Black Friday 2009 is behind us but there’s still plenty more to do!
We are big believers in Shoppertainment! The use of in-store events and promotions – no cost, low cost in-store events and promotions – to build foot traffic and increase store sales. Yes, there are times when you must run a sale in your store, however, please do not confuse an in-store event with a sale. A sale provides you with the opportunity to clear out the dogs and the discontinued stock – pile it high and watch it fly! And yes, and there are times when a sale can be combined with an promotional event, but the true purpose of a promotional event is to create customers. Customers, of course, are the life blood of your business.
First Things First
Grab a December 2009 calendar and get ready to fill in all the Major and Minor events for each week of the month. If you’re already holding successful in-store promotions, then schedule one or two major events, and two minor events.
A word about “major” event versus “minor” event: a major event is one that builds traffic and packs your store with buying customers. Please do not confuse a major event with something that takes a long time to plan. A class that keeps ten customers in your store for three hours is a major undertaking, but it’s not a major event unless it packs the store with shoppers who come to watch – and buy something while they are there.
A minor event might be a Trunk Show or a Saturday full of demonstrations, and classes. Minor events draw customers to your store, but do not take a lot of time to plan.
Your event calendar will become a “refrigerator calendar” – a complete listing if what’s in-store for the month – that you distribute to customers as bag stuffers. (Hint: Even though they are called "bag stuffers", they should never be stuffed in a customer’s bag. For best results, bag stuffers should be handed to the customer by the cashier with a short, sincere invitation to the customer to return to attend the events listed on the bag stuffer.)
Schedule a brainstorming session with your store associates to gather event ideas. This will be fun! In a brainstorming session there are no bad ideas. No one gets to say, “We can’t do that.”, “That won’t work.”, or our personal favorite, “That’s a really stupid idea.” In a brainstorming session there are no stupid ideas – that so-called dumb idea just might be your next big claim to fame when a staffer puts a new spin on the idea, or combines it with another idea. If you don’t stop the negativity at the very beginning of your brainstorming session, some of your team will clam up, and their potentially great ideas will be lost. If you anticipate that this might happen to you, then give every person around the table a squirt gun. Whenever Negative Nelly rears her ugly head, everyone at the table gets to take aim. She’ll catch on to brainstorming pretty fast. You may also want to give everyone a bunch of flowers as well. Then whenever someone shares a great idea, everyone can throw him or her a flower.
Once you have brainstormed ideas, and have compiled your list of in-store events, add each one to your event calendar in its appropriate place. You will also need to write a detailed description of the event exactly as you see it so there will be no confusion later on.
Details, Detail, Details!
Each time you begin planning a promotion you will want to answer these questions first:
1. What’s in it for me? Why should I run this particular promotion? What’s the reason I chose it? What’s my sales goal? In other words, what do you want to accomplish overall?
2. Will this promotion bring new customers to my store? Attracting new customer to your store should be a goal in every event that you run.
3. Will the new customers this promotion attracts be the kind of customers I want to shop in my store? This is not a trick question. Say for example your event includes a chance to win a $500 shopping spree, and you open your doors to find people who are not typically your customers, and who are not likely to buy what you sell in the future. What good will that store full of people do for you? Not much. Instead plan your events to attract the poor misinformed people who buy what you sell, but tend to shop at your competitors’ stores.
4. Will the new customers the event attracts be likely to come back and shop again? What will I give them to entice them to return? Bounce Back Coupons that bounce ‘em back again next week are always a good idea.
5. Will this promotion attract my loyal customers? If new customers in your store are a good thing, then hordes of loyal customers in your store are even better. The national average shows that a repeat customer is likely to spend twice as much in your store on their second visit. Why? Because he or she trusted you enough to come back and shop with you again.
6. Can this promotion hurt me by making the store so busy that I won’t be able to take care of my long-time customers? Ask Wal-Mart or Target about this one. When 6,000 people show up to meet a celebrity, how easy will it be for a pool owner run in and buy supplies?
7. Will this promotion enhance my store’s brand and/or reputation? We met a retailer who owned a 1,700 square foot store who sent out a fabulous offer to 3,000 customers with this one, tiny stipulation: You must be present to win. 3,000 people trying to get into a 1,700 square foot store? You do the math …
Count Down to Your Event
Every tiny detail for your in-store event needs to be thoroughly planned and assigned to a team member to ensure it will be handled properly. Each event needs to have its own Count Down Calendar. Begin planning as soon as possible, meet with key personnel and assign each one an area(s) of responsibility.
Make all necessary initial contacts. Book the entertainment, the caterer, other retailers you wish to partner with, instructors, demonstrators, and of course, your vendors. And do it sooner, rather than later. In addition to purchasing any necessary supplies you will need during your event, you might also want to place additional merchandise orders. If you run an event, you need to be in stock when customers arrive to buy.
Schedule a meeting to review the event and to go over in detail what it involves with your entire staff. Do this each week as necessary as your event approaches.
Design the advertisements, bag stuffers, contest forms, in-store signing, etcetera that you will use to promote your event.
Hold a store meeting the morning of your event with every store associate in attendance. Go over everything, and then go over it again.
Immediately after your event the event, ask everyone involved to evaluate how they thought it went. Follow-up with a store meeting to discuss what worked, what you’d like to add, and what you might do differently the next time around.
You only have a limited amount of time to reach Holiday 2009 shoppers. Put your store in front of them and stay there! To be a successful retailer today, you have to do more than just sell “stuff.” You must touch your customers’ hearts and minds as well as their wallets. December means Shoppertainment – events and promotions – to connect and draw customers to your store. Putting together a promotional calendar, and then bringing each event to life, is not an easy task. It takes creativity and dedication and sometimes sheer will power but it’s always worth it. If the task seems overwhelming or you’d just like to do some pre-planning brainstorming before you brainstorm your events, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you exercise a little crowd control!
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