Joshua Baer, who coaches entrepreneurs to succeed in business, recently shared his formula for launching a t-shirt promotional campaign that can pay off huge dividends when marketing a product or service. Most entrepreneurs, he says, try to go cheap to save money, but end up blowing their advertising budget on tacky merchandise. As he advises those whom he mentors, “Your $4 t-shirt is costing you millions.” The bottom line: companies can promote their products better with a higher-quality promotional product.
Many promotional t-shirts, says Baer, are so “completely worthless” that only employees will wear them—and that’s only because they’re paid to do so. When a t-shirt or other promotional wear is unattractive or lacks comfort, it will go straight to charity—where it will linger on the racks for months. Even thrift shoppers won’t fork over a dollar or two for them.
High-quality promotional wear should be first of all comfortable. Because promotional wear is usually casual wear, people demand comfort in a t-shirt, hoodie, or jacket. Even if a customer likes a company’s product, she or he won’t wear the company’s t-shirt if it’s uncomfortable. Without customers walking around town wearing their promotional wear, a company’s money is wasted. To promote a brand, successful promotional wear must get worn—and worn often.
Secondly, successful promotional wear must have an attractive design that strikes up conversations. People wear T-shirts and hoodies to show their connection with a given brand or team. Without that emotional connection forged by an eye-catching design, a person might as well wear a plain shirt.
A company would never spend money on an online ad that failed to deliver enough impressions to make their advertising budget pay off, Baer counsels his clients. Yet the same company may purchase shoddy t-shirts for three or four dollars that will never deliver visual impressions, because no one will wear the shirts.
Company executives tasked with purchasing promotional swag should try on cheap t-shirts themselves. After they experience the itch and the sticky, cling-to-your-skin feel of a cheap t-shirt, they’ll realize that no customer of theirs will promote their brand by wearing such trash.
If they double their money and purchase fewer, yet higher-quality t-shirts, though, companies will have plenty of happy customers and friends sporting their comfortable, good-looking shirts all over town. Baer advises his clients never to skimp on the material. Soft and thin, for t-shirts—or soft and cozy, for hoodies—works best. Tags that are easy to remove without ruining the seam are a plus, since many people become irritated by tags. It is, after all, an opportunity to brand one’s company with the stamp of high quality. Purchase both women’s and men’s t-shirts to ensure a better fit, as opposed to unisex designs that lack the comfort of shirts tailored specifically to male or female bodies.
As for the design, choose subtle, yet catchy designs in colors that blend with most casual wardrobe staples. After all, a company wants the shirt or jacket to get worn. Logos should be tasteful, and slogans should strike up conversations, not brawls. Thoughtful messages that read like catchy taglines are what companies should go for when they choose promotional wear. Designs that are too busy, advises Baer, lose the main message in clutter. To promote one main message, companies should choose a clean design that passersby can read easily. If in doubt, companies should hire a professional designer to promote their brand with an eye-catching, yet subtle logo.
With all of the promotional wear choices available to companies, it makes good sense to choose quality. After all, a company who makes high-quality merchandise wants to put the stamp of quality on everything they do. Quality promotional gear marks a brand with good taste. Good taste attracts customers—which is the ultimate goal of a successful marketing campaign.