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10 Ways to Grow Your Sublimation Business in 2023!

10 Ways to Grow Your Sublimation Business in 2023

New year, new opportunities for your sublimation printing business!

by Jeff Butler· Senior Strategist

It's an exciting time in the print-on-demand industry and sublimation printing continues to drive the market. With so many exciting new techniques, technologies, and products, it's a great time to be in this business.

As the perceived value of custom, personalized products remains high, now is a good time to focus on growth.

Let's look at 10 opportunities you have to grow your business and your profits in 2023.

1. Go Mobile - Pop-Up Markets

Pop-up markets are where you set up shop at remote events such as Farmer's Markets, Car Shows, Dance Competitions, Art Festivals, or any other vendor opportunity that piques your interest. Look for an event that draws a good sized crowd and get your booth ready to roll.

Typically, a minimal sublimation pop-up shop consists of two tables: one for your sublimation system (i.e., computer, printer, and heat press) and the other for displaying signage that explains the items you’ll be producing and selling at the event. Get a good 10'x10' tent - buy the best you can afford. Buy quality portable tables and a couple of comfy chairs. A fan for the summer and a portable heater for the chilly months.

Of course, the most essential item for your pop-up shop is electricity. Although printers don’t require much power, heat presses do. Because of this, you will need to verify power outlet availability. Typically, you need about 12-15amps at 110 volts to operate a computer, a Sawgrass SG500 printer, and heat press such as the Geo Knight DK14S. For outdoor events, you may have the option of using a generator.

Research your market by attending various events and make note of the format, layout, vendor setups, and crowd sizes. Talk with the vendors and get a feel for the way each event 'flows'. You'll get a good idea if it's the right opportunity for you after you do a bit of investigative legwork. And it's fun!

2. Use Color Charts for Perfect Color Matching

2. Use Color Charts for Perfect Color Matching

Give your customers the highest quality product by making sure the color you deliver is the color they expect. It sounds easy but in reality, it's a crucial step that's sometimes overlooked.

How do you deliver the correct color every time? Sublimation color charts. Color charts are a must have for any successful print-on-demand shop. Different materials and substrates accept the sublimation process in different ways and it's important to be able to effectively predict the exact color output you're going to get - every single time.

Print and press a set of color charts onto the most common substrate materials you currently produce. Fabric swatches, hardboard, aluminum, and ceramics are all great candidates for a color chart. When designing artwork for your customers' jobs, refer to these pressed samples to help interpret the final color output you need.

Great color and being able to match a specific school logo color for a client will set you apart from the competition.

3. Target a New Market

3. Target a New Market

Prospecting for new markets is one of the most exciting times for an entrepreneur. The thrill of discovering a new revenue stream is what gets us out of bed every day. The key is to always be looking.

Participating in your community is always a good look for you and your brand. If there's an opportunity where you can contribute, do so - chances are there's other opportunities that will arise from these interactions because you're putting yourself out there. Show leadership as a part of your brand and others will look up to you and your business.

Do you like animals? Volunteer at the local shelter. Show them samples of what you create. Volunteering your time or services at a local museum is another great opportunity to meet both artists and aficionados that would benefit from your services. Doing a Pop-Up at outdoor/indoor markets is an incredible opportunity to get in front of a large and diverse group of potential new prospects.

Be personable. Talk up your business. Get people excited about what you do. The rewards will come naturally and if you exceed their expectations, you'll continue to grow your brand.

4. Search Engine Optimize (SEO) Your Website

4. SEO Your Website

Do you have a GMB (Google My Business) listing? Is it current, complete, and verified? If not, do it now.

Are you actively maintaining your website? Does it have a blog feature? If so, get busy writing or hire someone to do it for you. Publish posts focused on answering questions your customers may have. Make sure it's well written and full of useful information describing the products you sell, how customers can get them, and how much they cost. Explain the importance of bringing quality photographs or artwork, how durable yet vibrant your products are, and what kind of turn-around to expect on orders.

These posts will get you noticed by Google. Be sure to keep them updated and try to post something at least twice per month. Soon you'll have a good bit of search engine traffic and a good library of material to use again in other marketing promotions such as Facebook posts, YouTube videos, or TikToks.

What you want to do is become the authority, in your area, for what you do. If you're the local t-shirt guy, blog about it. Be descriptive using keywords that describe your services in detail. Again, make sure your Google My Business profile is current and linked to your website. Monitor local search results by searching 'custom printed products near me'. Get to the top of Google for that search phrase.

Read: Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Google My Business Listing

5. Continue to Build Your Brand

5. Continue to Build Your Brand

Branding is the single most important thing you can do to build a strong business. It's your entire package in one simple logo or mention of your business' name. It's powerful. It moves people to buy your products.

