
Marc V: Some of it’s going to be developing partnerships, because maybe you’re selling designed shirts. The shirt is the design on it. Others, it’s custom. Like we talked about like barber shops and hair salons could be a niche that you work with. So, you’re going to produce aprons and differently things like that, that they wear. Hats, whatever they might wear. I don’t know. Do they wear hats at a barber shop? Or do they show off their hair?
Mark S: It depends on if they’re good barbers.
Marc V: Yeah. They should show off. My last barber was bald.
Mark S: That would be a warning sign, to me!
Marc V: You could just also go in and directly sell to the people who are your customers. You go into a hair salon, and you sell aprons. You just say “Hey, by the way, my name is so-and-so. I make custom aprons. If you want to do something for your store, or if anybody wants some individual stuff, I can personalize anything.”
Mark S: And I will tell you that if you go into the store wearing one of those aprons, that you will get attention very easily. It’s not like you’re going to have to wait in line.
Marc V: On that one, especially if you’ve got bling. Like if you have a spangle machine.
Mark S: Yeah. That’s a win.
Marc V: We just did a manicure and pedicure video for the spangle, and yeah, if you walked into a hair salon with a bling apron on, the sounds of scissors will stop, because everyone’s going to look at you!
Mark S: That’s right. So, that’s actual sales. We do want you to do that. It’s worthwhile. You will make money. It’s something that’s very – you could do that today. You could listen to the podcast, and then you could stop somewhere on the way home. Wear your shirt, walk in, “I do this,” and that’s it.
The next thing we’re going to talk about is advertising locally.
Marc V: This is paid.
Mark S: This is typically going to be paid. But it’s more like you can do it in print, and digital advertising, locally.
Marc V: There’s a ton of local advertising you can do, that’s digital and not. Just to rattle some things off, there’s the Penny Savers and the local community newspapers that they offer, that just go to like one zip code. Those are usually affordable to advertise in, because they go to a small group of people.
It might be a bench on the side of the road, a billboard, I don’t know.
Mark S: A church newsletter.
Marc V: A church newsletter. Online, it might be – you mentioned Facebook Marketplace. It could be a cool way, too. You could put your stuff up for sale there. You can also market online to local groups that are online, as well.
But mainly, we’re talking offline. So, we’re kind of dancing here, but we’re about to transition it to online, so it’s the perfect time.
Mark S: We are. But other offline opportunities might be if you sell sportswear. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to advertise at baseball games at local high schools. Maybe there’s a high school newsletter that goes home with the kids, out to parents and things like that. My old neighbor had a parenting newsletter that he used to give away.
There’s a variety of places, if you just look. If you look in your mailbox, and if you are out shopping, you look at things stacked up by the cash register, those are your opportunities to get to people offline, that are in your local area, that might also be in your niche.
Marc V: There’s these local little farmer’s market things that happen on the weekends, are huge nowadays. You probably have some that happen on a Saturday morning, or something like that. You could get a booth at one of these places. Also, look for – churches have these events, and they’re looking for somebody to come in, to help them raise them money. That’s what it’s for. You go there and you sell some things, and a portion of it goes there.
And there’s other charities that will do events, too. So, anywhere you can buy a booth, where you can get a table or you can hang a printed sign, where you can have something printed. Diner menu?
Mark S: No! No, unless you’re in the heart medication company t-shirt space.
Marc V: The place where I go, they have a menu.
Mark S: But there’s like Ybor City here. Once every month or two, they have a weekend market. Then, they have festivals like Puerto Rican Day and Cuban American Day. Different little communities around the Tampa Bay area have their own local events.
So, if your niche matches any of those local events, that’s where you might want to bring out the checkbook and buy a table, buy a spot in the parade, do what you can to make yourself known, going back to the more people that know you and what you do, the more money you’re going to make.
Marc V: I would say with this, the best way to find these things out for your area and your niche, is just keeping your eyes open.
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: That’s all it is. You have to get it in your mindset that “I’m looking. Where can I advertise? Where can I advertise?” Every time you go to an event.
For example, here’s one that might not be – if I said to you “You should advertise on a park bench,” you might say to me “No.” Right?
