In this age of always-connected, marketing-savvy consumers, do promotional events still work to drive traffic into your store? The short answer is yes. But, it is more complex than that. Some of the old school promotional methodologies have lost their luster with today's consumers.One thing that hasn't changed, however, is customers love a good deal. If they feel like they're able to get actual bargains they will come – always. That's not the only way to get promotional events to work, but it's the most guaranteed method. Here's a short list of ways to use promotional events in your retail marketing mix to drive more traffic into your store.
Offer incredible deals. As mentioned above, the most sure way to create a promotional event that really packs them in is to give them an unbelievable bargain. If they feel like they're getting away with something and ripping off the store, they will flock in. The larger the deal seems, the more urgency they feel to come in. Giving huge percentage off sale prices, great financing deals, cash rebates, two for one, half off – all these offers make people feel like they are able to get something better than what is normally offered. This is just human nature, the bigger the offer seems, the more people will come. Especially if it is something better than your competition is offering at the same time.
Better deals for preferred customers. When creating a promotional event, you can drive additional traffic by direct marketing to your best customers (via direct mail, digital ads, email, social ads, etc.) with an offer that bigger than what they are seeing in the public advertising. It doesn't have to be a massive difference, but has to be different enough that they feel special and will be more motivated to take advantage of the offer that even better and exclusively for them. This has worked really well for our furniture retailer clients. We go through their database and pull a list of their best customers who are most likely to buy and serve them up offers that are better. For instance if the public offer is up to 4 years no interest, the private offer is up to 5 years no interest (with a higher minimum purchase).
Private or exclusive events. Another way to tap into your data and reward your best customers is to invite them to an exclusive or private event. Some of our clients will have private VIP events that are marketed to a select group of customers on a weekend where there is no public offer or marketing. Besides giving a good offer and/or gift for coming in, the recipients of the invites can see there is no promotional event going on for the public at the time – this gives them a feeling of exclusivity, getting something no one else is – that's an additional motivator to go into your store. You can also use this technique by giving exclusive, private preview invitations. You can use this if you have the new season's fashions and want to give "select" customers a sneak peek. Or if you're having a Grand Opening of a new location, you can invite people in for a private preview party. Anything that makes a customer feel special by getting an invite to an exclusive event will bring in more people.
Create an experience. Today's consumers, especially the Millennials, love experiencing new and interesting things. If your promotional event creates an experience they can't get elsewhere, it will drive traffic. This could be as simple as live demonstrations or workshops all the way up to live entertainment or celebrity appearances. This last weekend one of our furniture retailer clients who sells Paula Dean furniture had a guest appearance by Ms Dean in their store and she really packed them in.
Have a believable reason for your promotion. Giving a great offer certainly drives traffic, but have a good, believable rationale for your sale/promotion adds to the viability of the promotion in the customer's mind. Having a good reason in your retail marketing message makes the offer more legit. This is why clearance sales usually make good promotions. It's believable that you have extra merchandise you didn't sell and new stuff is coming in that you must make room for. The consumer wonders why are you giving me such a good deal? The better the reasoning behind it, but more they will believe it is a good time to shop. For instance, one recent example was when a client's region was hit with a massive snow storm that shut down much of the area and even knocked out power to some of their stores. They held a snowstorm promotion offering great deals to make up for lost sales – a very believable rationale. Is there a good story behind your promotion? If so, tell it – it will help bring in more people.
Tie your promotion to a natural holiday. The most believable rationale for a big promotion is because it's one of those holidays everyone has a big promotion. Over the years, retailers have trained consumers that there are certain times of the year that have the best promotions – usually around one of the major holidays (New Year's, President's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving). Some holidays work better for different retailers (President's day for mattresses and cars, After Thanksgiving for Christmas present items), but most major holidays are times consumers expect there to be great promotional events and they plan for them.
Those are just 6 ways having promotional events in your retail marketing mix can drive more traffic into your store. We've used all of them for our retail clients. There are certainly more. Feel free to add yours to the list.