Ask the Expert: Ordering the Perfect T-Shirt

This week we continue our “Ask the Expert” blog series.  I recently discussed apparel giveaways for events with Royleane Allen, CEO of 413 Strengthgear, Inc.  413 Strengthgear was established in 2003, and Royleane has 15+ years of experience in the industry.  She offered excellent advice on ordering T-shirts for both the experienced and new event planner!

  1. “This is my first time ordering T-shirts to give participants at my event.  What general tips can you give me?”
    The first thing to consider is the demographic of people attending your event so your vendor can design and source the best product for your attendees.  A couple of questions could be:  Are attendees mainly male or female, what is the age range and what type of event are you hosting (ministry, outdoors, entertainment, etc.)?  Knowing these elements will allow your vendor to help narrow down a design catered towards your audience.
  1. “I’m not a graphic designer by nature – how do I know what color T-shirt to order?”
    There is not a right or wrong when choosing a T-shirt color.  We typically show the trending colors for that season and then go back to what type of consumer will be purchasing or receiving the T-shirts.  Figuring out gender, age group, style preference, etc., help determine what will be best.  For example, someone 50+ might like a more classic color such as heather grey or navy.  Right now someone in their 20s might like colors currently trending such as mint, mango or island reef.
  1. “I forgot to ask for T-shirt sizes in my registration process.  Any advice on how to order when I don’t know what sizes I specifically need?”
    For an adult event, when ordering unisex T-shirts, a very general retail ratio would be a breakdown like S-1, M-2, L-2, XL-2, XXL-1.
  1. “I have a limited budget.  What are the best cost-saving measures when it comes to designing T-shirts?”
    T-shirt pricing is based upon the garment style, the number of imprint locations, the number of imprint colors in each location and the quantity being ordered.  To help lower cost, limit your number of imprint locations and colors.  The garment style plays a large part of the cost, based on what brand and type you are ordering.  Ask what the best price point garment is that your vendor carries, and they can direct you accordingly.
  1. “Other than T-shirts, what are your top three non-apparel giveaways you recommend for event attendees?”
    Our top three non-apparel giveaways are coozies, hand sanitizer and pens.  Other close follow-ups would be sunglasses, chapstick and lanyards.

It’s amazing to see Royleane’s passion for her job.  It’s definitely more than just designing an awesome T-shirt!  She sees camp/conference merchandise as opportunities to open doors that may spark conversations about an experience at camp so others may have the opportunity to go and experience them, as well!  What might happen if we decided to think of our conference giveaways as more than just something to hand out, but rather an opportunity for attendees to later share about life change?

Event Prizes to Fit Your Budget

Drawings, contests and raffles for prizes can be a fun element added to a conference.  Depending on the types of prizes you secure, these giveaways can be a high-energy, exciting part of your large group session times.  After all, everyone likes to win a free gift!

You might have been to conferences where they are giving away things such as iPads and hotel stays.  How can you obtain prizes for your events that won’t break your budget?  You would be amazed what people will donate if you just do one simple thing…ask.

Here are some tips to utilize as you ask organizations, companies and/or individuals to donate gifts to be given away at your events:

  • Make a list of restaurants, stores and attractions to call to request donations.  Often these types of places will donate gift certificates or smaller items to be used as prizes.  Recruit a team of volunteers to call or visit these places, as this can be a time consuming process.  Think about the dynamics of your group as you seek out giveaways – if the participants are coming from many different locations, make sure these places are not local to one specific area.
  • Utilize social media such as Facebook and Twitter to reach people who may have ties to different organizations.
  • Ask your speakers and band for copies of their books (if applicable), CDs, t-shirts and other merchandise they may sell.
  • Ask people on your team to seek out people they may know that can donate items.  It’s surprising to find out who people might have connections with among your team.
  • Suggest to donors that their business or organization will be advertised as you give their prizes away.  You can include this in a “thanks to our donors” section of your conference information and from the stage as winners are announced.
  • If individuals or organizations donate money, use this to purchase larger prizes such as an iPad.
  • Have an idea of what you might want someone to donate, but don’t be discouraged if the donation does not match your expectation.  On the other hand, you might be surprised at what some places are willing to donate.  (For example, I once called a chain restaurant for donations, and they gave 100 $10 gift cards to their restaurants for prizes!)
  • Always, always, always send thank you notes after you receive their donations!

As I have been told all of my life, “You never know unless you ask!”  What’s the worst that could happen?  Someone might say “no”, and then you move on!