Making Money in Custom T Shirts and Embroidery | Finding a Customer’s Why

Starting a Business Making Custom T Shirts or Embroidery  is about more than the Order

“To be a successful marketer, you must be a conceptual thinker. Like method acting, you have to get inside the head of your prospect and BECOME the prospect. Think how your prospect thinks… Feel what your prospect feels,” according to Lew Smith, marketing expert and author. This definitely applies to making and selling custom t shirts.

In today’s economy, developing new business requires that you do more than simply pop your catalog in the mail. Mr. Smith is correct. To stand out above your local and online competition and to be heard through the constant background noise of “the sky is falling” from many of the media channels, you have to think about your process and your message differently.

How to Make More Money from Every Order by Asking the Right Questions

You may be going, “We sell decorated apparel – what else is there to say?” The same goes for “We sell custom t shirts” or “We do embroidery” by the way. If that is your first, best or immediate response, it is time for you to roll over and go back to sleep. If that was your response, and you then asked yourself, “What’s is she talking about?” then read on, as you are the one that will still be in business a few years from now.

Custom T Shirt Business Success Can we Help You

Yes, we are in the custom t shirt business or embroidery business, creating and selling decorated apparel and promotional products. Jackets, shirts, sweatshirts, caps – these are the products that our customers buy from us. However, what if the customer was really trying to:

  • Create team spirit?
  • Recognize a sales team that performed above expectations?
  • Celebrate someone’s 50th wedding anniversary?
  • Promote safety for the workforce?

Nearly every time, orders for decorated apparel and products are about so much more than the actual products. The customer owns clothes. Think about the last five orders that you produced. Do you really know why the customer was ordering the products? Was there more to it, when you recall the conversations that lead to the order being placed?

Shifting the Conversation and how YOU Think about the Customer

Custom T Shirt Printers and Embroiderers that learn to think about potential customers and their underlying reasons for ordering decorated goods will succeed, even in the current competitive marketplace.

When you shift your conversation with customers from “how many shirts” to “what do you have in mind?,” you are opening the door to discovering much more about your customer’s needs. When you have a more complete understanding of what the customer is trying to accomplish, you are in a much better position to recommend a selection of professional embroidery machines that will directly address their needs.

Sample Scenarios and How to Add to Every Sale

Your customer contacts you for a quote for custom shirts for their sales force working at a trade show 

  • Basic approach:  offer them a classic golf shirt or dress shirt with a left chest logo.
  • Better approach:  Ask about the trade show! Where is it being held? Is there a theme at this show? What does the company’s exhibit booth or space look like? What colors will be prominent in the show, or in their booth? When you have a better vision of the environment, you can propose shirt colors and styles that will either help their staff stand out (contrasting bold colors, larger logos, atypical logo placements) or compliment the setting (crisp twill shirt that works with booth colors and a tailored left chest logo). This works especially well if you offer more than one decorating technology – like Embroidery AND Vinyl in this Avance + CutnPress Bundle

Your customer wants a quote for the company golf outing:

  • Basic approach: offer them a golf towel or golf shirt with a left chest logo
  • Better approach:  Ask them to tell you more about the outing… Are you with customers, or employees? Do you see it as recreational or a business development opportunity? Are you offering prizes or gifts to every golfer? Are spouses invited? By getting the full picture, you may have an opportunity to sell them shirts for every participant, maybe even some prizes, maybe even products as parting gifts – who knows?

Your customer calls for a quote for sweatshirts:

  • Basic approach: Hooded or pullover, what color, how many of each size, what is going on it?
  • Better approach:  What do you need them for? I am asking so that I can make sure that I quote you on the best products to meet your needs…


By providing product solutions designed to meet their specific needs, you are functioning at a level well beyond that of an embroiderer. As you use this approach regularly, you will become a trusted team player and a valuable resource for your customers. You become a “problem solver” of sorts, not just an apparel decorator.

Ideally, your customers learn will turn to you and say something like, “What I really am trying to do is X.  What do you suggest?” By working with your customers and seeing the orders from their point of view, you will develop long-term relationships. At that point, you are selling much more than a bunch of embroidered shirts, aren’t you?

For more information on custom t shirt printing machines, embroidery, bling or vinyl t shirt systems please Chat with us now or call 877-793-3278.


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