Every great salesman knows that, in order to sell a product, the customer needs to experience the excitement you feel about what you’re selling. How do you make that excitement connect with the average person? Promotion.
P.T. Barnum, the marketing genius behind the legendary circus group Barnum and Bailey, once said this about marketing:
“Without promotion, something terrible happens … nothing!”
Nobody wants to run a fireworks stand or tent that resembles a graveyard. You want customers streaming in, buying product and, hopefully, remembering your name for the following year when you open up again. You’ve got one shot at creating buzz, and our guide to promoting your stand will help you pack a serious promotional punch.
Know what you want to achieve
Your goal should be to promote your stand in a way that brings people to your business. Fireworks are a natural draw around July 4, NYE and other holidays, but nobody is going to show up at your stand if they don’t know you exist.
So, make sure your marketing efforts (flyers, ads in the local paper, Facebook page, etc.) communicate the following essential pieces of information:
- Who you are (the name of your business)
- What you do (sell awesome fireworks)
- Where you’ll be (specific location with maybe a simple map)
- When you’ll be there (specific times and dates that you are open)
- Why people should shop there (what makes you different/better than the competition)
Key takeaway: Don’t leave your business up to chance — be clear in your marketing efforts.
Target Your Audience
It goes without saying that you need to target your marketing to a particular audience. Knowing who you’re targeting often has a lot to do with the location of your stand. Take a few hours to do some research about the people in the neighborhoods in and around your stand. Also, remember that you may get people from outside your area who drive past your stand on the way to work.
The key to all of this research is efficiency; you don’t want to take a shotgun approach to your marketing because there’s a good chance you’ll be wasting your money. Be smart about how you spend your promotional dollars. Your inclination may be to put your cash toward a media effort that reaches broad audiences, but those types of efforts don’t necessarily translate into sales.
Instead of signing up for regional media outlets, get local. For instance, try posting ads in neighborhood papers as opposed to citywide papers. You’ll save money that way and you’ll be targeting a very specific group as opposed to a broad one.
Another thing to remember is that a good businessperson is always talking about his or her business. Chat up your family, friends and neighbors. There’s a good chance they’ll stop by your stand and, even better, tell others about your fireworks business.
Key takeaway: Target your audience and speak to them through the media they interact with; you’ll be more effective and get a positive response.
Plan Your Message & Incentives Well
We’ve mentioned in other posts how important it is to plan. Every business knows this, but it’s even more important for you because your stand will be up and running for a short amount of time. The margin for error is very thin.
Your message (promotion) and incentives (pricing and product, which depend on location) are the bedrock of how customers respond to your business. You want a favorable response, so you need to have an airtight message and desirable incentives.
Take a second to go back and review our previous posts so you don’t miss any key details about your soon-to-be-successful fireworks stand:
- Location! Location! Location!
- Choosing the Right Product: Know Your Customers, Know Your Product and Know Your State’s Laws
- Choosing the Right Product: Building Your Catalog, Setting Your Prices & Merchandising Like a Pro
Key takeaway: Your message and incentives are tied up in your fireworks stand’s location, what you’re selling and what your pricing is.
Up to this point, we’ve given you some basic principles about promotion. Up next, we’re going to give you some practical steps you can take to put your marketing plan into action.
How To Generate General Awareness About Your Business
Think of your marketing campaign as telling people, “Hey, I’m here and this is where and when you can swing by.” Achieving that awareness takes place through several avenues.
Using Social Networks
Social media has become a necessary part of any promotion effort. You’ve got three different networks you need to use: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Facebook will most likely where you’ll get most of your interactions with customers. Many fireworks businesses use Facebook pages as their main website and they also use it for advertising.
Starting a page for your business is as simple as going to the small, upside-down triangle in the top right of your page and selecting the “Create Page” option. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You’ll need photos for banners on your page, so head to Pixabay for stock fireworks photos you can use for free. Replace these with actual photos of your location once that’s up.
- Let all your Facebook friends know about your new page by inviting them.
- You can choose your URL (facebook.com/____ ), so make sure it’s simple and easy to put on a flyer or poster.
Stop by the Superior Fireworks Facebook page to get a sense of how we run our page and what it would look like to have your own page.
