THE LAST WORD
THE POWER OF PROMOTION
Byline: Stacy Bonner
ATLANTA — Retailers learned a new definition of “promotion” in “More than 52 Promotions — A Year’s Worth of Profit,” a seminar held at the October market by T.J. Reid, noted retail expert and former Louisiana retailer.
Reid emphasized the difference between a promotion and a clearance sale. “These are promotions with no markdowns. Promotions endear you to the community and increase your sales. You can sell merchandise at regular price. This is still being done in America I don’t know if it’s being done at your store.”
She outlined some 60 promotion ideas, from fashion bingo to Wheel of Fortune. “A promotion is not a sale or a giveaway. What it does is reward your customers and distinguish you from other stores. The old days of twice-a-year clearance sales are a thing of the past,” said Reid, who stressed that specialty retailers should get creative to win and keep customers. Reid suggested a holiday theme for seasonal promotions, recommending that retailers hang brightly colored flags to herald each special date. “People love flags. They make your customers feel good.” She provided the packed house with a calendar of holidays through the year 2000 around which to base promotions. Other ideas from Reid included:
Wish List: “Ask your customers to put their dream list of three items from your store into a box. Dress as a fairy godmother and say, ‘I can make your wishes come true.’ Draw one name out of the box and give the winner what she asked for — and be sure to call the local paper.”
Coloring Contest: “Print up a couple hundred coloring sheets, take them to the local kindergarten and hand them out to the kids. Hang up the pictures in the store — people will travel far to see junior’s picture. Give them all a $5 gift certificate.”
Frequent Buyer Clubs: “These are very easy to do and people get so excited over them. Sell them — don’t give them away, because people think they get what they pay for. Put a glass jug on the counter and give the money to charity.”
Pop the Balloon: “Fill the whole ceiling with balloons and put discount coupons for 10 to 15 percent off in each one. Never put 10 percent in — start with 15 percent so that everybody feels good. The point is, everybody’s a winner.”
Limo Delivery: “Invite senior citizens to come to the store in a limo, within 10 miles of the store. Get local limo drivers to donate their services. Or do it the first day after school starts to honor the mothers.”
Just Looking Card: “Next time you hear someone say, ‘No thanks, I’m just looking,’ hand the browser this card, offering them a discount on their next purchase. One store owner swears that one out of every 10 people returns to the store five minutes later.”
Store News-letters: “If you are not doing one of these, you ought to be. Do them regularly because your customers will watch for them. Tell people something personal; people like to shop with friends. Have your daughter draw a picture and say, ‘Merry Christmas from my mama’s store.”‘
Give a Seminar Yourself: “Everyone in your store is qualified to give a seminar on something. People love to learn things. Have a seminar on gift-giving under $25, or get a local travel agent to do one on vacation planning.”
Reid encouraged retailers to make the most out of every promotion by alerting local media and creating mailing lists. She also recommended selling items used to decorate or display. “Unless it is breathing in the store, it should have a price tag on it,” she said.