While many businesses have survived and even thrived during COVID-19, now isn’t the time to relax. Instead, see this new year as an opportunity to dominate your niche market.
Here are three main ways for you to become the go-to decorated-apparel provider in your chosen markets.
Know and understand your buyer
This point can’t be overemphasized. Every other technique for dominating your market starts with you knowing your buyer better than they know themselves.
To that end, follow these five steps:
- Learn as much as you can about your customers on a personal level. You need to know where they hang out, what magazines and newspapers they read, what websites they visit, what they like, and what their biggest problems are (the ones you can solve). All of this demographic information will be valuable when it comes to buying ad space or sponsoring events.
- Once you know more about your target customer, you’ll also have a better idea of what they can afford to spend and what types of decorated apparel and hardgoods products they can use. This will ultimately inform your pricing decisions and help you choose what products to carry (or at least what items you should put a sales emphasis on). For example: If your niche market is fitness clubs, then your customers are athletes, members as well as instructors, and trainers. Even kids who come in with their parents to use the gym could be a potential customer base if the gym offers a kids’ center. You need to gather as much information as you can about these different groups of people to develop a laser focus approach for marketing to them.
- Now that you know who your primary demographic is, explore their product needs. What type of apparel do they wear? If they are athletic, what kinds of water bottles or bags do they take with them to the gym? How do they like things decorated?
- To get to know your customers even better, regularly send out e-surveys or perform focus groups. This will give you their biggest interests, current pain points, and other bits of data you’ll want to gather. With this, you can tweak your offerings to fit their current needs.
- By “tweak your offerings,” here’s what we mean: Let’s say your surveys show your customers are now focused on eco-friendly apparel. Reach out to your apparel suppliers to learn more about their sustainable garments and start stocking those items. Then, communicate with your clients to let them know you carry the product and care about what they want. Another example: If your customers are looking for a decoration option that you don’t offer, subcontract this out to keep the customer. Then you can explore whether it makes more sense to add this imprinting technique in the future or keep subbing it out.
Create and develop a strong brand
The next step in market domination is creating and then developing your brand. Whether you’re a local shop or have an online website with orders from all over the country (or world), you want people to hear your shop’s name and know what to expect.
Your brand can center around top-notch customer service and problem-solving, creative or witty designs, or top-of-the-line products. But whatever your main selling point is, it should be synonymous with your brand in your customers’ minds. This is what sets you apart from the pack.
Maybe you’re really good at fast turnarounds, an expert at printing mixed media, or a pro at print-on-demand and fulfillment. These are examples of just some of the things that some really successful shops have focused on.
Centering your brand around a cause is another route you can take as well. Athleta, known for being affordable and creating timeless sportswear, is a good retail example of this. The brand creates educational content centered around making the world better by being all-inclusive and addressing current issues, like Black Lives Matter and other important social causes.
If you print a lot for schools and park leagues and have a passion for helping kids stay active after school, you might want to center your business around a particular cause, like donating to youth sports. That will help reinforce your brand in the minds of the customers who do business for you.
Decide what your brand is and should stand for in your customers’ minds. Develop that brand by investing time and resources into being the best in the area you choose. Research your competitors to learn if they’re offering what you are and, if so, how you can do it better than them. This is where you need to know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, so you can get to the top, dominating the market.
Improve your marketing
Essentially, marketing is about getting the people you identify as your customer to know who you are, the solutions you offer, and encourage them to buy your product. Below are some ways you can get started doing this.
Analyze your data. Use the data you’ve pulled on your customers to decide where to buy ads as well as events you should sponsor. Also, take time to learn about the other businesses they shop with, so you can partner with them. If possible, get to know the social issues important to your customers and become involved there. Here’s an example: If you know your customer base is athletic, partner with a fitness center. You can offer “Get back in shape in 2021” T-shirts for free. You can include your logo on the shirt to further your branding efforts and let patrons know who to thank.
Connect and engage. Stay connected to your customers and grow new customers by using the power of social media. Create new content that engages your audience. If you’re not sure what that is, experiment. As soon as you begin to see reach and engagement increase on your social channels, stick to posts your audience responds to. Highlight your brand and what makes you unique while also showing you truly know and understand your customers.
Once you decide what your company’s main focus will be, getting a piece of that market share will put your business in a position to thrive for the long-term. If you haven’t already, give some of these tips a try and start dominating your market today.