Instagram and Twitter are valuable, but not in the way Facebook is for promotion and advertising. We suggest posting pictures of your product on Instagram, as they’re very photogenic.
Just remember to choose the same username for all of your accounts, if possible. Check what’s available on all three before signing up for any of them.
If you want to get a quick education on how to run an effective social media campaign, check out the blogs at Buffer, Moz and Sprout Social. They usually have great content as well as informative webinars and videos that help you understand how to build your brand through social media.
Some more tips for running your social media accounts:
- Share regular content about where you’re located and when you’re open
- Post photos and videos of your product, where you talk about sales and pricing
- Invite your friends and family to follow/like your pages
- Use your personal Facebook account to share your business page posts
Key takeaway: Social networks are an easy avenue to spread the word about your fireworks business.
Using Signs, Banners and Flags
While you’re getting the word out online and in person, you’ll need to drum up support on-site. One of the best ways we’ve found to do this is to buy some signs, banners or flags and place them where your tent will be.
That’s right; you want those promotional tools up before you actually set up your stand. Doing so puts a little mental cue in people’s minds as they drive by. From the moment they see those flags flying, they know where they can go for their fireworks.
Even though most of your sales will happen on the last few days of the fireworks season, planting those little seeds can only help your overall sales. You can head to our website to see examples of promotional banners that we offer our customers.
Key takeaway: The earlier you put up your on-site promotional gear, the better.
Using Brick-and-Mortar Networks
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t the only ways to generate interest, though. Think about the existing networks you’re in, whether it’s your workplace, homeowner’s association, church or rec sports league.
Send out emails to your colleagues and neighbors, and when you have the chance, put up posters in high-traffic areas like break rooms and bulletin boards. We’ve seen fireworks tent operators who email coupons to friends in each of these networks. Use your existing sphere of influence to get the word out!
Work friends will most likely support your stand because they know you and picking one vendor out of the dozens in your city can be a little overwhelming. Your family and friends will probably share in your enthusiasm — after all, who doesn’t love fireworks? But none of this will happen unless you share what’s going on, so don’t be afraid to be vocal about what you’re doing. The support is there; you just have to ask for it.
Also, your early research should’ve revealed which competing fireworks stands will be doing business near you. If your market is saturated, it’s best to focus your promotional efforts on your circle of friends and family as well as the community and traffic near your stand.
Key takeaway: Utilize every network you have to build momentum for your fireworks stand.
When the Selling Starts: Promotion During Business Hours
Once the big push for pre-sale promotions concludes and business starts streaming in, your promotional strategy should shift.
The Area Around Your Stand
Put your focus on your stand and the property around it. What does this mean? Here are a few tips:
- Keep your signs, flags and banners up and flying during business hours
- If you want, hire sign spinners and parking attendants to create an orderly stream of customers
- Keep your stand clean and inviting
- Make sure your employees are friendly and patient
Think of these tips as your way of promoting the actual space where you sell. Customers should feel good about coming to your tent, rather than being afraid of an overwhelming and messy circus.
In fact, a few years ago a marketing company named Interactions conducted a survey and discovered that grocery shoppers will go out of their way to shop at a clean store.
Guess what those shoppers appreciated about the retail space? Good lighting, a clean checkout area and orderly product displays — all areas we’ve highlighted in previous posts.
Key takeaway: Keep your stand clean and visually appealing; customers like it that way.
The Products Inside Your Stand
The inside of your stand needs to be just as orderly as the parking and the banners out front.
Organized, straightforward products and pricing
A clean and inviting space is just part of the equation. What about the products on your shelf? All items need to be clearly marked with pricing. Not only that, but all of your promotional prices, coupons and incentives should also be visible and easy to understand.
Fireworks shoppers tend to get excited about sales and products, but it’s easy to get mixed up when some items are on sale and others aren’t. For instance, if you have a group of buy-one-get-one free items, make sure you clearly list that those items are BOGO and not all items.
Readily available information on each product
One of the tough things about being a fireworks consumer is that it’s hard to know what a particular product actually does.
Fireworks manufacturers are notorious for featuring photos on their packaging of what a firework supposedly does that are far different from what the firework actually does.
Therefore, the more you know about a product, the better. Sometimes that’s going to be tough because of misleading packaging. If you’re stocking SFX Fireworks, you won’t have to worry. Each product contains an Effects Snapshot that tells you everything you need to know about a the firework’s performance.
