Oh, boy – how’d it get to be mid-August already? You know what that means for retailers. Out with the old and in with the Christmas stuff. OK, maybe not THAT fast. But this is a time when retailers are thinking summer clearance so they can make room for new merchandise. If you’re a retailer (either online or with a brick and mortar shop), here are some tips for making your summer clearance sales stand out.
1. Talk it up, talk it up. Just because you put it on sale, it doesn’t mean people will flock to your store. You need to talk up the sale on all of your social media channels. Don’t just mention the sale once: create a schedule of mentions. Stagger the announcements among your different channels and post at different times of the day, including off times, like overnight hours and early mornings. Your schedule of mentions should include teasers—you want to build buzz before the sale; daily mentions during the sale, and “last-minute, hurry” announcements for procrastinators.
2. Spruce up your website’s home page. This will likely be second nature if you’re an online retailer, but even if you have a physical storefront, you should still make sure you have a clear announcement on your home page about the sale (and don’t forget to remove it once the sale is over).
3. Be strategic with your newsletter/email alerts. Just like you’re planning a schedule with your social media mentions, you’ll want to schedule a series of email alerts as well. Remember the power of three: promote the upcoming sale, send an email just as the sale begins, and send one final email during the last 24 hours.
Bonus idea: Use a post-sale shout out via social media as an opportunity to get people to sign up for your newsletter and/or email alerts. Essentially, you’ll be targeting people through social media and letting them know that if they missed out on the amazing sale, they can sign up for your newsletter and be alerted when the next big sale comes around. It’s important to always be growing your email list!
4. Run Facebook ads. Yes, even if you have a brick-and-mortar shop. Facebook advertising is extremely targeted and cost effective. For online retailers, it makes total sense to run ads around sales and lead people to your product pages. But even brick and mortar stores can benefit: the ads you run can lead to a landing page on your site where people can print out a special Facebook-only coupon (one that you can easily track and measure, too).
For example, let’s say you own an upscale fashion boutique and you’re looking to put the remaining summer collection on sale in order to make room for fall. As you set up your Facebook ads, you’d target women in your specific age bracket and in the zip codes and surrounding zip codes where your store is located (yes, Facebook lets you get that granular). You’d also target women who list related interests on their Facebook profiles, such as shopping and fashion. Finally, you’d have the ad point to a landing page on your site that talks up the sale and allows people to print out a coupon. You indicate how much money you want to spend per day and how long you want the ads to run for, and that’s it!
Note: You can run as many ads as you like under one campaign. So, for example, if you have a daily ad spend of $10, you could run three, five, ten, or more ads under that one campaign without it costing you more. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to run a ton of ads. To start, work with 3-5 and make some ads product specific and some store specific. See which ones perform best. This will take some experimentation, but once you complete an ad flight or two, you’ll have a sense of what works and what doesn’t so you’ll be able to hit the ground running when you get ready to promote the next big clearance sale. Learn more about Facebook advertising here.
5. Ditto with Google Ads. These ads show up to the right of organic search results when you enter a search phrase in Google, and they work similarly to Facebook ads. You can learn more about Google Ads straight from Google.
6. Give flyers to all customers a week or two before the big sale. Add even more incentive by including a coupon at the bottom of the flyer. It’s much easier to sell to current customers than it is to prospects. You already have a captive audience when someone is at the cash register, so tuck a flyer into their bags or hand them one with their receipt.
7. Have a block party. Are you in a shopping plaza with other independent businesses? See if you can coordinate your summer clearance sales and hold them at the same time. Give it a carnival atmosphere by providing free food and things like face painting for the kiddos. It will make shopping fun and you might land some new customers. A block party in the local shopping plaza might get some free press in the local papers or through local online outlets like Patch.com.
8. Get creative in how you cross-promote. If you belong to a networking group like Business Networking International (BNI) or your local Chamber of Commerce, think about the people in your chapter and who could benefit from getting exposure during your sale. For example, if you have a massage therapist in the group, perhaps you could ask her to provide free chair massages one day during the sale (and she could hand out her brochures to people). In return, she could promote your sale through her social media channels and newsletter. You could line up different people and offerings each day of your sale.
So tell us, retailers: how do you promote summer clearance sales? Share your tips and strategies in the comments!