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Should Have Asked: How Do I Build a Referral/Repeat Business?

Should Have Asked: How Do I Build a Referral/Repeat Business?
As many of you know, a big part of my position is discussing with sublimators about how to resolve various technical problems with their computer, design software, substrates, production equipment, etc. Questions such as, "What did I do wrong?", "How do I keep this from happening again?", and "Am I charging the right price?" are a few common ones. Believe it or not, however, a question that I hardly ever get asked is, "How do I grow my sublimation business?"

It's true! Maybe callers limit their questions because they are wrapped up in the details of the problem or the stress of what's going wrong; nevertheless I feel obligated to jump in and volunteer at least a few extra words of wisdom on topics that I feel they should have asked. Today, I will be discussing a four simple strategies that will help you grow your sublimation business through referrals and repeat business.

Deliver More Than You Promise

Delight your clients by embracing the philosophy of Lagniappe. Lagniappe is a French word often used in Louisiana (and along the Gulf Coast where I live) that simply means an unexpected extra gift. Ways to deliver a little more than your customer expects range from offering unique design options, to including a bonus product sample, to simply delivering an order earlier than expected.

Examples of a bonus product sample include a new and/or complementary product imprinted with the same artwork as the rest of the order or a customized name badge (my favorite money making product of all time) that includes the person's name, company logo, and their unique corporate colors. These extra touches help build strong customer relationships and often result in customers being both fans and cheerleaders for your personalized product business.

Create a Referral Program

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, like a beautiful piece of jewelry, often get tons of compliments and questions with little to no effort at all. 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. For some, there could even be large-scale promotional and/or fundraising opportunities.

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 transfer has to offer!

Beat a Path to Your Door

Many times, of course, sublimated gifts and awards are given to people that do not know who made them or how they can get more. So, make it part of your job to put your contact information on every product you sell. Ideas include sublimating your company name or logo on the back of name badges, in the collar or on the inside bottom hem of shirts, or on the back of ChromaLuxe photo panels.

Another great idea is to transfer your information onto Rowmark MATES 2" round adhesive plastic stickers (Part# M62-R10 available at and then attach them to the bottom of coffee mugs and water bottles or to the inside of phone cases. Although I typically suggest being discreet in the placement of your contact info, it's definitely possible to incorporate it directly into a product's main image area. This approach, however, might be a little tricky depending on the product's size and the potential for your logo detracting from the overall imprinted design.

Photograph the Products You Make and Sell

Because it is 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 page(s). Even better (and again with their permission), include your happy customer in the photo for extra impact! This technique works amazingly well.

For more sublimation ideas, take a look at my new book titled The Road to Sublimation Success: Harnessing the Power of Sublimation for Outstanding Profits. The 271-page book is currently available from Condé in a printed edition and in both a printed and digital Kindle edition on Amazon.

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