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Markdown Madness, Facebook Power, Long-Term Recession Strategies and More Tips for June

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MARKDOWN MADNESSSell First

Things may be tough, but don’t be so fast on the discount drawer. Retail consultant Rick Segal says he was in an airport recently and saw a great store with some really different merchandise and eye-catching displays. But the first thing he heard from an employee when he walked in was that there were markdowns in the back. “I didn’t come into the store because of the markdowns. I came into the store because they had some different merchandise. First sell me on what I came into the store for, and then you can suggest a markdown.

THE FACEBOOK EFFECTMake Friends

Evidence that social marketing can work on the Net: Rex Solomon of Houston Jewelry in Houston, TX, has more than 500 Facebook friends, who are now part of his marketing circle. “One night I made up an e-mail coupon and I sent it out to all of my friends in Facebook,” Solomon says. By the next day the coupons were walking through his door.

LONG-TERM STRATEGYDon’t Cut Muscle

Unless the economic downturn threatens your company’s existence, do not cut back on strategic initiatives, write Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in the Harvard Business Review. These initiatives will give you the competitive advantage for the long haul, and you might even try creating a new accounting category specifically for long-term strategic plans.

MARKETING 102Test, Test, Test

You need to be constantly testing to see what’s working with your website and e-mail bulletins. Here’s a (somewhat extreme) example cited by Megan Walsh in a post at the E-mail Experience Council blog: Homeware retailer Williams-Sonoma knew that including a featured product’s price on the main image boosted clicks and conversions. The company then discovered that the customers driving this response were those who spent more than $100 on an average purchase; customers who spent less were more likely to click on an image without a price. With such information they could then better market to both segments. The key to testing, Walsh says, is to focus on one variable at a time.

SET AN EXAMPLESugar Bag It

Bringing in your lunch is one way to show staff you are serious about the need to control costs. But if you really want to show you’re serious, pack that lunch in a used Domino Sugar bag, “with its multiple layers of industrial strength, indestructible paper,” says Jeff Yeager, who bills himself as the ultimate cheapskate. One of the readers of his blog reports that the bag has “served him faithfully, day in and day out, for six long years.” See more such savings tips at Yeager’s website, www.ultimatecheapskate.com.

THE UNSPEAKABLE WORDIt Starts with ‘R’

Never mention the recession in your advertising. That is one of advertising wizard Roy Williams’ cardinal rules when the economy turns  slow. “I understand how tempting it is to say, ‘In order to help you combat the recession we’re offering…’ But all that really does is remind the customer that now is not a good time to be spending money,” he argues.

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INSTANT VACATIONContest This

Cool idea for an event during the summer holidays: The instant vacation. Fans of the Reading Phillies last year were invited to arrive at the ballpark with their bags packed for Friday night games. (They were also advised to make sure their schedules were cleared and a sitter lined up for the kids.) That’s because three lucky couples would win an instant weekend getaway to Atlantic City by limo. That’s excitement.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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When Sales Beat Projections, You Know Wilkerson Did Its Job

There are no crystal balls when it comes to sales projections. But when Thomasville, Georgia jeweler Fran Lewis chose Wilkerson to run the retirement/going-out-of-business sale for Lewis Jewelers and More, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that even Wilkerson could one-up its own sales numbers. “Not only did we meet our goal, but we exceeded the goal that Wilkerson had given us by about 134%,” she says. After more than 40 years in the business, Lewis says she decided a few years ago to “move towards retirement.” And she was impressed by Wilkerson’s tenure in the industry. Overall, she’d recommend the company to anyone else who may be thinking it’s time to hang up their loupe. “As a full package, they’ve done a very good job and I’d definitely recommend Wilkerson.”

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