Now’s the time for retail businesses to plan their 2004 promotional events

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm

Now’s the time for retail businesses to plan their 2004 promotional events

By Robert Grede, for SBT

If you operate a retail business, now is a good time to plan your annual calendar of events.
A series of promotional events throughout 2004 will generate a sense of excitement and assure a constant flow of customers through your door all year long.
Promotional events have an attention-getting, often urgent quality that can break through buyer’s inertia. They tell prospects of a chance to get something special that they won’t have again.
Here are a six effective promotions you can use next year to increase your sales.

1. The anniversary promotion
Naturally, this takes place just once a year. The anniversary of your founding provides a reason to have a celebration.
It doesn’t have to be your 10-year, 25-year or 50-year anniversary either. For example, you could celebrate your seventh year in business with a "Buy seven, get one free!" sale on some item. For a 17th anniversary celebration, you could role back prices to the good old days 17 years ago when a dollar was worth a dollar.
Turn your anniversary into a festive occasion — balloons, streamers, bright-colored signs — one sure to draw in regular customers and passers-by alike.

2. The contest
Here’s an opportunity to get the whole community, or your whole industry, involved. People like to compete for prizes.
Offer an award to the winner of a "Why-I-like-my-(your product here)-in-25-words-or-less" contest. Or hold an art contest for kids (17 and under, no professionals). Judges can be drawn from the local high school or community college. (Be sure to reward judges with a token gift.)
Maybe all you need is a "count-the-jellybeans-in-the-jar" contest with the winner getting free merchandise.
Contests make your business the center of attention. Be sure to alert your local newspaper and you may even generate some free publicity.

3. The sweepstakes
These can be lots of fun, but they can also be tricky. Each state has its own set of rules governing sweepstakes. In most states, "no purchase necessary" is the norm. However, the entrant can be required to come to your business to sign up. Then, on a given date, simply draw a name and telephone number out of a jar.
To save money, you can offer prizes donated by other businesses. Negotiate with merchants to contribute the prizes for free or at a substantial discount in exchange for publicity featuring their names and their logos in your flyers and advertising.

4. Coupons
Coupons are ideal for a variety of promotions. They are especially effective when introducing a new product. If you are a retailer or distributor, manufacturers may be willing to pay your advertising expense if you feature their products. Contact the manufacturer and find out if "co-op advertising dollars" are available.
If you are a retail store in a mall or shopping center, advertise in the free circular the mall distributes. Put a coupon in the ad. Use the coupon as a discount on some popular merchandise and draw prospects into your store where you can then sell them other higher-margin items.

5. The product demonstration
Many products may lend themselves to product demonstrations. How about a seminar on the "aesthetic art" of using your product? Or a "how to" seminar demonstrating your services?
Demonstrations work best when scheduled well in advance, with plenty of publicity and advertising. Nothing’s worse than holding a demonstration and no one shows up.
The level of professionalism of the demonstrator often determines the success or failure of this promotional method. The more well-known and respected the demonstrator, the more successful your promotion.

6. Product giveaways
Nothing draws customers like the word "free." Give away a popular (but inexpensive) item with any purchase.
Giveaways work best when used to stimulate sales of other items. They serve to get people into your place of business. Once there, it’s up to you (and your point-of-sale materials) to sell them.
Here’s an opportunity for a manufacturer tie-in. Ask a manufacturer to share in the cost of the giveaway in exchange for using its name in your publicity and advertising.
The advantages of holding promotions all year long are many. Plan your promotion calendar in advance and reap the benefits of a prosperous business and a better bottom line all year long.

Robert Grede, author of Naked Marketing – The Bare Essentials (Prentice Hall), teaches marketing and entrepreneurial management at Marquette University. Contact him via

Dec. 12, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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Christine McMahon helps leaders develop strategies and improve speed of execution by developing leadership talent, creating alignment between business functions and improving communications and accountability up, down and across a business. She is co-founder of the Leadership Institute and is in partnership with the WMEP. For keynote presentations, executive coaching, sales and leadership training, she can be reached at:

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