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Using Recession and Bailout In Retail Signage Gets Results

An article in today’s New York Times by Peter Khoury titled, Welcome to Hard Times, the Sales Pitch detailed how local merchants are riding the recession alluding to it in their street signs.  One touted, “Wine Bailout Sale 100 Wines Under $10.’’  Another, my personal favorite on a sandwich board  advertising a burger special that includes chips and a drink said “‘Stimulus Plan Special, You’ve spent over $1 trillion on pork! What’s $10 more for an Island Burger?’’

Were these big discounts? No, they just put things in perspective with a wink. What I think is so smart about these merchants is they made you look.  Isn’t that all signs should do?

The words “recession” and “bailout” are just vehicles to hang your message on because they are topics in the news.  Yes there has to be value there but these merchants are creatively looking at engaging their customers who might pass them by – and results have been very good; some in the double digits.

When I was in New York one time a guy was shouting at passersby to come into his electronics shop.  As I walked by him he said, “Hey mister, you dropped your wallet!” I turned around to stare at the dirty concrete sidewalk while grabbing my back right pocket as he said, “made you look!”

I said to him, “Smart man,” with a wry smile.  He said quickly as I continued walking, “No man you’re the smart one – you still have your wallet.”  Which of course made me laugh.

Made ya look.

In a world crowded with signs hawking everything from unlocked iPhones to 70% off retail to 2-4-1, you should use every means possible to shake customers from their numb existence when walking past your business.  If a “‘Recessionista Sunday – all dresses  come with a free mimosa,’” gets people to consider your business – why not join them with “recession” or “bailout” in your signage?

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Posted by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor on April 8, 2009.

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