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Giving away printwear is an easy way to go bust. So be selective and smart. A local charity is an obvious choice and you can limit the size of your gift to free draw prizes. You could also give the shirt and ask the charity to pay for the print/embroidery. ʻThis shirt donated by Smart Ink Incʼ would still apply.

Write a blog that talks about the industry, not just your business. Invite other people in the industry to contribute, as long as they follow the same rule. Ask good customers to contribute their experience.

Produce an online white paper on ʻhow and why to choose printwearʼ. I personally value these when I get them. It most definitely should not be a puff for your business, itʼs serious advice that most recipients will value. Then, when theyʼre ready to buy, you should be their first call. People value expert advice that they get free.

Where did that weird name come from? Answer; from a random opening of a dictionary. But the band decided they liked it because it was memorable. At the time it attracted fans because it conferred on them a recognised independence of thought, which went well with how the band operated in general. It made the likes of contemporaries such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys look dated. In the music world this principle has been copied ad infinitum.

Trick 3:

Names matter, both business and product names; if you want to stand out against the competition – itʼs a basic of building a brand, not just a business; follow the Grateful Deadʼs example and check other business and product names; then do the opposite. Aim for diversity. This was a key factor in

the Grateful Deadʼs longevity. Most bands have or had a full set of shared influences, enthusiasms and tastes. It makes sense – everybody is pulling in the same direction. But the Dead did it differently. They consciously sought out people with different backgrounds, skills and experience. When new members joined the band they changed it subtly, introducing new content to a show and hence refreshing the product and increasing revenue.

Trick 4:

Having everybody on the same page is a good idea, having everybody the same isnʼt; even in a small business, each person should have, or be ready to learn, additional skills; business owners should aim to exploit those different sets of skill, knowledge and expertise. The Dead were enthusiastic experimenters. They would try out new ideas on stage. Occasionally that produced a poor show, but it didnʼt stop them doing it. Nor did it put off the fans, because if they put up a poor performance they admitted it. I havenʼt read that they refunded any ticket prices, though.

Trick 5:

Be ready to try new ideas and offer them to customers, to move out of your comfort zone, itʼs where growth lies; you might need to be a more careful experimenter than the Grateful Dead, though.

Look for referrals. Could you have this put on a product label? The principle is ʻif you are asked where you got your shirt tell us and weʼll reward you if that person buysʼ. You might put a similar message in all invoices to business customers. ʻRewardʼ might well be free product, by the way.

Create loose branding. The Grateful Dead allowed use of their brand for most non-resale product. They played plenty of benefit gigs for free which carried the beneficiaries branding, not theirs. They treated their brand

seriously, but not too seriously. Thatʼs 21st century marketing thinking.

Think like Google. Google doodles, whereby their logo is changed to celebrate a national or international event, have apparently become collectibles. Could you convince a client(s) to follow that? It has great business potential for you and it would make their printwear an important player in the marketing mix. Youʼll need to be creative with ideas but implementation can be low-cost and it would prove your creativity.

For a group of California hippies, the Grateful Dead were distinctly tech-savvy. The Wall of Sound which they introduced in 1974 was an expensive development but it put them far ahead of other bandsʼ stage show. More than 20 years later in 2009 they introduced an iPhone app to increase their established accessibility. In between, they were also the first major band to have its own ticketing system and the first to use direct mail systematically. All of this has since been copied by others.

Trick 6:

Embrace the latest marketing technology; many businesses think they do, but when you look at the output, the evidence isnʼt there; make use of all your in-house skills knowledge and enthusiasm, e.g. to take full advantage of Facebook and Twitter give that staff member who is a social media enthusiast scheduled time to do it. Visit the TFM Show (Technology for Marketing). Finally, love what you do and let it show. Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Deadʼs lead guitarist and vocalist was famous for having a happy smile when he was playing on stage and not just because of marijuana. Copy that.

June 2015 | 23 |

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