Mark S: I might.
Marc V: Your initial answer is no. But what if I said that the cycling crew that you go with, that’s a cycling trail.
Mark S: They’re going to drive by that bench.
Marc V: You’ve been told that 4,000 people cycle past that bench every month.
Mark S: Yes. I would probably save my money, and I would give a t-shirt to the homeless man who sits on that bench. That was mean! I didn’t really mean that.
Marc V: But that would be something that may be worth experimenting with.
Mark S: I agree.
Marc V: You find out, “Oh! It’s only $200 to put it up there for a month?”
Mark S: And remember, everything that we’re talking about, these are ongoing experiments. You can’t fail. You could rent the bench, and then realize it’s a terrible idea, and then you wouldn’t do it again. But you’d know.
Marc V: Exactly. It’s all the risk versus reward. If you follow up and they say “It’s a year contract, $10,000.”
Mark S: Eh, pass.
Marc V: Yeah, pass. If they say “It’s been empty for months. If you’re wiling to take it, we’ll discount it for $200,” yeah. Throw $200 on that bench, and see what that happens.
Mark S: I like that a lot. Moving on to online advertising, which is kind of where Marc Vila and I spend 103% of our time, is trying to figure out how to get your attention out there. That’s really what we’re doing. We’re using paid digital advertising, as well as some, actually a lot, of other online techniques, so you become aware of us.
Marc V: Let’s talk about some of those. We’ll separate these into free versus paid.
Mark S: That’s good. I like that.
Marc V: The first one free, that’s a must, is the Google My Business.
Mark S: You’ve got to do that. Just go to GoogleMyBusiness.com, literally.
Marc V: And Bing Places. This is where you’re going to register your business with Google. We’ve talked about this nine times on the podcast, at least. It’s a must. If you haven’t done this already, just do this first. This isn’t even scary, like networking and sales. This is just going and filling out forms, so make sure you do that.
Following that, you want to do a Facebook page?
Mark S: Yeah. I’ll say one more thing about Google My Business. This is a free place where you put your business information into Google, so they find you.
Marc V: When somebody searches “custom t-shirts near me,” you show up.
Mark S: On the map, if you want to!
Marc V: Yeah. We’re talking about niche marketing. It’s also just “fishing t-shirts.”
Mark S: Yeah, “archery t-shirts.”
Marc V: “Archery t-shirts,” “cycling t-shirts.” You can put that, so you describe your business. And if you have two or three niches, you describe those niches in the description, as well. So, if somebody is searching for “bow hunting t-shirts,” they’ll actually find you.
Mark S: I’m developing an interesting idea, to combine the bow hunting with the cycling. Maybe off-road cycle bow hunting.
Marc V: Isn’t there a skiing one, where you shoot while you ski?
Mark S: The northerners do stuff like that. I don’t know how you do that on the water, here in Florida.
After Google My Business, is definitely get a Facebook page set up. Good or bad, pro or con, almost everyone in America is on Facebook, and almost all of those people, when they get up in the morning, the first thing they do is flip their phones over and see what happened on Facebook.
That is peoples’ daily routine. So, you’ve got to be there. It’s completely free right now. You can set up a Facebook page, and if you do it properly, people will be able to find you. If you go on Facebook, they will actually suggest other pages that you might be interested in, based on the things that you’re talking about on your Facebook profile.
Marc V: We’re talking about episode 26, that we’ve done.
Mark S: That was a great one.
Marc V: You’ve got to go back and listen to that one, if you’re not sure of the Facebook do’s and don’ts. That will help you. Then, getting found online is episode 19, in which we go over both the Google and the Facebook, and all. Because we’re not going to go into every detail on these things, but we have full 45-minute or hour-long podcasts that are just on those two.
Those are musts, just because everybody is there. Be where everybody is. Be where your customers are.
Mark S: I had an interesting conversation, which I think I’ve reiterated a bunch of times, but I had it again last night. Someone was asking about do they have to have a personal page to have a business Facebook page. The answer is yes, but you can have more than one Facebook page.
