For retailers without the time, budget, or staff resources to participate in offsite events, engaging with new customers face-to-face can feel like a bit of an impossibility.
That’s why today we’re exploring a range of ideas for holding professional, engaging, and memorable events within a retail store environment, sharing our tips on everything from maximizing attendance and taking advantage of the space available to encouraging audience interaction and executing an effective follow-up.
Getting to know your target audience
Providing remarkable customer service is critical to retail success, especially in an age where customers can shop online and on mobile, so getting to know your target audience is essential.
It’s important to define which demographics your event will target, from age group and profession to income, educational level, and gender. Identifying these things will help you decide on the nature of your event and ensure your audience is fully engaged throughout.
One way to ensure interest is to identify any common hobbies or activities that your customers like to engage in. This will help in tailoring your content to what they are passionate about or want to learn about, which will make it easier to figure out the theme and structure of your event.
Selecting the right type of event
After you’ve turned to your customers and established who you’re catering to and the activities they enjoy, the next step in executing an in-store event is to look at previous in-store events that you’ve organized. This will allow you to determine which ones were a hit, which ones didn’t generate much steam, and – the most important part – why this was, helping you plan for your upcoming event. Alternatively, if you don’t have much experience, do some research on your competitors, work out what made their events successful, and find ways to incorporate those elements into your own functions.
Don’t forget to take into consideration the season and the time of year when you’re planning to run the event. For example, if you’re throwing it in February, you may want to consider incorporating Valentine’s Day. Incorporating a holiday theme is one way to make your event easily accessible and appealing to a wider audience—by jumping on a theme everyone can get on board with.
Understanding your finances
Figure out your finances early to avoid overspending on the event or running out of funds when you’re about to launch. Think about what you’ll need to make your event successful, including inventory, staff, fixtures, marketing materials, and more, to make your budget as accurate as possible. If you’re scheduling the event during opening hours, how will this affect regular revenue? Can you afford to put on an event once the store is closed, or will the extra expense make this impractical? These are all things to think about.
One way to ensure your budget covers everything is to add 10–20% to the figure (depending on what you can stretch to) to give your budget some wiggle room. It might come in handy in the event of any unforeseen hiccups further down the line – meaning that a small overspend now could save you big come event day.
Utilising the right marketing techniques
Ultimately, the turnout at your event is dependent on how well you market it, so it’s worth your time and resources – and as mentioned above, tailoring your marketing strategies to your customer is crucial.
If you already have a loyal online following, consider saving on paper by sending email invitations or publishing social media posts to create awareness of your event in a sustainable way, via an online system. Depending on your audience, putting out banners in front of the store or handing out point of purchase flyers could also be beneficial. In some cases, calling your customers to invite them personally may be more worthwhile. It’s all about drumming up enough publicity to ensure footfall at your event.
Showcasing your product
One of the most important aims of your event, alongside getting people into the store, is of course for your customers to buy your product.
Clear pricing and well-stocked shelves can help drive sales, while improving the shopping experience for customers. So, why not transform your visual merchandising capabilities with the power of a new shelving system to showcase your products or celebrate a new product launch? This could also be an efficient way to ensure you’re taking advantage of the space available, and really make your in-store retail event stand out. After all, the better the product looks in situ, the more irresistible it will be to potential buyers.
On the day…
Getting the mood right is essential to delivering a great experience for your customers. One way to set the tone is by choosing music appropriate to your event – as if your customers feel good, they are more likely to stay at your event for longer. If your budget allows it, you could also consider providing refreshments to allow your customers to relax into the shopping experience and enjoy the day or evening.
There’s nothing like a freebie to get people’s attention. If you have room in your budget, see if you can give out goodie bags at your event to give it a more personal touch. Put together a bunch of giveaways, and be sure to talk about your goodie bags when promoting and marketing your event to get people through those doors.
After the event…
Be sure to document how well your event is going, and upload them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites you belong to, then watch the likes roll in. Thanking everyone who attended the event, mentioning the people who took part in it and tagging individuals you know personally will also help in getting the word out about how great your event was.
Consider ‘second-chance’ promotions or extending discounts over a couple of days to offer people more time for the sale and to target those who couldn’t attend. This could make customers even more determined to make it to your next event.
People will always have a need for human connections, so brands that will step up and fulfil that desire will thrive in the market. We hope you’ll be inspired by our tips to host your own in-store retail event, and reap the rewards that follow!