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Member Profile - Ce Soir

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Word-of-Mouth Works for Ce Soir

After 3½ years in business and a variety of advertising problems, Carol Yaschuk and Signy Syns know the best way to market Ce Soir Fine Lingerie. “Definitely, word-of-mouth works best for us,” Yaschuk says. “People are so impressed they come back just to tell us they’ve told five people about the store.”

While business has recently picked-up for retailers, the first few years were tough, according to Yaschuk. “It really turned around in the last year,” she says, “just from people talking.”

When the store originally opened, the pair planned to market Ce Soir through a direct mail campaign but changes made to government privacy legislation made them re-think their plan. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act put strict rules on the use of public information for retail purposes and the direct mail campaign had to be scrapped… after money had already been spent on it.

Another problem came from the City of Winnipeg when Yaschuk and Syns planned to advertise on the backs of city busses. Winnipeg Transit would not allow the ads for a reason that surprised the small business owners.

“It had nothing to do with the images,” Yaschuk says. “The pictures were tasteful. They wouldn’t allow the use of the word ‘lingerie’.”

Yaschuk and Syns had to change their marketing plan for the Meadowood Market specialty store and decide what would be most effective. The question was: “Spend on advertising, or invest in inventory?”

“We decided to invest in the inventory,” Yaschuk explains. “If a client comes into our store and we don’t have anything to offer her, we lose her; she’d never come back.”

They invested in quality lingerie and swimwear products from such manufacturers as Panache, Felina, and Freya. Now, when customers shop at Ce Soir they are asked if they would like to be on a mailing list that will keep them updated on incoming products. The response has been overwhelming for the owners. “Probably 99% agree to be on the mailing list,” Yaschuk says. “Maybe once a month someone might say no.”

Yaschuk and Syns, who both worked in women’s wear and lingerie for several years before starting their own business, are now enjoying Ce Soir’s success but they have no immediate plans for expansion. They are also thankful for the help they received during harder times. Yaschuk credits the Manitoba Marketing Network for helping them develop a business plan when they were starting out. She is especially thankful to Gord Kraemer. “He taught us how to reach out and get our name known,” she says. Now satisfied customers are the ones spreading the word about Ce Soir.