I have a personal page for myself, and I have a business page that I use for all of my commercial activities. So, you don’t have to worry about the family and business mix. You don’t have to worry about your cousin Eddie posting something that your customers see.
Marc V: I have one Facebook page, and I do a ton of business on it. Everything is just private. So, my personal life is kept separately.
Mark S: I was just going to say, a few more things might be private.
Marc V: What I do is, the big thing, I make sure that my profile picture is a somewhat professional profile picture.
Mark S: It’s not your dog.
Marc V: It’s not my dog, especially if I don’t have a dog niche. Now, if I had dog t-shirts, that would be perfectly fine. So, you can do this, and it doesn’t have to be – that’s one of the biggest concerns. And then other folks, they might not like Facebook. Sometimes, you kind of deal with necessary things you don’t like, because it’s going to be profitable for you. It’s going to help make you money.
This will help you get found online, because if you search for a local business, the top things that are going to pop up, if you’re on Google or Bing, it’s going to be their listing, like your Google, My Business, and Bing Places. Then typically, not far below that, there’s going to be Facebook pages.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: You want to be the one found there. Otherwise, somebody else will.
Mark S: Those are episodes 26 and 19, really worthwhile to listen to.
The next big one after Google and Bing and Facebook is Instagram. I’m not an Instagram user, but I am for business. The benefits of Instagram are that it’s a 100% visual platform. If you have a particular niche, then hashtags are gold.
Marc V: Yeah, and what’s great is that in the t-shirt business, whether you do embroidery or printed t-shirts, or caps, whatever you make, the purpose of it is for it to look good, right? That’s the goal. You make a hat that people want to wear. You get to take pictures of things that look good, and put them on Instagram. It’s literally what Instagram is kind of for.
So, you should do it. You can take pictures, you could do video, there are stories. You can put links. If you have a website or a phone number, you can put that in your biography, and this is all free stuff. Then, use hashtags. So, you would do #bowhunting, if you’re doing bow hunting shirts. This way, when people are searching for those hashtags, they’re going to run into your shirts.
If they like your designs, they’re going to follow you. Maybe they’ll go to your website. Maybe they’ll tell other people about it.
Mark S: In part of the paid section, which is coming in next, you’re going to need to have a Google My Business profile filled out. That’s going to make you more successful. You’re going to have to have a Facebook page. You’re going to have to have an Instagram account, to take advantage of a lot of this stuff.
Marc V: And currently, what’s great about Instagram, too, is a couple of things. If you have a personal Instagram, on the app, you can add multiple accounts. So, you could have your personal Instagram account, that you look at pictures of dogs and food, and whatever else you look at. Then, you could have your business one, that you just post to for that, and you treat that one differently.
Then, maybe you have a niche one for your business. So, you’ve got your personal one, that’s just for you. Then, on your app, you switch over to your main business one, which is just your actual shop/store. Then, the next one is just for the niche within your store.
Mark S: I’ve thought about that tons of times, just having an Instagram for our direct-to-garment printers, for the SpanglElite.
Marc V: We’ve got some for some of our products, and it could work for some of yours. Again, that’s something that you try out. You might find that your store page gets some followers. Every time you post something, 300-500,000 people look at it. Then, you try a niche one, and nobody looks at it. So, you delete it, and it was something you learned. Maybe you try again, with a different niche. These are things you always have to try and learn.
Mark S: I’ll just say that both the platforms that we’re talking about and the techniques and niches that we’re talking about, are all part of those ongoing marketing and advertising experiments. You could find that nothing happens for you on Instagram, and that’s okay. Move on.
These are places that you have your best opportunity for success, and that’s free. In my opinion, you have a significantly higher opportunity for success if you go paid.
Marc V: Yeah. Here’s one thing about Instagram. Here’s something that you can do, if you’re willing to try, and it’s for our customers, specifically. You have bow hunting t-shirts that you make. On Instagram, there is maybe a man or a woman or a couple, or whatever it is, that actually have kind of an active bow hunting page on Instagram.
You look at it, and they have a lot of activity. There’s tons of comments, people following. You reach out to them and say “Hey, I’d love to give you guys some free shirts! I’ve got this business.”
