Should you promote your business with branded apparel?
The answer is of course yes, (if it were no then this would be one of the shortest articles ever written) and let me explain 2 reasons why.
- Reason #1 :Exposure is King, and apparel with your brand on is the Queen. Control over your brand image and displaying it directly on your "products" aka clients.
- Reason # 2 :Your apparel, your branding, but not on your time. We already work long hours. When you have apparel(of any kind) branded for your business you end up creating walking billboards throughout the world. These billboard not only display your business, but are directly attached to a source of information and ambassador for you and your services aka. your clients.
If you don't have branded apparel of your own by now get some here, and Now that we got that out of the way let's get down to the real issue at hand.
Should you use branded apparel as a secondary income stream or promotional advertising?
The answer to this question depends on the main reason you want branded apparel in the first place. It's important you understand the real reason you wanted your own apparel, because the options available to you, and the steps you need to take will change greatly depending on your main reason. The way I see it is you can want branded apparel for 1 of 2 reasons; create profits by developing a new business adjacent to your current one, or create new profits by promoting the services of your current business.
If you are one of the businesses out there who want to use apparel to promote services/products you already offer then you want to use apparel for promotional advertising. If promotion is the goal don't make some crucial mistakes to your approach in ordering and, accidentally choose apparel options that leave you with a new apparel retail business(like Old Navy) you never wanted.
Why You Don't Want An Accidental Apparel Business
On paper it sounds incredibly easy and worthwhile to make some profits by selling t-shirts and other apparel items to your clients, fans, friends and family because of the exposure they bring to your business when wearing your stuff. The unfortunate true story is that the most common way to get apparel customized for your business is really expensive and time consuming. Way More than you would expect and want to deal with.
The smallest apparel orders are usually $100's just to reach the custom printing order minimums demanded by the printers, and if you want to make even mediocre profits you will need to spend $1,000's with a large quantity order just to make a decent profit margin on each sale. If you don't you will be making pennies, and that profit does not justify the amount of work you would need to do just to recoup your "initial investment". In order to at least break even on your investment you will have to sell apparel alongside your services, increase your service prices to include the apparel priced for profit or both sell them independently and include them into your price point. If you can somehow justify spending a piece of your budget on a decent quantity of branded apparel you still need to complete the second part of the sales process. Now you have to price it, display it, advertise it, store it, manage inventory and possibly even ship it if you have an audience that is not around your home/gym location. Those are tasks and duties that need to be taken care of on top of all the work you're doing to maintain the quality of services you offer to clients.
Even if you get a great deal on apparel printing and don't mind the work that it will take to maintain your orders there are still 2 big bumps in the road to recouping your investment.
- The Time to profit: Unless you have a steady flow of customers who want to buy your apparel you will be left with the infrequent orders that come in from your current client base and new members. Current clients will rarely buy more than maybe 1 or 2 of the same design and, new clients are probably not at a frequency level to justify a larger order of inventoried apparel.
- The Dreaded Re-orders: The branded apparel option has it's limits in that there are rarely one size fits all options. If you sell out of a size before you go through the majority of your inventory you will need to make a new order to keep selling them to clients; unless you want to deny new clients simply because their shirt size is out of stock.
If you never wanted, or intended to make a profit from selling branded apparel then you need to find a different way get your stuff branded. If you don't then the truest of sad stories is you will put yourself into a financial debt that will be difficult to get out of, handcuff your business, and educational development with apparel collecting dust in your facility. You could have used that money to attend a seminar, Attain CEU's, add a piece of equipment, sponsor an important local event, or even place an advertisement in a local publication. Even a small print ad will get more eyes on it than that apparel sitting in a box at your gym.
Here Is A List Of What You Need To Do Instead.
- Find a Printer that offers a NO MINIMUM ORDER quantity- This way you can order as little as one fully branded piece of a apparel at a time.
- If You can't find a printer with the No Minimum order quantity option- Look for printers who offer small order minimums (6-12 items) for your first order and THEN have a no minimum order quantity on all reordered designs.
- Take Pre-orders to solve the initial order minimum requirement- You don't want to handcuff yourself just to reach the no order minimum on re-orders. Pre orders can be an easy way to sell the shirts at your purchase cost and avoid any debt to you.
- Avoid Screen Printing- The majority of printers that specialize in screen printing will not only have large order minimums but also a pretty substantial set up costs for the screen. but the more colors you want in your design the more screens they need to make and the more money your apparel will be per piece. Unless you can negotiate to minimize these costs screen printing does not work well.
- Start with 1 maybe 2 Basic Designs- Base them off different configurations of your logo, Business name and tagline.
- Consistently Wear and photograph your new apparel- This way you can use these images as part of your storefront (in facility and on your website) without needing to reserve an item to display.
- Create a Marketing Campaign/Program that includes a special shirt- Remember apparel is now a part of how you market and advertise yourself. So, when January comes around you can make a shirt for those clients who sign up for your "New Year's Resolution Fitness Jumpstart" program. The shirts will work as your walking, talking billboards when your clients wear them within your local community.
- Develop a Community Brand Image- Every business is different and the audience that makes up your clients is unique to you. Use the commonalities that you and your members have to create some inspiring, fun, humorous, inside joke type apparel that your members would love to parade around in when not in your facility or training with you. If your apparel is unique enough you have a stranger ask one of your clients a question about it, then it has done a better job of advertising for your business than that "business serious" ad you would have placed in the newspaper.