Let's have a conversation about merchandising. To some this might seem like a dirty word. Maybe on some level it is, but on an important level it is a good thing and can open a very interesting area of profit. Merchandising is simply promoting the sale of goods. While the way business is done may have changed with the internet and Social Networks, merchandising has not.
Right now, many getting into business in this new age are selling their online video learning or created courses and that's merchandising. Aspiring actors and models are all over the place trying to get exposure. This too is merchandising. Of course there are the ads we see on television, and while waiting for a movie to start, or at the beginning of your newly purchased DVD or Blu-Ray. We already know about the usual suspects, toys, food, gadgets, cars. But many who are trying to start something new on the internet still underestimate the value of merchandising themselves. Either they are not sure how to do it or really what it is past the clinical definitions.
Or worse yet – they do it already in a very limited way.
Models, writers, podcasters, SEO coaches, Social Network Marketing teachers, Twitter/Facebook personalities – all in that list are great at building an audience and keep them coming back for entertainment and content. However many of them underestimate the power of merchandising so do not take the leap. How they should be thinking, in the case of merchandising, can be summed up in a movie quote.
“Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs-the T-shirt, Spaceballs-the Coloring Book, Spaceballs-the Lunch box, Spaceballs-the Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs-the Flame Thrower. ” Yogart – from Spaceballs.
Sounds crazy, but that is exactly how those of you with people following you, commenting, interacting with you, should start thinking. Especially anyone growing their career using their own image like Models, Singers, Actors or Online Coaches.
The best part of this is that a Merchandising not hard to set up anymore. You don't have to print up tons of stuff only to have them stored in a garage or an empty room while you hope you get orders. Nor do you have to worry about how to get it shipped, or even how to keep track of orders. There are already websites that make it easy.
For example; sites like Vista Print allow you to put an image on practically anything. Vista Print's selling point is business cards and fliers, but it also lets you put an image on pens, cups, stickers, posters, general stationary, magnets and banners. The best part of this is you don't have to order right away. You can set your items up, save them on the site and order as needed. This is just one way you can offer merchandise without the aforementioned problem of storage, and without the problem of investing money on something that might or might not sell.
And before you dismiss this, here's the easy way to test exactly how successful merchandising is. Look around your home or your desk in your office. How much merchandise do you own you really don't need? Be honest. Do you really “need” that Obama Bobble-Head? Does the Star Wars pen set work any better then a pen you get free at the slip table of any bank? Are those Elvis dinner plates better to eat off of then any other plate in your house? What made you purchase your merchandise?
The answer you come to is exactly the answers you fans or followers or “friends” will mostly likely come to as well.
Of course like any online venture you have to market it. There's no magic bullet for getting anything sold. But if you're on this site you know this. The best marketing is honest marketing. Tell your followers these things are available. Set up a page of merchandise and have the shopping cart ready. Urge them over to that page and make sure its set up like anything else you're selling. Test which items sell and which don't then add or remove accordingly.
The important point here is that merchandising is a component many are ignoring. You might not think its something you should or even could offer, but it a sure bet that your fans/followers/friends might actually want to own it, maybe because they love you that much, maybe as a gag, or maybe just to support you. What ever the reason, there is not reason not to at least give it a try. It may be the digital age, but the digital age isn't closing K-Mart or Sears any time soon. People will always want to own things, why not help them out with that and give yourself a diverse revenue stream?