T-shirt Marketing 101

©2014 Sparky FirepantsT-shirts are one of the best ways to get your company’s name into the world. Probably the best.

Of course I would say that, I’m a t-shirt guy. If I were a billboard guy, 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.

Okay, 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 Uncle Sparky lay it down for you.

Visibility

Billboards rank pretty high on the visibility scale. Literally. So that’s wonderful, but one problem with billboards is that they’re 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. We’ll chat more about money in a moment.

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

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. All the variables in your design, colors, printing method, and quality of shirt make it hard to give a generic example. You can probably guess that my advice to you is to not 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. If you wind up with a box of shirts nobody wants to wear, you just blew your marketing budget on dust rags.

When you factor 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.

Everybody Wears T-shirts

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

Okay, I know. There’s always that one stubborn holdout who swears, “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 VanHeusen button down. I’ve cleaned one with a VanHeusen… okay, perhaps a story for another time.

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

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?

There are even a few local brands that 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 just 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 there. 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 really smart people about to make the same mistakes. Thankfully, we’re always ready to draw from our personal lunch box of stupid and help them make a better choice. Well, we try.

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

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(818) 835-2585 Woodland Hills, California | sparky@sparkyfirepants.com

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