“Part of our philosophy is to take an aggressively visible approach in non-busy times, because we feel our message can be heard better then, in a nine-million-plus market,” says Barrett, explaining why he likes to do promotions on a consistent basis, but especially so in summertime. He takes advantage of the Chicago Tribune’s zone plan to do his newspaper advertising, buying three zones and running ads three days in a row in each for maximum clout. “That’s just one of many things we do to drive traffic,” he says. “The second thing is radio consistency. We like testimonial ads that bump up the ‘brand’ of Barrett’s. We’re in our 40th year, and mostly live off our referrals,” so the testimonials, he states, use that fact to promote the store’s services and expertise.
But mid-summer is when Barrett’s creative juices really flow. “We did an 11-day lead-in in early June, prior to Father’s Day, just about audio, and used radio ads to back the event up. It was quite successful, and it distinguished us in the market. After all, how many people are running audio-only ads these days? We achieved a tremendous amount of visibility and business from that effort that we would otherwise not have. We featured seminars for B&W and McIntosh primarily, because those brands tend to bring in a better customer. Sixty-two people showed up for it and it meant six-figures-plus additional in business for us than we would have done otherwise.”
Barrett has also conducted video events with the aid of both LG and Pioneer, and also made a first attempt at a tent sale in July that dovetailed with the company’s year-end fiscals. “The incentive was to get rid of items not going past the fall season, and it went well,” he says, “but it took till the last day to really happen, because people tend to wait around for the big bargains.” Next up is a month-long 40th anniversary celebration beginning at the end of October and running through the day before Thanksgiving, featuring weekend seminars among other things. One great anniversary strategy sure to draw interest and excitement, he says, will be an attempt to “find our oldest customer. We’re doing a kind of Where’s Waldo? on the radio, and the customer who can come up with the oldest verifiable receipt will win a plasma TV.”