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How to use merchandise to run a successful crowdfunding campaign!

When crowdfunding on the internet started a few years back, it was a novelty and people took to it to fund all matter of things. As time has gone on, there has been a slight saturation (as with everything that’s successful) with the amount of campaigns, and these days you need to really stand out from the crowd with the rewards you offer people. It doesn’t mean that you have to be inventing a toaster with solar panels, or climbing Everest dressed as Teletubby in order to stand out from the pack in the first place… your rewards can do a lot of the talking for you.

I’m happy to say I have personal experience with this. Earlier in 2016, I launched an IndieGoGo campaign in order to raise £2000  for a charity trip to Rwanda with Cricket Without Boundaries. I came up with some wacky stuff to capture people’s imaginations (never ever offer custom raps as a reward – especially when you can’t rap) but my main focus was around using merch as rewards… and here’s how my campaign was successful and how you can make yours hit its target.

YOU NEED A RAD DESIGN

  1. To make it more interesting, I invented a fictional character to tie in with my trip. I didn’t think that people would want to buy a Jhon Cosgrove tee but perhaps a Marmalade Pope T-shirt would titillate my friends’ taste-buds? I then spoke to Russell Taysom who knocked me up a killer design and I set about choosing what merch rewards would work for me.
  2. Russell’s style of artwork suits my taste but obviously choose someone who is going to design for what you need. If it’s branding for that solar toaster, then choose the right designer who’ll come up with something cool for your target audience.
  3. If you’re already ace at drawing/designing/branding – then you’re in luck – get on it!

 

CHOOSE MERCH THAT’S RELEVANT

  • Different campaigns suit different styles of merch – I went for temp tattoos & patches as I knew my friends would like them. I also played it safe with classic tees, tote bags, stickers and badges – something for everyone.
  • It is good to think outside the box – trawl through lots of merch ideas and think about what excites you.. if you find it exciting, then I’m pretty sure you can pass that joy on to your future backers.
  • What merch would your logo suit? No point try to ram a square logo on to a circle badge – get square badges instead! Would the design look cool on tees? What would your fans want – ask them! Use social media to do a poll to ask first.

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MAKE MERCH BUNDLES WITH YOUR REWARDS

  • It’s a great way of getting people to spend a little bit more, so your campaign is successful. Add as many as you can without confusing people or putting them off! You want to add incentives to each bundle with out making it a pain in the arse for people to back it.
  • Tie in merch with your other rewards. If you’re climbing Everest dressed as a Teletubby, then your backer might want their official ‘Everest Teletubby’ shirt as well as being able to to get a personal video from you sat on top of Everest. Combine away!

 

PROMOTE IT REALLY HARD

  • I know this is obvious (and it’s general rule and not just merch related really) and you don’t want to spam people but don’t be shy of promoting it – tell people what % you’re at in your target and that they’re missing out, drop the FOMO-bomb. Tell them about their once in a lifetime chance to own your limited edition, screen printed tea towel.
  • Make a promo video for your campaign and don’t forget to tell your future backers about the merch.
  • Promo your campaign via social media and ask social influencers and friends to share – if you have a mailing list, use it too! Most crowdfunding platforms have an updates/messages system, so don’t forget to keep people in the loop about what’s going on.
  • Make a promo plan – it’ll make a lot of difference! Think how you can use different social channels to tell people about it. If you plan it / create a calendar, then it’ll be easy to implement.
  • Different content for different platforms – think how you can promote your merch rewards on each social platform / mailing list. Make it exciting so people want to back you! Video content is so popular right now, so use Facebook Live, Snapchat and Instagram stories as well as promoting your initial campaign video.

MAKE MERCH MOCK UPS

  • It’s a fun way of showcasing merch – whack your shirt on a picture of Brad Pitt. Show all those shirt colour options and draw people into them. I had an orange and grey shirt on my campaign. The orange being for the more adventurous backer!
  • If you’re making mugs for example – order one and do a fun photo shoot to show how awesome they look.

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MAKE SOME EXTRA MERCH TO SELL AFTERWARDS FOR THE PEOPLE THAT FORGOT TO SUPPORT YOU

  • However hard you promote it, there will be people who miss out, don’t back you in time or don’t have the ££ right then. Order a bit more merch than you need and set up an online shop to sell stuff for when your campaign ends.
  • Make sure you bring that extra merch to any events you’re doing. If you’re doing a cake sale or 24 hour dance off, then people will buy merch to support you!
  • Crowdfunding means that you can order exact amount but always good to get a few more made to top up funds.

 

Here’s a few of my happy backers with their merch!

RESULTS

  • I had 82 total contributions
  • 43 of those were merch related
  • Only 10 people chose to donate £10 for me to STFU
  • I sold around 20 more items at a cricket match and in my online shop. Result!

 

Obviously crowdfunding campaigns differ – mine involved an imaginary character and a trip to Africa. Think about what would work for your campaign and then make it happen. You’ll be buzzing when you hit that 100% mark and hopefully some of these ideas will have helped you. I’d also like to add that Mercht is a great platform for crowdfunding for T-shirts (and other merch) and is free to set up.

Thanks to all the merch, my trip to Rwanda was super successful and I was part of a team that coached 4000 kids cricket / HIV & AIDS awareness.

Cheers for reading!

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