Build Your Business:

Marketing Your Embroidery Business

By Connie R. Smith, Contributing Writer

September 29, 2017

When starting a new business or trying to expand an existing business, you need a good marketing plan. If you’re budget doesn’t have room for a big advertising campaign, it’s time to get creative and dig deep into your bag of tricks, and get ready for a surge in sales.

First, take a good look at what kind of business you have been doing. Is that where you want or “need” to stay? If sales have been down, it may be time to branch out and tackle something new. If that’s the case, you need to reach a different customer base.

Start by taking a look at nearby businesses. It can give you ideas of what direction you may want to take in looking for new clients. Are your competitors doing things you aren’t and can you fill a need that they haven’t? If everyone around you is doing corporate apparel, then maybe work wear or schools would be a good place to start. The service industry, which includes restaurants and hotels, needs an assortment of uniforms, from chef jackets to server shirts, blouses, pants, ties and smocks — the list goes on and on. For schools, you are looking at uniforms, sports attire and fan gear.

Send Samples
Now, how do you get the business? Unless you are really good at it, cold calling is a tough approach. But, sending a sample of your work can get you in the door. Research is the most important thing in the beginning. Websites can give you all kinds of useful information. For example, you can use the web to find a school’s athletic director, school colors and mascot. Next, find something that the school can use or sell like an embroidered jacket, sweatshirt or gym bag and send it to the attention of an individual who can open the door for all kinds of other sales. Add a note saying you would like to sit down with them and explore new ideas for their sports programs, and that the included garment is just one of many items you have to offer. Call them in a week or so and check to make sure they received the sample, whether they have any questions and what might be a good time to speak with them. Don’t ask: “Would you like to talk with me?” ; instead, ask: “When would be a good time to talk?” (I use the same technique when writing an order. I say, “Your total is $347.00. How would you like to pay for that?”)

Market via Mail
Consider other specialty categories: animal hospitals, landscaping, snow removal, car dealerships, doctors, florist, tourist attractions and golf courses.

Pick out three categories and create a template for a postcard-sized flyer advertising your business (Image 1).


Image 1

Print out different versions of the flyer with information to match each type of client you are sending the flyer to. For each category-specific flyer, list everything you have to offer, as shown below:

Men’s & Ladies’ Polos
Dress Shirts


Use a good-quality, heavy card stock and cut to size. Don’t crowd it with too much information, just enough to get a potential client’s attention. Send flyers out to at least five businesses from each category. Details are important, as this is the first impression you are making on the recipient. So, unless you have excellent handwriting, details like the address should be typed. A week or so after you send the flyers, call and ask the businesses if you can stop by with samples and pricing.

Throw a Party
One of the most successful marketing projects I have ever done is a home embroidery party. People host parties for cookware, jewelry and plastic containers, so why not embroidery. October is a good time to have your party because it will give you time to get any orders done for the holidays. It’s important to have samples. The ability to touch and hold something will make people more likely to place an order. If there are going to be people there with kids, then keep that in mind. Backpacks, jackets, gym bags, towels, blankets and knit caps are things that don’t cost a lot to order and can always be used for gifts later.

This a chance to make good use of your stock designs. Keep it simple. Too many choices can make people overthink, and then they may not buy anything.

Set up a 14” X 14” piece of white fabric and then stitch nine designs that have the same theme. If sport is your theme, stitch designs of baseball, basketball, football or any other sports that is popular in your area.

Kids, baby, monograms, occupations, grandparents, fire & rescue and religious designs also are good sellers for parties (Image 2).

Image 2

Keep in mind who will be attending and create designs that they might like. If you keep the stitch counts of each design similar, then you can price them all the same to keep things simple (i.e., all designs are an extra $15 and names are $7).

Show, Don’t Tell
Passing out catalogs can be a good or bad idea. If you don’t have your retail prices listed, and you don’t know right off what they would be, it can look like you don’t have your act together. It’s better to have 20 samples with prices attached. Then, if someone asks for something you don’t have, you can call them later with details.

You can make cards to attach to each sample with the item number, and available colors and sizes. Try ordering all the samples from the same vendor to cut down on shipping. Make a simple order form with all of the information you need. Be sure and have the customer sign off on it for spelling, design and colors. Get your money upfront and give them a receipt (Image 3).

Image 3

Making a sample of your fonts can help people determine what they really want (Image 4).

Image 4

We all have had that customer requesting a name like William Michael McDonald be embroidered in 2” lettering under a school logo. When you use a sample to show them what that would really look like, they may realize that ½” lettering is fine. You can print or stitch the lettering for your samples.

Don’t be fearful of going out of your comfort zone to show others what your business has to offer. Once you see how easy it really is, you will become an expert at marketing.

Connie R. Smith has been in the embroidery industry for more than 30 years and has been an industry speaker and consultant. She also is an award-winning digitizer. For more information or to comment on this article, email Connie at