Planning your marketing budget for you custom apparel business can be difficult. But it’s super important to do so, especially for small businesses. In this post we want to help you figure out how you can use $1,000 to create successful marketing.

For some people, setting aside $1,000 for marketing may take a few months. But if you’re not already setting aside a few hundred dollars every month, make sure you do so, so when you have that $1,000 you can start do do some of the things we’re going to talk about.

If you already have a marketing budget you’re spending each month for your embroidery business, perhaps you want to set aside a little extra each month, so that you can do a little extra once you reach $1,000.

Whether you have the $1,000 budget already or not, keep reading so that you can think about and plan out your marketing so you can take action right away.

Marketing Ideas

Trade Shows

Chances are most of your business comes from your local area (within 20 miles). This means that face-to-face, personal connections are important for building your customer network. This is why, one of the first things you should think about doing is looking at what events are happening in your area. Perhaps there’s a trade show going on or some other event that you can set up a table at for under $1,000.

In calculating your budget for the trade show consider the cost of the table, brochures, business cards, samples, gas to get there, your wage, and anything else you use for your display.

One of the most important things that you’ll want to look at with any of the suggestions we’re offering is the ability to measure profitability. Trade show success can easily be measured. You’re collecting names and contact information for orders and potential orders. In doing so you have an estimate on how much you’ll make in orders, versus how much it cost you to be at that trade show. Based on that information you can determine whether it’s worth it to be at these trade shows, multiple times throughout the year.

When considering attending trade shows, make sure you target ones where everyone attending the show would be a potential customer. For example if your niche is in embroidering polo and jackets for boating, you attend a boating trade show. If you don’t have a niche yet, trade shows are an excellent opportunity to establish yourself in one. It should be something you already have a particular interest in, whether it’s embroidering dog collars, martial arts, etc.

Also to take into consideration is the number of people who attend these trade shows, and compare it with the cost of the table. If few people attend the trade show the cost of the table might be lower, so you’ll be spending less, but you also have fewer potential customers. Whereas the cost of a table might be quite high, but there are 10,000 people who attend the two day trade show, so you have a lot more potential customers.

Active Word of Mouth

We’ve recommended before that you create active word of mouth on a regular basis. So how would this one be any different? Considering targeting a few businesses in particular. Make sure you have your business cards and brochures/flyers, but then also take some time to create samples. And these samples could be specific for that potential customer, if they’re a larger businesses – perhaps an embroidered patch of their company logo. Or something for their general niche – an embroidered apron with something to represent hair dressing.

These samples are meant to make that person say “wow”, and be excited about the potential to work with you.

Before you start ordering your business cards and any other promotional information, take some time to shop around. Printing can add up over the course of the year without you realizing it. Perhaps find a local, independent shop to do your printing. Working with local businesses can have a positive impact of your business as well.

One other thing to do before printing brochures or flyers is to look for templates online to help you properly design your ad (Microsoft Word is not going to cut it).

A great idea to add to the back of the business cards is some kind of promotion. Perhaps you offer $25 off any order $200 or more. Or a free gift with purchase. This gives people an incentive to keep the card.

When you visit these businesses, leave a few business cards with them. Perhaps they have contacts they can give your card to.

To calculate your return on investment for word of mouth customers, you’re going to want to do two things. First you should always keep a record of what businesses you reached out to and who you spoke with. If you can remember them when they call to make an order it’ll leave a positive impression. Second, is if you’re not familiar with the company or person’s name, ask customers how they heard about you. You’re going to want to be able to quantify the profit you gained from your word of mouth efforts to know whether it’s worth doing again.

Local Ads

Forget about large newspapers and publications. They’re not going to be worthwhile for your marketing. They cost a lot and chances are that many readers are not your target market. Plus, you’re competing with all the other ads.

Local advertising, though distributed to a smaller group of people, won’t have as many ads to clutter the space, and readers are more likely to be in your target market because they are living or working in your area.

Your ads can be very targeted as well. Let’s say there is a boating or sailing association that sends out a monthly newsletter. If that’s your niche market, get your ad in their newsletter.

Another idea would be if you belong to any local school, church group, or hobby or sports clubs. Often these groups are simply looking to cover the cost of their newsletter and so advertising can be inexpensive. Plus, if you’re a part of the group, members are more likely to support other members.

To track the success of this type of advertising, you can again ask your customers how they heard about you, or use a specific offer or discount code in the add they need to quote when the make their order (keep this specific to each newsletter if you’re running in multiple newsletters).

Online Ads

We’ve got a whole blog post dedicated to talking about online marketing and advertising, so we won’t get into to much detail here. But if you’re already running a small marketing campaign on Facebook or Google, this $1,000 marketing budget can be a great way to do some additional testing. Try something new – new images, wording, targeting a different demographic.

You can spend the first $400 or your budget on these new test ads, and then use the last $600 to continue promoting the ads that had the most success. Facebook and Google ads have built in analytics so it’s fairly easy to tell if your ads are successful or not.


Going a little deeper into the idea on making samples specific to businesses, for larger businesses this could be part of your marketing plan. Especially if the business you are going after is a school, university, or large company, such as a local hospital or factory. Create a sample product for them, that shows off what you can do, and perhaps is something they’ve never seen or considered before.

Make one sample and find out who you would need to send that sample to in the company. If you have a $1,000 budget and your samples cost $25-30 to make that’s 30-40 businesses you’ve reached out to. And the return of landing even one of those clients should be overt $1,000 for the year (don’t forget the long term value of these customers).

Open House

This can be a fun marketing investment if you have a store front location or shop. Host a grand opening, or perhaps you’re celebrating your first anniversary. Invite existing customers and local businesses to come by and check out your shop. Local businesses are important to invite, because they have customers of their own that they could potentially refer to you.

People will be interested in seeing how your machines run, so make sure you have orders to fill, or are making some sample products so people who stop by can see your machines in action.

A open house is a great way to connect with existing customers – building and improving your relationship with them, but also to network with local businesses and potential customers.

You can also create special samples for this event to give out with your business cards for people who come by. It may also be worth it to have some custom designed embroidered shirts, caps, etc. that people can buy while they’re there. They’re not going to be your big money makers, but it can help spread the word about your business, and keep your business in mind for the person who did purchase the item.

Of course also provide a few snacks and refreshments for guests to nibble on while they mingle.

This $1,000 marketing budget for your embroidery business isn’t something that you do once. Aim to do it 4 times a year (once per quarter) or more if your budget allows. You may find that trade shows are successful for you but only particular ones, so perhaps you take two of those quarters to do trade shows. Then one other is an open house, and the last one is local ads. Find a mix that works for you, but don’t be afraid to try a few new things when your budget allows for it.