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In Store Advertising

Advertising Inside Your Store on a Tight Budget

Many stores have had the misfortune of experiencing, as we did, a sudden and drastic drop in sales.

We were preparing for the grand opening of a large grocery store to be located next door to us, as the shopping center was remodeling. We were gearing up for increased sales, and had been advised that having the grocery store next door to us should increase our sales by 20%.

Unfortunately, during the first 6 months of the year, sales began a sharp downward spiral with sales decreasing by 25%. What was to blame?

Perhaps it was the opening of 3 warehouse stores during this time. Maybe the remodeling was to blame. After all, during the remodeling we experienced long periods of time when we did not have our name on our building, times when there were no parking lot lights, and times where there were no available parking spaces in front of our store. Whatever the cause, sales were dropping fast, therefore expenses and excessive inventory were getting out of line very fast.

Although most of us have heard the adage, "When sales are down, advertising is the last expense that should be reduced." Somehow that suggestion does not seem completely appropriate when you are experiencing a sales drop.

Perhaps what is needed is a strong review and change in the advertising format. Unfortunately, in many situations, retailers wait until times are bad to examine what forms of advertising are really working.

Having been one of the retailers that fall into this latter category, we would like to share our experiences with you and list for you the 15 items that we have tried for in- store advertising. We have found that we were able to cut back in certain areas of our advertising budget as well as allow our team members to participate in the program.

AUDIO ANNOUNCEMENTS In smaller stores, creating a short script featuring products or a special sale, and having a team member read the announcement over the telephone paging system can produce extra sales. Larger stores may have the capacity of recording their announcements and implementing them as a part of your in-store music system. You may find that your store has a "closet disc jockey" that would want to create such a program.

IN DEPARTMENT FEATURE PRODUCT Select a product in each department and challenge team members to create an impressive display. A time limit and small budget may be necessary. Track the sales and award prizes based upon units sold.

SPOTLIGHT TABLE If your store has multiple entrances, you can place 4 foot by 8 foot tables in each entrance way, allowing the various departments to rotate the products offered on each of the spotlight tables.

END CAP CONTESTS Create two person teams, using one of your more experienced team members and one of your newer employees, so as to create a sharing experience. Award prizes for creativity and sales.

PM MERCHANDISE One of the oldest retail ideas. Award a cash bonus for the sale of selected items. It can work for old discontinued items as well as new add on sales items.

PAINT SALES CARD Using a file card, track the purchases of paint for each customer. The card comes in very handy when the homeowner needs another gallon of paint to touch up a room. If he knows that you are keeping this information, he will probably shop with your store.

POWER EQUIPMENT OWNER REGISTRATION Register the make, model, and serial number of each piece of equipment sold. You can offer 3 benefits to your customer. 1. Immediate verification of warranty in case of needed repair. 2. Tracking of merchandise for police in case of theft. 3. Providing a letter to an insurance company verifying purchase and amount in case of theft.

PARKING LOT COUPONS If you share a parking lot with other merchants, create a small coupon that can be placed on car windshields. We had a different coupon for each day of the week.

BAG STUFFERS In addition to creating a single page flyer to place in bags of customers as they leave your store, you can offer to trade bag stuffers with other merchants in your area.

SERVICE POST CARD Mail a postcard to all customers during the late fall and early spring, to remind them of your special priced power equipment service check up.

COMMUNITY SIDEWALK SALE Instead of having a large sidewalk sale by yourself, invite area civic clubs to hold their sidewalk sale in front of your store. You can make sure there is enough room for a few tables for your store.

INSULT CARDS We clip apart the ads of our competitors. When our everyday or sale price is equal to or better than their sale price, we post their item and price on a 5 x 7 card in front of the item to remind our customer that we have low prices too.

RETURN FOR PURCHASE STICKERS We have stickers with our store identification placed on every piece of power equipment that we sell or service, as well as a sticker on all furnace filters. We get a lot of referral customers through this.

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY We have this day on an occasional basis with no advance notice to our customers. We offer coffee, juice, and donuts. We have even used church groups to serve the drink and food by having their fund raising groups sell the food and drink to us.

CUSTOMER HARDWARE SCHOOL As more customers hear of our team members attending our Skyway University, we are getting requests for a product knowledge class from our customers. We intend to use our team members as instructors. Handout sheets regarding products will be a must.

Unfortunately, we have caught onto many of these ideas at a point of necessity. Now that we have learned the secret of this low cost advertising, we see the active participation of our team members and the effect of this advertising on our sales. We are still looking for other ideas to try.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
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PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179