Shirts Hanging

How can I advertise my business on t-shirts? Is that a good investment? Does it work?

If you gave away or sold shirts at cost with the intent of advertising your business, event, or program, will it work? Like all questions of advertising: it depends. 

Below are several answers and considerations about advertising via t-shirts. The same can go for the apparel, depending on your market. For instance, backpacks might be a better way to show your brand to students, especially if those students wear uniforms. 

Advertising is about lots of touchpoints or “being everywhere”. The sort of thing where you see a billboard or a Facebook ad and later in the checkout aisle you see a name or message again on someone’s shirt. That’s solid advertising, and it works even better if you can count where your customers come from. But even if you do count where customers come from analytics or asking them, they might remember the shirt, but not the billboard. Or they might remember the flyer but not the shirt when in reality they saw the shirt first and the flyer second and that’s what “clicked” in their mind.

Promoting your business on a t-shirt is like hundreds of small billboards walking around town

Billboards are expensive. A spot on a highway can costs $10,000 a month or much, much more. You can buy a lot of t-shirts for $10,000 and if you can get people to wear them out to the grocery store, restaurants, and elsewhere, that’s a lot of bang for your buck. BYOG can screen print almost anything on any number of affordable shirts that look great and feel good to the wearers. 

Yes, everyone wears t-shirts. But remember your demographic

Advertisers know the only way to be successful in any campaign is to know your target market. If you’re in the lawn care business, providing t-shirts with your logo meekly tucked into the corner to a bunch of kindergartners probably isn’t going to get far.

But we can get creative. A funeral company can hand out branded helmets at athletic events for kids, reminding them who they can call if they don’t wear one while biking or skateboarding. A senior services company can hand out shirts to kids at a school event or program that grandma and grandpa are likely to come to watch. 

Just remember these basic rules for picking shirts:

  • Keep the humor over-the-top or subtle. What’s funny to one person is offensive to another. Shop it around before printing!
  • Choose the right colors. Few people look good in neon colors.
  • Don’t hesitate to hire a great designer if you know you lack the skills. And don’t trust this to your 12-year-old nephew because he’s “good with computers”. BYOG has shirt and apparel designers that can help point you in the right direction.

Know how you’re going to give away t-shirts

Now that you know what to say, know who you want to give them away to and how. 

You can consider giving them away in goodie bags at events, but it’ll work even better if you give an opportunity to have them in hand before the event. That way they can come wearing them. 

Or, if it works for your brand, find events where people need to change shirts afterward, like a race.

Make sure you take lots of selfies with people who are wearing your brand and make sure those people are the people you want to share.

T-shirt contests work if the shirts are really high-quality, like a polo or with a stellar design, limited edition, or other unique perks. This works for distributing the shirts and afterward. Tell your fans if they post or tag themselves wearing it somewhere they’re entered to win something neat. And make it worthwhile! No one’s going to go through the work of posting a photo for the chance of a $10 gift card or 10% off.

Know what’s important to include on the shirt

Your website is probably worth including, as well as your phone number depending on your business and your market. Remember: teens and youth aren’t going to call you, ever. 

Also remember that no one has ever looked at a mere Twitter icon and thought, “You know, I should follow Carl’s Carpentry on Twitter.” Leave the social media icons off. You’re just advertising Facebook and TikTok more than yourself at that point.

Skip the QR codes, too. You might think you’re being clever or trendy, but it’s the wrong application at the wrong place. People wearing QR codes means other people are supposed to come up in front or behind strangers with phone cameras outstretched. That’s not only creepy, it’s also unlikely to work since natural folds and creases in the shirt will likely render it impossible to scan. And no one wants to wear a QR code on their chest

Your website URL can do double-duty if you put up a special page or This way you can count visits directly to that page. Add a special offer to it and you can figure out how many customers go from shirt to sale.

Ready to advertise your business on some new shirts?

Contact BYOG to talk to a specialist about your ideas, hear more useful tips, and get a quote. 

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