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Fall 2010 Profit from Holiday Promotions

Working in tandem with mall management can make your planned holiday promotions doubly successful. Here are five tips to make it happen.

Whether you operate your specialty retail business year-round or just during the holidays, working with your mall’s management or marketing team is vital for successful sales throughout the year. Mall management teams work for months on their seasonal holiday campaigns and promotions. They can provide you with a wealth of information and assist with mall event participation, social networking, and in-mall advertising.

Malls usually communicate with their merchants about holiday promotions via hand-delivered memo, email or during a merchant meeting. It is very important that you attend every merchant meeting to learn about what will be going on at the mall during the holidays. Also, please ensure that your staff understands that all paperwork delivered to your RMU, kiosk, or store makes it to your hands. You don’t want to miss out on participating in free advertising and promotions.

Here are five points to remember when planning and implementing your holiday promotions…

Participate

Throughout the holidays the mall will have many events scheduled to draw in traffic. Santa’s arrival, special Black Friday events, local choral groups performing, might be just a few of them. Take advantage of these events and divert some of that traffic to your store by offering special deals and coupons. You can offer discount coupons or a special gift with purchase during these mall events. It’s also a good idea to let the mall know about your promotion plans so they might include it in any brochures they plan on releasing before the holidays.

Consider promoting your business through sponsorship of the Santa pictures area if possible. A bounce-back coupon that is given to customers at checkout here is another way to drive traffic. Set up a meeting with your mall’s marketing team to discuss how you can help drive even more event traffic to your business.

Stand out

You want to stand out during the holidays and attract customers. However, keep in mind that many malls have pretty rigid rules about visual merchandising even during the holiday season—consult them before implementing any changes. Consider having your employees wear professional printed or embroidered shirts with your business logo on it and maybe a holiday promotion message on the back i.e., “Ask me how to get 10% off” or “Free Gift Wrap with purchase.” By offering simple extras, you can really boost your bottom line.

Many malls have a T-shirt or embroidery shop so check with your mall neighbors and see what kind of deal you can get on apparel printing. Maybe they would be open to a marketing trade.

You can also promote holiday specials on professionally printed signs in an approved sign holder at your business. Do not use handwritten signs, this is usually not allowed and looks very unprofessional. Check with mall management and get approval on all visual display and uniform changes.

But wait, there’s more!

A tried and tested way to increase sales during the holidays is to give every customer a reason to come back and purchase more products at a later date. Typically, the highest traffic periods for holiday shopping are the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. However, many mall tenants are paying increased holiday rents starting November 1. Give your customers an incentive tobuy earlier in November. For example, for all purchases made during the month of October, give customers brightly colored cards (the color helps it stand out) offering them a discount for purchases made in November prior to Thanksgiving. Make sure it is a significant dollar or percentage value making it a powerful enough incentive to return to the store.

Click it

Social networking is a growing trend with malls and it’s increasingly how they communicate with their customers. Shelly Weidner, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Town Center at Cobb in Kennesaw, GA, suggests retailers “take advantage of the mall’s Facebook and Twitter sites to post sales and information, interact with the customers to see what they are talking about and link your own pages to the mall’s.”  

If you do not have a Facebook or Twitter page you should consider setting one up to take advantage of this great promotional tool.   However, just setting up a page doesn’t mean instant access to thousands of customers. You will need to decide how much time you have to devote to managing your page and which social networking venue works best for your business. There are many books and websites that educate the public about the dos and don’ts of social networking for business. Check them out and see what will work best for you.

Email marketing continues to be a popular way for businesses to communicate with their customers. With every sale, try and capture the customer’s email address. Having a simple form that can be printed off your computer for minimal cost, will pay off in future sales. Be sure that the form indicates that you will not share or sell email addresses to anyone and that it will only be used to communicate about special events and sales for your business. Keep these forms on file.

You can use this email list to communicate with your customers throughout the year—about new product arrivals, sales that you might be having, or if you relocate in the mall. Companies like Constant Contact and iContact can help you manage your email database and send out email marketing messages. Be sure to research and learn about best practices in email marketing. According to the Federal Trade Commission website, “the CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.” Do your research to ensure that you are not in violation of this act.

Advertise

Many malls have advertising programs of their own. For example you can promote your business and special offers on the mall’s website, electronic marquee sign, overhead banners, or 22” x 28” signs throughout the mall. Check with your mall teams to find out what the costs are—they might be very economical, especially when compared to more traditional outlets like radio, newspaper, or direct mail.

The bottom line is to keep an open line of communication with your mall management and marketing department. If you show that you are a willing participant in mall promotions you will find that they will come to you first for mall events throughout the year. Also make sure that the mall’s customer service representatives and security officers know you and your product. They interact with customers as well and can direct them to your store.


Starr Cumming

Starr Cumming is a freelance writer from Atlanta with 12 years of shopping center industry management and leasing experience. She most recently was a RVP of Business Development with General Growth Management, Inc. She can be reached at starr.cumming@gmail.com.

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