Zero Cost Merch Marketing

For one reason or another, the majority of Merch by Amazon users are not willing to spend money to actually market the goods they work so hard to create. While this is not recommended (we have lots of guides on how to drive your own traffic), there is nothing wrong with wanting to ride the Amazon gravy train as long as possible.
With the Amazon/Shopify Integration that just happened and the Teespring update (guide coming soon everyone, we have inside information here), the simple truth of the matter is that if you want to stand out from the competition and increase your sales, you will need to differentiate yourself from the flood of new designs going online.
Here at Merch Informer, we have a long history of online marketing and out of the box thinking. Today we are going to go over 4 different and FREE ways you can jump past your competition, make more sales, and pocket more of that Merch money!

Organic Listing Optimization

You read that right! Organic listing optimization is probably the most important zero cost merch marketing technique out there. Most people doing merch are LAZY and will not take the time to properly optimize their listings. This is the easiest way to be seen and sell more product. It is also pretty easy and quick to do which is why I am not sure why more people do not do it.
Anyways, the first thing you want to do with optimizing your listings is take a look at at your title. The first thing a potential customer is going to see is both the design itself in the thumbnail (so make sure the design is amazing), and the title.
You want the title to contain your main keyword that you want to rank for but ALSO niche down to include more long tail keywords as well. This ensures that the Amazon algo sees the main keyword in your title, but that you also stand to rank for other more long tail keywords that you insert. You may also want to include “tee” or “t-shirt” somewhere in the title as this is what a lot of customers are actively searching for. Look at your competitors and see what the sellers are doing.
Price is also a major factor in making sales and something that customers are very aware of. So many people price high because they think that they can make more money this way. In the long run, this might not be true. There is one thing you have to remember.
You are NOT your target audience!
If you price highly right away, you might be seen as the premium product. As soon as your customer gets one of those Anvil shirts though, they might be VERY disappointed that they spent 21-25 dollars for such a cheap piece of clothing and leave you a negative reviews. Negative reviews on Amazon are the quickest way to kill a good selling product.
Instead of selling high, start extremely low. This will give you a major boost in BSR which is an Amazon ranking factor, and is the hardest part of getting your products seen. Couple this with the fact that the perceived value once they receive their shirt will be higher (because they feel like they are getting a good deal) and you will get a lot of positive reviews!
We have a shirt that we launched at $14.99 that ended up getting 38 reviews and then raised the price to $21.99. Because of the excellent reviews we got when we priced low, we now dominate this space with this single shirt and still maintain the same volume of sales making a LOT more money.
Your bullet points are probably the most important section that you get to fill out. Not only are they a huge ranking factor with the Amazon algo, but they are going to increase your sales on a product if you do them right. To properly optimize these, you will need to know two things. The first is that you should be using this section to include keywords you want to rank for, and that this is not a place for describing your shirt.
Let me say that again, the bullet points are NOT for describing your shirt. This is what the description is for. The bullet points should SELL the customer. Market to them while using keywords you want to rank for.
The first step to getting this right is to look up your main keyword in the product search module in Merch Informer. Look at the top selling products for your keyword. Amazon does not always order the results by the best selling so this is a great way to see at a glance what is selling and what is not by BSR. Write down the keywords in the bullet points and titles that the SELLERS are using. You can use these same keywords WITHOUT copying their bullet points word for word.
Second, log in and head over to the listing optimizer. We are going to use the list of keywords we got from other sellers and run these through the synonym suggest module to find even more keywords we can pepper our listing with. Write these down as well and then you are ready to create your bullet points.

For the first bullet point, work in your keywords into sentence form of exactly why the potential customer needs to buy your shirt right now! SELL them the shirt like your life depends on it. Optimize your listing over time by playing around with how you sell them in the first bullet point. For the second bulletpoint, you are still selling them, but tell them of anything they might want to know so that they are happy. For example, we usually tell customers here that our shirts are printed to be fitted and that if they want a more loose fit, to order a size up. Notice how instead of saying they run small (this is a negative), we say that they are printed to be fitted (a positive). It is all in the wording!
If you are ready to Optimize your listings for more than Amazon (think ranking in Google), you might want to check out the advanced part of our Merch SEO guide.
If you do the above correctly, you can easily double your sales just by changing how you put your listings up on Amazon.

Unleash Reddit Traffic For Huge Sales

If you are not using Reddit.com for one reason or another, you are missing out. Reddit is the 12th most popular website in the United states and boasts over 1 billion visitors every month making it the perfect playground to market your shirts and drive absolutely insane amounts of traffic.

