You’ve done the work to open your print on demand business, and now it’s time to bring in the customers. While it’s possible to get some sales through friends, family, and word of mouth, if you want to reach customers outside your community, you’ll need to do some marketing. Fortunately, there are several marketing strategies you can begin today to start engaging potential customers right away.

1. Know Your Target Audience

When you set up your print on demand shop, you probably focused on defining your target audience, and maybe even specific niches within the audience. While it goes against conventional thinking, narrowing your audience will actually give you a better chance at reaching them. The same can be said about marketing.

As you consider how to market your POD business, think about how your audience, and the niches within it, typically receive advertising and media. You’re likely to find both similarities and differences between these segments. For instance, if your business appeals to golfers, you’ll need different strategies to reach retirees looking for hats and golf balls and millennials interested in insulated tumblers. Keep these distinctions in your mind as you explore the following marketing strategies.

2. Engage on Social Media

Your target audiences are probably on some form of social media, but which platform each niche gravitates toward could be different. Do you hope to sell to women in their 20s? Then consider focusing your presence on Instagram or TikTok. Narrowing in on Boomers? Facebook may be a better use of your time and resources.

Avoid using your personal accounts for marketing purposes. Instead, create a business account for each social media platform using your business name. If it’s not available, find something similar. Consider using underscores or periods rather than numbers so your pages are easier to find.

When it comes to content, you have plenty of options. Share new or upcoming products, promote sales, and incorporate customer reviews. Be sure to engage with followers through comments and direct messaging as well. To start, try to post to your platforms a few times a week and monitor engagement and views. After a few months, you can use that data to solidify a strategy moving forward.

3. Utilize Email Marketing

For those that don’t engage much on social media or who may not be seeing your posts, email marketing is a great way to bring deals, promotions, and new items straight to their inboxes. Readers will also be able to gain access to your entire store through a single click.

In order to build your email list, consider adding a pop up to your online store. The request for a customer’s email is usually accompanied by an offer, like 10% off their purchase. On the checkout page, you may also be able to add a box to click, giving you permission to send them email communications.  Email marketing can be useful, but it can also be overused. Daily emails, for instance, could be pushed to spam folders, and those customers that like clean inboxes might decide to unsubscribe. Stick to one or two emails a week, as new items arrive or promotions begin.

4. Implement SEO Strategies

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, uses strategies to move your website to a higher position on the Google results page. To do this, keywords are essential. These are words that customers would likely use to search for the products you offer. To determine which keywords would be best to focus on, check out a competitor’s site or use a service like Google Keyword Planner.

Once you’ve landed on relevant keywords, begin to integrate them into your online shop’s copy including your bio and product descriptions. Keep the phrasing natural, and avoid stuffing keywords in an intentional way. Doing so may actually lower your Google ranking. Relevant keywords can fluctuate with trends and product changes, so be sure to update them as needed. 

5. Use Business Reviews to your Advantage

Customers may be leery of shopping on a new site with an unknown reputation. Fortunately, when you partner with a POD provider, you and your customers can expect high quality products and stellar customer service, which could hopefully lead to some positive reviews early on.

How can you use these positive reviews to bring in even more customers? It’s easy—share them. First, be sure to share them on your site. Then, incorporate your customer testimonials into your existing social media and email marketing strategies. If possible, share a wide range of reviews, from those praising the product to comments about fast shipping, to build your reputation.

6. Invest in Paid Advertising

While it makes sense to start with low-cost options like social media, you’ll eventually need to invest in your business in order to grow it. That’s where paid advertising comes in. There are several avenues to advertise online, so you can find the right one for your budget.

Have you ever looked at an item online and then seen it in advertising for the next several days? That’s known as retargeting, and it can be quite effective for retail advertising. Pay-per-click ads, or PPC, are one way to control ad costs, and CPM ads will charge you for every 1,000 impressions. You can also use your existing social media platforms for paid ads and boosts. Keep track of views and engagement on all forms of paid advertising, and make changes as needed.

7. Utilize Offline Marketing Strategies

Your print on demand shop may be online, but you can take your marketing offline as well. Sometimes the best way to sell something is to model it while you’re out in the community. When people ask where you got your unique hat or cozy hoodie, you can direct them to your website.

With POD, you don’t need to keep inventory on hand, but sometimes it’s good to have a variety of pieces available. You can set up shop at a local pop-up vendor event to spread the word. You can also pair your marketing with philanthropy! While you’ll take a loss on the products, donating a gift basket to a local nonprofit’s auction or sending a care package to local teachers or nurses is another way to get your name out into the community.

Marketing Your Print on Demand Business

While your POD partner manages inventory, printing, and shipping, you have time to focus on marketing your business. First, understand the different audiences your products appeal to. From there, you can meet your audience on social media, and as your email list grows, you can begin to send marketing straight to your customers’ inboxes. Be sure to include relevant keywords in your copy, and use positive reviews to your advantage. Once sales begin to roll in, consider investing in paid advertising as well. With a successful marketing strategy, you can maintain and grow your business well into the future.