Retailing 111: Special Effects
Store promotions around special events can bring a nice return on your investment.
Building retail store sales promotions around special events, such as product demonstrations, local tennis events, and national or international tournaments, are opportunities for specialty tennis retailers to create synergy and to make the combined marketing effort greater for the retailer than the cost — resulting in a higher return on your investment.
Special events marketing falls into two categories. 1) “Tie-ins” are when you and your store get involved in someone else’s event, so you ride the wave and take advantage of the local exposure and visibility to benefit your store. 2) Sponsored events are when your store produces or co-produces promotional events.
Both types are store sales promotions, and their objective is to bring customers into your store while promoting your retail business in your local market. You need to determine which special events work best for your store, and what your ROI is. Accordingly, employ the full range of direct response tools, which we wrote about in the May issue of RSI (“Retailing 110: Direct Appeal”) and which you can find online at tennisindustrynews.org.
The first step is to look ahead at your year and pick the special events you would like to tie your store into. Get these events on your planning calendar and into your financial plan for the coming year. Then get your manufacturers’ sales reps and suppliers involved early to assist with the events that they already sponsor or are committed to. By “assist,” we mean the rep being at your tie-in special event promotion, and arranging special pricing or other financial support.
Next, decide which special events in your local market space your store will produce and sponsor or otherwise participate in during the coming year — and budget and plan accordingly. Your sales reps and suppliers need to be involved with and help you support these sponsored events as well.
Tournaments often are favorite times for retail stores to stage special promotional events. You can actually use any type of tournament as a promotional platform for your store. Grand Slam events, such as Wimbledon or the US Open, are great times to promote tennis locally, via your store, as the tournament is being promoted nationally and internationally. (See sample Grand Slam sale “coupon.”) Also, many pro players wear new outfits for these events; if you are able to stock them, make sure you promote their availability.
(And don’t forget, as a tennis retailer, you’re an expert in this field. Make it known to local media that you’re available for interviews about pro players, playing styles, tennis equipment, etc. — it will give a local flavor to national or international stories, while promoting your store.)
But don’t just stop at the Grand Slam tournaments. You should tie-in with any event in your area, including local club championships, park and rec tourneys, district or sectional USTA events — any time people will be gathering in your area to play tennis, your store may be able to play a role or have a tie-in to that event.
Many specialty tennis retailers already play tournament videos in their stores, or have a flat screen TV tuned to the Tennis Channel or other coverage of pro events so customers can stop and watch. Remember, the longer a customer is in your store, the more likely they are to buy. And you can enhance your special event store promotion with in-store signs and staff reference.
Local marketing is fast becoming the most important form of marketing for all specialty sports retailers, and contacting your local park and rec department about sponsoring their tournaments and bringing in support from your sales reps and suppliers should be high on your list of special events store promotions.
Additional local special events to include in your planning are demo days at your store involving a sales rep demonstrating one brand’s products, as well as bigger off-site “demo” events. With a little advance planning you can partner with a local tennis facility to sponsor or co-sponsor a weekend or evening special event with reps from a number of brand’s and their products. Include one or more teaching pros to provide clinics. Or, do a separate set of special events built around partnering with teaching pros in your local market. With all your local special events, use coupons or invitations that consumers have to bring with them for entry to measure response and ROI.
Promotions geared to special events can move your store toward becoming the place to shop for tennis, and establish you as the primary supporter of tennis in your community.
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This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).