Don’t ignore the ultimate power of a branded T-shirt
If you ask any die-hard, ‘I’m with the band” fan to explain the power and pull of a concert T-shirt. No doubt, you’ll get a bit of side-eye.
Band t-shirts do a whole host of things: Show the world your love of a musical artist, commemorate your concert date and connect with others who share your passion.
Now, with massive nationwide shutdowns, your favorite diner down the street, the corner bar, the yoga studio and the local hair salon are tapping into what bands have known forever: There’s a huge messaging opportunity in branded tees. Yes, T-shirts showcase a brand, and can provide an alternate revenue stream. An added bonus? They create a sense of unity.
Before COVID-19 hit, if you wore a branded hat from your local watering hole, people knew where you liked to hang out. Now, when you buy a T-shirt emblazoned with your favorite restaurant or barber shop or hardware store, the merch is “a purchase with purpose.” That’s part of the staying power behind Here for Good movement.
What is Here for Good?
St. Louis-based screen printer, Tiny Little Monster, approached local businesses with an out-of-the-box plan. Using InkSoft online stores and fundraising technology, they’d work together to design a branded T-shirt, one per business—then sell them in a custom online store.
The simple concept benefitted both companies affected by the pandemic: $10 from each T-shirt sale would go to the local business, and $10 would go to Tiny Little Monster.
Tiny Little Monster’s Here for Good campaign kicked off a national fundraising program. “We’ve eliminated the fear of businesses that their T-shirts won’t sell,” says Sloan Coleman, the amazing brain behind Here for Good and “Monster Marketer” at Tiny Little Monster. “The flip is that we’re promoting their businesses.”
Now, Here for Good shows no sign of slowing down. Screen printers all over the country are reaching out to their communities, to support local businesses struggling to stay afloat—and raising awareness and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
The movement accelerates every single day
Since Tiny Little Monster launched its Here for Good store, the team has raised nearly $62,000 of its $100,000 goal—and that number keeps rising.
The Here for Good movement’s tagline, “We’re in this together,” definitely has served as a rallying cry, especially as Coleman continues to personally reach out to print shops to get them on board.
Take Shirt Kong. Andy Rudman, owner of the St. Peters, MO-based screen-printing and embroidery shop, designed shirts for 20 local businesses—and got them up into a custom online store—quickly. The store layout is simple: At the top of the page, “Support St. Chuck & The Lou” is printed boldly, a large arch connecting nine small buildings representing local businesses underneath. In a heartfelt post Rudman shared with Shirt Kong’s 11,500 Instagram followers, shares the story behind the store, saying, “Maybe this crisis helps bring this country together.”
And in less than one week—in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic no less—decorator Andy Holst raised more than $36,000 of a $125,000 goal to support local businesses under the grassroots #HereforGood movement in his store. “This is about bringing people together to support companies that had to close,” says Holst, CEO of Yankton, SD-based Embroidery & Screen Works Inc (EASW).
And there are so many more, as evidenced by numerous spotlight stories on InkSoft’s blog: Racine, WI-based We Make T-shirts coming in #RacineStrong for local businesses. Tavares, FL-based Sunday Cool, who spearheaded its #SupportLocal movement (and looks forward to expanding its employee base soon).
Launch Your Fundraising Store in 3, 2, 1 …
Many of the screen-printing shops who’ve launched an InkSoft online store with a fundraising component report they did so in mere hours—almost an instant revenue-generator for themselves and other local businesses. Think of it as “selling in a helpful way.”
Getting started is easy, according to InkSoft, since you create one central online fundraising store to help out your shop and other local businesses in your community. When you build awareness and call for unity in these tough times, the fundraising magic starts happening.
With InkSoft’s fundraising feature, the profits automatically get allocated behind the scenes every time a buyer makes a purchase. For example, Richmond, VA-based K2 Custom Tees, launched RVA Together, an online fundraising store to support local artists and benefit local food pantry Feed More, which helps get meals out to seniors and residents who live in food deserts. You can easily divert additional funds to other organizations like K2 does.
Another key to success? Pairing pairing attractive artwork with a PPE style such as a face mask or a super-soft, quality T-shirt. Customers will want to wear these again and again.
Here are three styles we recommend for your thriving fundraiser store
In our current climate, people are already “activated” to want to help out. Even better, when someone buys a T-shirt, they’re giving, but also getting a tangible reminder of their generosity and support. (Emulate some of Tiny Little Monster’s awesome tees: Southtown Yoga’s “Attitude of Gratitude” T-shirt, All American Gymnastics’ “I’m a Gymnast. I Don’t Quit.” and Six Mile Bridge’s “You had me at craft beer.”)
Spreading the word via a direct, authentic personalized outreach, along with a referral system. “You’re responsible for marketing the heck out of this thing to do the best for your community you possibly can,” Coleman says.
The future—fundraising’s here to stay
Since the Here for Good movement kicked off, Brett Bowden, El Capitan of Keller, TX-based screen-printing and embroidery shop Printed Threads, has branched off of the central fundraising store model and set up more than 40 unique InkSoft stores for his restaurant and local business clients. “Two of our early adopter businesses each made $3,000 in the first 48 hours,” he says. “That could be huge for them—maybe they can cover payroll for a month.”
Bowden also thinks that fundraising is back in a big way. “The concept of a fundraising store isn’t new, but it may have been dormant for a while,” he says. “We created a flyer and a video to promote fundraising stores to our local businesses with this general messaging: ‘We’ll create a web store just for you. No money down. All profit. Send us your artwork. We’ll supply and print the T-shirt. Then, we’ll send you a check.”
EASW’s Holst believes that the Here for Good movement will shine a spotlight on the often-invisible decorated goods industry. “We’re a niche industry, not a business the general population knows, like banking,” he says. “It’s going to be an absolutely phenomenal thing for decorators.”
It’s also about generating good business karma in a new age of social responsibility. “If we all start jumping on this, we’re going to shine,” Holst says. “If we don’t do it now, when will we do it?”
Here’s how you can join the Here for Good movement:
Watch InkSoft’s On-Demand Fundraising for Community and Unity Class
Take a few minutes to learn how you can serve your local community with an online T-shirt and custom apparel fundraising stores. Watch this quick video from InkSoft and access your own turnkey fundraising marketing copy kit.
Don’t Miss the FREE “Here for Good” Webinar on April 24
Join InkSoft for a FREE live webinar to learn more about the Here for Good fundraising campaign program. You’ll discover proven tips and tricks for launching and managing successful online fundraising stores.
Laurie is part of the marketing team for the leading supplier in the industry, alphabroder. During her free time, Laurie likes to ride horses, sail and spend time with her husband and her two children. Reach her at Lprestine@alphabroder.com