Sold Out!

So, the Thanksgiving Day of reckoning has arrived. The replacement of the word “gift” with the phrase “doorbuster” is upon us. There are many retailers looking forward to using the title of this blog entry in a sales report sooner than later.

I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. One of my children was born around this time of the year so the calendar has special meaning. But, I want to look back on a professional experience that even now resonates professionally.

June of 1995 was the beginning of my stint in the front office of an expansion minor pro hockey club. Despite lots of hard work that summer, the team had an indifferent start on and off the ice.

As Thanksgiving Day approached, we were looking forward to the day after and our home game against the other expansion team. With a week to go, we noticed a higher than usual advance sale and started planning for the larger crowd expected. There was a huge walk-up the day of the game and the result was the team’s first sellout.

It started a string of sellouts. With staff changes that helped to drive the product, along with back-to-back championship teams on the ice, the franchise was one of the best in minor pro hockey.

As my career continued on to new and different challenges, the period that began with that post-Thanksgiving game showed me that some of our hard work paid off, but also what a glorious accident I had experienced that day in 1995.

A sellout should not be a surprise regardless of the business you are in. During an earlier sports experience, I became acquainted with the sales concepts of Jon Spoelstra. He had led the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA in their heyday of consecutive sellouts, as laid out in his book, “How To Sell The Last Seat In The House.”

One of my managers had been trained by Spoelstra and we used his concepts. When I arrived at my new team, I didn’t understand why we weren’t employing some of the same ideas. That post-Thanksgiving sellout really happened against the flow of how things were being done.

Years later, and with a lot more experience, the earlier teachings started to take hold. Employing successful concepts takes guts, belief and patience. The proper plan going in and the right capital is also necessary.

So, how as a business do you make every day a door buster? Here’s some thoughts:

1. Planning and Infrastructure – Too many people try to cut corners with marketing. With no infrastructure going in, the marketing plan fails. You MUST have an organizational plan and good execution leading up to any marketing effort. That will make the belief and patience part a lot easier.

2. Informed Guesses – You should have a handle on your business which allows you to have some opinions about it and your customers. That comes from research and sales figures that are segmented. Industry forecasting also comes into play. (I touched on this in an earlier blog entry about the “My Macy’s” campaign.)

3. Remembering To Be A Customer – Even while working for teams, I would attend other events at the same facility or in other locations. That helps you remember what it’s like to stand in line. Everyone is someone’s customer and that experience avoids some big mistakes when you get ready to launch a plan.

Bottom line is that every day you have a chance to influence your business and your customers. Every day should be the execution of goals and behaviors that make you thankful for that day.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Most of all, Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for reading!

About catchdrivermarketing

Catch Driver provides marketing and communications services/consultation for small to medium size businesses and non-profits. The "Your Ideas...On Track" slogan means helping organizations and business owners with projects they want to do, but lack staff and time to execute themselves, and working to drive them to a successful outcome. See more at
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