Want more sales? Sure. We all do. But where do these new opportunities come from? You can not simply passively rely on people to stroll through the door. That’s relying on being lucky a little too much.

Instead, your shop needs to develop a long-range strategy for prospecting and lead generation for sales. This is marketing with a purpose.

In this article, we’ll explore six ideas that will help your sales and marketing initiatives succeed.

Start With Your Customer

The hero of any good sales and marketing strategy is going to be your customer. Who is that?

It can’t be anyone that can fog a mirror.

Ideally, you want to think about building a customer profile for the type of work that makes sense for your shop. Go back into your records and pull up some data.

What you will find is that the top 20% of your total revenue all come from the same few customers. The other 80% of your sales you will find originates from low-ball orders or people you never hear from again. So, that top 20% is what pays all of your bills.

That’s where you want to hang your hat.

Once you have identified these customers, your job now is to clone them. Use this 20% to define how you are going to approach your marketing and lead generation program, as these potential customers are what will drive big sales gains. Your job now is to build a “Customer Profile” on exactly who these people are so you can go after new customers just like them.

The “Customer Profile” is made up of traits or qualities that stick out. They could be all CEO’s or high school principals. Maybe they are music promoters or sales managers for promotional marketing agencies. They could be executive directors for non-profit agencies. Are they only in your city or state? Do they own a business or are they marketing directors?

Write everything down and see what makes sense.

The goal here is to create a profile that will allow you to research other companies or organizations for people with a similar role. This helps define your approach and marketing message.

Next, Consider The Order

After you have nailed down your type of customer, let’s focus on what they are ordering and that it makes sense for your shop. If you know this, you know what type of garment and decoration they normally order. When the jobs will come in. Even some trends.

For example, if your most profitable orders are from one type of decoration method or quantity then your work will be to target customers who can place those types of orders. If you best order is those that are over 500 units, then your work should be targeting more of those orders, and fewer jobs that are only for two or three dozen.

You truly can define what type of work you want to do.

It is perfectly ok to tell a customer that you can’t take a six-piece ten color job that is due tomorrow, or whatever craziness comes in through the door.

For lead generation, your focus should be on the traits for the orders that make the most sense for your shop.

Talk To Your Best Customers

If you have completed the work analyzing who your best customers and the best jobs to take are, spend some time actually talking to these people. Ask them questions.

  • What do you like about doing business with our shop?
  • Is there anything that sets us apart from others?
  • What should we be doing differently?
  • Would you like to help us with our marketing with a testimonial or referral?
  • In the next six months, is there any challenge coming up that we help solve for you?
  • What do we need to improve in your opinion?

Listen to their answers. Take a lot of notes.

Whatever they say to you, their answers are solid gold. Why?

For starters, they are outlining what they like or don’t like about your shop. This should drive a lot of your continuous improvement work for the next few weeks. How can you use this information to become better at what you do?

You can use this information to develop entire marketing campaigns based on this feedback. When your best customers give you the answers to the test, be sure to run with those answers.

Also, building a referral network can really help scale your shop. Recommendations go a long way in influencing the decisions of others. People listen to others that they trust, or have a similar background.

Just like in closing a sale, be sure to ask for a testimonial or referral.

Use A Calendar

This is an old school tip. If you want something to happen, the best course of action is to plan for it.

Need to create a video to share on Instagram? Add that filming task to your calendar for this Thursday at 10:30.

When you earmark that timeslot for the activity, it creates that action point for success.

One of the reasons why most shops don’t do a great job with their marketing is that they aren’t planning the action in a logical way. Using a calendar and delegating tasks to your staff will help you achieve that success. It creates that need to do the task with a deadline.

Otherwise, things don’t get handled in a timely manner.

What’s great about using a calendar is that you can section off time on a day and make it a repeating event. For example, every Monday at 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm you have targeted to write a short blog post about something going on in your shop. This is keyword driven, and posts on your webpage blog. Each article can contain ideas, pictures, video, and other references that align with what your customers are searching for online. This improves your SEO ranking and makes your shop more relevant to your customers.

That time commitment is what is going to drive your success.

Be Consistent

Another predictor of success is being consistent. Half the battle of doing anything is actually simple. Just showing up.

