This article originally appeared on Haulix Daily.
I'm not ashamed to admit that at 28, there are times I get jealous of today's young music fans. As someone who lived the majority of his teens and 20s wearing band, record label, and/or music-related shirts almost everywhere I went, it's hard to realize such behavior is frowned upon the older you get. Once you leave college and begin waking most days out of the week with the purpose of working to pay off the enormous debt you accrued becoming an adult, the world demands you put a little more effort into your wardrobe than promoting whatever music you're currently enjoying at that moment in time. It's a hard realization, but one that must be faced nine times out of 10 if you hope to get ahead in life. You don't see many executives rocking T-shirts these days, and if they are, they probably started their company at a young age and used their drive to become so successful no one would dare complain about how they dress on any particular day. That's not the case for my life, and I'm willing to bet it's not the case for many of you reading this, so please remember everything that follows is intended for those hoping to target younger demographics of music fans.
October is here, and with it comes the celebration of Halloween. Some people claim Christmas to be the best holiday, but they're wrong. Anyone who lives for the unforgettable experiences that make life great knows that Halloween, as well as the various traditions associated with it, offer more potential for fun and excitement than practically any other global tradition. Kids love it because they get to dress up and receive candy while pretending to be the people they see on TV or in movies, and older folks love it because they get to escape the realties of adulthood while drinking in disguise. Everyone wins.
You know who else wins on Halloween? Brands that are smart enough to capitalize on our culture's obsession with all things kooky and spooky during the month of October. It doesn't take more than five minutes in your local Target or Wal-Mart to understand what I'm talking about either, as every department store spends six weeks or more leading up to Halloween marketing everything from candy and costumes to home furnishings with some kind of ghost- or spirit-themed sale. They may have "terrifyingly low prices" or "ghoulish offers," but varying puns aside, the idea is always the same. The products being sold are changed for the holiday as well, with everyone from Yankee Candles to the makers of Twix trying to cater to seasonal shoppers. In fact, it's hard to think of a single product outside cleaning supplies and bathroom necessities that doesn't have at least one brand with a Halloween-themed item on sale this year.
As an artist, you too can cash in on the international obsession with Halloween by creating your own limited-run merchandise based on the holiday. Create a shirt that's only available a limited time, or perhaps a print featuring a seasonal design or image. Sell stickers and buttons with your logo slapped on jack-o'-lanterns and ghosts, or perhaps record and release a cover of something from The Nightmare Before Christmas. These items won't appeal to everyone, but they will give your core fans an opportunity to buy an exclusive, limited-edition item that will serve to further their connection to your brand.
Here are a few examples of Halloween merch being marketed this year:
As with any item sold, the key to getting a strong response from seasonal merchandise is executing a great idea people will be unable to overlook. As you see in the example above, the possibilities are seemingly endless as far as approaches to Halloween merch are concerned, so take that as a sign that creativity is encouraged. Find something you love about this season or something about this season you feel reflects your music, and use it to create something unique your fans can cherish forever.
A few key things to remember:
- Do not steal anyone's design/copyrighted materials. Doing so could result in legal troubles whose costs far outweigh any benefit associated with seasonal merchandise.
- Order your product in time for it to ship before Halloween. Receiving a Halloween-themed shirt in the middle of November or December doesn't really do anyone any good. Fans won't wear it, and worse – they probably won't order seasonal merch from you again. Think and plan ahead.
- Targeted marketing helps. No one likes paying Facebook to reach their fans, but doing so can help sell new/limited merch items. Even as little as $5 can double, if not triple, the reach of your average post. As the saying goes, "You have to spend money to make money."
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Want to make seasonal merch, but don't know what to offer? Ask your fans. They're the ones who will ideally be buying whatever you create, so you might as well ask them what they want and do your best to meet their demands.
- Turkey merch is not a thing. While you might be able to leverage Halloween, Christmas, and even Valentine's Day for merch sales, Thanksgiving doesn't create the same market. You can try, but you will more than likely fail.
Get more merch tips:
- 5 Out-of-the-Box Band Merch Ideas Your Fans Will Love
- 4 Creative Ways to Sell More Merch
- 5 Reasons Why People Aren't Buying Your Merch
- 7 Special Things Your Superfans Won't Hesitate Paying For
- 3 Promotional Tactics for Selling More Band Merch Online
James Shotwell is the marketing coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.