Every few months on the Aff Playbook forums we do a really fun Follow Along contest where a goal is set and people will tackle that goal and post their results. Typically its pretty generic but like “Facebook Campaigns” or “Pay Per Call Campaigns” etc. A few months back we had one going and I joined along and launched 20 campaigns on Facebook selling t-shirts. I had quite a few flops there and a few successes that came afterwards. The important thing is to learn a lot in these follow alongs and share your results so others can learn. David usually has some really good prizes to. This month they are giving away a Yoga Pro 2 laptop to the best thread. Keep in mind this is the best documented/updated/experimented follow along someone runs, not necessarily the most revenue generating.
So with that, I wanted to share one of my failed campaigns. Everyone in the internet marketing world has known that Facebook absolutely crushed T-Shirts from places like Tee Spring in late 2013/early 2014. People were (and still are) scraping names to put on T-Shirts, jobs, etc and made a killing. I know several people who were doing $100k+ months before FB started cracking down on the name scraping.
I wanted to try generating t-shirts for local regions and just target them on Facebook by location. Not quite as niche as total scrapes but lets give it a try.
I ended up talking to a few people from Lunenburg, Massachusetts and they shared a story about how there was a giant controversy in their small town about a racial spray painting incident which ended their high school football team’s season. I asked them if they thought there might be interest for a t-shirt that talked about the town and inspired pride and overcoming this issue. They really thought there would be so I gave it a go.
The primary issue effected their high school which is represented in sports as the Lunenburg Knights. I didn’t see any good resolution images of knights on any of their websites so I bought a stock illustration and put a catch slogan of “Lunenburg UKnight” on it. Get it, UKnight, as in Unite, with the word Knight…yes super creative I know. I ran it by the people who I was talking to and they loved it and so we tried giving it a go. You can see the shirt to the right.
I advertised it on a Facebook page that I whipped up and just targetted people in that town. I was getting a decent enough CTR on newsfeed ads.
What was really interesting is, I think people really liked the design and it had a few sales (ultimately it didn’t reach its goal to launch), but it had a TON of negative feedback.
I was getting harassing discussions on my ads. I casually interacted with the posters trying to educate myself on how to execute better in the future but it was to no avail. I in no way implied or suggested that this was in anyway a fundraiser for the town but I kept having people accusing me of trying to trick people. In fact I relaunched ads and clarified that it was not associated with any town organization and was a for profit design that was designed with help from local people from the town. This didn’t seem to help.
Below are a few comments that I received:
- “WHO IS RUNNING THIS DOES ANYONE KNOW?!?”
- “I spoke to the PTO and they assured me that this isn’t running through them!”
- “I’m refusing to buy this until someone says where the money is going”
- “Nobody buy this until they say where the money is going!”
As I was interacting with some of the posters I asked why they were so upset. They said I was using copyrighted information and the school’s logo on something unapproved. I casually replied saying that the logo in use was in no way owned or licensed by the town or school and the name of the town was also not disallowed from being used in this manner. I was in no way violating any laws or trying to mislead people but these people kept thinking I was.
Others said that they would buy the shirt if it was a fundraiser for the town.
I even started getting concerned citizens messaging the page trying to fish who the owners are. This was an interesting woman who wanted to buy 4 shirts but only if I told her the name of the person profiting.
Per the ritual of Fail Friday posts, and as mentioned the campaign never reached its goal. The town folk were really delusional about the legal aspects of their generic words Knight & Lunenburg. This is fine, don’t purchase the shirt, I personally would’ve appreciated them not trolling a for profit business with false laws, but Oh-well.
Although this would go beyond the scope of me cranking out a t-shirt design in 5 minutes, I think a little more community spirit could’ve gone far here. If I maybe called up the PTO and said I would donate a small portion of the shirt money to them and then posted that with the ad, maybe I would’ve done better. Who knows. I actually had a few local shirts going at once, thinking it would’ve been a good micro niche to hit. Sadly it wasn’t so.
As always I hope my readers learned a thing or two from my failures.
More T-Shirt Case Studies
If you are a member of the Aff Playbook forum, a paid forum full of top quality case studies, follow alongs, and lessons, go search for “Mike’s 27 Day Follow Along” to see the 20 shirts or so I launched with all the ad results and the ones that succeeded and failed.
I’m pretty sure back in March there were like 10 of us who focused on t-shirt follow alongs if that is your thing. I have another follow up post to this one coming up next week.