A recent survey of retailers showed that over 70% of those who responded had fewer than 10 promotions and /or special events per year – and 36% had fewer than 5. In today’s market place successful retailers have realized that a promotional image is not demeaning but necessary to sustaining and increasing volume, attracting new customers and more importantly in golf retail, keeping the regular clientele that you have, interested in what you are doing. In order to facilitate this it is imperative to plan promotions well in advance and market them accordingly.
I recently mentioned “buying” for promotions at a sell-through boot-camp put on by PGA Magazine and the response from the participants was that they were much more likely to put on sale what they were over-inventoried in than they were to BUY for a planned promotion. If the purpose of a healthy calendar of promotions and special events is to keep the member or customer interested why would you think that merchandise that you’ve already had trouble moving is going to cause a stir. The survey above was not taken of golf retailers, if it had been the results would have been different and rightfully so – most green-grass golf shops are not fully functional twelve month a year; they do however have the type of repeat business that needs to continue to be inspired.
The constant search for new promotions is why many retailers do what they do, that is the part of the business they love. For the golf shop manager who doesn’t share this love and whose head is spinning when planning promotions is the issue, there are some things to keep in mind that ease the pain. First, not every promotion needs to be a large event and almost none of them HAVE to be a sale. You can, as a matter of fact, promote to small segments of your clientele with specialized email, promoting certain brands or sizes or birthdays depending on how good a job you are doing of profiling the customer.
The industry has already adopted demo days to draw crowds and utilize vendors. This concept should be extended to categories other than golf clubs. Vendors and their management, account managers and designers could be invited periodically to help spur interest in certain of their product being promoted. When a local rep introduces a new product, collection, fabrication or category that you like instead of just placing an order and saying we’ll try it, talk about all the possibilities of its promotion that could take place – POS obviously, email blasts, newsletter mention, social media as well as someone from the company spending time with the customers whether it be an announced visit or a party with wine and cheese. If you have a membership of avid fishermen invite a high-end vendor of fishing equipment and have a fly-fishing presentation. I think it is important to change the mind-set of why we have promotions from the “we need to put this on sale and get rid of it” to “let’s do something that will engage the customer – let’s have some fun.”
The promotion calendar that is planned should be reflective of how we perceive ourselves as retailers and the image we are trying to convey about who we are. Walmart sells price. Home Depot sells ‘How to.” Starbucks sells “hip and cool.” Macdonald’s sells “fast.” Southwest is now selling “heart.” Decide who you want your members and regulars to see you as and plan a series of events accordingly, making sure you are telling the right story in as customer friendly and serviceable way as possible.