So what does the word “Tribalism” have to do with branding anyway? Believe it or not, you are already a member of another company’s tribe. You simply may not recognize it.

Here’s what I mean.

Are you a Harley-Davidson fan? Loyal enough to get that tattoo? Congratulations! You are in a Tribe.

Maybe you prefer UnderArmour to Nike, adidas to New Balance, or Timberland to Merrell? Every time you buy a new pair of shoes, is it always the same brand? That’s Tribe membership behavior too.

Going shopping with your spouse? Do you hit Target or WalmartCostco or Sam’s Club? Don’t forget Amazon! What’s interesting here is when the customer pays to be a member of the Tribe.

So how does all of this relate to your shop? Those are big companies. You don’t have that type of marketing bankroll. Right?

Tribalism Leadership

The first point I want to make here is that when creating a brand that is going to resonate with your customers, there needs to be some leadership. Marketing is an on-purpose event.

It isn’t going to happen by accident.

If you shop is waiting around for word of mouth marketing to kick in, you may be waiting for quite a long time.

Take charge.

The Tribalism concept is that all of your current customers, potential customers, employees, vendors and anyone who has remotely heard of you is in your Tribe. It is your economic ecosphere. Some are firmly planted in the middle of the Tribe, while others are on the periphery.

I know it’s hard to do while reading, (Impossible really!), but close your eyes for a moment and imagine that group of people standing in front of you. They are waiting for you to say something.

Your Tribe Is Listening

That’s right.

They want you to share something relevant. Something they can use. Better, is if it solves a problem in front of them right now. Coupled with a call to action, that message creates a sale.

But your marketing content doesn’t always have to be about selling something. In fact, easy to digest and entertaining content that educates has more engagement.

Not to mention it proves you know what you are doing. Nothing says, “Hey, I’m an authority” like a video, picture or blog article showing your company kicking butt with whatever you do best.

That is something that you can control quickly, cheaply, easily.

Easy, Peasy, Content Creation for Your Tribe

So, I’m going to share with you a few tips on how to create that content. First, we’ll look at subject themes for you. These are ideas you can use. Steal them. Use them.

Then, we’ll throw that onto a calendar and create a marketing campaign for your Tribe.


4 Content Ideas to Steal

Show Off

Did you just finish that order of 5,000 shirts? Show pics of that mountain of shirts! People are always amazed at what an enormous pile of t-shirts looks like.

Maybe you just added a custom embroidered hem tag to a sleeve? Printed with metallic gold ink? Used discharge as an underbase for that soft, retail hand on the shirt? Embroidered a puff logo on a hat? Branded some two-ply nylon jackets for a team? Did a promotional shirt order for the big game?

What about that big dropship order you finished for the hospital? They rebranded and sent new apparel gear to all of their employees with their company store. How did you pull that off?

Don’t keep this stuff a secret!

Take pics, or better yet, short 1-minute videos of the creative process for your work.  Share this on social media. Use these pics on any marketing pieces that are going out to customers.

Right now you have jobs on your schedule that would make good marketing images that you should be sharing with your Tribe.


How many times have you given a shop tour? During that walk, aren’t your guests amazed at what you do?

Film that. Don’t worry if you aren’t the best photographer or videographer. Just do it.

“Here’s what we are doing and why”, can make a big difference.

During those shop tours have any customer has ever said, “Oh. I didn’t know you did embroidery!” or “Ok, so that’s what a flash is! You’ve been charging me to flash on darks for years. Now I get it.”?

These statements are clues that your shop needs to push some education out to your Tribe. People don’t know what they don’t know.

Every day potential customers come into contact with your shop for the first time. Everything you do is new to them.

Your job is to make the discovery frictionless and your awesomeness easy to understand. If you do a good job with this, you have a new Tribe member.

The Ridiculous

Ridiculous ideas are the ones that go viral. Fun means that everyone shares them. That generates the most likes and comments from your Tribe.

They are the hardest to pull off too as you have to be brave. Brave enough to try anything.

Like putting a Go-Pro on the shop dog and let them wander around  Drone footage of your shop in action. Delivering shirts to a customer wearing a T-Rex costume.

It doesn’t matter so much what it is, as long as it is completely different than anything else out there. This is what gets attention.

Isn’t that the purpose of marketing?

Information & Facts

This goes beyond price lists.

What about infographics that detail how many shirts you printed last year? What were the top five colors and styles? Maybe show the top three ink color choices. What about a heat map showing where shirts were shipped?

Maybe you are into sustainability. Can you show how many tons of material that you have recycled this year?

What about a timeline? For the ordering process what happens from start to finish as the job moves through your company. Show some images and statistics that go along with the information.

Don’t forget great statistics such as how much money your fundraising shirt platform has contributed to philanthropies last year. People love dollar totals.

Remember, your Tribe is standing there waiting for you to say something. Facts and information help them understand your shop better.

