Local Merch Strategy: Earn Recurring Revenue Working with Local Businesses

Tired of Waiting for Designs to be Found?

One of the biggest challenges with running a successful print-on-demand business is dealing with competitors. With low barriers to entry, there are an ever-increasing number of sellers making it harder to get found via organic search results on platforms like Merch by Amazon, RedBubble, Etsy, etc.

Mike Gual, who first heard of Merch by Amazon in 2005, was weary of getting started on the platform after experiencing similar problems on TeeSpring. Then, he developed a new strategy for using Merch by Amazon to tap into the existing marketing efforts and customer bases of local businesses. This strategy allowed him to earn upfront consulting fees and recurring revenue from shirt sales.

Mike’s best month to date resulted in over $400,000 of royalties, proving this is a highly lucrative method. The best part is that very few people are utilizing this strategy so far.


What Is the Local Merch Strategy?

Local merch is a smart and effective strategy that Mike Gual devised as a way to sell more shirts on MBA. Instead of uploading designs and waiting for individual customers to place orders, Gual sells to businesses that already have existing customer lists. The businesses allow Gual to use their logo (and sometimes QR codes) to sell their tees through his MBA account to their existing employees or customers who want to save money with promotional deals. Mike earns revenue in two ways: from charging a setup fee to the business and from taking a royalty every shirt sold.


Who Is Mike Gual?

Before Mike Gual became a Merch by Amazon success story, he had a window cleaning business with over 2,000 clients on the books. He also had success running a small local online marketing business. He first heard about MBA back in 2005 and realized that he could use the Amazon name as a way to get the attention of local business owners. By presenting them with the idea that he could use Amazon to help promote their business, the local merch strategy was born.


How to Handle the Initial Consult

So how exactly does he do it? It all starts with an initial consultation with a local business. In order to be taken seriously, Gual recommends having a small fee in mind when presenting the idea to a business owner. The fee is essential if you want potential clients to take you seriously. He does face-to-face initial consults simply by walking into a business and letting them know that he has a way to increase their profits with the use of the Amazon platform.

Mike’s first customer was a local pizza chain with three locations. He went into one of the restaurants as a customer, then struck up a conversation with the manager about Amazon. He was able to sell them on the idea to add a QR code to an existing promotion. That QR code would link customers directly to the Amazon listing. Customers could buy the tee online and be rewarded with a discount if they wore it into his pizza shop. And just like that, he had his first client.

During any initial consultation, Mike requests a setup fee, just as one would do if they were setting up a social media account for a business. This fee is essential whether you’re uploading the designs to your account, sourcing and creating the designs for the business, or setting up the business with their own account and training them on how to use it. For a one-time setup he charges $150. For uploading and ongoing account management, he charges $250. In the case of Mike’s first pizza shop deal, he agreed to manage and sell their tee shirts on his own Merch account plus collect $2 from the sale of every shirt.

For client tees that Gual sells through his own account, he earns a stream of ongoing revenue. He provides reports to show the sales to the clients and sends them a 1099 at the end of the year so he is not taxed on the full royalties. He is only responsible to pay the taxes on what he keeps ($2 per shirt).  


Where to Find Local Business Clients

The way to get new clients is to explain to them the benefits of striking a deal in the first place. To find leads, look at local businesses that are already advertising in your area. Check Groupon, local mailers, and Yelp to see what businesses are already spending advertising dollars, running promotions, and offering deals to customers.

You can also look at long-standing businesses that are famous among tourists and visitors as well as businesses where employees are required to wear specific shirts to work. By offering employee shirts on MBA, the business can easily provide shirts for their staff without having to stock them in all the various sizes.

When reaching out to a new client, it’s important to let them know how striking the deal will benefit them. It can get customers to wear shirts with their logo, which is great advertising. It gives their business name and logo a chance to be seen on Amazon where millions of customers shop every day. And when the tees are sold, it becomes a new revenue source for the business.   


Using Local Merch Strategy Outside of Merch by Amazon

If you use the local merch strategy and have an existing customer base, you might want to move off Merch and set up on another POD platform that takes less royalties than Amazon. However, it is potentially more complicated. If you want to do this, make sure your clients agree. They may enjoy the lower costs, but they may prefer to have their name and logo visible on the Amazon marketplace.


Doing Business Face to Face

To date, Gual has pitched his local merch strategy to over 2,000 businesses – and he does it all in person. He doesn’t send emails. He doesn’t call. He does it face to face – and it’s a proven method of success.

Mike’s most impressive contract is with a tire company that has over 800 locations. It took him six months to land the deal, but once they got it going they sold 111,000 t-shirts in one month. In addition to his initial setup fees, Mike collected $2 per shirt from each sale, earning him royalties of $222k in one month’s time. Impressive to say the least!



Gual proves that Merch by Amazon can be a legitimate, profitable business, not just a side hustle where you sell a few shirts every month. For those who are interested in learning more about local merch, Mike has an active Facebook group and even offers an online course where you can learn the ins and outs of his various strategies. To sign up for Mike’s course, click here.

With hard work, research, and knowledge of your local market, you too could be raking in the money just like Gual. Do your homework, get creative, and share your success stories with us. If you’re tired of waiting for customers to find your designs and dealing with endless competitors, the local merch strategy is highly recommended. 


More reading:

http://daveespino.com/dave-espino-videos/mike-gual-interview-introduction-to-merch-t-shirts-for-local-businesses/ – 5 more videos available on site


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