Smith & Wesson: in-store promotions.

Author:Petty, Charles E.

How would you like to have Smith & Wesson President Steve Melvin, Historian Roy Jinks, or one of the stars of their new shooting team standing behind your counter or on your range selling guns and schmoozing customers? It can be done.

The idea of sending someone out from the factory isn't new, but S&W is expanding the program to help their dealers sell guns. During the fall selling rush leading up to Christmas they conducted instore promotions all over the country and they want to do more. The program, managed by Ken Sedlecky, has few strings attached. The prime requirement is that the store be a stocking S&W dealer and willing to promote the event appropriately. S&W furnishes promotional material and people. Of course everyone can't get Steve Melvin (you can ask) but they have a core of executives as well as members of Team Smith & Wesson that will spend a day or two helping to promote your business.

The increased emphasis is part of S&W's goal to become more consumer oriented. If you, as I, have been watching this business for a long time, you may have noticed that S&W wasn't always interested, or even concerned, about what you thought. The reason, right or wrong, was that they sold everything they made anyhow and the customers took whatever they could get as long as it bore the S&W logo. Those days are gone, for consumers have become more sophisticated and competition for discretionary dollars has become intense. Not too long ago S&W's market was basically limited to revolvers but automatic pistols have become a major component of their business. Today S&W competes for a piece of both pistol and revolver pies and the only way they can maintain their market share is to provide what customers want.

S&W's product line has multiplied almost geometrically with new models and variations coming at a rate that was equivalent of almost one a week. They also realize now that they have several sets of customers. The dealer and distributor are on one level but Joe Sixpack, the guy who wanders into your store, is the one they have to please. So even though they'll never directly sell him a gun they have to find a way to keep him happy - and coming through your door. A lot of credit for this change must go to S&W's new owners, British conglomerate Tompkins PLC for they recognized that times were changing in the gun business and moved S&W into a position where they could respond. This didn't happen overnight

and it hasn't been cheap.

The infusion of...

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