It's achieved by delivering what you promise, being on time with your delivery, and doing a good job. When you establish your reputation as such, your brand becomes stronger. People begin to take notice.

This is the time to get that brand in front of prospective customers. Sponsor events and hang a banner with your logo. Put your logo on everything - stickers, flyers, business cards, vehicle graphics, and signage. Donate to local causes in the form of gift baskets for silent auction filled with samples and a voucher to have the winning bidders' photos imprinted onto the items included in the basket. Sponsor youth sports teams and organizations and get signage at the ball field or cheering gym.

Be proud of your brand. Wear it every day as part of your uniform both physically and mentally.

6. Promote Sublimation Printing as Sustainable

6. Promote Sublimation Printing as Sustainable

Did you know that sublimation printing is eco-friendly? Sublimation ink is water soluble and there's no solvents or additional chemicals needed. Ink cartridges are recyclable. So is the remaining paper from your printed transfers and protective cover paper used when pressing.

Consumers are demanding sustainable products and production methods. Sublimation printing checks both boxes. Promote that value to your customers and show them that you're working to do your part.

Recycling is good for our planet and for your wallet. Our ink cartridge recycling program was designed to recycle only sublimation ink jet cartridges, but that doesn't mean you should toss your regular printer inks or toner in the trash! There are recycling programs everywhere that will pay you to take your standard, empty or expired inks off your hands. Google 'ink cartridge recycling' and you will find several companies that are giving away cash for empty cartridges.

7. Introduce a New Product Line

7. Introduce a New Product Line

Sublimation printing has gone viral. This means great returns for your print-on-demand business however, it's important to stay on top of the current trends in the marketplace to ensure you're offering your customers the hottest items that are in demand.

Listen to your customers. Ask what other products they'd like to see you offer. Search makers' channels like Etsy for ideas on what's trending in the marketplace. Walk the big-box retailers like Hobby Lobby and Michael's and pay attention to what's displayed front and center in their stores. Make note of what products they sell that you can improve upon by including your customers' photos, artwork, and messaging. Make samples of these products and display them prominently in your shop and online.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to the Top Sublimation Products You Should Be Selling

8. Revisit Your Retail Pricing Strategy

8. Revisit Your Retail Pricing Strategy

Are you leaving money on the table by under-pricing your products?

The key factors to consider when pricing custom print-on-demand products for retail are cost of goods sold (COGS), production time, consumables such as ink and paper, packaging, shipping, and marketing expenses. Once you have a basic formula for these factors, you can begin to put together a solid retail pricing strategy.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to leave money on the table by under pricing our work.

One of my favorite sayings is 'the finished product is worth what the image or artwork that's transferred onto it is worth'. Don't sell yourself short - personalized products build a deeper connection with customers since it's their artwork or images that are displayed on the product. That's powerful stuff! Price your work accordingly.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Retail Pricing Sublimation Products

9. Create a Referral Program

A great way to grow your business is to have your existing customers refer new customers to your shop. Full-color sublimated products are definitely attention grabbers and often get a lot of compliments and questions. Although some of your customers may not need any motivation, take advantage of this potential word-of-mouth advertising by offering them price and/or product incentives for sending new business to you.

This referral process is great for increasing your customer retention rate and your revenue. Further, be proactive and find out what businesses, clubs, and organizations your customers are plugged into and then produce a few customized product samples for specific decision makers within those groups.

Being referred by someone within a group can definitely be the difference between a cold sales call and a hot one, so prepare well and dazzle them with the full-color possibilities sublimation printing has to offer!

10. Photograph the Products You Sell

10. Photograph the Products You Sell

Because it's impossible for you to show current and future clients all the product and design choices they have, excite them and give them inspiration by showing them examples of what you've done for others. Always take photos of the products you produce and sell and then, with your clients' permission, post those images on your social media pages and website. Even better (and again with their permission), include your happy customer in the photo for extra impact! This technique works amazingly well.

Including your customers in your photos as well as photographing them in your shop builds a buzz around your brand. It proves to potential customers that you provide happiness in the form of custom printed keepsakes that your customers cherish for a lifetime.

Check out my video '3D Social Media Marketing for Sublimation Printing' on CondeTV where I deep-dive into this subject.

I hope 2022 was good to you and I look forward to seeing our industry and your businesses continue to grow in 2023. Just getting started? Lucky you! The market is on fire and you're positioned for success by having the forethought to invest in your business' future with sublimation printing.

by Jeff Butler · Senior Strategist
Conde Systems, Inc.

Are you leaving money on the table by under-pricing your custom products?

Did you know Conde has a pricing tool that gives you the suggested retail price range for our entire catalog of print-on-demand blank products?

Start here to learn more about our Retail Pricing Calculator Tool

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