For Lead Generation and Prospecting, what does this mean?

It means that you always go to the networking event. Your blog posts are published frequently. The newsletter you publish through MailChimp hits your readers on the same day of the month. Each CSR in the company calls four customers a day to reach out and let them know about something going on in the shop.

Will everything be successful? Of course not.

But consistently doing that work is going to leapfrog you over anyone that has a more sporadic approach.

You won’t hit any home runs unless you are standing at the plate swinging.

If your results are not as effective as you would like, take a step back and examine the frequency of your effort. Start with the idea of consistency. How are you measuring that?

Establish Goals

Who doesn’t love setting goals?

It’s achieving them where most folks fall down. But, it is important to set them. When thinking about sales, goals can be many things. For example:

  • $500,000 in sales
  • 200 more leads
  • 36 new customers

These are all different ideas and numbers. Which one would be the most important to you?

$500,000 in sales could be with one customer. 200 more leads won’t matter unless you close them. 36 new customers might not matter that much if it reflects the entire year.

You have to write goals that make sense to your business. Again, what does your past history look like? Over the last three to five years, what does your sales growth average look like? Are you increasing 8% a year or 23%?

If you aren’t satisfied with your growth rate, setting a goal and then working backward to achieve it will be a great mental exercise to find out what you need to be doing.

For example, let’s take getting 36 new customers, and we’ll say that it happens in one month. Looking back to your history, you see that you close at a rate of 15% of the leads that you actively pursue. This means that you will have to have at least 240 leads to pursue at that rate.

Which leads to the next question. How are you going to get 240 leads in a month?

Enter the social media discussion. Because we’ve already built the shop’s marketing plan with a customer and order persona built, marketing to this segment is going to be easier. The trick is to find out what channels they use often when they are there, and what type of content they respond to the most.

Then, that content can be developed to align with your customers the best. Tracking what works, with the goal of hitting 240+ leads generated will tell you if you are on the right track or not.


Nurturing is all about outreach. Most buyers make up their mind to do business with you long before they ever contact you.

So what tips the scale?

The big factors are the ability for your potential customer to first know who you are. Then, get them to like you. After that, it’s all about trust.

Once you get someone to know, like, and trust you, when the opportunity arises they will buy from you.

This happens in drips. From your Facebook feed. What you post on Instagram or Twitter. Get them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog. Have them on a MailChimp list and send them information about your company.

That outreach will plant the seed that will grow into a relationship later. The consistency that was mentioned earlier will help water that seed.

One thing I’ve seen over the years is shops complaining about how slow they are, or asking questions like, “how to do you get more customers?”. When I see posts like this I look them up online to see what they’ve been up to. A good number aren’t sharing anything. They aren’t engaging with their customer base. That nurturing idea is simply non-existent.

You have to reach out and actively pursue new customers. The days of being in reactive mode for sales are over.

Get proactive and start a nurturing campaign today.

Wrapping It All Up

Hopefully, you have found some value in this article, but if I could impart only one takeaway for you it is this.

You have to be disciplined and do the work.

If you truly want to do a better job with your prospecting and lead generation, it is crucial that you don’t put it off.  I know there are a million things that get in the way every day in your shop.

Orders that have to ship. Screens that need to be reclaimed. Quotes, and follow-ups, and invoices.

It’s a whirlwind of activity.

But if you aren’t steadily working to acquire new customers, all of that will dry up eventually.

Have you ever wondered why there are so many peaks and valleys in this industry? One reason is that when we get busy we put off the customer acquisition part of the work and focus on getting orders produced and out the door. Then, there isn’t much behind it.

Stop scrambling.

Be consistent with your effort and fill in those sales gaps by finding customers that fit.


“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

“A good ad which is not run never produces sales.” – Leo Burnett

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” – Artistotle


Production Manager Tool

From day one, we’ve been devoted to making InkSoft the most useful tool for printing and customization professionals across the industry. While thousands of users are growing their businesses with InkSoft Stores and the Design Studio, we know we still have a lot of work to do to help print shops run more efficiently.

The next big step is a production management tool. We want to bring InkSoft full circle by providing a powerful way for you to streamline production and communication, ultimately boosting profitability and reducing costly mistakes. Not to mention, solving the challenges outlined in this article.