26 May 2024, 16:27
By Gordon Hecht Feb 26, 2024

Deliver new promotions and spread the word

A new year means a blank slate, full of opportunity to build your business – but meeting today’s retail challenges also requires a new take on promotions, writes our US correspondent, business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry, Gordon Hecht … 

This year should be a return to normalcy. New products are arriving. Incoming shoppers have budgets to spend. Hiring has moved from the impossible category to the difficult but do-able category.

The challenge is bringing those shoppers through your doorway. More than likely, foot traffic will be steady or lower this year. The primary reason is that people can research and compare merchandise and stores online – they can choose the product and the place without leaving their BarcaLounger.

In the last century, shoppers would visit three stores before making a buying decision. This year it will be about 1.5 (but it’s impractical to visit a ‘half store’). Essentially, shoppers buy in the first or second store they visit. Your goal is to be the first or second place they stop.

Your shop may have the nicest products, happiest salespeople, best bargain pricing, and spotless white-glove service. But people won’t put you on their shopping list if you’re the best-kept secret in town. You gotta advertise to get that message out.

Four truths about advertising

Advertising is not an expense. It is an investment in your business.

The job of advertising is to attract shoppers to your door or website. The job of your sales team is to convert those shoppers into buyers, creating revenue.

It costs you about six times as much to attract a new shopper to your shop compared to bringing back an existing customer.

To increase revenue, you need to attract shoppers who are not your typical customer. That means promoting products, services or financing offers appealing to a different demographic segment than your current customer base.

My (not-so) top secret promotion ideas

Under no circumstances should the following advertising ideas be kept secret. These are not in-store promotions. Shout it from the rooftops. Depending on your ad budget you can use traditional media, billboards, social media, email, snail mail, or phone calls.

Half the store – half off

If you missed clearing out old stock last month, now is the time to do it. New merchandise is rolling out. You may want to refresh your floor samples. Drag out the old, tag up the tired, and create an atmosphere of savings.


Free is a hot buzzword in adverting, and buy one, get one free is an understandable offer. Buy a queen mattress set, get a twin mattress free. Buy a premium mattress, get a guest room mattress free. Buy any mattress, get the base or box at -50% off. The list goes on.

Mattress included

Few things are sadder in a furniture store than delivering a bedroom set without a mattress. Boost your bedroom set prices by $400 and include a queen mattress. Give the shopper an option to upgrade the comfort level or size for an additional price. Promote the bedroom set with a burst, ‘Includes Mattress’. Packaging products works for McDonalds and Taco Bell. It will work for you too.

Supersize me

Promote a free or reduced-price upgrade. King for a queen, queen for a twin. Sofa for the loveseat price. Seven-piece dining room for the five-piece price. Add a $299 accessory bundle for $59 with any purchase. Bigger is better! (Note – the word ‘Supersize’ may be copyrighted for advertising purposes, consider using ‘upgrade’!)

Cash is king

Consumer financing has become darned expensive! This year, instead of promoting 60-and 72-month financing at 20%, why not offer 10% to your shoppers who use debit cards, or 7% for bank cards?

Trade in, elevate and save 

A super-easy promo done through email and snail mail. Research which customers bought a flat bed over the last 24 months. Offer a trade-in on their boxspring for an adjustable base. Give them full value and free delivery. Prepare a letter or phone script and have your sales team send it out.

Weddings and graduations

Check your calendar. It happens in June, but the planning started last year. Start your own gift registry. The bride and groom pick their gift and let people know where to pay for it. Be a hero and offer to kick in the first $100 on any $1000 or more gift selection.

More gifts

Promote a gift with purchase, and change with the season. Hotel and fuel offers for the summer. Fill your fridge for special occasions. Free pizza for a year, or smartwatches and coolers any time.

You gotta promote every day. Run something. There are dozens of other advertising promos you can run. Factory reps know the best and brightest ones. 

I’d love it if you share your favourite one with me. I won’t keep it a secret, I promise.

Gordon can be reached at [email protected]

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