#13 Lunch and learn: A sales tip from the Early Learning Centre

Written by  //  March 12, 2012  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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Recipe: Shut up shop and increase sales
ELC toy
This recipe is inspired by the following story from the Early Learning Centre (ELC).

ELC is a massively popular educational toy shop  in England (and there are a few in Australia).

A while ago in England they decided to run a little experiment. On Tuesday mornings the shops would close their tills, take the toys out of their boxes and invite parents and kids in for a play.

Just for fun, no charge, no ‘selling’. Like a playgroup I guess, but with nice clean toys.

On Tuesday afternoons the stores would reopen as ‘shops’ and the tills would ring like Christmas.

After Saturdays, Tuesdays (even though the tills were only open for half a day) became the highest sales days of the week!

What it is:

A clever and authentic way to boost sales

Why it works

It’s a clever technique that works on many levels, two of which are:

  1. Parents and kids get to test the products out. When a kid gets absorbed by a toy the (grateful and tired ) parent will want to take it home
  2. Psychologically, when we are given something ( a free play) we feel indebted to the giver. In this case, to settle the debt the parents (sub consciously) feel, they spend some money.

How you can do it

The trickiest part of this technique, for some of you, will be thinking of a way that you can let customers have a ‘play’ with your product. So my tip here is: be clear on the essential pieces that make this technique work and then just let it float around your mind for a few days. 

On that note, here are the ‘rules’ :

  1. Customers need to touch or experience the real product
  2. There must be absolutely no selling. This is not a ‘invite-them-in-for-a cocktail-and-give-a-half-hour-sales-speech’ thing
  3. Customers must value the ‘play time’. If they don’t feel like they have had a fabulous freebie they won’t feel, psychologically, indebted to you. To this point, be very discerning with your ‘invite’. Better to pick a few people who will love it than a huge number who probably couldn’t care less.
  4. Customers need to feel that you have ‘given’ something. In the ELC example customers could see that the tills were closed and that the business was foregoing sales.

This is a great technique to trial as an experiment. You will quickly know whether it is working. Sales at ELC shops rocketed after starting the  play sessions.


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