If Your Merchandising Strategy Is Nonexistent, Please Read This

If you can’t confidently answer yes to these questions, I’d argue that you’re missing out on large amounts of merchandising revenue and branding potential.

> guest post by Allison Shaw, Director of B2B Marketing, Jakprints, Inc. 

(1) Do you feel that you have a strongly-defined, recognizable brand and identity for yourself, your band, or your label?

(2) Do you know your revenues and profit margins on merchandising?

(3) Do you know your revenues and profit margins on each specific piece of merchandise that you sell?

(4) Do you feel that you have a close understanding of what your fan base wants when it comes to merchandising items?

(5) Are you maximizing your profits in this area?

A major part of the problem here is knowledge, or lack thereof.  It’s easy to pick up anecdotal tips and tricks, and get a sense for things by simply doing it.  But outside of ‘sell more merch!’ there are actually few resources and little research available for maximizing this revenue stream.

Which means that developing a comprehensive and effective strategy around this potentially lucrative revenue source is difficult, and results are typically underwhelming.

There are several negative associations for artists apply to, well, selling a lot of stuff.  For many musicians and artists, as soon as they hear ‘marketing guy’ buzzwords, they get turned off and tune out. You may even feel that branding yourself and marketing yourself like a business makes you a sell out.

I’d say this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Branding isn’t about turning you  — or your art — into a commodity, it’s about giving your fans more ways to show their support – and support your art.  Even though those phrases are straight out of Corporate America, they’re really just fancy ways of saying three basic tenets:

  1. Who are your fans or supporters (and hopefully buyers)?
  2. What do your fans want?
  3. What is your goal and plan to: reach, satisfy and develop a revenue stream from your fans or supporters?

Here’s another ‘Corporate America’ term for you: Brand Ambassador. What is a Brand Ambassador and what does that mean to you? They’re your fans. Not only do they love your work, they identify themselves through your work – and they want the whole world to know it. They want your t-shirt. They want the bumper sticker. They want your show posters. And, they want a stack of flyers to promote your next show. They are your street team and advertisers.

Now that we’ve identified the problems and challenges, what’s the solution? How can artists create an incredible, lucrative marketing strategy?

The Jakprints + Digital Music News Strategic Partnership.

Are you ready to define your fan base and give them what they want? Are you ready to strategize and build a marketing plan for success? Ready but don’t have a plan or know where to start?

As part of our just-created strategic partnership with Digital Music News, we want to share our best practices along with our industry knowledge and transform your merchandising strategy as a result. The goal is to enable better decision-making through information and lend our expertise the entire way.

Why Jakprints?  Who are we?  As industry veterans, I’d say we’ve seen it all and learned a few tricks over the years.  Jakprints was born from two musicians, who wanted a way to easily and cost-effectively market their bands.  They quickly discovered that a print shop willing to produce t-shirts, stickers, postcards and flyers with a touring band in mind – and with the artistic quality that matched the integrity of the music — simply didn’t exist. Jakprints was born as a full service custom print shop with the artist, the musician, the individual – you – in mind.

So it’s simple: We want to be the people that help breathe life into your project by creating a platform for you to design and create anything you need. We believe we have the knowledge and tips that will help you harness the marketing potential you didn’t even know existed.  Our mission is to provide an online environment where any business, brand, fan or entertainer can expect the highest level of quality and service.  And this is the place we want to do it.

Any questions!?

8 Responses

  1. DJdayz

    What’s working the most in terms of different pieces for artists? I would have said t-shirts and vinyl based on my sales but experimenting into new types can be seriously risky from both inventory and time.

  2. Versus

    I thought this site was called Digital Music NEWS, so I expect to read news, not an infomercial.

    Please clearly separate news items from advertising.

    • paul


      I hope you’ll keep an open mind during this partnership and series of articles and collaborations ahead. One of our goals is to greatly expand the amount of information and expertise that the artist community has on merchandise. I find most have only a working knowledge, and this partnership will change that. I think if we do this right, everyone wins here, including Jakprints’ competitors.


  3. Dan

    I own a tech music business and actually have the need for a company like this and the information they are giving. This has been a topic at our Marketing meetings about our branding and were talking about how important are things like shirts and other handouts. I have seen Jakprints sponsoring events and have ordered banners from them. I am glad to see they are pro-active in giving out relavant information and educating the masses. I do not see this as an infomercial as I for one had to do the ordering and was completely lost in getting them the right file since I myself do not design and Allie got me a rep and they helped me through. Thank for the info!!

    • Sports Collectables 505

      You do not need a national company to handle local need you need a marketing manager to handle the needs of your company and find out where all the bodies are at the you need to effectively market your products. Working with a local printing and graphics designer will fill your needs better as than can show you what other businesses in your core group are utilizing”

      Also withouth have a local marketing manager you are behind the 8 ball. This person should get a proper feel for the area and what wil or wil not work.

      Working with autographed sports memorabilia and Collectables I help dealers and sports bars brand their products based on their client base

  4. Jason Spitz

    Jakprints is a good company with excellent customer service and quality products. Allison is a smart, forward-thinking professional. I think it’s mostly a good thing that DMN is giving her a platform to offer perspective and advice. That said, I would caution DMN to keep this discussion productive, and not veer too far into infomercial territory.

    For starters, I think a lot of artists could benefit from a simple explanation of the concept of profit margin and a walkthrough of the cost analysis in ordering merch and other products. Help them understand how they can plan & strategize to make a profit, not just break even.

  5. Steven C

    In answering SC505 and it looks like you are in Albuquerque New Mexico, one of the bands on our roster recently was Touring from Socal over to Texas. The band had all their merch stolen from their van. We ended up calling Albuquerque where they were not playing and staying the night to see if within the 2 days it would take to get there would be enough time to get more merch. We called a local promoter there that gave us 3 different printers.

    They were all so overpriced even with dropping the promoters name, plus none of them could do the job. We even called printers in Phx and Austin, all over-charging us for rushing our order. I know Allie, so I emailed her, within a few hours she had us working with someone at Jakprints, they had our order in cue that night and by the time we got to Austin our order was waiting for us. Even with overnight shipping it was still cheaper than ordering local.

    Unless you have a long established relationship with a local printer, I have found in every instance Jakprints to be better quality and works very well with your budget. Supporting local is good, but we are National, our bands are everywhere. We don’t have the time to wait on local printers, most of the time they are not big enough to work in the order on a rush and the one’s around us are very expensive. I am interested in learning more about how Jakprints is helping their customers on understanding the analytics behind the products.