Creating retail holiday buzz without being a Scrooge

It’s tough. You are in business to make a buck by providing worthwhile products and services and the end-of-year holiday season can make or break many your businesses. So how do you create a message, handle a promotion, or produce marketing that rises above the noise, draws in a large crowd and encourages community involvement? It’s not that hard really.

You have seen excited crowds of people participating in walk-a-thons and marathons whose sole goal is to raise money for worth-while causes. These events have all the makings for success in today’s society:

  • visibility with friends and community
  • something fun to do in a group
  • friendly competition
  • helping the community

So let’s transpose these events a little bit. Let’s make the course a series of participating merchants in a shopping district or a mall. Instead of checkpoints and first-aid stations we have stations in the stores where participants get their maps stamped (maybe in the back of the store so participants can soak in all that’s on display) and cups of hot cider and cookies.

At the end of the course (Chamber of Commerce office or large empty space), participants can turn in their maps, pick up merchant provided tchotchke, socialize and find out if they’ve won one of the prizes (shopping sprees, in home parties, trips, etc. paid for by the participating merchants).

But the real motivator, what brings people out ‘en masse’ is for each completed map, the participating merchants will jointly contribute $XX towards a local charity. When promoting this event, it is very important that everything be about the charity. They need to be the focus of all marketing surrounding the event. They should have people from their staff on hand to thank participants, give out prizes and be visible.

Imagine something like this going on in your business neighborhood. What a photo opportunity! Crowds flowing down the sidewalks. Crowds in the stores. A party atmosphere everywhere. People who happen to be driving by without a clue about what’s going on will wonder what’s going on and discover stores they’d been driving by without noticing for years.

So go huddle up quick with your fellow neighborhood merchants. You still have plenty of time to pull this off right.