Las Vegas Market seminar speaker Becky Tyre offers advice on bringing customers into your showroom all year long.
Before she signed on as senior trends editor for Gift Shop Magazine, Tyre worked for a major retailer and even operated her own successful retail store. As the writer of the Retail Details blog for swirlmarketing.com and a popular speaker on retail trends, Tyre shared some of her profitable marketing ideas with attendees at the previous Las Vegas Market.
Before the summer is over, you should sit down with your staff and brainstorm marketing themes for 2015. Take out the calendar, gather your employees together, and let the ideas fly in a laid-back casual meeting in the showroom (it could be a breakfast session over bagels and coffee, or a lunch break with pizza and soft drinks, etc.).
Tyre pointed out that there are certain recognized shopping “holidays” or opportunities that are a given: Black Friday, Back to School, the fall and winter holidays, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and so on. However, the best way to consistently drive foot traffic into your store is to hold an event every month — “ideally one major and one minor event, depending on the size of your staff,” she advised.
“Check in with your Chamber of Commerce and find out what community events are taking place and when so you can coordinate a theme that coincides with it. And if you are partnering with a charity, you benefit from their marketing and advertising as well,” Tyre stated.
For those times of year when there aren’t national themes or community events, consider non-traditional holidays such as Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, and April Fools’ Day to fill in. Some states hold “tax-free holidays” that last for one weekend or one week [i.e. participating states in 2014 are: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oklahoma]. In addition, some furniture stores have creatively offered their own “tax-free weekends” where the retailer applies a discount equivalent to the state’s sales tax.
Tyre suggested “Googling” phrases like “obscure holidays” to find plenty of opportunities [The Web site www.holidayinsights.com is one resource.] For example, January is “National Tea Month” (think: tea party social as an event with decorative accessories and tabletop items as the sale focus). February 8th is National Boy Scouts’ Day (think: an in-store activity involving energy-saving lighting for local scout troops that helps them qualify for Merit Badges in Energy, Electricity, and Environmental Science or a project in your landscape lab or exterior of your building that qualifies for the Merit Badge in Landscape Architecture.) See the Web site www.scouting.org for a complete list.
During months with no recognized holidays, stores within the same shopping center can band together to create a Sidewalk Sale that generates more foot traffic for everyone courtesy of each shop’s shared customer base. “Any business milestone can be celebrated with an event,” Tyre stated. “It doesn’t have to be a sale; it can just be a celebration.” Furthermore, if your store has received any sort of local award, Tyre suggested holding a “Thank You” event.
In addition, some retailers offer a special discount for the first snow day of the year; others provide “Rainy Day” coupons. Tyre also mentioned hosting a Swap Party. “People love this! They will come out for this event,” she explained. If holding a swap event – for example, bring a scarf/take a scarf – have a Twitter hashtag ready and post photos of the gathering on Instagram. “This type of event turns your store into a fun place,” Tyre remarked. The Swap should tie in with things you sell – such as decorative accessories or tabletop items.
“Every event should be marketed differently,” Tyre advised. “And don’t forget to start dropping hints and teasers about the event in the days/weeks leading up to it. If you have a Facebook page, bring the upcoming event to your customers’ attention ahead of time, and remember to utilize your social media channels during the event.”
Thinking even farther outside the box, Tyre told seminar attendees about retailers who have run successful promotions such as a manicure day (i.e. partner with a salon or beauty school to offer free manicures), working with local artists for a weekend craft/art show, and partnering with a photography studio to offer pet portraits with proceeds benefitting a local animal rescue. She also suggested reaching out to local elementary or high school art classes and hosting a contest for relevant artwork to put in the store’s front display windows.
“Contests are always popular,” Tyre remarked. Contests as simple as guessing how much candy corn (for the autumn months) or Peeps® (for spring) are in a jar are an easy way to tie in a holiday or seasonal theme. “If you have wifi, you can encourage customers to post photos to Instagram or Pinterest,” she said.
“Home entertaining is another popular topic. Perhaps you can arrange for a cooking class [or food-centric] event.” Tyre also suggested the idea of having a discount on products of a certain color – especially if you bought too much of it by mistake. “It’s a good way to clear [that merchandise] out,” she added.
After each event is over, having a debriefing with your sales associates to discover what the sales figures were as well as what sold and what didn’t. “If you’ve had some of your own friends attend, ask for their impression of event. Ask the same of your associates,” Tyre noted. “This helps when planning for next year’s roster of events. If you received any press on your event, review how you got the media’s attention. Most importantly, [get feedback] on what you should do differently next time.”