Last year I attended a digital marketing conference in San Fran. I had three objectives:
- Learn cool stuff I could use for my own businesses and to help my clients.
- Pick up potential clients.
- Eat a lot of that famous west coast sushi 🙂
After all – I’m a digital marketer – so everyone at this conference is a potential client, right?
But here’s the thing… From attending these conferences in the past, I know how people pitch their services and pass out business cards that get stuffed into pockets and thrown away.
I 100% hate that approach. Every fiber of my being shrieks in pain at the thought of being “that guy”.
So I decided to do something different… Something that would make potential clients come to me.
What I came up with cost me about $50 (I think $48…) in total, but it should have cost less. I had to pay for overnight shipping though so what should have been a $20 marketing project cost me $30 more.
What was the project?
“Huh? That’s it?”
Yep. A t-shirt. But…
I didn’t want to do what everyone else does: slap my logo and some salesy message onto an ugly T that fits weird.
I wanted my shirt to actually stand out like crazy, and I wanted it to look cool. After all, if I’m paying $50 for a t-shirt I’d better be able to get more than one use out of it LOL.
I also wanted who I am and what I do to be instantly recognizable so potential, qualified clients would approach me to discuss.
To accomplish those goals, here’s what I did:
I found a cool fitted black t-shirt on one of these websites that lets you design your own clothing. (I don’t remember the name, but a quick Google search for “online screenprinting” or something similar made them pop up.)
Then, using their online interface, I put one single word in Helvetica Bold across the front in white:
All lower-case, for personality 😉
In this case, I was promoting our agency’s copywriting service as we were backed up with design projects. But the same tactic would have worked if I’d printed:
Psst: Have you heard about Hectic? It's our new favorite tool for freelancing smarter, not harder. Client management, project management, invoices, proposals, and lots more. Hectic's got it all. Click here to see what we mean.
“awesome web designer”
Or something else that’s simple but has some spice.
When I arrived at the conference, here’s what happened next:
On Day 1, I found my seat, took out my notepad, and started prepping to take notes. Then I heard:
“YOU’RE A COPYWRITER? HEY WE REALLY NEED ONE.”
I looked up to find a wide-eyed fellow in front of me. We chatted and he couldn’t have been more excited at the idea of hiring me.
(And I put his dialogue in all caps because he practically screamed it at me. Which only served to attract more attention 🙂 )
This simple little* t-shirt worked so well that after the first hour… I took it off and didn’t put it back on for the rest of the weekend.
(*I say “little” because it’s kind of a running joke that I wear small t-shirts… at a recent event I spoke at, they had a comedian “roast” a bunch of the speakers / audience at one point and the guy called me “Baby Gap” LOL.)
I was overwhelmed. The response was more than my fragile little mind could take.
I was offered projects from the people I’d met later on, but I actually declined them because they weren’t very interesting.
(I’m very picky about projects, and have worked very hard to get to a place where I can afford that pickiness.)
Unfortunately, this actually made these people want my services even more, which made me feel really bad when I continued to decline them.
But if I’d needed the cash or wasn’t so selective, I would have made a small fortune from that $50 investment.
The best part? I really love the t-shirt and it’s now a part of my regular rotation 🙂
So if you want to try this for yourself, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Wear it anywhere entrepreneurs roam. That could be Starbucks on a Monday morning or marketing meetups / conferences, etc.
- Conferences where you have to pay to get in will get you more qualified leads than free ones. Why? Because they’re full of people who are actively spending money on marketing. That means they have cash to spend and they like to spend it on growing their businesses.
- Keep it SIMPLE. My shirt didn’t have any sales messages or anything. Just “copywriter” in big, bold, white letters on a solid black background.
It’s stupidly simple.
I know. But sometimes the best ideas are. Have questions / comments / another cool idea you’d like to share?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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