T-Shirt Marketing 101: Product
Looking at the “4 P’s of the Marketing Mix” can help you grow your t-shirt business – price, product, promotion, and placement. These four areas are controllable in your marketing efforts. Planning these will help you to devise a strategy and differentiate yourself in your market.
Right now, we’ll focus on the product aspect. Product refers to the goods or services that you are selling. Sure, you are selling t-shirts, but let’s dive deeper. Thousands of people are selling t-shirts, so why should customers by yours?
It will help you to answer this question by first looking at your target market. Who are you trying to sell to and what are you trying to sell to them? Keep these in mind when developing your product: t-shirts.
Products consist of benefits, features, variety, quality, design, branding, and packaging, among others. These types of things determine what your product is and why a customer may want yours. It sets your product apart from your competitors.
Your shirts are a solution to your potential buyer’s needs. It serves a purpose. It adds value to their life in some way. What are the benefits that your customer receives from buying your shirts? Benefits are different from the features of your shirts. Features may include things like the material of your shirts. For example, if you use high quality fabrics, such as tri-blend tees, this would be a feature. The benefit is that the shirts you sell are soft, lightweight, comfortable, and fashionable. This could solve a customer’s problem if they are looking for a nice fabric for a t-shirt while looking good in it.
Another example is that you feature custom printed apparel. The benefit to your customer is that they are able to unify a group for their particular event. See the difference? The benefit is “what’s in it for me?” as the customer.
The service you provide is also part of your product that you are selling. Do you have a fast turnaround time to your customers? Do you offer free shipping? Getting their tees fast is a benefit and may be important to them if they are on a time crunch.
What differentiates your shirts from competitors? This may be defined by a geographical location or a niche. Are you offering a line of shirts that only you sell? If you are doing custom shirts, do you specialize in a particular niche market? If people are buying local for custom shirts, what are the other local t-shirt businesses selling?
You may be selling a line of t-shirts. What is the variety that you offer? This may be determined by the types of apparel you sell – tees, hoodies, caps, jackets, blankets, etc. It could also be determined by the style of shirts you sell – crew neck, v-neck, scoop neck, longer shirts, etc. Your product line may also feature several material types to choose from – cotton, polyester, spandex, or a blend of materials.
The design of your product is possibly what sells your shirts. What style of artwork do you offer? What is the design of the actual t-shirt itself, meaning, are your shirts a slimmer fit, such as a junior type of fit, or are they wider and baggier?
Knowing your target market will help you to design the overall apparel and artwork that better fits their needs. For example, apparel choices for someone looking for more of a fashion-forward look will differ from someone who is more focused on a practical use. In each of these cases, a fashion-forward customer may be looking for more of an aesthetic benefit and would find appeal in a lighter weight, burn-out t-shirt, while someone looking for practicality may find more of a benefit in a heavier weight shirt.
Another factor that you need to determine for your products is quality. Quality should fit in with the other P’s of your marketing mix, such as price. You want the quality of your t-shirts to meet the expectations of your target market. For example, if you are selling shirts to a higher end basketball team or league, you may want performance-wear jerseys. On the other hand, a simple cotton or a cotton/poly blend material may suffice for a youth team. You also want to consider your own t-shirt business brand as a whole and that the quality of your shirts reflects your brand.
Branding is part of your product as well. When customers are choosing a shirt to buy or a company to buy from, they want to buy t-shirts that fit their lifestyle and the image that they are going for. A lot of times this is done through brands. People connect with brands. Take a look at Apple, for example. Do you know someone who exclusively buys Apple products? They probably feel that Apple fits their lifestyle or a lifestyle that they are aspiring towards. Could they get a similar product, say from Microsoft? The answer is yes, but they want Apple. For more on your t-shirt business brand, we wrote a blog post called A Quick Brand Guide for Lasting Results.
Packaging can attract customers to buy your shirts. It is part of branding and your product. Whether you have a store front or not, packaging leaves a memorable mark in a customer’s mind. Think about your niche or market that you are selling t-shirts to, and come up with a creative idea for your packaging. It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. For more ideas on packaging, read our post on The Power of Good Packaging.
When planning a marketing strategy for your t-shirt business, it is important to take a look at your actual product that you want to sell. One of the ways you are able to market yourself is through your products themselves. Where do your t-shirts fit in your marketplace and niche? What are the benefits that will help differentiate your shirts from others? Don’t forget to include your services that you offer when considering your strategy. Plan your products and services carefully as part of your t-shirt business marketing.