Fans are an important existence that cannot be replaced by anything. One enthusiastic fan is worth the same as thousands of followers.
Fans will stand up to support you, encourage your friends and liven up your audience.
Creators, companies, influencers, celebrities, etc. who are blessed with such fans even on a small scale may have once considered making and selling original goods.
With plenty of sales opportunities for products such as T-shirts, hats, smartphone cases, and backpacks, your brand will become a part of people’s lives, new revenue streams will be created and fans will be your ambassadors.
So what should we start with when actually making and investing in original goods? Today, I will explain how to make original goods and how to sell them to everyone who has something to deliver to their fans.
- Beyond Revenue: The Real Value of a Product
- Think of an appropriate merchandising strategy
- How to make original goods
- How to sell products
- Let’s make products that fans are enthusiastic about
Beyond Revenue: What Is The True Value Of a Product For Brands, YouTubers, And Creators?
Zack Honarvar is the co-founder of Fan of a Fan, which develops merchandising strategies for a variety of creators and brands, including the booming YouTuber Yes Theory and D2C company Olipop.
For Zach, merchandising goes beyond creating new revenue streams. This is because it creates the following opportunities.
- Identify real fans and build meaningful relationships with them through physical products
- Entertain (grow) the audience with free gifts, etc.
- Create products in collaboration with other creators and brands
- Encourage fans to create content by sharing product photos and videos with followers
- Free reviews occur when fans talk to third parties about products
And best of all, the product helps fans feel the embodiment of the brand and the connections with their community mates.
Yes, Theory fans share stories of creators’ Seek Discomfort products worn on the first day of a new job (under a suit) or at the birth of their first child. This is because the brand symbolizes optimism and personal growth.
“One of our fans wrote about when a flight was canceled and there were hours before the next flight,” says Zach. ” I found someone wearing a Seek Discomfort hoodie at the gate and made good friends within a few hours of being stranded at the airport, just because I’m a fan of the same channel.”
Enthusiastic fans will be happy to buy a T-shirt with the logo. But according to Zach, truly meaningful products have the potential to resonate with new audiences beyond the fan base.
Think Of An Appropriate Merchandising Strategy
Merchandising shows various aspects depending on the development. Continued sources of revenue, opportunities to collaborate with other brands, free gifts for loyal customers, and more.
One of the key decisions in product strategy is whether to sell under an existing brand or launch a sub-brand.
Product Sales As a Sub-Brand
As the example of Seek Discomfort by Yes Theory shows, in some cases, it is natural to launch a spin-off brand.
The advantage of this approach is that we have an audience that goes beyond existing content and products,” says Zack. “Sales may not grow at first, but launching a sub-brand can be a long-tail success because it draws a clear line between the product and the creator’s brand.”
With this approach, Seek Discomfort has collaborated with brands such as Bose, Lululemon, and Timbuk2. This is an opportunity that you might not have had Zack if you were selling it as a ” Yes Theory product.
Product Sales Under Existing Brands
For Zack’s other client, Atticus the poet, it made sense to strategically use his fame as a writer on an e-commerce site. Fans can find his books, T-shirts, temporary tattoos, and even original branded wines on the site.
Atticus has a rather toy-based collection,” says Zack. “But at the same time, he also sells a product called Poet Wine in-store and online. It’s outside the Atticus brand. You have the freedom to choose what to do. As a sub-brand. Some will start separately, others will have to be sold directly to the fan base and audience. “
Atticus products are also integrated into the content shared on Instagram. There are many followers there, and product tags are attached as content that can be bought.
Whatever approach you take, great products will eventually settle in one place.
How To Make Original Goods
Even a simple product that simply designs the logo on a T-shirt or hat will work. However, the process is important to produce a fresh product concept that resonates with existing fans and new audiences.
- Brainstorming and validation of product ideas
- Product design and mockup
- Choosing a print-on-demand partner or manufacturer
Take our brand, Shopify, as an example to take a look at the path from idea to prototype.
Shopify is a platform that supports the business of more than 1.7 million entrepreneurs, giving individuals all the tools they need to launch and grow their brand.
