Merchandise Table Mistakes that Hurt Your Ministry


Here’s the video transcript:

Christian musicians need money to support our ministry
and the merchandise table is one of the easiest places to get it.

Part of our job as Christian musicians is going through the effort to book and play gigs. Hopefully people will come, which gives us a room full of potential customers without any extra work. Most retail stores or nonprofit organizations would pay a lot to get that. But many musicians do not make the most of their merch table. They lose out on profit, opportunities to build a bigger fanbase, and cheat fans out of a way to support the ministry.

Here’s 5 mistakes I see musicians consistently making at the merch table:


1. Buying the Wrong Merchandise

What is the ‘wrong’ merch? Merch that your fans don’t buy. What works for one band might not sell well for another. You need to know your fans and what they want to buy.

It’s easy to buy the wrong merchandise if we don’t understand why our fans buy merch.

Reasons Fans Want to Buy Merch:
• to remember the experience they had at your show
• to have their friends notice and comment on the exceptionally cool item, so they can talk about the what God did at your show
• to demonstrate how cool they are because they know you and support your music

Did you notice a trend? Merch sales are all about the fans. They want to remember a good experience with God and impress their friends with a connection between you and them. They don’t want to feel ripped off with over priced tacky junk. Look for and create merch items that are quality made, interesting to talk about, and represent your band’s branding and message.

If you buy the wrong merchandise, you had better love it because you will own it for a very long time. All the marketing in the world will not sell merch that your fans don’t want.


2. Merch is Not Priced to Make the Most Profit

Putting the highest possible price on your merch isn’t always the way to make the most profit. Merch that is priced too high does not sell quickly, if at all. Merch that sits on the table show after show, no matter how inexpensive it was to buy, is costing you profit.

Selling one piece of merch at a time isn’t going to make much profit either. Musicians need to sell in bulk and in bundles using add-on sales to make the most money. Much of these sales are made before you even show up at the venue. So make sure your booking process includes ways to sell merch.

The goal is to sell as much merch as possible, as quickly as possible. The price needs to be as high as possible without decreasing the number of sales. If sales drop because the price is too high, you are probably losing profit.


3. The Table Looks Boring

You know the rule—DON’T BE BORING. EVER. You’re an entertainer and you represent God—life with Him is not boring. If your merch table isn’t interesting no one will pay attention. If no one pays attention, no one will come to your table and talk to you or buy your merch. If people aren’t talking about your table, you’re doing something wrong.

Merch tables that are as good as (and similar to) every other musician’s table lose sales because you don’t stand out. But spending huge amounts of money on table displays will eat into profit quickly. Your goal is to spend money frugally on the right things to make your table stand out. Then DIY something extra to surprise and make your fans curious. Give them a reason to walk across the room and see what you are up to.  These over the top extras add interest and cause conversations to happen around your table. More people who are standing around your table equals more ministry opportunities and more sales.


4. The Person Behind the Table Cannot Make the Sale Quickly and Easily

You know what it’s like to be checking out at a store when the cashier has to call someone for help. It’s awkward at best. You would avoid it if you could.

Fans may want to buy your stuff, but no fan wants to feel awkward or be an inconvenience. No one wants to be the person who holds up the line, or worse—the only person left standing at your table. No one wants to wait for change or to get the right t-shirt size, especially when they could be enjoying some else’s music. If fans feel uncomfortable or even thinks they might be put in an uncomfortable situation, they will avoid your table.

The person making merch sales must be very friendly and efficient. They can’t do both if they are distracted with the transaction process. Musicians need to have sales and inventory systems so sales are fast and easy, no matter who is doing the transaction. Get these systems in place before the gig and make them as easy to do as possible. If you set it up correctly, you should be able to train a merch volunteer in minutes. You can focus on fans and you won’t have to hire someone to sell your merch at each show. After the show your inventory management work should be minimal and tax records won’t take much effort to gather at the end of the year.


5. Merch is Not Advertised

A room full of people does not guarantee that you will sell any merch. The key to selling merch is to get fans to move from their seats to your table. That’s not always easy. Simply saying, “We have t-shirts for sale over there” isn’t enough—every musician always has t-shirts for sale over there.

Pique their interest by advertising something unusual about your merch. Most musicians forget that our lives are unusual to our fans. Merch is part of what we do every day, so we don’t find it especially intriguing. But fans have not experienced the process of creating, buying, and selling merch, so it is interesting to them. We can leverage this interest in our advertising by sharing the experience.

Tell them about your merch (not just that it is for sale) before they arrive for the show, during the show, and have something extra for them to do at your table after the show. Leverage social media to make your merch interesting. It’s not enough to say “Buy My Stuff” when what you fans want to hear is the story behind your stuff. Get them involved in the story and fans will be waiting to buy at your next gig.


Using your merch table correctly will result in more money to support your ministry and an ever-growing fanbase. Making mistakes at the merch table doesn’t just cost you money —it can cause your music ministry to progress more slowly than it needs to.

Interested in turning your merch table into a ministry building, money making machine?

Check out this new course called Merch Tables to Grow Your Ministry
be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page for information about a rebate for the full price of the course!

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