May 10, 2021
Marketing is a key aspect of any business strategy. But if you’re just barely starting out a new patch or custom merchandise business, chances are your budget is pretty tight. This can make promoting your business and finding new customers a challenge.
Whether you’re thinking of selling patches in your online store or you’re already selling patches online, just with less stellar sales than you were hoping for…
With the right marketing plan, you CAN find the right customers and sell plenty of patches even with a shoestring budget.
Here at The/Studio, custom patches are what we do. We help business owners big and small turn patches into profit. With our handy DIY online product creation tool (and with a little help from our team), you can design and produce high-quality, trendy patches that your customers will totally swoon over.
Of course, even if you have a beautiful design in mind, even if you partner with an amazing manufacturer who’s made gorgeous patches for you, even if you THINK there are loads of people out there who will love them…
A good marketing strategy is what will seal the deal.
While there really are a lot of people out there looking for awesome custom patches, there’s also a lot of competition. You need to market your products in a way that makes you stand out from all the noise and gets customers not only to purchase from you but to keep coming back again and again.
We’ve gathered a list of expert tips to help you kickstart marketing for your patches business, whether you’re just getting started or you’re going through a bit of a slow season and want to ramp things up again.
As you read these 20 tips for marketing your patches business, consider what your business needs most… and make a plan to start implementing all of this great advice!
You’re already planning on selling custom patches with other fun designs… why not throw your online store’s logo design in the mix? Toss them in with select orders, sell them at a discount, iron them onto baseball caps, beanies, magnets, socks, t-shirts, or tote bags. Every time a customer reps your merch, they’ll also be spreading the word about your business – it’s a win-win!
Patches don’t just dress up plain fabric – they also have the potential to send a powerful message. Consider partnering with a charity on a limited-edition design and donating a portion of all proceeds to the cause. (Customers love supporting companies that share their same values!)
Your patch design could feature the organization’s name, a simple message, or just a design paying homage. For example, if you choose to release a patch that donates 10% of proceeds to Save the Turtles, you could create a patch that says “Save the Turtles” in a cool font or a patch with a stylized design of a sea turtle.
You might choose a large charity and donate the proceeds on your own, or partner with a smaller local charity and cross-promote one another.
Get patches that are branded with your logo out into the world. Consider handing out branded patches at pop-up events, your in-person shop, and whenever you meet a potential customer in passing. It’s so much more fun than a business card or a sticker – it’s something they might actually use! It’ll serve as a reminder of your business, plus it’ll promote your store to anyone who happens to see it.
Not planning on creating patches with your own logo? Create small decorative patches to hand out, attached to a little note explaining how and where they can purchase more!
Patches are an extremely visual product. Style your patches on different bags and articles of clothing, take great pics of them, and share them on your Instagram feed dedicated to your patches business. You might also consider creating a few Instagram reels or story videos demonstrating how to use and iron on your patches, or ideas for how to use them. While it does take time and patience to create great Instagram content and grow your following, it can be an extremely powerful (and free!) marketing tool.
The younger generation may not be using Facebook as much as other social platforms these days… but it’s still an important tool for marketing your business, especially if you’re targeting an adult crowd. Create a page dedicated to your patches business. Start a Facebook group of your most loyal customers, and go live regularly to display and sell your newest patches. Run Facebook ads to reach your target audience. The possibilities are endless!
Don’t sleep on Pinterest! Pinterest is an especially powerful social media platform because many of its users go on it with the intention of finding new products to buy. Create pins dedicated to your various patch products, with aesthetically pleasing outfit photos that keep your patches front and center. You can pay to have certain pins promoted, but aside from that, it’s totally free to use.
Somewhere out there is a big group of people who would absolutely love to buy whatever it is you’re selling. But if you try to sell patches designed for boy scout uniforms to a group of 20-something girls… well, good luck with that. As you design and sell your patches, have a clear idea of how they’ll be used and who would likely be most interested in buying them. Then, write your ads, product descriptions, and social posts as though you’re talking to that person.
