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10 Easy Steps to plan a year's worth of promotions
Promotional events make your consignment, resale, or thrift shop stand out from the crowd, drive word-of-mouth, and make money. Plus, your customers have fun! Some suggestions to fill your yearly calendar, from Resale's BEST Promos, a Too Good to be Threw Product for the Professional Resaler.
First, start with a calendar that has the major holidays marked. Then cruise the Internet for off-beat holidays that could inspire an offbeat promotion or two in your shop! (I always wondered what Candlemas was all about and now I know!) Now that you know, for example, that Super Bowl Sunday is February 1, you know when to start planning for any event or celebration you deem appropriate for your business (that would be back in early November, but never mind, that's just an example ;-) )
Add local events to your calendar. This may take some research: when is the Mardi Gras Ball that you can market for? (You'll want to order fancy feather masks, highlight all the sequin gowns, and so on.) Homecoming? The Festival of the Swallows?
Add store events. Anniversary, seasonal clearance, whatever you offer as a recurring event or would like to make into an annual celebration. One shopkeeper celebrated her dachshund's birthday every year with free hot dogs, special purchases of canine gifts, home-baked doggie treats and adoptable animals from the shelter. The name of the event? Hot Dog Days, of course (although I have my suspicions that August 1st wasn't really Otto's birthday, but rather that she needed something fun at that time of year.)
You'll want to have some sort of event about every 6-8 weeks. If you've run out of ideas, check your copy of Resale's Best Promos for ideas. Remember to set and keep a goal in mind: is this event designed to attract new faces? Help clear out seasonal goods before your big sale? Introduce a new category of merchandise or stimulate sales in a slow period? Events don't have to be big and splashy, and they mustn't always involve reduced prices, but they do have to be amusing, rewarding to the participant, and newsworthy.
Set a budget for each event, keeping in mind your ROI. You'll need to consider immediate return but don't underestimate the importance of lasting returns on your shop's image and word-of-mouthability. And of course, your budget is not only monetary but effort and time sensitive as well. Every event you do will become easier, but don't over-reach your limits if you want a promotion that will truly make a difference in your business!
Count backwards to set your tasks in the right time frame. Everything from deciding on a name, to special offers, to supplies needed and advertising schedule, needs to be assigned a deadline. Who will do what when? Appoint one staffer as Lead Promo Person, so all communications go through her/him. This should not be you, since you'll be looking ahead to the next event at the same time you're anticipating this one. For worksheets to help you plan, see Resale's Best Promos.
Consider what to do if things go awry. The T shirts don't arrive in time: what will you use as a substitute, and where can they be purchased? What if it rains on your Plant a Tree event on Earth Day? What if you discover you simply don't seem to have enough end-of-season goods to hold a Preview Sale for your Preferred Customers?
Take notes and pictures as you plan, not just at the event, so you can record all the details. Take note of everything from your budget to whether there were enough hot dogs and too much root beer (who knew no one in Yourtown liked root beer?) so the next time you do a similar event, it'll be easier and (probably!) less expensive.
What if your event was a bust? Before deciding not to do anything like it again, take a hard look at what might have contributed to its failure. Were you competing against an insurmountable obstacle (the town's biggest football game) or did you neglect to fully publicize your event in media that would motivate folks to come and to spend money? The best face-painters and glamour photographers won't draw folks in if you've not managed to reach your intended audience.
Ditto if your event was a success: Before deciding to repeat it, analyze! Was it the face-painting that drew the crowds...or was it that the face painter, canny artist that she is, publicized her appearance in your shop far and wide? Then repeat, for all your future events, whatever made this one a success!
Copyright 2016 Kate Holmes, TGtbT.com. All rights reserved and enforced.
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