OMG…A Threadless Calendar!

The Threadless Calendar Contest calendars have been printed! And I have to say that Mr. September looks good in his worldwide calendar premier! If you want one of these badboys then email contest coordinator and Threadless staple, ladykat. The calendar costs $15 + shipping. 

Ladykat has got a thread about this running on Threadless so be sure to check that out if you need more information on the calendar – the only 2009 calendar you will ever need! To see the rest of the images found in the 2009 OMG…A Threadless Calendar then be sure to checkout ladykat’s Flickr page. 

Threadless Calendar

Coty in The 2009 OMG...A Threadless Calendar!

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life an amazingly designed tee by designer Aled Lewis (aka as fatheed), a frequent submitter to Threadless who has had his designs printed many times before. If you’re unfamiliar with his designs, check out some of my Aled Lewis favorites: Punk Rock Cock, Self-Sufficient and Eating Brains, Throwing Shapes. 

The Meaning Of Life - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

If you like The Meaning of Life then be sure to vote for it at Threadless. The more votes, the greater the chances of it being printed!

On a side note, what is the Meaning of Life to you? 

The Return on Involvement

In this post I talk a little bit about how you can invest in being involved with social medial and your customers. The return on involvement can be a tremendous one with word of mouth being the catalyst of that return. 

These are just 5 tips that I thought to list, based on things that I have read and based on past successes. There are potentially tons of ways that you can become involved with your customer base. Attack every one of those opportunities. 

If you have additional tips on how, as a brand, you can be more involved then please list it in the comments. I will be sure to use it in a future update post!

1. Bloggers Are Your Friend. As a brand in 2008 you need to know how to maximize your presence throughout InternetLAND. One of the best ways to do this is to build relationships with bloggers within your niche. Build a list of all the blogs that you can find, within your niche, and get to know the blog, the writer(s) at that blog and that blog community. As a blogger I love it when people within my niche contact me regarding feedback/suggestions, product announcements, or requests. More times than not, I will oblige to the request and if that request means mentioning a new product that that means free advertising for the person that took the time to contact me. Now imagine if that person contacted 10, 20 or even 50 other bloggers – and at least half of those bloggers made a blog post with the request. Bloggers = free advertising.

Real World Example: This one happens all the time with me, brands send me promotional items and I am more than happy to make a quick post about the product or their sale. I sometimes even do a quick Twitter post. In fact, it usually goes a step further and I end up doing a much larger feature on that brand. 

2. People Like Free Swag. If you’ve got extra stock lying around, why not give some away. The return on that investment will be well worth it. Instead of having that old tee sit around, unpurhased and unadored, ship it off to a t-shirt blogger, hand it off to a friend or even a random person. You may even want to try and send it to a famous person that you know wears styles similar to your brand. It’s about creating buzz and involvement so when you give your free stuff away remember to mention a little about your brand, where they can get more (i.e. your online store or website), and any “new” products that you have available. People like free stuff and so when they get free stuff they tend to talk about said free stuff with family, friends, and co-workers. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and giving away free stuff will get that word of mouth ball rolling.

Real World Example: Please Dress Me is doing this now by giving away free tees daily as way to promote their new T-shirt search engine.   

3. Build Mystique. Flyers are great but they often get tossed – I’m guilty of doing that. One thing that people, especially in the 18-25 year old demographic, would be less likely to toss would be stickers. Many indie tee companies have stickers printed with their logo, brand name and address of their website. Instead of plastering your site address on the sticker, i.e. www.lintyfresh.com, why not just have your logo and brand name on the sticker. The psychology behind this tip is that people can be complacent at certain times, when you give them too much information they take it for granted and will tend to forget it. Give them a piece of the puzzle and build mystique. Provide just the brand name or even just the logo and, if interested, they will definitely (I know I would) be more inclined to do a Google search on the brand or ask around about the logo. Same can be said for other promotion materials like buttons. Make them work a little. Mystique builds interest and that interest will pay off.  

Real World Example: Never In Wonderland (NIWL), recently featured in the Indie Tee Spotlight, plaster stickers wherever they go. The stickers just say NIWL on them. All it takes is one kid to see that NIWL sticker and then Google them and then a potential sale is born.

4. Be Accessible. If you’re an indie tee brand then try your best to be as accessible to your customers as possible. You’re not a multi-million dollar company (yet) so you can’t afford to have a dozen assistants answering emails and phone calls. You need to do this on your own. You need to be committed to doing this. Creating and building a good rapport with your customers is very important for 1. word of mouth and 2. trust. Consumers, myself included, trust independent sellers that much more when they know they can get their questions answered. Imagine a potential buyer, unsure about sizing, who emails you and asks whether or not he would fit a medium or larger based on his measurements. If you don’t answer this potential buyers email that might lead to a lost sale. Answer that email and 1. the chances of that potential sale increases and 2. word of mouth (yes, again) – he goes off and tells friends that “the owner is accessible”,”I’ve talked to him”, “you don’t need to worry.” One email can impact multiple sales, remember that the next time you think about skipping or auto-deleting an email. 

Real World Example: Gary Vaynerchuk, host of the very popular Wine Library TV, is noted as answering every email he receives. If he can answer emails in the hundreds and thousands, there’s no reason that you can’t. 

