March Factory Sales -- What's Happening?

Trek and Specialized this week both announced major sale events happening in March. Both initiatives were revealed on short notice, leaving retailers without much time to react. Loyal Harvest direct mail customers may be wondering what to do for marketing. How does this impact plans to send direct mail to support sales originally planned for late March or early April?

There is no one answer for all retailers. Each region is different and each sale plan is unique. We'll attempt to answer some initial questions here and we look forward to talking to each of you personally to discuss your best marketing options.

Order Spring Sale mailers before March 4th.  Click Here >>

Why should I still send a direct mail?
  1. Our mailers will arrive in homes right after Easter weekend, perfect timing to create a sense of urgency
  2. Direct mail is more effective than digital marketing at driving brick-and-mortar traffic
  3. Brand marketing for all retailers levels the playing field; you can stand out by boosting your own marketing
  4. This season is going to be very competitive; aggressive retailers will win more business
  5. We are experts at marketing bicycle retailers and are your best partner for navigating these sudden market changes
    Can I still send a Harvest direct mail to support these new factory sale dates?

    For Trek retailers, we can still offer a very effective solution. Maintaining our current schedule with orders placed before March 4, we can have mailers in homes right after Easter weekend. That puts your most effective marketing into your customer's hands for the final two weekends of the Trek sale -- and when the weather is likely to be best. We highly recommend that you use direct mail to drive traffic at this time.

    • Current sale dates for Trek are March 1 to April 11

    Specialized retailers currently have fewer options. We need a minimum of ten working days from when an order is placed until it is designed, printed, addressed and shipped. That means that even rush orders won't hit in time to support the Specialized sale. 

    • Current sale dates for Specialized are March 1-21

    There are currently rumors that the Specialized sale is "open ended", meaning that they will likely match Trek's extended dates. If that happens, then Specialized retailers will have direct mail as an option. We are working with Specialized to gather artwork needed to support their brand materials.

    These are long sales - should I do a mailer in May instead?

    That is certainly a good option and we are happy to help. We have a long history of designing both custom sale themes and what we call loyalty mailers. Loyalty mailers are postcards that feature coupons, but no sale event. This is a great way to drive traffic from your existing customers using targeted offers without having to build a storewide sale. Especially if March is cold or wet, then you will still need to compete for business when the weather improves in your market. We have several customers who ask us to promote Memorial Day sales to kick-off the summer selling season.

    Will a mailer arriving near the end of the Trek sale be effective?

    We are in uncharted waters, so we can't give you a certain answer. We've consulted with all of our large clients from all parts of the country. For most parts of the country, the weather will be much more reliable in early April than in March so our clients still want mailers to arrive as originally planned. In more southern regions, the season is already here, so our clients are planning a custom mailer to arrive after the factory sales end. Our belief is that the success of these factory sales during March will likely be determined primarily by weather. If you send a mailer late in the sale, you can stimulate demand when store traffic is more likely.

    Do I need my own marketing if the brands are marketing for me?

    There are a few variables here. For broad media campaigns like online advertising or billboards, the effectiveness of those methods will largely be determined by the weather. For email marketing during March, there are two elements that limit their effectiveness: again, the weather, but also email campaigns reach a small segment of your customers. Most retailers have an email open rate between 20-30% and a click rate of less than 5%. That means that your message doesn't effectively reach your customers. Social media marketing has a comparable reach as email marketing with similar consequences. When you want to make a really big impact on your customers, driving floor traffic and increasing sales, direct mail is your best choice. Direct mail puts your message directly in your customers' hands and therefore makes it more effective. If you want to maximize your success -- use direct mail -- even if it arrives later than your email marketing does.

    I want to know all of my options.

    No problem. You've got a lot of options. We are in the business of helping independent retailers market their businesses. We do hundreds of custom promotions throughout the year and we are able to provide solutions to almost any problem. Please contact us and we'll go through some options with you to make your planning easy and well-informed.

    When will Harvest have updated artwork?

    We have modified the Trek artwork to match the revised dates and offers. We have brand materials from Specialized and will build Specialized themes as soon as we get confirmation that the Specialized sale is extended. If Specialized does not extend their sale, then Specialized retailers can contact us for custom sale artwork to support marketing in April or May.

    Learn more about Spring Sale mailers.  Click Here >>

    About The Author

    Ryan Atkinson

    Ryan Atkinson

    Ryan is a proven marketing professional who entered the cycling industry in 1994.