Every retailer welcomes a fresh angle for their marketing campaigns. March is full of opportunities to connect with customers and get their attention. Use these special themes and hashtag holidays to spark ideas for product promotions, social-media posts or ad campaigns. Carry through and reinforce your messaging with the visual merchandising in your store.
March 1: Salesperson Day & Employee Appreciation Day Start off the month by celebrating the people you depend on to keep your customers satisfied: your staff. A simple thank-you card in a staffer’s cubby, an end-of-shift pizza party or an employee outing to a local dance event all say, “We know you’re important, and we appreciate you.”
March 8: International Women’s Day Celebrate strong women dancers; since it’s Women’s History Month, the celebration can last all month. Consider hosting hometown dance celebs at the store for a meet-and-greet. (March is also #risingstarmonth.) Give your local rising stars the chance to mentor younger dancers—your customers—with a tips session at the store. “What I wish I’d known…”
March 10: Skirt Day Display your latest collection of dance skirts on a clothesline, or in a featured display, to show them off. Or build a special promotion around this popular dancewear piece to drive traffic to the store.
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
March 18: Awkward Moments Day
March 19: Let’s Laugh Day This is laugh-together time. Maybe staff and customers can bond by sharing their awkward dance moments. The Pointe Shop’s “Dancer Problems” posts on Instagram hit just the right note with their audience. “You are happy when you kick yourself in the head” (922 likes), or “When you dance gracefully but trip over your own feet walking out of the studio” (1,466 likes).
March 20: Spring! It’s the first day of spring. Time for a trunk show of fresh spring looks? Spring flash sale?
March 26: Purple Day Monochromatic displays can be oh-so-dramatic, whether it’s a lilac, lavender and purple cross-merchandised store display; three white fashion leos or tutus in a window surrounded by white balloons (March 14); or a splash of St. Patrick’s Day green. (For a full-on burst of color, use super-size inflatable crayon props to coordinate with a display, in honor of Crayola Crayon Day on March 31.)
March 31: World Backup Day End the month wisely. What better time than World Backup Day to make sure you and your team are doing regular backups of your valuable customer and financial records? Remember the 3-2-1 rule: Keep at least 3 copies of data, on 2 different types of media, with 1 copy off-site.
How could they affect your business?
Despite a federal government shutdown or possible Congressional legislative impasse, state lawmakers are expected to introduce a flurry of new workplace bills during 2019, according to Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute (WPI). “It is a safe bet that many of the 2018 issues and trends that served as midterm election talking points will find their way into 2019 bills,” WPI reports. “Legislation to address sexual harassment, mandatory arbitration, paid leave, predictive scheduling and background checks, among other hot topics, are expected to reemerge the first quarter of the year. Whether the results of the 2018 midterm elections will expedite or hinder such bills’ progress remains to be seen.” Because of these initiatives, it’s important for storeowners to monitor changes in their own state, city and county that may affect their business.
Minimum-wage laws are just one example. Although many dance retailers pay more than the minimum wage to attract the skilled and knowledgeable staff they need, any change in the minimum affects the whole wage scale, from entry level on up. This year, around New Year’s Day, the minimum wage increased in 19 states and 21 cities, reports the National Employment Law Project. Later this year (mostly in July), three states and 18 cities and counties will follow with additional minimum-wage increases. Campaigns for increases to at least $15/hour are also underway at the federal level (the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009), as well as in Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont (so far).
Here are a few other examples of the kind of employment-law changes in the works in various states and cities: New York has proposed new “predictive scheduling” rules, to discourage on-call shifts and require employers to pay employees for cancelled shifts. An ordinance being considered in Albuquerque, NM, would require employers to allow their employees to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 worked, up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. After the midterm elections, New Jersey and Michigan introduced bills that would require employers to give employees time off to vote.
Business owners are always faced with change, of course. But by staying informed about workplace rules and regulations in your own state or city, you will have a little heads-up so you can incorporate those changes sooner rather than later into your strategic plan.
Is it time to review yours?
A Forrester research analyst has characterized 2018 as the year of “retail loyalty program renovation.” While loyalty programs are popular among retailers, they’re not always successful. Stores are looking for ways to make their rewards programs more meaningful to consumers than a blast of 15 percent off e-mail offers. Athleisurewear company Lululemon has been testing an Amazon Prime–like program that offers “access to special classes and events, expedited shipping, personal development programs and a member-exclusive pair of pants or shorts for an annual fee of at least $128,” reports Fashionista.com. Nordstrom revamped its rewards program, renaming it “The Nordy Club,” with various tiers depending on what a customer spends. It has added benefits, from curbside pickup and free alterations to priority access to workshops and events or to its anniversary sale. Other retailers are simplifying their multiple rewards programs into one, or adding apps or personalized customer service.
Whatever your program, it’s worth reviewing it from time to time. Is it delivering the results you hoped? Are too many discounts eating into your margins? Maybe you, too, could add more experiential components that better reflect the customer experience at your store.