5 tips for your merchandise sale

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Reading time : 5 min

Pauline (tour manager, driver, merchandiser) on tour.

Creating and selling merchandising for your band can make all the difference and allow you to finance your different projects (tours, album releases...) Even if you are a local band, a good merchandising table can sometimes put your finances back on track! To help you do your best, you will find below 5 tips to optimize your merch sales during your concerts.

1) You can offer products for all budgets and all types of people: from small stickers at free prices to collectible hoodies.

Or you're playing a small town venue for a free festival. Either way, it's a good idea to think about those who want to buy merchandise from you at all costs, but also about those who only want a small souvenir of their concert like a totebag, or why not an EP cd in cardboard sleeve that you can sell for less than ten euros! So it's always a good idea to have affordable merchandise on your booth.

People are often prepared to spend between fifty cents and two euros for a sticker or a badge. Now we come to stickers which are a great way to brand your band and share your logo with a bigger audience. People who see your design won't necessarily remember it right away, but they will remember it unconsciously: when it's in front of their eyes again, they'll know they've seen you somewhere before. This inexpensive merchandising will also be attractive to people who just want to take a little peek, something they wouldn't dare to do if there were only more expensive goodies on your merchandising stand. In addition, the presence of these inexpensive items can also be used to accompany other sales, like "hey, buy this t-shirt and vinyl and you'll get a sticker and badge as a gift".

For less than a euro in product cost, you can easily get people to buy a whole pack. It's also interesting to think about putting a few products at a free price: you'd be amazed at people's natural generosity. Moreover, this will allow you to make bigger margins on stickers, for example, that people are willing to buy just for the gesture. Conversely, the hardcore fan who wants to support your band will be delighted to see that you've prepared a collector's edition of your first album in coloured vinyl or a hoodie available only in twenty-five copies with a brand new logo?

Try not to charge too high a price, in accordance with your style, your fame and your type of public, so that everyone can find their way around. Also, keep in mind this obvious rule: don't fill your tour van with boxes of beanies in the summer and conversely don't fill it with tank tops in the winter. Sell merchandise that matches the seasons! Adapting to foreign and local purchasing power is also important. 

2) You can have your products carried by the friend who runs the booth or carry your merchandise yourself on stage during the concert, to give you a taste and a taste of what it looks like.

As with the stickers, statistics prove that every time someone wears a t-shirt stamped with your logo in public, 300 people will see it directly or indirectly. Even if they are not consciously aware of it, your logo will be imprinted in their minds and when they are faced with your image again, it will look familiar to them. They will feel as if they have already heard of you.

Make your merchandise memorable. Already, make a strong symbol that you will keep for the life of your group, it will add value to your merchandise. Place this symbol where you can, on the T-shirts you will wear on stage, on your bass drum head, on your backdrop. It's important to have a "brand image" and a logo that people will identify you with. So it's important to talk about "branding". This is the most important decision to make regarding your merchandise. Your logo, design, the phrase that you will have printed on your personalized clothing and goodies is what will be passed on to the world when people wear it or use it in public.

If no one in your group is too artistic, you can always buy visuals from a graphic designer, the price you pay will be worth it. Your files will be made for silkscreen printing and you won't have to worry about having them made!

Seeing the products being carried on stage or by your merch guy allows you to present them in situation, not just folded on the table or hung from a hanger. In the case of T-shirts or caps for example, your audience will be able to see how cool they look because of your products! When you're not playing on stage, be present at the merch table for your audience who will be buying stuff from you. Sign the CDs or whatever they want to have autographed. It helps sell if fans can get a personal touch from you on their purchases.

Don't just be the person who goes straight to the bar while her fans are spending money on her! While you're on stage, by the way, don't hesitate to tell your audience that you have great CDs and goodies on the merch table and that you'd love to meet them there, even if it's just to say hello.

"Being the person running the merch booth on a tour is not the easiest of jobs. They're the first ones in, the last ones out, they have to stay sober, manage the money, the inventory and be in touch with the fans/customers. One of the biggest pieces of advice I could give to a new band is to make sure you have someone you can trust and sober to manage the merch! "

Caz Madge, Client Manager at Merch For Life

3) You can propose several designs (logo, album cover...) on your merch booth and especially quality 

Having more than one design available is advantageous for several reasons, the first being that your fans will be able to buy the same item several times as long as there are different artworks or colors on it: there is something for everyone!

