[Editor's note: The following Q&A with Rick Waters of OMUNKY is the second in a 3-part series on t-shirt marketing. Part 1 featured Keith Blondin of VUDOG and in a couple days, Amy Fiedler of WinkyBoo will share her thoughts in the series' final installment.]
To me, OMUNKY is one of those brands that really stands out. Rick Waters’ t-shirt designs are clean, fresh and fun. It feels like summer every time I go to his website omunky.com — and when you live in the frozen tundra like I do, that can be very good therapy indeed. His logo is instantly recognizable and reinforces the playfulness of his overall brand. Oftentimes, I spin through my iPhone Twitter feed like a Vegas slot machine — OMUNKY’s monkey visage makes it easy to instantly spot quality content. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@OMUNKY) and the other two fine contributors to this marketing series as well, @VUDOG and @WinkyBoo.
Marketing Q&A with Rick Waters of OMUNKY
Q: How much time per week do you spend on marketing your business in all forms (social media, advertising, email marketing, trade shows, etc)? What percentage of your business operations are spent on marketing?
A: Too much time, haha. I will have to admit that I’m a social networking addict. In fact, I spend little to no money on advertising. I just use my Twitter and Facebook pages. [Ed: like his page at Facebook.com/OMUNKY]. Email marketing is important. I try and limit the number of newsletters I send out so as not to overwhelm my customers’ inboxes. But I know that as soon as one gets sent my site will be overrun with OMUNKY fans.
Q: Who is the typical OMUNKY customer?
A: The typical customer is either a die-hard animal fan or someone who knows one. My demographic is between 18 and 25.
Q: The question I’m dying to ask is: How does OMUNKY reach prospects and acquire new customers? What is your preferred and most successful method?
A: Word of mouth. If you take the time to develop a stellar brand/product people will find out about it. It’s a slow method, but, in my opinion, the most effective.
Q: How do you engage with your customers and keep them coming back for more?
A: I tell jokes. It sounds silly but it shows them that I am taking the time to make them happy. The goal of OMUNKY is to stay happy. If they are happy so am I. My t-shirts aren’t so bad either.
Q: What channels of marketing do you employ? Which ones work best for you?
A: I use social networking, ad space, blog posts, and email marketing. I think the email marketing works best because the people who are subscribed to the OMUNKY newsletter already really love my brand.
Q: What is your favorite social media outlet for marketing and why?
A: I have the most fun with my Facebook page. It’s just fun to interact with my fans
Q: In addition to your online presence, what percentage of your marketing time is spent on offline activities such as prospecting retail, trade/consumer shows, pounding the pavement, etc?
A: Not a lot. I do festivals when the weather permits, but that’s it.
Q: Are there any marketing methods you’ve tried that you don’t feel are worth the time, i.e, low return on your investment?
A: Not an investment per se. But Twitter has proven to be rather difficult in terms of customer interaction.
Q: Do you utilize “paid” advertising in addition to all the free channels available – ad banners, pay-per-click, etc? What is your general take on paid advertising?
A: Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t just throw money down and expect magic to happen. You have to know what you are doing.
Q: Your website is really clean and fresh, do you design and maintain it yourself? Who hosts your site and what shopping cart do you use?
A: It is an e-commerce site (Shopify) so I didn’t have to design the shopping cart. But, yes, I maintain and design it myself.
Q: How much attention do you pay to the interweb techie stuff like SEO, traffic volume and conversion rate?
A: A lot. I take a little bit of time each day for some SEO and to check out my stats.
Q: How long has it taken you to get to a point where you believe your brand has a solid identity and awareness?
A: I’m still shocked that anyone knows who I am. It happens from time to time, but it’s still fun. It happens more so around the Westchester, NY area because of the festivals I do.
I think in terms of identity I have just achieved that. I think this brand is finally getting to the point where I like what it has become. I am very picky.
Q: What is unique about OMUNKY and your marketing strategy that works well for you and sets you apart favorably from other brands?
A: I’m very personable. OMUNKY is more like an extension of my personalty than a brand, if you know what I mean. I don’t want people to think they are talking to a company, but rather to the man behind the company.
Q: If there was one piece of marketing advice you’d give to aspiring t-shirt merchants, what would it be?
A: Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something else. If you are a tad silly, love animal documentaries, like to be funny, and are comfortable with yourself as a whole, go with it!
There are too many indie brands out there that sound and feel like robots. Don’t become another one. Have fun and make people happy with what you do.