Selling the Swag: Merchandising (what does it mean? How to do it well?)

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7 minutes, 22 seconds

Let’s talk about increasing your revenues and deepening your customer engagement. For our conversation today, we'll talk about three categories of merchandise. 

The first category is what we used to call swag. Think of this as branded content, which can be mugs, keychains, or T-shirts with your logo.

The second category is what I'm calling brands, who these are products that you probably today recommend without even thinking about it.

And then the third category is an original product. This is great for those of you who are self-published authors, photographers or products.

Now that we know a little bit about what merchandise can be, let's talk about why you might want to consider adding merchandise to your tour business.

Why add merchandise to your tour business.

After you've said goodbye to that guest, they will return home with your product and remember the great experience you deliver and will be more likely to recommend or even return. 

Perhaps most critical, adding merchandise for business lets you diversify your revenue so that hopefully, as you add more merchandise and give your guests a fuller experience after they leave your tour, you're not exclusively reliant on tours as your primary driver of revenue, but then hopefully 70 or 80% of your tours and then balance with the merchandise.

You have to decide first 

  • Where do you want to sell merchandise?
  • Do you want to sell it on social media? 
  • Talk a little bit about this later? 
  • Do you want to sell it directly on your website? 
  • Or do you want to sell it in person at the end of your tour? 

How do you want to integrate merchandise? 

Our recommendation indeed is that you keep it simple. With the same payment provider and website, you integrate your merchandise directly in the same way your guests booked tours today.

How to choose your merchandise? 

We recommend deciding on three products & products that are relevant to how you want your brand represented. 

The elephant in the room, you might be thinking, Well, that's all great, but I don't know where to find products, right? 

Well, the good news is that in 2022 years, there are platforms like Shopify that make it easy for you to source curate itself and even manage the inventory and shipping. So, for example, if you run a food tour in Berlin, and you'd like to upsell or offer your guests merchandise in the form of a reusable fork and knife sets that they can take with them in your backpack. That's easy to do. Through Shopify, you can find that you can source it. Anytime it gets orders, they'll mail them directly to your desk. You don't have to order 100 units and have them sitting in your garage. Rather shop by helps you solve all of that. That's just one example of one website and one product of how you can serve that merchandise to your business.

Where to start with merchandise

For those of you who will be on tour in the next few weeks. Start with guests on that tour; what swag or merchandise or products use a word that makes sense for you. What swag would they expect to see on your tour? 

If you run a coffee tour? I would bet guests expect you to offer them the coffee you recommend or a great reusable mug. 

Start with your guests who have been on your tours; they'll know and give candid feedback on the right products for you. In addition, you can get feedback on social media and start to get some early buyers from your past. 

What products make sense? 

Once you've collected a few feedback points from your guests, sit back and think about the three best products that match your brand.

If you're running a sustainable tour, working in partnership with local restaurant tours and creators, you're probably not going to want to recommend something made halfway around the world.

Select products that match your brand and will remind your guests after they've left your tour.

Start designing your product.

Free tools like Canva for Vistaprint can help you design this. 

New merchandise into your existing content

Lastly, find a way to subtly work your new merchandise or product into your existing content. Hard sell doesn't go well here. Instead, use your merchandise as pieces for content across your social media for your website. 

We recommend if you're launching merchandise, email your past guests and let them know that you've started to add merchandise and offer them a discount. 

Integrate your merchandise

And then lastly, again, integrate your merchandise into your existing tour reservation platform. Don't make it harder for your guests to find your new merchandise.

Sell your merchandise on social media.

We talked a little bit about selling through social media is called social selling to places that make it really, really easy for Facebook and Instagram. So if you already have pages on Facebook and Instagram, you're ahead of the game. 

On Instagram, you're going to want to create what's called a catalogue and add products to their cutting the price, quantity and volume. 

You can add products on Instagram via Facebook commerce manager, and you can take links to your merch in your stories and post it on Facebook. 

If this is important to you, you could also invest some money in paid ads to promote your work. We don't necessarily recommend this to start. Start with using free reach to your guests. Free poster merge lets your customers know when and then; as you can see back in analytics and data, you can decide if you want to invest in paid ads.

5+ Tips to Promote your Shopify Store

Already have your Shopify store? Here's 5+ Tips to Promote your Shopify Store. We cover how to promote your experiences store and attract customers.

Learn more about how indie helps travel creators with supplemental income, extend your brand and your margins. Try for free today or contact us now for a demo.

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