Creating an In-Store Event
Create an In-Store Event and Increase Sales and Loyalty
Today’s consumer is tech savvy, price conscious and craves “the experience”. Creating a business model for your retail store that pays attention to all of these facts is essential for driving sales. Retailers must offer unique experiences for in-store shoppers that they can’t get when browsing on-line sites.
The best way to engage shoppers and build lasting customer loyalty is by hosting retail store events. This can draw people into your store, increase word of mouth marketing, and generate product excitement for a brand enhancing experience. We’ve jotted down a few guidelines to help you with planning your event,
Choose the Type of Event
What kind of event should you host? The best way to answer this is by turning to your customers. You should also factor in seasonal changes as well as the schedule of your target market. If parents and kids are your target market, carefully plan around seasonal kids’ sporting activities.
- Who do you cater to?
- What types of activities do they enjoy?
- Have you been to store events that were wildly successful? How?
- Are there other events in the area that you can leverage?
- What season is it, and how can your event capitalize on that?
- Is there a news event or trend that you can incorporate into your event?
Plan well ahead of time
If you want to appear in monthly magazine calendars, opt for an event around mid-month, as opposed to the first of the month, to make sure folks seeing the magazine can plan ahead to attend and aren’t first reading about your event on the day-of. Retail events should always have a 30/60/90 [day] execution list to account for publicity, printing, and other promotional lead times.
Planning a successful event requires managing several moving parts and sticking to a budget and timeline, all while running the regular aspects of your store. Things can get hectic, and plans can fall apart if you’re not organized.
Make sure your staff has ownership of various aspects of the event and utilize their talents to make the event more unique to your retail location. The better prepared you and your entire staff are for an event the better the day of execution will go.
Create a schedule of tasks organized by one month ahead, two weeks ahead, one week ahead, one day ahead, and day of tasks.
Sort out your finances
Set your budget for the event. Think about what you’ll need to host a successful function, including inventory, staff, fixtures, displays, signage, marketing materials and more. Take note of the prices of the required products and services, total the amount, then add 10-20% to the figure to give your budget some wiggle room.
You may want to consider co-hosting with other businesses or organizations that are willing to split the costs and help promote the event.
Use multiple marketing tactics
The turnout of your event will depend on how well you market it, so spend a good amount of time and resources on this activity. Try a combination of these marketing tactics to ensure the most visibility for your event:
- Sending postcard invitations to your customer list
- Sending e-mail invitations to your customer database
- Creating a Facebook event with invitations
- Creating an EventBrite event with detail and links to more information
- Publishing social media (i.e. Facebook and Instagram) posts and sometimes paid for posts or ads
- Putting out banners in front of the store
- Leaving flyers at neighboring businesses
- Handing out point of purchase flyers
- In some cases, they even call their top customers and invite them personally over the phone
- Advertise in local newspapers, local magazines, and even local radio spots.
- Find ‘influencers’ to help promote your event
Try to get your event covered in the media and the in local blogs. Find out the news journalists and influencers and share your story to radio stations, newspapers, local television stations, magazines and other local media. The more chatter about the event, the more likelihood of good turnout.
Select a charitable cause for a portion of your proceeds to generate a purpose for your event goers. Make sure to publish the donation for your customers to see what and how their spending is going towards their community.
On Event Day….
While it’s a common practice to showcase store merchandise during events, go easy on the sales pitches. Remember that the goal of having events is to deliver great experiences for your customer. This is how your brand and customer relationship is built. Take the time to talk to your shoppers and get to know them better. Opening up these lines of communications helps not only with customer trust, but also you gain more knowledge about what products your market is looking for.
Retailers should not look at in-store events as having any sort of direct or quick payback in sales. Events are a slow build strategy but can have a profound impact on word-of-mouth marketing by customers. They pay dividends over time in the form of customer loyalty and share of voice in the marketplace.
Employ Best Tactics
There are many tactics you can use on event day to create a great experience for your customers. Choose what’s right for your brand, your talented sales staff and your market and you’ll be a hit. Consider the following:
- Set the mood with the right music (not too loud)
- Consider some live entertainment (singers, musicians, artists, etc…) and if it is a kid friendly event, make sure there are appropriate spaces for them.
- Finger foods to feed the masses
- If it is an all adult type of event, consider alcoholic drinks to help shoppers relax and open up.
- Promotional give aways or maybe a goody bag for the first 100 shoppers.
- Take lots of pictures of the event especially when the store is full. These are great for use in promoting future events.
- Share pics to social media so that people planning to come can see that the party has started!
After the event, be sure to share photos and recaps on social media. If you are making a donation with a portion of the proceeds be sure to publicize that for your event goers as well. Thank the attendees for a successful event, and publicly thank your staff as well. Recount any special memories that you want your event goers to remember.
If you send out newsletters, be sure to include those photos in your next issue and include a write-up summarizing the great things that happened.
Make time to follow up with your staff to go over the YAYS and NAYS of the day. What went well and what didn’t. How can the next event be improved, and open the floor for suggestions for the next big event to start excitement among the staff.
For the customers who couldn’t attend, send them a ‘second chance’ promotion coupon to get them inside the store for a sale.
Plan the Next One
When it comes to hosting events one is not enough. Try a quarterly approach to keep your store top of mind for your customers.