Using Merch To Aquire New Clients

The idea of giving away a promotional item in the hopes that potential clients will remember your brand when it's time to purchase is nothing new. This practice has been happening as long as there have businesses around market. Over the last decade the advent of client acquisition software and social media have changed the game in big ways. No longer do you have to wait for a client to stumble into your business, send out items blindly hoping the right buyer receives them, or resort to being that pesky person at a trade show passing out stuff that people will trash right when the get back to the hotel. How many company calendars do you get a year? How many do you keep? ... Exactly.


So how do you change the marketing game for your small company? Software such as Clickfunnels, Cartflows, and Leadpages allow businesses and marketers to target and engage precise niches and users. Much of the success of these platforms are due to the ethical bribes they give in return for contact info or short surveys that are completed by potential clients. Once they capture the potential clients info (who they know fit their target market) they use these items help to create buzz, build a sense of community, and earn loyalty from users and buyers.  


Clickfunnels, for example, uses a t-shirt as the reward for completing a 10 minute onboarding video. They feel confident that if you have taken the time to watch the whole video then you are a great prospect. So much so that they are willing to give you one of their highly recognized '#FUNNELHACKER' tees. There nearly 50k users in the Clickfunnels community and every one of them receives one of these shirts. The CEO of Clickfunnels sums up the usefulness of the free tee like this; “We started realising that being a “funnelhacker” is a thing. Something that people aspired to be. We were teaching people to hack funnels, and they just started referring to themselves that way. And that continued because the more they associated themselves with funnel hacking, the more they felt they belonged to something”


“The t-shirts help them identify with being a funnel hacker. And our community fell in love with it and just kept asking about them. Since then we have added multiple t-shirts for different actions our members take. This has been so effective that many of our customers have an entire wardrobe of t-shirts. One for every day of the week”


A quick search of the hashtag #funnelhacker proves his point. There are thousands of photos of folks posing with their prized t-shirt on. 


“People love wearing things that associate them with a brand or experience they believe in. It’s almost as if nothing is more exciting – they wear it as a badge of honour. My wife is a marathoner, so has a huge collection of official race t-shirts that she wears with pride. It’s the same thing. It’s something that they proudly wear that speaks to who they are as people.”

“We went with a higher quality shirt. We didn’t want them to be disposable. We wanted something that they would want to wear. And our customers are proud to show off our product not just because they’re proud to endorse, it but also because they’re good conversation starters. Some of our partners even use it as a legitimate lead generation tactic!”


Clickfunnels doesn't just send t-shirts out to new users, they also use tees as a part of their events and conferences. 


“We recently used them at conference to incentivise people to upgrade on the day. We had these great t-shirts that said “We Are Not ConfusionSoft”, which was making fun of a competitor of ours. People went nuts for them. We even had a different color for each day”.


An interesting insight here is that although they don’t explicitly measure ROI. If you can encourage customers to upgrade a service that has tiers that run to nearly $300 with a t-shirt that probably cost no more than $10 or $12 each, you’re definitely doing something right! This all ties in to the psychology of reciprocity. As human beings, if we’re given something, we’re hardwired to want to give something back. In this case, it’s often our cold, hard cash!


Nearly all of our clients have a 'tribe', as master marketer Seth Godin would describe them. This tribe is a group of your biggest fans who take pride in being a part of the community and culture that your brand puts forth. With that in mind it's hard to know just how much a free t-shirt is really worth. What would you pay to put your logo on your biggest fans favorite tee? How much value is there in having your tribe spread the good word about your brand for you?!



Not all businesses need 50k folks wearing their logos, though it's a nice thought. But what if your 50 biggest fans were out representing your brand day in and day out. What if half of them, while wearing your shirt, engaged in conversations that brought you ten new leads? Would that be worth an approximate cost of $10 per shirt? For nearly every business out there it would be a no brainer. The t-shirt itself is not going to grow your brand, but using the t-shirt to create buzz among your tribe certainly could.



Want to dive deeper into how you can use custom branded merchandise to continue to grow your tribe? Hit us up, we'd love to brainstorm with you.