Hosting Retail Events

Written by Jeremy Howlett

Jeremy is our chief marketing pro. He has over a decade in marketing for brands and retail outlets. He loves helping companies grow and succeed by using a variety of marketing strategies and tactics.

October 8, 2019

Hosting events in your store or around your business can be a great way to create more loyal customers, acquire new customers, and increase community feel around your brand. One of the greatest challenges faced by retail is being able to get individuals in the door. You likely know what the chance is to close a customer once they step foot in the door.

By having events in-store, you are giving your loyal customers something more to talk about. This will give them something to share on social media as well as to write about on the various local review sites. Here are some ideas to get more individuals to come and visit your store.

Brand Nights

Partner with brands and suppliers to have special nights. Often the brands will have special promotions, giveaway swag, or special guests to help get customers in the door. These events are great to host with hors d’oeuvres or drinks. Work with your sales reps to arrange these events.

TED-Style Lectures

Are there informational aspects of your store that your customers could benefit from? Use your team, or guest specialists, to lecture on topics associated with your business. Be creative. You can find all types of associated topics and guests to speak.

When I was managing a brand, we partnered with one of the big publishers in our industry and did a lecture circuit with a few of our key retailers. It brought customers in to learn and benefit all three players. We also live-streamed the content and published it across social networks. The added value also increased consumer trust in all three brands. Discover what your business can speak on. Maybe you can partner with suppliers, brands, publications, other retailers or service companies to split any costs and maximize potential reach.

Workshops or Clinics

Many businesses could benefit from teaching their customers a new skill. As an automotive shop, it might seem counter-intuitive to teach your customers a new maintenance technique. Maybe you could hold a monthly auto shop 101 class. In this class, you could educate your customers on simple things like changing lightbulbs, tires, or wiper blades. You might lose out on future sales of these items, but when they need oil or brake work, they are more likely to come to you.

One of the running shoe stones that I have worked with does a running form clinic every week. They use this class to teach techniques and tips on better running.

As a carpet cleaner, you could host events to show how to get out minor stains from carpet or furniture. You could empower your customers and create greater trust at the same time.

By using your specialty to teach another, they are more likely to not only use your services in the future but to also refer your services. By doing this, you retain existing customers and acquire new ones for a nominal cost. All this for much less than traditional marketing expenses.

Grand Re-Opening

Everyone loves a good party. As a face to face business, you have the opportunity to host in-person events or parties. Need a good excuse? Have a re-opening celebration even if you have been in business for 50 years. You can celebrate a grand re-opening. You can have giant scissors and a ribbon-cutting. This works well if you have moved or are opening a new location, but can still work at your original location.

Entice people to come and bring their friends and family members by giving away door prizes for the first people to arrive, the largest group, or those who have talked about it the most on social media. Let your best customers be your best advocates.

Paid Classes

Even charging your customers can bring loyalty and community. There are a lot of options available to teach classes that relate to your business. Like free clinics or workshops, you can offer more in a paid class setting. Sometimes customers are more likely to turn out if they need to pay for something. They see increased value in the opportunity.

These classes could include art classes, fitness classes, maintenance classes, skills-based classes, baking classes, or something else. By offering these classes, you give customers a reason to come back in without feeling like they have to purchase something every time. When they come in, they are more likely to buy regularly from your business.

Conclusion

Find what works right for your company. This may take some trial and error to figure out. Be sure to plan ahead. Never throw a last-minute event. All of the ideas above work. I have seen them work. It is proper planning and preparation that takes them from mediocre to great. By having laid out a strategy and put into motion a plan, they become most productive.

The other key is consistency. Some of these ideas work best on a regular interval. By being consistent, then customers can plan to attend these events. They may seem like they are costing you a lot of time and sometimes expense, but gauge the return on your investment. Like a wise friend of mine pointed out, effort spent when engaged in the right activities without a direct revenue will often bring an ancillary return. The value of these events, when done correctly, will usually return more than many other marketing efforts.

To improve turnout, be sure to give an exclusive invite to your most loyal customers. Postcards are a great way to do this. Using Cinch, we can target your top customers as well as automate the sending of those postcards. This is great for one-off events, but especially for automating around recurring events. Now go have some fantastic events!

Let us know if you have done any of these and how they worked for your business. Or if you have other ideas, please comment below.

Some helpful links for planning events

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