Sick of selling the same boring merch? Let me tell you, your fans are sick of buying (or not buying) it. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve been to over the last 15 years that have consisted of the same oversized tee, stickers, and maybe a one size fits all sweatshirt. You might think it’s better to have boring, predictable merch than no merch at all, but I would argue that’s not true.
Now, it’s possible you’re blowing your fans’ minds with the merch you currently have, in which case, you can disregard this post. However, most bands are seriously struggling in this area, and the truth is that it’s just one more opportunity to express your unique personality, interests, and passions, and connect with your fans, and if you’re not taking full advantage of it, you’re missing out.
Here’s how you can get started.
Get brand specific
Ultimately, the best thing you can offer your fans is something that’s highly specific to your band, or your current album theme. One of my favorite examples of UK based folk band Fitz that once created their own brand of tea that they sold exclusively at their shows. This was such a win because 1) it was so perfectly aligned with their brand and music and 2) you had to come out to a show to get it.
If you’re not already clear on your brand, that’ll be the first step, and trust me when I say knowing this will help inform everything you do from your merch to your live show experience, to your social media posts. Life will become infinitely easier when you understand your brand.
Another favorite example comes from a now defunct San Francisco band called Friends W/O Benefits, a character band that created a comic book showing the characters around the streets of SF. They hand numbered each one and only made a certain amount, and sold those in place of physical CDs. It was a huge hit and incredibly specific to the brand they’d created—and people loved it.
Offer exclusive merch for shows
Having a few items, or even just one really good one that’s only available at live shows is a great way to not only get people out to shows, but to make them feel included. If you can only get something at your show, it makes the people who are a part of that, and now hold that merch, feel included. It’s a win-win.
Ask your fans to help
Feeling stuck on a new merch idea? Invite your fans to be a part of the process! Ask them what their most treasured piece of merch (from anyone) is and why, and then narrow down what you want to create. Then, include them. If it’s a new shirt or poster they want, hold a contest for the best design to win an exclusive merch bundle or in home concert/pizza party for them and their friends if they’re local. This is a great way of involving your fans, really listening to what they want, and then making them feel included.
(Image Courtesy of: Diablogato – view post here)
Make your merch table exciting
The last thing you want to make sure of, is that your merch table is an inviting place to be. There’s a lot of ways to help it stand out—tablecloth with colors/design that match your brand, maybe a string of lights to help it stand out, other little trinkets or decorations that are brand specific, and (perhaps most importantly) to always having someone there to help fans!
Don’t forget the little things too—the way you lay out your merch should be aesthetically pleasing, and you should have a variety of price ranges, so that if someone can only afford to spend $5, they don’t feel dissuaded. Lastly, don’t forget to use Stripe or similar to take credit cards!