During the fall season most every business and especially retailers are trying to get you to spend more money with them and that’s why you see more and more doorbuster sales and deals. What are they and do they work?

A doorbuster is a special discount that is typically offered for a very limited time; usually when a

Doorbusters are offered for a limited time only

Doorbusters are offered for a limited time only

store opens for the day and may be available only while supplies last or for an hour or a few hours that day only. Many retailers use them to get shoppers into their establishments in the earlier, less crowded time of day. Some I have seen use them on just specific days of the week that are typically slower sale days. Of course, the holidays are when you have a variety of doorbuster sale opportunities.

Doorbuster is Effective Sales Promotion Technique

Some retailers “save” their doorbuster deals for just Black Friday or even Cyber Monday (they happen online too!), but if it works why only use it once or twice a year?

A doorbuster is just another sales promotion technique to get you to decide to buy something NOW and not in the future. Remember, that’s all sales promotion is, changing buying behavior.

Make the Doorbuster Enticing to Your Customers!

Make the Doorbuster Enticing to Your Customers!

And what better way to entice you into a store to purchase now, than with the promise of a great deal on a new big Flat Screen TV or diamond earrings! And of course, maybe you aren’t the early bird gets the worm (or TV) kind of person but you go anyway, recognizing that there will be other deals available.

Are Doorbusters a once a year event?

The reason that many businesses only use the doorbuster strategy for Black Friday specials or once a year is because they are offering merchandise at an atypical deep discount or even below cost to really wow potential customers to get them in the door to buy now. Not just what’s on the doorbuster sale but other sale or non-sale merchandise.

That’s what this type of sales promotion is counting on. They want to get you inside so you will be enticed to buy something else. Hopefully, lot’s of other items.

I know last holiday season I had a very specific list for my family holiday gifts and wasn’t going to stray. And while I don’t stand in line over night to be the first in a store for a doorbuster, I am an early bird, so there were many enticing specials. And they worked. Because I decided, I needed a holiday gift or two for myself!

So they do work.

Planning Makes Doorbusters More Effective

If you are exploring doorbuster promotions there are a few areas to consider as you are planning. We’ve talked before about profit margins and loss leaders, and many will actually offer that big ticket item at a ridiculous price to get a larger group of people in the door. But you don’t want to ruin your long term reputation in the process.

Some pitfalls to consider:

  1. Have too limited an inventory of the sale item (one or two isn’t going to cut it unless you are upfront in your communication that you only have one or two). By having such a limited inventory your customers may feel very disappointed that they stood in line (or were crushed in the rush to get into the store) and not look further. Remember, this is still a long term strategy, you want them to come back.


  1. Don’t be that “Bait and Switch” company. Yes, you have the sale item but it’s not really as great as you imply in your advertising and communications. And, maybe you are even giving employees incentives to “switch” people to another, better, more expensive product – instructing them to point out what the sale item doesn’t have. As a business, you never want to be known for these tactics.


  1. The Doorbuster Deal is substandard merchandise, not your usual brand or quality. You don’t want to be known as a poor quality product provider. Offer your normal merchandise at a discount. If this is a first time potential customer and they see the sale item they may never come back. Work with your broker or distributor to help you with a better limited time price for your normal merchandise if you purchase a larger quantity than usual.
Make sure it's really a Doorbuster Deal

Make sure it’s really a Doorbuster Deal

  1. Discount isn’t really that big of a deal. Today, consumers are very savvy and many do their research, so don’t think they don’t realize that they may be able to get the item on line for less. If that’s the case, don’t waste your time with that doorbuster (remember you will need your employees for longer days if doing this type of sales promotion you there are other costs to be considered).


  1. Don’t pick just any item you can get a great deal on. Unfortunately, for it to be a great doorbuster sale you are going to need to have something customers really want. Something that entices them to make the effort to come to your establishment so truly thing about your long-term strategy when deciding your product selection.


  1. Not all specials need to be pre-advertised. Yes, a true doorbuster is to get people to bust down your doors (not literally of course) to get the great deal, but you may want to move people around to other departments in your store, so having strategic signage and announcements for additional (and pre-advertising about in-store only doorbuster teasers) can greatly increase your overall sales.


If you plan ahead, negotiate for the merchandise your promoting, your doorbuster sale can bring long-term benefits!


Danette Gossett

Danette brings more than 30 years of experience developing advertising campaigns, direct marketing programs and sales promotions to her clients. Prior to starting her companies, she worked for New York advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi & Lowe Marschalk.

Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More