Mark S: I like that.
Marc V: “If I give you some shirts, will you post on your Instagram, and tag me?” Then, boom! All of a sudden, people – “Wait a minute! If they like the shirts, I’m going to like them.”
Mark S: In the marketing lingo, that’s influencer marketing, to get people that have a lot of influence online, to like your stuff.
Marc V: Especially if you have a really tight niche, the chances of you getting a response from one of these people is actually really high. It’s not “humans who drink liquids.” That’s harder. It’s something very specific.
Mark S: I don’t know. If Coke is out there, and you’re looking for a podcast to sponsor -.
Marc V: Yes! We will drink a Coke!
Mark S: We will. Only New Coke!
Marc V: I have the red cup.
Mark S: There you go! So, let’s talk about paid advertising, because this is really – I love it. You know what I mean? This is how we do it, here at ColDesi and Colman and Company, quite a bit.
We’ll start out with Google ads, which is a great platform for a company like ours. We sell big pieces of equipment, and people are searching for the supplies; for vinyl, for Triton vinyl, for easy-peel paper for their printers. They’re searching for those things all the time.
It’s worth it for us to write Google a check, to be at the top. Because we really know our numbers. The pricing for Google ads or search ads, for example, can vary so widely. You can pay pennies, or you can pay hundreds of dollars for a single click.
So, we know our numbers well enough, so we know how much we should spend.
Marc V: Yeah, how much we’re willing to spend on it. Google can be, especially if you’re trying to sell a t-shirt -.
Mark S: It’s tough.
Marc V: You’re going to be against Amazon, Walmart.
Mark S: Café Press.
Marc V: Target. You’re up against seemingly unlimited budgets, that every time you search, you’re going to see these companies.
Mark S: I’m not going to say that it’s not worthwhile. We searched for archery t-shirts just before we came in, in the Google Shopping section. It was Amazon and Café Press and Etsy. Good prices on the shirts, by the way. You can make $25, selling an archery t-shirt, for example.
But you know, these are the people that you are competing with, when you decide to do paid advertising for search.
Marc V: Yeah, so I would say you really want to think it through, when you do this. You want to know your numbers, and you want to realize that if you’re going to compete in this expensive space, you’re going to have to really know, like “What am I willing to pay? Is it a customer lifetime value push? What am I going to do after they become a customer?”
It gets more complicated, because it’s going to be more expensive to reach people there. But that’s okay, because you don’t have to advertise on Google Search, to be able to sell your t-shirts.
Mark S: That’s true. One of our favorite ways to advertise and market our products is through Facebook ads.
Marc V: Yeah. It’s a great place. You can find your niches on there, so you can advertise to people who like archery, who like hunting and all these things. You can advertise directly to them, and Facebook will populate your video or your image, with a link to your website or whatever it might be, right in their feed. And typically, it’s an affordable price.
The same with Instagram. They’re together.
Mark S: You can do that through the Facebook interface, if you’d like.
Marc V: Yep, so they’re both. You advertise for Instagram in there. It’s paid, but it can be fruitful for you. It’s also something that you’re going to want to dedicate some time to.
Mark S: Yeah. Do not rely on the Facebook suggestion, just to boost a random post. That can be effective, but let’s separate. There’s just boosting posts, which is one thing that you can do. There’s a whole world of actual Facebook advertising, where you pay some attention to advertising design, to photo selection.
It’s not like you just put up a post, and “Let me add $20.”
Marc V: And Facebook has, for free, a course that you can take on it.
Mark S: Yeah. Facebook Blueprint, it’s called.
Marc V: Yeah, Blueprint. You can take that, if you really want to get into it, and learn how to advertise your t-shirt business through Facebook. Because I have so many likes and affinities in this industry, and you may, too, listening to this, there are embroidery shops that advertise on Facebook. There are t-shirt shops.
I’ve seen advertisements for just custom work. I’ve seen advertisements for specific designs that are sold online. So, all of these things work. It’s going to be something that, again, it’s a long-term thing. You’re going to need to try it, learn how to do it.
