This Episode: 5 Types Of Promotions For Savvy Retailers


If you ever get caught in the trap of feeling like you’re doing too many sales in your store, then this episode of Real Retail TV is for you.

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Hey, it’s Bob Negen. And if you ever get caught in the trap of feeling like you’re doing too many sales in your store, then this episode of Real Retail TV is for you.

In working with literally thousands of independent retailers just like you, one of the things I know for a fact is that the best retailers have lots and lots of promotions. They have a robust full calendar full of interesting, fun, crazy things that they can do to drive people into the store. Promotions are important.

Promotions are important for a couple of reasons. Promotions build buzz around your business. Promotions give you something to talk about with your customers. You have a reason to communicate. You have a reason to send emails. You have a reason to post on social media. And, of course, last but not least, promotions increase sales.

So this is important. There does not have to be a store-wide discount associated with a promotion. I fell into that trap for a long time. If I did any type of promotion or special event, I felt the need to have a store-wide promotion because I was afraid if there wasn’t a deep discount associated with the promotion, no one would come. And I’m here to look you in the face and tell you, if you’re building your relationships with your customers the right way and you do many of the different types of promotions I’m going to share with you in just a moment, you don’t have to have store-wide discounts associated with your promotions.

So now, let’s talk about the five types. The first type of promotion is a sale. And a sale is generally defined as any promotion that has a store-wide discount associated with it. And here’s a couple of examples of sales. A sidewalk sale is typically in between seasons, usually in the summer. The purpose of a sidewalk sale is to move out summer merchandise, so you have money and space to bring in fall, winter.

A clearance sale, anytime that you’re carrying too much inventory, you can have a clearance sale. Generally, again, store-wide discounts. Overstock is just like a clearance sale. You have too much stuff. You need to get rid of that stuff and turn it into cash.

Now, an interesting exception to the I have too much inventory I need to clear it out sale is our holiday preview sale. And a holiday preview sale is something that we learned to do when I was in retail, in order to get people into our store before the holiday season started. So we would typically have a store-wide sale for two weeks before Thanksgiving here in the United States. So, in other words, before the beginning of the traditional holiday selling season. It was incredibly effective, but we didn’t do it to clear merchandise. We did it to get people in the store to see our new merchandise.

The second kind of promotion is called a special. And a special’s purpose is to drive traffic. And typically, there in a special is there’s one item or maybe a narrow, narrow group of items that are priced at rock-bottom prices. So their purpose is to drive people into the store. So people want to take advantage of your amazing offer, they come into the store. And then, again, the object of the special is to get someone in the store. Once they’re in your store, your great displays, your amazing merchandise mix, and most importantly, your highly-trained sales team turns that traffic into additional dollars.

Example of specials are item specials. One of our most popular– our most popular– one of the items specials that we teach that is incredibly popular is the 12 Days of Christmas promotion. And in this promotion, every day for 12 days, one item is on sale at a super deep discount. Again, what are we trying to do? We’re trying to draw people into the store with a super low price, and then get them to buy more regularly-priced items.

Trade show specials are a great example of specials. You go to a trade show. You get some special deals. You come back and you say, hey, we bought these things at the trade show at a great price. We want to share our good fortune with you. Here’s the price. Here’s the thing. Come on in and take advantage of this.

Buy one, get one sales are another example of specials. Item overstocks is a very interesting way to have specials and to manage your inventory intelligently. If you’re overstocked on a particular item, just put that item on special, add a deep, deep discount, and recognize that you’re not making money on the item, but you’re driving traffic and building your sales by giving up some margin on the item to get people in to buy full-priced merchandise.

The third promotion that you should know about are what we call off-sites. Pop Ups are becoming really, really popular. That’s a great example of a pop-up. Consumer shows, if you go and you set up at a consumer show– you’re a garden center, you set up at the garden center show. You’re a quilter, you set up at the quilt show. These are all examples of special promotions. You know you’re going someplace else to sell your goods– fairs, and festivals, community events.

You can have your own off-site event. When I was in the kite business, we had lots of different kite festivals, including two huge signature festivals that would draw people from all over. Our Great Lakes Kite Festival, here in Grand Haven, Michigan, consistently drew and draws over 50,000 people for a weekend. People come from all over the world. It’s the Mackinaw Kite Company’s– now Mackite’s– big, super duper off-site.