I have personally driven 100k+ people to my sites/listings overnight because of Reddit. Instead of waiting for Organic traffic, why not go out and actually make some sales instead of relying on your wishful thinking?
Okay, so we have established that Reddit is one of the best places to show off your shirts. How does it work? Well, for those not familiar, Reddit is broken down into smaller communities called sub reddits which are essentially sub forums.
There is literally a sub reddit for anything you could think of. There is even one for Amazon Merch! https://www.reddit.com/r/AmazonMerch/.
The easiest way to find these sub forums is by going here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ListOfSubreddits/wiki/listofsubreddits and looking for your specific niche. If you do not see it, try to go to Google and search for “Nichehere sub reddit”.
Another place to go would be here: http://redditlist.com/ which will show you exactly how many people are part of each sub forum. Some of these are absolutely massive.
If you are going to market to Reddit, you need to be smart. The general demographic is highly intelligent and not very receptive to spam or marketing.
Start off by finding a sub with about 30-50 thousand subscribers. It can be a bit higher, but a smaller sub will work better to start. For an example, this might be a good place to start: https://www.reddit.com/r/MTB/.
From here, you might just want to post your shirt right away to try and get sales. THIS WILL NOT WORK! Seriously, do not do this and come back here saying this method does not work.
You need to get involved with the community a bit. Reply to comments, make posts asking genuine questions and being a helpful person. After you have been active for a while, you can post your shirt. I find that asking for feedback is one of the best things you can do with a tight nit community which will drive traffic as well as customers because the people will like your design.
Reddit takes a while to master, but play around with it. To me, driving traffic with Reddit is by far the easiest social platform to use for your shirts if you can get a handle on it.

Approach Local Businesses

To date, I only know people doing this and they are absolutely crushing it. Regularly getting orders for 1,000+ shirts is not out of the question here.
Now, these type of shirts are usually not made live for everyone on Amazon, because who would wear a shirt with someone else’s local business logo on their shirt? If you want to hussle and make excellent money doing it, you should be talking and networking with people around your town.
Businesses are buying shirts with their logos ALL THE TIME. Why? Their workers could wear them, but the majority will be using them as marketing materials to get the word out about their company. Trust me when I tell you the vast majority of these small to medium size businesses are going down to the local print shop and paying a LOT of money for a small first run of tees. Some might even say they are being taken advantage of but they do not know better.
All you need to do is make an introduction to the company and show them the excellent deal you can make them (because of how cheap Amazon can sell you shirts). You make a few dollars per shirt, but gain a life long client!
But how do you find these businesses you may ask?
Yellow Pages!
Yep, those are still a thing! The people who are still listing their company in the yellow pages are usually the people who are going to be using local print shops and not ordering their Merch online. These are PRIME targets to network with.
How is that for some out of the box thinking? Not really hard, everyone just needs to put in some action to make the sales happen!

Create and Sell Band Merch to Local Bands

So the other day the team at Merch Informer was talking about the case study we will be doing (it is coming everyone!), and someone through out a zero cost merch marketing idea that caught my ear.
What if we contacted a band on craigslist and sold them/designed for them, their own band Merch?
From our internet marketing days, Craigslist was an absolute gold mine for traffic, and I know there are plenty of bands on Craigslist. It could work! Why not give it a shot! We would rather try something and fail than try nothing at all and wonder if it will work (looking at the Facebook groups complaining about not making sales…).
So here is what we did. First, go to craigslist, and locate the “gigs” section. It should look something like this:

As you can see, we have only selected talent gigs on the left there and entered the keyword “band”.
When you are going through these listings, you may see some ads like the second one in the screenshot above. In this example, there is actually a restaurant looking for a band. You know what else restaurants need? T-shirts! This is just another way to approach local businesses like we just went over in the point above.
Back to the bands!
You will see a lot of ads here for bands, people looking for a band, or bands looking for extra players. The vast majority of them are going to give some contact information.
Email them! I recommend that you email them and ask them if they have any band merchandise for sale. This will let you know if they already have some. If not, you could offer to design them for FREE if the band where to put a purchase order in with you (order them on Merch). Super easy!
We put this method to the test and out of the 30 bands we contacted, we actually ended up getting 11 responses which is very good. From there, a few of them put in small test orders after we had a designer create some free band images for them. Not bad for a random thought we had and then put into action!

Wrapping It Up

Marketing does not need to be complicated to see results. The best part of everything we mentioned above is that it is ZERO cost and very minimal effort from you but still yields incredible results. Instead of complaining about not making organic sales and getting lost in the pack, follow some of the advice we just gave you and scale up your business by taking action!

Comments
  • I think that the “one reason or another” why we don’t market is fairly obvious. Many, though not all, of us Merchers come from the FBA world where marketing simply isn’t necessary. In our dim little minds (like mine) we also think, “Hey, this Merch stuff is FBA too….no need to market it either.”
    This is a good read, and thanks for the good ideas. I will be working on getting over the fact that sales do not just magically appear and implementing some of your strategies.

  • Hi Neil
    All of these tips are really amazing. I’ve had some success with reddit in the past, but you as you said you really have to be a part of the community or else you’ll be downvoted to hell.
    But I would have never come up with the other tips! Really high potential there! Thanks a ton!

  • Hi,
    I’m new to Merch. I like your idea about contacting businesses.
    Would you recommend after they have approved a design and placed an order that we place the order through our Amazon account and have it shipped to the buyer?
    Thank you
    Mandy

    • I think it would be easier to say that you put them up on Amazon to make the ordering easier for the business and have them place the order themselves.

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