You may have a t-shirt design that you think is really great, and nobody really responds to it on Facebook or Instagram, and then a different one does. There’s a ton of things. Facebook will even help you experiment with that, so you can choose in your ad, show two different images, and things like that.
Mark S: This is not brain surgery, but it does take some thought. And the more thought you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. It is also an ongoing experiment. We fail at these ads, we kill these ads for our business, all the time. Literally, we’ll create four different options for a Facebook ad for a piece of equipment, and the first three will not do well at all, because the shirt wasn’t right.
Or it was just a picture of the machine, and nobody responded to that. They wanted to see a person wearing a shirt. So, there’s a variety of things that go into a successful ad. As long as you approach Facebook ads as an experiment, and that you are learning how to do it correctly, it’s a great and fairly economical way to get the word out.
Marc V: It’s also, what’s your goal on that? Is your goal for people to click and buy something on your website? Is the goal for somebody to go to your website and fill out a form about getting a custom order made? Is it just for them to sign up for your email list, so you can email them later?
If you’ve listened to all of our podcasts, you know how to do all of these things by now, or at least you’ve heard about it.
Mark S: If you’ve listened to all of our podcasts, it’s like 101 hours’ worth of stuff!
Marc V: Yeah, because we’ve talked about doing all of those things, in the past.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: So, I think it’s a great place to go. People ask how much money to start with, all of the time. There’s really no answer, but if it’s Facebook ads, it’s in the hundreds. If it’s Google, it’s in the thousands, probably, if you’re really going to learn how to do it, and how to dial it in.
Mark S: Agreed.
Marc V: You also put platform ads as a note. I like that.
Mark S: Yeah. This is really interesting. What made me think of it was just those searches that we were doing, in preparation for the podcast. Amazon is a continually developing behemoth. It’s a huge platform. Almost everyone buys things from Amazon.
If you put your t-shirts on their platform for sale, then you could pay to have them promote it. You can pay for Amazon ads on Amazon.com. You could also be the first people to do voice ads for your t-shirts, if you wanted to, through Alexa. “Alexa, play the CAS podcast.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But you can do things like that through Amazon.
And then, some of the top search results that we ran into also were Etsy stores. Etsy has a promoted product option. So, you can pay Etsy to move your product, your custom t-shirt, to the top of the store.
Marc V: And there’s eBay, as well. That’s another place you can go. Facebook Marketplace, I believe, has a paid section.
Mark S: They do.
Marc V: I haven’t looked into it.
Mark S: If you haven’t used Facebook Marketplace, it’s Craigslist on Facebook.
Marc V: Yeah. I bought a brand new like $800 gas stove range, for like $200, out of a new construction house that they didn’t want that.
Mark S: Sure. That’s what they told you. Delivery was after 11:30 PM. No lights.
Marc V: Yeah. But yeah, there’s tons of stuff. I’ve seen apparel on there. There’s one person who advertises locally in mine, where they have a little dress shop where they – I don’t know if they make them or what, but it’s a ladies apparel shop, and I see it pop up, where they pay, and they have pictures of the dresses. You know, “Dress $39,” stuff like that, and it’s for their store.
Mark S: Cool. I like that a lot.
Marc V: So, you can do that stuff. So yeah, Amazon, Etsy, eBay would be another one. Then, we put listings on local group sites and boards, was another place you can advertise online. An example of that would be like the Florida Fishermen’s Forum. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it could be.
Mark S: It probably is.
Marc V: So, if there’s a forum in your niche, it could be local or not. It could be the Florida Fishermen’s Forum, or it could just be Fishermen’s Forum, American Fishermen’s Forum, if you’re selling fishing t-shirts. Now, the larger the group of people that are there, I’m confident it costs more money to put an ad on the U.S. Fishermen’s Forum, that reaches 30 million people, versus the Florida Fishermen’s Forum that reaches 3 million people.
But these are places where you can advertise. You just have to kind of find these groups. If you’re in the niche yourself, you probably know where they are online, already.
Mark S: Right. And if you’re not, you can type in “archery hunting forums” into Google. It will probably lead to a couple. If you find that there is some good activity in there, you scroll down, and there’s always a link for Contact Us or Advertise With Us, and you can start looking into pricing.