The Shopify brand represents independence, strength, creativity, and, of course, business growth. Starting from these, we will follow the product production process.
Brainstorming and validation of product ideas your brand has built relationships with its
followers and audiences and has already acquired symbols, feelings, copies, and more that could be product ideas.
Would you like to ask your audience what kind of products you really want to buy to make them even more effective?
I always recommend that creators and brands listen to what their audience wants, and in some cases choose from options. You can hear it on IG Stories, email, and the community.“ Hats, boards. Which do you prefer, games, T-shirts, hoodies? “
In addition, Zack says that you may not be aware that you are in a brand is a closed world. ” If you live in Los Angeles, you may not know that there are cold winters in other cities and regions. They never thought of selling soft sweatpants.”
Asking your audience for feedback has added value. For them, it gives them the feeling that they are part of the product production process.
So we used Twitter to ask our followers what Shopify products they wanted.
Based on the feedback we received, a few Shopify staff came up with a prototype product idea.
- Shopify bag logo T-shirt / crew neck / hoodie. The Shopify bag is our icon logo and a natural design element for our fans.
- Business joke hat. It would be nice to have a hat with the slogan of entrepreneurs immersing themselves in their business.
- Charlene Hoody. “Charlene” is a sound effect when there are sales on Shopify. How about designing this as a hoody?
- Independent crew neck. Independence is a great way to define people doing business with Shopify. This powerful word is directly linked to the brand.
- “Shop Small, Thing Big” tote bag. Great for shopping at independent stores in the local community.
- “ Ask me anything about your work ” T-shirt. It’s a simple way to share your business owner’s identity with others.
- Shoppy Hoody. Shoppy is an unofficial Shopify mascot, born a few years ago during the company’s Hack Days event.
Product Design And Mockup
Most product development companies also offer design services, but Zack recommends designing yourself if possible.
It’s best to think about the design elements yourself because you understand your brand more deeply than someone who just recently learned about your brand and thinks about design. “
Product designers can be found on freelance sites or on their own networks, but be aware of the following:
- Provide context. Tell them what kind of product the design is for, who the audience is, and in some cases brand guidelines.
- Explain clearly what you want. Request conveyed many times, at least 1 ～2 degrees do not forget the specific feedback you need to also design improvement of the modification of the opportunities that occur.
- Create a mood board. Here is a summary of ideas, examples, and references that can be used as clues for designers.
Many on-demand printing companies offer mockup generators that you can use to create your products. Placeit allows you to mock up your design lifestyle so you can share it with your audience for feedback.
Get design feedback in the same way you heard product ideas. Not only to involve the audience but also to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
Select A Print-On-Demand Partner or Manufacturer
Once you get feedback on your product mockup, think about how to actually commercialize it.
There are two common options.
- On-demand printing. You can automate the process from manufacturing to delivery by leaving it to your partner. It’s low cost, low risk, and easy to set up and manage. However, depending on the service you choose, your product and customization options will be limited.
- Manufacture from scratch. You can find a manufacturer for the specific product you want to create, produce it, manage your inventory and sell it yourself (or ask an external service for delivery). Naturally, it increases the production options and flexibility of the target product, but it is a large investment amount.
Let’s take a closer look at each approach.
Use On-Demand Printing Services
If you’re on this route, Shopify is a great way to integrate with a variety of popular on-demand printing services.
Many services are free to get started (payment is only made when you place an order for a product), and you can easily create and sell original goods such as T-shirts, hoodies, and smartphone cases with individual product catalogs. I will.
I tried and ordered a sample using Printful for our product. Even if you don’t use on-demand printing in the long run, you can use it for product prototyping and product store testing, or for making free gifts.
Please be sure to order a sample for quality confirmation before selling the product. The color you see on the monitor screen may differ from the color of the actual product. If you have any questions, please contact customer support of the on-demand printing service.
Find A Manufacturer With Whom You Can Partner
Another option is to find a manufacturer with whom you can partner to create your product.
Compared to on-demand printing, there is room for product design to be considered in a non-conventional way. Uniquely designed hoodies and unique board games are also available.
There are many companies like Fan of a Fan that develops products for creators and brands, so it’s a good idea to take a look and check before choosing a partner.
