by Steve Feldman
Quick. Who was the second president of the United States? Name one silver medalist in any Olympic games. Who was your second kiss?
Time’s up. If you are not first you are often forgotten. And that certainly applies to retail. If you are not first in the minds of your potential customers, you will be forgotten. That customer who almost bought from you but instead chose to purchase her floor covering somewhere else will rarely remember visiting your store the next time she is in the market for floor covering.
That’s why a high closing rate is so important, especially with fewer customers walking in the door and, equally important, remaining top of mind with local consumers. Retailers employ a variety of strategies, such as offering free cleaning for a period of time to gain access to that customer months and years after the purchase. Others use a carefully planned e-marketing strategy in an attempt to stay in contact with their customers.
Another way to stay top of mind in your area is promotion. Yes, every retailer promotes his business in some way. Come home any day from work, and your mailbox is certain to be filled with catalogs, direct mail pieces, etc. How many do you remember? I thought so. And that’s why the marketing and promotions have to be memorable or you will not stand out from the clutter.
Here’s an example that showed up in my e-mail not too long ago. Carpet One Floor and Home in Evansville, Ind., recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. Rather than having some type of hokey sale, like “60% off” or $60 coupons, the retailer attempted to set a record for the world’s largest pie fight and prove any stain will come out of Lees carpet with only water. Yes, I know; Shaw did a pie fight promotion two years ago and Mohawk put its SmartStrand carpet to the test in a rhinocerous pen. But these promos really resonate on a local level.
Back to the pie fight. Zach Below, great grandson of founder Elmo Walker, wanted to celebrate its 60 years in a big way. “We thought, what’s bigger than a world record, and before we knew it we were filing paperwork with the ‘Guinness Book of World Records.’”
But that’s not all. Another successful strategy that works for retailers in small- er communities is benevolence—supporting a cause, volunteering, etc. The Carpet One store capitalized on this as well. For each person who signed up for the pie fight, Carpet One donated $1 to the Vanderburgh County Humane Society (VHS). The pie fight promotion was also chosen because the event coincided with a Lees Spillabration sale. It was held over a section of Relax, its Lees carpet to prove any stain will come out. In addition, they had a Spill Bar at the front entrance of the store where they hosted stain demonstrations.
The retailer also took advantage of social media, promoting the pie fight on its Facebook page. Below built excitement on Facebook for a week, talking about warming up his pie-fighting arm. Andrew Lobacz, a local chiropractor, heard about the pie fight on Facebook and decided he had to attend. “It just sounded like something you couldn’t miss out on.”
To break the world record, more than 648 pies had to be thrown. Unfortunately, they fell 48 pies short. But coming so close gave Below the idea to make it an annual event.
Bottom line: This retailer did a whole lot right—promotion, benevolence, social media. You can bet he’ll be remembered the next time someone in his area is in the market for flooring.