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T-Shirt Industry Marketing Lessons from Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

You may not think that fame and marketing have anything to do with one another but some of the most famous people carefully plot their path to fame by controlling every aspect of their image and doggedly employing known traits from successful marketing campaigns. If you’re trying to break into the t-shirt design game, or make your branded apparel stand out from the competition you’re chasing fame as sure as any performing artist.

Justin Timberlake is one such person that’s employed great marketing tactics in his career trajectory. So how did a boy from Memphis, Tennessee achieve dizzying heights of fame in a manner few have ever accomplished for going on almost two decades? Here’s a breakdown of how he’s applied marketing strategies throughout his career.

Perfect Timing- If you’ve ever watched Justin Timberlake perform, you know his choreography is well rehearsed with everything synced up to build tension and release at the right moments. Show stopping moves and signature dance steps at the perfect time make his performances worthy of the top dollar he commands.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway-Follow trending topics and movements on social channels and other media. You never know when you may be able to come up with the next best slogan for a social movement or distill the passion felt about a particular incident into the perfect t-shirt design. Embodying feelings and sentiments into meaningful graphics is what t-shirt designers do.

Stay Humble-A big star like Justin Timberlake wouldn’t be expected to interact with fans of his work on a one-to-one level but that’s exactly what he’s been known to do. At a screening of his Coen Brother’s collaboration, “Inside Llewyn Davis” at the ArcLight Theater in 2013, he stayed after the public Q &A to take selfies with fans, answer questions, and sign autographs. Instead of being whisked away immediately after his scheduled appearance he stayed to show his fans how much he appreciated them and obviously understands they are the reason he is famous.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- Thank your buyers in unexpected ways to delight them from time to time. It’s not reasonable to be expected to giveaway all the time but there are inexpensive ways to surprise and show you feel it’s a two way street. You could include a free artistic sticker with every purchase, offer a rewards program, or send them a coupon for their next purchase to keep your brand top of mind.

Sweat the Details- Justin Timberlake stated, “If you put out 150 percent, then you can always expect 100 percent back. That’s what I was always told as a kid, and it’s worked for me so far!” Everyone knows JT is a singer, but he’s also an actor, he owns restaurants, a clothing brand, a golf course and a vodka brand. Being that diverse in your business interests requires a lot of dedication and a strong work ethic. Even in his early days, his history as an athlete made him focus on perfecting every aspect of his performance.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- If you work hard at creating a design but get lazy with precise PMS colors choices and product selection, the perfection of the design won’t matter. Your customers will expect a quality product with a quality print each and every time. It pays to be selective about your t-shirt product and demand consistency from your custom t-shirt screen printer.

Marketing is for Life- Justin Timberlake is always “on.” He has his interests in so many pots he must maintain a steady and consistent approach to stay in control and remain relevant. Sure, if he quit releasing albums he would go down in history as a pop icon but over the span of his career, he has paced his releases to come up with amazing new music that awes his fans and tops previous achievements. He keeps pushing himself and collaborates with other musicians that push the envelope as well. He does not go quiet between albums. Rather we see him in movies, hosting Saturday Night Live, and making public appearances.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- Take the time to create designs that are amazing. Don’t approach your branding by throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Be consistent and find ways to repurpose your marketing efforts across different channels. If you release a new design, make a video about it, develop posts for social, create an email blast, and write a blog. There’s many ways to keep putting yourself in the public eye. Don’t release one marketing blitz and then sit back to see what happens. Keep presenting your designs in new formats and research channels you may have never considered before.

Take Chances- Justin Timberlake started out his singing career performing songs by Al Greene, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. That’s not what one might expect from a white kid from the South. His passion for R&B led him down a path where he was an exception to the rule. He was not afraid to perform the kind of music he loved and appreciated and his passion showed when performing this genre to the delight of anyone listening. Staying safe and being predictable rarely presents an opportunity to stand out in a crowded market.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- Don’t be afraid to explore the obscure and put your own spin on the more obvious. Developing new ideas takes a tremendous amount of work and repetition. Certainly you must take cues from your fan base if something isn’t resonating with them, but keep pushing boundaries to create something unique and memorable with your signature style.

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