By Jenny Kosek for our 99 Ways to Make a Positive Difference in Your Pharmacy blog series

"And I'm just tucking into your bag a little reminder that we're having a Fall product sale next month, so come on in and check that out," the smiling salesgirl said, waving a brightly colored postcard in front of me before slipping it into a bag with my purchase. "We'll be glad to see you, and if you bring this postcard with you, you'll get an additional 5% off as a 'thank you' for coming back."

bag stuffersAhh, the bag stuffer: an inexpensive, surprisingly effective way of encouraging shoppers to return to your store. Bag stuffer campaigns may seem like passive promotion, but executed properly, they offer an exciting, hands-on way to build excitement and attract return customers.

A bag stuffer might be a postcard, a half-sheet flyer, or a full page advertisement. It can announce an upcoming event at your store, or highlight new products (or old products you'd like to move!). The key to a successful bag-stuffer campaign is twofold:

1. Make your bag stuffer valuable. Include a coupon or promotional offer on the piece to catch shoppers' interest and encourage them to "do" whatever it is you want them to do (attend a vaccination clinic, try a new product, or simply return to the store). Not only will this encourage shoppers to complete the call-to-action, but you'll be able to track the effectiveness of your bag-stuffer campaign as those coupons or promotions are redeemed.

2. Pro-active is better than pre-stuffed. Had the store placed their bag stuffers in bags in advance, or had the clerk I was working with tossed the postcard into my bag without comment, I probably would have discarded the stuffer, bag and all, when I got home. Because she actively drew my attention to the bag stuffer, the event it was promoting, and the benefit to me of keeping the postcard and returning with it next month, I was more likely to return to the store's event (and purchase items) than I would have been otherwise. As a shopper, I also enjoyed the feeling of being an insider - that extra 5% off wasn't going to just anyone - and felt invited back rather than commanded back. Yes, she was selling, but her approach converted "pushy sales ploy" into "thoughtful gesture."

Bag stuffers may seem like passive forms of promotion, but they shouldn't be. If your stuffers are actionable and your staff are utilizing them as interactive talking points to share with shoppers, you'll see measurable results for your next campaign.

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