Make Your Own Holiday

Make Your Own Holiday
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 It's no secret that customers are motivated by an event. They love the atmosphere of an event with its added incentives. For most retailers, an event is driven by what the calendar says. For example, Feb 14 is Valentine's Day every year so they plan a Valentine's Day event. Or one for July 4th or for Memorial day and so on. 

But the secret to great retail is to make every day an event in your store.

While that is tough if you are relying on the "known" holidays, it's really easy if you plan an event around the "lesser known" holidays. There are tons of creative ideas you can come up with to celebrate in your store. For example, April 7 is National Beer Day. In my stores, we used to get the local microbreweries to give us samples and made a whole event around it. Another example was National Balloon Day. We had tons of balloons everywhere, ballon artist to make shapes and characters for the kids and at the POS, we had balloons you could pop for a discount inside. 

So as you can see, there are tons of "holidays" you can celebrate in your store. An old colleague of mine used to say, "your store should be known as the party store. Customers should say those people really like to party." A great saying for sure since when people are at a party they are happy and happy people spend money.

In 1957, the Chase brothers started a calendar of special events in the US. It was called the Chase's Calendar of Events.  Still published today, you can find in your library or you can subscribe to the online version. It has more ideas to celebrate than any other source. 

But don't stop there. Step one is to try and celebrate the nontraditional holidays.

Step two is to create a holiday of your own making. My friend Rick Segel did this. He created his own in his store years ago to honor his mom and dad who founded the store. The next year he invited others to join in and today it's celebrated all over the US at the end of March. 

While ballon day was fun in our stores, creating our own holidays was even more so. Practicing this idea in my retail stores yielded some great benefits:

  • Employees were more engaged because they had to come up with the idea and then plan it out. 
  • Customers loved it and were always asking "what's next?"
  • Employee turnover was improved. It was a fun place to work. 
  • Sales were impacted. We did not have to wait for the six or seven events each year everyone celebrated. We could have one every weekend. 

Did all of our DIY holiday events work out? No, some were a flop. Usually that was when we were "reaching" or trying to hard to make something out of nothing. Here are some rules to make your DIY holidays work well for you. 

  • Space them out. Too many events too often and the "buzz" wears off with Customers.
  • Monitor the scope. Your employees will come up with some amazing ideas, but sometimes they may be too hard to pull off or take up more time and investment then they return. 
  • Be all in. Whenever we did an event that 100% of our employees were not sold on, it never worked. Or if it did, it was a small sales gain. 
  • Don't make it about price. An event does not automatically mean a sale. When we celebrated National Beer Day, it was all about the beer. We did not discount anything in the store (unless you earned it by guessing which beer came from which brewery.)