When you’re running a business, one of the key elements that always needs to be focused on is marketing. There are numerous avenues you can go down in this area, such as online banner ads, social media posts, blogging, and print advertisements.
However, for many organizations, one thing that works really well is designing products that can be sold or given away to promote the venture. If you’re thinking of coming up with some merchandise designs for your business, read on for some tips you can follow to ensure your money is well spent.
Start Small and Test the Waters
First up, it’s always a good idea to start small and test the waters with your merchandise before you invest a huge amount of cash into particular products. Begin with a limited run of an item to keep the expenses manageable and to see if there is the demand you had hoped as well as the branding results. This is particularly true if your business is only in the beginning stages itself, where cashflow is tight.
It helps if you use local vendors when you’re first creating merchandise, or buy through places that allow you to create on demand. This way, you can buy in small increments, keep track of your cash flow, and build up your array of products or inventory level as your fan base grows.
Think of Merchandise as Advertising Rather than a Revenue Stream
When you’re ready to invest in merchandise, it’s worthwhile thinking of your branded products as advertising, rather than as a separate revenue stream. While it is certainly possible to end up making money from your merchandise, this isn’t guaranteed and you should never expect the products to make up a large part of your organization’s profits.
Doing so will just put too much stress on the exercise and likely to see you give up on a strategy that may very well be worth its weight in gold when it comes to the lead generation and repeat business that it generates. Remember, too, that while you probably won’t have particularly high margins on the merchandise if you create high-quality products, the potential for viral advertising can make up for this.
Always Opt for Quality Products
This leads into the next point — the need for quality merchandising products. It is important to note that spending money on cheap and nasty branded items can be a huge waste of resources, because people are not likely to use, particularly in public, items that don’t look good or work well. This means you immediately lose the potential for your merchandise to be used to generate interest.
What’s more, choosing not to opt for quality products can actually backfire on you, too. For instance, if people are really put off by the fact that your T-shirts are weird sizes, scratchy, in ugly colors, packed with too many logos, or fall apart after one wash, they will likely associate your brand and your company’s actual products with this inferiority as well.
Find Ways to be Creative
Lastly, it is always beneficial if you can find ways to be creative with merchandise. Consumers are always much more interested in products which do something fun or cool, or which look interesting. So, consider shying away from typical key chains, bottle openers, mugs, shopping totes, tees and the like, or at least coming up with versions of these more common items that have a noticeable point of difference, a high perceived value, and a strong usability factor.
There are numerous ways to be creative, and a lot of this comes down to your brand personality and the types of customers you have (or want). You must ensure your merchandise is aligned with your brand. For example, you might find a way to incorporate insider jokes that your clients will specifically get, as a way of making people feel they are part of the “cool club”; or you may design merchandise that works in a clever way or that solves a problem you know your customers have.
Merchandise Design Tips : Think Outside the Box
Try to think outside the box when it comes to the materials you use, too. This can be a great way to be more creative. For example, with the advances in technology we have seen over recent years, there are now different types of machines available which can make really cool products for an affordable price. You might want to take advantage of the growth in 3-D printing, for instance, or check out a top laser engraving machine.
The 1-Touch Laser Photo product is a good example. It converts digital photographs (in formats such as JPEG, TIFF, and PNG) into bitmap files that can be used to mark or engrave your chosen images into a wide variety of materials. The 1-Touch can be used to place your company pics onto materials including leather, granite, hard woods, stone, metals, and more.
This type of tech allows businesses to brand their logos and photos onto all sorts of unlikely surfaces, and to come up with innovative merchandise as a result. Add your brand to something customers might hang onto and find potentially useful or novel; it’ll help them remember you when the time comes they need a product or service like yours.