Marc V: This is another interesting thing that you can do. Just because they don’t have ads now, doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out to them and ask.
Mark S: That’s a win for you guys.
Marc V: Because like if it’s a forum, they might not specifically have ads that they show. But if you contact the administrator and say “Hey, I’d love to advertise on your page,” or “If you could pin a post of me to the top,” or something like that, or “Give me permission to advertise,” you might be able to strike a deal in a place that doesn’t currently have advertising, and be able to get your products featured there.
Mark S: That’s a great idea. There are message boards and forums that are still out there, that are still very active. There are some big ones in our industry, that we’ve advertised in, with some success.
So really, it depends on your niche. You may have tons of people that still participate in a Yahoo group.
Marc V: Or I’ll tell you what. Facebook groups, too.
Mark S: Facebook groups are great. You can’t pay to advertise in there.
Marc V: I’m not sure what the rule would be, if you were to contact the administrator and say -.
Mark S: You can absolutely do that. You can absolutely do that. If you want to advertise on the Custom Apparel Startups, you can get my personal PayPal, and we can talk about that.
Marc V: Okay! But yeah, I’m not sure if you go to like a bow hunters’ Facebook group and contact the administrator, and say “I say t-shirts. Do you allow any type of promotion? Or is there a deal we can work out, where I can promote? Is there something I can support? Do you have an organization?” Something like that.
They might just say “Yeah!”
Mark S: Or it might be “No. Just go ahead and put your stuff on there.”
Marc V: It could be that, too. Alright, the last one we have here are trade magazine websites and email lists.
Mark S: A trade magazine, for example, might be Hunters Monthly. It might be Cycle Week. Whatever your niche is, I guarantee somebody has got both a physical and an online magazine that’s related to that. It’s remarkable, the number of niches that have that.
Marc V: There’s a magazine for everything.
Mark S: Right. There is!
Marc V: Like the George Carlin bit, that we talked about. “There’s a magazine for walking, putting one foot in front of the other!” So, if you’re selling to hair salons, there is probably either emails lists and online magazines and print magazines that they receive.
Mark S: Here’s the way that works. For all of these niche market magazines, there’s usually a publisher. It wouldn’t be Bow Hunting Magazine. There might be that name on the magazine, but if you look inside the first or second page, it will say “Published by National Something Media.” Those are the people who can sell you advertising.
I’m not a huge fan of magazine ads and print ads. We don’t do it. But what I do like is either advertising on the website, if they have enough people going. I love to participate in newsletters. If you subscribe to PrintWear or Awards and Engraving or Sign and Digital Magazine, things like that, you’ll get a newsletter on a regular basis from them. And periodically, you’ll see an ad for Triton vinyl, or Compress UV printers or direct-to-garment printers, and things like that from us.
Marc V: It’s part of the concept that we want everybody in our niche to know who we are. That’s what it is. That’s why we do that. So, these things can be costly. Again, it depends on the size of the niche, how big they are. If the newsletter and online place is for a really tight niche, and it’s literally run by a lady, out of her house, on her computer, then it’s probably not going to be expensive, and they’ve got 4,000 people that look at it.
That’s going to be different than Hunting Magazine. That’s going to be expensive. That ad’s going to be a lot of money.
Mark S: The point is, it’s worth finding out. If you’ve got some budget that you are able to focus on marketing with, or advertising with, and this is one of the experiments that you think is reasonable to run, then do that. Don’t make a decision based on “Well, it’s $3,000 to participate.” That could be a great deal, if they have a million people on their email list, and half of those people open it, and half of those people click on your ad.
Marc V: And you should ask about emails, too.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: Because the person selling you this, they definitely want to sell you the print one. It’s really, really expensive.
Mark S: Don’t do that.
Marc V: It’s old school. It pays them. They’re getting a fat check for that, when they sell that. So, they’re going to push it. But they will sell you anything, as long as they are allowed to. So, find out. “Do you just do advertisements in your email newsletter? Do you just do advertisements where you can just send an email out, just for my products? Do you just do online ads? What’s the range you offer? What’s the time frame? What’s the contract?”