Back in the old days, you’d have to run an expensive print ad or buy even more expensive air time to get your patches in front of the right people. Today, it’s possible to run a successful marketing campaign for as much or as little as you’d like. Run ads driving people to your online shop on Facebook, create a Google Ad Words campaign, or boost a specific product post on Instagram. You can do so for just a few dollars – then start investing more once you get the hang of it!
When was the last time you sent a promotional email out to your mailing list? On second thought, do you even HAVE a mailing list? Email marketing is one of the most reliable ways to market your products to existing and potential customers. (It’s a lot easier to ignore an ad on the corner of the screen than it is to ignore a sale at the top of your inbox!) Offer a discount code or exclusive offer to people who sign up for your mailing list, then create a plan to send them a regular mix of promotional and value-adding emails.
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned deal to make someone go from on-the-fence to add-to-cart. Consider running a promotion to drive sales to your store. You could offer 10% off sitewide, a BOGO deal on select patches, or an additional 20% off all sale items to clear out old inventory. (Be sure to get the word out about whatever sale you run on your website, your social media pages, and your email list!)
Know what makes a denim jacket even CUTER than a stylish patch? How about a whole bunch of cool, coordinated patches? Design and sell bundles of multiple patches at a small discount. It’ll encourage customers to purchase higher quantities… and take the guesswork out of finding multiple patches that actually go together.
There’s a big market out there for standalone patches… but some customers would prefer not to do the work of choosing, placing, and affixing their patch. Iron a few best-selling patches onto plain baseball caps, magnets, beanies, socks, t-shirts, jackets, purses, or tote bags to offer something different in your patch shop.
Not too savvy with social media? Sync up with someone who is! Reach out to influencers with an audience similar to your target audience. Ask them to share about your patches or merch on Instagram in exchange for product and/or payment. Not only will it help you grow your following but it also may help you get your products in front of people who’d love to buy them. And a winning endorsement from the right person can go a long way!
Consider running a giveaway on social media for a pack of your best-selling patches. A traditional tag-a-friend-to-enter giveaway always works, or you could get a little more creative and require entrants to share a post on their story or create a post of their own. If your following is still rather small, you may want to consider partnering with a small shop or an influencer to expand your reach.
Patches not selling as well as you’d hoped? Well, no offense, but maybe it’s not your marketing strategy – maybe it’s the designs themselves. Create a few new designs and order a limited quantity of each one. Then, list them in your shop and see if any get an enthusiastic response. (While it’s typically more expensive to order small quantities of custom patches, The/Studio has no minimums on custom patch orders!)
It’s okay to create a product and then convince people that they need it… but it’s much easier (and less expensive!) to sell a product that people are already searching for. Consider why people buy patches, what they intend to use them for, what designs typically sell well… then, design and sell those in-demand patches.
Video is king these days. Even if you’re not much of a videographer, creating short and engaging videos can help you get so many more eyes on your products. Keep an eye on TikTok and IG Reel trends, and recreate them while wearing your patches. You can also create video content explaining how to use and iron on a few of your best-selling patches. They’re time-consuming to create, but people love watching videos!
When it comes to buying online, social proof in the form of customer reviews and ratings is SO important. Encourage customers to leave product reviews by sending them a follow-up email or offering a discount code for doing so. Then, feature product reviews in ads and social media channels to let potential customers know they don’t have to take YOUR word for how awesome your products are.
Holidays are a perfect time to run strategic promotions and sell relevant products. Create a Christmas-themed pack of patches ahead of December, sell couples patches for Valentine’s Day, run a back-to-school special on backpacks decked out with your most popular patches… don’t be afraid to get creative!
There’s a significant market for well-designed, high-quality patches… but there’s no market for mediocre ones. If your patches aren’t performing well, it might be for a reason. Take a hard look at the design, quality, durability, and size of your patches. Are you selling the wrong type of patches? Do your patches look cheap? Are your patches bigger or smaller than what your customers are looking for? Would you be better off leaving the design tasks to a pro?
Here at The/Studio, we help creators manufacture small to large batches of their dream patch designs, with incredible quality and industry-leading customer service. With free access to our expert design team and a 100% satisfaction guarantee, we’ll help you create a patch that virtually sells itself.