So, I’m sure you have some sort of swag bag planned for your athletes (and if you don’t—what?!), but if you want to up your game, you might be thinking about branching out into merchandise sales.
Selling merchandise can definitely bring in those dolla-dolla bills, but that's only if you make sure you're doing all that you can to actually sell the merchandise.
So how do you get successful with merchandise sales?
Make It Easy For People To Purchase
Fact: we are a culture of convenience, and as a result, people can be a bit... lazy. Even athletes. Seriously, I’ve given up on buying things because a) the line was too long, b) the online shopping cart had too many fields to fill out, and c) because my computer died and I was just too lazy to get up and find my charger. And this is from someone who runs marathons. So you can imagine the drive most people are going to have to snag your t-shirts, water bottles and branded knee socks.
Because here’s the truth: no matter how awesome your merchandise is, your athletes just aren’t going to put much effort into finding it. You need to make it so easy that the level of effort required to find and buy it is as close to zero as humanly possible.
Put a photo gallery of your merchandise right on the top of your online race registration with a big, shiny BUY NOW button that’s so prominent that Mr. Magoo could spot it without his glasses. Set up your merchandise right at expo check in or bib assignment and man it with enough volunteers to clothe an army so you don’t lose people who don’t want to deal with lines.
Make it so easy for them to buy, they’d be lazy not to.
Make It Personal
Race merchandise is awesome. But you know what’s even more awesome? Personalized race merchandise. Call me a narcissist, but I am about 100 times more likely to sport gear that proudly displays my name (and my fastest mile time if I’m in the mood to show off) than a generic, one-size-and-style-fits-all race t-shirt.
How do you get personalized merchandise without breaking the bank?
You have a couple of options. You can upsell your race merchandise during your race registration and create custom orders as people register. OR, you can create an online shop on a site like Zazzle, which allows you to create a template for your merchandise and have people add personal details before they order. For example, you could create a template for a race jersey that has your logo on the front and custom fields for folks to add their name and number on the back. Easy peasy.
Create An Affiliate Program
You know what’s just the best? When other people do work for you. Why sell your own merchandise when you can have someone else sell it for you?
Organizers, I’d like to introduce you to the affiliate program.
Affiliate programs are simple. You get people to sell your stuff for you, and you give them a small percentage of everything they sell. Affiliate programs open up a ton of options for you to get your race merchandise out into the world. You can have individual athletes sell to the people who are there supporting them on their race. You can have local businesses or sponsors sell to athletes. You can have people and businesses promote through their social media accounts and drive traffic to your online store.
Affiliate programs are excellent on a number of levels: not only are you going to sell a ton of merchandise that otherwise would have sat on the shelf, you also get a ton of exposure to a wider audience, and it’ll likely end up driving your race registration.
Selling more registrations and more stuff, and all it costs you is a percentage of merchandise sales that you wouldn’t have made to begin with? Uhm, yeah… I’d call that a win-win.
If you follow these steps, your merchandise will be selling faster than bananas and Gatorade at a finish line, and you’ll be sporting that personalized race t-shirt all the way to the bank. #kaching