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Apparel Advertising: Marketing off the Beaten Path

Photo by Wise Minds Clothing on Unsplash

Yes, we get it. Why put your logo on t-shirts and other clothing when you can more easily advertise online? But don’t overlook the fact that apparel advertising is still a powerful way to get the word out about your business.


What’s more, apparel advertising can go hand-in-hand with online advertising. However, like every other marketing strategy, t-shirt and other apparel advertising takes time. It needs good research and a good dose of hustle, plus marketing skills. Above all, it requires great design.

Here are ten ideas for putting apparel advertising to work for you.

#1 Use Apparel Advertising to Promote Your Restaurant

Let’s say you own a barbecue restaurant. Your patrons come in ready to dig their fingers into succulent rib eye steak and sweet-tasting corn on the cob.

To reach new customers, you can use Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to spread the message and reach a wider audience. But in the restaurant scene, word-of-mouth wins. If patrons love what you offer, they’ll keep coming back for more—and they’ll tell their friends and family about your restaurant.

So why not create personalized aprons with your logo on them? Then give them to your most loyal customers. Maximize this opportunity by taking photos of them wearing your personalized apron and post them on a wall of fame in your restaurant. Also post them on your restaurant’s social media accounts.

Don’t hesitate to ask these customers to post these pictures on their own social media accounts and tag you. People who follow these people likely have similar taste and would want to go to your restaurant. It’s one of the best tricks to get people talking about your restaurant.

#2 Create Brand Ambassadors for Your Nonprofit

If you run a nonprofit organization, or you want to promote a cause, there are likely people who would love to be your brand ambassadors. After all, brand ambassadors don’t have to be famous people. (However, if you do have connections, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to those people).

A small group of friends who are aligned with the cause you’re championing can create a lot of buzz. Ask them them to advertise your organization by wearing your organization’s apparel. Plus, they can wear your t-shirts or hoodies while promoting your organization on their Instagram Story.

Or, if you know any DJ’s, talk with them. Ask them to speak about your cause between sets and promote your apparel or t-shirts, with every sale contributing a percentage to the cause.

#3 Throw a Contest

Let’s take another example. Say you want to create jerseys as part of your company’s merchandise, but you’re at a loss about the design. Why not throw a jersey design contest? This especially appeals to art students, because having their design on a company’s merchandise is a big win for developing their portfolio.

When you have found a design you love, reward the winning artist and thank them. Then ask them to provide you with the raw file, so you can give it to a jersey printing supplier such as

Another contest idea is to ask your customers to post a picture of themselves on social media wearing your apparel. Ask them to make sure your logo shows up prominently in their posts. This is an extremely effective way of reaching a wider audience, since the promotion is coming from real customers.

#4 Use Apparel to Advertise Someone Else’s Business

If you own an apparel company or an apparel printing company, you can help others advertise their businesses. Strike a deal with other business owners who want to cross-reach or cross-sell. Tell them you’ll be glad to advertise their website or business on your apparel, as long as they also include your apparel company as an advertising button on their website.

This is a form of affiliate marketing. That is, you use someone else’s platform to reach a new audience for your business. Keep in mind that if you want to do this, you need to work with partners or business owners who are in an industry that complements yours.

For example, there’s no point in advertising for another apparel company. However, it would make sense to advertise for, say, a used car business. In return, the used car business would promote your business on their website.

#5 Be Active Online

There’s no way you can run away from online advertising. It’s an essential part of marketing in 2020 and beyond.

However, as you can see from the examples above, it’s evident that physical advertising goes hand-in-hand with online advertising. So if you have an ongoing online digital marketing plan, just begin investing a little into more conventional, physical forms of advertising such as having your logo printed on some apparel. This combination could be enormously beneficial.

One of the best ways to use apparel advertising is to create brand merchandise to give away as prizes for a contest. Discounts and vouchers are excellent, of course. But customers love it when you sometimes switch it up and give out a goody bag loaded with merchandise instead.

Ideas for contests include rewarding the 100th person to like a post, the 25th person to retweet your tweet, and so on.  


#6 Advertise Your Content Creation Service

Do you have a way with words? Print apparel with one of your one-of-a-kind poems or mottoes. This will get the word out on the street that your business can help other businesses reach the top tiers on search engines.

Go further and post pictures of your hoodies or t-shirts on Instagram and Pinterest. Cool concepts on t-shirts, sweaters, and jerseys can really attract an audience and bring new clients to your business.

#7 Boost Team Spirit

Do you want to welcome new members to your a team or your company? The new guy or gal might be feeling out of place, like they don’t fit in. If they think they don’t belong, it can make it harder for them to adjust.

So create a welcome pack for new team members. Or just give them a welcome t-shirt or team jersey. This is a great way to say hello and make them feel like part of the team. 

#8 Attract Crowds to Your Booth

If you’re setting up a booth or kiosk at a county fair, an exhibition, or a trade show, bring along apparel to advertise your company and catch the attention of people passing by. Make sure to include a witty slogan on your t-shirt or cap, along with your company logo. Something humorous is sure to make your apparel stand out from the crowd.

Moreover, you and your colleagues who are with you at your booth should all wear the company’s apparel. Make it a day in which you all show off your company’s logo and your brand’s colors together.

#9 Reward Loyal Customers

Another way to use apparel marketing is to give your most loyal customers a well-designed jersey or t-shirt.

But ditch generic-looking designs that your customers will wear only at home. Instead, order well-made apparel with cool designs. Make your logo only a minimal element in the design. This way, they’ll be more likely to wear your company’s clothing outside of the house.

What’s more, you want the apparel you’re advertising on to look good with a pair of jeans. So ensure the design is casual yet dressy enough for a night out.

Why? Because if someone should notice your apparel design while your customer is wearing it and ask them about it, they’ll say, “Oh, I got it from X Company. Cool, huh?” In this way, your loyal customer has now become your brand ambassador, and indirectly, you’ve reached a curious potential customer.

#10 Advertise Youth and Church Activities on Apparel

Creating apparel such as t-shirts and caps to celebrate the anniversary of a church building, identify a community of helpers, or highlight a youth group activity is one of the simplest and quickest ways to get the word out. Printing jerseys, t-shirts, and caps based on a specific activity can create camaraderie and attract newcomers to join.

Use Apparel Advertising in Tandem with Your Digital Marketing Strategies

While every smart business owner is busily engaged in digital advertising in 2020, that doesn’t mean traditional forms of advertising no longer work. Use apparel advertising in the right way for the right product or service, and you’ll reach more people than ever.