Marketing Your Woodshop Merch Store in 2023
While this was written for 2022, the principles still hold true for 2023.
If you prefer to listen to the February 2023 BUSINESS FOR MAKERS podcast where I cover this topic, listen here:
Garth Brooks broke my spirit. It wasn’t intentional by Garth, but it was painful nonetheless.
The first day you see your logo on a t-shirt is a very exciting day. Not child birth exciting, not first sale exciting, but the pride and anticipation of things to come is intense.
Monday morning I proudly laid a new mousepad and coffee mug on my desk at my day job, featuring my new logo…. A grey square with a lowercase g, for George Supply Company. 30 seconds later, a co-workers sauntered up to my desk. “Hey, cool Garth Brooks mouse pad”.
Me: Google “Garth Brooks logo”
Me: “son of a ……”
HOW TO MARKET IN 2022
You have your woodshop merch carefully designed and selected. T-shirts, hoodies and that cool leather patch trucker hat, each branded with the logo representing your woodshop hopes and dreams. But how do we market and sell it all?
Let’s start by eliminating the billboards, TV commercials and newspaper ads from 1997. (Do you even watch TV commercials?)
Maybe we should even be cautious about paid Facebook and Instagram ads. Truth is, only the most fresh and creative ads stop our scroll. And when big players like Nike and State Farm purchase much of the ad inventory, it leaves less available for small businesses, and thus higher priced ads. That makes it more difficult to see a return on your investment, unless you are a Facebook marketing guru.
(If you are, then by all means, do your thing)
So what does a small woodshop merch store do with a limited marketing budget?
First, realize marketing has changed for 2022, and maybe it’s time to return to boots on the ground, shaking hands and kissing babies
(metaphorically of course… don’t touch other people's babies)
Start the conversation about your woodshop merch person to person. That could be face to face. It could be an Instagram account to it’s followers. Or it may be a woodworker to existing customers. The key is you need some type of human relationship: a common ground to start from.
Marketing consultant Mark Schaefer summed it up in his latest book The Marketing Rebellion. “I contend that the brands of the past were created through an accumulation of advertising impressions. The brands of the future will be created through an accumulation of human impressions..”
START THE CONVERSATION
Let’s review 12 examples of accumulating those human impressions, and starting the conversation about your woodshop merch store.
- Wear your merch out in the world.
- It may sound obvious, but it all starts with being your own walking billboard. Maybe not date night… but maybe the hardware store, your kids soccer practice and grocery shopping.
- Use your water bottle, your mug or your mouse pad at work
- Wear your merch online.
- Show off your merch in your social media posts.
- Take a lesson from successful online retailers. Use social media to build up hype for new introductions, limited editions, or even sales and discount codes.
- Run a contest or giveaway.
- Keep the excitement going by investing in your customers.
“When it comes to engaging content you’ll want to feature imagery or videos of yourself (or others) wearing your products. Lifestyle mockups can also be effective for displaying your products in a way that enables shoppers to see themselves using them too.” TeeSpring
- Email Marketing
- Email isn’t dead. Only bad email is dead. In reality, an email list is your insurance against the day you can’t reach your customers through social media. Let’s face it, Instagram can change their rules any time they wish. Today it’s free, but tomorrow?
- You already have a relationship with your email list, since they signed up originally. So updating them with new item introductions, sales, or simply thanking them for their support is perfectly appropriate
- Include your merch store URL in your Link in Bio.
- Sure it sounds basic, but we get busy and sometimes forget the details
- Put a QR code to your merch store on your business card or even a window sticker on your car.
- If you're starting enough of a conversation with someone that it leads to you handing them a business card, maximize that opportunity.
- Include your merch store URL in your email signature.
- Again, it’s an email to someone you have a relationship with, so get those human impressions wherever you can.
- Include your merch store URL in your product cards or hang tags that accompany your merchandise. Or even a paper flyer in your shipping box.
- Congratulations! You sold a cutting board. Might the customer be so excited to support a small business and craftsperson, that they would want to wear your logo?
- Refer to your store in your voicemail message
- Do you have a Google Voice phone number for your woodshop? If not, check out how to get one here.
- Then, refer to your merch store URL in your voicemail message
- Give your merch as unexpected gifts.
- Surely someone will give your new niece a teddy bear. But will it be a teddy bear wearing your logo on their tiny t-shirt? Or a logo baby onesie or cap?
- Create a gift box featuring a logo mug, and a walnut coaster you created.
- Get referrals from customers and other makers.
- When other makers unexpectedly appear in their social media wearing your t-shirt, questions will be asked, conversations will be started, links will be clicked.
- Remind customers of the advantages your store offers.
- Do you have extended payment options for large purchases?
- Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?
- Is your quality superior
- Is your delivery time exceptional?
So how does my story with my coworker end? Well, with my spirit broken, my coworker immediately realized the logo was for my business George Supply Company. And of course, she and others now know where to go for products I offer.
And that’s how marketing your woodshop merch in 2022 will develop. Finding every way to start the conversation about your business. That means using your merch, wearing your merch, and reminding everyone you know, in every way possible, you are open for business.
Have other questions about building your maker brand and business? Subscribe to the Business for Makers Blog and Business for Makers Podcast for insights and tips. Tune to Sawdust Talk on IGTV Live on Wednesdays at 10 pm CST to hear from makers about their projects and business and meet some great members of the maker community.
By the way, once you get your business name, you’ll need T-shirts to show it off! Check out georgesupplyco.com to get your maker business’s name and logo on a shirt, hoodie, or hat.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Scott Chervitz is owner of George Supply Company, dedicated to helping woodshops build their brand. See more at GeorgeSupplyCo.com. You can reach him at Scott@GeorgeSupplyCo.com, on Instagram at @GeorgeSupplyCompany or Twitter @ScottChervitz
Brian Chervitz, M.S., is an Associate Instructional Designer at the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus.