5 Reasons T-shirts Hurt Your Bottom Line

Nov 9, 2015 | Crowdfunding

We hear this all the time: “Let’s just offer some T-shirts. People love T-shirts and are totally going to buy them. Then our crowdfunding campaign will make so much money!” And you know what we say all the time? “No.” And here’s why…

If you don’t make T-shirts, why are you trying to sell me a T-shirt?

You are not a T-shirt company.

Let me say that again: You are not a T-shirt company. Your designs are not cool or funny, and I don’t care about your logo or your brand. It’s simple: don’t sell T-shirts if you want to have a successful campaign.

ARGUMENTS WE HEAR ALL THE TIME:

1. T-shirts are so cheap! 
Wrong. T-shirts have some of the lowest margins once you factor in the operational costs for your team to collect sizes, design, print, and ship all the T-shirts to your supporters.

2. It’ll raise more money for my campaign!
Wrong again. T-shirts represent less than 10% of the unit sales for a crowdfunding campaign, and what people really want is to focus on the product…not buy a t-shirt.

3. So many people will wear them it’s like free advertising
See point #2. I would argue that actually owning the product is better advertising than a T-shirt, wouldn’t you agree? My guess is that your brand isn’t exactly established either, so unless the person works for you, they wouldn’t feel thrilled to sport a random logo. Think of how much more advertising someone using the actual product (and it is a cool product) would get instead of a t-shirt that can’t accurately convey the coolness of the product. Just think about it. 

4. T-shirts aren’t going to distract from my product. 
They really can. There is a psychological theory called “Decision Fatigue” that posits any more than 7 options will cause the consumer to stall when making a decision. Offering any more options than that, and they drop out of the conversion funnel altogether.

5. It can’t really hurt anything to offer T-shirts, can it? 
Think about it – crowdfunding platforms organize rewards/perks from smallest to largest. If there is a T-shirt option, the customer would scroll through all of that before reading about your actual product. Keep the eyes of your audience on the important content: your product. 

SO WHY IS THIS STILL A THING?

There is at least one consistency across ALL crowdfunding campaigns: Everyone wants to copy a previous, successful campaign. 

Consider the roots of the industry: Crowdfunding was born as a way to fund an intangible, public good (like a film, social project, or other fundraising objective). T-shirts became the way to offer a tangible product to represent what would otherwise be intangible. And this worked for these specific campaigns, and worked really well. Which is great…for them. Not you.

So, early on, when more hardware companies (read: not films, social projects, or other fundraising projects) launched crowdfunded products, they looked to these successful campaigns and thought, “Why not?” Success of any kind breeds copycats, and those copycats behave like a herd of sheep. Do not follow the herd…especially when the herd is wrong.

Before you consider offering T-shirts for your crowdfunding campaign, ask yourself the following:

  1. Am I funding something that people can touch, see, and feel?
  2. Am I a T-shirt company?

IF YOU SAID “YES” TO #1 AND “NO” TO #2, THEN PLEASE:
DON’T TRY TO SELL A T-SHIRT TO YOUR BACKERS.