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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mining March Madness

March Madness originally uploaded by matt.hintsa.
Do you make the most out of events - like March Madness - to bring excitement to your brand or store?

Carrol Lasswell, our Wear-Dated Rep. in Phoenix, AZ, is a Sears retail veteran [with a bit of JC Penney thrown in] who never shies away from trying new things. At Sears, she managed every department except for women's fashions (Assistant Manager there) -- including Home Decor Custom Windows and Floor Covering. Let me tell you, Carrol knows her stuff!

Inspired by March Madness, she recently shared the following story to get you thinking about how to generate excitement in your retail environment.

During prime sports seasons - which often seem to fall during a high shopping season (Easter, Back to School, Christmas) - I always arranged a theater setting in the electronics department of our store.

I would set up folding chairs (with cushion bottoms) and a popcorn popper or microwave oven with popcorn bags. I would invite a local water company to offer water bottles with their ads on them as well as food vendors to give away samples of their product. The food vendors [especially in the mall] would jump at the opportunity. They would not only provide food and napkins and the people to hand them out, but also 'cents off' coupons. A win win for all! We only did these events on weekends, but they were effective and our theater setting became known as Daddy Daycare.

My sales people dressed in team colors, based on the event. [Since we sold team apparel at the store, we gave salespeople an additional discount.] The entire store would support the event, and the entire store saw the benefits: sales in the fashion areas increased during customer appreciation events and promotions. Mom shopped while the boys chatted and watched TV - a true marketing to women solution!

The physical setup was relatively easy. We made sure to have many extra trash cans and attentive salespeople would control the clean up. We did post signs asking people to limit the food and beverage to within the theater area.

We bulk stacked featured products in areas adjacent to the TVs. We had high definition big screens covering the back wall and one challenge was not blocking the aisle. That kind of problem is great! Dads remembered so when time came for the next big screen purchase, they always came back. Also, standing around the other electronic products made them think about upgrades to their current systems. Dads like high tech! Sony provided handouts and web cards as well as balloons and key cards to highlight new and better products.

I placed surveys in the area asking about the store and shopping experience. It was amazing how many men completed the surveys! Most would write in comments about the area and how positive it was: something special for the non-shopping Dad! It's good, and has been proven over and over again in major retail stores. [See QAQNA's and Service Untitled's posts about this subject in Blogtipping Day - April.]

An observation: men hold onto and look at printed materials more than women do - especially if the information matters to them. Consequently, we made sure to have warranty information, product care brochures as well as relevant magazines available in Daddy Daycare.

The same principles described above apply to carpet. Dads like soft products. Dads like high tech and special performance features. Dads like information. Be sure, then, to provide something for Dad to learn about while he's in Daddy Daycare.

It's a tough flooring market out there, especially for soft surface. Appealing to consumers means that we have to come up with new ways to create excitement around our products and our retail experience. Our success with March Madness and Daddy Daycare made a difference for our store -- and we all had fun in the process!

Thanks, Carrol!

[If you need some nifty tracking sheets to keep the Daddy Daycare folks busy, try this March Madness site.]

Carrol's story reminds me of Diva Marketing's Toby Bloomberg's two wonderful posts about Creating a Holiday as a Marketing Strategy: Doing Business In Your Bathrobe and Summer 'Marketing' Holidays. They are inspiring must reads. Create your own holiday to mine if you don't want to mine March Madness!

What is the next holiday you will celebrate? And, how will you do so in-store? I'd love to know.

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