Promotions are a popular method to increase sales and in-store traffic at key moments during the year. Designing a successful promotion is more art than science. There are various factors to take into account like the seasonality of demand in the store, the reaction of repeat clients, the scale of the promotion, and the marketing efforts of your competitors, among many others.
Today, I just want to focus on the reward aspect of the promotion. Most retailers devise promotions that are designed around their own products. I am referring to the ubiquitous "buy 2 get 1 free" type of promotions or the various loyalty programs which at different levels of spending entitle the consumer to receive some other product from the store. Some of these can indeed be clever ideas, as the retailer is able to reduce its stock and entice spending. However, there are better designed promotions, when the aim is to please your existing clientele and to increase word-of-mouth and repeat customers.
A new marketing study reinforced the accepted idea that nowadays consumers derive more satisfaction from experiences rather than goods. Therefore, a retailer would appeal to a higher percentage of its customers if its promotions featured a fun and unique experience rather than just another store product. Then, how do you come up with an experience that would satisfy your clientele?
The key is to tie promotions to your unique store concept (see how to develop a unique store concept here). Your good customers by definition are already sold on the particular store experience that you provide. Therefore, they would be delighted and fascinated to get an inside look on your business.
If you are a jeweler reward your best customers with an afternoon in your laboratory. He or she could chat with your designer to create a custom design and then work on the bench with your jeweler to fashion his or her own jewel.
If you are a restaurant owner, invite your loyal clients to an afternoon in the kitchen with your chef, where they can learn how to re-create their favorite dishes.
If you own a clothing store, ask your repeat customers to accompany you to one of the trade shows that you attend. There they will be able visit the booths of their favorite brands and meet the designers.
Remember that these experiences do not need to be exceedingly elaborate, as your best customers are already interested in your business and your products. Give them an honest, friendly and passionate inside look and you will gain a lifetime client and fervent spokeperson.