5. Non-Issue Replacements. InternetLAND is a very loud and vocal arena. Make ONE customer angry and that might lead to negative publicity and the loss of multiple sales. Imagine a customer that contacts you regarding a “missing” t-shirt in his order. You can deal with this customer in two ways: 1. call bullshit and assume he is lying, or 2. take the risk on the bullshit and assume he is telling the truth. Option 1, assuming you did not offer a refund or replacement, might lead to an angry customer that expresses his anger on multiple blogs and forums with a negative review of your brand/company. You save $20 on a replacement tee but potentially lose hundreds or thousand of dollars of lost sales based on one customers angry review. Option 2, assuming you sent a full refund or replacement item, might lead to that now happy customer (whether or not he lied is a moot point) to post on multiple blogs and forums about how great the customer service at your site was. You lose $20 but potentially gain hundreds or even thousands of dollars in sales because of one happy customer (remember word of mouth?). Upset one customer and they might lead to an enormous amount of lost sales. Make one customer happy and you’ll see a return on your investment.

Real World Example: ”Best Buy didn’t want to honor the sale price of the 2GB flash drive Matt ordered through their website, so when Matt arrived to pick-up his purchase, the store’s assistant manager called customer service and, pretending to be Matt, asked to cancel the order.” Needless to say, the story ended up on the Consumerist and on Digg and was seen by millions of potential buyers. 

Use MySpace To Market Your T-Shirt Designs

The popular social networking site, Myspace, is a regular stomping ground for the T-Shirt loving demographic. Heck, MySpace has an Alexa rating of 7 so you’ll be able to reach a much wider demographic than simply T-Shirt loving young adults. 

While browsing one of my favorite tee sites, Emptees, I noticed that a lot of the designers there are utilizing MySpace to maximize their brand name and get the word out about their trendy designs. Here I outline 5 methods of how you can utilize Myspace to maximize “branding” efforts. These tips are potentially useful not only for indie tee designers but anyone selling something cool, hip and fun (it is the Myspace demographic, after all). 

Also remember that Myspace is not the only social network out there. There are literally tons of other social networks out there, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that you can register at and have access to their user base. By networking on these sites you can help to get your brand recognized. 

1. Make Stuff Easy.

Once you’ve got your Myspace set up, be sure to have all information necessary that visitors will need to buy your stuff, like sizes available and pricing. Be sure to have tons of pictures that link to your shop (given that you have a site/store outside of Myspace. If they see a tee they like, there’s potential that they will buy the shirt. Make it as easy as possibly for them to buy that shirt. The “easy” mantra should also guide the design of your site. Make the site too busy and people will be annoyed and leave. Make it pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate and you’ll have happy visitors who’ll spend more time checking your site out. 

2. Be Personal.

Matt Rupp from Emptees suggested that you be as personal as possible and I could not agree anymore with this point. If you want to get your designs out there then you not only have to promote your company or tee line but you have to promote the hell out of YOURSELF. Rupp suggests that:

“Instead of being some man behind the curtains, I expose myself and show people who I am and what Im doing. People love to know who is actually running the show and what they are up to. So it helps to be very personable and friendly with potential customers.”

3. Guerrilla Marketing.

Be a guerrilla marketer and visit the MySpace sites of larger more developed clothing lines and brands. Look for people who are super enthusiastic about their designs, you can spot these people from the comments that they leave on the site. Message them. Comment about their comments. Say what’s up. Be their friend. Once you’ve pulled them in, let them know about your clothing line and send them links to your Myspace or your tee designs. Offer them special deals or discounts. Ask them how much they would pay for your tees. According to levi! of Emptees,

“I carry on about 15 convos on a myspace a day just by that and alot of them turn into orders. some not that day, maybe the next or they say when the paycheck comes in. In that case, you ask if you can hold them to it. and get a date that they will have the money and right it down. on that date, message them back and ask for the order. that has never failed for me”

4. Comments, Comments, and Comments!

Leave as many comments as you can (without being obnoxious) on other MySpace pages. Be nice when you comment and remember always, always have some kind of link back to your site. This can be as a signature with a simple link below your comment or a fancy banner. If you have a store or site outside of MySpace then be sure that your signature links back to that site. I, and I’m sure that you have, numerously clicked on links that people leave in comments. Be interesting and be nice and people will click and find their way to you!

5. Friend Adders. 

This is the most controversial MySpace method so please turn to the right and ask that little angel what he thinks then turn left and get the devils point of view. As a MySpace user, I hate these things. You get friend adds from people that you don’t know. BUT, as with everything else, there are some people who like to be reached out to. These are the people who will click the golden link to your profile and hopefully be engulfed with feelings of wanting to buy your droolingly lovely tees. Friend adders are frowned upon by Myspace (and a potentially a TOS buster), but nonetheless, there are tools that can get this job done for you, and will add friends by the thousands. And of course, the old school way of manually adding friends works as well, albeit at a slower pace.

With your fingers crossed and a little luck you’ll have tons of traffic going to your Myspace page or online clothing store. And while you’re here, leave a comment and let me know what you think of these ideas! If you;ve got an idea as well, don’t feel shy – post it in the comments!