Three Promotional Tactics Retailers Should Avoid

Black Friday shoppers in New York
Black Friday shoppers in New York.
Getty Images.

With a challenging 2015 weighing heavily on the minds of retailers, coming up with techniques to jolt 2016 sales is certainly a priority.

Everything from BOGO promotions, omnichannel initiatives and pop-up shops may enter the conversation as retailers consider their options. But in the midst of the margin-boosting mayhem, there are several pitfalls that companies can easily fall into.

Here are three tactics that could do more harm than good.

Mass Promotional Emails

When was the last time you gushed during coffee with your friends about the great spam emails you’ve been receiving from a retailer? The answer is probably “never.”

No one enjoys being bombarded with promotional emails, tweets and unsolicited messages from a brand or retailer. And sometimes out of plain annoyance, people may choose to avoid your store and product altogether if you continuously spam them with promotions.

E-commerce, social media, email and other online tools are important facets of doing business in today’s retail landscape, but use these instruments with caution.

Faulty Television & Radio Ads

“Come on down to Jack’s Footwear Shop, where everything is buy one, get one half off this weekend only,” an overzealous spokesperson yells in a voice-over as the camera pans over tons of merchandise stacked on the sales floor.

The only catch? When shoppers arrive, they learn that the advertisement’s close, which was read at a fast pace so as to avoid interpretation, advised that “exclusions apply; promotion excludes sales and clearance items” and so on.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t deceive customers. Be forthcoming in your advertising and avoid puffery and glittering generalities. Few things will put off potential customers more than insulting their intelligence and wasting their time.

Heavy Discounting

Discounts and coupons are often a useful tool in retail to drive traffic and to clean up inventories at the end of each season. But, as your mother used to say, “Too much of a good thing (fill in the blank).”

Heavy sales and discounts can have several negative consequences on a brand or retailer, including brand dilution, attracting the wrong type of customer (one that is not a spender but a perpetual deal-seeker) and creating an unrealistic expectation for customers (who may begin to feel entitled to a discount every time they visit your store).

Again, use discounting with caution, and have a strategy in place before you haphazardly attach sale stickers to every item in your store.