Here is the twelfth entry of the Twelve Components You Need in Your Merchandising Plan titled: Promotional Planning- How much influence does your merchandising plan have over your stores promotional plans? How do you spend your advertising dollars? Do you wait for vendors to come knocking on your door and suggest something for this year based on last year expenditure and your recall of what went well last year? That is too passive and probably does not resonate as your most effective messaging with your targeted audience. Start by asking yourself how you plan to earn the business during the upcoming season/year. What sales strategies will be most effective at transforming today’s value-oriented shoppers into buyers? If you objectives are more sales, then what categories and specifically what sub-categories offer you the most differentiation? Here I use the term differentiation to mean customer preference. Who cares if you are different if it is not what the customer is looking for? Differentiation means creating product offerings that customer prefer over other fashion, accessory, jewelry and luxury items that they might purchase in place of your jewelry. Merchandising managers are extremely important when it comes to creating an inventory that customers prefer over other stores.
Tie your advertising to promotional plans. What in-store events will you be planning? Spend dollars notifying your database of customers and prospects to specific types of events that reflect the type of jewelry they have shown interest in. Don’t send one promotional flyer to your entire database. Try creating brochures and promotions that feature specific categories and sub-categories of products. Be sure to get the support of participating suppliers too.
Preplan your front window displays and themed in-store displays for each selling season. Make sure you have a system for rotating stock so that shoppers who frequently visit store find the store to be fresh and alive with interesting jewelry offerings. Consider adding a bit of fabric material in themed colors to enhance what would otherwise look like a sterile display of white fixtures. Find just one dominant wall in the store and paint it every season in a new color to match your seasonal theme. Paint is one of the most inexpensive ways to bring new life and a touch of drama to a store. Do you use backlit graphics of women showing their positive emotions while wearing jewelry? If not, try a couple and remember, it is an emotional sale. How clean are your counter pads? When was the last time you trained sales associates on the benefits of polishing jewelry in front of customers; before and after they present a piece of jewelry for a shopper’s personal inspection? Selling is Showtime and merchandising managers need to be sure they are sourcing all beneficial support programs/training/advertising/SPIFs from each supplier. What sort of display assistance might your suppliers provide? If you haven’t asked them lately you might be surprised.
Include event marketing and word of mouth marketing and public relations to expand the exposure of your company. Reconsider your donations to charity events by defining performance standards. How many customers will it take to pay for the ad is one question? A better question is how many dollars in net return on investment will the store generate with a donation/advertisement, etc. to each charitable contribution? These are difficult times and you must make sure your advertising dollars are working for you. Advertising must generate foot traffic these days and not just create “goodwill.”
Tie advertising to sales promotions. Trunk shows and remodeling events seem to be very effective for a number of stores. Plan trunk shows to expand jewelry offered to customers and to create a more exciting shopping experience. Learn about word of mouth marketing and leverage those delighted customers who love the jewelry you created for them using their old jewelry.
Review all forms of advertising and make sure you are getting a return on investment. If you don’t know how you are going to measure the effectiveness of an advertisement. Don’t waste your money. For example, take another look at those Yellow page ads and make sure they are paying off. Use an unlisted number to be able to track the actual business generated. Of course you don’t want your Yellow Page ad phone numbers to ring into the store’s main phone number. If you can’t afford a second line, reconsider the use of anything more than a sixteenth of a page (basically a bold column ad).
The best definition of public relations I have heard is performance realized. So tell your local press about what you doing to help your customers. Send short story lines with photographs to your local newspapers. You will be surprised how often they will run a story if you include nice photos.
Merchandising management is becoming a dominant influence of marketing and sales in retail jewelry stores. This is because the most important element in retail jewelry stores is still selection. The store must have the type of jewelry it is capable of selling to the type of customers it attracts. No longer is it about finding the jewelry you are most interested in selling. Merchandising management today must focus on finding the jewelry that the store’s shoppers are most interested in buying and the sales staff is most effective at selling. When merchandising managers find themselves saying I really like such and such, but I know it won’t sell in my store . . . I found these other items which better fit my store’s more value-oriented shoppers; then you are thinking like a 21st century merchandising manager.