The power of promotion: is your store a "must shop" destination? Building that type of image is vital to long-term success.

Author:Oeltjen, Ray

Anyone who has ever bought or sold an item, watched television, read a newspaper or been to a county fair has some understanding of promotion. Promoting a product can be as simple as parking a car in a lot with a "For Sale" sign on it, or as complex as a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl.

The promotion of products and ideas is as old as civilization itself. It is a key component of the free enterprise, capitalist system. However, many gun dealers believe they can do just fine without promoting their businesses. Indeed, manufacturers typically report that a significant percentage of the co-op ad dollars they offer dealers are never spent. Why?

Amazingly, some retailers say they don't advertise because they don't want to draw too much attention to themselves. They prefer to sell to a small niche market and fear too much visibility will raise the ire of the anti-gun crowd. Fortunately, this attitude is an exception.

Other dealers pass up promotional opportunities because they say they're too busy, and, of course, many say it is just too darned expensive.

The "too darned expensive" camp is perhaps the most common among those who choose to limit there advertising. Yes, advertising can be, and often is, very expensive. In addition, it sometimes is difficult to quantify the results of advertising and promotion.

Ads and promotions planned far in advance of an event may be diluted by unexpected events, such as bad weather. Building inventory in anticipation of a promotion may be risky if the product does not sell through. These are all valid concerns about advertising. However, all of them combined are not enough to overcome the simple truth: If a business does not advertise and promote, it won't be around for the long term.

The Right Attitude

Perhaps the most important component of good advertising and promotion is attitude. Retailers with a promotional attitude have a natural tendency to think in terms of promoting their store and their products in everything they do. They understand that store appearance and product merchandising are critical to attracting customers -- and bringing them back time after time. Good parking, lighting, signage and overall cleanliness are basic components of promoting a business. Unfortunately, many retailers miss the mark on these fundamental requirements for success.

At a time when some retailers are struggling, many others continue to be successful year after year. Successful shooting sports retailers can be found in every area of the country. They may differ in style, demographics and products carried, but the one thing they have in common is advertising and promotional skill. These successful retailers look for every opportunity to promote not only the products they carry, but also their businesses.

RELATED ARTICLE: Enter The World Of Jay's Sporting Goods

Jay's Sporting Goods in Glare, Mich., began in 1968 in Jay Poet's garage. The business grew rapidly, and in 1974, Poet opened his first official sporting goods store in Glare. In 1987, Poet opened a 72,000-square-foot store. Today, it's one of the few sporting goods super stores in Michigan.

Since 1974, Poet has built another store in Gaylord, Mich. Today, Jeff Poet, Jay's son, carries on the family tradition as president of Jay's Sporting Goods.

And it truly is a family operation. Jeff's wife, Kathy, is in charge of advertising. Son, Derrick, works in the archery department while his wife, Amber, works in service. The assistant store manager is his daughter, Stephanie. Jeff's brother, J.J., is vice president of the company, and Jay's widow, Arlene, is also active in the...

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