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Adjusting Your Business Model for DTG

(April/May 2017) posted on Tue May 30, 2017

Overcoming the challenges of direct-to-garment printing.

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By Aaron Montgomery

Digital printing should be a familiar concept for garment decorators. The jury is still out on whether direct-to-garment (DTG) and other digital methods will one day replace screen printing, but what’s certain is that DTG offers certain benefits that aren’t achievable or practical in the analog world.

As a screen printer, you’ll have lots of jobs come to you that just don’t make sense to even quote without a digital technology. As Terry Combs, an experienced friend of mine, often says, “You cannot charge enough money for a six-color print where the customer wants less than 12 shirts.” DTG can be perfect for screen printers who have to do a lot of proofing for their clients. DTG is also perfect for printers with storefronts so they can offer on-demand prints or even personalization of a preprinted line of shirts.

Whether you’re adding DTG to complement your analog production or you’re going fully digital, it’s important to approach some aspects of your business differently. I’ll outline some of those possible challenges here. 

Unique Marketing Strategies

DTG will give you new decorating abilities, so it’s important to start fresh with your marketing strategies to get the most out of your new technology. Let’s start with two ways you may have marketed yourself as a screen printer that will not work, and what you can do instead as a digital decorator. 

The first thing to stop doing is publishing a price list. It’s time to throw out that nice little grid showing the number of colors across the top and number of shirts down the left. Also eliminate your excessive list of additional charges – artwork charges, screen charges, color charges, screen recall charges, and so on. You should give your customer a turnkey package focused on fulfilling their needs, with no additional fees. Give them a price for a unique, personalized experience, like attending Disney World as a family in neon pink shirts with each person’s name on them. How about starting a program with a local BMW dealership that provides every new satisfied owner with a personalized shirt? To be a successful digital decorator, take yourself and all that goes into making the shirt out of the selling proposition, and put yourself in your customer’s shoes to imagine their needs.


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