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How to start with company swag that crushes it

Imagine your next trade fair, with your team getting compliments on their awesome matching company outfit. Or a thank you text from a happy client that just received your custom branded socks. Everybody loves getting company swag. But starting with your own company merchandise collection is a serious task. You have to juggle designs, products, sizes, stock levels, shipments and all that is just not your core business. That’s why we created this article. We’ll cover all aspects of creating incredible company swag for your Saas company & help you stand out.

What is company swag?

Your company swag is the translation of your brand identity, vision & values into wearable apparel. So it’s a lot more than slapping your logo on a t-shirt and hoping for the best. Our most successful cases use company swag as a solid marketing channel, to get their brand into peoples homes and lives. From the first morning coffee in your company mug, to the late evening run in your allover design sportswear. Company swag has come a long way since the heavy oversized t-shirts. The right products are crucial and it all starts with how you want to use your merch.

Merch Box - Content

How to make your swag work for you

Increase Event & Fair Visibility

Whether you’re organizing a company conference or you have a booth on a tradeshow, it’s important to have branded apparel for you team. Because:

  1. It’s for visitors clear who’s crew, so no awkward standing around.
  2. Great company swag gives your team that extra credibility & presence.
  3. It’s extra branding and visibility when your team is away from your booth (like the after party)

Products: T-shirts, Polo shirts, Knitted shirts, Sweaters

Customer acquisition

Mailchimp was sending out free branded t-shirts (and later socks) to everybody that opened a free account. People were signing up like crazy to get their free piece of swag. Because of their clever marketing funnel, Mailchimp converted those leads to clients and their campaign generated massive ROI. But what was the hidden powerful bonus? All these people started wearing the Mailchimp merchandise, generating massive buzz and brand awareness.

Products: T-shirts & Socks

Reduce Churn effectively

As a Saas company your 2 most important metrics ( certainly when starting out) are acquisition & churn. So getting more users and keeping those users. The previous example was how Mailchimp used company merch to acquire new platform users. But how can merchandise help you to reduce churn? Well customer reward strategy is a very powerful one, certainly when you get your timing right. You can, for example, send a ‘thank you’ small merch package to every customer that uses your platform for 6 months or a year. This will get you good results. But if you want to get great results, you better have your data present like in this example:

  • 60% of your users doesn’t continue their subscription after 6 months trial
  • You can automatically send a company swag pack after 5 months
  • You drastically reduce your churn because of people want to thank you for the merch pack

Products: Socks, Mugs, T-shirts or Caps

Recruit New Talent (Super Cheap)

Company swag is a very powerful tool in your recruitment belt. It’s important to get your company and brand in front of the right people to attract them in joining your team. So how does swag come in? Imagine giving your development team branded t-shirts & hoodies. They wear them proudly during the week, their commute and when visiting friends. As you can deduct, developers have a lot of developer friends (the right people). They see your employees merchandise and soon the conversation is about your company. When people are looking for a new challenge, you’ll be top of mind. And company swag is a lot cheaper, effective and basically a lot more fun than paying heavy recruitment fees.

Products: leisure clothing for your team

Enhance company culture

Just like merchandise can help your recruit new team members, it can also help you to improve and enhance your current company culture. You probably have a couple of company events, like the yearly teambuilding or after work beer time. But these are events (that are limited in time), you can stretch the feeling and effect of these events with merchandise. Imagine custom woven christmas jumpers for your next Christmas party (and all the social media pictures that will keep the christmas glow alive). Or your next company run in completely unique sportswear.

Products: all branded products


The 3 irreplaceable pillars of great company swag

Merchandise Design

Why is design so important? People have to wear your company swag, so it has to look great. You can’t make ugly hoodies and expect your team or clients to wear them? Designing custom company swag is a completely different skill set than designing web pages or content posts. It requires a very good understanding of all technical aspects in product development and textile production. It’s also a lot more than just designing a print. It goes from fabric to labeling. Merchandise design is closer to product development than graphic design. That’s why we built a team of specialist merchandise designers to create stunning merchandise based on our clients corporate design and target audience. They help you approach your SaaS brand like a fashion brand and help you build your collection.

Why premium quality matters and has a better ROI

You can have the best design in the world, but if you choose poor quality products nobody will wear them. Think of the crappy t-shirts that are somewhere on the bottom shelf of your closet. You might use them to mow the lawn, but they won’t deliver ROI (unless you’re a lawn mowing company 😉 ). It’s crucial that you get your merch on the shelf where people keep their favorite t-shirts and recent retail purchases. Good quality helps you prolong the life of your merchandise. See the graph below


The dangers of poor quality

People associate your company swag with your brand. So if you have good quality merch, people value your brand and company. If you have poor quality merch, the same thing happens. So it’s important that you take your company swag very serious, because for a lot of software companies, their merch is the only physical part of the company. Protect your brand by protecting your merchandise quality.

