Whip Up a Marketing Storm With T-Shirt Contests

I have not quite figured out why, but people still go insane over free t-shirts. If it easily changes their mind about attending some event / forum, to driving the crowd wild during a boring sports game, free shirts seem to make everyone lose their minds. It does not matter how thin or tight or generic the shirts are, either – trying to get a hold of a free shirt is as, if not more so, exciting as trying to have a bouquet of flowers at a wedding.

As t-shirt sellers there is a number of ways we can take advantage of this crazy phenomenon, either to spread the word / help improve our brands.

Free Tee Shirts Make Awesome Advertments

Because free t-shirts are some weird form of post-apocalyptic currency, they are an easy and effective way to market a company’s brand. If you put a company’s name & logo on a free shirt, it will get distributed faster than any flier could. Then once they wear your shirts in public, boom – free walking billboard. Because they’re free, they’re likely to be their favorite shirt, even if they are horrible oversized. That means they are likely to wear it as often as they can, even if around the house. Free shirts may not make any sales, but they are certainly the advertising gift that keeps on giving.

Free shirts are seemingly everywhere now; clothing brands know that people love them, it’s a fun way to boost their traffic, hopefully, sales. However, before you start throwing free shirts at people, there are a few things to consider first.

Make the challenge worth the prize. You are handing out a free shirt, not a golden ticket. Your entry process could be a simple one, preferably no more than a few lines to fill out. Whether it has as many steps as buying a car does, no one wants to enter.

A contest should be social. If you keep the contest “in house” among your own company’s forum or website or you decide to include more people on social media, a fun & creative contest needs the community at large to make it exciting. Getting the news out & building up some hype never hurts, either and at worst, you may hit some new sales in the process.

It cannot just be a participation trophy. If someone puts in a ton of effort into their entry and someone else spends five minutes on theirs and they both get a free shirt, it is likely that your next contest will not be as engaging. Make sure these who went the extra mile to get recognition for their efforts.
Shirt contests are nothing new, some companies just seem to do it better than others. Their contests are fun, engaging and really blow up easily over social media.

Threadless, for example, regularly holds contests for user-generated designs. They are built up their own community, which helps foster customer feedback and the contests boost overall creativity. By allowing the community to judge designs, it keeps contests fair and the winner gets the best prize, cash, as well as a ton of free advertising. It is a real win-win!

Design By Humans hosts regular design contests. Though their approach is a simpler than Threadless, by not having a forum approach & not having their community judge, it still remains easy & effective. In fact, by using Design By Humans’ hashtags, the prize is not just a free shirt, but also having their designs featured on their page. With tens of thousands of followers on social media, this is a big prize to win by a budding designer.

While design contests are all well & good, not everyone who loves shirts is capable to design them. For regular contests, it could be a good idea to switch between those that favor your more creative fans and those that struggle to draw a stick figure correctly. When you are able to include everyone, more people become excited & then participate.

Leverage Social Media Shares

Possibly one of the easiest methods to host a shirt contest that requires no skill at from participants is to ask users to follow a certain page & share the contest message. For example, on Twitter, a simple promo message with a link to the contest, as well as an easy & short hashtag, can gain a lot of traction quickly. Whether it’s giving away a coupon / voucher / a free product, it can really drive traffic to your store & all but guarantee some sales.

This is a favorite among companies & customers alike. It’s easy to enter and it’s easy for the company to gain new followers. It does not require a whole lot of work & it can easily be shared across multiple social media platforms. This method, it boosts your brand’s presence among several sites & eventually generates more leads for your shop. Best of all, it just takes a few seconds to enter.

Give a Vote, Get a Shirt

Community feedback is a good way to develop new products, but you do not necessarily want to spend a bunch of time & money gathering data. If you have a few new shirt ideas kicking around, simply ask the people what they want.

By voting on which one(s) they love the best, you can have a better idea of what new designs are going to sell. To scratch their back for their vote, you could give them either a free shirt, a voucher code to shop with you or even a crack at designing their own shirt, which you would then element on your site.

What is great about voting contests is the simple way you can mix it up with the prizes & promotions side. Best of all, it is easily shareable – they send it to others through email, put it up on their blog or simply like and retweet it. And if you’re extra savvy, you can make an automatically generated FB post when they enter, allowing even wider sharing selections.

Calling All Shutter Bugs

Everyone these days think they are a photographer, and admittedly, every new smartphone has a better camera than the last. An easy way to get clients involved in a contest is to ask them to take their skills beyond Instagram & find a certain picture to share. By making a theme, whether it be cool urban pics, serene natural shots or even a fun party, customers can easily snap a picture & be entered. And for an extra advertisement edge, you can ask that the pictures feature one of your shirts.

Another spin on the idea is how the winner is chosen. It can be a voting process. It can be an internal panel, or for maximum exposure, select the picture entry that users have shared the most. This could especially be useful on Twitter & can gain a ton of new followers.

Answer Some Questions, Win a Prize

While no one likes taking a long quiz, this promotion can be simple. Either you come up with a short questionnaire that you can use to improve your brand, designs, site, etc., or you use a quiz field to beat the promotion into their brains. For example, with a current contest running, the user could have a bonus entry each day with a simple question that ties back into it.

By entering into a field answers like the final day for submissions, the contest theme, a promo code or hashtag or other relevant question, this helps cement the contest into their mind on a wide scale. By forcing them to repeat the details, this helps make more excitement, as well as encouraging more people to act quickly.


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