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Launching a merchandising business is a great way to use your design and marketing skills to meet the growing corporate demand for promotional products. From structuring your business to working with suppliers, find out how to set up your own corporate merchandise business.
Many companies give away corporate branded items to staff and customers as a way to promote company image and increase engagement. A corporate merchandising business specialises in working with companies to design and produce branded products. Common corporate merchandise products include T-shirts, pens, reusable cups, hats, umbrellas and even hand sanitisers and cheese boards.
Consider these steps before opening your own corporate merchandising business:
You don't need formal qualifications to start a corporate merchandising business. However, as you will be working with company logos, typography and colours, it's helpful to have an understanding of graphic design. There are online graphic design courses that can help you build basic graphic design skills.
On top of that, you can strengthen your sales and marketing skills with a range of informal and certificate courses. Here are some suggestions:
Unless you're planning on setting up your own printing shop, running a corporate merchandising business can be done online. In terms of equipment, you'll need an up-to-date computer, reliable Internet and a website for your business.
To present your merchandise, you're going to need a website with shopping cart (or ecommerce) functionality, enough storage for image graphics and potential to upscale. For instance, you might want to add a customer service chat box to help customers shopping on your website. Whether you choose to launch your own website or you hire a web developer depends entirely on your level of expertise.
To build your client database, consider using a customer relations management (CRM) software. This can help you with repeat business and email marketing campaigns.
For online marketing, using a program such as Mailchimp is an easy way to manage your email marketing and newsletters. You can also consider other marketing tools for search engine optimisation, logo or graphic design, video production and more, depending on your strategies.
There are three main business structures to choose from, depending on how many business owners will be running the company and how much protection you want to have over your personal assets. The three main structures are:
Registering your business name is required, unless you will be using your legal name.
It's important to get your legal documents right to deal with any potential issues with customers and suppliers. Useful documents include:
You can easily find templates for these types of disclaimers from online legal document sites. Some of these offer free downloads and most have a wide selection to choose from.
Some of these online services also offer legal advice. These sites are often cheaper than going straight to a lawyer for help and often will offer a free first-time consultation.
As most corporate merchandising small businesses are operated online, focusing your efforts on digital marketing and reaching your clients through ecommerce sites, social media and other online platforms can greatly help to increase your visibility. Online business directories, such as White Pages and True Local, offer another avenue to advertise your business.
Another effective marketing strategy is to send potential customers sample products. For example, if you know a local real estate agency that distributes corporate branded items such as hand sanitisers and water bottles at open homes, you can reach out to the agency and offer to give out free samples of your products with their logo printed on it.
Online marketplaces are another way to promote your company without spending too much money. Some of these sites include:
The amount you charge will depend on the specific promotional items you're creating for a business and the quantity they want to order.
Below are estimates for different items based on small quantity orders:
|Plastic pen||$0.50-$1 each|
|Metal pen||$1-$4 each|
To get an idea of what to charge, you can research and check out the price points of competing corporate merchandising companies. Pricing yourself competitively can give you the edge and increase your client reach.
Your prices will also be affected by the order size, as most wholesalers will offer a discount to customers who buy in large quantities.
Do I still need business insurance if I work from home?
If you plan to keep an inventory of stock at your home, business insurance may offer better coverage than a regular home insurance policy.
How can I make the most out of my marketing strategies?
Once you've identified your marketing strategies, testing them out is one way to tell if they are going to be effective. Having the right marketing tools can also help, as can hiring various marketing or advertising freelancers online on platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.
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