Make marketing a top resolution for 2024
By Gordon Hecht, YSN Contributor
Happy 2024! The new year brings a blank slate full of opportunities to build your business.
This year should be a return to normalcy. New products are arriving. Shipments are flowing on a (somewhat) regular schedule. Incoming shoppers have budgets to spend.
Tax refunds will be flowing next month, providing extra do-re-mi for your buying public. Hiring has moved from impossible to difficult but doable.
The challenge is bringing those shoppers through your doorway.
More than likely, foot traffic will be steady or slower in 2024. The primary reason is that people can research and compare merchandise and stores online. They can choose the product and the place without leaving their BarcaLounger.
In the last century, shoppers would visit three stores before making a buying decision. This year it will be about 1.5 stores. Yes, it’s impractical to visit half a store. Essentially, shoppers buy in the first or second store they visit. Your goal is to be the number one or number two place they stop.
Your shop may have the nicest products, happiest salespeople, lowest bargain pricing and spotless white-glove service. But people won’t put you on their shopping list if you are the best kept secret in town. You gotta advertise to get that message out.
Here are four truths about advertising:
1. Advertising is not an expense. It is an investment in your business.
2. The job of advertising is to attract shoppers to your door or website. The job of your sales team is to convert those shoppers into buyers, creating revenue.
3. It costs you about six times as much to attract a new shopper to your shop compared to bringing back an existing customer.
4. To increase revenue, you need to attract shoppers who are not your typical customer. That means promoting products, services or financing offers that appeal to a different demographic segment than your current customer base.
Not Top Secret!
Under no circumstances should the following promotional concepts be kept secret. These are not in-store promotions. Shout them from the rooftops. Depending on your ad budget, you can use traditional media, billboards, social media, e-mail, snail mail, texts and/or phone calls.
Half the Store-Half Off. If you missed clearing out old stock last month, now is the time to do it. New merchandise is rolling out. You may want to refresh your 2023 floor samples. Drag out the old, tag up the tired and create an atmosphere of savings.
BOGO Stick. Free is a hot buzzword in adverting. Buy-one, get-one is an understandable offer. Buy a queen mattress set, get a twin mattress free. Buy a premium mattress, get a guest room mattress free. Buy any mattress and get the base or box at 50% off. The list goes on.
Mattress Included. Few things are sadder in a furniture store than delivering a bedroom set without a mattress. Boost your bedroom set prices by $400 and include a queen mattress. Give the shopper an option to upgrade the comfort level or size for an additional price. Promote the bedroom set with a burst “Includes mattress.” Bundling products works for McDonalds and Taco Bell. It will work for you too.
Supersize Me. Promote a free or reduced-price upgrade. King for a queen, queen for a twin. Sofa for the love seat price. Seven-piece dining room for the five-piece price. Add a $299 accessory bundle for $59 with any purchase. Bigger is better! (Note: The word “Supersize” may be copyrighted for advertising purposes; consider using “upgrade.”)
Cash Is King. Consumer financing has become darned expensive! This year, instead of promoting 60- and 72-month financing at 20% = + cost, why not offer 10% to your shoppers who use debit cards or 7% for bank cards.
Trade In, Elevate and Save. This is a super-easy promo, done through email and snail mail. Research which customers bought a flat bed over the last 24 months. Offer a trade in on their box spring for an adjustable base. Give them full value and free delivery. Prepare a letter or phone script and have your sales team send it out.
$99 Starts Any Sale. Promote an IRS event (inventory reduction sale). Capture those shoppers waiting for their tax refunds. Offer to hold any sale price for $99 down until they get their many happy returns.
Weddings and Graduations. Check your calendar. It happens in June but the planning started last year. Start your own gift registry. The bride and grad pick their gift and let people know where to pay for it. Be a hero and offer to kick in the first $100 on any $1,000 or more gift selection.
More Gift Ideas. Promote gift-with-purchase. Change with the season. Hotel and fuel offers for the summer. “Fill your fridge” for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Free pizza for a year ($20 a month at Pizza Hut) or smart watches, Yeti coolers and Visa debit cards any time.
You gotta promote every day. For Pete’s sake, run something. There are dozens of other campaigns you can run. Factory reps know the best and brightest ones; I’d love for you to share your favorite promo with me.
I promise, I won’t keep it a secret.
Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at Gordon.Hecht@aol.com.