Event planning is all about the "b" words— like budget. The bulkier the budget, the bigger, better, and bolder the event can be. But, a little under half of event planners have budgets under $100k. That may seem like a lot... until you see your venue bill and try to hire guest speakers. Sometimes, you need to find ways to inject a little extra dough into your event. But how do you do it?
Here’s how you can use event merchandise to grow your event (and your wallet).
What is Event Merchandise?
Remember that band poster you got at your last concert? Or how about that “I Ran for Charity!” shirt you scored at that last 10k? That’s event merchandise. And it’s a big deal. The average festival rakes in $412k from merchandise alone and festival-goers are spending an average of $50 per transaction buying that merchandise. There’s plenty of money-making opportunity in merchandise.
Here’s the great thing — almost anything is merchandise. That includes:
- Pens and Pencils
- Coffee Cups
- and, well, everything else
If you can shove a logo or event-specific message on it, it’s merchandise. By now, we’re guessing the light in your head is so bright it’s blinding your neighbors. That’s right. Not only does event merch make you money, it literally brands your event for years. You get to make money by selling people clothing that brands your event for you. Are you living in a dreamland? Nope! That’s merchandise.
Why Do People Sell Merchandise?
There are a thousand reasons to sell merchandise at your event, but we’ll focus on the big three
- It’s extra revenue: Sure, your event may not rake in festival money, but there’s some serious profit to be made with event merchandise. And after a few test runs, you can start to maximize those profits through accurate inventory ordering and smart investments. Worried no one will buy your merch? A recent survey showed that 85% of people buy merchandise at some point in their lives.
- It’s beautiful branding: Again, this may sound crazy, but people will give you money to wear your event logo around town. What’s better than that? And when people see your logo walking around on the street, they may show up to your next event, especially if their friend is wearing it. 92% of people trust friends and family over any advertising methods.
- It builds relationships: When people are passionate about your event,they want a way to show it. Giving them that opportunity through merchandise helps solidify the relationship between you. 50% of people that buy merchandise say that it makes them feel closer to the brand they purchased it from.
Where Should You Sell Merchandise?
You’re probably wondering when and where you should sell merch at your event. Is it at the front gates? Near the food vendors? Or maybe after the event? The answer to that is YES! You should sell merchandise at hotspots — or areas where there is heavy foot traffic.
Make sure that your event booths are well lit, have nice signage, and that the merchandise is displayed in an attractive manner.
At this point, we get into some of the more nuanced stuff like building booths, specific booth placement, and booth management techniques. We recommend keeping merchandise hyper-organized (you can use the method we use for at-the-door ticket management!). Let’s go over some general tips:
- Put volunteers or employees with high energy at the merchandise booth. It will likely be an active spot, and enthusiasm sells.
- Think about crowd control. If you’re running a big event, think about pathways that event goers will walk. Use signage and rope to prevent possible bottlenecks.
- Order small at first. Don’t order a ton of inventory if it’s your first time selling merch. It’s better to run out than to have a ton of leftover product. Figure out how much you can sell, then adjust your orders appropriately.
- Make it look good! Want to know why 73% of people purchase merch? It’s because it looks cool! Who wants to wear an ugly t-shirt?
Event Merchandise Pros and Cons
Let’s go over a quick list of pros and cons for event merchandise.
- It can be an incredible source of extra revenue.
- You get to connect with attendees and provide them with a deeper relationship through branded items.
- Merchandise can be fun to design, and you can forge incredible relationships with vendors that may help you out down-the-road.
- People literally pay you to wear your brand.
- Starting out can be difficult. You don’t know how much inventory to order, and you have to design your booth.
- Setting up booths takes time, and you have to allocate resources to booth construction and management.
- You need help to work the booth and extra training.
What if you could offer merchandise up front and online? With Purplepass, our ticket selling mode is exceptionally fast and easy, all done online during checkout. We offer a merchandise mode that is designed for the ultimate speedy sales. This solution is ideal for merchandise, food, drinks, or for running the bar at your events.
To learn more, check out this guide on our Advanced Selling Mode.