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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Marketing Events are Critical for the Cash Strapped Retailer

Customers are inundated with choices on how to spend their money but have less money to spend. What a conundrum.   Competition for that dollar is intense.  That's a fact, Jack.  Bemoaning the state of the economy does little to get your rent paid.  Savvy retailers know the value of scheduling frequent customer appreciation events to get cash flow positive.  After all, it is much easier--and way cheaper-- to delight existing customers than it is to forage for new customers.  Are you taking advantage of this simple marketing strategy?

Successful Event Marketing does not require a big budget or even a particularly brilliant idea.  However, it does require time and consistency.  Many of your stores are a little slow right now.  You can spend your hours worrying and ringing your hands or you can take control of your life.  Turn the downturn into an opportunity by using the extra time to get your marketing plan in order.  Gather your staff together for a brainstorming session and fill out a marketing worksheet.    Once you put an idea down on paper, it is more likely to become a reality for you.  Leverage technology to reach your goals.  The beauty of an email blast is that you actually have time to pull off an event to spur sales this week-end!   We recently blogged about Crafty Retail Superstar Jackie Goff of Uptown Fibers.  She was able to generate one half of her monthly revenue in one week-end, based upon an email blast sent a few days before the event. No advertising costs, no major headaches...just determination and a clear sense of purpose.

I received an email from my LYS announcing her 6th Anniversary week-end celebration.  Honestly, I probably would have passed on the event because I had just spent more than I would have liked on the 40 skeins of yarn needed for my current afghan project.  Puma was disturbed to have her nap interrupted by my camera.  But I digress....

I wasn't planning on going to the event.  It was a busy week-end, I had already spent my yarn budget, etc.

....and yet.....

I spent $150 and had a great time.  Huh?  I know, I know...I didn't plan on it but the yarn shop owner did a CRAFTY RETAIL SUPERSTAR kind of thing.  She got on the phone a few days before the event because she "wanted to make sure that I got a personal invitation from her."  BINGO!  She had me ...hook, line, sinker.  How could I say no?  I went, but I went with a steely resolve:  NO SPENDING.

You can imagine how quickly my resolve crumbled when I saw the beautiful jewel tones in a wool/silk blend---perfect for my next project---and it was "Buy one, get one free!"  Yowza!

"That will be $149.79."

Sigh...I guess I can use my clothing budget for yarn.  Again.

I confess.....I can resist anything except temptation and I bet your customers are TEMPT THEM!    Roze, my local yarn shop owner did a couple of brilliant things to ensure that she got the job done:

First, the owner of Fiber Art in Odessa, Florida,  knew that an anniversary required a big celebration.  Roze contacted all of her vendors and explained that she was having a party and asked them to donate door prize items.  They were happy to oblige and the prizes helped generate a buzz leading up to the event.  Savvy Roze followed up with thank you notes to let her vendors know that their efforts were appreciated.  Warm fuzzies all around.

Next, Roze made sure that she sent out an email blast notifying all of her customers about the event.  Her best clients received a special invite to a customer appreciation soiree the night before the big event.  They got first dibs on the sale goodies, as well as great wine and festive appetizers.

Roze made sure that she was adequately staffed for the event and even had a good friend step in as "store greeter."  She was a charming gal who joked that she wasn't crafty at all, but she was a heck of a greeter.  It was a nice way to break the ice for someone who was walking into the store alone.

Roze made sure that she had a loss leader.  She jokes that her "Buy one skein, get TWO FREE" promotion had her suffering some heartburn, but in the end it proved to be a winner.  Customers clamored to take advantage of this deal and in addition to ridding the shelves of some targeted product that needed to go, many customers invariably added other "non sale" items to their baskets.

Finally, Roze called EVERY SINGLE PERSON on her list to personally invite them to the shindig.  Note that she only spent two hours on the phone.  I know that those phone calls aren't easy to do, but do them anyway!  They are very effective.  Remember:  I only went to the event because I had received the phone call! I spent almost $150  and then called Roze the next day to ask her to pull another $150 worth of sale yarn for me.  What can I say?  It made sense to buy it on sale.  I need it to finish the afghan that I haven't even started yet.  Yup, it makes perfect sense.

I guess I can use my hair budget this time around.   Sigh.  What can I say?  A crafty girl needs her crafty stash.  But I digress...

Roze's sales greatly exceeded her expectations---she sold $10,000 of product over the course of the week-end.  No advertising expenses, just planning and focus.  She got rid of old wool inventory just as we are heading into a Florida summer.   Good job, Roze!  You do not need an anniversary to stage a party.   Celebrate Spring if you have nothing more creative....get some wine, a fruit plate or two, and get going!  You can find some quick and easy marketing ideas in this post and a marketing calendar listing zany promotions ideas can be found here!

Motivated?  Good!  Now put down that bag of Cheetos and get off the couch.  Trade in those fuzzy slippers and sweatpants for your short skirt and cute sandals.  Be a walking advertisement for your store.  Get your employees behind you  and  make it happen! You are strong, you  are powerful, you are a RETAIL SUPERSTAR!    C' can do it!

Ready, set, GO!

In other news.....

On my studio table:

 My industrial metal kitchen table needs the softness of a runner.  The green one that I had been using was recently gifted away.  Accordingly, I need a quick replacement.  In an effort to effect some sort of a cosmic payback for my recent yarn indulgence..ahem... I am currently working on a wet felt/needle felt table runner that will utilize my scrap wool. There will be nothing purchased for this project, No Sirree.  I just laid out the first apple green that is definitely NOT my favorite color. It will be interesting to try to turn it into something I love.  Stay tuned....tutorial to follow soon!

Speaking of tutorials....Part II of the Embedded Crystal Cuff tutorial is now available for download here.  It is free, it is easy, give it a try!

If you missed Part I, check it out!

An Attitude of Gratitude really does make life sweeter.   I shared a poignant moment with my oldest son yesterday that made me pause for a moment of quiet appreciation for my many blessings.  Jake recently moved to L.A.  Jake---the silly young man pictured at right---has stars in his eyes and is chasing  his dream.  I am really proud of his fortitude and his focus but I miss him like crazy.  Yesterday he called me and I could tell that he was a bit shaken.  He shared something that appeared to be nothing more than a moment in time when it happened, yet it turned out to have a profound impact on him.

Jake was in the train station last week when a young kid (he described him as a young traveler/"gypsy" sort of kid...kind of a lost soul with a gentle disposition and a tattooed face) came up to him out of the blue and asked to borrow his cell phone.  Jake handed it over, got it back, and went on his way without a second thought.  Yesterday he got a call from a frantic Mom hoping against hope that Jacob might hold the key to her child's whereabouts.  The kid had gone missing and Dad had flown into town and was randomly driving the streets of  L.A. hoping to find him in a city of millions.  Mom got Jake's number from the person her son had last called and that is where the trail ended.   He had to tell her that he didn't have a clue and the woman fell apart.  What a nightmare for her.    I am so grateful for a close and connected family and hope that you will join me in sending out a prayer for that mom and her son.

So, yes...times are tough, every sale is harder today than it was yesterday, but I am really, really grateful for what I have in my life.   

What are you most grateful for today?


  1. more small business owners need to read you post

  2. Thanks! I just went through your blog roll...what a list! I added a view to my Google reader...thanks!