How to Keep Momentum Going for Customers and Employees
By MICKEY MEECE
Published: January 3, 2008
It’s the first week of the new year and, small retailers may ask, now what? Don’t fall prey to the January lull, says Joel R. Evans, a marketing professor at the Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University and co-author of two books on marketing. He has identified the following ways to jump-start sales and avoid a post-holiday letdown:
1. Run big sales on seasonal merchandise while having prominent displays with fresh (full-priced) merchandise. This will generate store traffic and increase sales.
2. Promote goods and services that complement the gifts your customers just received: installation services, batteries, thank you cards, pet supplies, iTunes cards, DVDs and the like.
3. Provide free coffee and cookies. This will lift shopper and employee morale.
4. Reward the best employees with an extra day off. Give them a button that says “Star Performer.”
5. Empower employees to bend the rules for returns. Consider a distinctive return policy, like 110 percent back on gift items if the customer accepts a store credit rather than a cash or credit card refund. (Limit this to holiday items.)
6. Stay open a little longer than regular hours — the opposite of conventional wisdom — as your competitors close early.
7. Do a mailing (through the post office or e-mail messages) to regular customers. Thank them and offer a special gift or discount for their patronage. There should be ample time for doing this.
8. Run a customer contest or sweepstakes: “We know you’re tired and maybe tapped out. So leave your business card and win a free massage at the local day spa on us — or win a free $50 iTunes gift card on us.”
9. Get ready for coming events: Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day.
10. Devise your own new event: “January is Customer Appreciation Month. Spend $250 in January and get a $35 gift card.”
11. It’s a new year. Be upbeat. There is time now to review the prior year’s results and adjust plans for the new year.
12. Keep the store fully stocked. This will help shopper and employee morale. Don’t make it seem as if a distress sale is going on.
13. Sponsor a school, a team or a park to show a community spirit and get the store name out.
14. Give away some overstocked items to a local shelter or hospital to get the store’s name out. This will also make you and your employees feel good.
15. Advertise — many others won’t. It is a better chance to get recognized.