Consider hosting a BBQ, pancake breakfast or even a ladies night. The themes really are endless and no matter what you think of – I’m sure you’ll have a vendor to support you. Be creative; come up with catchy names for the event and fun ads to promote it. Most importantly, get your staff excited about it. For as many staff as you have on payroll – that is the number of ambassadors you have for your store – you get them talking about it and the event is sure to be a success! Here are a few steps to start planning your first event:
Plan your theme. This could tie in with the time of year (summer BBQ) or events topical in your community (if there is a local summer fair, host a summer fair showcasing your local suppliers during that time). You can really pick any theme and dates you like. Test which days of the week work best for your store, ideally your busiest hours of the week so you can impress the most people in the shortest amount of time. Your event should be a finite period of time, two to three hours maximum.
Think of vendors to partner with. Your theme will decide which items you’re promoting, which can help you narrow down which vendors to partner with. Consider also asking a charity to participate with a portion of the event’s proceeds donated. You’ll want to pick vendors who have dynamic people to provide demos as well as great literature and samples to hand out. Vendors and charities can help to promote your event through their social media channels and with additional word-of-mouth advertising.
Create promotional materials. You’ll need to advertise your event in a variety of mediums. Create in-store handouts so your regular customers are informed. Consider mailing or emailing your best customers so they get a personal invitation from you. Utilize your website, e-news and social media to spread the word. Be sure to let people know it’s ok to bring a friend to the event – referral customers could be made! Lastly, post notices on community boards like Kijiji, your local TV station website and local newspaper – they often advertise community events free of charge. Remember, you want to not only thank your existing customers but create new ones, too.
Theme: Ladies Night
When: Thurs, May 11, 7-9 pm (near Mother’s Day)
Feature Products: Natural skin care: supplements for skin, nail polish, local body care, organic chocolate, strawberries
Vendor/Items to demo/Contact List: list all you’ve invited based on the space you have to work with in your store
Charity: Local women’s shelter, contact is Jane, will set up table/signage and attend event
Special items for event: Single rose for each attendee, assemble swag-bags with vendor samples, order balloon bouquets for decorations, print coupons and rain checks.
Staff to work event: Mary, John, Bruce, Sue, Carla
Develop a checklist. If you keep a checklist of all vital information, you’re much more likely to produce a quality event with little-to-no stress for everyone involved. Verify the items you’d like demonstrated with your vendors, what they’re bringing for supplies (table, sample cups, etc.) and the time you like them in-store for set up. If you need samples for goodie bags in advance, specify that early enough so you’re not scrambling on the day of the event. Also verify that your inventory of the items that will be featured is sufficient and calculate your special price for the event. Stock lots of the feature items and print rain checks in case you run out.
Ensure your best staff are working and the store is looking its best. Program your special pricing, have any decorations up and a plan where each vendor will be positioned to demo. The owner or manager can walk the floor and personally thank the customers for coming to the event and for their support all year long. Offer up goodie bags as you walk around or have it marketed as ‘free gift with purchase’ and have them at the tills. (FYI: women love swag – offer a free gift and we’re there!)
Most importantly – have fun, it is an event after all.
Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll have a checklist created for future events so nothing gets forgotten and the event really becomes ‘routine’ for you and you’ll be amazed at the reception you receive from your customers. They’ll be so appreciative. A little effort really does go a long way. •
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