Are you looking for a cost-effective and fun way to raise your retail store’s profile in the local community? Then consider hosting events to market your business.
Even if your location is snow-bound right now, this is the perfect time to start planning some Spring events to attract shoppers who will be eager to get outdoors once the weather turns pleasant.
There are all kinds of options for hosting events, from having local musicians play in the shop, to hosting an art opening, to having a VIP only sale for your best customers after hours. Below are some steps to get your event rolling.
How to Use Events to Market Your Business
Figure Out Your Goals for Your Event
Do you want to reward existing customers or attract new ones?
A VIP only sale could work for the first option, while an event that attracts passersby (like live music or a cooking demonstration) could work for the second.
Determine Your Budget
Consider factors like extra employees to handle the register, the cost of staying open later, refreshments and decorations. Also, figure out if your event will be a reoccuring one or a single occasion event.
Do you need outside participation to make the event work? For instance, if you own a boutique and want to host an art show, you could reach out to local artists to let them know your store is going to start featuring original art work. Offer them the chance to sell their art in exchange for a small commission and having them bring in their fans and friends to the event.
Similarly, plenty of local musicians are probably willing to play for free or a nominal fee, and this can expose your store to a whole new clientele. Think creatively and you’ll be able to recruit participants for little or no cost.
Create a Marketing Plan for Your Event
This could include store signage, email marketing, social media outreach and, of course, PR with local media outlets.
Be sure to start marketing well in advance so you have plenty of time to spread the word.
Plan the Logistics of Your Event
Consider factors such as:
- How much space is needed? For instance, if you’re hosting a cooking lesson in your housewares boutique or a fashion show in your clothing store, you may need extra space and seating. Depending on space needs, you may also want customers to RSVP or register in advance.
- How many employees will you need?
- Are any permits needed? Such as for live music or other events that create noise or crowds?
- Plan for refreshment preparation and also cleanup.
Gather Customer Information
This is a key part of every event. After all, you want a way to stay in touch with people who came in to your store:
- Have an signup sheet on hand for customers to subscribe to email newsletters or marketing messages from you.
- Have plenty of business cards, brochures or fliers customers can take with them to remember your business.
- If your event involves showing customers how to do something, like a florist hosting a floral arrangement class, give out informational handouts with your business information on them.
- Have customers fill out forms to win a prize or drop their business card in a fishbowl.
Once you’ve gathered contact information from customers, be sure that you follow up with them within the next two weeks while the event is still fresh in their minds. Get them back into your store by providing a special offer or discount that’s good for a limited time.
By hosting events on a regular basis, you can make your store more than just a store – it can become a gathering place for the local community, strengthening your ties with your customers and differentiating you from your big competitors.
Event  Photo via Shutterstock