After several years of not using the Color By The Sun website for anything, I decided to turn it into a marketing blog. I’m first going to joggle my memory and try to remember all the different marketing strategies that I tried… And figure out which ones I thought worked really well and those that, well, failed. One of my friends in the carpet cleaning business encouraged me to actually do “something” with the website… so I did. I think this exercise will help other small business owners out there who are just getting started as well as those that need some extra fuel to get over the marketing hump with their businesses.
Color By The Sun was a business that I started over a decade ago. It was something I literally came up with while sitting on our front porch in the sun, wearing a shirt that I had purchased while on a cruise in the Caribbean. The shirt I bought was printed with some ink that changed color when exposed to sunlight. I wondered, while sitting there on the porch, was anyone printing these shirts for businesses. Was anyone doing custom printing with this type of ink? After doing a lot of research online and digging around, my conclusion was that no one was printing custom color changing shirts.
So it was either a very cleaver concept, or others had already tried doing this and realized that there simply wasn’t a market for custom color changing t-shirts. So, at the time, I researched the search volume on Google Adwords. It looked like there was a decent amount of search, not a ton, but enough to try the business out and see what would happen. Looking back on the idea 12 years after, it’s easy to draw a different conclusion than I did back then. But if you don’t stick your neck out there and try different ideas, you’ll simply never know if they are going to take off or not.
Marketing – dropping lines in the water
Marketing is all about dropping multiple lines in the water… so to speak. You have to drop lots of lines with different “bait” to see if you can get a bite. It’s often easier said than done with small businesses. As a small business owner, you’re trying to watch your cash flow, too many lines can really be a burden and if you’re not careful, can sink your business. I learned this putting different lines in the water. But I did get some bites… Turned out that there were many different t-shirt shops in tourist destinations that wanted to get their hands on some custom color changing t-shirts to sell to the tourists. But looking back, this was a seasonal type of business that was dependent on tourists… go figure. It wouldn’t be bread and butter type of work, but it would be decent money for those seasons, if I could solidify those deals.
Seasonal Marketing – how it can cost you
So the first big lesson I learned from the custom color changing t-shirt business was cash flow. The season marketing clients that took some of my bait were some nice jobs. Problem was, like I mentioned before, it was only seasonal. So while the work was good for some Spring and Summer gigs, I had to figure out where I could market and put some lines in the water for other seasons and also locate some other parts of the world that ran with different seasons than the US. Lesson learned…
Corporate Marketing – how to get some “big dog” clients
For a small seasonal business, you have to have some bread and butter clients you can go back to. So I went looking in the corporate arena. These types of clients can make some large purchases, but again, like the seasonal gigs, corporate clients, I found, were only going to make 1 or 2 purchases and then the newness of the color changing t-shirts was going to “wear off.” It was a novelty item… I’ll talk about some other ideas I came up with in the next blog post…