Kickstart your business expansion this year by implementing some expert advice from Gordon Glenister, director general of the BPMA

What I‘ve learned over the years is that it‘s not possible to be all things to all people. When you‘re running a business, you need to understand the needs of your customers, and your potential customers. Rather than answering the phone, getting an order, processing it then updating Instagram with a picture of the finished product in a half-hearted attempt at marketing, try to think a little differently in 2016.

Instead, pick a market where you think there is some great potential for selling customised garments, such as the plumbing sector, the beauty industry or the mortgage sector. I used to do this when I ran my promotional merchandise business: I would select an industry then go to the exhibitions, go to some of the dinners, meet people and get to really understand how the industry ticked and what they might need from me. You could even offer to write an article on garment decoration for your chosen sector‘s trade magazines – you‘ll be positioning yourself as an expert in your field as well as getting your business‘s name out there.

Then, when a company in that sector is putting a marketing proposal together or has an urgent need for printed tees, you‘re top of their list. And because you‘ve spent time getting to know the industry, you‘re not thinking about just selling stuff, you‘re thinking about what will work best for them: “I understand your brand and what you‘re trying to do. You know what would work amazingly in this situation? Appliqué on this particular garment.“ You‘re selling the process before the garment, and making sure that your business is an ingredient in the marketing mix, not a cherry on top.

In an industry where everyone has access to the same garments, the same inks, the same threads and the same equipment, it‘s important to create real value for your customers. It can be as simple as thinking of a catchy strapline to elevate an everyday garment into one that really works for a particular client.

I had a client who was constantly on the move around the world to meet his customers. I said: “You‘re always travelling and you say that you‘re fairly adaptable and flexible – how about a worldwide travel adaptor with the slogan ‘We‘re always adapting to our clients‘ needs‘?“ He loved it so much he bought a whole load of them… and he didn‘t quibble on the price. I created real value for him because I gave him something that I knew would be relevant to his needs.

Takeaway: Make sure your business is an ingredient in the marketing mix, not a cherry on top

If you have any questions or topics that you would like Gordon to address, please email with ‘BPMA’ in the subject line.