Ethical & Ecological

Quality does not only mean the technical quality of your products, but also the values of your production partner. We think ethical and durable production is very important. Great working conditions, no child labor, fair wages & education. You can check for organisations like the fairwear foundation that guard these working conditions. We also convince our clients that organic cotton and other ecological fabrics are the future of textile production.

Story & Distribution

You’ve decided on a great design for your merch. You’ve produced it with a premium partner and you’re super happy with the box of t-shirts you received. What now? A lot of our clients always complain that with previous merchandise partners they ended up with boxes full of company swag just gathering dust in the back of their warehouse. They didn’t have a partner that helped them use the merch in an effective way.

We offer all ranges of involvement to our clients so they can decide their perfect match. Do you want to give the merch to your employees on a teambuilding? Great, than receiving your merch in time is enough. Do you need a complete ecommerce solution with global logistics because you want to commercialize your merchandise? Also great, our team can help. Always look for a partner that goes beyond the production of your gear. And you’ll be able to get a lot more ROI out of your swag investment.

Quick example of a client:
Our smart client orders his complete stock once a year (t-shirts, sweaters, mugs, beanies & custom boxes) this way he gets the price advantage of large volume! We keep his stock in our warehouse and every time he needs to send a swag package to an employee or client, we make the package and ship it for him. He has fully automated his merch. Because of the popularity, this year we’re working together to get his ecommerce shop online and run it completely for him. His swag is generating money for him now, on autopilot!

Finding the right company swag partner


As i tried to point out in the previous chapters, company swag is a lot more than just some printed t-shirts. If you partner up with the right merchandise partner, you’ll see that your company swag starts to work for you. From generating leads to keeping your clients and team happy. Everybody loves company swag, but it’s your responsibility to do it right! You’ll have to keep these 3 things in mind when looking for a partner:

1. Look for experts, not just producers

Don’t look for the cheapest screen printer on the market. Your core business is your software, it’s not the merchandise. This means that you’ll need to get results quick, without investing too many hours of work. Time is money, and with the right partner you’re buying time.

2. Check experience and credentials

Look for a partner that is experienced in SaaS companies. You’re not the construction company screen printers are used to working with. Your a fast paced, high quality business, and you need a partner that understands that. You need someone who takes your time serious and does all the proactive things so you only have to say yes or no. At least that’s our philosophy. Check if they have a good website and the right portfolio that matches your company.

3.  Make sure they are scalable

As a Saas company everything is scale, often you start small, but grow rapidly. You need a merchandise partner that can follow your pace. So that means from 10 pieces to 100000 pieces in a blink of an eye. Making sure there are no limits in design, production or volume reductions. You need the best value for you quantity. Pick the company that matches your flexibility and scalability.

How to take your company swag to the next level

We have a couple of ways to make your merchandise a true experience and not just stuff. These 2 tactics help you make the most out of your branded apparel and make sure that you reach your targets:

Packaging & boxes
Everybody loves to receive a present. By packing your merchandise in a custom box, you’re transforming it from an item to a gift. Gifts are more powerful. Combine that with the ability to add more information to your box (why you’re giving it, product information, inviting them for a visit,…), boxed merchandise is unique way to make the difference. Interested in your company swag box? Check out our solution, the merch box.

The E-commerce growth hack
When giving someone company swag, it’s very difficult to tell them about the value of the package. You might have invested 50$ in a great package, but if the person doesn’t know the value of the merchandise, it’s very difficult to estimate it. So the perceived value of your package could be off. There is a quick hack to solve this problem. For a lot of clients we set up a e-commerce shop, not really to sell their company swag (but it happens). But to show people that receive the package what the value is. For example

  • I give you a sweater: you estimate its value at $25
  • I give you a sweater (that’s for sale on the webshop for $ 59): you estimate its value at exactly $ 59

E-commerce is a great way to increase the perceived value of your gifted company swag.

How can we help you?

I really hope this article helped you a lot in your quest for epic company swag. I would also like to introduce myself, my name is Niels Vandecasteele. I’m the founder of Merchandise Essentials, and we’re specialised in designing and producing awesome merchandise based on your brand.

We also offer a lot of extra services like warehousing, logistics, e-commerce and education. If you are interested in premium company swag, i’m sure we can help you as a strong, reliable and scalable partner. Just send us an e-mail or give us a call, and your personal account manager will guide you through the complete process. Whether you’re looking for only 10 caps or for more than 10.000 hoodies, we can help!

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