If you own a sporting goods store, t-shirt shop, gift shop, school shop or any business that sells custom apparel, and you have a brick and mortar location, you are probably always looking for ways to increase foot traffic. I understand this challenge. Even though I remember helping to make dies for cutting lettering at age 10, I haven’t always worked for the family business. I also have extensive retail experience outside the world of Stahls‘. As is true in many family businesses, there came a point where I ventured out to gain experience in other areas. Over the years, I established four successful retail jewelry stores, ran a wholesale jewelry business and marketed and produced events including concerts, pageants and even a singles mixer. I learned the benefits of true hands-on, grassroots marketing, mailing postcards, networking with vendors, putting out sidewalk signs, making flyers, placing ads and learning the importance of finding, satisfying and keeping customers. I know how important it is to keep things relevant. And although the internet and social media have dramatically changed the way most of us do business, there are still folks out there that appreciate and enjoy the experience of “hands on” shopping.
Showcase Your Heat Press
Recently we highlighted a customer, Branding Matters!, who plans and promotes a carwash day outside of their location in order to bring in customers. Networking with local businesses you hold in high regard is a great way to bring more business to all participants. And remember, if you have a heat press, consider putting it on display in the store where people can see you using it to create custom garments. I’ve seen this done in sporting goods stores, at many pop-up store events at stadiums and even Ugg Stores. People are fascinated with heat printing and it tells customers that you have the ability to customize. That is not something all retailers can say. It truly sets you apart, so use it to your advantage. Here are some additional in-store promotional ideas that you can run by your team:
- Hold A Collector’s Show
Many people collect sports memorabilia, caps, jerseys, trading cards, even tickets and programs. Invite memorabilia collectors to display, trade and maybe even sell their items in your store.
- Invite Local Athletes
People are always interested in getting a closer view of their favorite athletes. Set up a table for your guest of honor and customers will line up for autographs or just a handshake and hello. This is a good time to have a sale on replica jerseys of the star in your store.
- FREE Popcorn and/or Hot Dogs
Free food is an attraction that builds good will and generates repeat business. Rent a hot dog cart or popcorn machine and arrange to have someone serve the customers. To increase the drawing power of an event like this, make sure people outside can smell the goodies and put a sign in your door or window.
- Sidewalk and Tent Sales
Put your merchandise on rolling racks or tables and bring your heat seal machine out where everyone can see it. Have different booths or areas for the different services you offer, such as, Team Lettering, Custom Transfers, Custom Gifts and Custom Caps. Try to create a flea market type atmosphere using tables with a wide variety of low priced items on it. Or make a sign saying, “Everything On This Table, $5.00!”
- Buyer’s Bucks
Print up your own “Monopoly Money” and give your customers one phony dollar for every $10 (or suitable arrangement) they spend in your store. Shoppers can redeem their “Buyer’s Bucks” for prizes or use them towards future purchases. Consider putting a limit on the number of Buyer’s Bucks someone can use for one purchase, and make sure you have a counterfeit-proof system.
- T-Shirt Club
Everyone seems to be trying this type of promotion, from the book store to take out food places, so why shouldn’t you? It’s an easy, inexpensive way to build repeat business and reward repeat customers. Either print or photocopy a “Club Card,” featuring your store name, phone number and 10 small shirts. Every time the card holder buys a shirt, punch and date or stamp the card. After the 10th purchase, the buyer is entitled to a free shirt or free personalization service.
- BOGO and GROWL Sales
Here are two fun ways to advertise sales. Have a BOGO sale – that’s Buy One Get One free, or a GROWL sale – that’s Get Rid Of What’s Left. Use a poster with a tiger to advertise your GROWL sale.
- Pajama Sale
Want to attract attention? Have a midnight madness sale and encourage customers to wear their pajamas into the store for an additional discount. It’s fun and a great opportunity to wear your robe and slippers to work!
- In-Store Seminars and Demonstrations
Offering your customers the opportunity to see your products in action or learn a craft is an effective way to build good will as well as stimulate sales of the products used in the seminar or demonstration. You should however, resist from turning these opportunities into blatant sales pitches. If you stick to providing excellent, valuable information, the customers will naturally want to use the products they saw demonstrated. What are some things you could teach your customers? Hold a Wearable Art Seminar and show customers how to combine transfers with lettering, add sprinkle puff, rhinestones, two color lettering and more. Or you could hold a Custom Gift Seminar before the holidays, for a nominal fee.
- Give Customers A Little Extra
Remember getting a free roll or donut when you bought a dozen at the baker? The baker’s dozen concept is a smart way to keep customers coming back for more. While some retailers may not see the point in giving away something people are willing to pay for, being generous is a good way to say, “Thanks for buying here, we appreciate your business, please come again.”
One thing you can offer for free without spending too much money is lettering. Offer five letters free with the purchase of any shirt or transfer design. Or you can give away a calendar or other ad specialty item imprinted with your store name. One store we know gives customers with new babies a free custom shirt for the little one featuring the store name.
I would be very interested in hearing about some of your most successful promotional ideas. Or please give feedback on what I have suggested. If you tried one of the ideas, we’d like to hear about it.