Jim Nicol is a man bursting with ideas and not afraid to speak his mind.
"Many companies in the sign trade are poor when it comes to marketing. Some people in the business are hopeless at just picking up the phone and don't even know when they've lost a customer, because they simply haven't kept in touch. By using TheMagicTouch process users can send regular free personalised items and then phone up. 'I'm the guy who sent you the t-shirt' always gets you through to the right person," he says. The big bonus is whatever you send with their logo or design on has not been binned or discarded!"
"All we ask with our sign customers is whenever they complete a sign job simply create something for the customer with their logo or website printed, the effect and high level of appreciation greatly outweighs the actual cost, it's called good PR."
"Everyone says they want to diversify but they are missing opportunities. If you've done signs for a pub that's in an area visited by tourists, send them a sample t-shirt saying 'I drank at the Rose & Crown, London' or whatever. Let them know what else you can do. The potential market is everywhere; you just have to be pro-active and not reactive."
TheMagicTouch (TMT) supply a host of image transfer solutions including that of toner based transfers, sublimation and a vast range of flex, flock and films for garment decoration used with traditional plotters. That, together with the relevant printers and press equipment enables them to tailor individual needs of sign companies.
The concept provides great opportunities to add value to prospective and existing clients by offering a wide range of custom made products and applications. Producing high quality samples for customer evaluation is easy and very cost effective. A good example would be a personalised T-shirt or ceramic mug that cost no more than £1.50 each to produce, so sending your top 100 customers something is very affordable and provokes you to pick up the phone and make that call.
Jim reckons says signmakers have no choice but to be proactive and look at new markets, not just to grow, but to survive.
"Signmakers have over the years been nibbling into other business sectors and should today be aware of others doing the same to their market. There's probably worse to come with the current recession but the real competition for signmakers is technology. Looking at the new Westfield Shopping Centres, it's all LED signage, not a poster in sight! If that is emulated throughout the UK then the loss of revenue will have a major impact across the sign market," says Jim.
However, the positive side of technology and in particular TheMagicTouch has meant that what used to cost thousands of pounds now costs hundreds so it is much more affordable to diversify. The secret of selling TMT products is reminding the client upon receipt of the sample is there is no artwork charge, no set-up costs, the minimum order is one, and the client can have what they want, when they want, it's really that simple.
"Start with your existing customers, see what's going on in their area," Jim suggests. "The personalisation market is really taking off, so get in there. If you did the signage for the local leisure centre and there's an event coming up such as free pool sessions, offer them personalised flip flops or some other relevant item that they can use to promote the event. TMT prints on almost any material, the possibilities are almost endless.
"Another market that's just growing and growing is work-wear. We suggest you focus on one specific area such as hi viz vests for local courier and transport companies, or button down collar shirts for the general B2B market, the potential, is endless."
TMT runs training days at its base in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, every Thursday for clients. As well as hands on practice and technical matters they also cover many sales and marketing support with CRM and database targeting and management. The customer zone on the TMT website also has plenty of additional marketing tips, user experiences, and more useful information.
Net Magic, introduced early this year, is just another way TMT is helping signmakers pull in more business. Signmakers put their own banner head and bottom on a website template, select which of a long list of products they want to offer their customers who can then can design their own t-shirt or other item, using images and clip art provided on the site, and even share their design with friends via social networking sites. The signmaker just prints and heat presses the sized print ready files that drops into their server. Making the solution easy and professional.
For more ideas and further information go to www.themagictouch.co.uk or telephone 01582 671444.