Is Cotton in your Marketing Budget? - Business Smart Apparel

Is cotton in your marketing budget? – Business Smart Apparel

Every type of business can advertise with clothes!

You would expect a clothing line to have a marketing budget for all varieties of apparel but have you noticed that even restaurants have t-shirts for sale in their waiting rooms? I’ve seen t-shirts with all kinds of business’ logos printed on them. In fact, one of my very favorite t-shirts that I have about worn thin has a dentists’ logo on it. When I taught first grade the whole school would wear red on Friday for school spirit. A local dentist took this great opportunity to give us all free shirts with our school spirit showing so that we could get away with a casual t-shirt at work and with their logo on display as well. There wasn’t a single week that went by that a teacher wasn’t marketing for them by wearing that shirt around the whole school! After all, who doesn’t love a free t-shirt?! And what business doesn’t love community members happily marketing for them for free?! Of course they invest in the shirts initially but it was a small investment for how often we wore those shirts. 

Ladies Pincheck Easy Care ShirtThat is probably the main benefit of investing in marketing on clothing. Everyone loves free clothes. Without even adding them to your payroll and benefit package, anyone in the community that puts on your logo in any form is putting your business in front of more and more people. Think of it like a walking billboard. True it is a lot smaller, but in comparison, people are normally walking much slower than you are driving past a sign. 

Call me old fashion but I also like the idea of investing your marketing money into something practical. Clothing is an item that holds value in and of itself no matter the lettering on the material. It fulfills a need and a purpose more than a digital ad or newspaper or actual billboard. There is a reason that people take used clothes to a second hand store for other people to use but they throw newspapers away. 

Who will be sporting your apparel? 

A lot of this depends on your business, below are three very broad and flexible terms that can hopefully get you thinking creatively for your own business. 

Employees- this is probably the most obvious one but don’t underestimate its value. You may require a sort of name tag to be worn at work but consider upgrading to a shirt that is more visible. I highly doubt your employees are changing in the car unless they are in full costume so in that case everywhere they stop to and from work is an opportunity for them to represent your company and show off your business logo. 

Other than uniforms, find the opportunities to gift your employees with something that doubles as marketing. A few years ago I worked for a company that gifted amazing Christmas gifts but it was very common for them to have the company name somewhere on the gift. One year it was a picnic blanket that could be found around community football games and parks, one year it was luggage that had a much wider audience as employees traveled, and one year it was an extremely warm hoodie that is still one of my favorites. Quality employee gifts can make a huge difference in the atmosphere of the work environment and the general attitude towards the company. Consider using them for acknowledging hard work or accomplishments. 

Men’s Heathered Fleece PulloverCustomers– This large group is definitely underutilized. As a general rule of thumb for any successful business, you should have a lot more customers than employees. Therefore, if we can get your logo on THEIR apparel, your marketing can increase exponentially.  Many of us have seen basic apparel for sale at the front entrance of a variety of businesses but without a special purpose such as the business holding an inside joke or meaning to us, most people won’t walk into a business other than a clothing store with the intent to purchase a shirt. So you have to get creative. Last summer I got a free shirt from a business shooting them out of a rocket at the 4th of July parade. Let me assure you, the excitement surrounding free apparel definitely surpassed that of the cheap candy being thrown by other businesses. What if your punch card included a free shirt along with their free drink after a certain number of visits? What about a dentist awarding the prized shirt for zero cavities along with the bag of free tooth polish and floss?  I strongly believe that there is the kindergarten deep down in every adult who still loves to be rewarded for their good behavior or accomplishment. Why can’t an insurance company award their customers for going a whole year without an accident?! Heaven knows we pay enough for insurance that certainly a t-shirt or two wouldn’t break their bank, but it may get me excited to stay with them through at least the end of the year to see if I can get a free shirt! Try to find a purpose for the shirt that they could feel pride in as well- such as those burger joints that have eating contests and a wall of fame for anyone that can conquer it. 

Influencers- This group may take some effort to apply to your business but it’s worth the brainstorm. If there isn’t a social media account worked into your budget than this might be a new term for you. However, the principal can work offline as well. Think about your average customer and then think about who they are commonly influenced by- what or who do they value? Going back to my t-shirt example that the dentist supplied for the school’s staff, teachers are a huge influence on children who motivate a lot of where parents spend their money. In a way, teachers are influencers in a community but depending upon your business, influencers could be anywhere. 

One of the most important elements to making apparel work for your marketing may seem obvious but is oftentimes overlooked. You have to be willing to invest a little more to ensure people will want to wear them! That same company that gave out awesome Christmas gifts, made an unforgettable bad choice a while ago and bought jogging suits for everyone. They were hideous. I don’t think anyone wore them. If you are going to put your logo and represent your company with an item of clothing, you want it to be a good quality item. 

Consider comfort, style and your logo. 


I realize that comfort is not the most important thing to many people but when it comes to a t-shirt or hoodie, I will definitely grab the soft one first. Don’t order the cheapest shirt possible with low-quality materials that won’t hold up in the wash or offer the least comfort. Depending upon the item you order, consider investing a little more to get quality material and features so it can be comfortable and enjoyed so that it will ultimately be worn more. 


I know I compared company apparel to walking billboards earlier but the same rules about being bright and flashy do NOT apply here. Make sure you place style as an important determining factor above advertising when designing the apparel or else they won’t ever be worn. Consider a classy neutral or trendy colored solid print with a conservative sized logo. 


Consider placing your logo on the back or in smaller print so that they do not feel like a walking advertisement. Most customers will not be wearing the shirt for the sole purpose of promoting your business so consider their main reason for wearing it above the importance of your logo. For example, having “I’ve been accident-free for a whole year!” in larger print with pride above your smaller logo. 

Personalization/Decorative Options:

  • Heat Transfer: The “PerfectSeal” technology ensures that the logos/artwork/family name will pop with detailed imagery and vibrant colors.
  • Embroidery: Brings versatility to the decorative goals of having a logo, artwork, or family name stand out bold or subtle. With literally hundreds of color-rich threads to choose from, any design is delivered with a high-quality appearance.
  • Screen Print: State of the art inks and multicolor screen and distressed screen-printing techniques allow your family name or logo to be vibrantly and qualitatively applied to the shirt for high-quality visual effects and performance in durability.