How to promote a t-shirt brand with digital marketing?


A t-shirt with a custom print is the most popular product on the print-on-demand market. Millions of people spend their money on being original through their clothes - in particular, by finding an unusual design for their t-shirts. They also like surprising their friends with t-shirt gifts which reflect their personality the best or are a good piece of humor. So, t-shirts are a rewarding and creative business, but their promotion might be a challenge because of the intense rivalry in the market niche. There are many examples of affordable promotion of a t-shirt brand from scratch. Cost-efficiency, the inclusion of social networks, A/B testing, and cross-selling are just several promotional methods you can use for your business development. The following material will let you know how to promote a t-shirt print-on-demand business in this competitive landscape.

Table of contents

Find out the competitors’ strengths

Build a strategy

Analyze, test, repeat


First of all, always learn from the best market players. Find out what your competitors do and how they promote their products. You can get some t-shirt marketing tips from e-commerce Shopify or big print-on-demand t-shirt companies. Select features that appeal to you and implement them to make your brand more attractive in the customers’ eyes.

Ideas are endlessly generated by both rivals and blogging professionals. Thus, PrintAura suggests free shipping or gifts over a particular order to maximize its products' demand. Temi offers ethical tee retail and the possibility to bring tees back to the shop to be recycled. Your brand positioning is linked to creativity and brand policy as well as defining your target audience and understanding their needs precisely. Therefore, you need to find how exactly you wish to present your brand to the public and why your clients should choose you among numerous other offers. 

There is no need to copy others. Relating to homogeneous demand in this market niche and intense rivalry, your brand strategy may rely on the personality of the business owner. Yet, remember your general digital marketing strategy to include the most vital elements to allow the business to flourish. Compare several t-shirt marketing strategies and select those that match your brand and look more appealing to you. Survey-based resource CustomerThink suggests the following approaches to your brand positioning:

  • Pricing strategy. You can choose the most demanded types of products and offer them at the cheapest price if you know how to scale up. Or you can try offering something unique, which is not sold by your rivals. The latter approach allows setting a higher price and increasing the profitability level.
  • Product versatility. Uniqueness is the key. Decide which social group, age, category, you wish to target. Find out what prints are most attractive to your niche. While funny slogans are universal for all ages, smaller-scale groups like students, IT workers, geeks, or even pug owners are easier to promote in terms of the search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Social media advertising. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Tik Tok, and other social media platforms allow using targeted advertising. Use their customizable settings to get a wide boost for a new product or to promote a certain product for a narrow audience segment. At the moment, Instagram and Pinterest remain top visual-trend media, so focus on them as a start. It is free, while the potential audience is unlimited.
  • Direct marketing. Your branded t-shirts may sell themselves when worn if the logo speaks for itself and is recognizable and leads to your branded website directly. Use live events such as any topical exhibitions, sponsored events and street advertising to distribute presentables and to gather potential customers’ emails. Then, use mailing lists to approach them and call for action such as web visit or purchase.
  • Third-party sales. In some cases, integrating with large e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay is a good way to start and increase brand awareness. You will save on digital marketing efforts but lose in profitability. Yet, large brands may have policies that conflict with your business interest. So, preserve your autonomy and allow your users to also order from you directly and work on increasing your branded website visibility.
  • Bulk orders. Encourage your customers to buy in bulk by using competitive pricing, discounts, and unique orders offering products which cannot be bought separately. Add a holiday package or attractive decoration elements to stimulate your customers to order. You may also apply "order 4 – get 1 for free" tactics for your returning customers. Remind your audience about presents' overspending during hot seasons in advance and, thus, encourage upfront sales. Mark all hot seasons in your calendar and prepare thematic promotions for each occasion.

Testing is another way of boosting your t-shirt print-on-demand marketing. Experiments allow observing the most working techniques and strategies to sell more. Call-to-action, A/B, and sales are a few of the existing types to try.

Call-to-action (CTA) needs guidance, yet remains highly valuable. With CTA, you can request from your customer to do what you would like them to do. Create newsletters, e-books, webinars, ask them to join for sales, initiatives, or customer gatherings. Even a distant chat in this COVID-19-impacted time can give you some idea of what your client wants to have. CTAs should not be inappropriate, rude, or too directive. "Browse here" or "Learn more" are the universal phrases. "Buy now" or "Order now" buttons are usually sought near each of the items sold or designs offered.

A/B testing helps to find which options are best for your promotion. It allows comparing results of two or more options. For example, provide several designs for your customers and find out which one they like more. A/B testing can be organized technically when different customers land to different offers on your website. Or you can offer all designs to everybody and just track which ones are more preferred by generating more visits per period or monitor how clients vote with their money. Different-tone questionnaires or newsletters can be sent out by email to segmented groups to see which one gets more returns. Overall, design customizing is highly useful for gaining new knowledge about what kind of advertisements your customers react best to.

Auctions, winning races, and promo sales are all suitable for marketing, especially during the holiday season. In such periods, the customers are more inclined to order in bulk and respond to competitive pricing. You can also introduce the new goods to use it to the fullest because making an original present is a special pleasure. With regards to winning races, do not just clickbait your customers but create credible auctions where people can win. This will create free media resonance and attract a larger audience to your business organically.

To conclude, a t-shirt print-on-demand business is an exciting way both to demonstrate your creativity and to earn money. You can create your brand name and develop an authentic logo using various dedicated digital marketing platforms and software tools. The market experience proves that it is better to start with social media. After that, draw your customers’ attention by unusual design, competitive pricing, catching initiatives, and efficient calls for action such as leaving feedback for a promo. Any strategy can be useful if applied correctly. Analyzing, adapting and testing are the best ways to make your business flourish, develop, expand, and innovate.

PODJanuary 12, 2021
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