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Entrepreneurship How marketing

T-shirt Marketing 101

T-shirts are one of the best ways to get your company’s name into the world. Probably the best.

I’m a t-shirt person, so I’m biased. If I were a billboard person, I might tell you to plaster your marketing message on Sunset Boulevard. But I’m a t-shirt expert, so I’ll stick to that.

Besides having a built-in motivation for evangelizing about t-shirts, I do have some solid reasons (and experience) to back it up. Pull up a chair and let Sparky lay it down for you.

Visibility

Billboards rank pretty high on the visibility scale. That’s wonderful, but one problem with billboards is that they are stationary. You have to pin your hopes on people going by them and looking up (instead of texting, like 34% of drivers).

A T-shirt is fantastic for marketing visibility because the person wearing it is a moving billboard. Your marketing message is seen at the mall, the grocery store, the gym, and a bar, potentially all on the same day – for the same money.

Plus, it’s much more comfortable to wear a t-shirt than steel scaffolding and lights. You’ll have to trust me on that.

Everybody Wears T-shirts

Quick, name someone you know who doesn’t wear t-shirts.

I know, I know. There’s always that one stubborn holdout who sniffs, “I never wear t-shirts.” Hmm. Right. Well, the toilet has to be cleaned sometime, yes? I’ve never personally cleaned a toilet in a Ralph Lauren button-down.

Whether or not t-shirt-eschewing humans exist, admit it: T-shirts are everywhere. According to a survey, about 81% of the US population will wear a t-shirt by the next presidential election. So it makes sense that you should put your marketing message on them.

More Bang for Your Buck

Do you know how much custom printed t-shirts cost? Most people don’t. That’s because prices can range widely. My advice is not to go cheap. Of course, you should squeeze the most value you can out of the deal. Just make sure you get the best quality you can afford. 

Scratchy, boxy tees are the cheapest around, but humans don’t like wearing them. If you wind up with a box of shirts nobody wants to wear, you just blew your marketing budget on a donation to the Salvation Army.

When you factor in your costs for your t-shirt marketing campaign, think about this: You pay for it once, but it keeps on sending your message for years.

Don’t Just Brand it. Make it Cool!

There are certain brands and logos that people will always wear on a t-shirt. Coca-Cola. Apple. Orange Crush. Vans. Those lucky brands, right?

Even a few local brands can get away with a logo-only tee, like that burrito truck that’s always slammed at lunchtime.

If you aren’t one of those brands (be honest with yourself), you can’t just stick your logo on a shirt and expect it to get the same mileage. As a marketing manager, you might get tipsy over the idea of wearing the Harvey’s Insurance logo on your chest. Harvey might. Maybe his mother. The rest of the world, not so much.

So you have to come up with an idea for your shirt that goes beyond plastering a logo on cotton. Make it interesting and fun, something other people would actually wear. That’s a tall order, I know.

Think about your customer base and what they might find funny or cool. Be careful with humor, though. Stay away from religious, sexist, racist, or political jokes. Even if you think your customer base will find it funny, tread carefully. Your company’s name will be on it, and you don’t always get to pick who wears it.

Which reminds me – yes, do put your company logo on the shirt. Just don’t make it the centerpiece unless you’re an established brand. Sorry, Harvey.

Because We’ve Been There

Over the years, we’ve made too many marketing mistakes to count. We learned the hard way. These days, in our custom t-shirt business, we see plenty of brilliant people about to make the same mistakes. Thankfully, we’re always ready to help them make a better choice.

Harvey, we’re here for you.

 Questions? Comments? Leave them below or email us at sparky@sparkyfirepants.com. And don’t forget to share this post. Sharing is caring.