Marketing a T-Shirt Line
Marketing a line of t-shirts is no different from marketing any other consumer product. The main difference is that creating a t-shirt line seems easy, entry barriers appear low and from a quick look, it seems like a lucrative business. But it is a competitive business and one that requires a product marketing strategy just like any other consumer product.
We read in industry publications that the success rate for new t-shirt lines is less than 1% and those who eventually are sold by retailers may face a less than 1% chance of seeing reorders.
T-shirt lines are not different than other products you consume. Just think about the car you drive or the cell phone you use. If these companies had an idea for a new product and just jumped into the design phase without proper market research they will have horrible success rates as well.
Marketing is not promotion. The idea that you will build a cool product and then with some word-of-mouth, some promotion, and some luck it will just take off is what has kept the 1% failure rate intact.
The way to break into any competitive field is to listen to the market. Listening to the market means observing the needs of the market and then filling those needs. Before we can fill in market gaps it is a good idea to ask a few philosophical questions.
1. What is your vision? Having a clear vision will help you open up decision doors. From the point that you first envision your T-shirt line, you will be faced with a constant chain of decisions. Having a clear vision will help you judge the quality of your decision and will give you the confidence to keep going.
2. What is the Purpose of your line? Your line needs a philosophy or mission for “being” in business, in other words, your business needs a purpose. This purpose can easily drive success and the need to contribute to making the world a little better or more fun. If you look around, you will see how the most successful companies do have a purpose.
Purpose doesn’t have to be a serious boring thing. It can be a celebration of your values or a vehicle for promoting a lifestyle.
Identifying your purpose will help you define your target segment and audience. You will naturally know who your users are, and you will be in a good position to understand their needs. In turn, this will give you ideas for product modifications and adjustments so you can produce a product that is needed in the marketplace.
3. Who are you selling your line to? Here is where having a clear purpose helps. You want to find a match between your concept and the store concept, which in turn should match your audience. The clients that enjoy and prefer that store or that would feel curious to walk in if passing by.
Uses a tried and true framework to follow as a guide to building successful products. It all starts with the understanding of the Market. What are the market segments and sub-segments? Who are your users? Who are your competitors and much more? See this website
At the retail level, you are not selling directly to the end-user. You have to sell your line to the store owner or buyer so you need to understand their needs and problems. Even if you think that your line has a wide appeal, you are selling to a single individual and building a long-term relationship. The more that you understand the buyers the higher the likelihood that you will produce products that they will need. You need to consider culture, lifestyle, income, and climate to make sure that you have a strong match with what buyers need.
What if you want to sell directly online. Then you do need to think about your target audience even more. Create personas. Imagine who will buy your line and define them on paper.
New Mom’s Ages: 25 – 35 Education: High-school/College Income: 25k to 45k years
Think about other sites or magazines that target a similar audience. Magazines have their reader demographics nailed down with great precision. Here is a trick. Look at the advertising specs to define your personas. Look at how the magazines communicate to their audiences and emulate their approach. You don’t have to spend millions in market research and analysis if you learn from the work done by successful publishers.
Remember that your online store is no different from a retail store where user experience counts a great deal. You want to know your visitors well to connect with them with every detail, color, and word you post.
Once you have a strong vision for your line, a defined purpose, and a good understanding of your target audience you will be able to form a solid product positioning for your line and hugely increase your chances for creating a successful and long-lasting t-shirt line.