Another Yellow Mailer…Another Sale…Hysterical Hype!

Armageddon! DEFCON 1! Inventory Reduction Sale!

In a mailer that blanketed the Knoxville metro area, Frazier’s  Carpet One announces up to 55% off on all flooring for one week only in what is termed a “Private Sale.”

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A Sale for Dire Days

Line 1: “In response to the dire economy, Frazier’s is having a special Inventory Reduction Sale.”

Read that again. “Dire.”

dire  (dr)

adj. dir·er, dir·est

1. Warning of or having dreadful or terrible consequences; calamitous: a dire economic forecast; dire threats.
2. Urgent; desperate: in dire need; dire poverty.

If the economy is truly “dire,” do I want new carpet at any price? You may as well open up the copy by saying “You may not have a job next week, your home may get foreclosed on, you may lose health insurance, and the United States as we know it could collapse, but darn it, we’ll give you up to 55% off of carpet!”

You are a VIP! (So Is Everyone Else)

The term “Private Sale” conjures up an invitation-only event which is open to only select buyers. But in the copy we find out that the only thing private about this sale is that it will not be advertised (aside from a mailer going to tens of thousands of homes, at least). I must give the writer credit–“Private Sale” is an effective, if not totally accurate, way of increasing interest in this event.

(Oh, and Just in Case You Wondered–We Really Don’t Have Too Much Carpet In Stock)

My favorite line of the copy, however, is the written admission that Frazier’s does not have too much flooring in stock (the usual premise behind an inventory reduction sale). Most anyone who follows advertising knows that “Inventory Reduction” is a gimmick, but you’re not supposed to admit that to customers…in your ad!

Here’s the line: “…take advantage of the  great one-week-only price on VERY SPECIAL BUYS on CAPRET, HARDWOOD, CERAMIC, LAMINATE and VINYL that Frazier’s has brought in just for this sale! [Bold emphasis added, ALLCAPS shouting theirs.]
So, in truth, they are reducing inventory–inventory that they specifically ordered for this sale. If that’s the criteria, then every day is an inventory reduction sale.

The Optimus Take

If I was tasked with re-writing this copy, I would:
  • Preferably mention nothing about the economy, but if they must, perhaps admission that “We understand that times are tough” (I still don’t like that line, suggestions?). Better yet, be the business that (at least as an official stance) refuses to participate in the recession.
  • Use any excuse for a sale–people will come.  However, “Inventory Reduction,” and “The Manager is Out of Town” sales smack of gimmickry.
  • “Up to 55% off” is a squishy number. I believe (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that people are more responsive to absolute dollar discounts rather than percentage dollar discounts. After all, 55% off of an inflated price may not seem like a great deal, but offering $500 off a qualifying purchase of $1500 or more is something far more tangible.
  • Lastly, the “Private Sale” angle could be made more intriuging by opening the store early on the days of the sale only to customers who received the mailer. The “Private Sale” discounts could be offered during those select times only. This not only gives people an incentive to go, but creates a time constraint that they will meet–thus creating a greater chance that they will actually go.

Your comments and critique, as always, are what makes these case studies worthwhile!