I’ve said this a ton of times. Somebody says “We do a year for this.” “I’m not willing to do that, because I don’t know if this is going to work, and I’m not going to spend a year on this, in my budget. What I am willing to do is do 60 days. If you want my business, this is how to get it. I’m telling you how to get it, is let me.”
So, make sure that you don’t fall into traps with any of these things. Google and Facebook, Instagram, things like that, you can turn them on and off instantly. You can turn it on for an hour, and turn it off.
But when you get into these local group sites, message boards, trade magazines, and stuff like that, they may or may not allow you to do short-term stuff, and I recommend doing short-term stuff whenever possible, so you can experiment with what works. They’re going to want to sell you more.
Mark S: I’ll also say, for all of this, as we get close to wrapping up, do not hire a service to do any of this for you, until you know what you’re doing, yourself.
Marc V: Yeah, it’s tricky. Hiring the service can be great, because they can do all of the experimenting and dialing in for you.
Mark S: They’ll get you there quicker.
Marc V: But it’s going to cost you money. You want to make sure that you’re allocating budget for that. You’ve got to have the budget.
Mark S: And honestly, until you know a little bit about what you’re doing, yourself, you have no idea if they’re any good at it. I don’t care what their website says or what their success stories look like. You don’t know if they really can generate results for you, period. But you especially don’t know, if you’ve never done any of this stuff yourself.
Marc V: So, doing it yourself is good, and doing it through a referral. If you know somebody who has another business, that has used this organization, and continues to use them and have success, then that helps to soften the blow a little bit, on making that decision.
Mark S: Absolutely. But I think the trade magazines and websites, and partnering in emails with people like that, is a great paid tactic, to get the word out about you and your business.
Marc V: Yeah. So really, in your niche, the goal is to get everybody in the niche to know who you are. And the more you niche down, like we talked about in the last episode, the smaller that group is, then the easier it is to achieve. So, 30 million people, 3 million people, 300,000, 30,000, 3,000; once you get to that small number -.
Mark S: If it’s three guys, then you don’t have a niche. You have friends.
Marc V: But all of them will know who you are! But yeah, the smaller the niche is, the more you can let everybody know. It’s a great idea to experiment with all of this stuff. The point is, you do all of this, and you find some stuff that works, that’s making you money. Then, once you’re done, you can then replicate that formula again, for another niche.
Mark S: That’s the punch line. When you listened to absolutely every second of episode 101 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, then you picked your primary niche. But you can go through that exercise for more than one.
You pick your niche; archery, hunting, cycling, whatever it is. Then, you go through this process of figuring out what works. When you reach success, when you go to the next niche, it’s very likely that those same tactics are going to work. So, the amount of money you have to spend to be successful gets dramatically reduced.
Marc V: Yeah. The first time you do it, if you spent $2,000 to get it to work the first time, it may only be $200, that second time, because you know where to start.
Mark S: That’s right, and that applies to everything that we’ve talked about, whether it’s paid or not paid, if it’s online or offline marketing, these are kind of the steps to go through. Once you get them down, once you get good at them, once you’re tried them once or twice, then you can apply that as a success formula, to the next product that you do.
Marc V: Awesome! Well, I think we’ve gone into everything that we need to, for this episode. Definitely start with that local stuff, if you have a local business. That’s my tip. Typically, in the beginning of your business, you have more time than money. Eventually, that can flip for you, so go ahead and use that time to drum up some business.
Mark S: I think we have two action items for you. The first one is, the show notes are vitally important on this episode. There are links to other episodes. The second action item for you guys is to do this stuff. This is not a passive episode, where “Oh, that’s great to know.” If you don’t do it, then we just wasted an hour.
Marc V: Yeah. You have to pick. Some of these, you’ve got to do, like the Google business and Facebook page, and meeting people in your niche. Other things, you should try doing, like advertising locally, doing actual on-foot sales, and trying some paid ads.
Mark S: Got it. Alright, guys! Thanks very much for listening to episode 102! This has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And Marc Vila, from Colman and Company.
Mark S: You guys have a great business!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download