If you want to make any money on the road, you’d be well advised to put some effort and thought into your merch table.
While it’s true that your music matters most, your merch table should never be an afterthought, no matter what stage of your career you’re in. Merchandise can and should be the source of a significant portion of your income. Not only will it give you the money needed to fill your gas tank and get to the next venue, it may even provide you with extra cash in your pocket by the time you get home.
With that in mind, here are seven things that will help you sell more merch.
Location, Location, Location
The visibility of your table makes all the difference. If you’re set up in a dark, shadowy corner of the club, not nearly as much foot traffic will make its way to your table. Many concert goers may miss it entirely.
For maximum effect, have your table in a well lit, high traffic area. Be sure to make sure your table’s placement by is alright with them. If you can set up by the venue’s entrance/exit, for example, everybody will have to walk by it at least twice that night.
Just because somebody’s spent all their cash on drinks doesn’t mean you should miss out on a sale.
Make sure that you can process credit cards, either with an old-fashioned swiper or through digital card readers on your smartphone.
Accepting credit cards at your table makes your merch available to everyone, not just those who brought bundles of cash to the concert. It also saves fans a trip to the venue’s ATM machine (and the exorbitant transaction fees that go along with it).
Nobody can pass up a great deal, so make sure your to bundle your merch in ways that seem like a bargain. Instead of selling a CD for $10 and a T-shirt for $20, sell them together for $25.
You may even want to go the pay-what-you-want route and see where that leads. Many musicians discover that the actual amount paid for each item goes up. Try it as an experiment one night and see what happens.
You should have a sign (or signs) with your all your prices. That sign should be written in print large enough that it’s legible from a few feet away. Introverted people and browsers like to see all the pricing information without having to strike up a conversation with the merch person.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a very busy table, visible prices also help your merch person focus on selling rather than reciting prices over and over again.
Offering free stickers, guitar picks, buttons and other small promotional items is a great way to encourage people to gather around your merch table and make it stand out. Large crowds naturally help attract even more people over to your table, giving you the opportunity to make even more sales.
To encourage actual sales, you can advertise a free EP giveaway with every purchase. It may also work in your favor to give away an item for every person that signs up for your mailing list.
Attendance is Mandatory
There’s no quicker way to lose those sales than an unattended table. People may decide to buy something on a whim right after (or sometimes even during) your set, and that’s only going to happen if there’s someone there to make that transaction.
It’s also important to have at least one member of the band hang out at the merch table directly after the set. Fans want to meet musicians, talk to them, and tell them how much they enjoyed the show. Hanging around the merch table instead of disappearing backstage or into the bar will help bring a lot more traffic to your table and position you to sell more.
The most overlooked part of creating a successful merch table is having merchandise that people actually want to buy. Too often, musicians create T-shirts as an afterthought, simply as a product to sell, without putting much time or effort into the actual creation of the design.
Most concertgoers like the idea of supporting a band by buying merch, but they won’t do it if it doesn’t look good. Make sure to design merch that conveys your brand yet also appeals to your fan-base. If you’re having trouble coming up with great designs, hire a professional, or ask your fans what they want.
The majority of these tips aren’t hard to implement. See which has the greatest effect on your merch table by testing them one by one.
What other methods do you use to sell more merch at shows?