Tis’ the season…. Where most retailers either breakeven or become profitable for the year! As we go into holiday season many of my clients have been asking me about ways they can promote themselves and compete against the BIG BOX retailers and their continuous stream of massive sales. As an independent retailer we know that of the three pillars of retail: PRICE, SELECTION and SERVICE, there is no way we can compete on PRICE – so we have to be exceptional in the other two.
So keeping those in mind, I have put together a list of events and creative marketing ideas to promote yourself and your amazing selection and customer service through the holidays. I would recommend that you try a few events in these final weeks leading up to Christmas What kinds of unique things can you do in your store?
SIP & SHOP (LADIES NIGHT) – Do a ladies night where you offer wine (or if you don’t want the hassle of liquor licenses – sparkling apple cider or hot apple cider works just fine too..) and nibbles (think of collaboration with a local bakery, caterer etc. – they donate their goods and you do joint advertising). You can also try to find a masseuse or a spa that would like to cross promote themselves and offer free massages (by donation to a local charity is an even better story). I would recommend trying to find “reasons” (aka justifications) for ladies to shop for themselves AND for gifts. TIP: If you convince them to buy something for someone else, it is easier to convince them to buy something for themselves, as they wont feel guilty about it anymore!
WISH LIST – Create clipboards with “wish lists” where the staff can fill out everything that your customer loves (style, colour, size) & have a nice looking post card for them to give to their husband “Your personal little helpers: we do all the work for you….”. The husband just has to bring in the postcard (with map/address and all important info on it) to the shop, staff look up their wives/girlfriends wish list. STAFF go through an pull all the items that the wife wanted and “help” the husband select what he wants to buy for her (hopefully all!?) and gift wrap it for them. All they have to do is put it under the tree!
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY – this is the day after Black Friday. I prefer to promote this date than try to compete with the big box retailers on black Friday as we just can’t compete on price (and if we do a reality check – are our customers really drawn to OUR store for black Friday?) Let’s change the story: Spread the word – promote local. Do an event instead of a massive sale. Get all your local retailers involved in a charity drive or other event (bring in a gently used blanket for the homeless and get 10% off your purchase).
BY INVITE ONLY – do a special evening with your top customers and send them a nice personalize invitation. See if you can get promotional goods from your suppliers to give away in gift bags.
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS – the 12 days before Christmas focus on a special item/class/ vendor and do a great promotion for that day only
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Kirsten Hynds is a certified Winning@Retail™ consultant at CRS. Kirsten spent 10 years on the sales floor, and as a retail buyer and merchandiser, and has become an expert POS sales consultant and trainer over during her 10 years with CRS.