On the weekend I was sitting down thinking about the mistakes I’ve made along the way of starting a business and a t-shirt label. There are so many articles out there on the internet, including on this site, about the things you can do to gear yourself towards success, but I wanted to put together a list of the mistakes I have seen other people make, and have made myself.
After all the research, it’s pretty tempting to jump straight into your label. But before you spend a single penny you need a solid plan. Having a plan for your business helps you identify problems before they arise and gives your budget, advertising and marketing direction.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it – branding is everything in this business. One of the fastest ways to fail in this game is to have inconsistent branding. The easiest way to streamline your branding is to pick an overall theme for your brand and stick by it. Using the same fonts, colours, references and logo are easy ways to keep things together. Remember that you’re not just selling a t-shirt to a customer, but you’re selling a lifestyle – so branding is vital.
NOT FOCUSING ON YOUR TARKET MARKET
Even the best branding and marketing efforts will go nowhere unless they’re directed towards a specific target market. It’s a huge mistake to not pitch your efforts directly to a market that you’re designing your t-shirts for – because you can have a great t-shirt, but unless you show them to the right people, no one is going to buy them.
A DODGY WEBSITE
You have approximately 3 seconds to impress your potential customers when they hit your website – so first impressions are really important. Unprofessional looking websites that are hard to navigate, lack overall branding and have too many colours and fonts are websites that need to be deleted. If you want to make your brand look legit, then having a sleek and professional website is an absolute must.
You don’t have to spend money on hiring a professional, but you do need to research and apply basic SEO to your website. Lots of people ignore SEO because they don’t understand it – but not using the basics is a quick way to seriously limit yourself.
A S**T PRODUCT
It sounds simple, but there are plenty of brands out there who wonder why they’re not successful when they are using heat transfers on dodgy no-brand blanks. Having a quality product is a sure way to become successful and that’s why I say it’s always best to save up your money and get the best quality you can – for example, a tee that’s made with an american apparel blank and screen printed using discharge inks is always going to trump the competition.
CRAPPY CUSTOMER SERVICE
It actually doesn’t matter how great your product is, no one is going to want to buy it from you if you treat them badly. Retaining customers is even more important that gaining new ones – so remember, no matter how stressed you are and no matter how much you have on your plate, always treat your customers well. After all, without them you have no business at all.
NOT HAVING A BLOG
Being a real person and showing a behind-the-scenes aspect of your brand is a great way to support your branding and turn customers into loyal fans. When I check out a t-shirt brands website, I first read their about section, then look at their products and then head straight to their blog. Even if I’m not completely sold on their t-shirts, I can really be swayed by a solid blog.
COPYING OTHER BRANDS
There’s nothing wrong with seeking inspiration from other brands. In fact, I think studying the success of other labels is an important part of your research. But there are so many brands out there at the moment and you really have to stand out. By all means seek inspiration from the ones that are doing it right – but be sure to do your own thing.
I’d love to hear any other things you guys have struggled with or seen other people struggle with, so feel free to leave a comment below.
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