5 Steps to Successful Merch Pre-Sales

5 Steps to Successful Merch Pre-Sales
August 4, 2020 Dominic Tancredi
In Blog Posts, Merch
Tour Merch Illustration - Woodshed Stage Art

A successful merch pre-sale is easy if you know what you’re doing.

As mentioned in a previous post, a merch pre-sale is a great way to test the waters on a new merch product. But only if it’s a successful campaign. Getting the most out of a merch presale campaign is easy with the right planning, and can really save you cash and stress vs. a traditional merch sale. (If you haven’t already, read “5 Reasons Why Merch Presales are a Safer Bet”.)

Find out how:

5. Do your homework.

Give some thought to what you want to pre-sell. Maybe you already have an item you’re on the fence about and need to gauge fan interest. But take some time and pore over every detail. Explore some unique colors, different finishing techniques, materials, etc. Take the time time to make it awesome. Better yet, discuss your vision with a merch expert to get some feedback.

Once you know exactly what you want, run some numbers. How many are you sure you could easily sell (like, for real)? How many do you hope to sell (realistically, if your promotion gains some traction and your fans really love it)? Be realistic and take into account past merch sales, the size of your fan base, and the duration of the campaign. You should end up with 3 numbers: a safe, low minimum amount, a high goal, and a more likely outcome, the average of the two.

Then, talk to a reputable merch vendor (like the experts at Woodshed!) and get some quotes based on all three projected quantities. Once you have some projected costs, set a standard retail price for your product, taking into account your past merch item sales, your costs for this one, industry-standard costs, etc. Once you have a retail price set, consider a discounted pre-sale price, or other incentive (see why below.)

4. Invest in design and nail the details.

This should go without saying, but one big component in selling a lot of merch is offering designs your fans actually love. From the design to the colors to the other details like material, fit, finish, etc. you need to make sure your design is a home run.

Typically, 1-color artist logo tees don’t pre-sell well (especially a boring white logo on a black tee.) Offering something interesting and unique is part of it, but the design has to be awesome and the execution has to be equally as awesome. Work with a reputable designer (ahem) and try to find someone who specializes in design for bands and/or merch design (again…AHEM…) is your best bet, rather than going the DIY route.

3. Offer value.

Give fans who opt in something the rest of the world can’t get. This reinforces the exclusivity and gives then an incentive to pre-order. Otherwise, they’ll opt to order once items are in stock – no risk, no long wait to ship, and they can give it some serious thought if they really want it or not (which means they may pass

How? Whether it’s a discount, a special freebie, a handwritten note, early overnight shipping, even free ground shipping (though that’s kinda weak on its own, in my opinion…), make sure to give your fans something extra special.

2. Create urgency.

The best way to create a sense of urgency with a merch presale is to set a hard cut-off date.

How long is ideal? Most successful presales we’ve been involved in last 2 weeks. Some can last as little as a day or two, provided you’ve got a large-enough rabid fan base to bring in the numbers you need quickly; some can last a full month, but that’s risky as well: If the timeframe’s too short, you won’t have enough time to promote; too long and interest will wane. Keep in mind the vast majority of your presales will come on the first day and the last day or two. The rest is promo.

1. Promote.

This should go without saying, but you can’t just add the presale product to your webstore and expect the sales to roll in. Spend some time promoting the presale before it happens, and heavily promote during  the campaign.

How? Set aside some cash for sponsored social media ads where your fans are. Show the product in the ad, and drive traffic to the specific presale page. Repost organically early and often. Encourage your fans to share and retweet, perhaps with a giveaway contest. Do a quick selfie video wearing the presale gear if you can, or at least talking about it, maybe showing the final mockup. But get the word out however you can.

Merch Better

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Let’s discuss your needs and see if we can help.

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