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There are many marketing strategies you can use in order to establish your clothing brand (in fact I’ve talked earlier about one of them). Today I would like to talk to you about one specific  marketing strategy in T-shirt  business – sponsoring music talents, enriched with proven examples from independent clothing labels such as yours.

The premise

So you’ve started your own clothing line, launched your website, created  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace plus other social network profiles, but your sales are still poop… umm, I meant – poor? Well chances are you’re doing something wrong with your marketing strategy. This article will help you to find out exactly what.

The facts

Linking music with your clothing line is wise because it gets a lot of attention to your brand. It is also great advertising opportunity for you because it’s cheap. Before I start giving you some tips on how to handle my brand – your band relationship I would like to state a few facts you shouldn’t be running away from.

  • Bands are mannequins – and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you click with the ones you’d like to endorse they will be happy to wear your stuff, just like little pigs in the sea of mud.
  • People are immitators – and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. If they see their favourite band members wear your stuff they will try to indentify with them. That’s – of course – very good for you.
  • You are still poor – now there’s definitely something wrong with that. “What am I doing wrong here”, you ask? For starters – go through some of the proven examples of brands + bands + fans love.
Last Of His Kind wearing Winky Boo T-shirt

Last Of His Kind wearing Winky Boo T-shirt

The practice

Now it’s time to think about how you’re gonna handle the sponsorship. You don’t want to end up with all these bands wearing your stuff while you’re out of  the “green ones”. Following are several tips you should consider implementing into your strategy.

  • Have a concept – you should know why do you want to sponsor music talents in the first place. “We do get a lot of people emailing saying – I saw so and so wearing your shirt last night so I’m going to pick one up”, says Christopher McIntosh of UK’s clothing line Nokturnal Clothing (which I’ve recently featured here at Tee zine), and continues: “some people may get worried that the products they are seeing online don’t physically exist, so seeing bands wearing our clothing and supporting us helps a lot”.
  • Target clever – chances are your potential customers are into similar music style your sponsored act represents. Simon of independent label Gimongus Clothing says: “of course sponsoring bands is good for Gimongus. They are wearing it on stage in front of 50, 100, 500… so a lot of people can see our shirts. They’re putting us on their Facebook, MySpace and Twitter profiles, and some of them let us print our logo in the back of their own band shirts, what’s pretty sick”!
  • Do a contract – think about the terms and conditions of the sponsorship, especially if you’re arranging things with some bigger bands management. Write it down. It’s good for you, as well as for them. Amy L. Fiedler of Winky Boo clothing says: “They [bands] perform in the clothing, wear it in photoshoots for their albums and link up our website to their pages, ie: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc”.
  • Don’t do a contract – print out your contract and then tear it apart. It’s best if you can do your sponsorhip on trust basis. “We don’t draw up contracts or anything like that”, says Christopher of Nokturnal, “but it’s an agreement that bands will wear our products on stage every so often and our sponsors genuinely like our products and wear them frequently anyway”.
Summerlin in Nokturnal Clothing gear

Summerlin in Nokturnal Clothing gear

The conclusion

As I’ve said earlier – sponsoring music talents is cheap way of advertising. It will surely help your brands’ recognition and it will increase your sales with time.

“So far our website traffic has increased drastically and our Facebook, Myspace and Twitter pages have become more popular”, states Amy L. Fiedler of Winky Boo, “if the band(s) you work with believe in your brand and it fits their style, it works out well because they get free gear to perform in while you get free publicity”.

You can do more

Of course you can always do more for your line. Options are many and here are just some of them.

  • Sponsor music events – why don’t you try and sponsor concerts, festivals, tours… You don’t have to invest a lot of money into this and you can always make such an agreement to return your initial funds from part of ticket sales.
  • Put up your stands at music events – make special offers and don’t forget to put some free stuff there like stickers or pins cause people LOVE it and they can put your stickers everywhere (or pinch someone with your pin)!
  • Do an acoustic session – if you already have a shop (or some shop carries your stuff) do a special acoustic session with your sponsored act and invite people. It’s inexpensive and different. Well, kinda different…
  • Ask to be printed – it would be cool if your logo appeared on record sleeves, tour posters or merchandise of your sponsored act. So ask them and it might pass;
  • Arrange your own photo shoots – because no one else will. Perhaps some bands would, but it’s better if you have control over it. If possible take pictures of bands playing live with your gear on. Put these pictures on all your web presence sites. Note that this is very important  on many levels (I had some troubles finding the right images to illustrate this article, for example).
End Of Crisis in Gimongus Clothing T-shirts (RIP Tonny Potvin Grondin)

End Of Crisis in Gimongus Clothing T-shirts (RIP Tonny Potvin Grondin)

Hope these tips expand your imagination. These are not the sacred rules, of course. I know I might have been a bit harsh towards bands here, when in reality I really love to see my favourite bands wearing cool shirts, too.

Agree? Disagree? Got an example of successful endorsement? Let me know by leaving your comment below. Your opinion is greatly appreciated. And please make sure to check out all of the brands & bands featured in this article.

Nokturnal Clothing endorses Summerlin and few other bands.
Gimongus Clothing endorses End Of Crisis and few other bands.
Winky Boo endorses Last Of His Kind and Saving October.

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