We are living in trying times for sure, friends. And while this IS temporary, it may be some time before you can take your show back on the road. With this harsh reality looming, the first instinct may be to panic. Try not to do that - don’t let uncertainty prevent you from moving forward. The best thing we can do for ourselves now is to keep going, find ways to pivot, and figure out how to weather this storm.
We at Merch Cat don’t have all of the answers, but we do know that it’s more important than ever for you to stay connected to your fans so that they are still paying attention when we come out of this. And we do know that merch is a tried and true way to help you through, even though you can’t be out there doing shows.
Here are 6 things you should do now to make merch work for you:
1) Offer merch bundles and deals – BOGO, 2For deals, fire sales on dated/legacy items, and straight up discounts where it makes sense. Throw in a bonus item with every purchase. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
2) Post pics of fans or yourselves wearing your merch. It is almost guaranteed that sales will be triggered by others seeing your merch in action.
3) Introduce new novelty/exclusive/personalized items that are low cost. We’re talking handwritten lyric sheets and signed photo prints. If you have drawing skills, offer your visual art for sale. If you’re a craftsman, start crafting and add those items to your merch line.
4) Communicate with your fans! Send out an update on how you’re doing, talk about plans/music you’re working on, let them know you have merch for sale with a call to action button to make it easy for fans to act in the moment. Ask what merch they want to see both now and at your shows when things open up again. Give them something to look forward to. And don’t just rely on social media. Facebook and Instagram decide who sees your posts and when. Get that email list out (or going), and communicate to your fans in the way that you are guaranteed to reach them.
5) Strategize. Now is a great time to visit your analytics on streaming platforms and socials and see who listens to your music. From here you can learn their age, gender and location. Why should you look at these? Because these are the people who will likely buy your merch. Once you have that data, you can strategize your merch line to better suit your audience.
6) Pre-sell. No one says you absolutely have to have the merch in your hands to sell it. Yes, you are obligated to fulfill (or refund) once the orders are placed, but using the results of 4 and 5, you can plan an item or two, put them up for sale and once you have an indication of demand and some funds from pre-sales, place the order. Just be sure to communicate to your fans that this is a pre-sale, and give them an idea of timing so you can manage expectations.
Having a platform to sell merch on is essential to making merch work for you now. If you do not already have an online store, or you do but want to give your fans an additional way to purchase merch in the moment, we have an app for that! Our Merch Cat Fan app is free to fans, and offers a fast and easy experience. We are currently waiving our Merch Cat monthly subscription fees for all artists who wish to make their merch available on Merch Cat Fan. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started or learn more.
Vanessa Ferrer used her multi-faceted background to develop and launch (2015) Merch Cat, a musician friendly platform for music artists to sell and manage merchandise at live shows. Merch Cat Fan, a fan facing virtual merch table and merch market place launched in late 2018. Since then, Ferrer has spoken at over a dozen conferences, including Music Biz and SXSX. Through her efforts, Ferrer aspires to help artists have sustainable careers, as well as inspire other entrepreneurs. Ferrer is a member of NARAS, the Music Business Association, and Women In Music.