Getting young people to vote is a challenge in several countries, amply represented by their low voter turnout year after year. Unfortunately, millennials don’t understand just how important their vote actually is when it comes to shaping their future— from issues ranging from high unemployment rates to rising mortgage rates. When it comes to educating millennials about the importance of the electoral process, traditional methods like canvassing or distributing informational flyers/brochures just don’t work.
Different and creative approaches are required when targeting millennials; approaches that are bold, well-designed, and have the capability of social virality in today’s social-media hooked world. One way of getting millennials to polling booths on Election Day is by selling T-shirts with creative and engaging slogans on them.
But what does this strategy really look like, and how do you get it to work, you ask? We’ll walk you through the basics of how to create a t-shirt–led campaign to get millennials out to vote during the next election cycle.
Decide on your goals and objectives
Before you start designing t-shirts and promoting them as a means of rousing millennials into actively participating in elections, draw a clear plan of what your end goal is. Are your T-shirts going to be just a means of increasing millennial voter turnout, or are they a way of spreading information around the voting process? Are you looking to promote your brand, or do you just want your tees to establish a feeling of community around the voting cause? Perhaps you have a specific cause or initiative that your organization is rallying around. You may be looking to create a line of shirts encouraging activism and voting around a certain set of principles.
It becomes much easier to build a strategy around your t-shirt campaign once you have established your goals. Now that you know what you want to accomplish, you can start planning your t-shirt designs and promotional strategy for selling the tees.
Come up with a design and slogan that appeals to millennials
While the story behind your t-shirt campaign is important in gaining traction, what is equally important or possibly even more so, is the slogans and designs you print on the shirts. In order for your shirts to sell and create an impact, millennials need to think of them as representing something they support and can get behind. When it comes to design, ensure that you use imagery, typography, and color palettes that keep your target audience in mind. The more on-trend they look, the better their appeal will be. Look at the clothing top millennial influencers are wearing in their Instagram feeds and model your designs off of that inspiration.
For slogans, come up with a bunch of them which are specific to youth and are tinged with a shade of rebel in them: ‘Vote. Complacency is Not an Option’ or ‘Reverse the Trend. Apathy Can’t Solve Problems’ are a good start. Your team may already have inspirational quotes, logos, and imagery for your brand. Think about how the material you already have aligns with the quotes you plan to design on the t-shirts.
You can even consider incorporating tech into your tees as these Parkland students did, where they created T-shirts with a QR code which when scanned, takes you to a voter registration page. Cool and pretty badass, right?
Talk about the story behind the tees
Your apparel will have the greatest impact if millennials connect with your cause and the story behind your t-shirt designs. Think of how your designs can tell a compelling story that will motivate the buyers to cast their vote. Talk about how the cause is important to you or your organization and what your founding story is. Inspire these young voters with why you choose to improve the world with the help of your T-shirts.
Maybe you felt that when you were a young voter, awareness around elections was delivered in a boring way and you decided that when you grew up, you’d find a way of making voting fun. Or perhaps, there was a specific issue that you deeply care about, and thus decided to do what you could to get more voters to stand behind your cause and vote for candidates who would most benefit the initiatives you cared about. Millennials connect with products and causes because of the story behind it, so tell your story with genuity and sincerity.
Reach your audience in all the right places with a multi-channel strategy
When it comes to promotion, you must take advantage of social media platforms, because let’s face it, that’s where all millennials are. Try a multi-channel approach where you actively post on more than one site. Promote your campaign page, tell your story through live videos and photos, direct viewers to your blog detailing your progress, and so much more. You’ll likely want to include an element of influencer marketing into your promotion plan, as well. We’ll talk about this more in the next section.
You’ll also want to get your supporters and followers to post pictures or updates with them wearing your tees, and getting them to encourage their friends and family into buying your apparel as well. If a follower uploads a picture of themselves wearing your t-shirt with a caption saying ‘Who said young people don’t vote?’, others are going to be motivated as well. You can even create your own hashtag on Twitter or Instagram or can promote a live counter on Facebook showing how many people bought your t-shirt and are have pledged to vote as a result of it—this clearly outlines the impact you’ve created and is a powerful motivator for others to vote as well.
Since millennials widely use text messaging as well, use tools like CallHub to text your supporters with links to your campaign pages or get all your contacts to sign up to your texts if they want to receive updates and other information about your campaign.
Team up with influencers who make sense for your target audience
It’s no secret that in today’s world, pop culture celebrities and social media influencers hold sway over teenagers and millennials. Reach out to influencers who have an interested in the causes you’re rallying in, or just influencers who have a millennial-aged audience to see who would want to get on board with your campaign. Send them a shirt, and get them to spread the word about the t-shirts. Post updates on social media with these influencers wearing your tees and have them share why they are voting in the coming election.
This strategy is guaranteed to make a difference when it comes to millennials buying your shirts, getting informed about the issues they care about, and then going out and voting. You can use this tactic even if your campaign or organization isn’t that well known: simply collaborate with influential members of your community or neighborhood, someone that millennials look up to, and get them to wear and promote your tees.
Come up with creative incentives
Incentives are always a great way of mobilizing people into taking action. For your campaign, you can come up with fun and creative ways of getting people to wear your shirts and spread awareness about voting. For instance, you can reward people who convince 5 of their friends to buy your t-shirts and then vote with free tickets to a concert or a movie. These initiatives keep a fun atmosphere around your campaign while helping it reach its goals.
You can even hold contests online for promotion—let viewers design their own tees and get people to vote, with the best one winning their own free t-shirt or other goodies.
While there are many creative ways of getting millennials to vote, using T-shirts is certainly a novel and effective approach. Plan your goals smartly, use the right tools for targeting, and make sure your story resonates with younger audiences to get the results you desire.
Shaunak Wanikar is part of the marketing team at CallHub. Along with writing articles on the CallHub blog and partner websites, he also dabbles in social media marketing and creates infographics, product demo videos, and landing pages through WordPress. Shaunak is an engineering graduate with a penchant for movies, football, and books.