You believe you have a talent and an eye for making appealing t-shirts, and could find some success selling them, which has led you to launch a website to do just that.
Now what? You’re a t-shirt designer, not a master marketer. How do you go from operating an online store in the desolate, barren wastelands of the Internet, where not a soul stirs (or shops for t-shirts), to one that has a prime corner location in the Internet’s Mall of America?
You might have a few general ideas jotted down on your pad of ideas, things like “e-mail campaigns” and “be active on social media” and “write amazing blogs that are so engaging they generate endless likes, shares, favorites, re-tweets and pluses”; to which we must say: don’t get too carried away.
Those are undoubtedly great marketing tools, but they come with one all-important caveat: they require existing audiences to build and grow from. We’re going to assume this is something you are decidedly lacking in. As Richard Lazazzera states in his article for Shopify on How to Start an Online T-shirt business, the tools of the trade today make designing, printing and shipping T-shirts simpler and cheaper than ever before. Building a brand that stands out from the pack is the real challenge.
So how do you build an audience from nothing, short of spending money on more aggressive forms of marketing? Let’s take a look now at your best option, which is co-marketing.
Two Markets Are Better Than One (Most Times at Least)
You may have some idea of what co-marketing is from the name. At its core, you’re joining forces with other businesses, sharing resources and tools and jointly reaching out to potential customers. There have been several notable examples of major successes achieved through co-marketing.
The process first starts by identifying ideal partners to co-market with; partners that are complementary, but not direct competitors. Do you want to risk your competitor indirectly stealing any of your business away? Here’s the Breakdown for Dummies version:
- Allying with other clothing companies and T-shirt purveyors that don’t sell the same style of product as you = good.
- Allying with T-shirt producers selling the same product = bad. If you’re selling, say, Star Wars T-shirt designs, you wouldn’t want to partner with a brand also selling Star Wars tees.
The goal with your new co-marketing partner(s) is to create cross-promotional campaigns that reach a broader audience because of your collective participation. The fruits of your promotions reach a much larger and more diverse audience than simply going solo. That’s because you’re not only reaching people looking for shirts, you’re reaching people also looking for whatever it is the company you’ve aligned with sells.
Let’s say you team up with a company selling a product that removes stains from clothing. You promote their product on your website and alongside your other marketing efforts, while they do the same for you. You could even launch a joint campaign or offer something together, such as where buying from one grants you a discount when making a purchase through the other. There are numerous benefits to such partnerships and promotions. These include:
- Access to More Customers ~ You essentially have customers fall into your lap, as they’re compelled by other forces to visit your store and check out your products.
- Instant Credibility ~ In the eyes of the people who trust the brand you’ve teamed up with, you’ve now become instantly desirable in their eyes as another brand they can trust. This can provide you with partial customers (in a good way) without even having to really earn their partiality.
- Much Larger Customer Base for Other Campaigns ~ Along with the greater influx of customers from co-marketing, your other marketing efforts (like those mind-melting blog posts) now become significantly more valuable, and have much greater potential to see larger returns in and of themselves.
Begin with a list of potential companies or industries you feel would make good partners for your T-shirt business, possibly based on the style or audience for your shirts and begin to reach out to them in an effort to find good co-marketing opportunities. It could be your one-way ticket out of that Internet apocalyptic wasteland you currently call home.
But how do you find a co-marketing partner, and how do you facilitate your interactions with this partner? By using BoostSuite’s services to make the connection and grow your online audience, you’ll be placing your brand on the path to wide recognition.
[Photo Credit: Flickr]
This article originally appeared on BoostSuite Blog and has been republished with permission.
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