How to get the t-shirts you really want

Illustration ©2019 D.J. BillingsSo your company tasked you with finding a t-shirt printer for your event? Awesome.

It can be a fun project. It’s also hard work to collect quotes and gather info. But after several phone calls, emails and online research, you finally found a printer that checks every box for you. Yay! They’re super helpful, great quality, eco-friendly and their pricing is reasonable. They are exactly what you want. So you take the quote to your people, feeling accomplished.

And they balk. They second-guess you.

Unfortunately, when you’re working in a committee, there’s always one guy (or gal, or person) who says:

“I can get our t-shirts for next to nothing.”

“I have a friend of a friend who will donate the tees.”

“My cousin makes t-shirts in her spare time. She’ll do it really cheap.”

Suddenly, your feeling of accomplishment turns into feeling like you just wasted your time. It’s a withering feeling. Now you’re just tired and want to move on as quickly as possible.

Don’t beat yourself up. We all know that committees generally suck big time. Everyone gets to throw in their two cents, but typically the loudest voice wins. If you’re not a strong personality, your voice might not carry much weight. Or if you do try being more assertive, you might come off bitchy and argumentative. That sucks, too. You know what’s best for the event, you did your homework. They’re just not seeing what you see.

But you can win the vote. You can get what you want and you don’t have to have a loud mouth.

It’s time for strategy. Here are some tips to help you win the day.

Why are you getting t-shirts, anyway?

Before arguing about pricing, bring the discussion back around to the purpose of the whole endeavor. What are you trying to accomplish by getting t-shirts printed? Let’s say you’re organizing a 5K run/walk for charity. Are the shirts for the runners to wear during the run, or as part of a swag bag at the end? Runners are very particular about what they wear while running, so that needs a lot of consideration. A heavy, thick tee isn’t going to cut it, especially during a summer run. But what if it’s just for the swag bag, to be worn later? Let’s break that down.

First ask, why a t-shirt? Is it just a “thing” that other events do, so you’re following suit? Or is it part of a bigger marketing strategy to get the word out about your charity? If you’re expecting that your runners or donors will wear the tees out in public so you get exponential, free marketing (great strategy), do you think that will happen with any old cheap tee?

Think about those thick, scratchy tees you hide in your drawer until it’s time to clean the toilet or dust the furniture. That’s where your tees could end up, and you get zero marketing for your money. Now think of your softest, most favorite tee, your BFF of tees, the one that always makes its way to the top of your drawer. You wear that thing everywhere. That’s also where your tees could end up, being seen in public on a weekly basis.

Make them own their choice

Make the group choose which one they want. Hold a private vote. After they choose, make up an approval sheet that everyone in the group signs. Just put “Low Quality Giveaway Tee” on one side and “High Quality Marketing Tee” on the other. Leave out the pricing, it’s not the deciding factor. You’ve explained their options, so make everyone own their decision. See what happens, then you can move onto price.

Is the price really right?

So they say they can get it cheaper. Okay, fine. Are you comparing apples to apples? For those that say they can get cheaper (or donated) tees, make them do the work of getting a detailed quote. First, you all need to be able to compare style, fabric, and weight of the tees themselves. Then, see if the pricing includes everything. Are there any hidden screen or art charges they aren’t quoting right up front? It absolutely must be clear, or it’s not a true comparison.

What about shipping? If one printer is local and another is in a far away land, you have to factor in shipping costs (including customs, if applicable).

Lead the charge

Group dynamics are weird. Committees can be challenging to navigate. It can be crazy frustrating, but try not to let your emotions take over. Keep a cool head and present your knowledge. You may not be the strongest personality or the loudest voice in the room, but when you come armed with hard questions, solid strategy and real facts, you will have much a better shot at getting what you want.

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