I have had a few conversations with other studio owners who have appeared on our podcast. I have noticed that quite a few people are getting their customers from ‘word of mouth’
Having a good reputation is very useful, but are you in control of who you are attracting to work with you? I do get a lot of referral work offered, especially amongst the small business owner crowd, but I won’t leave attracting new customers up to chance anymore.
If you aren’t doing any marketing, you aren’t specifying who you want as customers and the types of work you want to do. You are leaving it to fate and hoping that your customers’ mates (who you might feel obliged to take on) will want what you are offering. Taking this route led my business into a stale and mediocre slump where the jobs were all minimum orders and maximum faff.
It was only when I started to pinpoint my ideal and most profitable customers that I started enjoying the work again. I now have very few customers, but they are all ‘whales’. A ‘whale’ for our business is a cash-rich, no nonsense business person who wants quality, is prepared to wait, and only wants the best garments. I have hyper-specific niches for these customers and I individually target them for the jobs I want.
If I didn’t guide the business like this I would just be sitting on my hands and leaving it up to the stars to tell me what work I will do next week. The ‘word of mouth’ approach is useful if you need more cashflow and need to keep busy, however, there is a difference between being busy and being productive.
I urge you to shortlist three ideal customers and make them love what you are offering.
Chessie Rosier-Parker is director and studio manager of Squeegee & Ink, a screen printing and embroidery studio that also provides pre-exposed screens and film to garment printers along with social media workshops.