Blast, Drip & Nurture for Tribes

There are three concepts that you should build into your marketing program. Blast, Drip, and Nurture.

Most shops struggle with marketing because they are understaffed and simply “don’t have the time”. That’s understandable, but let’s solve that problem.  Also, be sure “don’t have the time” doesn’t equate to “not a priority”.

For starters, you are going to have to budget some time and effort with marketing. Make this part of someone’s job

Use a calendar.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 to 5:00 Sally is doing marketing tasks. She will create, develop, and schedule marketing content that looks eight to twelve weeks out.

Use tools.

While there are plenty out there to choose from, let’s focus on two for this article. Buffer and MailChimp. Both have free versions you can use, and when you crave more features you can upgrade later. I like free to start.

Don’t forget, your Tribe is waiting to hear from you. What did you just finish? Around the corner, what’s coming up that they need to know about?

Tribalism Blasts

You probably are familiar with the concept of a social media “Blast”. For everyone on our list, we are sending something out.

The trick is to create that message in advance. That’s what Sally is going to do. It doesn’t have to be anything overly complex. Choose one of the four ideas above. Tie that into something your shop needs to tell everyone about.

Create the piece, and then do another one. Then another. If you get stuck, use a whiteboard to scribble out some ideas and brainstorm.


Buffer allows you to schedule these posts in advance. You pick the time and day. It shoots content out based on what you set up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Automatically. Weeks in advance if you want.

Blasts are the hot news. But they can also just be the gentle reminders of what you do. “Hey check out these great looking hoodies we just printed. Yep, we can print over the zipper.” That matters, because some shops can’t.

Consistency is the key. Top of mind happens when you are always there.

So when that potential customer needs some hoodies printed, they think of you. But what if you never posted that image and showed off your work?


For blasts, MailChimp works great too. One aspect that is a great feature is that you can segment your list. Maybe your blast should only go to one particular high school? Or, it’s only for previous customers that spent more than $5000 with you last year.

You can create and segment your lists any way you want.

Then, blast out that newsletter or update to the customers that qualify with a call to action for them. Schedule a call. Order by the 15th. Redeem the coupon code.

What’s great is that MailChimp is free up to your first 2,000 names. Absolutely get this setup and create scheduled email marketing blasts.

Tribalism Drip

A drip campaign is something that happens slowly. It is a scheduled event. But what’s great here is that after you create the Drip campaign it is automatic.


You use MailChimp to set this up. As an example, let’s say you want to build a campaign around a new high school client that just started using your Stores platform.

As orders come in, the names are added to your segmented MailChimp list for that school. You can create a template for this, that you can use to build other campaigns for other clients too.

Every week, an automated message goes out to anyone on the list. In fact, you can designate the time period in between…and even the time of day the messages go out. The first week could be a thank you that is sent the day after the sale is made. The second week could be seven days after the last message, to let them know about some embroidered hats that are now available in the Store with the link to purchase. The third week has a coupon code for an “Early Bird” offer on the new performance fleece jacket for next season. The fourth week explains how the gift certificate program works with a call to action to try it out. The fifth week has a video that explains the design tool and how to custom create your own t-shirt using the design tool.

The Drip campaign can be endless. You can constantly add new ideas to the campaign. If you do this, then you get that.

The most wonderful thing of all is that it all starts with you adding someone’s name to the list. All of that logic above for messaging happens automatically, without anyone in your company doing anything.

Tribalism Nurture

Nurturing is just what it sounds like. It is reactionary.

Did your customer do something on your website?

Maybe they created a design but didn’t order it. They placed an order or subscribed to your blog. The idea is that they did something.

A Nurture campaign is a reaction to that. Your customers want to hear from you. In fact, studies have shown that companies with a lead nurturing campaign have 451% increase in qualified leads.

It pays to build that pipeline.

So currently when someone abandons their cart on your webpage or watches a video is there any outreach from your shop? If your answer is “Uh, nothing”, then this is absolutely for you.

Like the Drip campaign, you can build the logic into these situations for your customers to hear from your shop. All without your staff doing any of the actual work. Your task is to simply get those connection identified and hooked up.

Start with what you think your biggest problem may be, or the biggest time suck for your staff. When the thinking is “That would be great, but nobody has time to do that”, that’s where you start.


Your Tribe wants to hear from you. They are craving the interaction and engagement.

If you are not consistently in front of them that creates a void. That void is filled with messaging from your competition. As the leader of your Tribe, you want to be in control of your messaging.

Use a calendar. Assign tasks. Make this a responsibility for someone on your staff. (Yes, it could be you). Get good tools. Use them. Make mistakes. Learn from them.

One question:

What are you saying to your Tribe today?


“We love what we love, and shared fandoms bring people of all ages and backgrounds into one great tribe.” – Margaret Stohl

“Where there is unity there is always victory.” – Publilius Syrus

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who have claimed to accomplish things. The first group is less crowded.” – Mark Twain


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.