Details Make the Difference

tom shayBy Tom Shay

Changing your advertising style to maximize results

The rain that started Thursday evening continues to pour on this Saturday morning with no sign of letting up. Understandably, many customers have chosen to stay home. The two retailers, Al and Bill, have made their inventory purchases, media buys, and have extra sales help in the building today. While both retailers are disappointed with the weather, Al sees his plans for a big event as having been “washed out.” Al thinks of the amount of money he has spent on advertising and what additional efforts he will have to put forth to move the extra merchandise he ordered for the sale. Bill, instead, grabs a cup of coffee and starts his “rainy day projects.” His staff is also finding the various tasks that are necessary to fill the time that would otherwise be categorized as an unproductive sales day. The difference in the response of these two individuals is due not to the demeanor of these two individuals, but because of their strategies.

Al started with radio and television advertising on Monday, inserted an advertising piece in the Thursday paper, and placed newspaper ads in the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday editions. He even has a local radio station doing a remote broadcast Saturday afternoon. Al had done his homework, the pricing was great as was the product selection. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, and he will have to dip into the financial reserves and scramble to create a second advertising blitz to move the inventory the following weekend.

Bill, while disappointed about losing the traditional Saturday sales, sees it as a bump in the road. Bill’s spring plans were quite different from Al’s. Bill created a promotion as compared to Al’s advertising event. Bill started with sending a letter in March to all of his charge customers. He also had a similar letter that was used as a bag stuffer for the last week of the month. In the letter, Bill told his customers that April was going to be a great month in his store. He invited customers to come in, enjoy a complimentary drink and snack, and register for the daily door prizes. Bill explained that there would be a different item featured each day with a price that was below cost. There would be two evenings during which there were, “by-invitation only,” sales for customers who had responded to the letter.

On the first Tuesday in April, Bill decorated the store in the colors that were predominant in his sale circular. The parking lot also had banners and signs that clearly told anyone driving by that something special was happening in Bill’s store. Customers were heard to comment, “What’s going on?” when they saw the festive look.

The sale circular was displayed throughout the store beginning on Wednesday as the store went through a one-week “dry run.” Customers coming into the store were told that the sale prices were not yet advertised to the public. Everything was in stock, and this was Bill’s way of rewarding his everyday customers by having this weeklong sale without advertising in the media. Sale circulars were delivered on Friday to customers on Bill’s mailing list.

From the initial sales week, Bill was able to better gauge what would be the best selling items. With this information, he quickly reordered several items. On the second Friday of the month, Bill inserted half of the sales circulars in the paper. Along with the sales circulars, Bill had some radio ads to back up the promotion. Again, after the weekend there was the opportunity to reorder items that were having better-than-expected sales. The second half of the flyer was inserted in the paper on the next Friday. Bill utilized multiple dates for the inserted piece because he knew from previous experience that he would not be able to accurately predict the sales of all items.

Again there was radio and newspaper advertising, but not as much as the previous week. And as this turned out to be the rainy weekend, you can see why Bill was not bothered too much. Perhaps on this Saturday, Bill will call Al and invite him to lunch. If the discussion centers on spring sales, hopefully Bill will share some of his April success techniques with Al; for Bill has proven the old adage that anyone can advertise, but it takes a pro to promote.

About the author

Tom Shay, CSP is a fourth generation merchant providing proven management and promotional business building ideas through his Profits+Plus Seminars, Profits+Plus Solutions consulting and his best selling books. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his website: www.profitsplus.org.

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