"As the music industry is now pulverized and you'll never make money selling only albums, you need to become a glorified clothing company to move forward in life. So make sure your merchandise is not an old design on a badly cut shirt: putting an effort into the quality of your merchandise will really benefit you and your band. Also, consider the fact that the number of colours you use for your logo quickly makes your merchandise super expensive; we made the mistake once and our margin on the t-shirts was a few cents. "

Stitch D, leader of The Defiled

4) Think about bringing a bank terminal (and if it's really too complicated, create a paypal address)

You can increase your sales 100% just because you take credit cards. Most people will quickly spend the money they have in their pockets and pay only by card. Besides, after a few trips to the bar, the public often doesn't have a penny left in their pockets once the concert is over, which can be frustrating for them as well as for you if they enjoyed it and would like to buy a little souvenir! In the past, having a credit card service available with you on the road was utopian but now you have a lot of options available, inexpensive and convenient like: Sum-Up, iZettle, Smile & Pay

These three companies, which operate in several countries, have succeeded in penetrating the French market and are now in some way occupying the field. It is very easy to subscribe to one of these three offers, which do not require being attached to a bank. All the terminals offered are EMV-compliant and accept smart cards. They are available for purchase for prices starting at €29 and with relatively low commission rates. The commission rate is fixed (1.75% for SumUp and iZettle) or sliding scale (1.44% and 2.4% for Smile & Pay). In the latter case the rate varies according to the total amount of the transactions.

On tour, it's always convenient and avoids using your currency in non-EU countries. Finally, remember to make the fact that you accept the card and paypal on your merchandising stand visible, so that people who don't have change in their pockets don't even go near it!

5) Make your merchandising stand attractive

Make a nice stand presentation: tablecloth, small items, clearly displayed prices... Make your merch table attractive and create a seating plan that you will reproduce at every concert! Bring out the atmosphere of your band and your booth among the others.

"At the moment in the world of music, as my guitarist put it so well, the majority of musicians are travelling t-shirt salesmen who play music to advertise. In this case, merchandising is really important as well as the right design for it. First of all, you need to step back and look at your audience. What are your fans wearing? What do they buy the most? What does their look mean? I think the best way to do things for the merchandise is to make it look more like a clothing brand than group merchandising. That way, you reach a lot more people but you don't pigeonhole anyone.

"Nick Reed, bassist for Beartooth.

Items to have on your merchandising table:

  • A small lamp to highlight the merchandise you have to sell
  • A headlamp to allow your merch guy to make change and found the right t-shirt in S size without having a hard time! 
  • A list to fill in for people who want to give their email address and subscribe to the newsletter 
  • Markers, pens and paper (for autographs, for example) 
  • Displays to showcase CDs, vinyls... 
  • Hangers to show off your shirts 
  • Gaffer tape ! 
  • A cash register with at least 60 euros in change and small bills 
  • A checklist of your stock where you write down what you sell and what you bring back
  • A small poster with the prices of the items you sell to put on the table...
  • A cool tablecloth, with why not your logo on it so you don't have to put a banner up high
  • If you don't have a mini-backdrop or kakemono, a banner that identifies your merch table and your group

The more organized your merch table is, the more likely it is that people will come to see it and buy what's on it. Remember to showcase your merchandise well, too many groups will be content to line up everything in bulk, which does not encourage people to buy anything. And why not put a mini-backdrop in the back?

For example, present the products in order of size on the table and behind you: the hoodies on high hangers, so you can see them from a distance; underneath, totebags and caps for a closer look. On the table, the vinyls on a display in the back, then the CDs that frame the badges and stickers. You may be tempted to put them in front of the table but it also makes potential thefts easier...
Don't forget that you can accessorize your table at your convenience to transcribe your universe and make it more attractive. Finally, leave the stocks of clothes and caps in boxes under the table, hidden by the tablecloth: you only need one item from each visible item in order not to clutter up the space and to attract the buyer's attention as efficiently as possible.

In short

With all the changes that are happening in the music world, whether you're a band that's touring several times or touring locally, merchandising is a key part of financing your projects. I've presented you with a lot of options but my advice is to start small and build your merchandising offer little by little. This will be beneficial for several reasons: firstly, you won't get into financial trouble by buying a million things, secondly, fans will have a gradual offer of merchandise to buy, this will give them a reason to keep coming to your merchandising booth or online store to see what they don't have yet!

If you find that a t-shirt model is selling great, consider re-releasing it when it's sold out. If you follow this advice, it will also allow you to see what sells well and what doesn't, so you can see what you will have to buy in the future. You can change the design of your t-shirts and add limited editions for specific events, for example... With good preparation and a good business plan, this can add a significant amount of money for you and your band!

So ends our article. Don't hesitate to ask us for advice on the subject! Thanks to Pauline for the pictures, taken from her blog bisoustenebres.wordpress.com . Share this article on social networks if it was useful for you or if you think your musician friends might need it too.

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