Purpose Behind the Purchase
I hate constantly asking people to buy stuff, but what about all my merch?
Well, instead of “selling” try flipping the approach: make it “supporting”.
People LOVE to help. Give them a specific “helping” purpose behind the purchase and they will find a way to talk themselves into it! If you design your merch as something that you love, then chances are your fans will love it too. It’s natural to feel self-conscious about whether your taste will suit your followers too. However, when you’re proud of what you’re putting out, your fans will be proud to rock it, in support of you and your work. Remember, when using this approach you must make sure that the Communication Continues!
Be honest with your fans
Be honest about where their money is going. Tell people exactly what their supportive purchases are funding. This is to eliminate skepticism and false assumptions. You’d hate for someone to see a post on your social media about you hitting the spa or taking a tropical vacation and have them wonder whether their t-shirt purchase is helping fund your art or what. You can easily avoid the suspicions by showing fans how their purchases will be supporting your work.
When you keep it real you’ll build trust and create a network of reliance. When fans feel like they can rely on you to put their money to good use in your career, you can rely on their support to keep the good things going. Keep people updated through social media and email. Remember to invite those who buy your music and merch to sign up for your email list. You can send your faithful followers email saying: “The gas tank is full!” or “Studio fees are in the can!" or "Recording starts next week!” People will be responsive to incentives. Offering something simple, like access to more personalized communication upon making a purchase, can be a great way to encourage supportive purchases.
(Be careful not to abuse this tactic. Just send out a simple “Thank you! The tank is full!” and an update on what else is happening in the project, without asking for more immediate generosity. We’ve all been the victim of the “thanks for your help! And could you also..?” ploy. Don’t drain the cow dry.)
Your email updates can span various topics, rather than just thanking fans for their support. If you have an event coming up or anything else you would like to seek support for, consider requesting this in a separate email, and be mindful of the language you use. If you make the message sound more like it is inviting fans to do something rather than asking something of them outright, their participation will feel more like a personal choice than a favor to you.
Music fans tend to be all about the updates. There are a lot of artists who tend to disappear for long periods of time, without a trace, only to emerge with a surprise new album. It is usually more effective to build up some hype around your upcoming releases and/or events. Show your fans that you’re remaining active and demonstrate how supporting your career is keeping you going. Don’t just take the money and run.
Don’t forget to show your personal investment
Show your personal investment to cultivate fans who will be invested in your journey. When fans see your dedication to your own work, they will likely be more eager to support your efforts. They’ll be supportive by making purchases from your merch site, downloading your albums and sharing your work on social media. Everyone can respect the grind, especially when you’re working hard to achieve your dreams. So, by demonstrating your own devotion, you will create a ripple effect that transfers into creating devoted followers, hence your tribe. It isn’t always obvious how your hard work and dedication is paying off, but when you post about your efforts online, fans will be able to track your progression and see the fruits of your labor. By laying out your work in social media posts you also get to look back and see how far you’ve come. This is a great way to keep reminding your fans and yourself that their contributions and your hard work are a fruitful combination.