Are you solving your customer’s problems?
I don’t know how many times I’ve read it online in some industry forum or group. A printer is complaining about how they lost an order because someone undercut them on price.
While price certainly is a factor in any business relationship, it isn’t the main driver usually.
The big kahuna in most transactions is solving some sort of problem. If you don’t want to keep trying to win the race to the bottom on price, start elevating your discussion on solving problems.
And to be clear, I want to throw out this hand grenade too. That low-price dealing, tire-kicker that drives you nuts doesn’t have to be your customer.
You can go after customers that would be head over heels in love with you if you solved their biggest pain point. These folks will pay more for that. Not sure I’m right?
Think about it.
In any industry, there are companies that service that super cheap market. Just like there are ones that cater to the luxury end of the stick. Plus, all of the businesses in between.
So for this article, I want to outline some ideas to get you started to think about how you can solve more problems for your customers.
Key Factors to Consider
There are seven key factors to consider when thinking about customer pain points.
- Risk Reduction
These are diverse ideas. Stop for a moment and consider how you buy anything.
You pop into the corner store for a gallon of milk instead of slogging all the way to the grocery store, as it is more convenient.
Maybe you buy a certain brand of something because it is all organic.
Both of these are business examples of a company solving some sort of consumer pain point. So for the seven ideas listed above, let’s latch onto each and take a closer look.
This can be a key driver for more business for your shop. Instead of the customer having to keep track of all the shirts needed for the event, you can do this for them.
The four hundred and eighty-six dropships divided up among four shirt designs on two different styles is a piece of cake for you to organize and ship.
It’s what you do.
You built the processes and systems in place in your shop, and this type of order is routine. For any other human, it is a nightmare.
Do you think someone is shopping that challenge out for a nickel less? They just want the headache to be over.
Anytime that you can demonstrate that you have built a better mouse-trap to make things easier for your customer it will be seen as a big win. You have to show this.
Demonstrate how hard it is. Have testimonials from real customers that point to your awesomeness.
When you can make the most difficult thing your customer has to do extremely easy, you own the market.
How’s your art staff?
Better art always pushes more sales. That’s a fact.
On your team, how capable is your crew? Not just with the latest techniques for printing, but in problem-solving.
Can they reduce a customer’s photographic idea down to three colors? Maybe make that hot rod art again this year for the rally? Last year’s art drove a record number of sales.
A great art staff can dramatically improve the sales for a shop.
The challenge though is that this industry is difficult to learn. Make sure you are hiring and training your creative team to be the best.
Can your shop turn something that is outrageously difficult into a piece of cake for your customer?
It’s the one-stop shopping idea. Maybe the notion that shipping is included. When you bundle a few items together and sell them as a group.
If you can reduce, or better yet, eliminate hassle…you win.
Think about how hard it was for customers to order shirts only a few years ago. Order forms, getting cash in an envelope, trying to read forty-seven different hand-writing examples. (Is that a 7 or a 9?)
This works better if you demonstrate how effortless you are making it for the customer. I don’t know about you, but I’m a fairly busy guy. I like ordering stuff from the internet, rather than driving to a store. It just saves time.
How are you demonstrating that simplicity to your potential customer base?
Did I mention I was busy? Your customers are too.
How ramped up is the convenience factor for your shop?
Are there tasks that your customer’s hate doing that you can handle?
Convenience is also another word for speed. If your competition has posted turn times are seven to ten business days, can you market yours to be five to seven?
What about three to five?
There is a lot of value in beating the other guy to the finish line. And by value, I mean more money.
When you buy a movie ticket online, rather than waiting in line at the theater you usually pay a small transactional convenience fee. For the movie ticket portal, all of those fees add up.
In real estate, the convenience of living near more desirable locations comes with a higher land value.
So, for your target customers what idea would be convenient for them? What would be faster?
That has a higher value.
People will flock to you if you make things more convenient for them.
Was there a problem before with the last guy that took that order? Maybe one lurking out there in the future?
There could be a lot at stake. Your customer’s reputation for example. They can’t afford to screw it up.
That’s why they need you.
Maybe there is an event date that can’t be missed? Your client won’t have to worry because you have the skill and expertise to pull it off.
On the other hand, maybe they want to decorate an expensive item, like a North Face jacket, or another high-end garment. Those jobs don’t go to just any Joe-Blow decorator.
If you think you have the chops to handle work like this, there are plenty of folks that will send orders your way. These aren’t the penny pincher types either.
How are you demonstrating that your shop is the one to trust?
Just how much fun is in your process? Can you make the experience fun and memorable?
You can start by having your staff just be themselves. There’s nothing better than authentic, personable humor.
Don’t stifle personalities.
If you can, inject some funky whimsy into your branding. Don’t take yourself or your company too seriously.
When your customers interact with your company in a fun and quirky way, especially on social media, this is a golden opportunity to jump in and engage.
Fun can be other talents too. Maybe your shop is loaded with musical talent. Turn it up! Let’s hear the jam session by the presses.
So let your guard down and be yourself.
People like doing business with other people because they like them. How fun and likable is your shop?
People want to know that you care about the environment.
Don’t just stick to using recycled or organic apparel blanks. That’s great but look to building a proper sustainability program and make your efforts come full circle.
Sustainability, when marketed correctly can be the difference builder in getting work. However, there’s a fine line between touting how your process is better and greenwashing.
For shops that truly want to walk the walk, look into getting your company to be third party sustainability audited through a program like the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership.
This shows everyone you are serious about sustainability and have committed to doing things the right way.
Then when you market that you can decorate on an organic or recycled t-shirt, the print will be sustainable too.
Understanding Pain Points
Pain points are opportunities for you.
But to unravel what matters most to different customers, you need to be asking questions. That conversation can help you understand what your customer truly values.
What do they need?
The answers will help you focus your approach and increase your sales.
Don’t start the conversation immediately by jumping into quoting. Instead, ask “What are you using these shirts for”?
Get them to talk about the purpose.
About what they did last year.
What does success look like for the shirt they want to create?
Another great question is, “What don’t you want?” Get them to spill the beans on what might irritate them, or cause the order to be seen as a failure.
Put these pieces together before you start the quoting process.
When you understand the big picture, you can see the opportunity for you much clearer.
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.