Shine a Little Light on Black Friday

We all know the old adage, “Before a lure can catch a fish, it has to catch a fisherman.”

To take that one step further, before a lure can catch a fisherman, it has to catch a retailer.

Thinking about that extra step is particularly timely right now. Next week is Thanksgiving (and Black Friday), and in another month, it’ll be Christmas. For a lot of retailers — especially those selling toys and jewelry — it’s make-or-break time. The other ten months are about keeping the doors open and the lights on. November and December will be about making a meaningful profit, financing a vacation next year or maybe buying a new vehicle.

As a result, there is no other time in the larger retail world when things are this competitive. And depending upon your latitude and market, this may be a critical time for your retail tackle store. If it is, you’re well aware of the challenges. You’re playing a zero-sum game against the biggest manufacturers and strongest marketing experts, and they will be cutting you zero slack.

If you make most of your money in the spring or summer, these last weeks of the year may not be so critical, but they can still be learning experiences. Take this opportunity to do some research … even if it’s a little painful.

Visit the mall and see what those stores are doing to attract customers in that dog-eat-dog environment. Can you borrow or steal some of those ideas?

Shopping mall Santas are a pretty big draw. Every kid wants to make sure his wish list aligns with St. Nick’s. How can you take that idea and apply it to fishing tackle?

Big sales can be great, but competing on price is dangerous and can even be fatal. What can you do to add value without shooting yourself in the foot? BOGO (buy-one, get-one) might help, especially if we’re talking about items with great margins or “loss leaders” that are offered simply to bring traffic to the store where you can sell them other — profitable — items.

If you’re trying to compete with the malls this season, consider hiring your own Santa Claus and posting a sign that says, “Santa’s here, and the only lines are braids, fluorocarbons and monofilaments!” What angling mom or dad wouldn’t prefer a tackle stop Santa to one in a crowded mall?

I hate long checkout lines as much as the next guy, and it’s tough to drop prices low enough to get me scouring the parking lot for a place to leave my truck, but if you can get me in your store, I will most definitely spend money. If I’ve left the house, run the gauntlet of your parking lot and fought my way into your shop, I think of myself as “invested”! I absolutely have to spend money if only to justify my commitment.

Give me something for my efforts … something I can collect on later. How about a special discount card that can only be redeemed in June (or a slow time in your store), or maybe you could raffle off some gear each month of the year for those who registered in November or December. For every $50 I spend on Black Friday, you could enter me in a giveaway for a free guided fishing trip on the local hotspot. There’s no end to what you could do or offer to get that business at just the time you need it.

But whatever you do, as you find yourself away from the tackle shop this year, likely searching for just the right gift for a significant other, be sure to take in the sights and check out the marketing you see. Then ask yourself, “How can I take this concept and make it work for me? What do I need to change about it — if anything — to make it work for a tackle shop?”

If you’re observant (and honest), you’ll learn a lot and help your bottom line, too.

I am convinced that the very best ideas are generally not the most radical, but the simple ones that combine two things that were not combined before and that make them both better.

Peanut butter … it’s pretty good.

Jelly … okay.

But peanut butter and jelly! That’s not just delicious, that’s genius!

We all need to watch and learn more.