But even if you stock SFX, you’re going to have all kinds of other brands that don’t have helpful labeling. Your customers will appreciate posters or handouts that describe different effects; an informed customer is often a happy customer.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of certain fireworks
A first-time fireworks buyer may look at two 500-gram repeaters and think they’re the same because they kind of look the same. So, when they see one is twice as much as the other, they’ll opt for the cheaper one.
If you’re around to help them make their decision, you can tell them about how the performance of the higher quality (more expensive) repeater is actually worth the price. That type of upsell is a good thing, especially if you’re speaking from the customer’s best interest and not your own.
Key takeaway: Keep your stand clean, clearly label your product and don’t be afraid to offer your expertise.
Looking to the Future: Making Your Marketing Stick
We’re hoping that your first season is a success. In fact, we’re certain it can be if you make wise decisions and focus your promotion on the right people and strategies.
We’re also hoping that you’ll run many more stands in the future, but that means you’re going to need a systematic approach to marketing metrics. In other words, you need to know which promotions work and how to get customers to come back the following year.
Gathering Data and Offering Discounts for Returning Clients
The only guaranteed place where you can capture customer information is at your point of sale, whether it’s a cash register or a Square-enabled tablet/phone. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Before your stand opens, formulate a plan for capturing customer information that can help you build your client base for upcoming seasons. Here are suggestions:
- Print out basic spreadsheets with a column for each promotion you did (Social Media, Radio, Newspaper, Banners/Signs, Flyers). Ask each paying customer how they heard about you, then mark their answer in the corresponding column (use F, T, and I for the various social media channels).
- Hand out discount coupons for next season … we know of a Christmas tree salesman who gets a lot of returning customers by handing out 10% coupons good for next year’s holiday season.
- Have your customers give you their email address so you can reach out early the following season.
- Offer “early bird” discounts for customers who come in before July 1 the following year. This increases loyalty and also alleviates some of the rush that happens on July 3 and 4.
- Pass out company business cards or post cards with every transaction.
- Make a custom logo or hire someone to do it for you through Fiverr.com. Brand recognition goes a long way.
- Create uniforms for your employees. If they’ve got your logo on them, that’s even better. Customers will remember this.
Key takeaway: Build your customer base by using a multi-channel approach to capturing data and offering discounts.
The Day After July 4: Sell Everything You Can
The final recommendation we have is for the day after July 4. By law, you can’t transport any unsold fireworks yourself (Department of Transportation regulations) and even if you could, there are restrictions on how they can be stored (fire code).
In other words, you’re stuck with whatever you don’t sell. So, run a big clearance sale on July 5. Don’t expect to make any money; the point is to clear out your inventory.
Wrapping It Up: Promoting Your Stand
As you’re going through all the paperwork and permits you need to complete to get your stand up and running, don’t forget about promotional efforts.
Once you know where your stand will be, you’ve got to start your marketing. Create a Facebook page for your business, along with a Twitter and Instagram account. Use those online networks to spread the word about when and where your business will open.
Word of mouth among family, friends and coworkers is another important aspect of your promotional effort. The people who know you and love you best will most likely be as enthusiastic as you are about your fireworks stand, so don’t be afraid to ask for their help in getting the word out.
Also, don’t forget to talk up your business at homeowner’s association meetings, church groups, rec sports leagues and other circles you frequent.
When it comes to your fireworks stand, make sure your banners and flags are up as soon as possible. When business starts coming in, keep your product organized, pricing clear and promotional deals simple and easy to understand.
If you think you’re going to run a stand the following year, be intentional about asking customers how they heard about your business. Log their responses. As you look to the future, offering customers discount coupons for the upcoming season is a great marketing tool. Early bird discounts are also a great way to build customer loyalty.
And when the season comes to a close, do everything you can to sell all your inventory on July 5.
Our Next Post: Getting Paid
If you do everything right and the weather holds, there’s a good chance you’re going to be selling thousands of dollars of product. Knowing how to efficiently process those payments, handle cash and keep records of what you’re selling is key to your bottom line.
In the next installment of our series, we’ll talk about how to choose a payment processing and cash handling method that works best for your situation.