Custom Merch: How to Use It to Create a New Revenue Stream

Posted by Dan Marzullo on Feb 19, 2019 11:56:23 AM
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Trendy leisure establishments such as breweries, wineries, restaurants, distilleries, and other brands have started setting up small online stores and retail sections with branded swag.


Not only is it a smart addition to their marketing strategy in a bid to increase brand awareness, but it also provides an additional revenue stream outside of their core offering. And let’s not forget that merchandise creates greater customer loyalty, which is an obvious competitive advantage for any organization.

However, that’s only half of it.

The other benefit of selling custom merchandise is that it creates an emotional connection between the brand and its loyal customer base. Successfully leveraging that key element as a marketing tactic can be financially rewarding.

According to American Express, “In today’s ad-choked media environment, sometimes simpler, more direct marketing efforts yield the best results.”

A recent infographic shows that 85 percent of people remember the name of a company that has given them a promotional product.

Plus, it’s super awesome when you see someone repping your brand.

Below are the critical elements of successfully selling custom merchandise to create a new revenue stream.

1. Conduct Market Research to Define Your Brand

If you have a steady flow of customers for your business, you likely already have a value proposition that appeals to your customer base. If you’re a brewery, it could be one particular unique brew that’s a fan favorite. If you’re a restaurant, you could have one defining brand characteristic that gives you a competitive edge such as a specific style of cooking or quality of ingredients used.

Successfully capitalizing on your brand’s unique value propositions will allow loyal customers, who are likely to buy your merch, to show support for your establishment.

Start paying attention to what it is about your brand that keeps people coming back for more. Get feedback online. What are your fans saying on Twitter? Who’s posting mouth-watering pictures of your menu items on Instagram?

Brands can easily track conversations by establishing a hashtag. Create a unique tag for your business and include it in your marketing so that customers know to use it when interacting with your business online.

Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful, so if you can spark a “What’s that?” moment when a customer is wearing your merch, you start a conversation about your brand with someone who’s ready to rant and rave.

2. Make Sure Your Inventory Makes Sense

Branding is a strategic process when done so with a high degree of consistency and connection back to the company and its values. If you’re an outdoor or lifestyle brand, would it make sense for you to sell branded candy? Probably not.

The merchandise in your retail space should fit in seamlessly with the overall vibe of your brand. When choosing which custom products to sell to your customers, make sure they make sense for you to sell, and they’ll elevate your brand.

3. Your Merch Should be Eye-Catching

Everyone and their mother sells thoughtless sweatshirts, t-shirts, mugs, beer glasses, and key chains with only a logo slap.

What makes your marketing strategy unique? You must find a way to stand out. Start by understanding what makes your customer want that shirt. Defining and researching your target market means unveiling trends of their common interests.

You have tons of online resources out there to help you discover what your audience is drawn to. Hit up your social media channels and see what other groups your most loyal customers are in. Pretty soon you’ll have enough creative material to come up with eye-catching graphics or powerful quotes.

4. Be Strategic with Your Set-up

Nothing kills a retail space faster than a poor set-up that’s practically invisible or has no feng shui. Take the time to observe where your customers are looking, waiting, and hanging out, then strategically set up your custom merchandise there. Some of these places could be:

  • Hanging on the wall behind the bar
  • On shelves in the waiting area
  • A designated area or corner near the door so customers can access it when entering or leaving
  • A high-traffic web page
  • Next to popular products in an online store

Wherever it may be, make sure that it’s accessible, convenient, and maintained.

5. Market Your Merchandise In-House

The great thing about selling custom merchandise as part of your marketing strategy is that you can advertise it inside your establishment and throughout your website for optimal exposure. Utilize high-traffic areas and other prime real estate locations to market your merchandise with high-quality marketing materials. Some examples include:

  • Table tents
  • Flyers on the back of bathroom stalls
  • Bathroom doors
  • On menus

You pretty much have free non-competitive ad space in your place, so utilize it.

6. Hire an Expert

Selling custom merchandise is a project that can have a high return, but only if you invest the time and resources into making it flourish. To truly leverage the revenue-generating capabilities of custom merchandise, it’s best to hire a pro with expertise in this area to do the heavy lifting.

Queue Anthem Branding.

A good branding agency will help you distill what makes your company different, figure out who your audience is, and come up with the best way to tell your story to that audience with custom merchandise at the helm (if that’s your overall goal).

When you partner with Anthem to build out a custom merchandise line for your brand, an account manager and art director/designer are fully involved in every project and detail, so the strategy and creative work are aligned from the start.

Our team takes out hours of research on your end when it comes to consumer trends and what’s on the horizon — giving you the confidence that your brand will be trendsetting and always in vogue with the latest and greatest.

Top that off with the expertise of our hands-on production team who oversees the management of the entire offshore and domestic processes, knowing the right factory partner for every project through our fully vetted and proven network, and all the nitty-gritty details that you don’t need to be bogged down with so when your merchandise is in your hands, it’s exactly what you had in mind.

Our account team will then work with you to see how each project impacts your business by conducting thorough business reviews in order to put the gas on what’s working and halting anything that may not be perfectly hitting the mark with your audience.

Bottom Line

The marketing return and ongoing revenue stream that custom merchandise can provide for you has a promising ROI potential. This, of course, drives business growth that increases your bottom line.

Not leveraging custom merchandise for your business is a missed opportunity. If you’re ready to do it, then do it big, do it right, and give yourself the competitive edge and expansion you deserve. Anthem Branding will gladly be your trail guide.

Let's create something together.

Topics: Apparel, Custom Merchandise, Brand Loyalty, Company Merchandise, Brand Extension, Insights