T-Shirt Giveaways Can Make a Huge Impact

No marketing plan is complete without promotional products. We all know that Americans love promo products and are more than willing to be a walking billboard if you give them something they’ll love. But just giving an item doesn’t automatically mean your brand will reap the rewards. The more creative and fun you get with your giveaway, the better your chances are to be remembered. Especially when it comes to t-shirts.

This isn’t too surprising since we all probably have at least one in a drawer somewhere. But a lot of companies hand them out and forget about it. There are so many ways to create an experience with your t-shirt giveaway that drives more brand recognition than you could have ever fathomed. We want to share those ideas, which is why we asked some of the experts we meet with daily (our sales, merchants and vendors) about the trends they see, then scoured the web to find more cool examples.

1. T-shirts are America’s Favorite Promo Product

One of my favorite stories to tell coworkers is about a company called iMark.com (now Solidify), from their (at that time) director of marketing Sandeep Nanda. He shared this on Quora and I reference it over and over again as a cool, unique way to leverage branded t-shirts.

Background: The first trade show I went to as the DOM of an internet start-up was crucially important for us. We HAD to make a splash as almost all the potential large customers (asset recovery managers for Fortune 500) would be there. The startup was called iMark.com and it was a marketplace for used capital equipment.

Objective: Raise awareness of iMark.com

Problem: The hotel would not hand out packets to attendees at check in for us, nor would they let us do room drops or set up a desk in the lobby. Basically, they said we don’t allow anything like that.

Solution: I took the attendee list and sent packets in the mail to the hotel addressed “Hold for check-in” with a letter saying who we were and that we were giving away $10 bills. […] The packet also included a BRIGHT orange polo shirt with our logo/tagline/name in big letters. I said in the letter that to be eligible for the $10 you had to wear the t-shirt at the show.

Result: The conference looked like a sea of orange.

We achieved our objective of getting our name out in front of everyone (several months later we did a market research study and found we had the highest aided and unaided awareness levels with target customers.)

2. T-shirt Giveaways Generate Impressions

People will always find a way to wear a t-shirt they got from a company. From a screen printed shirt they’re required to wear at work to a tri-blend, V-neck with a soft-hand decoration they wear religiously to casual outings. If there is one promotional item companies should start with, a t-shirt is a no brainer (ok, so are pens, don’t forget your pens!).

Sujan Patel made a killing by promoting his business and giving away his t-shirts. He knew he would wear the shirts, and at the same time gather brand exposure for his startup company SingleGrain. What he didn’t expect was for his friends and acquaintances to be equally as excited at the prospect of a free tee. Let alone the visibility those friends gained for him.

The keys to his success included:

  • Buying a quality shirt that would get wear
  • Creating a simple design that opens up more opportunities to wear them
  • He made his giveaways a lead gen tool. Gathering contact information he kept them coming back for more just by letting them know he had another giveaway happening.

3. Big or Small, T-shirt  Giveaways Can Grow Your Business

We partner with some  great apparel providers who open the door to several great products for our customers, and have countless marketing ideas we tap into. One example is from our partner S&S Activewear on how to add value with a great t-shirt.

Sometimes adding an inexpensive t-shirt as an add-on to an already hot promotion can add more value to the package and increase more buzz.  With the launch of a well-known, high-demand video game, the game developer added a limited edition t-shirt packaged alongside the first 50,000 games.  Additionally, due to limited offering, stores were allowed to increase the cost of the special bundles. Gamers flocked to stores to grab the t-shirt and game combo, choosing the higher priced bundle over lone game, despite a difference of 10.00 in cost.  End result was greater profitability of the game and 50,000+ more brand impressions for the game.

4. Find a Shirt that  Fits Your Brand to a Tee

A t-shirt isn’t what makes you a rockstar,but it can do quite a bit for you. And you’re more likely to reap that benefit if you give away a shirt that people really want to wear. Sometimes it really is quality over quantity. The example below is another great one from our partner S&S Activewear and how they’ve seen the t-shirt giveaway change in niche markets. Before you read the below though, you might want to grab your Growler and take a load off.

With the rise of microbrews, the only way to differentiate your brand from the countless IPAs, Stouts, and lager breweries are competing against is making their brand cooler and hipper than the next.  That’s why the go-to favorite t-shirt for giveaways and promotions in the microbrew market is the Bella +Canvas Triblend 3413 (and for good reason.  Another saturated market is the t-shirt drawer.  If you need to grow the popularity of your brand, you have to put that brand on the coolest, softest shirt in that drawer, versus the cheapest.  Cheap tees in this market end up as dust rags, while the soft, cool tees make their way around town showing off the next big brand.

The bottom line: engaging with your brand advocates is as important as building that network. Loyal consumers can create a community of innovators and creators outside of your business that build brand awareness. From having your shirt live on into a trendy t-shirt DIY, to becoming collected merchandise. So before you drop your logo onto your next t-shirt order, ask yourself how else you can use it? Will this create a moment with our brand fans, or is this opportunity more function vs form?