There are two main reasons why selling merchandise,(or as the cool kids call it, “merch”), at your event is a clever thing to do.
Firstly, and probably most obviously, there is the financial incentive from this. Secondly, it is a great way of giving your guests something material to own, and this in turn brings about brand loyalty and a sense of tribalism if everyone else has it, or brand awareness if this product is used beyond your event.
Before you reap all the rewards though, you’ll need to convince your attendees to actually buy the stuff. Here are some ideas as to how you can do that.
Work On Impulses
You’ve probably observed this when you’ve gone shopping; it’s especially noticeable at supermarkets or cost-savers. The bulk of the items on sale are certainly on the shelves and the main aisles and these are the things that you would “need” or have entered the shop with the intention of buying. These outlets know these are bankers or products that will definitely sell. What they rather sneakily do, however, is place stuff at the checkout lanes. The things put here are not big items; they are small and cheap items that you never really even thought of buying but somehow it ends up in your shopping cart. What they’re banking on, you see, are your base instincts. They’re luring you into making an irrational and impulsive choice and it works. What will you find here? Chocolate, candy, soft drinks, small fashion accessories and the like.
You didn’t need this before. But you do now. / Source
What does this mean for you? Not every piece of merchandise is going to be a blockbuster must-have. Smaller items like badges or caps that will cost your attendees little can be strategically placed at reception or where the refreshments are. With a bit of friendly prompting from your staff, these should be sold relatively easily.
Create Demand Beforehand
But what should you actually sell that will actually, well, sell? Obviously, it’s going to have to be something that people would buy. And for that, you are going to have to create demand. It should go without saying that what you’re choosing to sell at your event has to be synonymous with either your show or your company. Your pre-event campaigns should feature prominently the products you intend to sell, either through imaginative product placement or by directly advertising them. Your attendees should come to your event already convinced of the need to have one of your awesome products.
Build A Tribe
Merchandising, of course, works best when there is a sense of community that surrounds your brand. Think of football shirts or Korean pop and the amount of money that the sale of related products generate for either the clubs or the labels. The tricky thing for you is how you are going to position your merchandise as a badge-of-honor and something that people will be proud to display. One of the ways you can do this is by having products that are “cool” and instantly recognizable, with your company logo emblazoned in a tasteful yet visible way. Know your audience and figure out how best to appeal to their tastes and you’ll have products that they’ll be willing to part money with for.
Tribe. / Source
Intergrate The Product Into Your Show
Finally, if you can find some way to integrate your merchandise into the actual show or event itself, you will give your attendees an incentive to buy your products. What you don’t want to do is give the impression that this is mandatory because there’s no faster way to turn your audience off then with hidden costs, even if this is not your intention. However, like a lightstick/lighter at a rock concert, the right product can enhance a viewer’s experience. Give your audience the chance to “upsize” and it is likely that a fair number of them will not pass up the chance.
Those hands could do with something that YOU will sell them. / Source
So there you are, sell the story, sell the experience and sell the positive externalities of being associated with your brand or event. This will sell your products.