When it comes to DIY cheap marketing, not many things can stand shoulder to shoulder with the humble old t-shirt. Startup marketing budgets are notoriously tight. That’s why savvy online business owners focus on finding ways of spreading the buzz about the company around without actually paying (much) for it – and you’ll be hard pressed to find a marketing channel with better ROI then the t-shirt.
T-shirts are great as gifts and freebies, but their main use should be as your (un)official company uniform. Think of yourself as a walking ad for your business – you probably cherish any opportunity to talk about it and you have your elevator pitch ready. All you need is a topic starter, and a t-shirt with your company logo can do that for you.
Of course, you should give them away as much as possible. Consider doing this with your entire first batch, minus an obligatory one or two for every employee. After decking out your staff, give them to your friends. You could post that you are giving t-shirts away for free on all social media and watch them fly off the shelf.
Always have some with you when going on trips, be they business or private, hand them out to people in the street, donate them to shelters, do whatever you can so that those t-shirts get out there in the wild and your company gets noticed. Sujan Patel says that t-shirts were the first and for a while the only means of marketing he used for his content marketing company, and that wearing them has led to many a conversation and ultimately to him landing several clients, which would never happen had he not worn his company t-shirt whenever and wherever possible.
As Sujan says: “When you wear your shirts everywhere, people start to get curious. And when they get curious, they go out of their way to learn more about you and your company. In some cases, this might turn into more business. But even if it doesn’t, people who are interested in your shirts might be willing to wear some of your extras around – leading to more business down the road.”
Considering that those t-shirts represent your company and that you will be wearing them, don’t skimp on their quality. People who receive them as gifts should be happy to wear them and be able to do so many times, which in turn may result in leads and new clients months or even years from now. Also, consider the design and if necessary, employ a professional designer to liven things up a bit and make your t-shirt really stand out and be something people would like to wear.
You can even use data to measure what you’re incentivising. That way you’ll have a really effective lowdown on your customer acquisition process. Twitter, for example, at one point found out that people really became hooked on the social network when they start following a certain number of people. So you could kick start your product’s community by identifying key influencers, then letting them hand out your personalised t-shirts to their followers. That way you’ll drive more traffic to your service or product.
Providing that you are following all these tips, you can expect to go through your initial batch fairly quickly. So, you should have funds allocated (it’s really not a lot, a 100 top-quality t-shirts can will set you back a couple hundred dollars) so that you can quickly react when supplies dwindle. Use every such opportunity to introduce a new design or at least a new color, but always keep your company logo as the centerpiece. After all, those t-shirts primarily serve as your promotional channel, and the fact that they are practical, comfortable and nice-looking is just and added bonus for the people wearing them.