You simply love having the ability to take simple threads and weave them into something useful, beautiful, or meaningful. Now, how can you take your passion and skill for embroidery and make money with it? Whether you are just starting an embroidery business or you have a rather successful business in place, increasing your sales needs to be a marked effort, something you put time into achieving. Even in related industries, such as apparel design including screen printing, direct to garment printing, or in industries related to fine crafts, your goal is to consistently work to build your client base.
How do you do it?
It may seem like a great deal of work especially if you are not someone with a background in marketing. However, it doesn't have to be. Here are some simple steps you can put into place today to start growing your embroidery business.
1. Define who your customer is
Sure, you'll do embroidery work for anyone who needs it. Whether they need a patch sewn into place or they need a crest embroideried on jackets, you'll do it all. However, it is more effective to know who your client base actually is. Make a list of who your customer is based on:
- The industries they are in
- The type of work you specialize in
- The scale of the production they have a need for
Once you know who your clients are, the next steps become easier because you can target those industries or individuals.
2. Grow your network
Talk to your current clients and ask them for recommendations. This is by far one of the most important and valuable tools you have for building your business - your existing network. Start by auditing your existing network. At the same time, you also need to work to expand that base. Be sure you have business cards that provide your current customers with a way to share your information with someone they know needs your services.
3. Sell more to your current customers
Any sales person knows the first place you look for business is your current customers. Don't be afraid to ask your current customers for repeat business. There are many ways to do this such as:
- Make recommendations for their existing pieces, perhaps adding more detail or more embroidery elements to other portions of the material.
- Recommend the addition of embroidery to something complimentary such as matching logos on shirts and jackets.
- Communicate regularly - send out monthly email newsletters with interesting content, encourage clients to follow you on social media
Ask them what else they need. Even if it is not something you directly offer (right now at least) it can give you more information about where to expand.
4. Create a dream client list
Who would you really like to work with? Local government, specific industries, or even the school system? Take the time to write out a long list of dream clients. Don't think just local, either. Remember, you can easily ship most of the embroidery work you do. For that reason, your dream list of clients can really be located anywhere. Once you have that list, don't stop there.
- Prioritize them based on which are most valuable to you.
- Cold call them. Yes, a simply call takes minutes but it can open the door for your organization.
5. Become an expert
You may have skills in embroidery right now, but what else can you do? More so, do you know the proper methods for all types of garments or material? Can you create very intricate designs? 3D puff hat designs? What software applications are you using through your machine and which additional options could you learn? The more you know and the more you grow that expertise, the more likely you will be to achieve whatever goals you have for your business. You can watch videos online, take a local class, or learn through practice.
6. Get online and show off your work
You can also market your embroidery business online. You may wish to create a website to do so. However, for this type of industry it can also be very important to incorporate social media. Having a Facebook page and Instagram account can be very helpful because it allows you to share information as well as photos of your work with a new client base. And, it can provide you with tools to help you to market your business and items you create on sites like Etsy.com.
7. Create a low barrier offer
Sometimes, people want to know that they can count on you to do the work but because they've never worked with you, they aren't sure what the outcome could be. A low barrier offer is simply a low priced service that allows them to test out the work you can provide and allows the customer to gain trust in you. You don't necessarily need to offer a discount or sale, but you should offer smaller services at a lower cost. Once they see the value you can provide at this level, they are more likely to be interested in your high value offers.
8. Build partnerships
Next, consider partnerships, or opportunities where you work with other organizations and businesses to offer the services they do not. For example, you may work with the local dry cleaner. If a customer comes in and needs delicate embroidery repaired on a piece of clothing, they recommend your services. Likewise, you recommend their services to your customers. What other partnerships do you have locally? Can you work with local churches? What about working with print companies who may need threat work from time to time?
9. Create differentiators
In short, answer this question. What makes your business or products different from someone else's? It can be very important for you to address this type of question with yourself because unless you stand out, you may not get the attention you need.
- Do you offer any distinctive services that others do not?
- Do you offer faster turnaround?
- Do you offer extra services that others don't? Direct to garment printing and other forms of apparel decoration often go hand in hand.
Work to develop these types of differences so that you can make the best possible decisions for yourself going forward.
10. Be the star with customer service
While it may not seem like an important marketing tool, if you do not provide your customers with incredible service, they simply will not realize all that you can offer to them. That means:
- Completing projects on time.
- Listening and creating pieces exactly at the client wants.
- Providing samples so they can see what you have to offer.
In addition to this, you'll want to smile and get to know your customers. You want them to know you value their business and, before they walk out the door, be sure to welcome them back again! There are many additional steps you can take as well. For example, you can network online through groups and forums. You can have a press release created that lets everyone in the community know about your business or new offerings. You can attend tradeshows and other needlework events that can help you to gain skill and also build on those networks with others in the industry. You can work to build an online based business where you are selling your finished pieces on sites like eBay.
What's most important is taking the time to create meaningful relationships with those who want to provide you with business. It is through this type of word of mouth marketing that you will get the very best outcome in building your sales.