I want to share a really important tip with you about off-sites. Yes, you want the sales. The sales are great. But what you also want is you want to use these off-sites to build your list. So don’t just go to an off-site to sell. Go to off-sites to capture new customers. So all of the things that you do in your store to get people to give you their email address, do at this off-site.

Be really, really aggressive about getting names, and email address, physical addresses, birthdays, whatever information you get to market to your customers. Because what we’re trying to do is not just get the sales from the event, from the off-site, but we’re trying to take that traffic, take those customers, and turn them into a long-term, year-round, in-store customers.

The fourth type of promotion is what we call value-added promotions. And parties and customer appreciation events are examples of value added. And value-added events are a great way for you to show your customers the love– a party, a customer appreciation event– to build some buzz.

So my old friend Bill Ochse, who used to own The Kite Loft in Maryland, Bill was the “King of the Wind.” And Bill was a personality that was larger than life. But when ever things started to get slow, whenever he felt that The Kite Loft was somehow lacking energy, he had a solution. And that solution was throw a party. Throw a party for my staff. Throw a party for my customers. Throw a party for my community. Let’s get some energy going.

Other examples of value-added promotions are gift with purchase events or mini makeovers. You know, you can have a martini and manicure event in your store. You can do any type of makeover. You can do fashion makeovers. If you are in the cosmetics business, you can do a make up makeover. But makeovers, these quick makeovers, are another example of promotions.

Photo opportunities, great opportunity for you to have a promotion without putting anything on sale. You can have pictures– if you’re in the pet store, you can have a pictures of your pet with Santa Claus. Anybody can do a picture with Santa Claus. At Easter, you can do the Easter Bunny photo ops. If you have a celebrity in town, you can do photo ops with a celebrity. So I’d like you to think about what you can do to get people in your store to get a picture of themselves taken with something or someone in your store.

And the final thing that I’m going to talk about here is WhizBang! cause marketing. And I’m not going to go into cause of marketing here because there is an entire episode of Real Retail TV on cause marketing. And you really should know about WhizBang! Cause marketing because it is a great way to add value to your relationship with your current customers, to future prospects, and most importantly, build tremendous buzz in your community. When you’re doing good things in your community, people know it and they respond to it.

The final type of promotion that I want to share with you is events, classes, and seminars. So I don’t know if you know this, but back when I was in retail, we sold a lot of yo-yos, I mean, millions of dollars of yo-yo and yo-yo accessories. We created yo-yo booms. And one of the things was we had a pro-spinners club with all the yo-yo players would come into our store twice a week, and they would take classes, they would learn tricks from each other, they would all hang out, all the yo-yo players. But that’s an example of an event.

If you have a garden center and you bring in a famous, or even a not-so-famous gardener to talk about a particular subject, that’s a seminar. That’s what we’re talking about. If you’re in the sewing and quilting business, your classes are events.

Clinics and fittings are other examples of events. If you are in the tack business, helmet fittings. If you are in the bike business, tune up clinics. All of these are events. You can have contests that draw people into your store. Must be present to win. If you’re in fashion, a trunk or a fashion show is another great example of events.

Again, with all of these, except for sales, you don’t have to have a store-wide discount. Margins are hard enough to maintain right now without every single time you do something fun in your store, you put a heavy discount on it. Here’s the problem. If you do too many sales, meaning promotions with a store-wide discount associated with them, your customers learn to wait you out. They know that they should never buy anything at full price because it is going to be on sale soon. So, again, you want to have a full robust calendar filled with promotions, but sales need to only be part of that calendar.

So here’s your action item. Write out a list of every promotion you’ve ever done, all of them. Keep going back. Here’s what I know about retail. I did a lot of great stuff, and, then, I never did it again. So go back and think about all the cool stuff you’ve done in the past, and then brainstorm a list of promotions you’d like to do. Then, you combine the two and you put them on a calendar. You have just started your promotions and special event calendar.

I hope you found this episode of Real Retail TV helpful. If you liked what you heard and you haven’t subscribed to our free email tip of the week, please go to whizbangtraining.com right now and sign up. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’d like to know exactly how to do promotions and special events, if you’d like to learn lots of great ideas for promotions and special events, go to whizbangtraining.com and look at the retail mastery system. The marketing calendar module– I’m sorry, the marketing module in that Retail Mastery System will give you all the tools, ideas, and inspirations you need to absolutely crush it with your promotions and special events.

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