There are a few things to consider before signing a contract with someone.
- About ownership of intellectual property. Who belongs to the brand’s intellectual property, such as new clothing designs that arise as a result of the partnership? It is better to make sure that you retain the rights in case of cancellation of the partner contract.
- Reward mechanism. Fixed cost or profit-based variable system? For merchandising companies, a profit-based share model is common. Often 15% to 50 % of revenue.
- commitment. Zack recommends that you do not contract with one of the partners and long-term. Set up a trial period (eg 3 months, 1 product development, etc.) to see if your partner can meet the deadline, if the product quality is certain, if you respond quickly to emails, if you can trust it overall, etc. Let’s judge. After the trial, decide whether to continue the partnership.
- Invisible cost. From the beginning to the end of the product launch, we scrutinize for hidden costs. Warehouse fees, picking and packing fees, shipping fees, design fees, website management fees, customer service fees, etc. It’s hard when the invisible costs emerge after contracting with the revenue sharing model.
How To Sell Products
The difference in the marketing of products for fans compared to regular products is that they are sold in preference to existing fans, followed by sales to consumers. In other words, you have a guaranteed audience for your potential customers.
The following marketing opportunities should be considered when selling products.
A good product is marketing in itself. If fans buy and wear it often, people will have more opportunities to ask about it.
However, it must be a high-quality product. “The products you sell are the physical assets you have, and fans roam and promote your brand,” says Zack. “But once you make something low-quality, they are 1 ～2 will end only wear once.”
Every time someone wears your product and compliments your product to a third party, your product exposure increases. To increase word-of-mouth, it is important to create products that make you want to show off.
Integrate Products Into a Content
It’s natural to introduce a product in the content. You can wear the product in the video, advertise it directly on SNS posts, or create content in the contest in a creative way.
If you build your product store with Shopify, you can integrate your store to where your audience is, making it even easier to sell your products within your content. Here are the types of channels you can approach.
- Instagram: Tag your products with posts and stories, and curate your Instagram Shop with your profile.
- YouTube: Share the product link in the video description or card and put a CTA at the end of the video.
- TikTok: Partner with other Tik Tok creators to create content for your product.
- Buy Button: If you have a website or blog that is separate from your product store, you can embed your product or collection there.
It’s up to you how to connect your content to your products. You know the best audience. In the case of Seek Discomfort, we held a fashion show in the backyard.
Remarketing To Existing Audiences
How about spending money on advertising to promote your product? In a different situation, you may have a prospective ad to get a new audience to buy your product, but this time retargeting is useful.
Retargeting allows you to target your existing audience to a specific range ( Instagram followers, purchasers, etc.). Retargeting ads are possible on many platforms, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat, as long as the ad pixels are embedded in your website or customer email to target your fans.
We get really high engagement and ROI here,” says Zack. “In most cases of prospecting advertising, we don’t buy products from people we’ve never heard of before, so our passion for paid media should be focused on retargeting.”
Needless to say, if you have an accumulated email list, you can effectively use it as a channel to promote your products.
Implementation Of Pre-Sale
Nothing can gain more excitement than a new product pre-sale campaign. Pre-sale is an opportunity to sell to the audience prior to general release, so they are the first to get the goods.
What are the advantages? Demand can be measured before it is inventoried, and its rarity and urgency can encourage early fan purchases.
Yes Theory did this a lot, especially at the start,” says Zack. “I made some sample clothing items. I took a photo of the items and didn’t have them in stock yet. Then I launched the site for 72 hours, sold it for 72 hours, and closed it. By emailing the audience, they knew how advanced our production process was. “
The Shopify app store has a variety of pre-order apps to help you run your pre-sale. Or Kickstarter, such as a crowdfunding site it is also possible to carry out the presale using.
Let’s Make Products That Fans Are Enthusiastic About
There are various reasons for commercializing it, and it is not just about launching new revenue sources. Products connect your brand and fans, give them the opportunity to show their dedication to you, and give them the feeling that they are part of the big thing.
Bring fresh creativity to your business ideas that go beyond content and products that attract fans.