“Who does really great t-shirt designs that people actually wear to places other than the gym or while mowing grass?” I encounter this question a lot on Facebook groups for radio pros. That got me started on a t-shirt designing kick that has yielded a ton of fun ideas and fueled a new passion for me. (check out the slideshow) Now everywhere I go, I pay attention to what t-shirts people are wearing and what is being sold. Which brings me to this question, why doesn’t radio sell merchandise like artists do?
I remember in the early 90s actually buying a station t-shirt from a record store. Yes, a radio station sold merch! It was WDVE in Pittsburgh and they had a summer t-shirt with a pretty cool design that was much more than the station logo on sale at National Record Mart stores and I, a huge Scott Paulsen & Jim Krenn super fan, bought it. So that brings me to this question, why don’t radio stations do merch?
You see people wearing brands all the time: Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola, Miller Lite. Passionate fans don’t care if it’s not free. If it’s cool and they like it, they’ll buy it. So, if you have a successful radio brand, why do you only think about giving away the cheapest shirts possible? Find ideas like these and create something of value that folks will plunk down their hard-earned cash for and help promote your brand. Set up an e-store with Printful, CustomInk or VistaPrint so that you don’t have to carry inventory. These companies will also print mugs, canvas bags, tech accessories, sunglasses and more on demand.
And for the very adventurous, how about personality branded products like beer, cereal, candy bars or coffee? There are tons of product branding opportunities out there. I recently read about WONE in Akron partnering with a local brewery to make their own line of beer, "Rockweiler Ale" and John Boy & Billy have their own line of BBQ sauce. Think about it, promos encouraging listeners to start their day with your morning show's own brand of coffee? Talk about being top-of-mind!
Finally, having station and personality branded merchandise and products can also serve to generate funds for charities close to the station. Pad that St. Jude or Children's Miracle Network tote board next year with a portion of the proceeds from those coffee grounds, iPhone cases and killer t-shirts you've sold all summer.
So three things that can be done thru selling station merch: generate revenue, increase brand awareness and brand equity and benefit charity. Also, you could sell the naming rights to your E-commerce store to further the NTR potential. And if you’re looking for design ideas, they’re all around you in the stuff people are already wearing, or you can just flip thru these for inspiration!