“Niche or be niched.” –Unknown
Maybe you’ve heard that quote before, maybe not, but it’s truer in screen printing than in anything else. Screen printing is a very competitive business. If you think you just can go buy a bunch of equipment, hang a sign on your door that says “open for screen printing” (or build a website), and have a line of customers out the door needing shirts printed, you’re dead wrong.
Anyone, anywhere can find a printer. There are plenty of options. So, before you start screen printing, you have to really understand how you are different than the other competitors in your market. Why would someone choose you to purchase their next shirt from?
Feel discouraged? Don’t, there’s hope! While screen printing IS competitive, it ISN’T saturated! The difference can be found in being unique.
Colin Shane from Lone Mountain Printing is a rockstar example of this. Colin built his business up from a one-man show to owning his own ROQ automatic screen printing machine and pumping out hundreds of incredible prints a day. His secret?
“My business provides superior soft-hand prints on high quality apparel, in a competitive market dominated by plastic prints that could ‘stop a bullet.’”
Niche it! His niche is quality, and he excels at it. Some screen printers find their niche in printing only water based ink, some focus on halftone printing and photo realism, while some have found their connection in printing on only athletic apparel and polyester garments. Whatever you choose – the key is commitment. Once you commit to a niche, make sure that you are indeed excelling in it and that you can offer the best service for that kind of printing.
Here’s how to find your own niche:
If your customers are already getting their screen printing needs satisfied by someone else, ask them what’s working and what’s not. Ask them what it is they want most out of a printer, and what they might not be getting currently. Most importantly, ask them – if they could get it from you, would they? Once you start to decipher patterns you may see that there is a common need that your customers are not getting. That’s your niche! Find the gap, and fill it.
This process of questioning also helps to build your customer’s trust, and possibly open up new opportunities once you do decide to start offering screen printing. People do business with people they like and know. If you are that person and you have enough customers willing to go to you for their screen printing needs – go get ‘em tiger!
Don’t be afraid to make the leap. In the end, it’s honestly not what you know, it’s who you know and who knows you! Some printers find success by building a niche built around who they know, instead of what they know.
A word of advice: Be passionate about your niche. Don’t try to specialize in something you can’t stand. You probably won’t be successful at it and even if you are, you’ll hate life. Who wants that? The great thing about finding your niche is that while it forms the cornerstone of your business, it doesn’t mean that you are stuck there. As you get your name out there, you’ll get asked to do work for all different markets and niches.
Always be open to the opportunity of finding something new, but always remember that if you’re not different in some way or another, you’ll likely be forgotten.