START NOW! Always give fans and friends a chance to buy in, support, and connect. Stickers are like candy, so always have them on hand. Now, with knowledge comes power, and being able to know your market will give you direction on what to make and where to sell it. Looking forward, those stickers you handed out for free will turn into gold-plated VIP passes in years to come. Keep looking forward and moving onward.
As a general rule of thumb, there are endless different strategies for merchandising, and ingenious ideas are being brainstormed and implemented each and every day. Learn from the resources around you, and innovate with your own merchandising feats.
Data at your fingertips:
There are many tools at your disposal to find data on the audience that is engaging with your brand. Most social media provides an artist with a breakdown of demographic and engagement, as well as ways to utilize purchase power and email list data to gather insights. Referring to the Intro to Money in the Music Industry blog post, each genre has varying success rates in different avenues of merchandising. All of the resources mentioned above will help channel where to sell, how to sell, when to sell, and what to sell. Also, be sure gauge your efforts through other artists in your market. Always push the boundaries, as entrepreneurial musicians should do, but learn from others around you as well.
This is where it starts! With a la carte merchandise production, you can find what works and pull that customer information. The convenience and speed of a la carte will reflect in the product. That is why it should be used as a tool and not a revenue mainstay. Find out how to link purchases with data retrieving and use those analytics. Through navigation of your socials and listening to your music consumers must have a smooth pathway to your merch through as many touch points as possible. There can be a free sticker with an email sign up, exclusive items for tiered-levels of engagement, limited editions merch items, and so much more. Amongst the multiple releases and merch campaigns, there must be links to prior merchandise if it’s available.
When touring, merchandise sales play a large part of the bottom line and can determine whether or not you break even. What works for online merchandising and engagement might not work the same for tour merchandising. You need to bring that ease of purchasing online directly in front of their face with live performances. Touring does not happen 24/7, but live shows should be. A lot of the strategy behind tour merchandising applies to simple live show merch as well.
Always have someone managing the merch table and create an efficient buy/sell experience with clear signage and organized merchandise. In going through the transaction, utilize up-selling and throw in items to make a bundle where you can give away mainstays like patches/stickers.
You can also grow your fan base with other fans. When fans already come in wearing merch, there is a pull for more people to buy in. Put a call of action on social media and try to include an incentive to wear merchandise, such as providing a reduced cover charge for sporting band apparel.
Another great idea is to offer merchandise to venue staff. It is a great way to engage the staff and to help nurture the connection you have with that venue. While tour exclusive merch is typically for fully-developed artists with a large following, another great sister idea is to create unique, limited-edition merch that is time-sensitive, but doesn’t expire in style.
It’s all about navigating the art of the deal, and providing the fan an opportunity to buy and feel special. Let’s face it, you’d like to feel special too, right?
LEAVE KNOWING THIS:
To reiterate, there are no foolproof strategies, but there are thousands of successful ones. Pull from those and run with it. There is no unforeseen moral code that prevents someone from promoting yours. Be bold with your brand, and let your merch create movement. There is no shame in using readily available information. You make an experience with your performance, and make it last a lifetime with your merchandise!