It is never too early to start promoting your business. Holding events, teaching classes, etc?these are all great ways to showcase your expertise and build your audience. Another way, believe it or not, is to have branded merchandise.vain about me iStock_000015701969XSmall

You might think that you need to wait until you’ve got a bigger audience or following to start ordering branded merch for your business. Here’s a truth you’ve probably already started to realize: your audience is never going to feel big enough. You’ll always appreciate it, no matter what its size, but you will always feel like it could be grown just a little bit more.

So why wait?

Here are just a few ways that branded merchandise can be a boon to your business:

1. Sell it for supplemental income.

This is particularly helpful if your business is built primarily around a persona. Bloggers, for example, often set up branded shops to bring in extra cash. Musicians are another good example of people who use branded merchandise to make extra money.

2. Use it as prizes for contests that you hold.

People love to enter contests and when the prize is a tangible one you’ll get a lot more interest and entries.

3. Give them away as promotional items to build goodwill.

This works really well at networking events and fairs. Giving out your business card works too but giving out something that someone can actually use puts your brand in front of them every day.

4. Use them in marketing campaigns to provide people with tangible reminders of your business.

One of the most popular methods of guerilla marketing is leaving pens printed with your business’s name and URL in locations like the bank, library and grocery store where people are likely to pick up a pen and absentmindedly toss it into a bag or take it with them.

How you use promotional items is going to depend largely upon which items you choose to brand with your company’s logo and URL.

Clothing:? Clothing is always a crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t want a free t-shirt or sweatshirt? Who doesn’t happily buy the t-shirt or sweatshirt of the brand they love? Once upon a time, giving out t-shirts was prohibitively expensive. Today, thanks to online t-shirt merchants,?it’s easy to have a bunch of shirts printed up in all different sizes and colors. Companies likeShirt Magicactually let you customize and design your own shirts, which lends great buzz to your social media campaigns.

Office Supplies: Coffee mugs, notepads, pens, pencils, mouse pads, etc?put your logo on all of them and use them as promotional items at networking events and as prizes for contests. Some things, like coffee mugs and mouse pads you can sell for supplemental income. Other supplies (writing utensils, sticky pads) are best given away and used in marketing efforts. Getting these materials branded for your business is simple. You can order most of these things through Office Depot and other supply stores.

The question, as you can see, isn’t am I big time enough to need my own shirt? The question is what kind of shirt do I want to use to help build my business?