On Your Mark, Get Set, Shop! - The Art of the Doorbuster

On your mark, get set, shop! That’s the rallying cry for customers as they bust down your door at the start of the holiday shopping season. But how can small businesses compete against the deeply discounted items that big box stores offer? The answer might be to offer “deep service” too. Here are some holiday marketing ideas that play on the strength of small businesses.

The concept of the doorbuster has been around since 1949. The idea is to get a high volume of customers into your store by offering a deeply discounted item for a limited time. It’s how retailers get people lined up outside their door at 3:00 a.m. They want to be the first to bust through and claim their bargain (then look around to see what else is available). You see it used on Black Friday, and now virtually on Cyber Monday.

Small Business Challenge

Small businesses may not have the power of big-box stores to negotiate with suppliers so they can offer rock-bottom pricing. Or they may not have enough volume to profitably use it as a loss leader.

But small businesses can offer something that larger retailers cannot – personalized service. When used with price discounting, service is what gets the attention of holiday shoppers.

Deep Service + Deep Discounts

Here are some marketing ideas that small business owners can use to compete with doorbuster pricing. Remember, the idea is to use service as the attraction, not just price.

  • Staff Up – Nothing irritates shoppers more than not being able to find a sales associate when they need one. So staff accordingly. But don’t forget to train them first. It doesn’t help to have more staff if they can’t answer your customers’ questions.
  • Pair Items Together – Package items with accessories. Consumers might pay more for an item if they have someone who can help them pick out complementary items. For example, what bag works best with this camera?  Often these accessories have a higher profit margin.
  • Offer Black Tuesday Instead – Why make customers wait until Friday to get the deals? Stage your doorbuster event earlier in the week when you’re not competing with everyone else.
  • Show and Sell – Don’t just sell an item to customers, show them how to use it. Offer a free class to customers who just bought a cake-decorating kit. Help them make their holiday treats a showcase for their guests. It’s that value-add that will likely bring customers back for repeat sales.
  • Band Together – Consider working with neighboring businesses to offer a shopping experience instead of a doorbuster. For example, each store can offer a free tree-trimming item. Visit all participating stores, and you’ve nearly decorated your tree—for free.

Service can be the key to compete with the doorbusters offered by big-box retailers. Take advantage of the small business difference and pair service with price discounts to get the attention of holiday shoppers.

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