Your launch is the single most important release your line will ever have. It’s the chance to make a great first impression, to enter this swelled market and say “this is me, this is my brand…and we’re here to stay”. With that much pressure resting on your first release, you want to make sure that everything goes as well to plan as humanly possible.
You’ve most likely spent months (if not years) researching the market and planning your t-shirt line and now is the time to see all of that ample preparation pay off. But before you let your brand loose on the world, go through the following check-list and make sure you are 100% happy with each thing…if you think there is still room for improvement, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board one last time. After all, you only get one chance to launch your brand – so why not ensure it’s as perfect as it can possibly be?
1. Have you made a clear business plan?
Before you actually start laying down ANY money on your line, it’s crucial you have a well thought out, solid business plan to rely on. Your business plan should do the following:
- Set specific short and long term goals for your t-shirt label
- Outline your marketing, advertising and social media plans
- Account for how you will manage orders/payments/shipping/stock/customer service
- Clearly set out a realistic budget for your brand
- Try to resolve any potential problems before they occur
- Provide an exit strategy in case something goes wrong and you’re forced to pull the plug.
2. Have you branded to your specific market?
Branding is crucial in this game and it is the thing that is going to really make your brand stand out in an over-saturated market. Clever branding that is specifically targeted to your ideal market will help you sell products, gain loyal followers and give your brand the longevity it needs to become a success. Before you launch, think about whether you have done the following things:
- Created both a short term and long term plan for your overall branding
- Know your target market inside out – where will you find them? What do they like? What media do they read/watch?
- Does your website and marketing speak directly to your target market? Will they relate to the message your brand is putting out there?
3. Is the quality of your t-shirts the best it can be?
Obviously different start up budgets determine the kind of blank garments and printing methods you use for your line. But as I mentioned earlier, the launch line is the most important you will ever make, so it is crucial that every single t-shirt you have to sell is the best quality it can be.
- Does each t-shirt have soft, accurate printing? (is the ink soft to the hand and are all the lines and ink clear and evenly distributed?)
- Are the inside labels all removed smoothly (no bits of cloth remaining)?
- Are all the designs centred and straight on each t-shirt?
- When you look at each t-shirt, do you think “I would be happy to pay money to wear this AND tell my friends to buy it too”?
4. Is your packaging going to get people excited?
Obviously we don’t all have the budgets to allow for extravagant custom printed packaging, but that doesn’t mean we have to just slap a mailing label on an envelope and shoot it off to our customers. With a little bit of thought and attention to detail, it’s possible to make the act of receiving the t-shirts in the mail exciting for our customers. Think about the following points before you sign off on your current packaging:
- If you received this package in the mail, how would you feel about the label that sent it to you?
- Is it obvious that a level of love and pride has been put into the presentation of the product?
- Would you feel that your business was appreciated if you received this package in the mail?
5. Does your website reflect your brands story and speak directly to your target market?
Launching your line without first making sure your website is as perfect is a huge mistake. When you start telling people about your brand, the first point of contact they are going to have with it is through your website. It’s your chance to sell your brands lifestyle to your potential customer and get them to lay down dollars for your t-shirts. So before you launch, have a good look over your website and take into consideration the following things:
- Does your website look clean and professional?
- Is every single page free from spelling and grammatical errors?
- Is it easy to navigate and free from annoying features like flash landing pages, multiple coloured fonts and audio?
- If you landed on your website, would you want to stick around and explore it?
- Does your ‘About You’ section explain the story of your brand?
- Are the images in your online shop clear, of a decent size and real photos on models (not digital mock-ups)?
- Do you have a detailed FAQ page clearly outlining your exchange policy, details about payment, a sizing chart and methods of contacting you directly?
- Have you made it as easy as possible for your customers to order online from your store?
Only when you have gone through this checklist and are completely satisfied that every element is the best it can possible be should you think about actually launching your label. Remember that you only get one chance to truly make a name for yourself and impress.
As a final note on this, try to remember that pedantic preparation, careful forethought and a clear and realistic plan are the things that are going to ensure your label is successful. Good luck!
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