T-Shirt Contest Marketing

I have yet to figure out why people love free t-shirts so much. Whether the shirt is a protest of something or some gift during a sports event, people are going to love receiving it regardless of whether it fits properly or if the message is vague. Let’s face it: people go just as wild over free shirts as women do about the bride’s wedding bouquet. 

If you’re selling t-shirts, here are some ways you can use them to help promote and enhance your brand. 

Free Tee Shirts Make Awesome Advertisements

T-shirts have become a strange type of currency of their own that makes them the ideal choice for expanding brand awareness. People will promote a t-shirt with your business name and logo on it quicker than they will a flier. So, let your customers become a walking advertisement for your business because people love to wear free t-shirts—even if it’s just to lounge at home. You may not generate many sales off free shirts, but you will have a circulating marketing tool that will promote your brand for years to come. 

There’s no secret why companies are embracing the art of giving away free t-shirts. People love free shirts. The company generates traffic and possibly more sales. However, keep these pointers in mind when deciding to give away free shirts. 

The contest’s challenge must match the prize. You are giving away t-shirts—not thousands of dollars. So, keep the contests simple with only a few lines to complete. Lengthy contest questions will cause users to shun participation every time. 

Any contest on social media needs to be social. It doesn’t matter if the contest is among your forum or group or if the contest is promoted to the public on social media because it’s going to take a large target population to make the contests more interesting.  Try increasing the hype around the contest to generate more sales for the contest’s duration. 

It can’t just be a participation trophy. People are not likely going to participate in future contests if someone who did a poor contest entry gets the same reward as someone who did an extensive entry in the current contest. Always take time to recognize those who go the extra mile to participate. 


Shirt contests have been around for a long time. There have been some very exciting contests throughout the years on social media. For example, Realthread allows users to create designs as part of their regular contest events. They have built a trusting relationship with their followers, so users eagerly participate in the contests where they get to vote on the best design. The winner of the contest gets free advertising for their design, and they get a nice cash prize, too.

Design By Humans is another great example of how companies have used contests successfully on social media. They require users to use the Design By Humans’ hashtags to share their proposed shirt designs. The prize for this contest is a free advertisement, a free shirt and increased followers for the user’s design. 

Not every follower on your social media platforms will be potential designers. Therefore, it’s always good to include some contests that don’t require artistic talent so everyone gets a chance to participate, which will promote more user involvement. 

Leverage Social Media Shares

The simplest contest of all is to ask your customers to follow a webpage and share the contest announcement. No special skills required at all to do this one. For example, you can do a Twitter post that contains a link to the webpage you want people to follow or a popular hashtag. It doesn’t matter what type of offer you are giving (like a free product, voucher or coupon) because they will all increase your store’s traffic and generate sales. 

Users and business owners love this contest campaign because it’s a very easy way to increase a brand’s followers without requiring much time and energy. Brand awareness is greatly increased when the contest is shared on all your chosen social media platforms. 

Calling All Shutter Bugs

Although a lot of these smartphones have nice cameras that get better with each upgrade, everyone is not the next best photographer. Engage your customers by having them share a picture they’ve saved on their phone. You can opt to have them share a picture that showcases a t-shirt they’ve bought from you. 

You can give the contest a twist by getting creative in selecting the winner. You could opt to:

  • Have the most shared picture win
  • Have a panel among your team vote

When used on Twitter, this contest will yield many new followers.

Give a Vote, Get a Shirt

If you’re looking to continue giving people what they want, your best option is to solicit community feedback.  It doesn’t require the purchase of expensive data scientists to get this done. All you need to do is ask people what they want when it comes to a t-shirt idea. 

Take some of your proposed designs and pitch them to your users. Then, let your users cast votes on which design they like the best. This feedback will give you valuable insight into the types of designs that are more likely to sell successfully. As an incentive for providing feedback, you can offer your users a coupon, a chance to get their own design featured on your website or a free shirt. 

The possibilities are plenty when it comes to the prizes offered for voting contests. Also, it’s a simple way to get your promotions out there because people can share the contest with others via email, reposting or via their own website. For those wanting to reach an even larger audience, you can have an automated Facebook post response to each entry. 

Questions & Prizes

We’ve all been fans of not having a long test, so make sure this contest is a win-win for you and your customers. Do a multiple-choice quiz that lets customers recall the benefits of your new promotion or do a brief questionnaire that gets customers to provide feedback on ways to improve your designs, customer service, website content, etc. Add bonuses by allowing users to get an extra contest entry when they answer daily questions about the promotion. 

By having users see repeated details of the promotion in the quiz answer options (and the bonus questions), it helps to promote excitement about the offer and encourages people to respond faster to the offer. 

Adam Hansen