We’ve spent some time already talking about how you can create a great customer experience to ensure your customers stick around, and continue to make purchases from you. But how are your customers finding you in the first place?
Having an online presence is vital to your business. It helps new customers discover you, but it also provides referred customers information about your business as well. Consider this, you ask a friend or colleague where they take their car in to be serviced. Now what? Chances are you’re going to go online to do some of your own research as well, not because you don’t trust your friend’s opinion, but because you want to make sure you have all the relevant information. Or, perhaps your friend only gives you a name, and now you have to do your own research to get a phone number for them.
This means you’re more likely to get business if you have an online presence, and you have relevant information about your business.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Having a high SEO value means that it’s easy for search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find you, all based on the keywords someone types in to the search engine. For example: Tampa Bay Custom Embroidery.
Having an online presence doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Building a custom website is optional, and may be something you consider further down the road, once you’ve set aside a budget for it. In fact there are free ways to start creating your online presence.
There are certain pieces of information that are vital when building your custom apparel business’ online presence – Name, Address, Phone Number. The reason we want to highlight this is because this information must be exact across all places where your company information exists. This means how you write your phone number: (123) 456-7890 vs. 123-456-7890. Or your address – Street vs. St. While it may seem a little nit-picky it’s important that you have consistent branding. So write this out first in a document so you can copy and paste it into everything else.
There are THREE main places you want to start creating your online presence.
Google My Business is a free service for anyone to input their business information into Google’s database. You don’t have to have a storefront location to take advantage of this service.
One other thing in addition to your basic information that you’re going to include is a description of your business. This is going to be very important for your business. Consider the example we used above for the keywords, Tampa Bay Custom Embroidery. If someone uses these words to find a custom apparel business, you’re going to need them in your description in order to be appear in the results. So, this will take some time to write out, get it narrowed down, and ensure that it includes everything your business does. Think about whether you have a niche market – bling shirts for cheer, embroidered polos for corporate businesses, etc. Think about the businesses and customers you want to ensure you’re attracting, and include keywords they would use. Also think about your location. Is there a particular area of town or neighborhood you’re located in? Create a list of at least 10 keywords and make sure they are included in your description.
Similar to Google, Bing Places allows you to input your business information, so that people using Bing as their search engine are more likely to see your business page in the results. You’ll be using the same information you inputted into Google, including your business description.
Having a business presence on Facebook has no longer become an option. People use Facebook to engage with brands and companies they care about, and it’s a great way for them to share their interests as well. You personally don’t need to be active on Facebook, but you will need to create a quick profile to create your Facebook Business page.
Having a Facebook Business page provides one more option to appear in the search engine results, in addition to your Google or Bing page. It’s also a great place to show off your work. If you’re not ready to have a business website yet, your Facebook Business page will allow customers to see what types of custom apparel you do, through your uploaded photos.
Google My Business, Bing Places, and Facebook should be the first three things you do online. Next, there are a few other places you can start to grow your presence, keeping in mind that these will take a little bit more of your time to research and build out.
Once you have your Google, Bing and Facebook pages, customers can leave reviews on those pages. These can have a big impact on your business as potential customers are always interested in hearing about other people’s experiences before committing. You can either ask your customers when you deliver their orders, or send out emails letting your customers know that you’r appreciate it if they took the time to leave a review.
Another option if you have a storefront location is to have customers check-in on Facebook. This simply shows up in their Facebook profile feed and is a simple way for them to share where they do business to their friends. Not all your customers are going to be eager to check-in, so coming up with a simple promotion may encourage more customers to check-in.
Forums are huge, and can be found for just about everything. There’s plenty on Facebook to check out, but also do some research to find local forums as well, such as on your local chamber of commerce, city website, or small business association. Take some time to look for forums that are relevant to you and your business, follow them, and read some of the content other people are posting. If it’s the right fit, then actively start taking part in them. This will create exposure for your business. Often you can create your own posts – say if you’re running a promotion or want to introduce yourself to the group. Or reply to other people’s comments and posts. Remembering to never spam (as that’s the quickest way to be ignored, or even removed from the group), and even make responses that have nothing to do with your business (though keep it professional) – as it allows people to get to know you, and start to associate you with your business: “That’s the guy with the custom apparel business.”
While you’re not going to be posting your business here, if you do supply custom apparel to a local business that is on one of these sites – such as a local coffee shop or sports team – you can leave a comment/review. Something along the lines of “Amazing coffee, tasty baked goods, and incredibly friendly staff. Love coming here for my morning coffee and proud to supply them with their embroidered aprons.” Leaving a review benefits your customers’ business as well as potentially your own.
Jumping into YouTube is not for everyone, getting good at creating content will take some time, but the great thing about YouTube is that it allows you to create content that shows off your business in a new light. And you don’t have to put your face in front of the camera if you’re a bit shy. You can create videos of you creating a customer’s order – most people have never seen a DTG printer or embroidery machine before, so showing them the process start to finish can be pretty interesting.
Again having another online presence such as YouTube allows for another opportunity for one of your pages to come up in the search engine results. Plus you can then take those YouTube videos and link them on your Facebook page to increase the content and views.
If you start a YouTube channel, be prepared to upload videos on a regular basis. It may just be once a month, but regular content will be vital to being found.
Finally, if you decide to build yourself a website, make sure you add all that information from your Google My Business page – Name, Address, Phone Number, and Business Description – onto your website. Your website also allows you to add photos, videos, and even more information about the custom apparel you do. Your website can be a simple page that contains all the information about what you do and how to contact you, or it can be a little more elaborate with separate tabs for photos, contact information, etc. and perhaps even your own blog.
Building an online presence for your custom apparel business is vital to the long-term success of your business. Potential customers can do their own research to verify that your business will meet their needs and learn what other customers have to say – all this helps build your credibility.
Keep it simple to start and create your Google My Business, Bing Places, and Facebook Business page, and then grow from there.
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