Gig venues are generally happy to allow bands to set up a merchandise table, so take advantage of this opportunity to boost your income and build your brand. Here are three tips for success:
What are you thinking of stocking your merch table with? T-shirts, caps, hoodies and badges are popular items, but don't be tempted to order boxes of random merchandise without considering your fan base and location. For example, when you play gigs, how many of the folks there to see you are wearing caps? What about the time of year and location? You don't want to be trying to sell hoodies during the summer months, so don't tie up band funds in goods that just aren't appropriate for your current market.
Bands can be put off selling merchandise due to the perceived high start-up costs. Fortunately, the days of having to meet stringent minimum order criteria and buy hundreds of each product you want to sell are over. You can test the waters by using an online apparel printing company who offer a print-on-demand service. This means you can design your merchandise, upload the design to the printing website and order a few of each type of product you want to offer. Once you've established demand, you can switch to the more traditional route of working with printers who offer heavy discounts for ordering in bulk. Custom badges are a low-cost way to provide fans with a memento to remember the gig by, and badge orders start at around fifty pieces per design. It's a good idea to keep your design simple due to the small print area on standard badges, so consider using the band's logo or name.
Man The Table
Have you ever walked up to the merchandise table at a gig and found there's no one manning it or there are a couple of people just chatting to each other and ignoring the customer right in front of them? Gig goers have already supported you by buying a ticket to your gig, and every person that approaches your table is willing to give even more to enable you to keep doing what you love. So be available and be approachable. Fans will enjoy getting the chance to have a quick chat with you and will help you build your brand by telling others how friendly you were. Manning the table also gives you the opportunity to tell fans about any current promotions you're running, such as giving away a badge with every T-shirt purchased, and hear what fans like and dislike about your merchandise, which will help you understand what to adjust for better sales.
If you don't feel comfortable creating your own designs, some printing companies offer a design service and an error checking service, so starting your own range of merchandise really couldn't be any simpler.