Sun 6 Jun 2010
Starting Your Vinyl Business: Finding Local Customers
By: Tay Silver | Creative Cuttables & Commercial Vector Designer
Last time I described the ins-and-outs of setting up your vinyl business online. Now I’m going to tell you more about selling your vinyl locally:
While selling online is the best way to reach potential customers, chances are you are the only vinyl business operating in your community. This simple fact gives you an excellent opportunity for reaching dozens of new clients and word-of-mouth will always be your best advertising. Luckily this involves little more than recruiting a couple friends who would like to have one of your vinyl designs applied on their front door or entryway where guests will see it and be more likely to inquire about it. Similarly, a bit of generosity often goes a long way. You’ll find, for one reason or another, you always have extra vinyl things already cut, waiting to be used. Including one of these extra vinyl pieces in every order as a free sample will thrill your clients and they will be excited to use it, doubling the chances of someone else seeing your vinyl and being referred to you.
Here are some other creative ideas about how to advertise locally:
• Invest in a small ink stamp that has your business name, e-mail, phone number and website address. Stamp the back of each vinyl cut that you sell or give away. (Backing paper accepts ink but it will take several seconds to dry without smearing). This ensures your customer will be certain to see it and be more likely to remember your info whereas business cards are often thrown away with the mail packaging your product was shipped in.
• Donate vinyl lettering and/or completed vinyl home décor projects as prizes for local fundraisers and silent auction events. Include a small stack of business cards. Consider placing a small sticker with your website on the back or bottom of completed décor pieces and stamp the back of donated wall lettering so the recipient knows where to order more.
• Host a decorating workshop or craft night in your community where the public can see, touch and view demonstrations on how to use your vinyl. Schools, churches and community centers are often looking for interesting activities such as this. Even if they do not allow advertising, your business name stamped on the back of each vinyl piece is usually acceptable.
• Surprise your child’s teacher with vinyl cut for her classroom and incorporate vinyl into teacher’s gifts and personalized items for your child. Other parents will often track you down quickly for orders!
• Customize gifts by adding vinyl to the gift tag or the recipient’s name or a birthday cupcake shape to the front of the gift bag. Exposure generates questions which then generate sales so don’t be shy and get creative!
• Contact your local sign shop to see if they sell wall vinyl. Most do not take small custom orders but they don’t know where to send customers who call in looking for the services you provide. Leave them with your contact information so they can relay it during phone inquiries.
• Get in touch with local embroidery shops. Several would like to add vinyl lettering to their line of customization without the expense of purchasing a machine. See if they would be willing to outsource to you or, if not, refer customers who want vinyl monograms to you.
• If you’re going to sell car decals, put one on your car along with your business name, phone number or website address on your back windshield. Be sure to drive politely!
• Place listings in local online classified advertisements. Most cities have at least one, if not more, of these sites available. Be sure to include your best product images and emphasize local pick-up or delivery that will save your customer shipping costs versus ordering online from someone else.
Easily Encourage Word-Of-Mouth Advertising: When a client places an order, have them pre-select a design they will get for free when they refer a friend who also places an order. Keep a detailed record of this and follow through on your promise of a friend-referral freebie with each paid order. (Hint: Cut their design when you need to fill extra space while cutting other orders and remind them you have it waiting!) Word will spread like wildfire through groups of friends and you’ll double your income for just the cost of one cut of vinyl. Ask new clients if they were referred by anyone and then present your friend referral freebie program to continue the cycle!