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  • Amanda Wolfe

Merchandising: Putting Brands in Hands

Merch. Swag. Loot. No matter what the nickname, promotional merchandise is the IRL way to bring your brand into people’s everyday lives. Through merchandising, clients – and potential clients – have your organization at the front of their minds when they need your product or service… especially if your merchandise is cleverly designed, and fun to wear or use.

If you’ve already established your branding (your overall image, and the consistent “look and feel” of elements like your logo and messaging), congratulations; you have a head start on carrying that over into your merchandise. But if you’re a business owner in the Galveston County or Southeast Texas area, and are feeling lost at any stage of the process, we can work with you!

Putting together a merchandising plan can be overwhelming at first, so here are a few helpful things to consider when getting started, and questions to ask yourself when you’re looking for inspiration.

Messaging is key. Your message can be motivational, confident, humorous, fun and funky, or anything that fits the culture of your organization.

Look at the branded items you own and enjoy:

  • What makes them appealing to you?

  • If you get a sense of the company and what they represent, how did they convey that in a way that’s special?

  • Does the t-shirt have an eye-catching design, or does the travel cup have a message on it that resonates with you? As an example, blood donation centers have greatly increased interest by offering mugs to donors who have reached certain donation milestones; these have become a source of pride for donors in the past few decades.

Before wracking your brain searching for creative solutions, first check your own closet, cupboards, desk, or even refrigerator. Examining how other companies have reached you can spark ideas for your own brand.

Consider merchandising as a possible revenue stream. Sure, everyone loves free swag – but if your merchandise is really special, people will pay you money for it!

Take time to really think about your customer and/or fan base, and put yourself in their shoes:

  • What matters to them most?

  • Why do they put their faith into your business, and what are the shared values they might like to display to the public?

  • If you were them, objectively, would you yourself pay for the item and wear or use it?

Reach out to customers through surveys and market research, or in more informal ways if it better suits your brand. It’s great for merchandising, and it’s good business in general.

Research your platforms, and use more than one if needed. There are plenty of resources for merchandising, so do your homework and see whether traditional printing (which allows you to order items in bulk for in-person giveaways or sales) or print-on-demand (a full-service printing and shipping solution for online purchases) is best for you. Depending upon your organization and your marketing plan, you may want to use different vendors for different circumstances.

Think beyond the shirt. While t-shirts are often the go-to item when it comes to merchandising, don’t limit yourself to them unless you have a really exceptional design. If you want to outshine your competitors, look for merchandise that is both visually appealing and useful.

Merchandise that appeals directly to your customer base is ideal. For example:

  • Are you tech-focused? Consider branded USB flash drives.

  • Is your organization dedicated to health or nutrition? Your clients are likely to love and use lunch totes for their home-prepared meals.

From bottle openers and guitar picks to hats and keychains, a little creativity will help you find just the right products for your audience.

Consider your budget. If your budget is small, there’s still plenty of room to be inventive with your merchandise. Dentists often hand out branded toothbrushes to their patients (or on Halloween, sometimes to the disappointment of children and amusement of parents). Some environmentally conscious organizations offer reusable printed straws at events, and businesses of all kinds reach their audiences with simple, nicely designed magnets – keeping their contact information at the ready on fridges and filing cabinets everywhere.

Bring in the pros. Still, need a standout branding and merchandising plan for your Galveston County business to capture eyes and minds? The experts at JanMar Agency are ready to assist. Every day, we help businesses like yours in and around Galveston County get noticed. Book a free one-hour consultation online or call (409) 502-8221.

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