What Is the Value of Art Work in the Custom Apparel Industry and Should I Charge for It?

How valuable of a resource is custom artwork in the printing industry and are you being compensated for your time? With the advent of online printing companies, and the cascading decline to the smaller markets, more companies are cutting costs and consumer responsibilities when it comes to art and design. The message being sent to the consumer is two fold. Fiscally, customers are expecting to not have to pay for premium custom design services. Secondly, we as an industry are losing the ability to capitalize on quality design as an asset to increase profit and marketability.

In a price driven market, the custom screen printing industry has become its own worst enemy. In any business, you are only as profitable as you price your self to be. Of course there are mitigating circumstances such as: operating cost (overhead, labor, materials, etc) and elasticity of the market. However, in an effort to obtain and maintain business, we have hurt our own bottom line. Margins are down and it’s not an unwillingness on the part of the consumer to pay. It’s the institution’s willingness to drop its collective pants to take business from one another. In stead of setting a firm price across the board (or at least a consistent and respectful range), many companies are satisfied with a minimum profit (often less than 3%). As a result, we have neglected to charge for services that where traditionally expected of the consumer to be charged. In order to show a more pristine price, we have essentially eliminated design and art as a line item and grouped it in with the assumed labor.

Unfortunately by striking it from the bill, we have lost our leverage as companies to utilize art and design as ” a deal” in anyway. For instance, I had a customer not to long ago who hounded a sales man over pennies within a rather large job. When the sales man in question attempted to show the customer that he was actually not being charged for a number of consultation hours (2-3 man hours in the design process and changes), the customer just assumed that was arbitrary and wasn’t really worth all of that much. Under that same idea, if as a salesman I come into a job say $1 more per shirt then my competitor. Traditionally, that customer is going to come back to me and leverage the difference in order to get me to either drop my price lower or equal to my competitor. Now let’s say that the customer wants to create a multitude of custom touches to the garment in question (maybe a custom font.) If the customer is willing to pay for the advanced specialty of my company vs my competitor’s, I should be able to leverage that artwork consultation and the inevitable edits into justifying my slightly higher costs. This is not the case.

Design is not a commodity that should be lumped in with production. At the very least it should be considered by the consumer as an added cost and a bonus if a company is willing to forgo the additional cost of custom artwork. As an industry, we should be pushing to enable ourselves to make fare and obtainable margins no matter what the size of your company.

Custom Apparel Equals Thousands of Walking Billboards

Custom apparel or screen printed apparel is a very effective and cheap means of advertising or showcasing a business, product or ideal. In fact, it is one of the most popular and desirable promotional products available.

Although one of the most commonly customized articles of clothing is the good old t-shirt, your custom promotional apparel options are certainly not limited to it. Many companies offer custom screen printing, embroidery and monogramming of baseball caps, shorts, polos, robes, jackets and more.

For years, custom apparel has been a very popular and sought after giveaway product for any and every business. The companies that are really good at creating product awareness even have people paying to advertise their product or company for them.

If you’re selecting custom apparel for a promotional giveaway product at a trade show or other event, here are a few things you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing strategy:

1) Know who you are marketing to. Do whatever market research is necessary, because this is the most important ingredient to a successful marketing campaign of any type.

2) Choose the perfect custom clothing item to fit your market, brand and trade show or other event.

3) Develop a means to deliver your message or sales pitch to your target audience or collect market data during the distribution of your promotional products.

4) Remember to follow-up on the leads that you get. If you don’t, you might as well be donating these tshirts or sweatshirts to charity.

Here are a couple of suggestions for buying customized clothing for the newbie:

1) If you’re looking to utilize customized clothing to uniform your employees, be sure to choose comfortable, quality products which fit your business image and level of professionalism.

2) Consider buying in bulk to save money. Many custom clothing and screen printing companies will charge a set up fee but offer considerable discounts for bulk orders. The savings for ordering in bulk can be quite substantial.

3) If you’re looking to be as cost effective as possible, be flexible about the style and color of the apparel you’re having customized. You may be able to save quite a bit of money by going with a simple white tshirt rather than a colored one. You might also consider a poly/cotton blend tshirt if cost is a big issue. Using a 50/50 cotton blend tshirt vs a 100% cotton product will dramatically reduce the price per unit.

4) Remember that large size apparel usually costs more. If your market is solely made of of individuals who wear a size XL there may not be much you can do, but if your market can be reached with children’s sizes this might save you some cash.

5) If you’re designing your own custom t shirts or the like, keep in mind that generally, the more colors you use and the more places on the garment that you choose to embroider, screen print, or otherwise customize, the more it adds to your bottom line.

6) Before committing to a design of your own custom apparel or custom shirts, seek the advice of a professional company which specializes in customizing and screen printing clothing and other promotional items. They can help you with every step, to be sure that the final product, be it an employee uniform or a promotional t-shirt, will be a professional looking design of quality craftsmanship.

Trade Show Apparel For Employees – Make Your Company’s First Impression Count

Making a good first impression is certainly very important in almost all aspects of business. But no place is it more obvious than at a trade show where all the industry competitors are squared off face to face. How your organization presents itself to the market is immediately taken in and evaluated by the buyers and an opinion of how your company looks versus the competition is determined rather quickly. I am not talking about your company’s products or services but rather what kind of an image your company puts forth to your industry. Buyers like to buy from company’s who really seem to be well organized, professional, and efficient. Custom embroidered or imprinted apparel worn by your employees goes a long way to project this kind of image at a trade show. Just as importantly, employees wearing customized apparel has an important functional application as well in that it makes it easy for customers and prospects who approach the booth to quickly identify someone who can help them get the information that they want quickly. Having your company’s employees at a trade show wearing the same customized apparel also projects a team approach, professional appearance, and a company sense of pride about their products and services to the marketplace for all to see.

Depending on your company’s image and the industry, there are many options in customized apparel that you can choose to outfit your employees. There are a few things, however, that should be taken into consideration regardless of what type of apparel you decide is best for your company. First you should be mindful of the fact that often employees are coming from different parts of the country to work at the show. This means that easy care is the order of the day. Wrinkle free clothes would probably be a good choice. For that business casual look a nice oxford button down shirt embroidered with your company’s logo on the left breast is a classic that surely would work well for many companies. For slacks make sure that they are a comfortable style as many of your employees will be asked to help with setting up and breaking down the booth after the show as well as moving around the booth during show hours. Moreover, make sure when ordering the slacks in particular for your female employees that they are women’s styles not just scaled down men’s sizes. That unisex look just doesn’t cut it. Keep in mind that this is just one kind of traditional type styling of apparel for employees working trade shows. As I indicated the apparel you choose will be guided by your company’s image and industry.

For example your company might want to project a theme based on the company’s latest advertising campaign or emphasize certain products or services that you want to feature. This can get very creative and be a lot of fun and really generate a buzz at the show for your company. There are many apparel accessories that you can outfit your employees to achieve many effects such as: neckties, scarf’s , caps, hats, sweaters and even aprons for those in the food industry that would work nicely all of which can be customized with your company’s logo. But no matter what customized apparel you choose for your employees to wear at a show make sure that they all are wearing one thing that is a must for any company showing at a trade show: a lanyard with an identification badge attached. One final thought in outfitting your employees for your next trade show: make sure that you get an experienced promotional product professional supplier to help achieve the image you want your company’s employees to project and make that first impression count.