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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: June 2009

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Markdown madness, the Facebook effect and a long-term strategy.

Don’t count out your displays; strategic initiatives remain important in stressful economic times; more.

[componentheading]MARKDOWN MADNESS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Sell First[/contentheading]

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.

[componentheading]THE FACEBOOK EFFECT[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Make Friends[/contentheading]

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.

[componentheading]LONG-TERM STRATEGY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Don’t Cut Muscle[/contentheading]

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.

[componentheading]MARKETING 102[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Test, Test, Test[/contentheading]

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.

[componoentheading]SET AN EXAMPLE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Sugar Bag It[/contentheading]

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.

[componentheading]THE UNSPEAKABLE WORD[/componentheading]

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[contentheading](It Starts with ‘R'[/contentheading]

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.

[componentheading]INSTANT VACATION[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Contest This[/contentheading]

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.

[span class=note]This story is from the June 2009 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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